Showing posts with label US policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US policy. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them (13)



Friday, 7 July 2017

The fight continues in US Court of Appeal against Trump's 'Muslim Travel Ban'


Business Insider, 29 June 2017:

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The state of Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday to clarify a US Supreme Court ruling that reinstated parts of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, arguing that the Trump administration had interpreted the court's decision too narrowly.

In a court filing, Hawaii said the US government intended to violate the Supreme Court's instructions by improperly excluding from the United States people who actually have a close family relationship to US persons.

The 90-day ban took effect at 8 p.m. ET along with a 120-day ban on all refugees.

On Monday, the Supreme Court revived parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that had blocked parts of a March 6 executive order and allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties to the United States.

The court agreed to hear arguments during its next term starting in October to decide finally whether the ban is lawful.

The Supreme Court exempted from the ban travelers and refugees with a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States. As an example, the court said those with a "close familial relationship" with someone in the United States would be covered.

The Trump administration decided on the basis of its interpretation of the court's language that grandparents, grandchildren and fiancés traveling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in place.

In its court filing, Hawaii echoed criticism from immigrant and refugee groups that the Trump administration had defined too narrowly who should be exempted.

Hawaii called the refusal to recognize grandparents, fiancés, and other relatives as an acceptable family relationship " a plain violation of the Supreme Court's command."

The State of Hawaii’s  latest motion is Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00050- DKW-KSC EMERGENCY MOTION TO CLARIFY SCOPE OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION



Around the same time this motion was filed, the Trump administration announced on the US State Department website that it was removing “fiancé” from the list of relationships not considered bona fide:

Upon further review, fiances are now included as close family members.

UPDATE

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is reported in The Guardian to have ruled on 7 July 2017 that it did not have jurisdiction to weigh in on this particular aspect of the matter:

In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin said the ruling “makes clear that Judge Watson does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order placing effective limitations on the scope of the district court’s preliminary injunction.”

Monday, 22 May 2017

Has the Republican Party finally pushed the American people too far?


PRESS RELEASE 05/11/17
INVESTIGATORS FROM THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION OF THE WEAKLEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT HAVE ARRESTED 35 YEAR OLD WENDI L. WRIGHT OF 4004 HUBERT HARRIS ROAD IN OBION COUNTY TENNESSEE AND CHARGED HER WITH FELONY RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT AFTER AN INCIDENT THAT TOOK PLACE IN WEAKLEY COUNTY ON MONDAY MAY 8TH 2017. DURING THAT TIME IT IS ALLEGED THAT WRIGHT FOLLOWED A VEHICLE OCCUPIED BY UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN DAVID KUSTOFF AND HIS AIDE MARIANNE DUNAVANT WHILE THEY WERE GOING DOWN HIGHWAY 45 SOUTH OF MARTIN . THEY HAD BEEN AT A TOWN HALL MEETING ON THE CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT MARTIN. WRIGHT PLACED THE OCCUPANTS IN FEAR OF BEING FORCED OFF OF THE ROADWAY. THEY TURNED ONTO OLD TROY ROAD AND INTO A DRIVEWAY OF A PERSON THEY WERE FAMILIAR WITH. WRIGHT EXITED HER VEHICLE AND BEGAN SCREAMING AND STRIKING THE WINDOWS OF THEIR VEHICLE AND AT ONE POINT REACHED INSIDE THEIR VEHICLE. SHE THEN STOOD IN FRONT OF THEIR VEHICLE IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THEM BLOCKED IN. A 911 CALL WAS PLACED DURING THIS TIME BUT WRIGHT LEFT THE AREA BEFORE DEPUTIES ARRIVED. WRIGHT WAS IDENTIFIED AFTER SHE POSTED DETAILS OF THE ENCOUNTER ON FACEBOOK. WRIGHT WAS LOCATED BY DEPUTIES FROM THE OBION COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND TAKEN INTO CUSTODY ON THE WEAKLEY COUNTY ARREST WARRANT. SHE HAS BEEN RELEASED AFTER POSTING A ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR BOND. WRIGHT WILL BE ARRAIGNED ON MONDAY MAY 15TH 2017 IN WEAKLEY COUNTY GENERAL SESSIONS COURT.
INVESTIGATOR CAPTAIN RANDALL MCGOWAN
WEAKLEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT


Screenshot from CNN Politics video
iOTW Report, 14 May 2017:

A man got physical with Republican North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer at a town hall meeting Thursday before being escorted out by police.
The man was yelling at Rep. Cramer, "Will the rich benefit from, if the health care is destroyed, do the rich get a tax break? Yes or no?" He then shoved cash into the congressman's collar, saying, "There you go, take it."
Cramer responded, "That's too far," and police escorted the man from the meeting.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

February 2017: can you hear the warning sirens?

