May 2009 Archives

Oklahoma troopers caught on tape choking EMT by the neck. reports

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers get into a fight with a paramedic and it is all caught on videotape.

The incident happened near Boley in Okfuskee County.

In the video, you see OHP troopers pushing the paramedic and grabbing his neck.

Watch the video.

The fight happened during an emergency call when a patient waiting to be taken to the local hospital was in the back of the ambulance.

Officials say OHP troopers became upset after the paramedic failed to yield while the troopers were rushing to a call of their own.

The troopers claim the paramedic assaulted one of them before the camera started rolling.

The video was shot by the patient's son. He says he continually asked the troopers to stop, so his mom could be taken to the hospital.

"We're like telling this dude. 'Man, my mom is in the back.' My step-dad was like 'man my wife is in the back, can we do this at the hospital,'" said Kenyada Davis.

The patient was finally taken to the hospital where she was treated and released.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol won't comment on the video while it's being reviewed by Okfuskee County prosecutors.

Thanks to jgodsey
Not sure if this is actually true, but if so, and it seems reasonably plausible (which is a statement in itself), this is pretty amazing, and encouraging. In defiance of an "unacceptable book" list  put out by the principal at  a Catholic high school, student runs furtive library dealing in such school banned titles as The Canterbury Tales, Candide and Animal Farm.

From Kate Atreides Yahoo Answers

s it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?

Let me explain.

I go to a private school that is rather strict. Recently, the principal and school teacher council released a (very long) list of books we're not allowed to read. I was absolutely appalled, because a large number of the books were classics and others that are my favorites. One of my personal favorites, The Catcher in the Rye, was on the list, so I decided to bring it to school to see if I would really get in trouble. Well... I did but not too much. Then (surprise!) a boy in my English class asked if he could borrow the book, because he heard it was very good AND it was banned! This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list. I took care only to bring the books with literary quality. Some of these books are:

>The Perks of Being a Wallflower
>His Dark Materials trilogy
>The Canterbury Tales
>The Divine Comedy
>Paradise Lost
>The Godfather
>Interview with the Vampire
>The Hunger Games
>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
>A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
>Animal Farm
>The Witches
>Shade's Children
>The Evolution of Man
> the Holy Qu'ran
... and lots more.

Anyway, I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it's the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I'm doing a good thing, right? Oh, and since you're probably wondering "Why can't you just go to a local library and check out the books?" most of the kids are too chicken or their parents won't let them but the books. I think that people should have open minds. Most of the books were banned because they contained information that opposed Catholisism. I limit my 'library' to only the sophmores, juniors and seniors just in case so you can't say I'm exposing young people to materiel they're not mature enough for. But is what I'm doing wrong because parents and teachers don't know about it and might not like it, or is it a good thing because I am starting appreciation of the classics and truly good novels (Not just fad novels like Twilight) in my generation?
  • 3 months ago

Additional Details

More books I have:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Lord of the Flies
Bridge to Terabithia
East of Eden
The Brothers Grimm Unabridged Fairytales.
...the list goes on.

3 months ago

Twilight is banned also, but I don't want that polluting my library.

3 months ago

As for getting the press involved, reporters are not allowed on campus. Besides, my parents would be so mad if they found out I was doing this.

3 months ago

But don't worry about it because, as Antonin Scalia says, "There is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation."

The Wall Street Journal reports

The Supreme Court overturned a long-standing ruling that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present.

The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court's conservatives overturned that opinion Tuesday, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying "it was poorly reasoned, has created no significant reliance interests and [as we have described] is ultimately unworkable."

Justice Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said their decision will have a "minimal" effects on criminal defendants. "Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation," Justice Scalia said.

The Michigan v. Jackson opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time. He dissented from the ruling, and in an unusual move read his dissent aloud from the bench. It was the first time this term a justice had read a dissent aloud.

"The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel," Justice Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, "can only diminish the public's confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice."

The decision comes in the case of Jesse Jay Montejo, was found guilty in 2005 of the shooting death of Louis Ferrari in the victim's home on Sept. 5, 2002.

He was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002, hearing, but was never indicated that he accepted the lawyer's help. Mr. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Mr. Montejo wrote a letter to Mr. Ferrari's widow incriminating himself.

When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Mr. Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned without him being present.

Mr. Montejo was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

Thanks to the Agitator

No Charges, No Evidence, No Problem

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Move over Iran, North Korea, China, and other bastions of  a free press. Reuters photographer held since last September by US without charges or public disclosure of evidence.

The LA Times reports

Reporting from Baghdad -- The soldiers came at 1:30 a.m, rousing family members who were sleeping on the roof to escape the late-summer heat.

They broke down the front door. Accompanied by dogs, American and Iraqi troops burst into the Jassam family home in the town of Mahmoudiya south of Baghdad.

"Where is the journalist Ibrahim?" one of the Iraqi soldiers barked at the grandparents, children and grandchildren as they staggered blearily down the stairs.

Ibrahim Jassam, a cameraman and photographer for the Reuters news agency, stepped forward, one of this brothers recalled. "Take me if you want me, but please leave my brothers." The soldiers rifled through the house, confiscating his computer hard drive and cameras. And then they led him away, handcuffed and blindfolded.

That was Sept. 2.

Jassam, 31, has been in U.S. custody ever since. His case is the latest of a dozen detentions the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has documented since 2001.

No formal accusations have been made against Jassam, and an Iraqi court ordered in November that he be released for lack of evidence. But the U.S. military continues to hold him, saying it has intelligence that he is "a high security threat," said Maj. Neal Fisher, spokesman for detainee affairs.

The Obama administration harshly criticized Iran for its imprisonment of Roxana Saberi, the U.S.-Iranian journalist who was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison before being freed two weeks ago. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Iran's treatment of Saberi as "non-transparent, unpredictable and arbitrary."

Washington also has called upon North Korea to expedite the trial of two U.S. journalists being held on spying charges.

Yet the U.S. has routinely used the arbitrary powers it assumed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks to hold journalists without charge in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

None of the detained journalists has been convicted of any charge, undermining the United States' reputation when it comes to criticizing other countries on issues of press freedom, committee executive director Joel Simon said.

"The U.S. has a record of holding journalists for long periods of time without due process and without explanation," he said. "Its standing would be improved if it addressed this issue."

Reuters has expressed disappointment over Jassam's detention and has said there is no evidence against him.

Sami Haj, a cameraman for the TV network Al Jazeera, was detained by Pakistani authorities as he tried to cross into Afghanistan in 2001 to cover the offensive against the Taliban. He was turned over to the U.S. military, which held him for six years at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was accused him of being a courier for militant Islamic organizations, but was never charged. He was released a year ago.

