EMERITUS NEWS ADVOCACY-LEGAL 2013-12-11
APPEALS COURT TOSSES ARIZONA ABORTION BAN
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, has handed abortion rights advocates a victory by ruling against Arizona's abortion ban, which was to have taken effect August 2d, 2013. The law limits abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In their ruling against the the Arizona law, the court stated, "The panel reversed the district court’s order denying declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiffs and held that the Constitution does not permit the Arizona legislature to prohibit abortion beginning at twenty weeks gestation, before the fetus is viable". The court also cited previous precedent set by the US Supreme Court in the Roe Vs. Wade (1973) and Gonzales Vs. Carhart (2007) decisions.
The case originated from a lawsuit filed by, The Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union (Paul A. Isaacson, M.D. v. Tom Horne, Attorney General of Arizona), in July 2012 in the U.S. District Court of Arizona on behalf of three physicians who perform abortions and serve women with high-risk pregnancies—arguing that the Arizona law violates the U.S. Constitution by banning pre-viability abortions.
HOW APPLE AVOIDED PAYING BILLIONS IN U-S TAXES
More from the LA Times, click here - 05/21/2013
PENTAGON REPORT, SEXUAL ABUSE CASES SHAKE MILITARY COMMAND
More from the Associated Press, click here- 05/15/2013
CONNECTICUT PASSES GUN LAW WHILE NATIONAL EFFORT IN BITTER FIGHT WITH GUN INTERESTS
More from the Voice of America - The governor of Connecticut has signed into law some of the strongest restrictions on gun ownership in the United States, less than four months after children were slaughtered by a gunman in an Connecticut elementary school.
ANTI-ABORTION BILLS PASS IN NORTH DAKOTA AND KANSAS
More from Associated Press, click here - 04/06/2013
ARKANSAS GOP PASSES VOTER I-D LAW OVER GOVERNOR'S VETO
More from Associated Press, click here - 04/05/2013
GOOGLE NEARS $7 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH STATES OVER STREET VIEW
More from the LA Times, click here - 03/08/2013
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ANNOUNCES IT WILL EXTEND BENEFITS TO FAMILIES OF LGBT SERVICE MEMBERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today announced the Defense Department will extend benefits to families of LGBT servicemembers.
In his statement released by the Pentagon today, Panetta said,
“Seventeen months ago, the United States military ended the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We have implemented the repeal of that policy and made clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in the Department of Defense.
“At the time of repeal, I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy. It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country. The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated. Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.
“Taking care of our service members and honoring the sacrifices of all military families are two core values of this nation. Extending these benefits is an appropriate next step under current law to ensure that all service members receive equal support for what they do to protect this nation.
“One of the legal limitations to providing all benefits at this time is the Defense of Marriage Act, which is still the law of the land. There are certain benefits that can only be provided to spouses as defined by that law, which is now being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. While it will not change during my tenure as secretary of defense, I foresee a time when the law will allow the department to grant full benefits to service members and their dependents, irrespective of sexual orientation. Until then, the department will continue to comply with current law while doing all we can to take care of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families.
“While the implementation of additional benefits will require substantial policy revisions and training, it is my expectation that these benefits will be made available as expeditiously as possible. One of the great successes at the Department of Defense has been the implementation of DADT repeal. It has been highly professional and has strengthened our military community. I am confident in the military services’ ability to effectively implement these changes over the coming months.”
The secretary’s memorandum extending these benefits can be viewed at: http://www.defense.gov/news/Same-SexBenefitsMemo.pdf
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today applauded the decision by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to extend a slate of benefits to LGBT military families. Together, Shaheen and Gillibrand have been vocal advocates calling for the extension of benefits to LGBT servicemen and women and their families since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2011. Some of the extended benefits announced by Secretary Panetta this morning include access to family support initiatives and joint duty assignments. In January, the Senators co-signed a letter urging Secretary Panetta to bring the Defense Department benefits of LGBT service up to par with those heterosexual couples receive.
Full text of Panetta statement, click here - 02/11/2013
PATH SOCIAL NETWORK APP TO PAY $800,000 FOR KIDS' PRIVACY VIOLATIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The operator of the Path social networking app has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived users by collecting personal information from their mobile device address books without their knowledge and consent. The settlement requires Path, Inc. to establish a comprehensive privacy program and to obtain independent privacy assessments every other year for the next 20 years. The company also will pay $800,000 to settle charges that it illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent. The settlement with Path is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to make sure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to consumers, and that kids’ personal information isn’t collected or shared online without their parents’ consent.
"Over the years the FTC has been vigilant in responding to a long list of threats to consumer privacy, whether it’s mortgage applications thrown into open trash dumpsters, kids information culled by music fan websites, or unencrypted credit card information left vulnerable to hackers,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “This settlement with Path shows that no matter what new technologies emerge, the agency will continue to safeguard the privacy of Americans.”
Path operates a social networking service that allows users to keep journals about “moments” in their life and to share that journal with a network of up to 150 friends. Through the Path app, users can upload, store, and share photos, written “thoughts,” the user’s location, and the names of songs to which the user is listening.
In its complaint, the FTC charged that the user interface in Path's iOS app was misleading and provided consumers no meaningful choice regarding the collection of their personal information. In version 2.0 of its app for iOS, Path offered an “Add Friends” feature to help users add new connections to their networks. The feature provided users with three options: “Find friends from your contacts;” “Find friends from Facebook;” or “Invite friends to join Path by email or SMS.” However, Path automatically collected and stored personal information from the user’s mobile device address book even if the user had not selected the “Find friends from your contacts” option. For each contact in the user’s mobile device address book, Path automatically collected and stored any available first and last names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook and Twitter usernames, and dates of birth.
The agency also charged that Path, which collects birth date information during user registration, violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule by collecting personal information from approximately 3,000 children under the age of 13 without first getting parents’ consent. Through its apps for both iOS and Android, as well as its website, Path enabled children to create personal journals and upload, store and share photos, written “thoughts,” their precise location, and the names of songs to which the child was listening. Path version 2.0 also collected personal information from a child’s address book, including full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth and other information, where available.
The FTC charged that Path violated the COPPA Rule by:
In addition to the $800,000 civil penalty, Path is prohibited from making any misrepresentations about the extent to which it maintains the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ personal information. The proposed settlement also requires Path to delete information collected from children under age 13 and bars future violations of COPPA. Path has already deleted the address book information that it collected during the time period its deceptive practices were in place.
The FTC also introduces Mobile App Developers: Start with Security, a new business guide that encourages developers to aim for reasonable data security, evaluate the app ecosystem before development, and includes tips such as making someone responsible for data security and taking stock of the data collected and maintained.
The Commission vote to authorize the staff to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice and to approve the proposed consent decree was 5-0. The DOJ filed the complaint on behalf of the Commission in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on January 31, 2013. The proposed consent decree will be filed with the same U.S. District Court today and is subject to court approval.
BANKRUPT FIRM AT CENTER OF MENINGITIS OUTBREAK EXPECTS LITTLE INSURANCE MONEY FOR VICTIMS
More from the Boston Globe, click here - 01/31/2013
IMMIGRATION REFORM EMERGES IN PROPOSAL FROM SENATE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A bipartisan group of senators has come up with a reform proposal seen by policy wonks as having a better than usual chance of passage in the chamber, though the house is another matter.
The senat0rs are : Charles Schumer, John McCain, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Michael Bennet, and Jeff Flake.
According to the group, the plan has four basic legislative pillars.
o Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
As for protection of both immigrant workers and American workers, their proposal would :
o Allow employers to hire immigrants if it can be demonstrated that they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position and the hiring of an immigrant will not displace American workers;
For more see link below.
Full text of original document, click here - 01/28/2013
D-C APPEALS COURT RULES OBAMA ADMINISTRATION MADE ILLEGAL APPOINTMENTS TO NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD / RULING COULD AFFECT ALL CASES SINCE JANUARY 2012
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Admitting it reached a decision that differs with other federal courts, the U-S Court of Appeals in Washington DC, has ruled that President Obama violated the constitution when he by-passed Senate confirmation, during a disputed recess, to fill vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The case, argued before the court last month, arose when Teamsters Union Local 760 filed an unfair labor practice charge against Noel Canning, a soft drink bottler in Yakima, Washington, because of the company's refusal to execute a written contract agreement, ratified by the membership. After a two-day hearing, the administrative law judge handling the case for the NLRB, determined that the parties had in fact achieved verbal consensus as to the terms of pension contribution caps, included in the written agreement and that Noel Canning’s refusal to execute the written agreement constituted an unfair labor practice under section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The ALJ ordered Noel Canning to sign the collective bargaining agreement. Noel Canning timely filed exceptions to the ALJ’s decision, and the Board (NLRB) upheld the ALJ's decision.The company claimed that the pension caps were not written, therefore, not binding.
The unanimous decision of the DC federal appeals court, released today, overturned the decision made by the NLRB, claiming that the NLRB was of illegal standing since three members were appointed without the constitutionally required Senate confirmation, therefore, made their decision without enough members legally seated for a quorum. The three members were appointed by President Obama during the Christmas holiday Senate recess in 2011. Senate Republicans accused the NLRB of making too may decisions in favor of unions.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded today, saying the appointments were legal and that the administration would prove it when the case advances to the U-S Supreme Court. Carney contends the Obama appointments were no different than other appointments made by both Democrat and Republican presidents during disputed recesses.
SEN. FEINSTEIN PROPOSES BAN ON 157 MILITARY STYLE ASSAULT RIFLES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today joined a broad coalition representing Congress, law enforcement, doctors, clergy and gun violence victims to announce the introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The bill bans military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
The following joined the Senate bill as cosponsors: Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“The bill introduced today is the product of more than a year of work, with input from across the country,” Feinstein said. “Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that—but it’s a battle worth having. We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style assaults weapons with the growing threat to lives across America. If 20 dead children in Newtown wasn’t a wakeup call that these weapons of war don’t belong on our streets, I don’t know what is.”
The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 has two principal goals:
The legislation also protects the rights of law-abiding citizens who use guns for hunting, household defense or legitimate recreational purposes. The Assault Weapons Ban includes a grandfather clause that specifically exempts all assault weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment from the ban. The legislation also excludes:
Other key provisions in the bill:
“I believe this bill is a big step toward ending the mass shootings that have devastated families across the country—from Newtown to Aurora, from Tucson to Virginia Tech, from Columbine to Oak Creek,” Feinstein said. “It’s time for Americans to stand up and tell the gun manufacturers that the lives of our children are more important than their profits and get these dangerous weapons out of our schools, our workplaces, our malls and our theaters. It’s time to take action and we’ll get it done, not matter how long it takes.”
Senator Feinstein was joined at the press conference by Senators Durbin, Schumer, Blumenthal and Murphy; Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.); Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors); Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey (also president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association); and a wide range of groups that have endorsed the bill.
The full text of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 as well as additional background information is available on Senator Feinstein’s website at www.feinstein.senate.gov/assaultweapons. 01/24/2013
OBAMA PROPOSES MAJOR CHANGES FOR GUN OWNERSHIP / VIDEO OF ANNOUNCEMENT BELOW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Taking suggestions from other shooting victims and their families, President Obama today proposed major changes for gun ownership in the U-S. During an announcement at the White House, Obama said he could not put action off any longer. He said in the month since the Newtown, Ct, school shootings, "900 of our fellow American have died", due to gun violence.
He signed a directive after his speech, designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and better account for those guns that are sold.
He wants more resource officers at schools around the country.
Encourage more mental health providers to know their options when they see danger.
A CDC study to find best ways to reduce violence
He is proposing 23 actions in total, which, he said was in no way a substitute for action from congress. He is calling for passage of:
Universal background checks for anyone trying to buy a weapon. The President admitted that previous background checks are hard to enforce when 40% of gun sales done outside licensed dealerships.
Congress should restore ban on military style rifles, weapons, and high capacity magazines.
Severe punishment for those selling arms to criminals.
Funding for more police officers on the streets.
Obama explained the public and their elected officials must take action which will only happen if the American people demand it .
NEW YORK STATE LAWMAKERS APPROVE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - With overwhelming support in both the Senate and House, the New York State Legislature approved and Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed, The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE).
According to the Albany Times-Union, the SAFE Act would adjust the definition of a banned assault rifle so that any single characteristic — such as a telescoping stock, flash suppressor, bayonet attachment or pistol grip — on a semiautomatic rifle would render it illegal. Existing weapons would be grandfathered in, but their ownership could not be transferred.
A statewide registry of these guns would be created, and the county-by-county process for issuing handgun permits would also be standardized and centralized. In a change to the state's Freedom of Information Law, permit applicants would be able to request their name and address not be released — a point that arose after the Journal News in Westchester County last month published a list of the names and addresses of pistol permit holders.
The maximum capacity of an ammunition magazine would be reduced from 10 rounds to seven, and a current exemption for clips manufactured before 1994 will end.
Private sales of firearms, which now proceed unfettered, would require a background check through a licensed dealer, putting those transactions in line with current purchasing requirements for rifles and shotguns.
At the urging of Republicans in the Senate, the bill also stiffens penalties for people who use guns criminally. It would also include an expansion of mental health providers' ability to commit those found to be a danger to the public — another GOP priority —
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Cuomo-signs-sweeping-gun-control-package-4195504.php#ixzz2I6is8ri6
SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE FUTURE OF FORCED BLOOD TESTS IN DRUNK DRIVING CASES / JUSTICES APPEARED SKEPTICAL OF TESTS WITHOUT WARRANTS
More from the Christian Science Monitor, click here - See video of story below from PBS NewsHour - 01/09/2013
APPEALS COURT APPEARS READY TO UPHOLD OBAMA'S LIMIT ON SEMI AUTOMATIC WEAPONS IN MEXICAN BORDER STATES
More from Reuters, click here - 01/09/2013
SENATE VOTES TO EXTEND WARRENTLESS WIRETAPPING ACT
More from the Voice of America - The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a five-year extension of a law allowing the government to conduct wiretapping on foreign citizens without a warrant.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, cleared the Senate Friday by a 73-23 margin with broad bipartisan support. The legislation now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The law, first passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, also allows intelligence gathering on Americans when they communicate abroad with foreigners designated by security agencies as potential terrorist suspects.
The legislation covers telephone calls, emails and other types of electronic communications.
Critics, including privacy advocates, argue the law allows for government abuse because investigators do not need judicial approval to conduct surveillance.
Ahead of Friday's vote, lawmakers rejected proposed amendments, including one that would have compelled the National Security Agency to estimate how many U.S. citizens have been monitored under the law.
GUN CONTROL LESSONS FROM FORMER PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON
OBAMA SAYS HE HAS "BIGGER FISH TO FRY" THAN POT SMOKERS / FEDS HAVE YET TO DEAL WITH NEW STATE LAWS ALLOWING POT SMOKING
More from theWashington Post, click here - 12/14/2012
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER CALLS FOR NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR VOTING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In a speech at the John F. Kennedy Library, Attorney General Eric Holder says the country needs to deal with sepression of the vote and promote national standards that encourage voter participation. Holder called for the country recapture the ambition to promote civil rights, voting rights and worker rights as President Kennedy did in the short three years he was in office. Recounting the former president's accomplishments, Holder said, "From the Equal Pay Act of 1963, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – these measures have helped to secure a brighter, more inclusive future for the country that President Kennedy loved. And, in all that he did, he urged us to think of the progress we’ve inherited: “ not so much [as] a gift from the past as a challenge for the future . . . for democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to effort, to sacrifice, and a willingness to live and to die in its defense.”
Holder Added, "Foremost among these is the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – one of our most important, and most effective, tools for preventing disenfranchisement in our elections. A year ago this week – at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas – I gathered with some of America’s most dedicated civil rights champions to discuss the Justice Department’s longstanding efforts to enforce this critical law, and to keep our election systems free from fraud, discrimination, and partisan influence. And tonight – as we come together in the wake of contested campaigns for federal office – I can think of no more appropriate time to resume the conversation that we began in Austin. It is a time to draw back from partisan battle-lines; to focus instead on the long-term welfare of our nation; to recommit ourselves to the “new patriotism” – about which I speak today – that President Kennedy continues to inspire. And it’s a time to carry on the robust enforcement efforts that remain among the Justice Department’s top priorities.
At the center of this ongoing work is an important provision of the Voting Rights Act known as “Section 5” – a statute which requires all or parts of 16 states with documented histories of discrimination to obtain approval, from either the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges, for any proposed changes in voting procedures or practices. For nearly five decades, this process – known as “preclearance” – has prevented these “covered jurisdictions” from altering their voting practices until it has been determined that new proposals would have neither a discriminatory purpose nor effect. This provision has consistently enjoyed broad, bipartisan support – including, most recently, in 2006, when an overwhelming Congressional majority joined with President Bush to reauthorize its protections. It’s also been upheld as constitutional in each of the eight court challenges that the law’s opponents filed between 1965 and 2010 – during the first 45 years after it took effect. Over the last two years alone, however, we’ve seen at least 10 lawsuits – more than in the first four decades of the statute’s existence – arguing that Section 5 is no longer constitutional, and that our nation has moved far beyond the challenges that prompted both its passage and its recent renewal.
COMMON CAUSE CHALLENGES SENATE FILIBUSTER RULES IN FEDERAL COURT / WANTS TO ELIMINATE DELAY TACTICS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Common Cause and four U-S House Democrats have asked DC District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan to decide whether the U-S Senate can require a supermajority to pass legislation. Common Cause and constitutionality of the supermajority requirement, which means there must be 60 out of 100 votes in the chamber to pass legislation or defeat a filibuster, used to delay or kill legislation.
Judge Sullivan began hearing arguments on the case yesterday.
Common Cause argues a simple majority vote must prevail. They question the supermajority rule on behalf of those applying for American citizenship, whose status has been held up by Republicans opposed to immigration reform legislation.
According to a statement from Common Cause, Judge Sullivan asked Senate lawyers to give him written answers to several questions about their claim that the suit presents a political question, beyond the reach of the courts. He gave no indication of when he may rule.
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) NV, has said he intends to change the rules to eliminate abuse of the filibuster supermajority voting requirements, supporters of the lawsuit feel a court challenge is important to keep it out of the chamber.
In addition to Common Cause, Michaud, and Johnson, plaintiffs in the suit include Reps. John Lewis, D-GA., and Keith Ellison, D-MN, as well as three young professionals – Erika Andiola, Ceslo Mireles, and Caesar Vargas – who are being denied a path to American citizenship because of repeated Senate filibusters of the House-passed DREAM Act.
Common Cause statement, click here - 12/11/2012
COLORADO JOINS WASHINGTON ALLOWING RECREATIONAL USE OF MARIJUNA
More from Associated Press, click here- 12/10/2012
CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS SECURE COMMUNITIES ACT FORCED DEPORTATION OF INNOCENT IMMIGRANTS / ORDERS RELAXED ENFORCEMENT
More from the LA Times, click here- 12/05/2012
ACLU FILES SUIT TO PROMOTE WOMEN IN COMBAT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The American Civil Liberties Union has announced it has filed a federal lawsuit in California to fight the exclusion of women in military combat.
The group claims it is acting on the behlaf of four servicewomen and the Service Women’s Action Network.
According to a statement released by the national ACLU Office, the four servicemembers have all done tours in Iraq or Afghanistan -- some deploying multiple times --where they served in combat or led female troops who went on missions with combat infantrymen. Their careers and opportunities have been limited by a policy that does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts. The combat exclusion policy also makes it harder for them to do their jobs.
One plaintiff, Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, is an Air National Guard search and rescue helicopter pilot who flew Medevac missions in Afghanistan. In 2009, her helicopter was shot down while rescuing three injured soldiers, and she and her crew were forced to engage in combat. Hegar, who returned fire after sustaining shrapnel wounds, was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, and was returned to flying status within a week. Despite that, the combat exclusion policy prevents her from seeking some combat leadership positions.
“Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an Air Force pilot, and I have proven my ability every step of the way,” said Hegar. “The ability to serve in combat has very little to do with gender or any other generalization. It has everything to do with heart, character, ability, determination and dedication. This policy is an injustice to the women who have come before us and who continue to put their lives on the line for their country.”
Women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the rule categorically excludes them from more than 238,000 positions. Consequently, commanders are stymied in their ability to mobilize their troops effectively. In addition, servicewomen are:
“These women served their country bravely and honorably and have demonstrated their ability to distinguish themselves under fire just as much as their male comrades,” said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “This antiquated policy doesn’t reflect the nature of modern warfare or the actual contributions of women in uniform.”
