Before North Carolina can call for limits on the power of the federal government, it has some homework to do.
A group of Republican state legislators in North Carolina on Tuesday introduced a bill that would, if passed, establish a committee to study whether the state should apply to Congress for a “convention of the states” under Article V of the Constitution.
The convention the lawmakers have in mind would propose amendments imposing “fiscal restraints” on the federal government, limiting its “power and jurisdiction” as well as the “terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.”
The bill’s four primary sponsors are state Reps. Bert Jones, Chris Millis, Dennis Riddell, and Jim Fulghum — all Republicans. The bill itself, the text of which is only a page long, argues that the federal government has “created a crushing national debt through improper and imprudent spending,” “invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates,” and “ceased to exist under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.”
The truth about race is - if the principle cannot be applied equally when turned on its head then you can fairly conclude it is racist.
It works for Cliven Bundy: his claim that African American’s would be better off if they were slaves is racist because he would not, and you could not say the same for white people (if such a group as ‘white people were to exist).
Would white people be better off under slavery? The simple fact is that question is uncomfortable and illogical. Of course not - even the idea of it should make you squirm. And it should when the same principle is applied to African Americans or any other perceived group.
The 1000,000,000lb white elephant in the room is the simple and likely undeniable fact that if Cliven Bundy himself were African American he could very possibly be dead right now,
So here’s another idea. Why not send a black father with 14 kids to Clark County? Send him with a posse of fifty black men in body armor toting AR-15’s. Clive Bundy has 14 kids. Clive Bundy has been taking federal property for free for 21 years. Why not let a black family with 14 kids have the same thing?
Why? Cliven Bundy is different than those people. Clive is special. We know what’s going on here. It’s a double standard, and Clive is unhappy that the double standard isn’t as bad as it should be.
If a black man hadn’t paid his BLM fees for 21 years, faced off with a militia against the federal government and delivered an ultimatum to the sheriff to get off - would any of them be alive now? Some might, I suppose, but regardless of how many years that a black family with 14 kids had been running cattle on that land, there’s not a snowball’s chance the confrontation would have gone his way. And for the survivors of the confrontation, would any of them see the light of day outside of prison for a good long stretch?
The fact that Cliven Bundy is not dead right now is white privilege. His white privilege, is the right to live. African Americans all too often, do not have this same privilege.
About half of all employees work for companies that prohibit or discourage discussion of wages at work, according to a January 2014 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The numbers are worse when you look at the private sector, climbing to more like 60 percent of companies that forbid such discussions.
“While there may be no direct link between pay secrecy and pay inequality, pay secrecy appears to contribute to the gender gap in earnings,” the study says.
Though it’s a bit of a grey zone, workplace policies forbidding discussion of wages aren’t legal. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 protects the ability of employees to associate, organize, and bargain collectively for conditions such as wages. According to the Act:
Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.
While the federal government makes its own compensation scale fairly transparent, it’s really startups that are pushing transparency in the private world. Among those is Buffer, an application-based online publishing company, which goes as far as posting online the salaries, and the equations for determining those salaries, of everyone who works for the company.
“One of the highest values we have at Buffer is transparency,” Joel Gascoigne, chief executive and founder of Buffer wrote on his blog last December. “Transparency breeds trust, and that’s one of the key reasons for us to place such a high importance on it. Open salaries are a step towards the ultimate goal of Buffer being a completely ‘Open Company.’”
The story of how personal tragedy led to what has been called one of the harshest criminal laws in the country. California’s Three Strikes law was meant to lock up the most violent repeat offenders for 25 years to life, but was almost immediately embroiled in controversy.
Using archival footage and interviews with then-Governor Pete Wilson, and former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, the video explains how the murders of two young girls, Kimber Reynolds and Polly Klaas, ignited the nation’s simmering anger over violent crime and the “revolving door” of justice. By the mid 1990s, Three Strikes laws were adopted by 24 states and the federal government and became emblematic of the movement towards stricter sentencing policies.
