New York Times Pushes False Notion Both Sides of Patriot Act Debate Are Wrong

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An analysis published in the New York Times falsely equates arguments for and against extending provisions of the PATRIOT Act, making it seem as if those against extension are just as wrong as those pushing to preserve government spying powers.

“There is little evidence in the history of the expiring Patriot Act powers to bolster the arguments that either supporters or opponents are making,” according to a description of the analysis written by Charlie Savage.

With the headline, “Reality Checks in Debate Over Surveillance Laws,” it appropriately calls out Republican senators like Tom Cotton, who have claimed a lapse in “this critical tool would lead to attacks.” Savage notes that studies and testimony have both shown that in the program’s existence zero terrorist attacks have been thwarted.

However, in the next paragraphs, Savage casts opponents of extending the provisions as individuals who are comparably wrong:

At the same time, proponents of ending the program say it poses risks to Americans’ private lives, by permitting the government to know who has been calling psychiatrists or political groups, for example. But despite the discovery of technical violations of the rules several years ago, no evidence has emerged that the program has been misused for political or personal gain. As a result, the privacy-minded critics have had to couch their warnings in hypothetical terms.

“Even if we stipulate for purposes of this discussion that no one within the N.S.A. is currently abusing this program for nefarious political purposes,” Senator Rand Paul, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said in a filibuster-style floor speech last week, “can we say we are certain that will always be the case? Who is to say what might happen one year from now, two years from now, five years, 10 years or 15 years from now?”

While Savage may consider this to be equal to fear mongering about what will happen if spying powers are curtailed, “privacy-minded” opponents of the PATRIOT Act are not relying on the same hyperbole.

The only example Savage cites is very restrained and calculated. It is based on a concern that history could repeat itself because the country once experienced what it was like to have a domestic security state turned against citizens decades ago when J. Edgar Hoover was FBI director. And, in the example, Paul is making no claims about abuse for personal or political gain that cannot be backed up.

On the contrary, none of the supporters of the Patriot Act spying powers are as measured in their arguments. Not even officials from President Barack Obama’s administration are as level-headed in their rhetoric.

Administration officials have had a reporter from the Times print anonymous statements from them, one which suggests critics are playing “national security Russian roulette.” The administration maintains opponents are being “grossly irresponsible” because they want to have a debate and reform spying powers in a manner that much of the country actually supports.

Furthermore, it is inaccurate—and, at best, misleading—to write in any analysis that there is “no evidence” that “the program has been misused for political or personal gain.” (more…)

The Roundup for May 28th, 2015

Today’s song for Break Time is thanks to good folks over at The Struggle Bus podcast. Check them out here!

International Politics

Overall

– Pew: Fifty-eight percent of Americans support drone strikes

Part two of five with author Christian Appy on mid-20th century and the role of the U.S., especially in Vietnam

– FIFA President Sepp Blatter: I will restore trust in our organization after the “shame and humiliation brought” on the sport; No, he won’t resign

– European nations might boycott the FIFA World Cup if UEFA chairperson Michel Platini is still in charge

– Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said both Russia and the U.S. are slowly coming to an agreement on what to do on Syria

– The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a watchdog group, said at least 90 percent of the world’s chemical weapons are destroyed

A new report found women are joining the Islamic State for reasons other than being “jihadi brides.” Such reasons include dissatisfaction with how the West treats Muslims

Middle East

– Economist Shir Hever joins The Real News to highlight apartheid in Israel

– Dave Zirin: “Will the FIFA Raids Scuttle the Vote to Suspend Israeli Soccer?

– Journalist Reese Erlich joins The Real News to talk about the Islamic State’s victories in Iraq and why the battle is very tough for the U.S.

– Al-Nusra, a Syrian rebel group tied to al-Qaeda, was told by al-Qaeda heads not to attack the West (more…)

Over Easy: Friday Free For All!

Why do I read the news before my Valium?
Why do I read the news before my Valium?
Greetings!

Here’s a few current events to stimulate discussion. Let’s see what people are thinking about!

Here’s the first US government admission of what we already pretty much knew: Fuku Melted fuel most likely went through the floor. There are some scary simulations in the link, along with admissions that the simulations are probably conservative. Not a mention of in in the MSM.