Two of the plaintiffs led the Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams (FET) in Afghanistan. The FETs lived with and conducted missions with combat infantrymen. Another plaintiff was sent on similar missions in the Army, accompanying combat troops in Afghanistan. Because these were considered temporary duties outside of the servicewomen’s official specialties, their combat experience is not given official recognition.
“It’s unfair that a serviceman can be promoted for putting his life on the line in a combat situation, but a servicewoman who performs just as well on the battlefield is told that her service doesn’t count,” said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.
Other plaintiffs include:
“Combat exclusion is an archaic policy which does not reflect the realities of modern warfare, the values which our military espouses, or the actual capabilities of our service women,” said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network and former Marine captain. “Rather than enforcing a merit-based system, today's military bars all women regardless of their qualifications from access to prestigious and career-enhancing assignments, positions and schools, and is thus directly responsible for making servicewomen second-class citizens.”
The full complaint can be found here: www.aclu.org/womens-rights/hegar-et-al-v-panetta-complaint
More information on this case, including biographies of the plaintiffs, can be found at www.aclu.org/womens-rights/hegar-et-al-v-panetta
U-S SUPREME COURT STOPS ILLINOIS LAW THAT PREVENTED RECORDING OF POLICE ON THE JOB
More from the Chicago Tribune, click here- 11/26/2012
NEW STUDY GIVES STATE BY STATE ANALYSIS OF WIDENING GAP BETWEEN RICH & POOR/ WIDEST INCOME GAP IS IN ARIZONA
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A report from the Economic Policy Institute, authored by Elizabeth McNichol, Doug Hall, David Cooper, and Vincent Palacios , finds income inequality has grown in most parts of the country since the late 1970s. Over the past three business cycles prior to 2007, the incomes of the country’s highest-income households climbed substantially, while middle– and lower-income households saw only modest increases. Their report points out that During the recession of 2007 through 2009, households at all income levels, including the wealthiest, saw declines in real income due to widespread job losses and the loss of realized capital gains. But the incomes of the richest households have begun to grow again while the incomes of those at the bottom and middle continue to stagnate and wide gaps remain between high-income households and poor and middle-income households in every state.
APPEALS COURT DEALS ANOTHER BLOW TO DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT / EDIE WINDSOR CHALLENGED "DOMA" AFTER GOVERNMENT DENIED DEATH BENEFITS FROM HER SAME SEX SPOUSE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A New York City woman has won her case in a federal appeals court, challenging the federal government's refusal to tax benefits from the death of her same sex spouse.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down "DOMA", which the foundation for the government's refusal to grant Edie Windsor tax benefits from the death of her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. The appeals court decided the government did not present adequate justification for treating married same sex couples different from other married couples.
According to the ACLU, Windsor and Spyer, who were a couple for 44 years, were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York. When Thea Spyer died in 2009, she left all of her property to Windsor, including the apartment they shared. Because they were married, Spyer's estate normally would have passed to her spouse without any estate tax at all. Because DOMA prevents recognition of the otherwise valid marriages of same-sex couples, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes.
Windsor has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case. The court has not yet decided whether to hear her case, or any of several other challenges to DOMA.
For a copy of the decision, go to:
More on this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/edie
Full text of ACLU announcement, click here - 10/18/2012
BATTLE RAGES OVER "DO NOT TRACK" INTERNET / ACLU SAYS MARKETERS STILL WANT TO SPY ON YOU
More in this commentary from Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, click here - 10/13/2012
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT ORDERS BALLOTS IN WRONG OHIO PRECINCTS BE COUNTED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A three judge federal appeals court panel has upheld a lower court decision, ordering Ohio elections officials to count ballots cast in the wrong precincts. Civil rights groups claim that at least 14,000 such ballots were thrown out in Ohio in the 2008 election.
The appeals court agreed with the lower court decision, which found Ohio’s disqualification of right-place/wrong-precinct provisional ballots to constitute invidious discrimination because "the restriction bore no relation to those voters’ qualifications". The appeals panel determined that if the voter was given a ballot by poll workers in error, this cannot constitute reason to disqualify the ballot.
This case involved a lawsuit filed by SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION
LOCAL 1 against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who unions and civil rights activists had claimed was in an all out battle to restrict voting. Husted already has lost a court challenge of his order allowing only military personnel early voting privileges not granted the general voting public.
The cases are likely headed to the U-S Supreme Court.
NATIONAL UPDATE: THE LATEST ON THE GREAT VOTER PURGE OF 2012
More from the LA Times, click here - 10/08/2012
PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE AXES STATE VOTER ID LAW
More from the Associated Press, click here- 10/02/2012
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD SIDES WITH CAR SALESMAN FIRED FOR FACEBOOK POSTINGS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The National Labor Relations Board has found that the firing of a BMW salesman for photos and comments posted to his Facebook page did not violate federal labor law, because the activity was not concerted or protected.
The question came down to whether the salesman was fired exclusively for posting photos of an embarrassing and potentially dangerous accident at an adjacent Land Rover dealership, or for posting mocking comments and photos with co-workers about serving hot dogs at a luxury BMW car event. Both sets of photos were posted to Facebook on the same day; a week later, the salesman was fired from Knauz BMW in Lake Bluff, IL.
The Board agreed with Administrative Law Judge Joel P. Biblowitz, who found after a trial that the salesman was fired solely for the photos he posted of a Land Rover that was accidentally driven over a wall and into a pond at the adjacent dealership after a test drive. Both dealerships are owned by the same employer.
In a charge filed with the NLRB, the salesman maintained that he was principally fired for posting photos and sarcastic comments about his dealer serving hot dogs, chips and bottled water at a sales event announcing a new BMW model. “No, that’s not champagne or wine, it’s 8 oz. water,” the salesman commented under the photos. Following an investigation,the regional office issued a complaint. Judge Biblowitz found that this activity might have been protected under the National Labor Relations Act because it involved co-workers who were concerned about the effect of the low-cost food on the image of the dealership and, ultimately, their sales and commissions.
The Land Rover accident was another matter. A salesperson there had allowed a customer’s 13-year-old son to sit behind the wheel following a test drive, and the boy apparently hit the gas, ran over his parent’s foot, jumped the wall and drove into a pond. The salesman posted photos of the accident with sarcastic commentary, including: “OOPS”.
The National Labor Relations Act protects the group actions of employees who are discussing or trying to improve their terms and conditions of employment. An individual’s actions can be protected if they are undertaken on behalf of a group, but the judge found, and the Board agreed, that was not the case here.
As Judge Biblowitz wrote, “It was posted solely by [the employee], apparently as a lark, without any discussion with any other employee of the Respondent, and had no connection to any of the employees’ terms and conditions of employment. It is so obviously unprotected that it is unnecessary to discuss whether the mocking tone of the posting further affects the nature of the posting.” Because the posts about the marketing event did not cause the discharge, the Board found it unnecessary to pass on whether they were protected.
However, the three-member panel differed in its opinions of a “Courtesy” rule maintained by the employer regarding employee communications. Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Member Sharon Block found the language of the rule to be unlawful because employees would reasonably believe that it prohibits any statements of protest or criticism, even those protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
Dissenting, Member Brian E. Hayes found that the employer’s rule was “nothing more than a common-sense behavioral guideline for employees” and that “nothing in the rule suggests a restriction on the content of conversations (such as a prohibition against discussion of wages)”.
The Board ordered Knauz BMW to remove the unlawful rules from the employee handbook and furnish employees with inserts or new handbooks. The decision, dated Sept. 28 but made public today, was the Board’s first involving a discharge for Facebook postings; other such cases are pending before the Board.
MASSACHUSETTS OFFICIALS CONTINUE SEARCH FOR WRONGLY IMPRISONED DEFENDANTS IN CRIME LAB SCANDAL
More from the Boston Globe, click here - 09/25/2012
CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP SAYS MILLIONS OF MINORITY VOTERS WILL BE CUT OFF AT THE BALLOT BOX
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - According to a report released today by the Advancement Project, 23 states currently have legal barriers that disproportionately impact voter registration and participation by Latino citizens. These obstacles could deter or prevent more than 10 million Latino citizens from registering and voting in the 2012 elections. The report adds that, in many states, the number of eligible Latino citizens that could be affected by these barriers exceeds the margin of victory of the 2008 presidential election. In Florida, for example, eligible Latino voters amount to nine times the 2008 margin of victory, and in Colorado, the number of eligible Latino voters is twice the 2008 margin of victory.
Another statistic cited in the report is the reduction in voter participation among Latino voters from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico (99% Latino) has one of the highest registration and voting rates in the United States at more than 80%; however, after moving from the Island, Puerto Rican voter turnout drops to 30%. A significant part of this decline is likely caused by discriminatory and structural voting barriers. A federal government study estimated that, in January 2010, more than 8.1 million legal permanent residents were eligible to naturalize and become citizens who could register and vote. More than 3.6 million of these legal permanent residents were from Latin America or Spain. In addition, since 2010, approximately 1 million young Latino citizens have turned 18 years old and are also eligible to vote during the 2012 elections. Therefore, in addition to 21 million eligible Latino citizens of voting age in 2010, an estimated 4.6 million new and eligible-to-naturalize Latino citizens may have become qualified to vote since 2010. This comes to a total of more than 25.6 million Latino citizens who could make up the Latino electorate for the 2012 elections.
Also referenced in the report, out of 146 million registered voters in the United States, there have only been 56 cases of noncitizens voting in the entire nation since 2000, and that the methods used to check the voting rolls to date target naturalized citizens, the majority of whom are voters of color, we recommend that state and local election officials refrain from using their limited resources to access federal immigration data to check their voting rolls. Election officials should instead focus on more efficient ways of ensuring election integrity and take positive measures to ensure that all eligible American citizens have full and equal access to the right to vote.
Full text of Advancement Project report, click here - 09/24/2012
ALLEGED DEAD VOTERS IN NORTH CAROLINA GIVEN CHANCE TO RESPOND
More from WRAL.com, click here - More from the Charlotte Observer, click here - Below, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on group responsible for dead voter purge being a business, rather than their claim of being a non-profit. 09/20/2012
$28.4 MILLION APPROVED BY VETERANS AFFAIRS TO HOUSE HOMELESS VETS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Department of Veterans Affairs today announced it has approved $28.4 million in grants to fund 38 projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia that will provide transitional housing to homeless veterans.
Among these 38 projects, 31 will provide temporary housing to homeless veterans with the goal that they will retain the residence as their own.
“As we drive toward our goal to end homelessness among veterans by 2015, VA continues to find innovative ways to permanently house veterans who were formerly homeless,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “Under President [Barack] Obama’s leadership, we have made incredible strides in creating programs to aid these brave men and women who have served our Nation so well.”
Thirty-one of the grants were awarded through VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program’s “Transition in Place” model. The program allows veterans the opportunity to take over payment of a lease instead of moving out after using VA services—substance use counseling, mental health services, job training and more. Other VA programs require veterans living in transitional housing to move out after 24 months.
GPD helps close gaps in available housing for the nation’s most vulnerable homeless veterans, including women with children, Native American tribal populations, and veterans with substance use and mental health issues.
Those receiving funding have undergone a rigorous review by teams of experts rating each application under objective criteria to ensure that those funded have the ability to provide the services described and a solid plan to get these Veterans into housing with a high probability of obtaining residential stability and independent living.
“Securing permanent housing is a vital step in the journey of our homeless Veterans,” said Dr. Susan Angell, executive director for VA’s Veterans Homeless Initiative. “This is the last piece of the puzzle, and it is crucial for them in continuing to lead independent lives." Full text of VA press release AND SITES INCLUDED IN THE GRANT AWARDS, click here - 09/19/2012
MASSACHUSETTS STATE HEALTH COMMISSIONER RESIGNS OVER BOGUS CRIME LAB TESTS / SCANDAL INVOLVES MORE THAN 34,000 CASES
More from Associated Press, click here- 09/17/2012
COMMON CAUSE DEVELOPS BATTLE PLAN FOR VOTER INTIMIDATION AND BALLOT CHALLENGES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - As part of a report on the voter suppression efforts in 2012, Common Cause has come up with proposals to stand up for the right to vote, when showing up at the polls.
According to the group, True the Vote and other Tea Party-affiliated groups are reportedly recruiting 1 million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities on and before Election Day, according to the study. These volunteers are being rallied to block, in their own words, the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army.” Their stated goal is to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police behind you”.
Common Cause itemizes some of the ways conservative groups are trying to restrict the vote.
Common Cause and Demos are part of the Election Protection coalition, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition. Common Cause and coalition allies are recruiting and organizing non partisan Election Day monitors to help voters understand the voting rules in their state and report any and all efforts to discourage or intimidate voters. Through the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline and a comprehensive field deployment, Election Protection helps voters overcome obstacles to the ballot box while collecting data for meaningful reform. Over 100 organizations have joined forces to monitor polling places across the country and provide aid, including legal assistance, to voters who encounter obstacles to voting.
BOSTON CRIME LAB MANAGERS TERMINATED AS STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL REPORT PROMPTS QUESTIONS IN MORE THAN 34,000 CASES
ELECTRONIC PRIVACY ADVOCATES OPPOSE RENEWAL OF SPY POWERS ACT / DEMAND ACTION ON BODY SCANNER RULES & MOBILE PRIVACY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In its latest newsletter released today, the Electronic Privacy Information Center calls for changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Powers Act amendments, which the U-S House approved yesterday. EPIC says the FISA Amendments Act, which passed 301-118, authorizes programs of surveillance intended to target foreign agents, but allows collection of private communications of United States citizens without individualized suspicion. In May 2012, EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the legislation and recommended new oversight procedures. The Senate has yet to consider the measure. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and others have expressed concern about renewal of the Act. For more information, see EPIC: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and EPIC: Clapper v. Amnesty International USA.
EPIC has filed a reply brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the airport body scanner case. The case arises from EPIC's Mandamus Petition, seeking to enforce the Court's July 2011 order requiring the DHS to "promptly" begin notice-and-comment rulemaking. EPIC has argued that the agency's ongoing delay is "unreasonable" and that the Court should require the Secretary to begin the rule making or suspend the program. For more information, see: EPIC v. DHS (Suspension of Body Scanner Program) and EPIC: Whole Body Imaging Technology.
EPIC also writes that Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) has introduced "The Mobile Device Privacy Act," a bill that would require companies disclose the existence of monitoring software to consumers and obtain consent before using this software to collect personal information. The bill, H.R. 6337, would also direct the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to develop rules implementing the act’s provisions. Recently, EPIC filed comments with the FCC urging the Commission to require mobile carriers to implement comprehensive fair information practices. For more information, see EPIC: Customer Proprietary Network Information and EPIC: Location Privacy.
Full text of EPIC news, click here - 09/14/2012
APPEALS COURT REINSTATES LAWSWUIT AGAINST UNITED AIRLINES FOR FAILURE TO MAKE ACCOMODATIONS FOR DISABLED WORKERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against airline giant United Airlines Inc. The circuit court overturned precedent to agree with the EEOC that "reasonable accommodation" as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may require employers to provide employees with disabilities with "reassignment to a vacant position" when the employee cannot be accommodated in his or her current position.
The EEOC's suit charged that United violated the ADA by refusing to place workers with disabilities in vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working. Instead, UAL required these employees to compete for jobs on the company website. The company's practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing their employment.
In June 2009, the EEOC filed the original lawsuit in the Northern District of California based on its investigation of a number of discrimination charges filed by United employees located in San Francisco and Chicago. United successfully moved for a change of venue to the Northern District of Illinois, where an earlier Seventh Circuit case, EEOC v. Humiston Keeling, 227 F.3d 1024 (7th Cir. 2000), had already held that a competitive transfer policy did not violate the ADA. In February 2011, the lower court, bound by this precedent, dismissed the EEOC's case against United.
On appeal, however, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the EEOC that Humiston Keeling "did not survive" an intervening Supreme Court decision, U.S. Airways v. Barnett, 535 U.S. 391 (2002). The Court of Appeals held that "the ADA does indeed mandate that an employer appoint employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to the employer."
"The Court's decision will have far-reaching benefits for individuals with disabilities who strive for economic independence and want to work," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "We are pleased that the case may now go forward."
EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "We anticipate that numerous employees at United locations nationwide may have a claim in this systemic case. This case will allow them to seek reassignment and continue their careers with United."
EEOC Appellate Attorney Barbara Sloan added, "In defining 'reasonable accommodation' to include 'reassignment to a vacant position,' Congress clearly intended to ensure that employees with disabilities remain productive workers even when they can no longer do their current jobs due to disability -- as long as reassignment is possible and poses no undue hardship. With its decision, the Seventh Circuit joins the D.C. and Tenth Circuits in implementing Congress's intent."
According to the company web site, United Airlines has almost 50,000 employees in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. The air carrier operates air travel hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C. United is one of the largest international carriers based in the United States.
Full text of EEOC statement, click here - 09/13/2012
260 PEOPLE DIE IN GARMENT AND SHOE FACTORY FIRES IN PAKISTAN
More from the Voice of America - Fires broke out at two factories in Pakistan Tuesday, killing more than 260 people.
Pakistani officials say at least 236 people were killed in the southern port city of Karachi when a blaze ripped through a garment factory. The death toll rose throughout the day Wednesday as authorities pulled more bodies from the charred building. Many of the dead were found in the factory's basement. Police officials say there were no emergency exits.
Injured workers said they were unable to find a way out and jumped out of windows to escape, suffering broken bones. Parts of the building were still smoldering hours after the fire.
Following the Karachi fire, ministers in Sindh province ordered inspections for all factories in the province.
The fires have touched off a political storm over claims from a now resigned provincial labor minister that he was pressured not to issue violations to employers. Click here for story the Express-Tribune . 09/12/2012
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ACCUSES FLORIDA OFFICIALS OF WAREHOUSING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES / LINK TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT COMPLAINT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - In a 22 Page letter (See link below) the U-S Department of Justice sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi outlining their complaint against the state for unnecessary institutionalization of disabled children.
As the result of an investigation into the issues, the Justice Department claims, in its letter,
The Justice Department says these actions are in violation of federal civil rights laws, and suggests possible solutions.
APPEALS COURT RULES CITIES CANNOT RANDOMLY SEIZE AND DESTROY PROPERTY OF THE HOMELESS
FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS OHIO TO RESTORE EARLY VOTING DAYS / LINKS TO DECISIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The politically exploding case surrounding the cancellation of early voting days in Ohio flared again today when a federal judge ordered early voting restored.
Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, a Republican, had ordered an end to early voting on the weekends, except for military members and their families, a voting block in Ohio that mostly supports Republicans.
A federal judge in Columbus today reversed Husted's order. Southern District of Ohio Federal Court Judge Peter Economus cited the Bush v. Gore U-S Supreme Court decision involving the 2000 Presidential election.
Economus writes, "The issue here is not the right to absentee voting, which, as the Supreme Court has already clarified, is not a “fundamental right.” McDonald v. Bd. of Election Commissioners, 394 U.S. 802, 807 (1969). The issue presented is the State’s redefinition of in-person early voting and the resultant restriction of the right of Ohio voters to cast their votes in person through the Monday before Election Day. This Court stresses that where the State has authorized in-person early voting through the Monday before Election Day for all voters, “the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 104-05 (2000). Here, that is precisely what the State has done".
State officials are expected to appeal the decision. Another decision this week from the same court, this time issued by Judge Algenon L. Marbley, also dealt a blow to Husted's attempt to throw out ballots of legal voters who went to the wrong precinct, through no fault of their own. Husted is expected to appeal this decision as well.
TEXAS VOTER ID LAW LOSES AGAIN IN FEDERAL APPEALS COURT / LINK TO ACTUAL DECISION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The new Texas voter ID law has been blocked by a three judge panel in a DC federal appeals court.
The panel is the same which, earlier this week, blocked the latest redistricting plan from the Texas legislature (See story below).
After release of today's ruling, Attorney General Eric Holder responded,
“The court’s decision today and the decision earlier this week on the Texas redistricting plans not only reaffirm - but help protect - the vital role the Voting Rights Act plays in our society to ensure that every American has the right to vote and to have that vote counted. The Department of Justice opposed pre clearance of the Texas voter ID law because of the harm it would cause minority voters across the state of Texas. Under the proposed law, many of those without the required voter identification would be forced to travel great distances to get one – and some would have to pay for the documents they might need to do so. The legislature rejected reasonable efforts to mitigate these burdens. We are pleased with the court's decision to deny pre clearance because of these racially discriminatory effects".