In Iraq, Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was held for two years without trial before being released in April 2008 on the orders of an Iraqi judge under the terms of an amnesty law. The U.S. military maintained that Hussein had links to insurgents, but the AP said the allegations were based on nothing more than the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs of insurgents that he had taken on the streets of Ramadi, in western Iraq.

Jassam is the only Iraqi journalist still in U.S. custody, the last to be detained under wartime rules that predated a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement signed in December. Under the new accord, U.S. forces must obtain a warrant before they can arrest an Iraqi citizen.

Jassam was detained without a warrant "as the result of his activity with a known insurgent organization," Fisher said.

No evidence against Jassam was presented at his court hearing in November, Fisher said, because the military intelligence against him had not yet been verified.

Under the wartime rules in place at the time, he said, "there was no requirement to link the military intelligence with rule of law type of evidentiary procedures."

After the court ordered Jassam's release, Fisher said, new evidence came to light that suggested he was a "high security threat."

The CPJ's Simon said it was possible for someone to use the cover of journalism to conduct other activities.

"No one is suggesting that journalists should have a get- out-of-jail-free card," he said. "But if you accuse someone of something there needs to be a fair legal process. That's what we said in the Roxana Saberi case, and that's what we say in the Ibrahim Jassam case."

Jassam will have to wait for the requirements of the security pact to play out before he gets another day in court or his freedom. The agreement states that the U.S. is to release low-threat detainees in a "safe and orderly" way and refer "high threat" cases to the Iraqi Justice Ministry for review.

The decision to release him or transfer him to the Iraqi legal system will be made by the Iraqi government. The only timetable for that step is "by the end of the year," Fisher said. By that time, Jassam will have been in custody for more than a year.

Jassam's brother, Walid, visited him recently in Camp Bucca, the desolate, tented U.S. prison camp in the desert in southern Iraq, and found him close to the breaking point.

"He used to be handsome, but now he's pale and he's tired," said Walid, who says his brother had no ties to insurgents. "Every now and then while we were talking, he would start crying. He was begging me: 'Please do something to get me out of here. I don't know what is the charge against me.'

"I told him we already tried everything."
Thanks to Jonathan Turley

MPAA attempting to shut down Real Networks technology enabling movie DVD owners to make encrypted copies of films on their own hard drives for personal replay.

Law and Disorder reports

Fair use has nothing to do with--and can't be used to defend--DRM circumvention, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The arguments were made during the RealDVD hearing in San Francisco this week, with the MPAA insisting that the DVD copying case isn't about fair use at all, but violations of the DMCA's anticircumvention rules. The two concepts aren't directly related when it comes to US Copyright Law, and the MPAA wants the court to agree that DMCA claims trump all when it comes to copying content.

RealNetworks has been dealing with the legal fallout from its RealDVD software since September 2008--before it was even released to the public. At the time, Real seemed confident that RealDVD operated well within the DMCA because the software didn't break CSS encryption--it merely copied a DVD straight to a hard drive, keeping the encryption intact. Additionally, RealDVD added a new layer of DRM to each file to lock the files to the user and PC that created them, which the company thought would keep it on the movie studios' good side.

But Real thought wrong. Almost immediately, the MPAA sued Real, claiming that the company had violated DMCA anticircumvention rules and referring to RealDVD as "StealDVD." Real sued right back, hoping to get a judge to declare RealDVD legal; instead, a judge granted a temporary restraining order against the company, halting the sales of RealDVD.

Real has long argued during this case that its software merely enables DVD buyers to make legitimate copies of their legally purchased discs--this would theoretically fall under the fair use guidelines in US Copyright Law. As part of its counterclaims filed against the DVD Copy Control Association earlier this month, Real argued that the movie studios were acting as an "illegal cartel" that was trying to stifle competition in the market of fair use copies of DVDs.

Fair use v. circumvention: fight!

Real argued this once again in the hearing this week with the MPAA, saying that the company needs to be able to make copies to a hard drive in order to allow people to use the software's features. Real attorney Don Scott told the judge that making copies of music has long been recognized as "lawful fair use," according to CNET, and that consumers are allowed to make copies of CDs to put on an iPod or some other device without having to pay a second time. Isn't the same true for movies?

The MPAA insisted, however, that the mere act of circumventing DRM in order to make those copies makes one an outlaw; fair use doesn't come into the picture. Judge Marilyn Patel questioned the MPAA on whether it would be considered circumvention to make a copy to a hard drive that was limited to only that drive without the ability to make any further copies. "Yes, it would be circumvention," MPAA attorney Bart Williams said. "And no, it would not be fair use. The only backup copy Congress envisioned was archival, that you would never use until such time when your main computer wasn't working... Congress would not have gone through the process or have this process if you're going to say there is some fair use rights that allows you to circumvent."

Unrelated ideas?

Fair use principles obviously came before the DMCA's anticircumvention rules, but the two are not necessarily related. Fair use is part of general US copyright law and is used when arguing cases of copyright infringement, while the DMCA's anticircumvention rules specifically address the breaking of DRM--whether infringement occurred or not. This, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann, is the crux of the MPAA's argument.

"The MPAA's view is that the DMCA's circumvention provisions stand separate and apart from general copyright infringement, so that defenses to copyright infringement are not defenses to circumvention claims," von Lohmann told Ars. "So fair use, on their view, has no application because it's only a defense to copyright infringement."

The MPAA has been using this argument for some time, ever since the first DVD ripping case in 2000 (Universal v. Reimerdes). However, it turns out that this distinction has not been fully tested in court, and the MPAA has had only mixed success with it so far. "In Universal v. Reimerdes (the deCSS case), the district court essentially agreed with the MPAA's argument, but on appeal the court didn't embrace that part of the district court's reasoning," von Lohmann said. (But neither did the appeals court reject it explicitly.)

However, von Lohmann noted that other cases--ones that aren't about DVDs--are increasingly insisting on some sort of nexus with copyright infringement before they will permit an anticircumvention claim through the DMCA. "For example, in [Storage Tech v. Custom Hardware], the court found that there could be no circumvention claim because the activity in question fell within the copyright exception for independent service vendors (17 USC 117). That's a copyright exception (not DMCA exception), and yet the court found that it blocked the circumvention claim," said von Lohmann. "Hard to see why the same wouldn't apply to fair use (17 USC 107)."

Finally, he pointed out that the MPAA implicitly acknowledges that fair use still matters, even if the organization promotes ridiculous and roundabout ways to exercise it. Earlier this month, the MPAA showed government officials how teachers could make legal clip collections for classroom use by pointing a camcorder at a video screen showing a DVD (instead of merely ripping the DVD itself). The MPAA wants to show that circumvention isn't required in order to engage in fair use; other ways of using the material are available, if inconvenient. If the Copyright Office agrees, the movie business could have more ammo against companies like Real in court.