You’ve all been reading about the Duggar scandal and seeing it on TV. As of the date of this post Fox News has spent less than 2 minutes of airtime on it per Salon. Duggar has strong links to too many GOP presidential candidates, I guess.

And if you missed it because you watch Fox: Duggar sued in 2007 to stop DHS from investigating this. His father campaigned on on Death to Child Molesters.

The Intelligent Design folks are busy educating the media and and trashing a Slate writer for suggesting that Intelligent Design and creationism are the same thing. Notice the site name with this story: http://www.evolutionnews.org

On a related note, remember the Santorum Amendment? If Frothy Mixture gets the GOP nod, he’ll probably want you to forget it.

Calif Needs Desalinization. No Question. But the spread of desal plants will create situations like this. Deal with it, water bills are GOING to go up.

A “giant” squid was nearly caught off Auckland. However, it isn’t a giant squid or a colossal squid. Experts just aren’t sure what species it is. Lot of big stuff down deep that we hardly ever see.

NASA will build a robot squid to look for life in the suspected oceans on the outer planets moons.

The ballot initiative for Marijuana for Ohio has been certified and is now collecting signatures. It’s basically full legalization with restrictions. The Ohio GOP (which runs the state) is solidly against it, but the citizens are slightly for it. We’ll see.

Five years for painting a funny picture of the Chinese president. I can only imagine the jealousy of our politicians who must put up with editorial cartoonists.

Boxturtle (Happy Friday to all!)

Boston Bombing News: Friends & Acquaintances

It was announced today that a sentencing hearing has been scheduled in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now convicted on thirty charges in relation to the 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon and the events which followed. This hearing is to take place on Wednesday 24th June. The sentencing hearings in the cases of four of Tsarnaev’s former friends and acquaintances are also scheduled to take place during the upcoming month.

Dias Kadyrbayev: (Sentencing Tuesday 2nd June.)

Kadyrbayev, detained whilst awaiting trial since April 2013, faces charges in relation to obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the Boston marathon. It is alleged that he made false statements to the FBI and also concealed evidence. He changed his plea to one of guilty in August 2014, having entered into a plea deal with the government in exchange for a lighter sentence, and notably, following the July 2013 conviction of Azamat Tazhayakov, a former friend of both Kadyrbayev and Tsarnaev, on almost identical charges.

Azamat Tazhayakov: (Sentencing Friday 5th June.)

Tazhayakov’s circumstances are much akin to those of his former friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, with the exception of having been convicted at trial in July 2013, on charges almost identical to those to which his former friend has now entered a guilty plea and which resulted from similar alleged actions. During his trial, Tazhayakov’s defense attempted to prove that it was Kadyrbayev, and not their client, who was responsible for removing a back pack containing, amongst other items, firework casings from which the explosive powder had been removed, from Tsarnaev’s dorm room.

Robel Phillipos: (Sentencing also Friday 5th June.)

Phillipos, a friend of Tsarnaev and acquaintance of both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov has been held on “house arrest” since April 2013 and was convicted in October 2014 on two counts of lying to FBI investigators. His defense attorneys claimed that their client was high on marijuana during his initial contact with the FBI and also succeeded in discrediting the testimony of at least one FBI agent in court. Nevertheless, the jury in this case convicted Phillipos.

All three of these young men were in their late teens in the Spring of 2013. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov became friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during the time all three were college students at UMass Dartmouth. Robel Phillipos had known Tsarnaev since their school days. None are alleged to have had any knowledge of the bombings prior to the event.

Another thing that these three former friends have in common, in addition to knowing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is that all three expressed disbelief that their mutual friend could have been responsible for the bombings. With this borne in mind I would suggest that it is likely that all three sought to protect a friend they believed had been wrongfully accused and that the greatest “crime” they may be guilty of is perhaps exercising poor judgement in their encounters with the FBI? Should anyone believe otherwise I would ask: Is over 24 months incarceration not penalty enough, for a non-violent crime, given the circumstances of both youth and no prior criminal record?

Khairullozhon Matanov: (Sentencing Thursday 18th June.)

Matanov is an admitted acquaintance of both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It has been documented that when he recognized the Tsarnaev brothers as the suspects identified in surveillance footage released by the FBI he contacted the police and told law enforcement that he knew both suspects and volunteered contact information for both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. Matanov was later interviewed by the FBI and was then kept under surveillance by the FBI for a period of over twelve months. During this time the FBI made contact with him on numerous occasions. He was arrested on 30th May 2013 and charged with obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the marathon by way of destroying evidence.