“The Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive and even-handed. When a jurisdiction meets its burden of proving that a proposed voting change would not have a racially discriminatory purpose or effect, the Department will not oppose that change -- when a jurisdiction fails to meet that burden, we will object".
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says the state will take the case to the U-S Supreme Court. In a statement, Abbott says,
"The Supreme Court of the United States has already upheld Voter ID laws as a constitutional method of ensuring integrity at the ballot box. Today's decision is wrong on the law and improperly prevents Texas from implementing the same type of ballot integrity safeguards that are employed by Georgia and Indiana - and were upheld by the Supreme Court. The State will appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, where we are confident we will prevail".
Actual court decision, click here- 08/30/2012
FEDERAL COURT DEALS BLOW TO TEXAS LEGISLATURE REDISTRICTING / CRITICS CLAIM NEW DISTRICTS DILUTED MINORITY REPRESENTATION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A federal court in Washington D-C has thrown out the latest redistricting plan passed in the Texas legislature.
Today's decision was written by Judge David S. Tatel, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He was joined in the decision by U.S. District Court Judges Rosemary Collyer and Robert L. Wilkins. Although there were dissenting opinions to the 154 page ruling, all three substantively agreed with the decision. The next step is the U-S Supreme Court, where Texas officials have promised to take it.
In the decision, Judge Tatel states, "We conclude that Texas has not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose. Accordingly, we deny Texas declaratory relief. Texas has failed to carry its burden that Plans C185, S148, and H283 do not have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act".
The decision, including the history of the case is 71 pages. The rest of the pages make up dissenting opinions regarding specific districts, whether they violate the Voting Rights Act.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION AND FACEBOOK CUT DEAL OVER ALLEGED PRIVACY VIOLATIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The FTC has accepted as final a settlement with Facebook resolving charges that Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.
The Commission vote to approve the final order and letters to members of the public who commented on it was 3-1-1 with Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch dissenting and Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen not participating. The Commission issued a statement authored by Chairman Jon D. Leibowitz and Commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill. The Commission statement affirmed that, based on the extensive investigation of the staff, there is a strong reason to believe that the settlement is in the public interest, and that the Order's provisions make clear that Facebook will be liable for a broad range of deceptive conduct. As set forth in his separate statement, Commissioner Rosch dissented from the acceptance of the final consent order, questioning whether Facebook's express denial of liability provided "a reason to believe" that the settlement was "in the interest of the public" and expressing concern that the final consent order may not unequivocally cover all representations made in the Facebook environment. (FTC File No. 092-3184; the staff contact is Laura Berger, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-460-8364; see press release dated November 29, 2011.)
GOOGLE AGREES TO $22.5 MILLION FINE FOR SAFARI BROWSER TRACKING COOKIES / FEDS SAY COMPANY VIOLATED PRIVACY RULES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The Federal Trade Commission today announced it had reached a settlement with Google over the use of tracking cookies on it's Safari browser.
According to the FTC, Google Inc. has agreed to pay a record $22.5 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it misrepresented to users of Apple Inc.’s Safari Internet browser that it would not place tracking “cookies” or serve targeted ads to those users, violating an earlier privacy settlement between the company and the FTC.
The settlement is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts make sure companies live up to the privacy promises they make to consumers, and is the largest penalty the agency has ever obtained for a violation of a Commission order. In addition to the civil penalty, the order also requires Google to disable all the tracking cookies it had said it would not place on consumers’ computers.
“The record setting penalty in this matter sends a clear message to all companies under an FTC privacy order,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “No matter how big or small, all companies must abide by FTC orders against them and keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place.”
Google, the developer of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, generates billions of dollars in revenues annually from selling online advertising services, including the delivery of targeted ads online. Cookies are small pieces of computer text that are used to collect information from computers and can be used to serve targeted ads to consumers. By placing a tracking cookie on a user’s computer, an advertising network can collect information about the user’s web-browsing activities and use that information to serve online ads targeted to the user’s interests or for other purposes.
In its complaint, the FTC charged that for several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google’s DoubleClick advertising network, although Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking, as a result of the default settings of the Safari browser used in Macs, iPhones and iPads.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Google specifically told Safari users that because the Safari browser is set by default to block third-party cookies, as long as users do not change their browser settings, this setting “effectively accomplishes the same thing as [opting out of this particular Google advertising tracking cookie].” In addition, Google represented that it is a member of an industry group called the Network Advertising Initiative, which requires members to adhere to its self-regulatory code of conduct, including disclosure of their data collection and use practices.
Despite these promises, the FTC charged that Google placed advertising tracking cookies on consumers’ computers, in many cases by circumventing the Safari browser’s default cookie-blocking setting. Google exploited an exception to the browser’s default setting to place a temporary cookie from the DoubleClick domain. Because of the particular operation of the Safari browser, that initial temporary cookie opened the door to all cookies from the DoubleClick domain, including the Google advertising tracking cookie that Google had represented would be blocked from Safari browsers.
The FTC charged that Google’s misrepresentations violated a settlement it reached with the agency in October 2011, which barred Google from – among other things – misrepresenting the extent to which consumers can exercise control over the collection of their information. The earlier settlement resolved FTC charges that Google used deceptive tactics and violated its privacy promises when it launched its social network, Google Buzz.
More information about the FTC case can be found at the Tech@FTC blog.
Full text of FTC statement, click here - 08/09/2012
FEDERAL RESERVE EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR FORECLOSED HOMEOWNERS WANTING INDEPENDENT REVIEW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Borrowers seeking a review of their mortgage foreclosures under the federal banking agencies' Independent Foreclosure Review now have until December 31, 2012, to submit their requests. The previous deadline had been September 30th, 2012.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) today announced that the deadline for submitting requests for review under the Independent Foreclosure Review has been extended. The new deadline provides additional time for borrowers to request a review if they believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors in foreclosure actions on their homes in 2009 or 2010 by one of the servicers covered by enforcement actions issued in April 2011.
The deadline extension provides more time to increase awareness about the Independent Foreclosure Review and how eligible borrowers may request a review, and to encourage the broadest participation possible. The agencies will work with the servicers to expand their outreach and marketing efforts through the end of the year to encourage as much participation as possible.
As part of enforcement actions issued in April 2011, the agencies required 14 large mortgage servicers to retain independent consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of foreclosure activity in 2009 and 2010 to identify borrowers who may have been financially injured due to errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process. If the review finds that financial injury occurred, the borrower may receive remediation such as lump-sum payments, suspension or rescission of a foreclosure, a loan modification or other loss mitigation assistance, correction of credit reports, or correction of deficiency amounts and records. Lump-sum payments can range from $500 to, in the most egregious cases, $125,000 plus equity, according to guidance issued by the agencies.
Requesting a review does not preclude borrowers from taking other actions related to their foreclosures. A servicer is not permitted to require a borrower to sign a waiver of the borrower's ability to pursue claims against the servicer in order to receive compensation under the Independent Foreclosure Review.
There are no costs associated with being included in the review. More information, including how to apply online, is available at http://www.independentforeclosurereview.com
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REACHES AGREEMENT WITH NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT ON CORRUPTION AND DISCRMINATION CASES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Justice Department officials and New Orleans city officials have reached agreement over charges stemming from corruption, discriminatory practices and actions by some officers during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
The consent decree is the product of the United States’ civil pattern or practice investigation of NOPD, which began in May 2010 and resulted in a comprehensive report in which the department found that NOPD engages in a pattern or practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and other federal laws. The Justice Department’s investigation found a pattern or practice of excessive force, including stops, searches and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The investigation also found evidence of discriminatory policing based on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. This civil pattern or practice investigation was separate from the numerous federal criminal civil rights prosecutions of NOPD officers during this time period.
The Justice Department’s civil pattern or practice investigation was informed by 12 experts on police practices, including a number of current and former police professionals. The investigation included numerous onsite visits and observations of police-community interactions, including interviews with New Orleans officials, NOPD command staff, supervisors and police officers. Additionally, the department’s investigation reviewed more than 36,000 pages of documents and held interviews with residents, community groups and other stakeholders.
The consent decree requires NOPD to make broad changes in policies and practices related to use of force; stops, searches and arrests; custodial interrogations; photographic line-ups; preventing discriminatory policing; community engagement; recruitment; training; officer assistance and support; performance evaluations and promotions; supervision; misconduct investigations; and NOPD’s system of secondary employment, also known as paid details. The agreement also requires more transparency by NOPD, encourages greater civilian oversight and increases community interaction and partnerships. The agreement requires close and comprehensive oversight by a court appointed monitoring team, which will periodically submit public reports regarding NOPD’s progress. The consent decree will remain in effect until the city demonstrates it has complied with its provisions for two years, or until the monitor’s assessment of the agreement’s outcome measures demonstrates sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing.
STUDY CLAIMS STATES VOTER ID LAWS ANOTHER FORM OF OUTLAWED POLL TAX
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University claims nearly 500,000 eligible voters in 10 states with restrictive voter ID laws live in households without vehicles and reside at least 10 miles from an ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. Because many of these voters may not have driver’s licenses — and nearly all live in rural areas with dwindling public transportation options — it could be significantly harder for them to get an ID and cast a ballot.
The Brennan Center says its study undercuts the claim by many politicians in restrictive ID states that eligible voters can easily obtain a free ID to vote. A federal court considered this issue last week during a trial over Texas’s voter ID law, and Pennsylvania’s ID law will go before a state judge next Wednesday.
“The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, but new voter ID laws are preventing eligible Americans from participating in our democracy,” said Keesha Gaskins, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center and co-author of The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification. “Voters find closed offices, long trips without cars and spotty public transit, and prohibitive costs for documents needed to get ID. Unless states with voter identification laws address these barriers now, many eligible citizens could lose their opportunity to vote this November.”
The Center’s research shows 1 in 10 eligible voters lack the necessary government-issued photo ID required by new restrictive voter ID laws, including 25 percent of African-Americans and 18 percent of Americans over 65.
Even if someone seeking photo ID manages to travel to an ID-issuing office, there is no guarantee it will be open during regular business hours. In Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi, fewer than half of all ID-issuing offices are open five days a week. None are open on weekends. And some offices maintain truly unusual hours: the office in Woodville, Mississippi is open only on the second Thursday of each month.
The report also provides an extensive look at the scarcity of ID-issuing offices in areas heavily populated by people of color and those in poverty — the exact population that most lack government-issued photo ID.
In 11 Alabama counties within the rural “black belt,” there are more than 60,000 eligible black voters but no driver’s license offices open more than two days per week. In Texas, in 32 counties near the Mexico border, there are 80,000 Hispanic eligible voters but only two such ID-issuing offices. Across the voter ID states, many of the offices with limited hours are located in rural areas with high concentrations of minority voters.
More than 1 million eligible voters in these 10 photo ID states fall below the federal poverty line and reside more than 10 miles from the nearest ID-issuing office. These voters can be particularly affected by the significant costs of the documentation required to obtain a photo ID. Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. By comparison, the notorious poll tax — outlawed during the civil rights era — cost $10.64 in current dollars.
“Every American citizen should have the opportunity to vote, but these restrictive laws could make it harder for hundreds of thousands to exercise that right,” said Sundeep Iyer, Principal Quantitative Analyst at the Center and co-author of the report. “Instead of making it more difficult for citizens to go to the polls, we need new laws to modernize our voting system so all eligible Americans can vote on Election Day while reducing the potential for fraud or abuse.”
The 10 restrictive voter ID states examined in the report are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Five of the laws are currently in effect (Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee). The other five are either awaiting federal approval (Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas), on appeal after being found unconstitutional under state law (Wisconsin), or not scheduled to go into effect until after 2012 (Alabama).
Full text of summary and link to full report, click here . See video of story from Rachel Maddow Show below.
REPORT ON PENN STATE SEX SCANDAL FINDS PATERNO AND OTHERS LIED ABOUT WHAT THEY KNEW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A report handed down from former FBI Director Louis Freeh puts blame for a cover-up and no challenge culture, squarely on Penn State officials and the late football coach Joe Paterno.
Commissioned by Penn State officials to find out what happened and how to fix it, the Freeh report singled out President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz as having knowledge about the problem, but resisted efforts for an independent investigation and covering up what they knew about former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's sex scandal with underage boys involving university facilities and activities. Sandusky was found guilty last month on 45 counts of abusing 10 boys over 15 years and is awaiting sentencing.
In a statement prepared for the release of the report, Freeh said,
"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and
welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State. The most
powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children
who Sandusky victimized. Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley never
demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of
Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.
Another issue that has been left out of much of the mainstream press reporting, is that Freeh's investigators also found the director of the university's Sports Camp Office and four others working in the camps program, had criminal records despite being cleared to work in the camps with no effort to inform others.
POOR CAUGHT IN JAIL CYCLES BY MONEY HUNGRY COURTS
THIS WEEK'S MOST IGNORED MAJOR SUPREME COURT DECISION: JUSTICES KNOCK OUT VALOR LAW / LYING ABOUT MILITARY RECORD CONSIDERED FREEDOM OF SPEECH
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - On the same day as the decision regarding the Affordable Care Act, the U-S Supreme Court also declarred the Stolen Valor Act as unconstitutional. According to the text of the justices decision The Stolen Valor Act made it a crime to falsely claim receipt of military decorations or medals and provides an enhanced penalty if the Congressional Medal of Honor is involved. A California man, Xavier Alvarez, pleaded guilty to a charge of falsely claiming that he had received the Medal of Honor, but reserved his right to appeal his claim that the Act is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding the Act invalid under the First Amendment. In a 6-3 decision, the U-S Supreme Court agreed, finding,
"Even when considering some instances of defamation or fraud, theCourt has instructed that falsity alone may not suffice to bring thespeech outside the First Amendment; the statement must be a knowing and reckless falsehood. See New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 280. Here, the Government seeks to convert a rule that limits liability even in defamation cases where the law permits recovery for tortious wrongs into a rule that expands liability in a different, far greater realm of discourse and expression".
RIGHT WING VOTER SUPRESSION TRICKS - RING OF FIRE RADIO (9 MINUTES) - 06/26/2012
SUPREME COURT BOOTS SOME OF ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW / ALSO GUTS MONTANA CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Decisions in two controversial cases were announced today by the U-S Supreme Court.
Portions of the Arizona immigration enforcement law were struck down, but a major provision was left in place. in a 5-3 decision, with Justice Elena Kagan abstaining due to her personal involvement in the case before becoming a justice, the majority of the court has upheld Arizona's right to allow police officers to determine the immigration status of those who are arrested. HOWEVER, the court said the Supremacy Clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law.
The opinion states, "A statute may contain an express preemption provision The Supremacy Clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law. A statute may contain an express preemption provision. The Federal Government’s broad, undoubted power over immigration and alien status rests, in part, on its constitutional power to“establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” , inherent sovereign power to control and conduct foreign relations. Federal governance is extensive and complex. Among other things, federal law specifies categories of aliens who are ineligible to be admitted to the United States requires aliens to register with the Federal Government and to carry proof of status, imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers, §1324a; and specifies which aliens may be removed and the procedures for doing so. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying, apprehending, and removing illegal aliens. It also operates the Law Enforcement Support Center,which provides immigration status information to federal, state, and local officials around the clock".
The court also reversed a decision from the Montana Supreme Court which upheld the state's campaign finance laws. But the U-S Supreme Court noted that its decision was consistent with the Citizen's United case which lifted limits on corporate and organizational campaign finance limits, holding that, “political speech does not lose First Amendment protectionsimply because its source is a corporation.”
LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR JUVENILES ENDS WITH SUPREME COURT RULING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Two 14 year old juveniles, convicted and sentenced to life without parole in Alabama, have won their case before the U-S Supreme Court. The youths were convicted in separate crimes that involved the death of a victim. Both appealed their sentence claiming violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U-S Constitution.
The U-S Supreme Court agreed that the" Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders". The court cited, "Two strands of precedent reflecting the concern with proportionate punishment come together here. The first has adopted categorical bans on sentencing practices based on mismatches between the culpability of a class of offenders and the severity of a penalty". The court identified the second "strand" as life without parole for juveniles being likened to the death penalty. In those decisions, this Court has required sentencing authorities to consider the characteristics of a defendant and the details of his offense before sentencing him to death".
SURPRISE DECISION WILL CUT DEPORTATION OF YOUNGER ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM THE U-S
Text of President's announcement, click here - More in YouTube video below of President Obama's News Conference (8 Minutes) - More in this article from the Washington Post, click here - 06/15/2012
ACLU SAYS FLORIDA TRYING TO PURGE VOTERS AFTER LOSING NEW VOTER RESTRICTIONS IN COURT / ACLU AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- ACLU Florida Executive director Howard Simon says Florida Governor Rick Scott is continuing efforts to purge thousands of legally registered voters. Simon says the ACLU and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are poised to fight the effort, which Simon considers a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
A federal Judge has already put a hold on a new Florida law ( see story below from 06/02/2012), tightening restrictions on new voter registrations, pending appeal. The ACLU and the Brennan Center successfully challenged that law in a federal district court.
Florida state officials have now sued the federal government over release of data which will be used to purge non citizens from the lists of eligible voters. State officials claim they have identified more than 140 voters who are non citizens listed as eligible voters, 47 of them, according to the state, have actually voted.
Yesterday, the U-S Justice Department announced it was suing Florida over the issue.
Due to the National Voter Registration Act, states are banned from purging voters within 90 days of an election, but state officials claim that does not apply to those committing voter fraud.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez says the state's methods used in the voter purge violated the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. One well publicized case, cited by Perez, a 91 year old Florida voter was wrongfully identified as a non citizen. Perez adds, “The 90-day quiet period in the NVRA protects eligible voters from being dropped from the rolls right before an election. It appears that Florida has undertaken a new program for voter removal within this 90-day period that has critical imperfections, which lead to errors that harm and confuse eligible voters.”
VIDEO: THE VICTIMS OF VOTER ID LAWS
More in video below from the Center for Economic Progress - 06/13/2012
NEW FLORIDA VOTER REGISTRATION RESTRICTIONS HALTED BY FEDERAL JUDGE
More from the LA Times, click here - 06/02/2012
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT DEALS ANOTHER BLOW TO "DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT"
SUPREME COURT DENIES FEDERAL BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN BORN THROUGH IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION
BROADCASTERS SUE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION FOR ORDERING PUBLIC LISTING OF POLITICAL GROUPS BUYING ADVERTISING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The National Association of Broadcasters has challenged the Federal Communications Commission, over the commission's rules forcing public disclosure of groups buying political advertising on those stations. The FCC's decision is based on the fact that broadcasters function as a public service on government regulated frequencies, therefore are accountable to public disclosure on political advertising. The NAB filed their lawsuit against the FCC in the U-S Court of Appeals, District of Columbia.
NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued the following statement, on April 27th, the day of the FCC's decision.
"NAB respectfully disagrees with today's FCC decision and we're disappointed that the Commission rejected compromise proposals proffered by broadcasters that would have brought greater transparency to political ad buying, said Wharton. He added, "By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily. We appreciate Commissioner McDowell's thoughtful and compelling dissent, and we will be seeking guidance from our Board of Directors regarding our options".
VIDEO: OBAMA ENDORSES RIGHT TO SAME SEX MARRIAGE
Click on video below from Voice of America - 05/10/2012
CALIFORNIA FEDERAL APPEALS COURT REVERSES OVERHAUL ORDER FOR V-A MENTAL HEALTH CARE
More from the Associated Press, click here- 05/07/2012
BROWSER MOZILLA ADDS VOICE TO OPPONENTS OF THE CYBERSPACE INTELLIGENCE SHARING AND PROTECTION ACT
FEDS ARREST B-P OIL ENGINEER INVOLVED WITH GULF OIL DISASTER
More from the Washington Post, click here- 04/24/2012
SUPREME COURT GIVES VICTORY TO RENTERS / WILL NOT TAKE UP LANDLORD CHALLENGE TO RENT CONTROL LAWS
More from the LA Times, click here- 04/23/2012
ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW HEADS TO U-S SUPREME COURT THIS WEEK
See videos below from the Voice of America and Center for American Progress - 04/22/2012
$150,000 BOND & ANKLE MONITORING ORDERED FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN / ZIMMERMAN APOLOGIZES TO TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY
More from the Voice of America - The Florida man accused of killing an unarmed African-American teenager is expected to be free soon on $150,000 bail. George Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February. Zimmerman claims self-defense.
