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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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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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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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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'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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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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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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Republicans are hyperventilating about President Obama's modest immigration reforms. If they had a clue what real immigration reform entails, they'd probably have a collective heart attack. Here are a few reform proposals that go much further than what Obama called for last night: [More...]
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Last week I wrote about deceptive law enforcement techniques, focusing on new details about law enforcement's use of stingray devices. The devices are small enough to fit in an undercover vehicle. The device creates a very strong but fake cell tower signal which causes phones nearby (perhaps in the whole neighborhood) to connect to it. When the phones connect, the device then captures a lot of personal information. This is particularly helpful to police when they suspect a certain person of say dealing drugs, and know where he is, but don't know his phone number, because he gets a new throw-away phone every few weeks. But it's problematic because the device is capturing the same personal information from all phones in the area. It's a dragnet.
Move over, stingrays. The Wall St Journal reports similar devices called "dirtboxes" are being used by agents on airplanes, allowing them to capture the data on thousands of cell phones during the course of a single flight. [More...]
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The New York Times has details of Obama's planned executive action on immigration. It will:
....protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits...
...One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.
It's the right thing to do. More details below: [More...]
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Courts continue to be divided on whether a search warrant is needed for cops to obtain cell site locator data. This week the Florida Supreme Court ruled a warrant is necessary. It is the first state to decide the issue based on the 4th Amendment.
The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written, it would also cover the use of so-called “stingrays”—sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms.
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Ferguson was fairly calm Tuesday night, with most people peacefully protesting.
AG Eric Holder arrives in Ferguson today. Here is his letter to the people of Ferguson.
Gov. Nixon said the county prosecutor will stay on the case for now, rejecting calls for a special prosecutor. (the St. Louis County Circuit Court grand jury is scheduled to commence hearing testimony today.)
I won't be online much today, so you can use this thread for all Michael Brown/Ferguson related topics.
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After a night of more unrest in Ferguson, a few shootings (reportedly not by police) and at least 30 arrests, officials are calling for calm.
A grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence in the shooting death of Michael Brown tomorrow.
President Obama has dispatched AG Eric Holder to Ferguson. DOJ is conducting its own civil rights investigation. [More....]
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Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming... The curfew is over but the National Guard is on its way.
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Dr. Michael Baden, hired by Michael Brown family lawyer Benjamin Crump, has released his autopsy findings. Baden waived his fee and Crump paid his travel expenses.
AG Eric Holder has said the Brown family asked the Justice Department to conduct another autopsy. That's a lot of autopsy requests.
Baden says Brown was shot at least six times, although only 3 bullets were recovered from the body. He said he was shot in the head, the eye, and the arm. [More...]
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