In reality, Matanov’s only “crime” seems to have been in deleting files from his computer in order to minimize perception of the depth of his relationship with the Tsarnaev brothers. An understandable, even if unwise reaction, perhaps, in the event of someone with whom he was acquainted being identified as suspects in a serious crime? Again, as in the cases of Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, I would ask if Matanov is actually guilty of any “crime”, or is he simply guilty of poor judgement? He has now been held in solitary confinement for nearly eleven months.

On 24th March, Matanov changed his plea to guilty, despite having protested his innocence during the months prior. During this hearing, Judge Young was able to elicit statements from Matanov which indicated that his reason for changing his plea was not that he now believed himself to be guilty as charged, but rather that he believed that a jury at trial, in the city of Boston, would find him guilty regardless.

Matanov, in addition to Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, initially stated that he did not believe that the Tsarnaev brothers could have been responsible for the bombing.

Konstantin Morozov, Magomed Dolakov & Viskhan Vakhabov:

None of these three known acquaintances of Tamerlan Tsarnaev are facing criminal charges.

Morozov was detained on immigration charges some months ago and is now believed to be facing deportation. (If he has not already been deported.) It is said that his “immigration issues” arose after he declined the “opportunity” to become an informant for the FBI.

Dolakov, whose identity was until recently concealed, has now been identified as the “third man” who visited the gym with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the days prior to the bombings. It was admitted in court during the Tsarnaev trial that neither Tsarnaev’s defense, who had planned to use Dolakov’s statements to the FBI, nor the prosecution, had any knowledge of this individual’s whereabouts at that time. As the FBI have kept such a close eye on so many of the Tsarnaev brothers’ associates, is this not at least a little curious?

Vakhabov refused to testify in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, (citing the Fifth), and was claimed by prosecution attorney William Weinreb to have made “inconsistent” statements to the FBI regarding his acknowledged contact with the elder Tsarnaev, three days after the bombings. If “inconsistent” statements to the FBI in the cases of others who were known to one or more of the Tsarnaev brothers led to criminal charges being filed, one might wonder why not so in this case?

More to ponder.

Late Night FDL: Heartbreaker/ Ring of Fire

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo – Heartbreaker/ Ring of Fire

As Rolling Stone wrote last week…

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo: ‘We’re Like Johnny and June’

On August 1st, 1981, Pat Benatar strutted her way onto MTV, the upstart video channel that would change the way a generation listened to music. The petite New York native with the gigantic voice tore through a cover of the Young Rascals’ “You Better Run,” sticking her index finger in the face of some imaginary foe, and pointing toward a future in which women would grab rock & roll by the wallet. Only the second-ever video played on MTV, it followed the Buggles’ synth-heavy “Video Killed the Radio Star” on the channel and helped turn the classically trained Benatar into a rock superstar with dozens of chart hits, a Number One album and a seemingly endless concert tour that continues to this day. By her side, playing guitar in the clip, was Neil Giraldo, who would secure his own place in history as the first-ever guitarist spotlighted on MTV. In addition to serving as her musical partner, Giraldo would also secure a place in Benatar’s heart — they married in 1982 and have two daughters. {…}

After a whirlwind media day in New York last week, Benatar and Giraldo landed in Nashville to play the Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, a fitting venue for the couple as they feel a close kinship to one of country music’s most legendary couples. That’s one reason their set list includes an incendiary mash-up of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” (co-written by the future Mrs. Cash, June Carter) and the couple’s own “Heartbreaker.” The result is one of their still-spectacular live show’s most thrilling and genuine moments…

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Team Clinton Worried Sanders Will Make Hillary ‘Look Like A Corporatist’

With the official entry of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into the 2016 presidential race comes an atypical challenger for Hillary Clinton. Unlike traditional presidential aspirants, Sanders opened his campaign by sharpening his rhetoric rather than trying to dull it down. While this may mean Clinton will not have to worry about being outflanked by Sanders for the so-called (and largely illusory) “center,” it certainly means that Clinton’s alignment with Wall Street and Corporate America is going to prove problematic in the Democratic primary given her record.