The fact that Trayvon Martin was not armed, and that Zimmerman was, is partly why the case has attracted so much attention. Florida has what's called a Stand Your Ground law that allows people to use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger.
Shellie Zimmerman: "Absolutely, he is not a violent person or a threat to the community."
Also hanging over this case is the controversial subject of racial profiling. Martin's family and supporters argue that Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, neighborhood watch volunteer, stopped Martin because he was black.
VOA story, click here - VOA video of story, below - 04/20/2012
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROBE FINDS DEFENDANTS EXECUTED ON BOGUS F-B-I LAB EVIDENCE
More from the Washington Post, click here - 04/17/2012
CONNECTICUT ELIMINATES THE DEATH PENALTY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy has signed into law, a ban on the death penalty, after it recently passed both houses of the legislature. It becomes the 17th state to repeal the death penalty law.
In a statement released by his office, Malloy said, “For decades, we have not had a workable death penalty. Only one person’s been executed in Connecticut in the last 52 years, and he volunteered for it. Going forward, we will have a system that allows us to put these people away for life, in living conditions none of us would want to experience. Let’s throw away the key and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in jail”.
Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, said in a statement, “is yet another significant indication that people across the nation are recognizing the systemic injustices that plague the entire death penalty system, both in Connecticut and the rest of the United States. Capital punishment in this country is carried out as part of an unequal system of justice, in which innocent people are too often sentenced to death and decisions about who lives and who dies depend on the skill of their attorneys, the race of their victim, their socioeconomic status and where the crime took place. Such arbitrary and discriminatory administration of the death penalty, which places an enormous financial burden on taxpayers, is the very definition of a failed system and must be ended."
See video below of Gov. Malloy interview on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow - 04/13/2012
SPECIAL PROSECUTOR CHARGES GEORGE ZIMMERMAN IN TRAYVON MARTIN SHOOTING DEATH
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting death case says she will prosecute George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who admits shooting Martin. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced her decision, to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder, at the state attorney's office in Jacksonville tonight. Zimmerman has also been arrested and is being held, without bail, at an undisclosed location.
During an evening news conference, Corey said, Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder and had obtained new attorneys today, as his previous attorneys quit yesterday. Corey says Zimmerman turned himself in today and is in custody. She refused to confirm where he is being held.
Corey was appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to investigate the case after protests and calls for Zimmerman's arrest. Controversy has also swirled around the handling of the case by the Sanford Police Department. Police originally had handcuffed Zimmerman, shortly after the incident, but released him after officials decided Zimmerman should not be charged. Recordings of phone calls and witness statements challenged that conclusion, as well as Zimmerman's admission that he was carrying a gun while serving in a neighborhood watch function, which requires participants not to be armed.
Yesterday, Zimmerman's attorneys quit after learning he had talked with the special prosecutor's office against their advice and was now living outside the state in an unknown location. Today, Corey denied her office had talked with him otherf than to confirm he had turned himself in.
PBS NewsHour of story below - 04/11/2012
IMMIGRATION RIGHTS ADVOCATES CRITICAL OF 2 REPORTS ON SECURE COMMUNITIES PROGRAM
More from the LA Times, click here- 04/09/2012
MORE POLICE AGENCIES ACCESSING YOUR CELL PHONE RECORDS
More from the ACLU, click here - 04/08/2012
GROUPON TO PAY $5.8 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR VIOLATING FEDERAL & STATE LAWS
More from Legal Newsline, click here - 04/03/2012
HEAVILY ADVERTISED "TAXMASTERS" FACES $195 MILLION JUDGEMENT / ALREADY IN BANRUPTCY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom - A Travis County jury, in Austin, Texas , returned a $195 million verdict yesterday against Houston-based TaxMasters, Inc., its predecessor companies and its founder and chief executive officer, Patrick Cox, for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Cox had been a well known Republican donor, which included contributions to Governor Rick Perry's failed presidential bid.
According to Attorney General Greg Abbott, in an apparent effort to avoid the State’s enforcement action, TaxMasters filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just one day before the jury trial was set to begin. Citing the firm’s bankruptcy petition, TaxMasters CEO Patrick Cox sought to delay the trial, but his request was denied and the trial proceeded as planned. After an eight-day trial, the jury found that TaxMasters, its predecessor companies and Patrick Cox committed over 110,000 violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and ordered the defendants to pay a total of over $195 million. Of that, over $113 million is restitution for fees TaxMasters’ customers paid to the firm, and $81 million was further awarded in civil penalties.
“Today’s decision marks a significant victory for the Texans and TaxMasters customers nationwide who sought help from TaxMasters with their income tax debts and were taken advantage of in the midst of a national economic downturn", Abbott said ."While the TaxMasters CEO made hollow promises about fighting for taxpayers and their pocketbooks in television ads, the evidence proved that the firm didn’t even bother to show up when it came time to fulfill those promises, but instead misled and defrauded their customers.”
Abbott's office outlined the the chronology of the case, as follows,
DEFENDANTS WITH INCOMPETENT ATTORNEYS GET A BIG BREAK FROM THE SUPREME COURT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In two decisions handed down today by the U-S Supreme Court, defendants with incompetent attorneys have won a sweeping reprieve. The court sided with two defendants, who claimed they were not adequately advised in proposed plea bargains, offered by the prosecution, which caused the defendants to receive longer sentences.
In one case from 2007 , (Missouri v. Frye) Galen Frye was never told by his attorney, Michael Coles, that the prosecutor offered a plea bargain, 90 day sentence, for the charge of driving without a license. Instead, the plea bargain offer expired, Frye entered a guilty plea and was sentenced by a judge to three years.
In the 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court recognized Frye had been convicted of the same offense three times before and was charged, under Missouri law, with a felony carrying a maximum 4-year prison term. The prosecutor sent Frye’s counsel a letter, offering two possible plea bargains, including an offer to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and to recommend, with a guilty plea, a 90day sentence. Counsel did not convey the offers to Frye, and they expired. Less than a week before Frye’s preliminary hearing, he was again arrested for driving with a revoked license. He subsequently pleaded guilty with no underlying plea agreement and was sentenced to three years in prison. Seeking post conviction relief in state court, he alleged his counsel’s failure to inform him of the earlier plea offers denied him the effective assistance of counsel, and he testified that he would have pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor had he known of the offer. The court denied his motion, but the Missouri appellate court reversed, holding that Frye met both of the requirements for showing a Sixth Amendment violation under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668. Specifically, the court found that defense counsel had been ineffective in not communicating the plea offers to Frye and concluded that Frye had shown that counsel’s deficient performance caused him prejudice because he pleaded guilty to a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Justice Kennedy affirmed the appeals court decision, saying,"...the Missouri court correctly concluded that counsel’s failure to inform Frye of the written plea offer before it expired fell below an objective reasonableness standard, but it failed to require Frye to show that the plea offer would have been adhered to by the prosecution and accepted by the trial court. These matters should be addressed by the Missouri appellate court in the first instance. Given that Frye’s new offense for driving without a license occurred a week before his preliminary hearing, there is reason to doubt that the prosecution would have adhered to the agreement or that the trial court would have accepted it unless they were required by state law to do so".
In another case, (LAFLER v. COOPER) a Detroit man, Anthony Cooper was charged for shooting a woman in 2003. Cooper claimed his attorney advised him to turn down a plea bargain from the prosecutor for a sentence of four to seven years, because all four of the shots fired at the victim landed below the waist and could not be considered "intent to murder". Cooper let the plea deal expire, was found guilty, then sentenced to 15-30 years.
Again, with Justice Kennedy writing for the 5-4 majority, the court found the prosecution offered to dismiss two of the charges and to recommend a 51-to-85-month sentence on the other two, in exchange for a guilty plea. In a communication with the court, respondent admitted his guilt and expressed a willingness to accept the offer. But he rejected the offer, allegedly after his attorney convinced him that the prosecution would be unable to establish intent to murder because the victim had been shot below the waist. At trial, respondent was convicted on all counts and received a mandatory minimum 185-to-360-month sentence. In a subsequent hearing, the state trial court rejected respondent’s claim that his attorney’s advice to reject the plea constituted ineffective assistance. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting the ineffective-assistance claim on the ground that respondent knowingly and intelligently turned down the plea offer and chose to go to trial. Respondent renewed his claim in federal habeas. Finding that the state appellate court had unreasonably applied the constitutional effective assistance standards laid out in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, and Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52, the District Court granted a conditional writ and ordered specific performance of the original plea offer. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Applying Strickland, it found that counsel had provided deficient performance by advising respondent of an incorrect legal rule, and that respondent suffered prejudice because he lost the opportunity to take the more favorable sentence offered in the plea.
Justice Kennedy concluded, "....respondent has shown that but for that performance (of his attorney) there is a reasonable probability he and the trial court would have accepted the guilty plea.In addition, as a result of not accepting the plea and being convicted at trial, he received a minimum sentence 3½ times greater than he would have received under the plea. As a remedy, the District Court ordered specific performance of the plea agreement, but the correct remedy is to order the State to re offer the plea. If respondent accepts the offer, the state trial court can exercise its discretion in determining whether to vacate respondent’s convictions and re sentence pursuant to the plea agreement, to vacate only some of the convictions and re sentence accordingly, or to leave the conviction and sentence resulting from the trial undisturbed.
SUPREME COURT SAYS STATES ARE IMMUNE TO SOME LAWSUITS OVER MEDICAL LEAVE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In another of the string of 5-4 decisions, the U-S Supreme Court has decided states are immune from lawsuits involving some sections of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The ruling, issued Tuesday, effectively casts a cloud over the rights of men, and potentially women, working for state and local governments, to be granted full protection of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
The case before the court, involved Daniel Coleman, an employee of the Maryland Court of Appeals, who had applied for a ten day medical leave for issues related to his condition of hypertension and diabetes. His employer refused and fired Coleman. Coleman claimed he was entitled to protection under the FMLA. The conservative court majority prevailed saying the act was never intended to protect males in Coleman's circumstances. However, dissenting justices raised concerns that the majority opinion weakens protection for pregnant women as well.
The court found that The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles an employee to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave per year for (A) the care of a newborn son or daughter; (B) the adoption or foster-care
The court also found that," As a consequence of our constitutional design, money damages are the exception when sovereigns (states) are defendants. Subjecting States to suits for damages requires more than a theory for why abrogating the States’ immunity aids in, or advances, a stated congressional purpose. To abrogate the States’ immunity from suits for damages, Congress must identify a pattern of constitutional violations and tailor a remedy congruent and proportional to the documented violations. It failed to do so when it allowed employees to sue States for violations of the FMLA’s self care provision. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed".
In her dissent with the majority Opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stated, "Congress made plain its rationale for the prescription’s broader compass: Congress sought to ward off the unconstitutional discrimination it believed would attend a pregnancy-onlyleave requirement. Under the caption “Equal protection and non-discrimination,” Congress explained: “The FMLA addresses the basic leave needs of all employees. . . . This is an important principle reflected in the bill. “A law providing special protection to women . . . , in addition to being inequitable, runs the risk of causing discriminatory treatment. Employers might be less inclined to hire women . . . . For example, legislation addressing the needs of pregnant women only might encourage discriminatory hiring practices against women of child bearing age. Legislation addressing the needs of all workers equally does not have this effect. By addressing the serious leave needs of all employees, the FMLA avoids providing employers the temptation to discriminate [against women]. . . . . . “The legislation is [thus] based not only on the Commerce Clause, but also on the guarantees of equal protection . . . embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment.”
EEOC RELEASES STATS ON MAKEUP OF FEDERAL WORKFORCE / SHOWS CONTINUED DISPARITY OF EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- As part of a report on the federal workforce, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission revealed statistical breakdowns by agency and worker groups.
The report includes statistical work force profiles and trends for 64 federal agencies, measures of agencies’ progress toward implementing model EEO programs, and a summary of select EEO program activities and best practices. Each agency’s profile highlights work force participation rates by race, gender, national origin and individuals with targeted disabilities, as well as the breakdown for major occupational categories. This report covers the period from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.
According to the report, there has been little change in the composition of the federal work force over the years. In FY 2010, there were over 2.8 million people employed by the federal government, of whom 56% were men and 44% were women. Of that total:
Despite a modest gain of 554 employees in FY 2010, the participation rate of individuals with targeted disabilities remained at 0.88%. Targeted disabilities include deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial or complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and distortion of the limb and/or spine.
The number of Hispanics or Latinos in the federal workplace increased from 7.9% in FY 2009 to 8.9% in FY 2010. Additionally, over the last 10 years, women, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American and Asian employees have made the most gains in securing senior level positions in the federal government. However, between FY 2009 and FY 2010, women, Hispanic or Latino men and women, men of two or more races, and white women remained below their overall availability in the national civilian labor force.
“This report shows that while the federal government is a leader in employing a diverse workforce, specific areas for improvement remain,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “The EEOC will continue to work with federal government leaders to identify and remove barriers to equal employment opportunity and promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workplace.”
EEOC is charged with monitoring federal agency compliance with equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws and procedures and reviewing and assessing the effect of agencies’ compliance with requirements to maintain continuing affirmative employment programs to promote equal employment opportunity and to identify and eliminate barriers to equality of employment opportunity.
Full text of EEOC press release, click here - 03/21/2012
FORMER ROOMATE WHO TAPED AND POSTED GAY ENCOUNTER VIDEO CONVICTED OF HATE CRIME
GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA IS LATEST CITY TO DROP RED VIOLATOR CAMERAS
THE DEBATE OVER USE OF DRONE AIRCRAFT BY POLICE - THE DAILY VIDEO (2 Minutes)
WISCONSIN AND TEXAS VOTER I-D LAWS HIT SNAGS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- More court challenges of recently passed voter ID laws have reached Wisconsin, prompting a judge in Madison to issue a permanent injunction against that state's vote ID law. And the U-S Department of Justice has informed Texas that its voter ID law is unconstitutional. In Wisconsin, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess found the law unconstitutional claiming it disenfranchised voters. Niess wrote, "A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people's inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people". In his final paragraph, Niess says,
The U-S Justice Department Civil Rights Division announced this week, it would challenge the Texas voter ID law, requiring a picture ID or drivers license. In a letter to the state, Assistant U-S Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote, "I must object to the changes affecting voting that are occasioned by Sections 9 and 14 of Chapter 123 (S.B. 14) (2011). Sections 1 through 8, 10 through 13, 15, and 17 through 22 of S.B. 14 are directly related to the procedures for implementing the photographic identification requirements, including registration procedures, provisional-ballot procedures, notice requirements, and education and training requirements.
Perez claims evidence submitted by the state for two different months shows September 2011 data Hispanic voter is 46.5 percent
more likely than a non-Hispanic voter to lack these forms of identification. In addition, although
Hispanic voters represent only 21.8 percent of the registered voters in the state, Hispanic voters
UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON ISSUES BOLD ENDORSEMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AMONG GAY, LESBIAN AND TRANSGENDER COMMUNITIES - UNTV (2 MINUTES)
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT BLOCKS TWO SECTIONS OF ALABAMA ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has stopped enforcement on two provisions of Alabama's immigration enforcement law.
The court has temporarily blocked sections 27 and 30 of the Alabama law (House Bill 56). Those sections ban contracts with illegal immigrants and also ban immigrants from doing any transactions with the state, including those for welfare assistance.
The court ordered those sections to be added to its original of October 14th, 2011 order enjoining the State of Alabama from enforcement , PENDING A FINAL DECISION ON THE MERITS OF THE APPEAL.
VIDEO: MARYLAND BECOMES 8TH STATE TO LEGALIZE SAME SEX MARRIAGE
More from Voice of America report, below (3 Minutes) - 03/03/2012
MORTUARY SUPERVISOR AT CENTER WAR DEAD PROBE RESIGNS / RESULT OF FINDINGS AT DOVER A-F-B
More from Air Force Times, click here - 03/02/2012
Threats to consumers' privacy go beyond the consolidation and use of personal data. Consolidated personal data profiles offer a tantalizing target for hackers and privacy thieves. In the letter to Google, Inc., the Attorneys General write:
Given the serious concerns expressed on behalf of those consumers, the Attorneys General have requested a meeting with Google Inc. CEO Larry Page as soon as possible. Mr. Page has been asked to reply no later than Wednesday, February 29.
The states and territories signing on to this letter are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, and Washington.
MEANWHILE, Google, Microsoft and others have agreed to support a do-not-track button in most web browsers, as the White House is due to hold an event on online privacy. However, the do-not-track button won't stop Facebook from tracking members' use of the "Like" button.
LOS ANGELES POLICE CHIEF PUSHES DRIVERS LICENSES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
More in this article from the LA Times, click here - 02/23/2012
WHY LAW SCHOOL GRADUATES GO WITHOUT JOBS AND AMERICANS GO WITHOUT LEGAL SERVICES
WALL STREET JOURNAL SAYS PRIVACY DATA BREACHED ON GOOGLE PLUS BROWSER / GOOGLE SAYS IT'S TAKING ACTION
More in this article from the Washington Post, click here - See video below of NBC Nightly News story. 02/17/2012
APPEALS COURT REJECTS CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 8
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A lower federal court ruling, which struck down California's Proposition 8, outlawing same sex marriages, has been upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled the law was unconstitutional since the state already allowed civil unions, but refused to honor marriages, thereby denying married couples the same rights as those in civil unions. The nature of the technicality involved with the ruling, does not directly address the legality of same sex marriage, only on the conflict between state law for civil unions and marriage.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the majority opinion, "Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples". He added, "The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort".
It is not clear whether the case will be appealed to the U-S Supreme Court. Legal experts question whether the court would accept such a case where there are technical complications with a law involving civil unions, which is not directly involved with the issue before the court.
Full text of actual Appeals Court decision, click here. See Voice of America YouTube report, below. 02/07/2012
SUPREME COURT STRIKES CONVICTION IN G-P-S TRACKING DRUG CASE / WARRANT MUST BE ISSUED BEFORE TRACKING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A Washington D-C drug defendant, Antoine Jones won his appeal of a conviction, based on evidence obtained by a GPS tracking device attached to his wife's car by investigators. The problem was, a warrant to attach the device had expired before crucial evidence was obtained.
Today, in a unanimous ruling, the U-S Supreme Court stated,
"The Government obtained a search warrant permitting it to install a
Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device on a vehicle registered
to respondent Jones’s wife. The warrant authorized installation
in the District of Columbia and within 10 days, but agents installed
the device on the 11th day and in Maryland. The Government
then tracked the vehicle’s movements for 28 days. It subsequently
secured an indictment of Jones and others on drug trafficking conspiracy
charges. The District Court suppressed the GPS data obtained
while the vehicle was parked at Jones’s residence, but held the
remaining data admissible because Jones had no reasonable expectation
of privacy when the vehicle was on public streets. Jones was
convicted. The D. C. Circuit reversed, concluding that admission of
the evidence obtained by warrantless use of the GPS device violated
the Fourth Amendment.
HOWEVER, the court left open other issues related to privacy and search relating to GPS tracking, adding,
"There is no precedent for the proposition that whether a search has occurred depends on the nature of the crime being investigated. And even accepting that novelty, it remains unexplained why a 4-week investigation is “surely” too long and why a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving substantial amounts of cash and narcotics is not an “extra- ordinary offens[e]” which may permit longer observation. See post, at 13–14. What of a 2-day monitoring of a suspected purveyor of stolen electronics? Or of a 6-month monitoring of a suspected terrorist? We may have to grapple with these “vexing problems” in some future case.....".
U-S SUPREME COURT REJECTS TEXAS LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING MAP DRAWN BY LOWER COURT / FINAL RULINGS STILL MONTHS AWAY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In a unanimous opinion, the U-S Supreme Court today rejected a Texas legislative redistricting map, which was drawn up by the three judge federal panel in San Antonio. The panel redrew the map claiming the Texas legislature discriminated against Latino voters by unlawfully dividing their districts, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Latino activists claim more districts should be favorable to electing Latino representatives since Latinos made up two thirds of Texas' population increase from 2000-2010. The state received four more congressional districts as a result of the 2010 census. State lawmakers had challenged the three judge panel's redrawn map. Today's ruling by the U-S Supreme Court gave them a partial win. However, it ordered the lower court to reconsider and address only those areas where the lower court determines the state legislature's actions violated the Voting Rights Act.
