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Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down by Federal Court

Another defeat for the religious right
US News • Views: 4,710

The religious right continues losing their reactionary culture war, as a federal appeals court strikes down Virginia’s ban on marriage equality.

And this ruling will also affect conservative bans on same-sex marriage in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, so it’s a significant defeat for the forces of atavism.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” the divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit in Richmond concluded.

[…]

The 4th Circuit opinion also will affect marriage laws in other states within its jurisdiction, including West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Only Maryland has legalized same-sex marriage.

Another Native American Casino Cancels Ted Nugent After Community Complaints

Consequences
US News • Views: 20,869

This is not shaping up as a good month for right wing racist Ted Nugent: Tacoma Casino Cancels Nugent Shows, Citing Racism.

TACOMA, Wash. — Emerald Queen Casino will cancel two Ted Nugent concerts that were scheduled August 2 and 3 over allegations of racist remarks by the singer.

Puyallup Tribe officials said the decision came after learning that Nugent has said racist remarks.

“The first amendment gives people the right free speech, but I think racism is intolerable and not acceptable here,” said Puyallup Tribal Council Vice President Lawrence W. LaPointe. “We’ve been getting lots of complaints from the community and other organizations.”

“I don’t want to take away his right to say what he wants to say, but we don’t need it here.”

In case you’re tempted to doubt Nugent’s long history of racism, please note that he was a frequent guest on the Tennessee white supremacist radio show “Political Cesspool.”

Arizona Horribly Botches Execution: Inmate Takes 2 Hours to Die

Barbarism
US News • Views: 17,442

I didn’t think it was possible, but the latest horribly botched execution in Arizona is even worse than the one in Oklahoma in May.

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona officials say a murderer who was sentenced to death has died nearly two hours after his execution started.

Wood’s lawyers had filed an emergency appeal in federal court during the execution demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”

Attorney General Tom Horne’s office says Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

Pure and simple barbarism, sanctioned by the government.

UPDATE at 7/23/14 5:59:44 pm by Charles Johnson

Here’s the expected justification from right wing governor Jan Brewer: Arizona Execution of Joseph Wood Took Nearly Two Hours - NBC News.com

Gov. Jan Brewer said she was “concerned” about the execution length and ordered a review but insisted Wood did not suffer “in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims.”

Exclusive: NSA Director Was Secretly Briefed on 22 Counter-Intelligence Operations Undermined by Snowden Leaks

New docs show Director of NSA and President were secretly briefed on “significant” damage to CI operations
US News • Views: 20,469

Since Edward Snowden absconded from the National Security Agency last year with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, the NSA has made several public statements on the leaks, citing “grave damage”, “catastrophic impact” and the “worst leak in history”, but refused to comment on the specifics of the damage caused.

But now, thanks to documents declassified as part of a FOIA request, we can exclusively reveal that senior NSA staff secretly briefed their own director and the President that 22 ongoing counter intelligence operations had been impacted as a direct result of the leaks - 11 were “significantly” undermined.

The briefings took place in July last year - within weeks of Snowden’s first leaks reaching the press, and just days after Snowden revealed how the NSA spied on the Russian President.

The documents - obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act - centre around an email exchange between Chris Inglis - then Deputy Director and head of day-to-day operations at NSA - who asked Richard Legett - the head of the Media Leaks taskforce for a “no BS” counter-intelligence damage assessment for a classified briefing to the White House.

Continue reading…

Sgt. Bergdahl Returns to Army Duty, Fox News Goes Full Benghazi

Fox News, keeping wingnut dolts angry
US News • Views: 17,994

We have news today about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was released by the Taliban after five years in captivity, setting off a right wing freakout that dwarfed all previous right wing freakouts: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Is Back on Regular Army Duty in Texas.

Six weeks after his release from Taliban captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been returned to regular duty, the U.S. Army announced Monday.

In a brief statement, Army officials said Bergdahl had “completed the final phase of the reintegration process” and will be assigned to a base in Texas, where he has been recovering for the last month.

This development has sent Fox News’ show for complete idiots, Fox & Friends, into a psychotic break with reality, claiming that Bergdahl is being threatened into silence by the sinister Barack Obama. And also, inevitably, BENGHAZI.

YouTube

Was Edward Snowden Covered by the IC Whistleblowers Act? Yes, He Was.

According to the DNI - in 2012 - he most certainly was.
US News • Views: 22,299

“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government, I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.

“President Obama also reformed a key executive whistleblower regulation with his 2012 Presidential Policy Directive 19, but it exempted intelligence community contractors such as myself. The result was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.”

So said Edward Snowden in testimony to the European Parliament on March 7th this year.

But did he really not have any protection under the Intelligence Community Whistleblowing Act?

The DNI didn’t think so back in 2012. From their own whistleblowing website, as of 6th October 2012 - months before Snowden left the agency:

The Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 provides employees and contractors of intelligence agencies with a mechanism for reporting alleged wrongdoing in IC agencies and associated programs to Congress.

It also says:

A Federal agency cannot retaliate against an employee or applicant because that individual exercises his or her rights under any of the Federal antidiscrimination or whistleblower protection laws listed above.