Fast Times at Paranoia Jr. High

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Middle school student expelled after "random search" uncovers eyebrow shaver.

WPXI reports

It's not a gun or a knife, but an eyebrow shaver that had school officials in Penn Hills take action earlier this month.A Linton Middle School teenager has been expelled after a random search turned up an eyebrow shaver in her handbag.Officials at the Penn Hills school recommended at a Wednesday disciplinary hearing that 15-year-old Taylor Ray Jetter be expelled for the rest of this year and 45 days next year.Jetter said she doesn't consider the eyebrow trimmer a weapon.

She fears expulsion will hurt her chances of becoming a nurse-anesthetist. She's a Girl Scout and a member of the school's basketball team, choir and leadership team."I don't consider it a weapon.

It's not," said Jetter.Jetter's mother, Lisa Ray, said she doesn't believe her daughter has been given a chance.The state's Safe School Act defines a weapon as any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nun chuck, firearms, rifle and any other tool capable of inflicting bodily harm.The student's mother said Wednesday that the policy does not apply to her daughter's shaver."I don't feel my daughter was given a chance," said Lisa Ray.Taylor's youth members spoke on her behalf at the disciplinary hearing.Taylor said bringing the shaver to school was an honest mistake, one she hopes the district can overlook.A district spokesperson released a statement that said, "We had been asked strongly by the community to have a standard disciplinary policy that addresses all students equally and applies a standard disciplinary code and that is what we have in place."

Thanks to jgodsey

Surge in Do-It Yourself FBI Warrants

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FBI self-served nearly 25000 national security letter warrants, allowing them to by-pass court determination of probable cause. 

Wired Threat Level reports

FISA-court authorizations for national security and counter-terrorism wiretaps dropped last year by almost 300, a new Justice Department report to Congress shows. But the FBI's use of "national security letters" to get information on Americans without a court order increased dramatically, from 16,804 in 2007 to 24,744 in 2008.

The 2008 requests targeted 7,225 U.S. people.

This is still much lower than the number of NSLs issued in 2006 -- more than 49,000 -- but indicates that the FBI's reliance on the self-authorized subpoenas is rebounding, after audits in 2006 and 2007 revealed the bureau had been abusing the tool.

The new seven-page report (.pdf) was submitted to Congress last Thursday.

National security letters (NSL) are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more.

NSLs have been used since the 1980s, but the Patriot Act expanded the kinds of records that could be obtained with an NSL. They do not require court approval, and come with a built-in lifetime gag order. With an NSL, the FBI need merely assert that the information is "relevant" to an investigation, and anyone who gets a national security letter is prohibited from disclosing that they've received the request.

The FBI's use of NSLs has been sharply criticized. In 2007, a Justice Department Inspector General audit found that the FBI, which issued almost 200,000 NSLs between 2003 and 2006, had abused its authority and misused NSLs.

The inspector general found that the FBI evaded limits on (and sometimes illegally issued) NSLs to obtain phone, e-mail and financial information on American citizens, and under-reported the use of NSLs to Congress.

About 60 percent of a sample of the FBI's NSLs did not conform to Justice Department rules, and another 22 percent possibly violated the statute because they made improper requests of businesses or involved unauthorized collections of information.

The audit also criticized the FBI for improperly tracking its use of NSLs.

Subsequently, the number of NSLs issued in 2007 dramatically dropped from 49,000 to 16,000.

The new 2009 DoJ report submitted to Congress last week and obtained by Secrecy News addresses these earlier issues by assuring legislators that the FBI has put in a number of corrective actions.

According to the report, the FBI replaced the database it used for tracking NSLs, which "has reduced errors in compiling statistics necessary for Congressional reporting."

The report says the FBI also issued a number of "corrective NSLs" to "provide legal authority to retain information it had previously received" for so-called "exigent" requests and "blanket NSLs". Exigent requests involve an informal emergency request to a business to voluntarily hand over information until a more formal NSL can be issued to cover the request.

For example, the FBI reviewed the circumstances around more than 4,000 phone numbers it obtained through NSLs to determine if proper legal process was used to obtain them. If the review team couldn't find documentation that proper legal process was followed or if the process was insufficient, but the team determined the phone number was relevant to a national security investigation, the agency issued a corrective NSL for the data. If not, then the agency purged the collected data from its database.

The DoJ report to Congress only briefly discusses FISA applications for electronic surveillance and physical surveillance related to foreign intelligence investigations. According to the document, authorities submitted 2,082 so-called "FISA applications" to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year.

But the court, which evaluates such requests, approved 2,083 FISA applications in 2008 -- the discrepancy is because two applications submitted in 2007 were approved in 2008 and are counted in 2008 figures. The court rejected one application in 2008 and made unspecified "substantive modifications" to two others.

By contrast, in 2007, the court approved 2,370 FISA applications, denied three and part of a fourth application, and modified 86 applications.

Whether it's informational sites about scholarships for gay students, political materials about right to gay marriage proposals or chat groups for Parents of Gay children web filtering software installed by 80% of the high schools in Tennessee automatically blocks access.

ACLU blog reports

You may recall last month when the ACLU First Amendment Working Group, the ACLU LGBT Project, and the ACLU of Tennessee first started schooling some school districts in Tennessee for using web filtering software that illegally blocked dozens of LGBT rights nonprofits and other informational sites -- while so-called "reparative therapy" (pray away the gay!) websites were wide open to student surfing.

We first found out about the web filtering software mess from Andrew Emitt, a student in Knoxville who discovered the problem while trying to search for something so horrifying, so filthy, so shocking -- no, actually, it wasn't at all like that. He was looking for scholarship information for LGBT students.

Well, the schools never fixed the problem, so today we're taking them to court on behalf of four people (three students and a school librarian) in Knoxville and Nashville.

About 80 percent of Tennessee public schools, including those in the Knox County and Metro Nashville districts, use filtering software that blocks sites it categorizes as LGBT. Tennessee law requires that schools use Internet filtering software, but that law is meant to protect students from information that is obscene or harmful to minors. However, the LGBT filter category does not include material that is sexually gratuitous. That kind of content is filtered through the "pornography" category.

Meantime, students aren't blocked from websites about so-called "reparative therapy," a practice that purports to "cure" LGBT people -- something that the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Social Workers all say can be VERY harmful to students.

Take a moment to look at these sites like GLSEN, PFLAG, GSA Network, Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, HRC -- all sites that are blocked in as many as 107 school districts in Tennessee. Now you tell me: Does that look like porn to you?