U-S SUPREME COURT EXTENDS COPYRIGHT PROTECTION TO FOREIGN ARTISTS AND WRITERS / WILL AFFECT WHAT AMERICAN CONSUMERS PAY
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In a 6-2 decision, the U-S Supreme Court has granted foreign artists and writers copyright protection, which allows them to collect royalties on their work, which had been considered "public domain".
The ruling upholds a 1994 law approved by congress and signed by President Clinton, designed to bring U-S into compliance with international law covering intellectual property. Spotty U-S court enforcement, up to this point, was used by China and others as proof the U-S was playing both sides of the fence when complaining about copyright piracy of U-S intellectual property, when the U-S was not willing to do the same for the work of international artists.
In the decision, GOLAN ET AL. v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court, established the history of the case. "....starting with "The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works(Berne)", which took effect in 1886, is the principal accord governing international copyright relations. Berne’s 164 member states agree to provide a minimum level of copyright protection and to treat authors from other member countries as well as they treat their own. Of central importance in this case, Article 18 of Berne requires countries to protect the works of other member states unless the works’copyright term has expired in either the country where protection is claimed or the country of origin. A different system of transnational copyright protection long prevailed in this country. Throughout most of the 20th century, the only foreign authors eligible for Copyright Act protection were those whose countries granted reciprocal rights to American authors and whose works were printed in the United States. Despite Article 18, when the United States joined Berne in 1989, it did not protect any foreign works lodged in the U. S. public domain, many of them works never protected here. In 1994, however, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights mandated implementation of Berne’s first 21 articles, on pain of enforcement by the World Trade Organization.
Congress applied the term of protection available to U. S. works to preexisting works from Berne member countries. Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) grants copyright protection to works protected in their country of origin, but lacking protection in the United States for any of three reasons: The United States did not protect works from the country of origin at the time of publication; the United States did not protect sound recordings fixed before 1972; or the author had not complied with certain U. S. statutory formalities. Works encompassed by §514 are granted the protection they would have enjoyed had the United States maintained copyright relations with the author’s country or removed formalities incompatible with Berne. As a consequence of the barriers to U. S. copyright protection prior to §514’s enactment, foreign works “restored” to protection by the measure had entered the public domain in this country. To cushion the impact of their placement in protected status, §514 provides ameliorating accommodations for parties who had exploited affected works before the URAA was enacted.
As a consequence of the barriers to U. S. copyright protection prior to §514’s enactment, foreign works “restored” to protection by the measure had entered the public domain in this country. To cushion the impact of their placement in protected status, §514 provides ameliorating accommodations for parties who had exploited affected works before the URAA was enacted.
The U-S Supreme Court order states,
"This Court has no warrant to reject Congress’ rational judgment that exemplary adherence to Berne would serve the objectives of the Copyright Clause......The question is whether would-be users of certain foreign works must pay for their desired use of the author’s expression, or else limit their exploitation to “fair use” of those works. By fully implementing Berne, Congress ensured that these works, like domestic and most other foreign works, would be governed by the same legal regime. Section 514 simply placed foreign works in the position they would have occupied if the current copyright regime had been in effect when those works were created and first published".
The effect of this ruling means that "public domain" works, from foreign artists, used by civic groups and community theaters or music groups MAY eventually come under copyright and therefore, royalties must be paid for their use.
GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. KAGAN, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
In the dissenting opinion, Justices Breyer and Alito stated,
"....works from the American public domain would permit foreign copyright owners to charge American consumers more for their products; and that, as a result, the United States would be able to persuade foreign countries to allow American holders of preexisting copyrights to charge foreign customers more money for their products. See id., at 241 (statement of Eric Smith, Executive Director and General Counsel, International Intellectual Property Alliance) (“[F]ailure to [comply with Article 18]will . . . undermine the ability of the United States to press other countries to implement the same sort of protection in their implementing legislation currently pending in many legislatures around the globe”); id., at 253 (statement of Matt Gerson, Vice President for Congressional Affairs,Motion Picture Assn. of America) (similar). See also id., at 85 (statement of Xavier Becerra, House Judiciary Committee member) (“[R]etroactivity . . . is probably the best way to ensure that some of our older American works, anything from Motown, to ‘Star Trek,’ to ‘The Hardy Boys’ get the protection in some of these emerging foreign markets. It is important to ensure that countries no longer use our
DEATH ROW INMATE GRANTED NEW HEARING / SUPREME COURT SAYS INMATE'S ATTORNEYS MISSED FILING DEADLINE & QUIT WITHOUT NOTIFYING COURT OR CLIENT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Alabama death row inmate Cory Maples has been granted a new hearing by the U-S Supreme Court. The court, in a 7-2 decision, claimed Maples was denied proper representation because his attorneys, with the New York firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, missed an appeal filing deadline and quit representing Maples without notifying him or the court.
The U-S Supreme Court decision (MAPLES v. THOMAS, COMMISSIONER, ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS), claims Maples was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in Alabama state court. In 2001, Maples sought post conviction relief in state court under Alabama Rule 32. Maples alleged, among other things, that his underpaid and inexperienced trial attorneys failed to afford him the effective assistance guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. His petition was written by two pro bono attorneys,Jaasai Munanka and Clara Ingen-Housz, both associated with the New York offices of the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm. As required by Alabama law, the two attorneys engaged an Alabama lawyer, John Butler, to move their admission pro hac vice. Butler made clear, however, that he would undertake no substantive involvement in the case. In 2002, while Maples’ state post conviction petition was pending,Munanka and Ingen-Housz left Sullivan & Cromwell. Their new employment disabled them from representing Maples. They did not inform Maples of their departure and consequent inability to serve as his counsel. In disregard of Alabama law, neither sought the trial court’s leave to withdraw. No other Sullivan & Cromwell attorney entered an appearance, moved to substitute counsel, or otherwise notified the court of a change in Maples’ representation. Thus, Munanka, Ingen-Housz, and Butler remained Maples’ listed, and only, attorneys of record.The trial court denied Maples’ petition in May 2003.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Alito stated, "....a veritable perfect storm of misfortune, a most unlikely combination of events that,without notice, effectively deprived petitioner of legal representation. Under these unique circumstances, I agree that petitioner’s procedural default is overcome".
SUPREME COURT RULES CREDIT REPAIR FIRMS CAN FORCE CONSUMERS INTO BINDING ARBITRATION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Getting help from those credit repair companies heavily advertised on radio and television could leave consumers with more strings attached, thanks to the U-S Supreme Court.
The court handed down a decision Tuesday that restricts consumers rights to sue credit repair firms. The ruling means credit repair firms CAN force consumers into binding arbitration, which may have nothing to do with repairing their credit.
The court, in an 8-1 decision, said that credit repair firms rights to force arbitration trumps consumers rights to sue.
The case before the Supreme Court involved a credit card marketer, CompuCredit, and Columbia Bank and Trust of Columbus, Georgia, who were accused by three San Francisco consumers, in a class action lawsuit, of granting $300 credit lines for consumers trying to repair their credit, then charging them $257 a year in fees, which included a $150 annual fee. However, getting the cards required no deposit.
But, the defendants claimed, that as part of the credit card agreement, EITHER THE CUSTOMER OR THE COMPANY COULD FORCE A DISPUTE BE SUBJECT TO BINDING ARBITRATION.
The consumers in the case claimed the terms of the agreement violated the 1996 Credit Repair Organizations Act, however, the court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act applied due to fact the Credit Repair Organizations Act did not specifically prevent forced binding arbitration.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the only dissenting justice, saying that,
"The CROA (Credit Repair Organizations Act), however, is distinguished by its disclosure requirements, prime among them, the obligation imposed on the credit repair organization to inform potential customers they“have a right to sue” an organization that violates the Act.§1679c(a). Yet the Court refuses to read this language in concert with §1679g, notwithstanding our frequent acknowledgment that “a statute is to be read as a whole,since the meaning of statutory language . . . depends on context.” King v. St. Vincent’s Hospital, 502 U. S. 215, 221 (1991) (citation omitted). As just explained, I believe Congress meant what an ordinary reader of the disclosure requirement would likely comprehend: A credit repair organization that engages in deceptive practices may be sued in court. Reducing the required disclosure to insignificance, see ante, at 4–5, the Court’s construction of the CROA scarcely advances the Act’s goals. Congress aimed to ensure prospective customers “are provided with the information necessary to make an informed decision,” and also to“protect the public from unfair or deceptive advertising and business practices.” 15 U. S. C. §1679(b). The Court’s interpretation, however, enables the very deception Congress sought to suppress. Today’s decision permits credit repair organizations to deny consumers, through fine print in a contract, an important right whose disclosure is decreed in the U. S. Code".
In short, depending on the arbitration language of the credit agreement, the Supreme Court decision now gives credit repair firms the right to force consumers into binding arbitration, regardless whether the credit agreement also provides consumers the right to sue.
The consumers had won the first two rounds of the case, in a federal district court, then in an appeals court decision.
APPEALS COURT BOOTS OKLAHOMA LAW THAT BARRED JUDGES FROM CONSIDERING INTERNATIONAL OR ISLAMIC LAW IN THEIR DECISIONS
SUPREME COURT GIVES CHURCH MINISTERIAL EXEMPTION FROM JOB BIAS LAWS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A woman who sued a Michigan church over her firing is not protected by job bias laws. That's the decision of the U-S Supreme Court, which says religious organizations are exempt from job bias laws involving "ministerial" jobs.
Cheryl Perich was a 4th grade teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church in Redford, Michigan. Perich claims the school fired her when she tried to return to her job after battling narcolepsy and told her she was unfit for her job after she threatened to sue school officials. Perich claimed the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
School officials admitted they felt she was unfit for her job, and the Supreme Court sided with the school saying the school must "be free to chose" those who are involved with ministerial work for the church.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had backed Perich in her lawsuit, claiming the school's action was illegal.
The court rendered a surprising unanimous decision in the case, believing the rights of religious organizations to determine their staffs involved with religious teachings should not be subject to the ADA. Text of actual Supreme Court decision (HOSANNA-TABOR EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN
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INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED CONVICTED MURDERER EXECUTED IN TEXAS / CRITICS SAY EVIDENCE IGNORED
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More from NBC News video below- More from the Associated Press, click here- 11/04/2011
U-S GIVES B-P GREEN LIGHT TO RESUME GULF DRILLING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today approved a supplemental Exploration Plan (EP) submitted by BP for deepwater oil and gas activities. BOEM conducted a site-specific Environmental Assessment (EA) of the activities described in the plan. This is the 44th plan that has been approved following the completion of a site-specific EA since stronger regulations were implemented in June 2010. Prior to any drilling under the plan, BP must obtain drilling permits from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which will continue to assess the information that is necessary to allow specific activities.
This is the first EP that BP has had approved since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. Before approving this EP, BOEM confirmed BP's compliance with the bureau's rigorous, heightened standards established following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. In July 2011, BP announced additional safety enhancements and performance standards they would voluntarily implement in connection with its deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM has verified that BP has met the relevant voluntary performance standards.
"BOEM is dedicated to ensuring that the development of the nation's energy resources is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau. "Our review of BP's plan included verification of BP's compliance with the heightened standards that all deepwater activities must meet."
The supplemental EP proposes to drill up to four wells in the Gulf of Mexico's Keathley Canyon Blocks 292 and 336, which BP acquired in lease sales in 1997 and 2003. An EP describes all exploration activities planned by an operator on a specific lease or leases, including the anticipated timing of these activities, information concerning drilling vessels, the location of each planned well, and other relevant information. The water depth at the proposed well sites range from 6,019 to 6,034 ft and are located 192 miles from the nearest Louisiana shoreline.
A statement released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, claims that B-P is not enetitled to drill again, due to continued failurre to obey federal regulations.
A MUST READ UPDATE: THE LATEST EFFORT TO CUT MINORITY VOTING
More in this article from Slate, click here - 10/21/2011
NAVY VETERAN SUES V-A FOR BENEFITS AS SAME SEX PARTNER / CHALLENGES "DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT"
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- An appeal has been filed with the Court of Appeals of Veterans Claims in the case of Navy Veteran, who according to her attorneys, is challenging the denial of her application for spousal disability benefits. Carmen Cardona, a disabled Navy veteran from Norwich, Ct., was rejected in her attempt to collect. the V-A cited a federal statute that defines a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex.” Cardona is married to a woman.
According to a statement from the clinic, Cardona married her longtime partner in 2010. She applied to the VA for spousal benefits, to which legally married disabled veterans are entitled, but her application was denied. Officials at the VA do not dispute Cardona’s disability, nor that she and her wife are legally married under Connecticut law. Instead, they cited a VA statute that, like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. The clinic students, who began working with Cardona in December 2010, are hoping to convince the CAVC that both the statute, and DOMA, violate their client’s rights.
WELFARE RECIPIENTS FACING MORE DRUG TESTS TO QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS
CBS AND PRODUCERS OF "PRICE IS RIGHT" SETTLE LAWSUIT OVER DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DISABLED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom-- A legal battle over the rights of disabled visitors to the game show, "The Price is Right", has ended in a settlement between the U-S Justice Department and Fremantle Productions, Inc., (Fremantle) in its role as producer of "The Price Is Right" game show, and CBS Broadcasting Inc. (CBS), in its role as the provider of the facilities and related services utilized in the production of the show.
The show, which is taped at CBS's famed Television City, in Los Angeles, was accused of failing to accommodate visitors and prospective contestants with disabilities.
In the agreement, the Justice Department claims complainants #1 and #2 alleged that the wheelchair seating areas at the Bob Barker Studio (Television City) were at the back of the audience seating area and that the lines of sight for the wheelchair seating were blocked by an elevated riser and by audience members standing in front of them. A complaint from another unrelated person (Complainant #3) alleged generally that TPIR has discriminated against individuals with disabilities because a very small number of individuals with observable disabilities have been selected as contestants on episodes of the show that have aired on television since the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was enacted.
CBS and Fremantle Productions have promised not violate Title III of the ADA by, among other things, discriminating against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of its goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations.This undertaking includes, but is not limited to, the following:
PENTAGON SAYS PROBLEMS AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY FIXED / AMERICAN LEGION WANTS REFORMS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Pentagon officials claim the changes have been made to fix problems at the Arlington Memorial Cemetery, which was the target of a fraud investigation last year. The problems, according to a statement from the American Legion showed, " mislabeled remains, and bodies buried in the wrong locations. This was not some trivial matter thought to have occurred once or twice, but perhaps in 6,000 locations or more. Cemetery staff, when questioned by incoming management regarding standard procedure manuals for burials and plot alignment, admitted no such written records existed, and work had been handed down by word of mouth. Electronic records did not exist; information was stored on index cards as if the Nation’s most prominent military cemetery was a 1950’s muffler shop".
Acting Inspector General, Major General William McCoy told a hearing last friday before a House Armed Services Subcommittee that the "mismanagement that was found in 2010, no longer exists". McCoy told the subcommittee that improvements will continue to improve record keeping and determine the true resting sites of remains, which have now been identified and those the remain to be determined.
A statement from the American Legion agrees improvements have taken place, with much more work to be done. The statement adds, "Over a year later, Arlington Cemetery is far from fixed, but it is on the road to recovery. The American Legion recognizes the hard work and dedication of the management and staff to make things right. While it cannot be definitively said no more scandals are left to surface, there is at least a newfound sense of confidence management will not flinch from addressing these scandals head on and will at least work to make things right.
Yet even so, this cannot be the long term solution.
Complete statement of Major General William McCoy, Acting Inspector General - American Legion statement on the issue, click here . YouTube Video of entire hearing, click here. See video of story below from Pentagon Channel (1 Minute). 09/26/2011
U-S SUPREME COURT DENIES STAY OF EXECUTION FOR TROY ANTHONY DAVIS / GEORGIA PRISON EXECUTES HIM
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The U-S Supreme Court tonight denied a stay of execution for Troy Anthony Davis, who was scheduled to died by lethal injection at 7 PM. The execution was denied so as the court could decide the issue.
Davis was executed around 11 PM eastern time. Witnesses to the execution say Davis said just before his execution, that he did not kill the off duty officer, that he did not have a gun. He also called for more investigation of the case to determine who committed the murder. The family of slain officer Mark MacPhail did not support delay of the execution, believing Davis was responsible.
Text of actual Supreme Court order, click here. 09/21/2011
FORMER ACCUSERS SAY MAN SLATED FOR EXECUTION IS INNOCENT / LAST MINUTE PLEAS MADE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Georgia corrections officials, this morning, denied attorneys for Troy Anthony Davis a chance to administer a lie detector test as part of a last minute attempt to halt his execution. Davis, 42, was sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. However, some of his former accusers now believe he is innocent and his life should be spared. The Board of Pardons and Paroles denied his appeal yesterday, as well as another motion to reconsider today, meaning his execution tonight remains on schedule. His attorneys have filed a motion in Butts County Superior Court to delay the execution. Some of the forensic evidence in the case is considered unreliable and a federal judge ruled testimony from an prison inmate, claiming Davis admitted to the crime, was "patently false". The case could end up before the US Supreme Court by the end of the day. 09/21/2011
"DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" ENDS IN ARMED FORCES / THOSE TERMINATED BEFORE REPEAL MAY RE-ENTER SERVICE
By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2011 – The law is passed, the studies completed, the findings certified and the service member training accomplished. Today, after years of debate and months of preparation, the Defense Department starts on a new footing with the repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that since 1993 has banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
“Statements about sexual orientation will no longer be a bar to enlisting in the military or a cause for dismissal,” said Army Maj. Gen. Gary S. Patton, chief of staff for the Pentagon’s repeal implementation team.
In addition, former service members separated from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell based solely on their sexual orientation will be eligible to reapply to return to military service. Patton said their applications will be evaluated using the same standards as all other candidates, and decisions will be based on needs of the service.
As these long-anticipated changes take place, Patton said he expects the repeal implementation to stay on track because of the pre-repeal training across the force. In addition, many other existing policies considered “sexual-orientation neutral” remain in place.
Duty assignments won’t be affected, and living and working conditions won’t change, Patton said. Service members won’t be separated or segregated based on sexual orientation, and will continue to share billeting and berthing as in the past.
With repeal, benefits will remain as they are. Service members will be able to designate whomever they want to receive member-designated benefits such as Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance, he said. Other benefits, such as basic allowance for housing, are limited by law and statute to cover only opposite-sex spouses and can’t be extended to same-sex partners, Patton said.
However, the Defense Department is studying the possible extension of other benefits where eligibility is not specifically defined by law, such as use of military morale, welfare and recreation facilities to same-sex partners. “We have not arrived at a decision on that,” Patton said. “The department continues to explore that possibility, post-repeal.”
Although the vast majority of military members and their families surveyed before the repeal indicated they had no issues with the repeal, Patton said he recognizes that some may. To those, he has a message: “We are not trying to change your beliefs. You have your freedom to exercise your beliefs and your freedom of speech.”
But with that, he said, “you have to maintain your dignity and respect for others.”
No new policy will allow anyone who disagrees with the repeal to break their contractual obligations. Anyone who has complaints or issues associated with the repeal should take them to a commander or inspector general, Patton said. Sexual orientation issues will not be addressed by equal opportunity channels in the way gender, race and religion issues are.
With the repeal in effect, Patton said he expects military members will honor it. “The repeal is a law,” he said. “The military follows the law and we are executing this as part of our mission.”
A key in carrying out the mission, he said, is a principle emphasized during mandatory pre-repeal training throughout the force that the military has embraced throughout its history.
“The training focused on the changes in policy, that sexual orientation is not a reason for a person to be denied enlistment in the service or separated from the service. And that we continue to treat all service members with dignity and respect,” Patton said.
Part of that respect, he said, is to allow all service members to live honest lives. “During Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, gay and lesbian service members were required by law to withhold their sexual orientation, and in some cases, they potentially violated their own personal integrity,” Patton said. “Upon repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they won’t be placed in that predicament.”
As a result, the repeal “will strengthen the military,” he said. “It will continue to allow us to keep gay and lesbian service members in the military, and we will be a better military for it.”
FROM THE EMERITUS NEWSROOM- OutServe, the association of actively-serving gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military members, yesterday released the results of its latest survey of LGBT military personnel. Many respondents expressed their expectation that there would be few problems with repeal, with 67% saying they expected their colleagues would treat them “universally” or “generally” without discrimination. The online survey was completed anonymously by over five hundred LGBT Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel during the week of September 13, 2011: one week prior to the end of DADT. Since survey respondents are self-selected, the survey is not authoritative, but is a likely indication of the current status of LGBT troops.