On another page, also from 2012, the DNI gives detailed instructions about how an “IC employee, assignee, detailee, or contractor” could file a whistleblowing complaint to the Inspector General, or contact Congress.

Other pages on the same site even say how he could have reported anonymously if he wanted to be sure he was safe from reprisals.

Snowden would surely have known this had he actually bothered to search “IC” and “whistleblowing” (it’s the first “.gov” hit on Google).

The fact that he knew he was protected - or didn’t bother to try and find out if he was - significantly undermines his argument that he couldn’t whistleblow.

It’s not that he couldn’t whistleblow. It’s that he chose not to.

UPDATE at 7/13/14 11:40:13 am by Charles Johnson

The same description of the ICWPA is now posted at the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General: DoD IG - Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA).

Did the Justice Department Really “Bad-Mouth” Glenn Greenwald to Muslim Leaders? Uh, Nope.

More Greenwald distortions exposed
US News • Views: 21,292

At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple fact checks one of the more inflammatory claims in the latest Glenn Greenwald article about alleged NSA/FBI spying on American Muslim leaders: that the Justice Department went around to Muslim groups before the story was even written, warning them Greenwald’s article was full of errors and misrepresentations. Would you be terribly surprised to find out Greenwald’s claims are … false? You wouldn’t?

This is the paragraph in question in The Intercept’s story:

The Justice Department did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, or for clarification about why the five men’s email addresses appear on the list. But in the weeks before the story was published, The Intercept learned that officials from the department were reaching out to Muslim-American leaders across the country to warn them that the piece would contain errors and misrepresentations, even though it had not yet been written.

Wemple contacted Greenwald to ask for more information on this claim, and Greenwald responded:

He said that the remarks of the officials were “designed to poison our relationship with people in the Muslim community by bad-mouthing us and saying this story is inaccurate before it’s even written. They literally did it before we put pen to paper,” says Greenwald.

Wow, the US government “bad-mouthed” the Mighty Greenwald?! How dare they? The noive!

However, when Wemple reached out to Muslim-American groups and the Justice Department, he discovered that the truth was exactly opposite to the way Greenwald portrayed it. Muslim leaders had heard rumors about Greenwald’s upcoming article, and they specifically asked the Justice Department to discuss the issue.

According to these community leaders and the Justice Department, there was indeed a July 1 gathering at the main Justice building, part of a regular series of quarterly meetings convened by Justice’s civil rights division that date back more than a decade. Though the get-together preceded publication of the Greenwald-Hussain story, Muslim American community leaders had heard about the goods that The Intercept had acquired. And so it was they, and not the Justice Department, who insisted on discussing the pending story. A letter from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in fact, specifically asked that the surveillance issue be placed on the meeting’s agenda.

Wemple posts a screenshot of the ADC’s letter to the DOJ, asking that the surveillance issue be discussed at this regular meeting. So now we know that: 1) this meeting was not an unusual occurrence, but one of a series of regularly scheduled meetings that have been going on for many years, and 2) the Muslim groups themselves asked to discuss Greenwald’s pending article at the meeting, not the other way around.

But what about the claim that Justice Department officials “bad-mouthed” Greenwald’s story and warned these Muslim groups it would contain “errors and misrepresentations?” Again, Greenwald is playing fast and loose with the truth:

According to various participants, the government officials who spoke to the Muslim-surveillance issue — primarily National Security Agency General Counsel Raj De and FBI General Counsel James Baker — walked the attendees through an explanation of the legal structure designed to protect Americans from surveillance. One of the officials reportedly counseled the group, “Just don’t make assumptions. Please think about what you read based on what the legal structure is.”

Abed A. Ayoub, the ADC’s director of legal and policy affairs, confirms that’s how things went down. At the same time, Ayoub vouched for the accuracy of the Greenwald-Hussain description of the proceedings. “What we were told was to look at the legal framework of the way the surveillance took place … the FISA courts and so forth,” says Ayoub, who insists that the “legal framework is part of the problem and we need to seriously address this.”

ADC National President Samer Khalaf says of the message from government officials: “It wasn’t that they were saying it was false. They were saying they can’t respond to a story that wasn’t out yet.” When asked about alleged warnings of errors and misrepresentations, Khalaf says that the government reps said that the article may not represent the “full scope of the program.”

Again, Greenwald’s account is shocking and inflammatory… and entirely dishonest and self-serving.

This is the case with almost every one of Greenwald’s articles; a batch of wildly incendiary accusations that fall apart and are shown to be false, distorted, or exaggerated in the following 48 hours after publication. This isn’t journalism — it’s propaganda.

You have to wonder why other journalists rarely do the job Wemple did in this case. Are they afraid of Greenwald’s slash-and-burn smear tactics against critics, or simply more interested in the clicks and pageviews they know his fear-mongering pieces will drive to their websites?

UPDATE at 7/12/14 12:28:55 pm by Charles Johnson

The Intercept’s editor John Cook responds to Erik Wemple’s debunking with: For the Record: Yes, the Government Really Did Trash-Talk Our FISA Story.