This is something, reportedly, that Team Clinton is well aware of. It would not be at all surprising that Hillary Clinton and her supporters fear a contest of ideas – the neoliberal ideology she and her husband are closely associated with is very unpopular both with the general public and most members of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Hillary Clinton knows this all too well and has been trying to distance herself from her own recent past including her husband’s presidency. Unfortunately for her, the shift looks too opportunistic and does little to neutralize the clear contrasts a Senator Sanders candidacy draws.

Insiders familiar with the Clinton campaign’s thinking described it as “frightened” of Sanders — not that he would win the nomination, but that he could damage her with the activist base by challenging her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist or corporatist. The source described the campaign as “pleased,” at least, that O’Malley and Sanders will split the anti-Clinton vote. A Clinton spokesman declined to comment.

At his kickoff rally in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, where thousands turned out to support him, Sanders vowed to “break up the largest financial institutions in the country” and provided the kinds of specifics Clinton has yet to color in. Sanders called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Clinton has said she supports raising the minimum wage but has yet to say by how much.) Sanders also supports a single-payer health insurance system, expanding Social Security benefits, free tuition at public universities and universal pre-kindergarten.

Hillary Clinton is not only not illuminating her 2016 campaign platform, she is avoiding the press as best she can. Part of that is due to a few ongoing scandals concerning deleted emails and the corruption at the Clinton Foundation, but another aspect is surely due to worries over exactly what her positions should be. Crafting a poll-driven message is difficult in a country with such volatile politics, especially given that Clinton is going to be raising money from the very millionaires and billionaires her party’s base wants taxed and regulated.

Those donors, of course, will want something in return should Clinton become president. So maybe the real issue is not whether Sanders will make Hillary Clinton look like a corporatist, but whether she will govern like one if elected.

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Persons Threatening Suicide Have Right to Not Be ‘Shot on Sight’ By Police

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A federal appeals court affirmed that a person threatening to commit suicide has a constitutional right to not be “shot on sight” if that person is not putting anyone else in “imminent danger” or resisting arrest for a “serious crime.”

Jerome Weinmann threatened to kill himself in his garage on November 12, 2007. His wife, Susan, called 911 and told the dispatcher that McClone had “access to a long gun.” An officer from the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin was dispatched to respond to her call.

Only a few minutes after arriving at the home, Deputy Patrick McClone decided it was necessary to force his way into the garage. He could not see Jerome through the two windows he chose to use. Without using other windows and before attempting to talk to Jerome, he kicked in a door to the garage because he thought he heard noises that suggested Jerome was in the act of committing suicide.

McClone fired his weapon and shot Jerome four times in his face, thumb and torso. These injuries, according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, “required extensive medical treatment including partial amputation of his thumb and a total replacement of his jaw’s left temporomandibular joint.”

Jerome had a .12 gauge shotgun in his lap but maintains that he never pointed it at the officer. McClone asserts the weapon was pointed at him and he was in danger, which gave him the right to shoot Jerome. He appealed a ruling by a federal district court that refused to dismiss an “excessive force” claim filed by Jerome against him.

In order to convince the court to dismiss the lawsuit, McClone had to show that the facts according to Jerome did not demonstrate that his rights were somehow violated.

McClone argued this was an “inherently dangerous encounter” because he had entered an “enclosed garage with a single entrance.” If the Seventh Circuit accepted this argument, the court claimed it would be “saying that officers are entitled, when responding to a suicide call, to use deadly force any time they forcibly enter a single-entrance room.”

“We are aware of no ruling that permits this sort of shoot-on-sight response to this class of encounters,” the appeals court declared [PDF].

The appeals court also stated, “McClone did not look through the other windows into the garage to see what Jerome was doing, nor did he try to talk to him. Instead, within three minutes of arriving at the scene, McClone opened fire. Either viewed as so plainly excessive that no analogous case is needed, or viewed in light of existing authority, this was an excessive use of force.” (more…)

The Roundup for May 27th, 2015

International Politics

Overall

– The United Nations passed a resolution condemning attacks against journalists

– Fourteen people, including nine FIFA executives, were arrested by authorities in Switzerland after an indictment by the U.S.; Dave Zirin writes more here

– Sepp Blatter: We welcome an investigation by U.S. officials into FIFA

– UEFA, the European section of soccer, said FIFA elections should be postponed 

– Talks between P5+1 and Iran may go beyond the June 30 deadline, an Iranian official said