OutServe press release, click here. 09/20/2011
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PRESIDENT SETS DATE TO END OF "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL"
By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, July 22, 2011 - Based on recommendations from military leaders, President Barack Obama has certified to Congress that the U.S. armed forces are prepared for repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
There is a 60-day waiting period before the repeal goes into effect, so the law will officially come off the books Sept. 20. After that date, gay service members can be open about their sexual orientation.
The president signed the certification and delivered it to Congress today. More below Pentagon Channel Video.
Congress passed the repeal law in December. The legislation gave the military time to prepare the force and said repeal would happen only after the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified the force as ready for repeal.
The Defense Department chartered a repeal implementation team to coordinate the necessary changes to policy and regulations, and to provide education and training to service members. The team worked to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the U.S. military to accommodate and implement this important and necessary change, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said.
"Today, as a result of strong leadership and proactive education throughout the force, we can take the next step in this process," the secretary said. "The president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I have certified that the implementation of repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention of the armed forces."
Panetta said he believes the repeal is essential to the effectiveness of our all-volunteer force. "All men and women who serve this nation in uniform no matter their race, color, creed, religion or sexual orientation do so with great dignity, bravery, and dedication," he said in a written statement on certification.
Panetta pledged to support a military free from personal, social or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility that their talents and capabilities warrant.
"They put their lives on the line for America, and that's what really matters," he said. "Thanks to the professionalism and leadership of the U.S. military, we are closer to achieving the goal that is at the foundation of America equality and dignity for all."
The services put together training courses for the force and more than 1.9 million service members have now received that training. DOD and service officials also looked at regulatory and legal changes that repeal entailed.
"I am comfortable that we have used the findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group to mitigate areas of concern, and that we have developed the policy and regulations necessary for implementation consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a written statement.
Certification is not the end of the road. The department, the services and the combatant commands must work "to train the remainder of the joint force, to monitor our performance as we do so, and to adjust policy where and when needed," Mullen said.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law went into effect in 1993. It allowed gay and lesbian personnel to serve in the military as long as they were not open about their sexual orientation.
On Feb. 2, 2010, Mullen testified to that Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed it was time to repeal the law.
"It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Mullen told the senators. "No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, personally, it comes down to integrity theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
Mullen said he believes soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can handle the changes.
"My confidence in our ability to accomplish this work rests primarily on the fact that our people are capable, well-led and thoroughly professional," he said in his written statement today. "I have never served with finer men and women. They will, I am certain, carry out repeal and continue to serve this country with the same high standards and dignity that have defined the U.S. military throughout our history". 07/22/2011
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ORDERS FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS TO REPAY $2.3 MILLION IN FEDERAL MATCHING CAMPAIGN FUNDS / ACTUAL COPY OF F-E-C REPORT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Attorneys for Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards take issue with an Federal Elections Commission report , released today , that his campaign must repay $2.3 million in federal presidential campaign matching funds. The F-E-C claims Edward's campaign underreported cash it had as well as expenses. An AP report says Edwards got more than 13 million dollars in federal matching funds before terminating his campaign, January 30th, 2008. A federal grand jury recently indicted Edwards on six felony charges related to money that was used to cover up his affair and child with Rielle Hunter, a videographer who work on his 2008 presidential campaign.
MINNESOTA STATE GOVERNMENT BACK TO WORK / GOVERNOR SIGNS COMPROMISE DEAL WITH LAWMAKERS
NEWS CORP, FOX NEWS PARENT, FACES FBI PROBE
FEDS UP SEMI AUTOMATIC GUN REGISTRATION IN BORDER STATES
U-S SUPREME COURT REJECTS DEATH SENTENCE STAY OF MEXICAN NATIONAL / TEXAS EXECUTES HIM
More from the Voice of America- The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected calls from around the world — and from the U.S. president — to delay the execution of a Mexican man convicted of a brutal 1994 rape and murder. Justices Thursday voted 5-to-4 against delaying the execution, which was carried out just hours later in Texas. International diplomats and Mexican authorities had asked for a stay so the case could be reviewed. U.S. President Barack Obama's top lawyer intervened as well, asking the Supreme Court to delay the sentence for six months. At issue was whether the defendant, Humberto Leal, had access to services from the Mexican consulate — a requirement under an international treaty called the Vienna Convention. A U.S. congressman has also proposed a law similar to the Vienna Convention provision requiring U.S. courts to give foreign nationals access to consular services, and to review any convictions to ensure a lack of consular help did not affect the outcome. Leal's lawyer has said that with legal assistance from the consulate, Leal might not have been convicted, let alone given a death sentence. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verilli said Leal's execution could set a dangerous precedent for U.S. citizens accused of crimes in other countries. He asked the court to grant more time for the proposal to be debated. But the Supreme Court said it could not rule based on the possibility of a new law. The court said it must rule based on existing law. Prosecutors noted that similar laws have failed to pass in Congress at least twice before. And they said there was convincing evidence of Leal's guilt.A similar appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected in 2008, when Texas was set to execute a different Mexican national. Actual PDF download of US Supreme Court decision, click here. 07/07/2011
FED APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS F-C-C RELAXATION OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP LIMITS IN MAJOR CITIES / CONSIDERED A "WIN" FOR THOSE OPPOSING FURTHER MEDIA CONSOLIDATION OF PUBLIC AIRWAVES
CASEY ANTHONY GETS FOUR YEARS, $4,000 FINE / JUDGE GIVES CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Judge Belvin Perry, this morning, sentenced Casey Anthony to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for each of four charges she lied to police about the disappearance of her two year old daughter Caycee. Anthony was found not guilty Tuesday by a jury on all three charges relating to the death of her daughter. Anthony's time to serve in jail has not been clearly established since Judge Perry granted Anthony credit for time served, which Perry said will be established in a meeting, yet to be determined, between all sides. Meanwhile, and alternate juror says the prosecution failed to prove its case. the juror admits the verdict has fueled a public outcry, but that the evidence, in some cases, didn't support a motive for Anthony to have killed her daughter. More from the Orlando Sentinel, click here. Video of alternate juror explaining why the prosecution failed, click here. 07/07/2011
FED APPEALS COURT ORDERS IMMEDIATE HALT TO "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL"
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Los Angeles has ordered an immediate end to enforcement of the , "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", policy in the military services involving gay and lesbian personnel. Unless the Obama Administration appeals the decision to the U-S Supreme Court, which is unlikely, the Ninth Circuit order will stand. The full effect of the order remains to be determined, however, since the Defense Department had already undertaken policy training sessions for command and service personnel, the Obama Administration is nearing its announcement to certify dismantling of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". President Obama agreed that the policy was unconstitutional, however, Defense Department officials had wanted more time to make the transition. So the Obama Administration succeeded in obtaining a stay, from the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, putting a temporary hold on the original federal district court order to end the policy. Full PDF text of Ninth Circuit Court decision, click here. Complete Ninth Circuit filing index , links and documents for, "Log Cabin "Republicans vs. U-S Defense Department", click here. 07/06/2011
CASE OF MEXICAN NATIONAL FACING DEATH PENALTY AWAITING LAST MINUTE REVIEW BY SUPREME COURT / INVOLVES U-S VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- With his execution scheduled for Thursday in Texas, the case of 38 year old Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., is at the center of a stay request from the Obama Administration before the U-S Supreme Court. At issue is whether the execution can proceed in light of an International Court decision that the U-S violated Garcia's rights by not allowing him access to Mexican Consular representation at the time he was charged and convicted for the 1994 rape and murder of a 16 year old girl in Texas. Obama Administration officials, in an amicus brief, filed last Friday, claim that since the International Court's finding, executing Garcia could cause problems with Mexico and its allies.
The administration filing states, "That breach would have serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law-enforcement and other cooperation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens traveling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention".
CASEY ANTHONY FOUND "NOT GUILTY" OF MURDER, MANSLAUGHTER & ABUSE / CONVICTED OF GIVING FALSE INFORMATION
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT STRIKES DOWN MICHIGAN BAN ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS MANDATORY COVERAGE PROVISION OF HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- it's a win for health insurance reform legislation, which passed in the first two years of the Obama presidency. The case, referred to as, "Thomas More Law Center, et al. v. Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States", challenged the the mandatory coverage requirement as being unconstitutional.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati approved the mandatory insurance requirement. In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court wrote, "For now, whatever else may be said about plaintiffs’ activity/inactivity theory of
commerce power, they have not shown that the individual mandate exceeds that power
in all of its applications. Congress may apply the mandate in at least four settings: (1) to
individuals who already have purchased insurance voluntarily and who want to maintain
coverage, but who will be required to obtain more insurance in order to comply with the
minimum-essential-coverage requirement; (2) to individuals who voluntarily obtained
coverage but do not wish to be forced (at some indeterminate point in the future) to
maintain it; (3) to individuals who live in States that already require them to obtain
insurance and who may have to obtain more coverage to comply with the mandate or
abide by other requirements of the Affordable Care Act; and (4) to individuals under 30,
no matter where they live and no matter whether they have purchased health care before,
who may satisfy the law by obtaining only catastrophic-care coverage. The valid
application of the law to these groups of people suffices to uphold the law against this
In a partial dissent against the majority opinion, which he also partially agreed with, United States District Judge James L. Graham (Southern District of Ohio) wrote, "Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of
2010 requires most Americans to buy a minimum level of medical insurance and, if they
do not, to pay a monetary penalty instead. Today’s “question” about the “extent of the
powers” granted to Congress goes primarily to its commerce power to compel
individuals to buy something they do not want (medical insurance) as part of a regulatory
NEW YORK STATE LAWMAKERS PASS SAME SEX MARRIAGE BILL / INCLUDES PROVISION FOR DIVORCE
More in this article from Reuters, click here- 06/25/2011
IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS GROUPS FIRE BACK AGAINST SEN. MCCAIN FOR BLAMING LATEST WILDFIRES ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS / FEDS DENY IT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- During a news conference Saturday, U-S Senator John McCain, (R-AZ) told the media, “There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border”. Monday, McCain staffers said the Senator meant that campfires from illegal immigrants have caused fires in the past, not in specific reference to the Wallo Fire, the state's largest in its history.In a statement sent to CNN, Angelo Falcon, President of the National Institute for Latino Policy, quickly criticized McCain saying: “The degree of irresponsible political pandering by Sen. McCain has no limit… With the lack of evidence, he might as well also blame aliens from outer space for the fires". the Arizona Republic is reporting that National Forestry Service Spokesman Tom Berglund told the newspaper that illegal immigrants have "absolutely not" played a role in the Wallow Fire. A GAO study is expected later this year on the re;lationship between illegal immigrants and wildfires in border states. 06/20/2011
SUPREME COURT UNANIMOUSLY SAYS CLASS ACTION WAL-MART DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT CANNOT PROCEED AS IS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The U-S Supreme Court today ruled the discrimination case against Wal-Mart, which originated in California, cannot go forward as a class action lawsuit in it current form. Wal-Mart was accused of sex discrimination involving more than 1.5 million women who are current and former employees of the company. The Supreme Court decision today means that the lawsuit reverts back to the original plaintiffs in the case and cannot be expanded as is to include different types if discrimination claims. The decision therefore, reverses rulings from the originating federal district court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Remaining unsettled is the merit of original lawsuit, Dukes Vs. Wal-Mart, as to whether Wal-Mart, in fact, discriminated against female employees. The claim in the Dukes lawsuit is that local managers exercise their discretion over pay and promotions disproportionately in favor of men, which has an unlawful disparate impact on female employees. Today's Supreme Court ruling does not preclude the Dukes lawsuit being revised to those involved with a certain type of discrimination, while others are filed separately, in reformed class action lawsuits. PDF text of actual Supreme Court decision, click here . 06/20/2011
HOLD ON COLUMBO, THE KID AIN'T OLD ENOUGH TO CONFESS!
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In another 5-4 decision, the U-S Supreme Court has ruled confessions from juveniles can be thrown out without adequate "Miranda" rights notification. The majority decision, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, reversed a North Carolina Supreme Court decision which allowed the juvenile's confession regarding .......to be allowed as evidence in court. The U-S Supreme Court decision concluded,
"To hold, as the State requests, that a child’s age is never relevant to whether a suspect has been taken into custody—and thus to ignore the very real differences between children and adults—would be to deny children the full scope of the procedural safeguards that Miranda guarantees to adults".
The U-S Supreme Court majority, in its review of the case history, stated,
"Police stopped and questioned petitioner (Identity protected, alias given as, "J. D. B." ), a 13-year-old, seventh-grade student, upon seeing him near the site of two home break-ins. Five days later, after a digital camera matching one of the stolen items was found at J. D. B.’s school and seen in his possession, Investigator DiCostanzo went to the school. A uniformed police officer on detail to the school took J. D. B. from his classroom to a closed-door conference room, where police and school administrators questioned him for at least 30 minutes. Before beginning, they did not give him Miranda warnings or the opportunity to call his grandmother, his le-gal guardian, nor tell him he was free to leave the room. He first denied his involvement, but later confessed after officials urged him to tell the truth and told him about the prospect of juvenile detention. DiCostanzo only then told him that he could refuse to answer questions and was free to leave. Asked whether he understood, J. D. B. nodded and provided further detail, including the location of the stolen items. He also wrote a statement, at DiCostanzo’s request. When the school day ended, he was permitted to leave to catch the bus home. Two juvenile petitions were filed against J. D. B., charging him with breaking and entering and with larceny. His public de-fender moved to suppress his statements and the evidence derived, arguing that J. D. B. had been interrogated in a custodial setting without being afforded Miranda warnings and that his statements were involuntary. The trial court denied the motion. J. D. B. entered a transcript of admission to the charges, but renewed his objection to the denial of his motion to suppress. The court adjudicated him delinquent, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals and State Supreme Court affirmed. The latter court declined to find J. D. B.’s age relevant to the determination whether he was in police custody".
The U-S Supreme Court majority opinion also pointed out,
"The law has historically reflected the same assumption that children characteristically lack the capacity to exercise mature judgment and possess only an incomplete ability to under-stand the world around them. Legal disqualifications on children as Cite as: 564 U. S. ____ (2011) 3 Syllabus a class—e.g., limitations on their ability to marry without parental consent—exhibit the settled understanding that the differentiating characteristics of youth are universal. Given a history “replete with laws and judicial recognition” that children cannot be viewed simply as miniature adults, Eddings, 455 U. S., at 115–116, there is no justification for taking a different course here. So long as the child’s age was known to the officer at the time of the interview, or would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer, including age as part of the custody analysis re-quires officers neither to consider circumstances “unknowable” to them, Berkemer, 468 U. S., at 430, nor to“ ‘“anticipat[e] the frailties or idiosyncrasies” of the particular suspect being questioned.” ’ ” Al-varado, 541 U. S., at 662. Precisely because childhood yields objective conclusions, considering age in the custody analysis does not in-vole a determination of how youth affects a particular child’s subjective state of mind. In fact, were the court precluded from taking J. D. B.’s youth into account, it would be forced to evaluate the circumstances here through the eyes of a reasonable adult, when some objective circumstances surrounding an interrogation at school are specific to children".
In a tart rebuke to the majority ruling, a dissenting opinion offered by Justice Alito, Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, claimed, "Today’s decision shifts the Miranda custody determination from a one-size-fits-all reasonable-person test into an inquiry that must account for at least one individualized characteristic—age—that is thought to correlate with susceptibility to coercive pressures. Age, however, is in no way the only personal characteristic that may correlate with pliability, and in future cases the Court will be forced to choose between two unpalatable alternatives. It may choose to limit today’s decision by arbitrarily distinguishing a suspect’s age from other personal characteristics—such as intelligence, education, occupation, or prior experience with law enforcement—that may also correlate with susceptibility to coercive pressures. Or, if the Court is unwilling to draw these arbitrary lines, it will be forced Cite as: 564 U. S. ____ (2011) 3 ALITO, J., dissenting to effect a fundamental transformation of the Miranda custody test—from a clear, easily applied prophylactic rule into a highly fact-intensive standard resembling the voluntariness test that the Miranda Court found to be unsatisfactory. For at least three reasons, there is no need to go down this road. First, many minors subjected to police interrogation are near the age of majority, and for these suspects the one-size-fits-all Miranda custody rule may not be a bad fit. Second, many of the difficulties in applying the Miranda custody rule to minors arise because of the unique circumstances present when the police conduct interrogations at school. The Miranda custody rule has always taken into account the setting in which questioning occurs, and accounting for the school setting in such cases will address many of these problems. Third, in cases like the one now before us, where the suspect is especially young, courts applying the constitutional voluntariness standard can take special care to ensure that incriminating statements were not obtained through coercion. Safeguarding the constitutional rights of minors does not require the extreme makeover of Miranda that today’s decision may portend" .Full text of actual U-S Supreme Court decision, click here. 06/17/2011
METRO AREAS RANKED BY PUBKIC TRANSPORTATION ACCESS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The latest study by Transportation for America depicts a grim future for the growing ranks of America's baby boomers who will depend on public transportation. Transportation for America is a campaign and lobbying group formed by businesses involved in real estate, housing, environmental, public health, business, transportation and equitable development.
The group's study predicts that by 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent, a new study shows. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation “ages in place” in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.
The report, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options, ranks metro areas by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years, and presents other data on aging and transportation.
Metropolitan Rankings by Percentage of Seniors Age 65-79 with Poor Transit Access in 2015*
* Rankings are based on an analysis conducted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Poor transit access was determined using the Transit Access Index (TAI).
Without access to affordable travel options, seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out and 65 percent fewer trips to visit friends and family, than drivers of the same age, research shows. As the cost of owning and fueling a vehicle rises, many older Americans who can still drive nonetheless will be looking for lower-cost options.
The transportation issues of an aging America are national in scope, and cash-strapped state and local governments will be looking for federal support in meeting their needs, Smith said. As Congress prepares this summer to adopt a new, long-term transportation authorization, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options outlines policies to help ensure that older Americans can remain mobile, active and independent:
To view the full report and to see the extended rankings, please visit http://t4america.org/resources/seniorsmobilitycrisis2011/
REPORT ON IMMIGRANTS SHOWS MORE ARE COLLEGE EDUCATED
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Brookings Institution immigration policy analyst Audrey Singer says highly charged public debate on immigration has focused on illegal immigration and its costs. Her report underscores the contribution rather than the cost of immigration, since the net affect supplies the U-S labor market with more educated workers. Singer claims that the vital role of immigrants in the U-S is often lost in this discussion. Her report explains,
"Immigrants are now one-in-seven U.S. residents and almost one-in-six workers. They are a significant presence in various sectors of the economy such as construction and hospitality on the low-skill end, and information technology and health care on the high-skill end. While border enforcement and illegal immigration are a focal point, longer-term U.S. global competitiveness rests on the ability of immigrants and their children to thrive economically and to contribute to the nation’s productivity".
Summary page including links to full report, click here. See video with Audrey Singer below. 06/09/2011
LOS ANGELES TRAFFIC CAMERAS GET RED LIGHT / FACE SHUTDOWN OVER COST AND EFFECTIVENESS
More in this article from the LA Times, click here- Video story from KTLA-TV below. 06/08/2011
ACLU SAYS 40 YEAR "WAR ON DRUGS" HASN'T WORKED / PRODUCED MORE ADDICTS IN MORE PRISONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- On the 40th anniversary of the "War on Drugs", the American Civil Liberties Union says the initiative has accomplished nothing, in fact, according to the ACLU the country is worse off because of it. Attorney Venita Gupta, from the Center for Justice, says the initiative has had a disproportionate effect on minorities and has cost the country billions to house prisoners rather than offer treatment effective programs to reduce recidivism. Gupta writes,
"The war on drugs has sent millions of people to prison for low-level offenses, and seriously eroded our civil liberties and civil rights while costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year, with nothing to show for it except our status as the world's largest incarcerator. There are 2.3 million people behind bars in this country — that is triple the amount of prisoners we had in 1987 — and 25 percent of those incarcerated are locked up for drug offenses. Taxpayers spend almost $70 billion a year on corrections and incarceration. A far more sensible way to deal with a public health problem like drug addiction is to provide treatment, which study after study has shown is more effective than incarceration. Texas, for example, has implemented a number of reforms in recent years that prioritize drug treatment over incarceration, and its crime rate has dropped to its lowest rate since 1973 as a result".
