Since the death of George Tiller, the third-trimester abortion provider who was killed in Wichita in 2009, former abortion doctor Ann Kristin Neuhaus has been fighting Operation Rescue—one of the country’s most radical anti-choice groups—alone. As part of their effort to oust “Tiller the Killer,” Operation Rescue lodged frequent accusations of medical misconduct with the Board of Healing Arts, the state medical licensing board, against Tiller and his colleagues. After his murder, Operation Rescue turned the full force of its ire on Neuhaus, who had worked on and off as a consultant for Tiller in the early 2000s.
Appeals to the Board of Healing Arts hadn’t worked in the past, but the 2010 elections swept in Sam Brownback, a virulent opponent of abortion, as governor. Brownback had the power to select new members for the board, and he immediately made it clear how he’d use that power: His first choice was Richard Macias, a lawyer for Operation Rescue. Over the following months, Brownback continued to appoint members with nakedly anti-choice leanings. In 2012, prompted by an Operation Rescue complaint, the Board of Healing Arts revoked Neuhaus’s license and handed her the bill for the proceedings—more than $90,000.
“I’d have to file for bankruptcy to pay what they said I owed. But losing my license was even worse. Thirty years of work were gone. I was back to square one.”
“It was so demoralizing,” Neuhaus says. “I’d have to file for bankruptcy to pay what they said I owed. But losing my license was even worse. Thirty years of work were gone. I was back to square one.”
Later this month, the highest court in the United States will hear two religious challenges to Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage requirement. The owners of two for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, are arguing that they should be exempt from providing this type of coverage to their female employees because they have religious objections to birth control.
The Supreme Court is taking up the highly-anticipated case on March 25, and the dispute largely centers on a few basic facts about birth control that Obamacare opponents are misrepresenting. Here’s what you should keep in mind as this debate heats up over the next several weeks:
1. Emergency contraception is not the same thing as abortion.
At the heart of the religious objection to contraceptive coverage is the incorrect assertion that Obamacare covers “abortion-inducing drugs.” Abortion opponents believe that life begins at fertilization, and claim that some types of birth control — specifically, the “morning after pill,” or emergency contraception — work by destroying a fertilized egg. But major medical groups actually define life as beginning at implantation, when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. This is the legal definition of pregnancy that has been accepted for decades. Scientists agree that contraceptive methods prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization, or implantation.
I am unimpressed by his neutrality. IMHO he needs to step up and speak for the independence and strength of the oversight panel. The agency must be seen and be forced to act under, not apart from that authority. I’m no fan of Dianne Feinstein, but I’d like to see Obama watch her back for the sake of checks and balances. I must admit I support her side of this.
WASHINGTON - A bitter public fight between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and CIA Director John Brennan has got President Obama caught between a powerful political ally and a trusted senior advisor - and on Wednesday he showed what an uncomfortable place that is.
In his first public remarks on the clash, Obama tried not to take sides in the dispute that has erupted over whether Senate staffers improperly removed a sensitive document from CIA files, as the CIA claims, or whether the CIA improperly searched computers that the Senate staffers had used to investigate the agency’s now-defunct interrogation and detention program, as Feinstein insists.
Since the CIA has referred both its own role and that of the Senate investigators to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation, Obama said, “That’s not something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to wade into at this point.”
Obama’s remarks seemed to endorse the CIA’s decision to refer the case to the Justice Department - a move that Feinstein, the California Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, denounced Tuesday on the Senate floor as a crude attempt to intimidate aides on her committee.
WASHINGTON — This is not Robert Eatinger’s first run through a full-blown CIA controversy. But it’s his most public ordeal.
For most of his career, few outside the world of espionage knew of Eatinger, 56, who has spent 22 years moving up the ranks to become the CIA’s top lawyer. But in a scathing speech Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused him of trying to impede a Senate investigation into a notorious CIA detention and interrogation program that Eatinger had helped manage.
The California Democrat didn’t name him, but his identity is a matter of public record. Feinstein made clear she was furious that Eatinger had referred the conduct of Senate staffers to the FBI for a possible criminal investigation, given that he is mentioned 1,600 times — often unfavorably — in a sharply critical intelligence committee report that is at the heart of the dispute.
Photos: 2013: The year of surveillance
“I view the acting general counsel’s referral as a potential effort to intimidate this staff, and I am not taking it lightly,” Feinstein said.
It’s quite a change to hear Dianne Feinstein, the powerful chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, express outrage over warrantless and potentially illegal government spying.
In an impassioned Senate floor speech yesterday, the California Democrat accused the CIA of criminal activity for allegedly searching computers used by Senate staffers. The CIA set up the computers at a secure location in northern Virginia so Senate Intelligence Committee staff could access classified documents pertaining to the CIA’s detainee program. When some of them found an incriminating document the CIA hadn’t intended to release, the CIA started poking around.
“The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance,” Feinstein said during her speech. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Judiciary Committee, immediately followed up with, “I cannot think of any speech by any member by either party as important as the one the senator from California just gave.”