– One French official said, if Iran refused to open its military sites, the deal should be called off

Middle East

– Islamic State militants launched suicide attacks against Iraqi forces in the Anbar province and 17 soldiers died

At least 80 people were killed in Yemen due to Saudi-led airstrikes

– A United Nations official said the rise of executions in Saudi Arabia was troubling

– Tony Blair will no longer be an envoy for peace in the Middle East; A position he relinquished after supporting the Iraq War

– At a trial of a Washington Post journalist in Iraq, a letter sent by Jason Rezaian to President Barack Obama was referred to in court (more…)

Over Easy: Around the World

Welcome to Thursday’s Over Easy, a continuation of Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner and its tradition of giving an overview of news our everyday media doesn’t cover, issues that we ought to consider outside the U.S. scene.

A raid by Swiss justice officers on the Zurich headquarters of FIFA, worldwide governing body of the sport the U.S. calls soccer, kicked off a corruption crackdown that has been assisted by Charles Blazer, the former head of Concacaf, working undercover..

Amid the U.S. indictments released Wednesday, Swiss authorities indicated that they were separately investigating the processes by which the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host country sites were secured. The United States narrowly lost out on hosting the latter competition to Qatar, whose securing of the tournament has been overshadowed by concerns over alleged human rights abuses of its migrant labor force.

According to SIU law professor Dervan, part of the reason the DOJ may have launched its investigation into FIFA is because of the widely held belief that corruption influenced the body’s decision to award Qatar the World Cup — thus negatively impacting U.S. commerce and legal norms.

Representatives of the two tribes with members  in the legislative body, Penobscots and Passamaquoddies, withdrew from the Maine legislature as a protest of state attitudes injurious to the tribes’ interests.

As Dana and Mitchell were leaving, a number of lawmakers accompanied them and joined a protest held in the statehouse courtyard.

“The Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people will always have a place in the Maine House,” said House speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick.

”I hope they will reclaim their seats,” he added without elaborating how it may come about.

Technology that can meddle with the DNA of human embryos has been opposed by world bodies that are concerned about its implication for the future of the species.

The technique allows researchers to artificially insert or remove parts of the DNA.

Nascent work in the field has already led to fierce patent battles between start-up companies and universities that say it could prove as profitable and revolutionary as recombinant DNA technology, which was developed in the 1970s and 1980s and launched the biotechnology industry.

But CRISPR has also brought ethical concerns. Use of the technology provoked strong criticism from some scientists last month, after it was employed in China to alter the DNA of human embryos.

Never.Give.Up.

Late Night FDL: A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop

Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop

Rock On, Neil…!

Neil Young has set his targets on American corporations with the Monsanto and Starbucks copping the wrath of Young in the upcoming ‘The Monsanto Years’ album.

Young’s ‘The Monsanto Years’ is his most lyrically vicious album since Neil tore George W. Bush a new arsehole with the ‘Living With War’ album in 2006.

‘The Monsanto Years’ is about the corporate greed of the publicly listed Monsanto Corporation in the USA that genetically modifies food. The company also manufactured Agent Orange, the herbicide weapon used by the American government during the Vietnam War.

Earlier this week Young said in a statement:

‘Contrary to the misleading information coming from Starbucks, the coffee company is in alliance with other Food Giants, including Monsanto, in suing the state of Vermont to overturn the GMO labeling laws voted for by the people.

‘An alliance is a pact, coalition or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests. Starbucks and Monsanto are members of the Grocery Manufacturers Alliance.

‘The Grocery Manufacturers Alliance sued the state of Vermont to overturn the people’s will to mandate GMO labeling in Vermont.

‘In communications with Starbucks the company was unresponsive to the direct question on whether Starbuck’s coffee product contained GMOs’.

By raising awareness of Monsanto, Young has also brought into question the values of U2’s Bono who supports Monsantos move to use Africa to harvest Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) because, according to NaturalNews.com ‘They’re future consumers for the United States.’

Neil Young has created ‘The Monsanto Years’ with Promise of the Real. an LA-based rock band fronted by Lukas Nelson (vocals/guitar), along with Micah Nelson (guitar, vocals), Anthony Logerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass) and Tato Melgar (percussion). The Nelson brothers are the sons of Willie Nelson.

What’s on your mind tonite…?