Last week, the federal government finally dismissed 11 controversial counts from its overzealous prosecution of journalist Barrett Brown. These counts charged Brown with identity theft for sharing a link to records documenting improper and potentially illegal activities by the U.S. intelligence contractor, Stratfor Global Intelligence.
The fact that Brown has been in jail for 18 months, based in large part on these charges, has threatened and continues to threaten press freedom in the United States.
Before the government dropped its charges, we were less than five days away from filing an amicus brief in the case on behalf of EFF and some of the most influential organizations protecting the rights of journalists around the world, including Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and PEN American Center.
We may never know why the government finally decided to drop the charges, though it could have been due to the threat of our amicus brief. We called the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the case on Tuesday to let her know we planned to file the brief (a formality). The next day, without any warning to us or to Brown’s lawyer, the government filed its motion to dismiss, which the court granted on Friday.
But as we argued in the brief, the government should never have brought these charges in the first place. Doing so violated the First Amendment and created a chilling effect on all journalists reporting in the United States.
It is possible the government came to its senses and dropped these charges after realizing the First Amendment problems with its prosecution. Its initial determination to prosecute Brown may have been clouded by the fact that Brown admitted to being a heroin user and threatened an FBI agent and his children in a semi-coherent video posted to YouTube. (This happened after the FBI charged Brown’s mother with obstruction of justice for failing to produce Brown’s laptop.) Brown still faces charges for this threat in a separate criminal case, as well as charges of obstruction of justice for concealing evidence. However, Brown’s arguable lapse of judgment does not excuse the government for bringing specious identity theft charges against him for the simple act of sharing a link.
Documents Reveal Unregulated Use of Stingrays in California
By Linda Lye, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California at 4:37pm
Local law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area have so-called stingray devices, a powerful cellphone surveillance tool, and more are planning to acquire the technology, according to public records recently obtained by Sacramento News10. The devices are highly intrusive and completely unregulated. Although the Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that they were being used by the federal government, the News10 records reveal for the first time that these devices are also in widespread use by local authorities stretching from San José to Sacramento. The revelations are troubling. Once again, we see the proliferation of powerful new surveillance tools, but without any rules to constrain their use. The acquisition of these devices is shrouded in secrecy and driven by federal grant money, which undermines local democratic oversight. Their actual use by local law enforcement reflects the all too common phenomenon of mission creep: Although the justification for acquiring these devices is “fighting terrorism,” agencies seem to be using them for ordinary criminal law enforcement.
What’s a stingray and what are the Fourth Amendment implications?
A stingray is a device that mimics a cell tower and thereby tricks all wireless devices on the same network into communicating with it. From a privacy perspective, this is worrying because it collects information about the devices and whereabouts of innocent third parties, not just the target of an investigation. In addition, it can pinpoint targets with extraordinary precision, meaning that individuals can be tracked even when they are inside their homes. Although some of the devices sold in this country are configured not to capture the content of communications, many offered for sale by surveillance vendors can be used for eavesdropping.
There is a real question as to whether stingrays can ever be used in a constitutional fashion. They are the electronic equivalent of dragnet “general searches” prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. But unfortunately, there are currently no statutes or regulations that specifically address how and under what circumstances stingrays can be used, and very little caselaw.
The state-level effort to turn off water and electricity to the National Security Agency (NSA) got a major boost today as legislators in Tennessee introduced a bill to ban the state from providing material support to the federal agency.
A long-standing secretive NSA computing facility calls Oak Ridge home. According to NSA researcher James Bamford, the NSA runs most data it gathers “from code breaking to word captures,” through computers at Oak Ridge and NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md.
The Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act was introduced by State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) late Tuesday evening. Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) will file the companion bill in the House.
Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition, SB1849 would prohibit the state of Tennessee from “providing material support to…any federal agency claiming the power to authorize the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant” as required by the Fourth Amendment.
Once again, my adopted home of Tennessee, having solved its problems of healthcare and education, is turning its guns on the Federal Government.