Image via @SeanKing

De Spiegel
, 5 February 2017:

There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person's character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes. With some, this can be tragic, and the moment comes too soon in their youth at a time when they aren't mature enough yet to foresee all the potential consequences. They make the decisions cheerfully and they lead to either luck or bad luck. But countries and governments are seldom as innocent when it comes to their decisions.
That's the kind of situation now approaching. The people who will soon have to decide are already grown up. They now have to start preparing, even if it will be painful.
Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That's difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners -- and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU -- doesn't make the situation any easier.
So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role -- at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble -- as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries. Whether Schäuble's austerity policies or Merkel's migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force. It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America's withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as "Pax Americana." At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won't take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.
It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of "betrayal." This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think.
A Serious Threat
Donald Trump and his fire-starter Stephen Bannon discriminate against certain people by decree, but not against those from countries in which Trump does business. The contempt the president of the United States and his most important adviser have for science and education is so blatant that it's almost difficult to write. But their disdain for climate and environmental policies has to be stated, because four or eight years of it could become a serious threat.
Among the things that counted as true progress during the 20th century were multilateralism and free trade. The world has become so complex that no single country can solve the major problems on its own -- that was our recognition. Organizations like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NATO and the EU were all created for this reason. None of these organizations is perfect, but they are what we launched -- and we do need them. Bannon now wants to wipe them away, and either Trump is executing Bannon's intentions or he shares them......
Klaus Brinkbäumer is the editor-in-chief of DER SPIEGEL.
Read the full article here.
The Australian, 8 February 2017:
In the weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President, it has become clear that he intends to roll back to the starting block the progressive egalitarian agenda that is commonly associated with political correctness — not just in the US, but globally.
Stephen Bannon, Trump’s White House Svengali and former CEO of the extreme-right Breitbart News, has long pursued this ideological project, and we now know that what he or Trump says must be taken both seriously and literally.
Trump’s transition was initially reassuring, because he nominated many undeniably serious (if also seriously well-heeled) people to his cabinet. But after the inauguration all hell broke loose as Trump and Bannon began to implement their project in earnest.
First, Trump appointed Bannon to the National Security Council’s highest body, the principals committee. Then he nominated Ted Malloch, an obscure business studies professor at the University of Reading, in England, as US ambassador to the EU. Malloch recently expressed a desire to “short the euro”, and predicted that the currency would not survive another 18 months. Trump has also increased the likelihood of a trade war with Mexico, and he has been willing to confront major US corporations over his executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The ideological project that Trump and Bannon will seek to carry out could have far-reaching geopolitical and economic implications that should worry not only progressives, but also dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like me. To understand how far they are willing to go, one must understand their ultimate aims.
Most disturbingly, Trump and Bannon’s agenda seems likely to entail policies to weaken, destabilise, or even ultimately dismantle the EU. No motive other than ideology can explain Trump’s open hostility to the bloc, his bizarre ambassadorial appointment, or his question to EU president Donald Tusk: “What country is next to leave?”
In conventional geostrategic terms, the EU is almost a costless extension of US political and military power. Owing to NATO’s significant military superiority, and the EU’s role as a barrier to Russian expansion, the US can avoid becoming entangled in a “hot war” with Russia. Meanwhile, the EU — together with Japan — is a dependable economic and military ally, whose friendship allows the US to speak for the “international community”.
There are no circumstances in which dismantling the Western international order is in America’s national interest — even when perceived through a nationalist lens. A truly “America first” administration would rightly expect its allies to pull their weight in NATO, and to defer to US foreign policies on non-European issues. But it would never gratuitously dismantle an essentially free multiplier of US power, as Trump’s foreign policy threatens to do.
If I am right about Trump and Bannon’s ideological agenda, we can expect them to find a way to support far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election this year, and to encourage a “hard Brexit” for Britain (only to leave it in the lurch afterwards). Trump is likely to lift the sanctions the US imposed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bannon are ideological twins.
We should not put much stock in any security assurances Secretary of Defence James Mattis may have offered to South Korea and Japan last week. Such promises are worth as little as Trump’s pledge to Polish President Andrzej Duda that “Poland can count on America”.
Americans should be prepared to watch the administration dismiss officials who do not defend its agenda, and disregard court orders that inhibit its actions. We have already seen signs of this when complaints emerged that immigration agents in New York were ignoring a federal judge’s emergency stay on Trump’s travel ban.
The prospects for business are just as sobering. Sooner or later, Trump’s destabilising foreign policy will lead to global economic turbulence, uncertainty, and reduced investment — even barring trade wars. And domestically, his weakening of the rule of law will negate any economic benefits from tax cuts and deregulation.
Implementing this project is undoubtedly a dangerous strategy for Trump. By polarising the US public to such an extent, he and the Republicans could suffer defeat in the 2018 midterm elections or in the 2020 presidential election; and he could even expose himself to the risk of impeachment.
There are two possible explanations for why Trump would take these risks. The first is that divisiveness has worked for him. Politicians tend to stick with what works — until it fails.
The second explanation is that Bannon is calling the political shots, and is more interested in building a permanent populist “movement” than he is in getting Trump re-elected. If Bannon wants to transform the US political landscape, an impeached or defeated Trump could become an ideal martyr for his movement.
That may not bode well for Trump himself, but, in this scenario, Trump’s fate will not weigh heavily on Bannon, who has set his sights on achieving goals that will leave the US and the world very different from how he and his putative boss found them.
Jack Rostowski was Poland’s finance minister and deputy prime minister from 2007 to 2013.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