PEACE CORP TOLD TO BETTER POLICE THEIR OWN / HEARING REVEALS MURDER, RAPES, OTHER CRIMES BY STAFFERS AGAINST STAFFERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom-The most compelling testimony of the hearing was that from the mother of a murdered Peace Corp volunteer. Catherine Lois Puzey, mother of Slain Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Puzey, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday that her daughter was murdered on March 12, 2009, while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa. Her mother told the committee that from almost her first day in Badjoudae, Kate was warned about the aggressive sexual behavior of a man—(name omitted) -who is now accused of killing her. This man taught at the school where Kate was assigned to teach. He also worked for the Peace Corps during the summers, helping to provide language training to the new Volunteers. In this role, he regularly ignored the Peace Corps policy prohibiting sexual relations with the Volunteers and had a reputation for making aggressive, unwanted advances. Some saw him as a charming womanizer who used females for his needs and then discarded them; others viewed him simply as a sexual predator. Although Kate had stressed the importance of confidentiality – when she made her complaints about the perpetrator, knowing that the brother of the man she was accusing worked in the Peace Corps local headquarters – and despite the Country Director‘s promise that this confidentiality would be respected, the Peace Corps‘ Inspector General report later determined that Kate’s confidentiality was breached. Indeed, the brother of the accused killer apparently told (name omitted) that Kate‘s complaint had led to his firing within only a few days. The account (Click here for PDF copy) was another in a series of the Peace Corp failing to handle such situations, failing to establish a written procedure and course of action, being more concerned about public image than the crimes against their own staff. Others told painful stories of rape, whereas the victims were victimized again by Peace Corp administrators, who were more interesting in getting rid of the victims, than the perpetrators. See testimony of Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ms. Jessica Smochek, Ms. Carol Clark, Karestan Chase Koenen, Ph.D, Ms. Jennifer Wilson Marsh, The Honorable Aaron S. Williams,Ms. Kathy A. Buller. Click on each name for specific testimony.
Legislation to address the problem, in part, through establishment of "Sexual Assault Response Teams", is being sponsored by Texas Congressman Ted Poe and Massachusetts Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
FEDS END IMMIGRATION BARRIER PROGRAM FOR THOSE FROM TARGETED COUNTRIES / IMMIGRATION STATUS CANNOT BE USED TO KEEP KIDS OUT OF SCHOOLS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Immigration rights groups called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System or NSEERS legalized discrimination against muslims. That why the American Civil Liberties Union and others welcomed last week's decision by the Department of Homeland Security to suspend NSEERS indefinitely. The ACLU says NSEERS singled out immigrant men and boys from designated countries for extraordinary registration requirements with DHS, ranging from an extra half-hour of screening on arrival, through tracking of whereabouts while in the United States, to limitations on points of departure. Repeatedly condemned by the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, NSEERS mandated ethnic profiling on a scale not seen in the United States since Japanese-American internment during World War II and the "Operation Wetback" deportations to Mexico of 1954. Former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner James Ziglar was right in his appraisal of NSEERS, which the ACLU opposed from day one. Ziglar described NSEERS as a "disruption in our relationships with immigrant communities and countries that we needed help from" after 9/11, and lamented that it "caused us to use resources in the field that could have been much better deployed".Then, last Friday, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice sent letters to school administrators throughout the county, outlining the fact that it is illegal to deny entry to students on the basis of immigration status or to demand immigration documents. According to the fact sheet sent by the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education, all children in the United States are entitled to a basic public elementary and secondary education regardless of their race, color, national origin, citizenship, immigration status, or the status of their parents/guardians. School districts that either prohibit or discourage children from enrolling in schools because they or their parents/guardians are not U.S. citizens or are undocumented may be in violation of Federal law. Below are some examples of acceptable enrollment policies — including proof of residency in the school district — as well as policies that may not be used by schools to deny enrollment to your child. • Proof of Residency in the School District. o School officials may require o However, a school district you to provide proof that you live within the boundaries of the school district. Copies of phone and water bills, lease agreements, or other documents may be requested for this purpose. A school district’s requirements to establish residency must be applied in the same way for all children. may not ask about your or your child’s citizenship or immigration status to establish residency within the district, nor may a school district deny a homeless child (including a homeless child who is undocumented) enrollment because he or she cannot provide the required documents to establish residency. Full text of ACLU announcement, click here. Fact sheet from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. 05/09/2011
OWNER SUBMITS PLANS TO CLOSE WEST VIRGINIA MINE, SITE OF APRIL 2010 DISASTER THAT KILLED 29
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Massey Energy, owner of the Upper Big Branch Mine, site of the explosion and fire, April 5th, 2010, has submitted plans with the Mine Safety and Health Administration to close the mine. Massey and federal officials will meet May 5th at the agency's Mount Hope, West Virginia offices to discuss the closing. Upper Big Branch Mine was the site of repeated safety and other violations. The final cause remains unsettled, but preliminary reports are that the mine exploded after a buildup of methane gas and coal dust, which were constant problems in previous inspections and often talked about among miners with their families. Since the miners were not represented by a union, the company only responded to inspectors about violations, which whistle blowers within the agency claimed were often minimized or eliminated when submitted to agency higher ups.
Since the disaster, the Obama administration promised more strict enforcement of federal mining and labor regulations. Their March, 2011, inspections were released this week, showing federal inspectors issued 134 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at eight coal mines and eight metal/nonmetal mines last month. The coal mines were issued 55 citations, four orders and one safeguard; the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 69 citations and five orders. These inspections, which began in force last April following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.
"Although we believe these impact inspections are making a positive difference for miners, some operators apparently aren't getting the message that it is ultimately their responsibility to find and fix problems at their mines," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "When operators take that responsibility seriously, miners are safer and healthier."
On March 11, an inspection party arrived during the evening shift at S and H Mining Inc. in Campbell County, Tenn. After production started, the inspectors captured and monitored the phones to prevent advance notification of their arrival. They discovered conditions and practices that posed electrocution hazards to miners. There was no certification indicating that a pre-shift examination had been conducted at the No. 2 conveyor belt head drive power center. Also, a high-voltage cable supplying power to a conveyor belt head drive was not guarded, and there were footprints on the high voltage cable indicating miners had been exposed to the hazard. The inspectors also found a damaged trailing cable on a roof bolting machine located on the section, which would result in an electric shock to a miner who came in contact with the cable.The CO monitoring system along the conveyor belt was not properly installed, and there was a defective CO sensor along the belt flight. The belt conveyor entry also had accumulations of combustible materials up to 7 inches in depth along the belt and 12 inches at the head drive. Although the accumulations were wet, under continued mining operations, this condition could pose fire, smoke inhalation or explosion hazards.
In addition to the electrical, fire and explosion hazards, inspectors observed inadequate roof support conditions and discovered areas where the continuous mining machine had exceeded the roof control plan by clipping the corners of coal pillars, creating excessive widths in intersections and compromising coal pillar stability. These conditions could result in roof falls leading to serious injuries or death to miners in the area.
On March 4, an inspection party arrived during the evening shift after production had begun at ICG Knott County LLC's Classic Mine in Knott County, Ky. Inspectors captured and monitored the phones to prevent advance notice of their arrival. Classic Mine was issued four unwarrantable failure orders for accumulations of float coal dust, coal dust and loose coal along four conveyor belts in the mine. The accumulations measured up to a distance of 2,000 feet along one belt conveyor and in depths up to 14 inches. These accumulations were noted in the operator's examination books on the four shifts prior to this enforcement action, but there had been no apparent efforts by the operator to remove the combustible materials. If left uncorrected, the condition could have led to a mine fire. The operator had been cited 51 times in the last two years for violations of Code of Federal Regulations Â§75.400.
MSHA says that since April, 2010, MSHA has conducted 244 impact inspections. These inspections have resulted in 4,392 citations, 405 orders and 14 safeguards. Full text of MSHA press release, click here. 04/30/2010
SUPREME COURT RULES COMPANIES CAN HALT CONSUMER CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS
SUPREME COURT CASE MAY DECIDE DRUG COMPANY ACCESS TO DOCTORS PRESCRIPTION RECORDS / FREE SPEECH OR CONFIDENTIALITY?
More from the New York Times, click here - 04/25/2011
NINTH CIRCUIT APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS BAN ON ENFORCEMENT OF ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW / LINK TO COPY OF ACTUAL DECISION
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has upheld an Arizona federal judge's ban on enforcement of the Arizona immigration law. The appeals court decision stated;
".....we find that as to the (Arizona Law) S.B. 1070 Sections
on which the United States is likely to prevail, the district
The court also noted the likelyhood of federal law trumping that of a a state statute in such a matter.
"We have “stated that an alleged constitutional infringement will often alone constitute irreparable harm.” Assoc. Gen. Contractors v. Coal. For Econ. Equity, 950 F.2d 1401, 1412 (9th Cir. 1991) (internal quotation marks omitted). We have found that “it is clear that it would not be equitable or in the public’s interest to allow the state . . . to violate the requirements of federal law, especially when there are no adequate remedies available . . . . In such circumstances, the interest of preserving the Supremacy Clause is paramount.” Cal. Pharmacists Ass’n v. Maxwell-Jolly, 563 F.3d 847, 852-53 (9th Cir. 2009) (emphasis added); see also Am. Trucking Ass’ns, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 559 F.3d 1046, 1059-60 (9th Cir. 2009) (recognizing that the balance of equities and the public interest weighed in favor of granting a preliminary injunction against a likely-preempted local ordinance).
The appeals court sent the issue back to the federal court in Phoenix, where it originated, and where the ban on the arizona immigration law was first instituted.
Detailing the history of the case, Appeal Court Judge Richard Paez, in his majority In April 2010, in response to a serious problem of unauthorized immigration along the Arizona-Mexico border, the State of Arizona enacted its own immigration law enforcement policy. Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, as amended by H.B. 2162 (“S.B. 1070”), “make[s] attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.” S.B. 1070 § 1. The provisions of S.B. 1070 are distinct from federal immigration laws. To achieve this policy of attrition, S.B. 1070 establishes a variety of immigration-related state offenses and defines the immigration-enforcement authority of Arizona’s state and local law enforcement officers. Before Arizona’s new immigration law went into effect, the United States sued the State of Arizona in federal district court alleging that S.B. 1070 violated the Supremacy Clause on the grounds that it was preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), and that it violated the Commerce Clause. Along with its complaint, the United States filed a motion for injunctive relief seeking to enjoin implementation of S.B. 1070 in its entirety until a final decision is made about 4810 UNITED STATES v. STATE OF ARIZONA its constitutionality. Although the United States requested that the law be enjoined in its entirety, it specifically argued facial challenges to only six select provisions of the law. United States v. Arizona, 703 F. Supp. 2d 980, 992 (D. Ariz. 2010). The district court granted the United States’ motion for a preliminary injunction in part, enjoining enforcement of S.B. 1070 Sections 2(B), 3, 5(C), and 6, on the basis that federal law likely preempts these provisions. Id. at 1008. Arizona appealed the grant of injunctive relief, arguing that these four sections are not likely preempted; the United States did not cross-appeal the partial denial of injunctive relief. Thus, the United States’ likelihood of success on its federal preemption argument against these four sections is the central issue this appeal presents.
COMMUNICATIONS GIANT GANNETT AMONG LATEST EEOC ACTIONS AGAINST EMPLOYERS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has filed suit against suburban Washington, DC, based Gannett Company Incorporated, due to the firing of an Arizona employee, which the EEOC claims, discriminatory due to the employee's disability. The commission states that the employee, identified as Ms. Parker-Garcia, worked in Gannett’s Tempe, Ariz., facility as an application support analyst. After Parker-Garcia returned from a medical leave of absence because of a mental disability, the Gannett companies unlawfully discharged her, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The suit further alleges that during her employment, Parker-Garcia exceeded expectations and was up for a promotion when she went on the medical leave.
The EEOC states, "Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the ADA , which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Gannett Company, Inc. and Gannett Media Technologies, Inc., Case No. (CV 11-00675-PHX-DKD) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking monetary relief including back pay with prejudgment interest, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The agency is also seeking an injunction prohibiting future discrimination and any other curative relief to prevent the Gannett companies from engaging in any further discriminatory practices".
“Individuals with disabilities, including mental disabilities, are an underutilized resource that employers should utilize,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “Many disabled persons are qualified, ready and willing to work -- all they need is an equal opportunity. Employers must remember that disability does not mean inability. Cases such as these are important to society because they confirm that workers who want to work, but are prevented from doing so by employers because of a real or perceived disability, are protected by the law.”
Other recent actions taken by the EEOC against other employers include:
The Minnesota Department of Human Services agreed to pay a court settlement of $467,165 to 29 claimants who were denied employer contributions for retiree health and dental insurance because they were older than age 55 at the time that they retired. DHS also must to offer to pay future premium costs for persons who would still be entitled to receive them but for the unlawful early retirement provision.In its lawsuit against DHS, the EEOC contended that the incentive plans contained in collective bargaining agreements for certain DHS employees violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the incentive plan denied the employer contributions for premiums to persons over a certain age. (EEOC v. Minnesota Department of Human Services, No. 11-cv-00678 DSD/JJG in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota). In an earlier lawsuit involving the same incentive plans, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson held that the early retirement incentives are “facially discriminatory, and, as such, violate the ADEA.”
IN A VERY DISTURBING CASE, mentally disabled men were employed by Hill Country Farms, in a turkey processing operation in Muscatine, Iowa, called, "Henry's Turkey", being paid only $65 a month. According to the EEOC, "Henry's Turkey", subjected a group of 31 men with intellectual disabilities to severe abuse and discrimination for more than 20 years. The EEOC filed a lawsuit against the company last week in Davenport, Iowa. The company is based in Goldthwaite, Texas, but the work and abuse occurred in West Liberty and Atalissa, Iowa. According to the lawsuit, No. 3:11-cv-0004 CRW-TJS , filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Henry’s Turkey exploited these workers, whose jobs involved eviscerating turkeys, because their intellectual disabilities made them particularly vulnerable and unaware of the extent to which their legal rights were being denied. The affected men lived in Muscatine County, Iowa, where they worked for 20 years as part of a contract between Henry’s Turkey and West Liberty Foods, an Iowa turkey processing plant.
"This case is a stark reminder of how important it is for the EEOC to ensure that the Americans with Disabilities Act is fully enforced," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “Workers with intellectual disabilities should never be subjected to the demeaning and discriminatory treatment alleged in this case.”
Specifically, the complaint alleges that that the owners and staffers of Henry’s Turkey denied the workers lawful wages, paying them only $65 a month for full-time work; subjected them to abusive verbal and physical harassment; restricted their freedom of movement; and imposed other harsh terms and conditions of employment such as requiring them to live in deplorable and sub-standard living conditions, and failing to provide adequate medical care when needed.
Verbal abuses included frequently referring to the workers as “retarded”, “dumb ass” and “stupid”. Class members reported acts of physical abuse including hitting, kicking, at least one case of handcuffing, and forcing the disabled workers to carry heavy weights as punishment. The Henry’s Turkey supervisors, also the workers’ purported caretakers, were often dismissive of complaints of injuries or pain.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, including intellectual disabilities, in terms and conditions of employment and wages; and bars disability-based harassment. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to resolve the matter through conciliation.
“This case illustrates the importance of continued vigorous enforcement of the law in this area. The victims in this case were subject to a hostile work environment and discriminatory treatment because of their disability,” said P. David Lopez, EEOC General Counsel. “The EEOC stands ready to litigate such cases, wherever in our nation such employment discrimination might take place, to make victims whole and to bring workplaces into compliance with the ADA.”
MINORTITY CHILDREN WILL BE THE MAJORITY BY 2019
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A report from Bookings Institution demographer William Gray says minorities will become the majority in the U-S sooner than previously projected. Gray says minority children are already the majority in ten states and 35 of the country's largest metropolitan areas. Along with that has been a large drop in the number of white children. The highlights of the report state,
WORKER FIRED AFTER REQUEST FOR TIME OFF DUE TO LEUKEMIA TREATMENT
D-A IN WISCONSIN SAYS REPUBLICANS VIOLATED LAW WHEN THEY PASSED UNION BARGAINING LIMITS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A court hearing over the recently passed Wisconsin law limiting union collective bargaining rights could put Republican leaders in a tight spot. Testimony from staffers and others connected with the publishing of the law, necessary for public disclosure of proposed changes, indicates a hasty rush to get the law passed and sent to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Union leaders got the support of the Dane County District Attorney in their case that the recent passage of a law limiting collective bargaining rights for state union employees, was illegal. Ozanne filed suit two weeks ago against Republican legislative leaders claiming they violated the Wisconsin Open Meetings law when changes were made to the bill without the required public notice. Republicans eventually forced the bill through the legislature, which was then signed by Governor Scott Walker. A judge later put a hold on enforcement of the law until legal issues were resolved. It could be another week, before the judge in the case makes a ruling. More in this article from the Capital Times, click here. 03/29/2011
COAST GUARD FINAL REVIEW FAULTS CENTRALIZED PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMUNICATIONS IN BP OIL WELL BLOWOUT / LINK TO REPORT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Make plans for decentralized handling of public information and anticipate complications caused by political involvement in disasters. That was the advice included in a final report on the BP oil well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Prepared by the Incident Specific Preparedness Review team of the US Coast Guard, the report's PDF file is 167 pages. Team members were NOT part of the incident response. Members included those from government agencies as well as private sector for profit and non profit agencies. Among the reports final points, the ISPR team actually took a swipe at the media for misleading information, including reports of friction between the Coast guard and BP, over handling of the blowout. An actual segment of the report (below) points out problems coordinating the response.
"There are very few programs within the Coast Guard that facilitate direct communication and
dialogue with State and local officials. The ACP development process is one of them. As
evidenced by the last two major spill events, Cosco Busan and Deepwater Horizon, much of the
external political pressure exerted upon the response organization was the direct result of not
engaging local officials prior to and during the spill response. In the Deepwater Horizon incident,
The reports states, "This includes better defining the roles of the Secretary of Homeland Security (or designated Principal Federal Official), the White House, and other officials within the Administration. Crisis management experience or proven ability as a crisis leader is generally not a required qualification for elected or appointed political leaders, or even corporate executives. The Deepwater Horizon incident placed people into crisis management roles, and not all were able to demonstrate leadership in crisis as a core competency. The performance of crisis leaders during this incident was uneven at best. In some cases, the leadership exhibited undermined public confidence in Government as well as corporate officials".
The only content, in the report, that is anywhere near that cited by Fox News, states,
"The National Incident Commander concept worked very well in this incident, and provides a
But the ISPR team did fault the Obama Administration's centralized public information handling. Team members cited several problems.
• The Unified Area Command (UAC) JIC, and
its subordinate JICs, were prohibited from
releasing information or imagery without prior approval by the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) Office of Public Affairs (OPA).
And the team suggested that political problems in such disasters be included in preparations, explaining,
• The high-level political influence that will always be at play in a catastrophic oil spill needs
FOOD BANKS BATTLE PROPOSED CUTS IN CONGRESS / ADVOCATES SAY CUTS IGNORE EXPLODING DEMAND
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- As congress wrangles over the federal budget, food banks say proposed cuts come at a time when more families depend on them to avoid hunger. Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, says congress is debating a Republican proposal that cuts spending for food banks in 2011. President Obama released his budget request on Monday which contains food bank cuts for 2012. Both of these proposals include cuts to programs that serve low-income families.
A study, released by the group last month, found high food insecurity rate counties, throughout the U-S, are more economically disadvantaged compared to the national
average for all counties and for the U.S. population as a whole. An average of the
annual unemployment rates for this group of counties was 14% in 2009, compared to 9% across all
counties. The highest unemployment rate among these counties was over 28% in Imperial, California.
The average of county-level poverty rates among this group was also extraordinarily high, averaging 26%
Geographically, those counties in southern Atlantic states had the highest rate of food insecurity, 35.2%, with counties in west north central states having the lowest, 2.2%. The study also pegged the number of Americans facing acute food shortages to the point of hunger at 50 million.
ACLU LAWSUIT AGAINST BUSH WIRETAPPING LAW GETS NOD FROM APPEALS COURT
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The American Civil Liberties Union today won approval from a federal judge to proceed with their lawsuit against implementation of the FISA Act by the former Bush administration. The ACLU filed the appeal after a federal district court dismissed the case in August 2009, ruling that the plaintiffs did not have the right to challenge the new surveillance law because they could not prove that their own communications had been monitored under it.