Didn't think so.

Bill could label TV providers of radical anti-American messages terrorist organizations.

FoxNews reports

Two U.S. congressmen have proposed legislation to label satellite providers of incendiary TV stations as terrorist organizations -- the latest attempt by lawmakers to prevent radical anti-American propaganda from hitting the airwaves, even abroad.

The bill, authored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., and Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., seeks to punish satellite companies that carry channels that are mouthpieces for known terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas -- stations they say incite their audiences to commit acts of terrorism against the United States.

But some free speech advocates question the constitutionality and consequences of the legislation, arguing that such modes of communication are a useful tool in monitoring terrorist movements.

"The constitutionality of such a statute is uphill," said Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties attorney with the Boston-based law firm Zalkind Rodriguez Lunt & Duncan LLP.

"It runs against the grain of the way in which our government has generally treated common carriers. The telephone company, for example, isn't responsible for anything said and done on the phone lines."

The legislation, if passed, will label as terrorists those satellite providers that "knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as specially designated global terrorists" under U.S. law.  The administration will have to administer an annual report that includes research on the content of such broadcasts. 

"The objective is to shut down these terror tools," Bilirakis told on Thursday.  "There are many children in these countries who are watching, and I don't want them to be susceptible to recruitment."

Of chief concern to lawmakers are satellite carriers ArabSat and NileSat, which transmit stations like al-Aqsa, al-Manar TV and al-Rafidayn TV -- an anti-Iraqi government channel -- across the Arab world.

Bilirakis said that while the legislation does not include provisions on how, specifically, satellite providers will be punished, he said he hopes it will eventually lead to sanctions -- including sanctions on the countries that are state sponsors of such networks. 

"This is a starting point," Bilirakis said. 

The proposal also calls for governments and private investors who own shares in these satellite companies to oppose transmissions of telecasts by the three networks.

"Al-Manar and Hezbollah are indistinguishable," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has worked to lobby satellite providers to dismantle stations that aid and abet terrorist groups.

The U.S. government designated al-Manar a terrorist organization in March 2006 -- marking the first time the United States declared a media operation a terrorist group. U.S. officials determined al-Manar was helping to recruit and raise money for Hezbollah, and conducting pre-attack surveillance on behalf of the terrorist group.

"Al-Manar officials were using their press passes to actually case out potential terrorist targets," Dubowitz said. 

Nine of out 12 satellite companies have stopped transmitting al-Manar, including four carriers in Europe and three in Australia, Brazil, and Hong Kong. But NileSat, based in Egypt, and ArabSat, which is Saudi-owned, continue to broadcast the channel. 

"The introduction of the legislation sends a powerful message to the Saudis and the Egyptians that the U.S. government is taking very seriously the issue of terrorist media," said Dubowitz.

Silverglate said that pressuring carriers to dismantle such stations forces the anti-American propaganda underground -- making it difficult for terrorism experts to monitor the quality and quantity of such propaganda.

"I think it's a very bad idea to expand the definition of aiding terrorism to those organizations that supply the modes of communication," he said. "Shutting off the modes of communication leaves us all in the dark. We're not only entitled to know what's going on, we have an obligation to know."

But Dubowitz disagreed.

"These satellite providers have crossed all red lines with respect to free speech," he said. "They're doing more than yelling fire in a crowded movie theater. They're providing the match, the gasoline and the arsonist."

Thanks to Rational Review

Alderman orders "peace" collage destroyed, alluding to potentially hidden anti-police messages.

Chicago Public radio reports

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's graffiti busters are seen all the time in the city painting over gang signs, or spraying them away. But this week they painted over a mural on private property. The artist says there was no mistaking the mural for graffiti and he thinks the local alderman just didn't like it.

When Humberto Angeles woke up on Thursday morning, he heard a truck outside his Bridgeport apartment. He looked out the window and saw the city's graffiti blasters painting a brick wall across the street. They covered over a mural that Angeles says he rather liked.

ANGELES: What I got from it, it was just a mural for peace. That's what I got out of it. Peace.

The mural was a painting of three Chicago Police Department blue light cameras that you see on light posts in high crime areas. The Chicago Police logo is on the cameras but then the artist also painted Jesus on one post, a deer head on another, and a skull on the third camera. What the mural is supposed to mean is anyone's guess. Angeles agrees that it's a rather inscrutable work of art but he liked it and he says he feels bad for the artist.
ANGELES: Spent all that time working on it. Spent like a good two weeks on it.

VILLA: It's roughly 40 feet across by one story, by maybe 12 feet tall.

Gabriel Villa is the artist who spent much of the last two weeks working on the mural. He says he even took a week off work to do it.

VILLA: It's in a really good area in terms of visibility so you get to see if from a good distance.

Villa did the work as part of a local art festival. The mural itself was on private property, on a wall owned by the mother of a festival organizer. Villa says several Chicago Police officers approached him about the work while he painted. He thinks they may have been offended but he says the painting doesn't have an anti-police message.

VILLA: This mural was not a quiz. A lot of contemporary art tries, you know it tries to baffle you, or tries to confuse you, or kind of flip things on its head. I wasn't asking anything.

Villa says he thinks police officers disliked the mural and they called the alderman who ordered the mural to be painted over.

BALCER: Yeah, I'm the alderman here. I was told about it and I okay'd it and I stand by it.

11th ward alderman James Balcer says he called in the graffiti blasters because the owner of the building never got a permit for the mural. He says he got 3 or 4 complaints from residents. He says he got some from police too and he says he agreed that the piece was distasteful.

BALCER: You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police cameras. Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind. That's how I viewed it.

MARSZEWSKI: It's really too bad that he didn't know that was art.

Ed Marszewski is the art festival organizer who asked Villa to paint the mural. And it's his mom that owns the building that Villa painted on.
MARSZEWSKI: We didn't realize that you need to get a permit to paint your own wall. Do you know if that is in fact a law?

A spokesman for Chicago's buildings department says section 13 25 50 of the City Code requires building owners to have a permit for painted signage or to alter or repair painted signage on a building. But a spokesperson for the city's law department says there's no permit necessary for a mural on the side of a private building as long as it's not an advertisement and as long as the property owner has given their permission.

The department of streets and sanitation which runs the graffiti blasters program sent us a statement saying they removed the mural at the alderman's insistence, and they are quote, "looking at the situation to determine if the removal was the proper course of action." Standing out on the sidewalk, a somewhat defeated Villa looks across the street at the brown wall where his mural used to be.

VILLA: I think that what they did was that they said you know what lets just do it and we'll deal with the consequences but as long as the mural is gone, let's just make it happen and I don't think a city should have that much power.