As Prime Minister Abbott retreats into a Dorothy Mackellar-inspired climate myth, President Obama moves America forward by preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change


As the Australian Abbott Government reverses climate change policy, dismantles government departments/agencies implementing or advising on policy and creates bills to repeal the national carbon pricing system, US President Barak Obama moves to create a national Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 01, 2013
Executive Order -- Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change
EXECUTIVE ORDER
- - - - - - -
PREPARING THE UNITED STATES FOR THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. The impacts of climate change -- including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise -- are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation. These impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures. Managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the Federal Government, as well as by stakeholders, to facilitate Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nonprofit-sector efforts to improve climate preparedness and resilience; help safeguard our economy, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources; and provide for the continuity of executive department and agency (agency) operations, services, and programs.

A foundation for coordinated action on climate change preparedness and resilience across the Federal Government was established by Executive Order 13514 of October 5, 2009 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance), and the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force led by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In addition, through the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), established by section 103 of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (15 U.S.C. 2933), and agency programs and activities, the Federal Government will continue to support scientific research, observational capabilities, and assessments necessary to improve our understanding of and response to climate change and its impacts on the Nation.

The Federal Government must build on recent progress and pursue new strategies to improve the Nation's preparedness and resilience. In doing so, agencies should promote: (1) engaged and strong partnerships and information sharing at all levels of government; (2) risk-informed decisionmaking and the tools to facilitate it; (3) adaptive learning, in which experiences serve as opportunities to inform and adjust future actions; and (4) preparedness planning.

Sec. 2. Modernizing Federal Programs to Support Climate Resilient Investment. (a) To support the efforts of regions, States, local communities, and tribes, all agencies, consistent with their missions and in coordination with the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (Council) established in section 6 of this order, shall:

(i) identify and seek to remove or reform barriers that discourage investments or other actions to increase the Nation's resilience to climate change while ensuring continued protection of public health and the environment;

(ii) reform policies and Federal funding programs that may, perhaps unintentionally, increase the vulnerability of natural or built systems, economic sectors, natural resources, or communities to climate change related risks;

(iii) identify opportunities to support and encourage smarter, more climate-resilient investments by States, local communities, and tribes, including by providing incentives through agency guidance, grants, technical assistance, performance measures, safety considerations, and other programs, including in the context of infrastructure development as reflected in Executive Order 12893 of January 26, 1994 (Principles for Federal Infrastructure Investments), my memorandum of August 31, 2011 (Speeding Infrastructure Development through More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review), Executive Order 13604 of March 22, 2012 (Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects), and my memorandum of May 17, 2013 (Modernizing Federal Infrastructure Review and Permitting Regulations, Policies, and Procedures); and

(iv) report on their progress in achieving the requirements identified above, including accomplished and planned milestones, in the Agency Adaptation Plans developed pursuant to section 5 of this order.

