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Supreme Court Splits on Obama's Appeal of Immigration Program

The Supreme Court today refused to lift the injunction on Obama's DAPA program for parents of immigrant children in the U.S. The Court split 4-4. There is no opinion as such, just a statement that "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court." Here are the questions the Supreme Court addressed. The 5th Circuit opinion that the Court refused to set aside today is here.

Hispanic voter registration has risen dramatically. Republican voices may be louder on the issue, but I'm confident they will be defeated. Today's ruling will energize those favoring immigration reform and family reunification. [More...]

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DEA Wants Easier Access to Your Medical Records

I've always thought the state prescription monitoring databases are a huge abuse of patient privacy in the name of the futile war on drugs. The Daily Beast reports on DEA's fight for access to your medical records without a warrant or court order.

The DEA has claimed for years that under federal law it has the authority to access the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database using only an “administrative subpoena.” These are unilaterally issued orders that do not require a showing of probable cause before a court, like what’s required to obtain a warrant.

Thankfully, a judge in Oregon balked (but read on) [More...]:

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MS Governor Signs Discrimination Bill

If it walks like a duck....The Governor of Mississippi claims the anti-gay bill he just signed is an expression of religious freedom not discrimination. Baloney.

The bill, H.R. 1523, as sent to the Governor, is here.

The Governor and legislature call it an anti-discrimination bill -- it prevents legal action against those who discriminate against gays and transgenders, provided they say they are doing so for religious and moral reasons.

What a shameful and disgusting bill.

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Apple to DOJ: We're Not Your Hackers

Apple filed a motion today saying the Department of Justice has no right to make it hack into iPhones.

Apple argues that not only does it not even know exactly how to create the software in question, the larger issue is the bad precedent of allowing the FBI to compel it, or any other tech company, to write code against its will.

“If Apple can be forced to write code in this case to bypass security features and create new accessibility, what is to stop the government from demanding that Apple write code to turn on the microphone in aid of government surveillance, activate the video camera, surreptitiously record conversations, or turn on location services to track the phone’s user?” asks the brief. “Nothing.”

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Apple, the Feds and San Bernadino Update

NPR has published Apple's Feb. 17, 2016 response to a federal magistrate judge in New York who requested information the day before on instances in which the Feds are seeking assistance unlocking encrypted data on iPhones. You can view it here. The case is In re Order Requiring Apple Inc. to Assist in the Execution of a Search Warrant Issued by the Court, No. 15-MC-1902, Eastern District of New York. The Magistrate Judge is Jamie Orenstein, who has long been concerned about the privacy intrusions inherent in government requests for cell phone data. Here's an example from last October. [More...]

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Trump Calls for Apple Boycott

Donald Trump, calls for a boycott of Apple because it won't turn over the encryption code to the San Bernadino shooters' phone.

While his views on Apple are about as important as one grain of sand is to a whole beach, his views as a whole seem to be swaying Republicans. He's leading with one-third of the early Republican vote.

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The IC Overclassifies Torture Docs

Steven Aftergood:

The Central Intelligence Agency has improperly classified and withheld from release at least five categories of information related to its post-9/11 rendition, detention and interrogation program, according to a detailed complaint filed by Openthegovernment.org with the Information Security Oversight Office. Classification of this information has impeded government accountability for the controversial CIA programs and derailed a full public reckoning over abuses that occurred, the complaint said.

Good luck with that. Have you forgotten the "IC equities" in this (NewSpeak for coverups). From the complaint:

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State of Emergency Declared in Ferguson

There is no rest in Ferguson, MO on the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. St. Louis Executive has declared a state of emergency.

Prosecutors announced they have filed charges against 18 year old Tyrone Harris, who was shot by police last night. Dozens of protesters have been arrested outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis and charged with trespassing.

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Senate Approves USA Freedom Act

The Senate has approved the USA Freedom Act. Already passed by the House, it will now go to President Obama for signing.

The USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the National Security Agency’s practice of collecting troves of call data from telephone companies, passed on a 67 to 32 vote. It would instead mandate a six-month transition to a system in which the data would remain in private hands but could be searched on a case-by-case basis under a court order.

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DEA Secretly Tracked Billions of Phone Records For Decades

Via USA Today:

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels' distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers

The program began under Bush I and continued throught the terms of the next three Presidents. It was carried out by DEA's "intelligence arm" with little oversight. It was stopped by AG Eric Holder in 2013. [More..]

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Ferguson Police Chief Resigns

In the latest fallout from DOJ's Ferguson report, Ferguson city officials announced that Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned today. Ferguson City Manager John Shaw resigned on Tuesday, and Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned on Monday. Jackson's resignation letter is here.

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Selma and "Bloody Sunday" 50 Years Later

President Obama spoke at today's Selma March , commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic event, also known as "Bloody Sunday." I read a lot of articles but chose this link from the Daily Mail because of the great photos (no auto video play) and it also has the full text of President Obama's speech, which I think was very inspiring.

At one point in his speech, the President said of the notion that racism is no longer an issue in America: 'We don't need the Ferguson report to know that's not true', referring to the Justice Department document, which found that seven racist emails had been sent by officials in the St Louis suburb.

'We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation's racial history still casts its long shadow upon us,' he continued. 'We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character - requires admitting as much.' But he noted that race relations in the US had come a long way - referring to progress in gender and marriage equality. [More...]

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DOJ Report Confirms Ferguson's Racially Biased Policing

DOJ's report on its six month investigation into police practices in Ferguson, MO will be released today. Here's what it finds, according to the New York Times.

The Ferguson Police Department was routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.

Ferguson's population is one-third white.

85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets and 93 percent of arrests. In cases like jaywalking, which often hinge on police discretion, blacks accounted for 95 percent of all arrests.

This is not just a Ferguson problem, but a national problem. You see it every day in courtrooms across America. [More...]

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83 Year Old Female Protester Arrested Outside Dick Cheney's House

700,000 people marched in France today for freedom and to show their solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris.

In Suburban Washington, Code Pink and Witness Against Torture led about 20 people in a protest tour against torture, during which they went to the homes of torture apologists. Two protesters were arrested outside Dick Cheney's house. One was an 83 year old female. Police said she was inside the fence on his property and refused to leave.

Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin disputed the police account, telling CNN, "The police asked us to move to the street, so we did. And they arbitrarily arrested two of us."

Is it that the 83 year old didn't move quickly enough for police? I hope not. That would be unacceptable age discrimination.

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Anonymous Hackers Take Down French Jihadist Forum

After threatening to retaliate for the Charlie Hebdo attacks a few days ago, hackers affiliated with Anonymous have taken credit for hacking a French Jihadist forum called ansar-alhaqq.net. But according to Mashable, the forum was only down for an hour. I just checked and it's up now. The hackers' press release says:

It is clear that some people do not want, in a free world, this inviolable and sacred right to express in any way one's opinions. Anonymous will never leave this right violated by obscurantism and mysticism. We will fight always and everywhere the enemies of freedom of speech.

Charlie Hebdo, historical figure of satirical journalism has now been targeted. Anonymous must remind every citizen that the freedom of the press is a fundamental principle of democratic countries. Freedom of opinion, speech and to publish articles without any threat, and stress is a right "inalienable." Anonymous has always fought the slayers of these rights and will never allow a person to be shot down radically for publishing an article, a drawing, an opinion.

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