Villa says he's disappointed that the decision to remove his art was made so quickly, and without notifying him or the building owner.

Thanks to the Agitator
Inmate already serving 25 year to life sentence for auto theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (25 to life for non-violent offenses?!) gets 60 more years, for being caught with a cell phone.

The Palestine Herald reports

A Coffield Unit inmate was sentenced to 60 years in prison Tuesday after an Anderson County jury found him guilty of possessing a cell phone in a correctional facility.

A seven woman, five man jury found Derrick Ross, 38, of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Coffield Unit guilty of having a prohibited item in a correctional facility.

The case was tried in the 87th Judicial District Court with Judge Deborah Oakes Evans presiding. The state was presented by Allyson Mitchell, an assistant special prosecutor with the Special Prosecution Unit. The Special Prosecution Unit prosecutes all criminal cases that occur on TDCJ and TYC property throughout Texas by request from the local district attorney.

Ross was defended by Barbara Law, attorney for State Counsel for Offenders.

According to evidence presented by Mitchell, on March 27, 2007, a correctional officer at the Coffield Unit trusty camp attempted to search Ross after he began to act suspicious.

The officer testified that Ross was outside the administration office in the trusty camp when he started acting "squirrely and nervous." The officer ordered Ross to stop for a procedural strip search.

According to the officer, instead of stopping, Ross began to run. The officer was joined in his pursuit of Ross by another correctional officer and they chased him down the trusty camp A and B dorms to the back area of C dorm.

The officer testified that during the chase, Ross tossed "something over his head onto the roof." Once the throw was made, and the item discarded, Ross stopped and was taken into hand restraints by the pursuing officers.

According to testimony, another correctional officer climbed on the roof of the dorm in the area that Ross threw the item and found a state issued sock with a cell phone and charger inside. There were no other objects on the roof.

The defense said that prior to the chase Ross had been subjected to a strip search and no contraband was found.

Mitchell argued that Ross had to walk quite a ways through other inmates and shops to get back to the trusty camp and could have obtained the cell phone and charger then.

A parole officer testified he was at the Coffield shooting range when he heard a commotion and looked up to see an offender running behind C Dorm at the Coffield trusty camp.

He said he saw the offender make an overhead tossing movement and two officers chasing him.

It took the jury 30 minutes of deliberation before returning a guilty verdict.

During the punishment phase of the trial, the jury heard that Ross previously had been convicted three times of felony offenses.

In 1989, Ross was convicted of burglary of a motor vehicle and in 1990, he was convicted of theft of an automobile. In 1993, he was convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and sentenced to 25 years in TDCJ.

Because Ross was found to be a habitual offender, the range of punishment for having a cell phone in a correctional facility was 25 years to 99 years or life. Normally the range of punishment would be 2 to 10 years.

After 30 minutes of deliberation the jury assessed his punishment at 60 years in TDCJ. The sentence is stacked on top of the one he currently is serving.

A sentence of 60 years is one of the highest sentences in the state that has been handed down by a jury for possession of a cell phone in prison.

Thanks to Jonathan Turley

521 days after being exonerated by a jury of charges of supporting a supposedly terrorist network in Florida Lyglenson Lemorin remains in a high-security federal detention cell.

The Miami Herald reports

Lyglenson Lemorin committed an offense tantamount to a terror attack. He embarrassed Homeland Security.

Which explains why he's still behind bars 520 days after being exonerated by a Miami jury.

Remember Lemorin? He was indicted in 2006 as an operative in a hapless terrorist gaggle known as the Liberty City Seven. The first trial ended Dec. 13, 2007. The jurors deadlocked on all but one defendant.

Lemorin was acquitted of four scary charges. A big mistake, getting that not-guilty verdict.

Reducing the Liberty City Seven to the Liberty City Six didn't sit well with Justice Department apparatchiks who had gone to considerable expense painting Lemorin and associates as homegrown al Qaeda desperados, bent on blowing up buildings, wreaking havoc and killing Americans.


After the verdict, Lemorin was bound in chains like the terrorist he wasn't and whisked away that very night to a federal detention center in rural Georgia, far from his wife and three kids in Miami. Homeland Security cajoled an immigration judge into issuing a deportation order for Lemorin, a legal permanent resident, based on the very charges disproved in U.S. District Court.

Lemorin has been denied bond, languishing in custody since his arrest 35 months ago, though four presumably more culpable defendants were allowed to post bail while awaiting their second and third trials. He was inside a high-security lockup near Jacksonville on Tuesday when a jury finally convicted five of the six remaining defendants for . . . I don't know. Feigning terrorism?


Evidence at the three trials revealed that Miami's would-be al Qaeda members were poor, inept and easily manipulated by a paid FBI informant and their twisted, semi-Messianic gang leader, Narseal Batiste (the one defendant among the wretched bunch worth pursuing). Without weapons or means (other than military boots and a camera supplied by the informant), jihad was clearly beyond their capabilities.

Lemorin had severed his tenuous ties with Batiste and left town weeks before the FBI moved in. That persuaded a jury to let him go. But not Homeland Security, which spent more than $10 million pumping this case into a national show trial.

With apologies to WC Fields.
A blind international interpreter who says he was dragged off a Belgium-bound flight, arrested and held in custody in Philadelphia for hours without food or water was arraigned Thursday.

His crime: He questioned why his U.S. Airways flight was delayed nearly two hours. reports

Nicola Cantisani, 61, of Brussels, Belgium, a professional translator who has been blind since birth, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police said.

"This is taking airplane security to a new and ridiculous level," said his attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr. "It's pretty crazy."

Cantisani and his wife, Paola, were returning to Brussels April 4 after visiting family in New York. The couple changed planes at Philadelphia International Airport and boarded the 8:32 p.m. flight.

After the plane sat on the tarmac for some time, passengers were told that the flight would be delayed - without explanation, according to Cantisani. They were unable to use phones, receive attendant service or move from their seats.

"That was the straw that unfortunately broke the camel's back," Cantisani said. "It just got to me: They board you and just taxi you around."

Cantisani said he stood up to request a glass of water and to speak with the crew or captain about the delay, but was told to sit down.

In interviews in Philadelphia and later by phone from Brussels, Cantisani described what he called an "indescribable" chain of events that has given him nightmares.

"I felt I was being kidnapped - like I was a hostage," Cantisani said of the wait.

Cantisani said he spoke with the captain, who told him the plane was having mechanical problems. He then returned to his seat.

Shortly afterward, another passenger made a remark about the crew, prompting three Philadelphia Police officers to escort that man off the plane, Cantisani said.

Then, police tried to remove Cantisani as well, he said.

Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, said the police were called to Gate A-19 because of a disorderly passenger.