The latest proposal is to ban any state agency and to highly discourage private industries to provide any support for the NSA supercomputer site located in Oak Ridge, TN.
The Multiprogram Research Facility (MRF) sits discreetly on the East Campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Inside this top secret facility, NSA researchers work to build High Productivity Computers. The goal: make machines fast enough to crack encryption.
Numerous sources report the MRF will work in tandem with the data storage center in Utah. The super fast computers in Oak Ridge could conceivably break the encryption on reams of data stored in Bluffdale, making its contents accessible to the NSA. This includes data of Americans vacuumed up by the spy agency.
They also want to ban any coordination between the University system and the NSA, this is yet another variation of the Nullification efforts that will magically make the entire federal system break down in their minds. One I posted about last week, to ban the ACA and any federal firearms laws from being enforced in TN has been withdrawn. (just today in fact).
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Forfeiture of $28 Million Worth of Bitcoins Belonging to Silk Road
Silk Road was a website that sold anything, including illegal drugs, porn and, well, anything, in exchange for the virtual currency, Bitcoins. Such purchases were largely anonymous, since the Bitcoin system does not identify users by name or location.
The dimbulb operators of the site based it in the USA, so it wasn’t long before the G-men came knocking at their doors, shut down Silk Road and seized their assets. Now, the US government has the curious distinction of owning one of the largest collections of Bitcoins in the world.
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced the forfeiture of approximately 29,655 Bitcoins (which, at today’s Bitcoin exchange rate, are worth approximately $28 million) that were seized from the Silk Road server, as well as the forfeiture of the Silk Road hidden website. The Silk Road hidden website and the Bitcoins that were forfeited yesterday had been seized in connection with the civil forfeiture action previously filed in Manhattan federal court on September 30, 2013, seeking the forfeiture of all assets of Silk Road, including its website and all of its Bitcoins because those assets allegedly were used to facilitate money laundering and constitute property involved in money laundering
Here’s a hint to future “anything goes” online clearinghouses. Base your operations and house your servers offshore. Just sayin’.
The state’s congressional delegation is all Republican, save for Democrat Jim Matheson, who represents a Salt Lake City-area district and enjoys perennial membership in the national GOP’s Top Congressional Targets Club.
All of which make noteworthy a new poll out from Brigham Young University.
The survey found that freshman Republican Sen. Mike Lee, one of the seminal tea partyers and an architect of the current government shutdown, has plunged in popularity, with more than half of Utah voters now disapproving of his performance. In June, Lee’s favorability rating was 50%, compared with 40% in the latest poll.
As it happens, his chief ally in rolling down the gates on the federal government, Sen. Ted Cruz, has also fallen in the public’s esteem. A Gallup Poll out Thursday showed that people have grown more familiar with Cruz as a result of his shutdown crusade and also like him less: Of the more than 6 in 10 surveyed who had an opinion — up from 42% in June — just 26% viewed the Texas senator favorably. (The two played tag team last month during a 21-hour anti-Obama talkathon on the Senate floor).
Do Not Risk Our Jobs, Health, and Science by Diminishing the US Helium Supply for the Closure of Federal Helium Reserve!
More from the Bureau of Land Management: Helium Program FAQs
We are facing a serious loss of the availability of helium, which is vital for high tech industry, medical treatment using MRI scanning, and many advanced research instruments. At hand is the pending closure of the Federal Helium Reserve, under stewardship of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which accounts for 42% of the US crude Helium supply and 1/3 for the world’s. Unless it is reauthorized, the federal government’s helium program is set to expire in October 7, 2013. The limited availability of helium will impact American jobs, particularly in high-tech manufacturing. Hospitals might be forced to reduce MRI services, risking the health of American. Research activities will be impacted. We request immediate actions of the Government, Congress, and Senate to avoid the shut down.
One thing for sure: We can’t make any more of it. Otoh, the average tea party congress-shill probably thinks you can synthesize helium from coal tar or something.