NEW HAMPSHIRE LEGISLATORS KILL PROPOSED LIMITS ON TEENAGE VOTERS
DEATH PENALTY BANNED IN ILLINOIS / GOV. QUINN SIGNS BILL PASSED IN LEGISLATURE
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill banning the death penalty, which had passed both houses of the legislature. Quinn received the bill nearly two months ago. The last execution in Illinois was 1999. According to the Chicago Tribune, the ban comes about 11 years after then-Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions after 13 condemned inmates were cleared since Illinois reinstated capital punishment in 1977. Ryan, a Republican, cited a Tribune investigative series that examined each of the state's nearly 300 capital cases and exposed how bias, error and incompetence undermined many of them. Chicago Tribune article, click here.
Quinn said his review had convinced him that it was impossible to administer capital punishment without mistakes.
PENTAGON STUDY DOCUMENTS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN MILITARY PROMOTIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Military Leadership Diversity Commission has sent congress and the Pentagon 20 recommendations to eliminate discrimination against women in military promotions. According to the 160 page report, women are denied promotions due to the combat exclusion. Most higher command personnel have completed combat missions in order to qualify for promotions. The commission recommends to combat exclusion be eliminated. Full text and summary of the commission report, click here. 03/09/2011
THE CAMPAIGN TO CUT STUDENT AND IMMIGRANT VOTING
OBAMA TO RESUME MILITARY TRIALS AT GUANTANAMO
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Citing reform of military commissions, US Attorney General Eric Holder says trials will resume at Guantanamo and that the Obama Administration will continue efforts to close it. In a statement released today by the Justice Department, Holder stated,
"...it is essential that the government have the ability to use both military commissions and federal courts as tools to keep this country safe. Unfortunately, some in Congress have unwisely sought to undermine this process by imposing restrictions that challenge the Executive Branch’s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek to do Americans harm. We oppose those restrictions, and will continue to seek their repeal. It is important, however, that military commissions, as reformed by the Military Commissions Act in 2009 and other reforms, be allowed to resume. In November of that year, after consulting with the Secretary of Defense, I referred a number of cases for consideration for prosecution in military commissions. For the remaining cases the Guantanamo Review Task Force deemed suitable to pursue for prosecution, we will continue to work, along with the Department of Defense, to ensure that justice is done as swiftly as possible. The executive order issued by the President today strengthens the legal framework under which we will continue to detain those individuals who are at war with our country and who pose a significant threat to the security of the United States. In addition, federal courts will continue to review the legality of detention of individuals at Guantanamo. While we continue to work to close Guantanamo, these steps will ensure that the detention of individuals there is appropriate under our laws".
The Obama administration faced pressure to keep Guantanamo open after congress passed legislation mandating detainees not be tried on American soil.
Full text of Holder statement, click here. 03/07/2011
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS PROTESTERS RIGHTS AT MILITARY FUNERALS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Protests sponsored by the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas are covered under the right to free speech, as long as they observe local rules. The U-S Supreme Court, in a 8-1 decision found that since the church protested in compliance with local rules under police supervision, their protest was protected as free speech. The only Justice dissenting was Samuel Alito, who felt the group, "brutalized", the family of the fallen soldier. Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, Westminster, Maryland, was killed in Iraq in the line of duty in 2006. During his funeral, according to the finding of the court, the picketers peacefully displayed their signs—stating, e.g., “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Fags Doom Nations,” “America is Doomed,” “Priests Rape Boys,” and “You’re Going to Hell”—for about 30 minutes before the funeral began. Matthew Snyder’s father (Snyder), petitioner here, saw the tops of the picketers’ signs when driving to the funeral, but did not learn what was written on the signs until watching a news broadcast later that night. Snyder filed a diversity action against Phelps, his daughters—who participated in the picketing—and the church (collectively Westboro) alleging, as relevant here, state tort claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy. A jury held Westboro liable for millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Westboro challenged the verdict as grossly excessive and sought judgment as a matter of law on the ground that the First Amendment fully protected its speech. The District Court reduced the punitive damages award, but left the verdict otherwise in-tact. The Fourth Circuit reversed, concluding that Westboro’s statements were entitled to First Amendment protection because those
statements were on matters of public concern, were not provably
false, and were expressed solely through hyperbolic rhetoric.
The Fourth Circuit held that he First Amendment shields Westboro from tort liability for its
picketing in this case. The majority of the U-S Supreme Court agreed with the Fourth Circuit ruling. In the majority opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here—inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield West-boro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.
SUPREME COURT RULES CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS ARE "NOT PRIVATE" / COURT SAYS COMPANIES ARE NOT THE SAME AS "INDIVIDUALS"
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Freedom of Information Act prevents corporations from blocking public disclosure of documents sent to the government. That's the outcome of a case brought by AT&T, which was trying to block public release of embarrassing company documents showing it over billed the New London, Conn., public schools. The documents had been submitted to the Federal Communications Commission in its probe of the dispute. In their unanimous decision, the U-S Supreme Court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, said corporations don't get to enjoy certain personal-privacy exemptions included in the Freedom of Information Act.
"The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations," Roberts wrote. "We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."
AT&T had argued that the controversial Citizens United case, which removed corporations from campaign contribution limits, extends rights to corporations as individuals, therefore, it should extend privacy to documents sent the government. The Supreme Court disagreed.
AT&T eventually paid more than $500,000 to settle that case. Actual Supreme Court decision (FCC v.AT&T), click here. 03/02/2011
SUPREME COURT: DYING CRIME VICTIMS STATEMENTS TO POLICE CAN BE USED IN MURDER TRIALS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In a strangely divided ruling, the US Supreme Court has approved court use of statements to police from dying crime victims, rather than ruling those statements, "inadmissible here say". The case involved a shooting in Detroit. when police arrived, the victim, Anthony Covington claimed he had been shot by "Rick". after providing police with the assailant's address, police went to the home of Richard Bryant, where blood evidence was located. Bryant was arrested and charged for murder, after Covington died at a hospital. Police claimed the victim's statements should have been admissible in court since they were told to police during an, "on going emergency". However, during his trial, Bryant's attorneys objected to the victim's statements being used because they were "here say" testimony. The Michigan Supreme Court rejected Bryant's conviction due to acceptance of, "here say", testimony. Today's ruling by the US Supreme Court reverses that. In a 6-2 decision, the majority of justices ruled statements from victims during a police emergency response to the crime scene, are admissible, since the statements were not from witnesses after the emergency response. The ruling is interesting reading, since the dissenting views came from Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Scalia claims the decision places the Constitution in, "shambles". Actual US Supreme Court decision, Michigan v. Bryant , click here. 02/28/2011
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WILL NOT DEFEND, "DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT" / LAW ALREADY DECLARED "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" BY FEDERAL JUDGE / SEE LETTER FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Obama administration announced today it would not defend the 1996, "Defense of Marriage Act". The act was ruled unconstitutional last July by Massachusetts Federal Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro in Boston. Still to be announced, is a ruling from a federal court in San Francisco on the fate of California Proposition 8, which was approved by the voters in 2008, banning same sex marriage. In a letter sent today to House Speaker John Boehner, Attorney General Eric Holder explained,
"....the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 o f DOMA "Defense of Marriage Act" is unconstitutional".
SUPREME COURT GRANTS PARTIAL SHIELD FOR VACCINE MAKERS IN STATE COURT LIABILITY LAWSUITS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The U-S Supreme Court, on Tuesday, ruled in favor of vaccine makers, upholding federal law, which preempts some injury or death lawsuits filed in state courts. The case relates to the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which contains a preemption clause on state court lawsuits, relegating most such claims to a federal vaccine court. The law allows such lawsuits if it is proven the vaccine was defective, or that the manufacturer failed to issue a warning about potential complications from such a vaccine. The Supreme Court stated that the family of Hannah Bruesewitz, could not sue vaccine maker Wyeth in state court over a diphtheria vaccine given Hannah in 1992, which the family claimed, caused their now 18 year old daughter to have seizures. The vaccine was actually made by Lederle Laboratories, which is now owned by Wyeth. Before filing the lawsuit in a state court, the family lost their case in the federal drug court, which determines compensation, in such cases. The 6-2 Supreme Court ruling stated the majority of justices believed Wyeth was protected by the 1986 act, whereas the company pays into a fund to pay for those cases where injury occurs, in exchange for protection from state court lawsuits. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the ruling promotes a , "regulatory vacuum". The Bruesewitz family had hoped the court would broaden its ruling from August last year, in the case of drug maker Wyeth v. Levine. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld a Vermont jury's award for damages, involving a musician who claims she lost her right hand, because of an anti-nausea drug made by Wyeth. The Vermont jury ruled that Wyeth did not adequately warn of such problems, knowing that similar cases existed. Wyeth attempted to use the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 as a defense. However, since the complications from the drug were known and Wyeth failed to take appropriate action, the Supreme Court ruled against Wyeth. Actual Court Decision, Bruesewitz vs. Wyeth, click here. 02/23/2011
PATRIOT ACT EXTENDED THREE MONTHS / PRESIDENT WILL SIGN
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The House yesterday approved a concurrent resolution, thereby removing a roadblock for extension of the Patriot Act for three months. The House version of the extension called for the act to be extended until December 8th, 2011. The Senate version called for a three month extension as the act headed toward expiration at the end of the month. Due to the ongoing crisis over the federal budget, congressional leaders agreed to the three month extension. The house vote passing the concurrent resolution was 279-143. White House officials say they have the bill and the President will sign it. 02/18/2011
HAWAII APPROVES CIVIL UNIONS FOR SAME SEX COUPLES / NEW HAMPSHIRE LAWMAKERS CONSIDER REPEAL
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Hawaii state legislators have approved civil unions for same sex couples, with the new law to take effect January 1st 2012. Governor Neil Abercrombie, has promised to sign it into law after the state senate passed it, Wednesday, by a vote of 18-5. More in this story from Reuters, click here.
Meanwhile, another state which had already passed a law allowing civil unions, is considering a repeal. New Hampshire state legislators. Governor John Lynch says he will veto the bill if the legislature passes it. More in this story from Associated Press. the are three bills in the New Hampshire legislature dealing with civil unions, traditional marriage, 02/17/2011
SENATE AND HOUSE PASS THEIR OWN VERSIONS OF "PATRIOT ACT" EXTENSION / MUST RESOLVE DIFFERENCES BEFORE EXPIRATION THIS MONTH
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- Despite stumbling on an earlier attempt to pass an extension of the "Patriot Act", house Republicans were able, on Monday, to pass an extension through December 8th. The Senate yesterday passed its version of the extension, but only for the next three months. Time and other details of the extension must be worked out in both chambers as expiration nears the end of the month. Opponents of the bill says it still provides too much leeway for federal prosecutors and investigators to illegally wiretap and use evidence against those not involved in terrorist activity. Democrats in the Senate were trying to tighten loopholes in the act, but resistance in the house may prove too much. Bill summary of HR 514, click here. Senate roll call and bill summary, click here. 02/16/2011
CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP SAYS TEXAS HAS SECRET DEATH PENALTY / SAYS MORE CUTS FOR PRISONS LEAVE SOME INMATES DEAD AND THE STATE PAYING LARGER BILL
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A report released today by the Texas Civil Rights Project comes as state legislators consider cuts to cover a projected budget deficit that could reach $27 billion. The group claims Texas is well known for executing more prisoners than any other state. Executions are the public death penalty—they take place with transparency.
Texas, however, also practices a “secret” death penalty. Prisoners are killed and maimed in Texas by appalling medical care.
Texas incarcerates approximately 154,000 people in 112 Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prisons around the state. The federal Constitution requires Texas to provide basic medical care for prisoners’ serious medical conditions. In the past, federal courts have had to monitor Texas prisons for grossly failing to meet this basic humane obligation.
Texas is now facing a return to the “bad old days” when the courts had to intervene in prison health care. Texas pays just $9.88 per prisoner per day for health care, compared with $28.55 per prisoner per day in California—which is already under judicial supervision and has been ordered to release over 40,000 prisoners so the remaining inmates can receive constitutional care.
PBS STATIONS BATTLE POTENTIAL EXTINCTION AS REPUBLICANS VOW TO CUT CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides the lion share of funding for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and its affiliates, remains on a Republican leadership list of cuts being proposed in the House Appropriations Committee. According to the group representing public broadcasting stations, there are six proposals to either eliminate or substantially cut federal funds to PBS and its stations. Those proposals, according to the trade publication, TV NewsCheck, include:
– H.R. 68, by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit federal funding for CPB after fiscal year 2013;
House Republican leadership is expected to bring a bill to cut the CBP to the floor sometime next week. American Public Television Stations have mounted a campaign to get their members, employees, civic and government leaders and other supporters to push congress to keep the service. APTS website, click here. Both National Public Radio and APTS stations defeated attempts to cut funding last fall. 02/10/2011
PATRIOT ACT EXTENSION FAILS IN HOUSE AS TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS JOIN DEMOCRATS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- A bill to extend federal powers in the Patriot Act died today in the House as Tea Party Republicans bolted with liberal Democrats. As a result, the bill came up seven votes short of the needed two thirds majority to pass it. President Obama and Republican leadership had pushed for passage of the compromise measure, which opponents claim, gives the federal government power to perform arbitrary wiretaps without a court order and loosens restrictions on gathering evidence against suspects, who may not be involved in terrorism. A part of the act is set to expire at the end of this month. The extension rejected today, would have moved expiration back to the end of the year. Today's vote was the first major bill to see a revolt by Tea Party Republicans. However, congressional leaders on both sides expect a revision of some form to pass by the end of the month. Some supporters of the extension are demanding the expiration be moved to December 2013. Roll call count, click here. Bill summary of HR 514, click here. 02/09/2011
N-Y MAYOR BLOOMBERG SAYS GUN LAW INEFFECTIVE / SAYS TOO MANY UNFIT GUN OWNERS SOLD WEAPONS
More from the Voice of America- Last month’s shooting in Arizona of a local member of Congress and the killing of six people has again focused attention on the issue of regulating the purchase of firearms. A recent undercover investigation in that state show that guns can be easily purchased by suspicious individuals.
Nonetheless, gun control opponents remain adamant that stricter control would infringe upon the constitutional right Americans have to keep and bear arms.
PHARMACY COLLECTS MILLIONS AS WHISTLE BLOWER AGAINST DRUG COMPANY PRICE GOUGING
MEMBERS OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION VIOLATED "HATCH ACT" / CLAIMED "GOVERNMENT BUSINESS" ON POLITICAL TRIPS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In order to head off election losses expected during the 2006 mid-terms, the Bush administration converted a White House office for political use, among other violations, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The OSC issued a Hatch Act Report entitled, "Investigation of Political Activities by White House and Federal Agency Officials During the 2006 Midterm Elections". The report lists OSC’s findings following an investigation that revealed White House Office of Political Affairs (OPA) employees, as well as high-level agency political appointees, violated the Hatch Act through a number of practices that were prevalent during the months leading up to the 2006 midterm elections.
The report says the office examined: 1) the transformation of OPA from an advisory office to the President into a campaign organization that worked directly with the Republican National Committee to achieve electoral success for Republican candidates; and 2) the improper use of U.S. Treasury funds to support Republican campaign activity.
The OSC found,
"... that of the approximately 75 political briefings OPA conducted, a majority of them took place while presenters and attendees were on duty and/or in a federal workplace. Because in many circumstances giving these briefings constituted political activity under the Hatch Act, OSC now discusses whether either OPA employees or agency political appointees violated the Hatch Act by participating in briefings during duty hours and/or in the federal workplace".
Full text of PDF from OSC report, click here. 01/25/2011
U-S PAID $200 MILLION TO CUT GAYS FROM MILITARY BETWEEN 2004-2009 ACCORDING TO GAO
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- In a report released today by the Governmental Accountability Office, the United States government, in the fiscal years 1994 through 2009, the Department of Defense (DOD) separated over 13,000 active military service members under its homosexual conduct policy. According to the GAO, these separations represent about 0.37 percent of the 3.6 million members separated for all reasons, including expiration of terms of service and retirement. In 2005, GAO reported on the number of separated service members under DOD's homosexual conduct policy who held critical skills and the costs associated with administering the policy from fiscal years 1994 through 2003. GAO was asked to examine data from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. their probe shows that it cost DOD about $193.3 million ($52,800 per separation) in constant fiscal year 2009 dollars to separate and replace the 3,664 service members separated under the homosexual conduct policy. This $193.3 million comprises $185.6 million in replacement costs and $7.7 million in administrative costs.
In terms of the adverse operative effects from terminating gay service members, the GAO says of the 3,664 separations, 1,458 of these separated service members held a critical occupation or an important foreign language skill as determined by GAO and the services. More specifically, 1,442 (39 percent) of the service members separated under the policy held critical occupations, such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) of the service members held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish. Seven separated service members held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill. However, the number of separated service members with critical occupations could be an underestimation because of a number of factors. For example, the Air Force provided the occupations eligible for enlistment bonuses from fiscal years 2006 through 2009, but could not provide this information for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 because the Air Force's data were incomplete.
REALTYTRAC SURVEY SAYS 2010 BROUGHT RECORD NUMBER OF FORECLOSURES
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- The 2010 home survey conducted by RealtyTrac shows a total of 3,825,637 foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on a record 2,871,891 U.S. properties in 2010, an increase of nearly 2 percent from 2009 and an increase of 23 percent from 2008. The report also shows that 2.23 percent of all U.S. housing units (one in 45) received at least one foreclosure filing during the year, up from 2.21 percent in 2009, 1.84 percent in 2008, 1.03 percent in 2007 and 0.58 percent in 2006.Foreclosure filings were reported on 257,747 U.S. properties in December, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from the previous month and down 26 percent from December 2009 — the biggest annual drop in foreclosure activity since RealtyTrac began publishing its foreclosure report in January 2005 and giving December the lowest monthly total since June 2008. December Default notices (NOD, LIS) decreased 4 percent from the previous month and were down 35 percent from December 2009; Scheduled foreclosure auctions (NTS, NFS) decreased 3 percent from the previous month and were down 20 percent from December 2009; and bank repossessions (REO) increased nearly 4 percent from the previous month — thanks in part to substantial month-over-month increases in some states such as Nevada (71 percent increase), Arizona (52 percent increase) and California (47 percent increase) — but were still down 24 percent from December 2009.
Foreclosure filings were reported on 799,064 U.S. properties in the fourth quarter, a 14 percent decrease from the previous quarter and an 8 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2009. The fourth quarter total was the lowest quarterly total since Q4 2008.
“Total properties receiving foreclosure filings would have easily exceeded 3 million in 2010 had it not been for the fourth quarter drop in foreclosure activity — triggered primarily by the continuing controversy surrounding foreclosure documentation and procedures that prompted many major lenders to temporarily halt some foreclosure proceedings,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Even so, 2010 foreclosure activity still hit a record high for our report, and many of the foreclosure proceedings that were stopped in late 2010 — which we estimate may be as high as a quarter million — will likely be re-started and add to the numbers in early 2011”. 01/13/2011
ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE DUMPS DEATH PENALTY / BILL SENT TO GOV. QUINN FOR SIGNATURE / QUINN SILENT
STATES CONSIDER ATTORNEY FINES FOR BOGUS DOCUMENTS IN FORECLOSURE CASES
HATE SPEECH AND GUN LAWS / DO THEY WORSEN A CLIMATE OF INTOLERANCE?
TEXAS MAN FREED AFTER 30 YEARS BY DNA EVIDENCE / WAS CONVICTED OF CARJACKING AND RAPE / TEXAS HAS HIGHEST NUMBER OF DNA EXONERATIONS
More from the Emeritus Newsroom- 51 Year old Cornelius Dupree Jr. was freed by a Dallas judge today after being cleared in a 1979 case which sent him to jail for 75 years. DNA tests, not available at the time of his trial proved he was not connected to the crime. His long battle for freedom was aided by the Innocence Project and famed criminal attorney Barry Scheck. So far in the U-S, 266 people, convicted in their trials, have been freed by DNA evidence. Dupree was the 41st defendant in Texas, cleared by DNA evidence after being convicted. Texas has more DNA conviction reversals than any other state. See NBC news story below. More from this story in the Dallas Morning News, click here. 01/04/2011