"A passenger had become irate over the delay," Vanore said.

Cantisani, unaware of why he was being removed, refused to leave.

He said the officers yanked Cantisani from his seat and dragged him off the plane, injuring his hand, which was gripping his seat belt . Then they forced him into a wheelchair.

At one point, an officer held him "by the throat," he said.

Vanore said that Cantisani had been asked several times to leave the plane but continually refused.

A U.S. Airways representative said Cantisani was an unruly passenger who had refused to exit the plane.

During the struggle with police, Cantisani said, he lost his retractable walking cane, making him unable to navigate.

Officers told him they had done the "blind test" and didn't believe he was blind, he said.

Vanore said he knew of no "blind test" administered by police.

Cantisani claimed he was held in police custody at the airport from about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. without food, water or access to his phone or outside communication.

His wife, who had followed him off the plane, said she "was asking a lot of questions" but got no explanation.

After speaking with the officers, Cantisani - who translates several languages for international conferences - said he was asked how much English he spoke and was questioned by a psychiatrist.

About 3 a.m., he was taken to the 18th Police District, where he was detained until late the next evening, he said.

"I was never read my rights. I was put against the wall, told to put [my] hands on the wall, empty [my] pockets and undo my shoelaces," Cantisani said. "Then, I was shoved into a 6-by-7-foot cell and that was it."

Cantisani said that without his cane to help him navigate, he bumped his head, causing it to bleed.

Cantisani said no one believed he was blind until the end of his stay.

"Imagine yourself blindfolded and being knocked around, and I had no idea how long that was going to last," Cantisani said.

After Cantisani appeared before a bail commissioner, he was released sometime after 7:35 p.m. April 5 and driven to the Penn View Hotel in Old City, where he was reunited with his wife.

Cantisani said he remains "beside himself" about the flight procedures, the crew and the officers who handled him.

"It's indescribable . . . I still have nightmares," Cantisani said. "I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I'm in a prison cell."

Cantisani said he does not plan to return to Philadelphia. Peruto said he would represent Cantisani in court

Thanks to bibliophile bullpen

After barging in with guns on couple quietly watching TV, they interrogate couple about drug activity. After realizing they were at the wrong house they leave, but not before toicketing household for having a detached door on their front lawn.

The Baltimore Sun reports

Andrew Leonard was watching television with his wife not long after returning from Ash Wednesday services when police burst through the front door of his North Baltimore home. He was handcuffed, plunked in a chair and told to keep quiet as officers rifled through the house and interrogated him for 15 minutes about drugs and a dealer he knew nothing about.

As it turned out, police had the wrong house. The man they were looking for lived two doors down.

Leonard, a 33-year-old chemist who has no criminal record, said he and his wife, a 29-year-old credit analyst, were frightened and humiliated by the incident. But for the past two months, he's wanted just one thing from the city: for someone to pay for the damage to his front door.

And he said trying to get the city to help in the aftermath has been even more frustrating than the police's initial mistake.
"My city is not working for us," said Leonard, who has lived in the Medfield neighborhood north of Hampden since October 2007. "We were victimized and now get zero cooperation from every office we deal with."

No-knock raids can be carried out through warrants signed by judges, or by police who determine at the scene that announcing themselves would present a safety threat or lead to the destruction of evidence.

Critics say the confrontational tactic, often involving masked and armed officers, is increasingly being used in situations that don't require such a volatile response.

A 2006 Cato Institute study found that hundreds of raids are conducted nationwide each year at wrong addresses, sometimes resulting in death.

In one highly publicized incident in Maryland last year, a SWAT team rushed the home of the Berwyn Heights mayor and shot and killed his family's two dogs. Police said the mayor and his wife were unsuspecting victims of a marijuana smuggling scheme, but defended the actions of the officers involved in the raid.

The General Assembly passed a law requiring greater accountability for SWAT team use. Leonard said the Berwyn Heights incident flashed in his mind as his dog, an 80-pound chocolate Labrador named Figo, raced upstairs from the basement after police began ramming the door on Feb. 25. After the initial confusion, Leonard said his attention turned toward securing his home.

He nailed his broken door shut and for a time entered and exited the home through the alley. Eventually, he and some relatives did a "fair but amateur" job installing a new door. But he wanted the city to pay for the remaining work.

"I don't think any reasonable person would argue otherwise," Leonard said.

The city denied his claim to be reimbursed for the damage to the door. Leonard said he was told that since the warrant listed Leonard's address, the officers hadn't technically stormed the wrong house.

City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway connected Leonard with the police commissioner's office, who he said promised to follow through as a "good-faith measure." But for the past two weeks his calls have not been returned, he said.

Meanwhile, the old front door sat in the backyard for two months. Leonard said he called the city's bulk trash pickup, but no one came.

The city inspectors who issue tickets for garbage in residents' backyards did, however, and gave him a $50 fine. The door finally was picked up last Thursday.

"There is nothing that is right with this situation," he said. "Nobody deserves this type of treatment from the city."

After inquiries from TheBaltimore Sun, a spokesman for Mayor Sheila Dixon said that Leonard's claims would be forwarded to the Office of Neighborhoods and dealt with "immediately."

"Mr. Leonard's situation is very unfortunate," spokesman Scott Peterson said in an e-mail. "Now that this had been brought to the attention of the Mayor's Office, we will ... respond with the care, attention, and respect that he, like all residents in Baltimore, deserves."

Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman, said officials were evaluating procedures followed in the raid. The approximate $1,200 door repair price was high enough to require Board of Estimates approval, a time-consuming process.

"As far as making Mr. Leonard whole, the commissioner is aware of it, and it is in the process," Guglielmi said.

Police eventually arrested the original target of the raid. David Pfister, 35, was arrested on a warrant on March 21 and charged with three counts of drug possession and distribution. In 2001, he pleaded guilty and received a 10-year sentence for drug possession with intent to distribute, though all but 30 days of that sentence was suspended.

Leonard said he isn't angry at the police. One of his best friends is a New York City detective, and Leonard said that he understands that officers put their lives on the line running into dangerous houses. His concern is with the failure of city agencies to follow up.

His view of Baltimore has "definitely" changed, he said, "not because of the break-in, but the lack of action on the back end and the city not owning up to their responsibility" Leonard said. "It's really given me a sour taste."

Thanks to Jonathan Turley
Seattle guards at an REI store have patron cuffed and carted off to police station for taking  cell phone pics in store. 