(b) In carrying out this section, agencies should also consider the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (Task Force) established in section 7 of this order and the National Infrastructure Advisory Council established by Executive Order 13231 of October 16, 2001 (Critical Infrastructure Protection in the Information Age), and continued through Executive Order 13652 of September 30, 2013 (Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees).

(c) Interagency groups charged with coordinating and modernizing Federal processes related to the development and integration of both man-made and natural infrastructure, evaluating public health and social equity issues, safeguarding natural resources, and other issues impacted by climate change -- including the Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permitting and Review Process Improvement established by Executive Order 13604, the Task Force on Ports established on July 19, 2012, the Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska established by Executive Order 13580 of July 12, 2011, and the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice established by Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994 -- shall be responsible for ensuring that climate change related risks are accounted for in such processes and shall work with agencies in meeting the requirements set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

Sec. 3. Managing Lands and Waters for Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Within 9 months of the date of this order and in coordination with the efforts described in section 2 of this order, the heads of the Departments of Defense, the Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies as recommended by the Council established in section 6 of this order shall work with the Chair of CEQ and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to complete an inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation's watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Further, recognizing the many benefits the Nation's natural infrastructure provides, agencies shall, where possible, focus on program and policy adjustments that promote the dual goals of greater climate resilience and carbon sequestration, or other reductions to the sources of climate change. The assessment shall include a timeline and plan for making changes to policies, programs, and regulations. Agencies shall build on efforts already completed or underway as outlined in agencies' Adaptation Plans, as discussed in section 5 of this order, as well as recent interagency climate adaptation strategies such as theNational Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate, released October 28, 2011; the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, released March 26, 2013; and the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, released April 16, 2013.

Sec. 4. Providing Information, Data, and Tools for Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience. (a) In support of Federal, regional, State, local, tribal, private-sector and nonprofit-sector efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and any other agencies as recommended by the Council established in section 6 of this order, shall, supported by USGCRP, work together to develop and provide authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information, and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience.

(b) As part of the broader open data policy, CEQ and OSTP, in collaboration with OMB and consistent with Executive Order 13642 of May 9, 2013 (Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information), shall oversee the establishment of a web-based portal on "Data.gov" and work with agencies on identifying, developing, and integrating data and tools relevant to climate issues and decisionmaking. Agencies shall coordinate their work on these data and tools with relevant interagency councils and committees such as the National Science and Technology Council and those that support the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive-21 of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience).

Sec. 5. Federal Agency Planning for Climate Change Related Risk. (a) Consistent with Executive Order 13514, agencies have developed Agency Adaptation Plans and provided them to CEQ and OMB. These plans evaluate the most significant climate change related risks to, and vulnerabilities in, agency operations and missions in both the short and long term, and outline actions that agencies will take to manage these risks and vulnerabilities. Building on these efforts, each agency shall develop or continue to develop, implement, and update comprehensive plans that integrate consideration of climate change into agency operations and overall mission objectives and submit those plans to CEQ and OMB for review. Each Agency Adaptation Plan shall include:

(i) identification and assessment of climate change related impacts on and risks to the agency's ability to accomplish its missions, operations, and programs;

(ii) a description of programs, policies, and plans the agency has already put in place, as well as additional actions the agency will take, to manage climate risks in the near term and build resilience in the short and long term;

(iii) a description of how any climate change related risk identified pursuant to paragraph (i) of this subsection that is deemed so significant that it impairs an agency's statutory mission or operation will be addressed, including through the agency's existing reporting requirements;

(iv) a description of how the agency will consider the need to improve climate adaptation and resilience, including the costs and benefits of such improvement, with respect to agency suppliers, supply chain, real property investments, and capital equipment purchases such as updating agency policies for leasing, building upgrades, relocation of existing facilities and equipment, and construction of new facilities; and

(v) a description of how the agency will contribute to coordinated interagency efforts to support climate preparedness and resilience at all levels of government, including collaborative work across agencies' regional offices and hubs, and through coordinated development of information, data, and tools, consistent with section 4 of this order.
(b) Agencies will report on progress made on their Adaptation Plans, as well as any updates made to the plans, through the annual Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan process. Agencies shall regularly update their Adaptation Plans, completing the first update within 120 days of the date of this order, with additional regular updates thereafter due not later than 1 year after the publication of each quadrennial National Climate Assessment report required by section 106 of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (15 U.S.C. 2936).

Sec. 6. Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
(a) Establishment. There is established an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (Council).....