His evidence to back up this headline is… well, he doesn’t present any evidence. He posts several emails and text messages he sent to the Justice Department, making the same assertion Wemple debunked, but absolutely nothing to show that “the government really did trash-talk” their story. Read it for yourself. He simply doesn’t back up his claim at all.

it’s getting a bit ridiculous.

Bombshell News! NSA Admits They Have Snowden’s Emails! Uh… But…

Huge
US News • Views: 24,541

Retweeted by Glenn Greenwald a few minutes ago, some breaking bombshell news about Edward Snowden!

Wow, you mean they actually do have emails from Snowden contacting his superiors to “blow the whistle” on privacy abuses by the NSA, but they’re hiding them? This is HUGE, people!

But, uh… here’s the actual FOIA response:

Scribd

Scroll down to the last sentence, and you’ll find:

“For your information, there are no emails indicating that Mr. Snowden contacted agency officials to raise concerns about NSA programs.”

Oh. Never mind!

Meanwhile, please note that the Freedom of Information Act was not intended to be used to reveal every single email of a government employee. It’s supposed to be a targeted request for specific information, not a fishing expedition.

UPDATE at 7/11/14 4:51:41 pm by Charles Johnson

Matthew Keys has now sent me several tweets, very upset that I didn’t include the link to his site where he does mention the response from the NSA; so here it is, buried at the end of the fifth paragraph: NSA Says Snowden E-Mails Exempt From Public Disclosure.

The Desk’s original FOIA request was for “and and all e-mails sent by Edward Snowden using the e-mail address ejsnowd@nsa.ic.gov to any and all NSA officials, including officials at the Office of General Counsel, for the time period between January 1, 2013 and June 1, 2013.” Though the request did not specify records related to Snowden’s claim that he raised concerns about the legality clandestine NSA surveillance programs, Phillips wrote that “there are no e-mails indicating that Mr. Snowden contacted agency officials to raise concerns about NSA programs.”

Civil Liberties Hero Edward Snowden Commits Massive Civil Liberties Violation

Hands over 160,000 private emails to journalists and Glenn Greenwald
US News • Views: 30,646

I can’t help noticing that the most important and troubling aspect of Barton Gellman’s new NSA story for the Washington Post is not even mentioned in the text: In NSA-Intercepted Data, Those Not Targeted Far Outnumber the Foreigners Who Are.

But first, here’s what is in the text:

Among the most valuable contents — which The Post will not describe in detail, to avoid interfering with ongoing operations — are fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the request of CIA officials, The Post is withholding other examples that officials said would compromise ongoing operations.

Secret nuclear weapons projects, aggressive hackers, double-dealing by purported allies — why is it supposed to be evil and wrong for the NSA to uncover these kinds of things? Why in the world would anyone be upset that their communications were intercepted if it helps the US government discover a secret nuclear project?

If my emails are collected by the NSA as part of this effort, I say, “Go ahead, collect away.” Call me crazy, but I want the US government to discover these things before it’s too late.

Also note that this latest release absolutely debunks the constant claims by the Greenwald crew that the NSA’s programs have nothing to do with terrorism, or that they’re ineffective at uncovering terrorists.

But even more to the point, and the reason for my headline above: hasn’t Edward Snowden himself committed a truly massive violation of civil liberties, by handing over these legally collected and properly redacted private communications to journalists — and to Glenn Greenwald?

Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

And now they’re in the hands of people like Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Applebaum, Julian Assange and who knows who else.

I’m continually amazed at the capacity of the civil libertarian crowd to blithely violate the civil liberties of others in their dead-end quest for a purist libertarian ideal.

Also see:
Lawfare - a Quick Read of the Post’s Latest NSA Story

Xenophobia Runs Rampant as Immigrant Families Are Turned Away by Right Wing Protesters

Fox News calls it “Defending the Homeland”
US News • Views: 28,853

In one of the sickest displays of right wing xenophobia I’ve seen in a long time, protesters turned out en masse in the California town of Murrieta today to wave flags, spew anger and hatred, chant “USA! USA!” and block buses containing hundreds of immigrant families from entering a Border Patrol processing center. Here’s the Desert Sun’s report: Protesters Block Bus at Murrieta Border Patrol.

So awful it’s hard to imagine.

But it gets worse. Because this is the graphic used by Fox News today to illustrate their report:

With an image of the Statue of Liberty, no less.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

It may be time to rewrite that inscription to reflect the new right wing reality.

UPDATE at 7/2/14 6:00:52 pm by Charles Johnson
UPDATE at 7/2/14 8:16:26 pm by Charles Johnson

To make things even weirder, Fox News blatantly stole their logo from the video game Bioshock Infinite, a game about a perverse right wing world where racists are in charge:

^ back to top ^

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 Frank says:

Interviewer:
The notion of a "guitar solo" has preconceptions based on it; people automatically refute it because it's supposed to be self-indulgent or "for musicians." It's almost like things become iconographic and somehow lose their value for outsiders.

Zappa:
Well, whose fault is that? That's what writers do. Musicians don't do that. The average person doesn't sit around thinking about the "iconographic problems of a guitar solo." -- Interview for Musician magazine, by Matt Resnicoff, November 1991. Reprinted in July 1995 Issue.