The Consumerist reports

While Shane was standing in the customer service line at a Seattle REI, he watched two Loomis employees open and change out the cash in an ATM machine. Shane took a photo of them with his iPhone. This apparently freaked out the Loomis guards, the REI security staff, and then the Seattle police, who put handcuffs on Shane, drove him to the police station, and then made him sign a statement that he wouldn't return to a REI store for a year. You might have noticed in that summary that they didn't actually bring any charges against him, which should make it clear to anyone who wants to side with the faux Po-Po that what Shane did wasn't illegal, that the rent-a-cops should be fired, and that REI and Loomis owe Shane a big apology.

Here's just one reason why we think the Loomis guards should be fired, and not just reprimanded: the guard who saw Shane take the picture threatened him with physical harm if Shane didn't obey his commands. Here's the exchange between Shane and him:

Him - When you're done over here, come talk to me.

Me - No, thanks.

Him - Don't try to leave. I will tackle you.

Me - No, you won't.

Him - I'll call the cops.

Me - I can't stop you.

We think Officer Debra Pelich should apologize just for flat-out being an idiot. Check out her ludicrous "reasoning" below:

We go back and forth about why I took it and don't see it as a problem versus why they think it's somehow threatening their personal safety and their property's safety. They're trying to convince me to give my ID to the Loomis guys to write their report. I'm trying to convince them to go fuck themselves that I didn't do anything illegal or otherwise wrong and that Loomis doesn't have any jurisdiction to compel me to give them my ID. Round and round, over and over. Until...

Officer Debra Pelich (#5976):
"Remember 9/11? I saw pictures of those buildings. One time when I was in Florida I was wandering around taking pictures. A security team came up and told me it was a high security restricted area. I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures there. I explained that I didn't know that, was a police officer, showed them my ID and complied with them. We cleared it up and I left."

Me (totally baffled):
"Since you managed to pull the 9/11 card somehow, does that mean that everyone that took a picture of those buildings-"

That was when Officer GE Abed (#6270) spun me around and put handcuffs on me. They took me out the back door to the loading garage, put me in the back of Seattle Police car #805. We sat there for a few minutes then they took me down to Seattle Police Department West Precinct. I sat in a holding cell for about 30 minutes still in cuffs.

Shane noted that even though everyone was apparently deathly afraid of his super spy skillz, Officer Pelich made no move to hide the security code to the police station garage door when they pulled up--instead she keyed in the number in full view of Shane. Nice work there protecting your fellow officers from terrorists, Pelich.

Shane points out that with just a little bit of Google searching on the morning he posted his story, he came up with 33 different links to data--brochures, photographs, maps--about ATMs and ATM locations, all of it far more sensitive than the noisy 2MP photo he snapped from a distance with his iPhone. He also points out that they didn't ask him to delete the image; it seems like his "crime" was taking an image and then refusing to follow the orders of the Loomis guard and hand over his ID afterwards, even though the Loomis guards had no legal right to demand any information from Shane. What REI could have done was post a sign on premises stating no photography was allowed, or talked to Shane after the incident to explain that they don't allow photos on their property, but that wasn't what happened either. Instead, Shane was carted away in cuffs.

Remember, you can take photos of pretty much any damned thing you want in public (military and national security areas are the exception), including children, buildings, airports, and police officers. Private properties can set their own rules about what kind of photography is allowed, but can't confiscate your film without a court order. If they try to or threaten you with arrest, they're more likely to be breaking the law than you are.

Bert Krages, an attorney who wrote a concise summary of rights called The Photographer's Rights (from which we pulled out the info in the above paragraph), points out that most public photo altercations are started by security officers or employees who don't know the law and who just assume that taking photos is somehow illegal. He suggests if a rent-a-cop becomes "pushy, combative, or unreasonably hostile," call the police. But who do you call when the police are also dumb and easily frightened, and more likely to protect private businesses instead of private citizens?

If you know of a good attorney in Seattle who can help his cause, please let Shane know at

"Of ATMs, iPhones... and 9/11?"

Thanks to Eraser Girl
How the misdemeanor court system railroads indigent defendants to waive their constitutional rights and get jail time for jumping turnstiles, drinking beer underage and panhandling.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers reports

he explosive growth of misdemeanor cases is placing a staggering burden
on America's courts. Defenders across the country are forced to carry unethical
caseloads that leave too little time for clients to be properly represented.
As a result, constitutional obligations are left unmet and taxpayers' money
is wasted.
NACDL's comprehensive examination of misdemeanor courts, including a review
of existing studies and materials, site visits in seven states, an internet survey of defenders,
two conferences, and a webinar, demonstrated that misdemeanor courts
across the country are incapable of providing accused individuals with the due
process guaranteed them by the Constitution. As a result, every year literally millions
of accused misdemeanants, overwhelmingly those unable to hire private counsel,
and disproportionately people of color, are denied their constitutional right to
equal justice. And, taxpayers are footing the bill for these gross inefficiencies.
Legal representation for misdemeanants is absent in many cases. When an attorney
is provided, crushing workloads often make it impossible for the defender to effectively
represent her clients. Counsel is unable to spend adequate time on each
of her cases, and often lacks necessary resources, such as access to investigators,
experts, and online research tools. These deficiencies force even the most competent
and dedicated attorneys to engage in breaches of professional duties. Too often,
judges and prosecutors are complicit in these breaches, pushing defenders and defendants
to take action with limited time and knowledge of their cases. This leads
to guilty pleas by the innocent, inappropriate sentences, and wrongful incarceration,
all at taxpayer expense.

Defenders and judges across the country noted that misdemeanor dockets are clogged with crimes that they believe should not be punishable with expensive incarceration. Right now, taxpayers expend on average $80 per inmate per day1 to lock up misdemeanants accused of things like turnstile jumping, fish and game violations, minor in possession of alcohol, dog leash violations, driving with a suspended license, pedestrian solicitation, and feeding the homeless. These crimes do not impact public safety, but they do have a huge impact on state and local budgets across the country.

The overwhelming caseloads in misdemeanor court put pressure on everyone in the
court system -- defenders, prosecutors and judges -- to resolve cases quickly. Prosecutors
use one time only plea offers to force early pleas. Judges utilize bail determinations
and the threat of pretrial incarceration to encourage early pleas. Defenders,
if they are even involved, note that a better deal might not come along and that they
have no time to fully investigate the client's case. As a result, an extraordinary number of
misdemeanor defendants plead guilty at their first appearance in court, whether or not they committed the crime. Not only is such coercion in stark violation of the Constitution, it also means taxpayers are footing the bill to imprison the innocent, as well as other defendants, whose situation might be better served by alternatives to incarceration.

Misdemeanor courts are rife with violations of professional ethical standards. Defenders countenance caseloads that prohibit them from providing competent representation to their clients. Prosecutors talk directly with defendants and convince them to waive their constitutional rights. Judges encourage defendants to proceed without counsel and plead guilty quickly in order to move dockets. Ethical obligations for all professionals in misdemeanor court should be vigorously enforced to ensure that every defendant receives
a fair and unbiased proceeding.