Read the rest of this Executive Order here.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hong Kong thumbs its nose at Internet super spy, the United States of America


   
HKSAR Government issues statement on Edward Snowden 
***************************************************
      The HKSAR Government today (June 23) issued the following statement on Mr Edward Snowden:

     Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

     The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

     The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure.

     Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.
Ends/Sunday, June 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:05

NNNN

BACKGROUND:

EurActiv-20/06/2013
EU lawmakers want to forbid the United States from accessing European citizens' data without the approval of a judge or equivalent authority, ...
EUobserver.com-19/06/2013
European Parliament (press release)-19/06/2013

VentureBeat-by John Koetsier-21/06/2013
As is the case with PRISM in the U.S., the companies are forbidden by law to either decline to participate or to reveal the spying to their ...
Reuters-11/06/2013
U.S. officials have confirmed the existence of a huge, secret U.S. Internet spying programme, codenamed PRISM, which according to ...
ZDNet-by Zack Whittaker-13/06/2013
The U.S. National Security Agency, which has been at the center of a privacy storm, after details of itsPRISM program leaked. The EU is ...
The Verge-by Carl Franzen-07/06/2013
A major intelligence agency in the United Kingdom is part of the US government's massive secret internet user spying program PRISM, ... 

SiliconANGLE (blog)-13/06/2013
Just when we thought these spying shenanigans couldn't get any worse, well… They just did. A report by Michael Riley in Bloomberg today ...
ITProPortal-18/06/2013
Prism, meanwhile, lets the NSA "obtain the specific communications of foreign suspects from U.S.companies with a court order. This program ...
TechNewsDaily-18/06/2013
United States "persons" — citizens and residents protected by the Fourth Amendment — were said to not be part of its scope. Yet PRISM data ...
Telegraph.co.uk-08/06/2013
It comes after senior ministers were challenged over their alleged role in authorising use of a covert USgovernment spying project, Prism, ...
NitiCentral-19/06/2013
In his plea, Singh has alleged that such large-scale spying by the US authorities is detrimental to national security and urged the Apex court to ...

UPDATE:

CBS NEWS 24 June 2013
The NSC issued a statement early Monday saying it is "disappointed by the decision of the authorities in Hong Kong to permit Mr. Snowden to flee despite the legally valid U.S. request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the U.S.-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement. We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China bilateral relations." The statement continued, "We now understand Mr. Snowden is on Russian soil. Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters -- including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government -- we expect the Russian Government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged."

Saturday, 30 March 2013

My day of reckoning is upon me......

Tomas Young’s letter published in Dangerous Minds 19 March 013:

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Tomas Young

 

Friday, 16 March 2012

If you own a dot com website the U.S. Government 'owns' you


In March 2012 Wired.com blows the whistle on Uncle Sam:
“When U.S. authorities shuttered sports-wagering site Bodog.com last week, it raised eyebrows across the net because the domain name was registered with a Canadian company, ostensibly putting it beyond the reach of the U.S. government. Working around that, the feds went directly to VeriSign, a U.S.-based internet backbone company that has the contract to manage the coveted .com and other “generic” top-level domains.
EasyDNS, an internet infrastructure company, protested that the “ramifications of this are no less than chilling and every single organization branded or operating under .com, .net, .org, .biz etc. needs to ask themselves about their vulnerability to the whims of U.S. federal and state lawmakers.”
But despite EasyDNS and others’ outrage, the U.S. government says it’s gone that route hundreds of times. Furthermore, it says it has the right to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies that have the contracts to administer them are based on United States soil, according to Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman.
The controversy highlights the unique control the U.S. continues to hold over key components of the global domain name system, and rips a Band-Aid off a historic sore point for other nations. A complicated web of bureaucracy and Commerce Department-dictated contracts signed in 1999 established that key domains would be contracted out to Network Solutions, which was acquired by VeriSign in 2000. That cemented control of all-important .com and .net domains with a U.S. company – VeriSign – putting every website using one of those addresses firmly within reach of American courts regardless of where the owners are located – possibly forever….”

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The spirit of the World Christian Fundamentals Association* marches on



Just when one imagines that a certain all pervasive, narrow, fundamentalist world view couldn’t grow more absurd -  American society proves the opposite.

Los Angeles Times 16 January 2012:


The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) looks at the background to these changes being fostered by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.
Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.…..