He called it “likely criminal conduct” on the intelligence agency’s part. And, like Feinstein, he suggested it was a breach of the separation of powers doctrine.
In the United States, people can land in prison for life over minor offenses. They can be locked up forever for siphoning gasoline from a truck, shoplifting small items from a department store or attempting to cash a stolen check. Sentences across the United States in the last 30 years have doubled. Roy Lee Clay, for example, received in 2013 a sentence of mandatory punishment of life without parole for refusing to accept a plea bargain of 10 years for trafficking 1kg of heroin. Even the sentencing judge found this “extremely severe and harsh”. The bigger picture: a recent Human Rights Watch report found that the threat of harsh sentences leads 97% of drug defendants to plead guilty rather than exercise their right to a public trial.
Most citizens are shocked when they hear such reports. Federal judge John Gleeson of New York said that the way prosecutors use plea bargaining “coerces guilty pleas and produces sentences so excessively severe they take your breath away”. Federal judge Mark Bennett of Iowa has described the “shocking, jaw-dropping disparity” of prior-conviction enhancements to force a plea bargain in a case.
But these and other shocks mean nothing without a larger shock of recognition: Americans like to punish.
We like it so much that we ignore what legal punishment means in the nation’s jails and prisons. Incarceration extends far beyond the official designation of time served. It means horrifying levels of degradation and cruelty to prisoners at all levels. Overcrowding, gang activity, endemic rape, unchecked violence and overly long sentences have turned our jails and prisons into pocket war zones.
Federal prosecutors in Texas have moved to drop all but one of the 12 fraud charges against Barrett Brown, a writer charged with crimes that involved data stolen by a member of Anonymous.
In a motion to dismiss (.PDF), the government today offered no reason for the move. Brown still faces a single charge of possession of stolen credit card numbers with intent to defraud, and a separate indictment for threatening an FBI agent.
The move comes a day after Brown’s defense attorneys filed a 48-page motion to dismiss the charges against him, on grounds that the government failed to substantiate that Brown had committed a crime. It also comes just as the Electronic Frontier Foundation was preparing to file an amicus brief next Monday on behalf of several journalism groups that have expressed support for Brown.
Brown, whose prosecution threatened to become a First Amendment test case, was charged with 12 counts centered around a link he posted in a chat room that pointed to a file containing data stolen from the intelligence firm Stratfor, or Strategic Forecasting. The data, stolen by Jeremy Hammond, a member of the loosely affiliated Anonymous collective, included company emails as well as credit card numbers belonging to subscribers of Stratfor’s service.
But to Alexander’s supporters who have followed all of the high-profile cases prosecuted by Corey’s office that have made national news, Corey appears to have a vendetta against Alexander. While Corey’s office is arguing that they are following state precedent, it’s also true that prosecutors have a huge amount of discretion and power. If Corey wanted to, she could easily conclude that three years behind bars for defending yourself from your abuser is enough and send Alexander home after this ugly ordeal and grave injustice.
At first, Project ROSE may seem similar to the many diversion programs in the United States, in which judges sentence offenders to education, rehab, or community service rather than giving them a criminal record. What makes ROSE different is that it doesn’t work with the convicted. Rather, its raids funnel hundreds of people into the criminal justice system. Denied access to lawyers, many of these people are coerced into ROSE’s program without being convicted of any crime. Project ROSE may not seem constitutional, but to Roe-Sepowitz, “rescue” is more important than rights.
In November 2013, Roe-Sepowitz told Al Jazeera: “Once you’ve prostituted you can never not have prostituted… Having that many body parts in your body parts, having that many body fluids near you and doing things that are freaky and weird really messes up your ideas of what a relationship looks like, and intimacy.”
“As a social worker, you’re supposed to see your clients as human beings,” Monica told me. “But her way of thinking is that once you’re a sex worker, you can never not be a sex worker.”
on a side note, russia today apparently stole the article : http://rt.com/usa/sex-workers-arizona-church-arrest-698/
which is quite on offence considering how well researched the original is.
Way To Go Russia Today, again!
Last month, in a filing with the notoriously secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the United States said that it wants to keep existing records beyond the existing five-year limit due to the handful of lawsuits challenging the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.
But on Friday, in a win for civil liberties advocates, a FISC judge denied (PDF) that motion.
Judge Reggie Walton writes:
The government cites three cases in support of its position: RFMAS Inc. v. So, Richard Green (Fine Paintings) v. McClendon, and Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC. Although the destruction of electronic records was an issue in all three cases… none of these cases involved a conflict between a litigant’s duty to preserve electronic records and a statute or regulation that required their destruction. They merely demonstrate that, when triggered, a civil litigant’s duty to preserve relevant evidence includes electronic records and that duty trumps a corporate document destruction policy. The Court has not found any case law [to] support the government’s broad assertion that its duty to preserve supersedes statutory or regulatory authority.
The government’s contention that [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s] minimization requirements are superseded by the common-law duty to preserve evidence is simply unpersuasive.