More than 98% of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Electronic Frontier Foundation soldiers on with Jewel v National Security Agency et al


This case is one of many arising from claims that the federal government, with the assistance of major telecommunications companies, engaged in widespread warrantless eavesdropping in the United States following the September 11, 2001, attacks. At issue in this appeal is whether Carolyn Jewel and other residential telephone customers (collectively “Jewel”) have standing to bring their statutory and constitutional claims against the government for what they describe as a communications dragnet of ordinary American citizens.
In light of detailed allegations and claims of harm linking Jewel to the intercepted telephone, internet and electronic communications, we conclude that Jewel’s claims are not abstract, generalized grievances and instead meet the constitutional standing requirement of concrete injury. Nor do prudential considerations bar this action…… [Jewel v NSA et al, No. 10-15616 3:08-cv-04373- VRW M:06-cv-01791-VRW]

Electronic Frontier Foundation article on 29 December 2011:

Justices Find that Spied-On Telephone Customers Have the Right to Sue

San Francisco - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today blocked the government's attempt to bury the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) lawsuit against the government's illegal mass surveillance program, returning Jewel v. NSA to the District Court for the next step.

The court found that Jewel had alleged sufficient specifics about the warrantless wiretapping program to proceed. Justices rejected the government's argument that the allegations about the well-known spying program and the evidence of the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco were too speculative.

"Since the dragnet spying program first came to light, we have been fighting for the chance to have a court determine whether it is legal," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Today, the Ninth Circuit has given us that chance, and we look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans.".

Also today, the court upheld the dismissal of EFF's other case aimed at ending the illegal spying, Hepting v. AT&T, which was the first lawsuit against a telecom over its participation in the dragnet domestic wiretapping. The court found that the so-called "retroactive immunity" passed by Congress to stop telecommunications customers from suing the companies is constitutional, in part because the claims remained against the government in Jewel v. NSA………

Today's decision comes nearly exactly six years after the first revelations of the warrantless wiretapping program were published in the New York Times on December 16, 2005. EFF will now move forward with the Jewel litigation in the Northern District of California federal court. The government is expected to raise the state secrets privilege as its next line of defense but this argument has already been rejected in other similar cases.

Jewel v NSA et al  full opinion 29 December 2011

Sunday, 7 August 2011

DOE V RUMSFELD 2011: a sweet smell of karma is in the air


According to a Government Accountability Project media release on 3 August 2011:

In this challenge to the conditions of and procedures used in detaining an American citizen at a United States military compound in Iraq, Plaintiff John Doe sues former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, other high-ranking United States government officials, and several unidentified United States officials and agents. He alleges multiple constitutional violations in his seizure and detention…..

Doe also sues Defendants Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alan Bersin, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, and John Morton, Assistant Secretary of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in their official capacities, to secure the return of the property seized upon his detention and for alleged violations of his right to travel.

Finally, Doe brings claims against unidentified officers or agents of the United States, alleging:
(1) false arrest,
(2) unlawful detention and conditions of confinement,
(3) torturous and unlawful interrogation,
(4) denial of the right to counsel and the right to confront adverse witnesses,
(5) denial of the right to present witnesses and to have exculpatory evidence disclosed,
(6) denial of access to courts and to petition,
(7) blacklisting, and
(8) conspiracy……

The Court finds, however, that Doe had a constitutional right to be free from conduct and conditions of confinement that shock the conscience, that such right was clearly established at the time of Rumsfeld's conduct, and that Doe has pleaded factual allegations sufficient to support a claim that Rumsfeld's conduct violated this clearly-established right. Accordingly, Rumsfeld’s qualified immunity defense to Doe’s substantive due process claim fails…..

The Court thus finds, under the circumstances alleged, that a reasonable federal official would have understood conscience-shocking physical and psychological mistreatment—including temperature, sleep, food, and light manipulation—of a United States citizen detainee to violate the detainee’s constitutional right to substantive due process. Accordingly, Rumsfeld is not entitled to qualified immunity from Doe’s substantive due process claim…..

..the Court DENIES Rumsfeld’s motion to dismiss Doe’s substantive due process claim. The Court GRANTS Defendant Rumsfeld’s motion to dismiss Doe’s procedural due process and access to courts claims.
The Court further GRANTS the government’s motion to dismiss Doe’s return of seized property claim; the Court permits Doe leave to amend his complaint if he can plead, in good faith, factual allegations supporting a reasonable inference that the government’s refusal to return his property was a “final agency action.”
Finally, the Court DENIES the government’s motion for a more definite statement of Doe’s right to travel claim.