Often in misdemeanor courts, defendants are not informed of their right to counsel
under the Sixth Amendment, or are coerced into waiving counsel to avoid having to
spend additional time in jail awaiting the appointment. Sometimes they are even required to pay an application fee in order to obtain the counsel that is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Time and time again site team observers watched individuals plead guilty without counsel.
 Judges actually acknowledge the widespread violation of Sixth Amendment rights. For
example, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal of the Supreme Court of South Carolina told a
group of attorneys at a state bar meeting, "Alabama v. Shelton is one of the more misguided
decisions of the United States Supreme Court ... so I will tell you straight up we
[are] not adhering to Alabama v. Shelton in every situation."
 Judges and prosecutors routinely speak directly to defendants and seek waivers of counsel
in order to resolve the case more quickly. In Colorado, a state statute provides that a
misdemeanor defendant must engage in plea negotiations with a prosecutor before the defendant can receive appointed defense counsel.

Thanks to ACLU blog
What does "hostile" speech mean? What could (might) such speech encompass? And who exactly could be prosecuted  for such speech if such speech were prosecutable? Bloggers attacking politicians,activists organizing a boycott or other "hostile" actions against corporations or political parties?  Well, apparently quite possibly if a new bill, HR 1966, advertised as a way to stop children from being victims of cyber-bullying (a worthy enough and popular cause), were to make its way through Congress.

The Volokh Conspiracy reports

Federal Felony To Use Blogs, the Web, Etc. To Cause Substantial Emotional Distress Through "Severe, Repeated, and Hostile" Speech?

That's what a House of Representatives bill, proposed by Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and 14 others, would do. Here's the relevant text:

Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both....

["Communication"] means the electronic transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information of the user's choosing, without change in the form or content of the information as sent and received; ...

["Electronic means"] means any equipment dependent on electrical power to access an information service, including email, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones, and text messages.

1. I try to coerce a politician into voting a particular way, by repeatedly blogging (using a hostile tone) about what a hypocrite / campaign promise breaker / fool / etc. he would be if he voted the other way. I am transmitting in interstate commerce a communication with the intent to coerce using electronic means (a blog) "to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior" -- unless, of course, my statements aren't seen as "severe," a term that is entirely undefined and unclear. Result: I am a felon, unless somehow my "behavior" isn't "severe."

2. A newspaper reporter or editorialist tries to do the same, in columns that are posted on the newspaper's Web site. Result: Felony, unless somehow my "behavior" isn't severe.

3. The politician votes the wrong way. I think that's an evil, tyrannical vote, so I repeatedly and harshly condemn the politician on my blog, hoping that he'll get very upset (and rightly so, since I think he deserves to feel ashamed of himself, and loathed by others). I am transmitting a communication with the the intent to cause substantial emotional distress, using electronic means (a blog) "to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior." (I might also be said to be intending to "harass" -- who knows, given how vague the term is? -- but the result is the same even if we set that aside.) Result: I am a felon, subject to the usual utter uncertainty about what "severe" means.

4. A company delivers me shoddy goods, and refuses to refund my money. I e-mail it several times, threatening to sue if they don't give me a refund, and I use "hostile" language. I am transmitting a communication with the intent to coerce, using electronic means "to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior." Result: I am a felon, if my behavior is "severe."

5. Several people use blogs or Web-based newspaper articles to organize a boycott of a company, hoping to get it to change some policy they disapprove of. They are transmitting communications with the intent to coerce, using electronic means "to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior." Result: Those people are a felon. (Isn't threatening a company with possible massive losses "severe"? But again, who knows?)

6. John cheats on Mary. Mary wants John to feel like the scumbag that he is, so she sends him two hostile messages telling him how much he's hurt her, how much she now hates him, and how bad he should feel. She doesn't threaten him with violence (there are separate laws barring that, and this law would apply even in the absence of a threat). She is transmitting communications with the intent to cause substantial emotional distress, using electronic means "to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior." Result: Mary is a felon, again if her behavior is "severe."

The examples could be multiplied pretty much indefinitely. The law, if enacted, would clearly be facially overbroad (and probably unconstitutionally vague), and would thus be struck down on its face under the First Amendment. But beyond that, surely even the law's supporters don't really want to cover all this speech.

What are Rep. Linda Sanchez and the others thinking here? Are they just taking the view that "criminalize it all, let the prosecutors sort it out"? Even if that's so, won't their work amount to nothing, if the law is struck down as facially overbroad -- as I'm pretty certain it would be? Or are they just trying to score political points here with their constituents, with little regard to whether the law will actually do any good? I try to focus my posts mostly on what people do, not on their motives, but here the drafting is so shoddy that I just wonder why this happened.

Thanks to Wired Threat Level

From the drug war follies dept.

KSEE24 news reports

Fresno police officer Paul Cervantes took the stand is his trial on auto theft charges. Cervantes is accused of stealing an SUV from a drug suspect and giving it to an informant who helped set up the drug sting.
Before taking the stand, several character witnesses took the stand to defend Cervantes, including a fellow undercover officer who had originally been charged with Cervantes, but had the charges dropped.
At the center of the trial is the question of whether the informant had paid for the SUV or if Cervantes told the informant to take the car knowing that the suspect had not been paid for it.

Thnaks to injustice in seattle

The Law of Unintended Consequences

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Yeah. That's what it was neo-conservatives used to call the negative impacts of well-intentioned social legislation (aka social insurance/welfare) programs. Well I wonder if "law and order" conservatives ever envisioned the day when the no knock laws and other erosions of the fourth amendment  in teh name of the war on drugs that have made SWAT raids and other police assaults on homes commonplace, (All so well-intentioned, of course) would enable criminals to violently raid homes using police MO (and the habits of docility toward police) as entre'.

The Orlando Sentinel reports

Deputies said two suspects armed with a long-barrel weapon burst into a south Orange County home this morning and shot one of the residents to death.

Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators said the victim is a 38-year-old man who lived in the residence at 1901 Rose Boulevard. They have not released his name.

Preliminary reports show the suspects knocked on the door and yelled "Police, open the door!" sometime after 1 a.m. The suspects rushed inside and fatally shot the victim, reports show.

Several men live at the residence.

Thanks to the Agitator

NH Video blogger, arrested for taking film in a lobby, being held indefinitely without arraignment or trial for refusing to give legal name and address.

Arm Your Mind weblog writes

- Arm Your Mind for Liberty, a libertarian weblog, would like to bring attention to the Sam Dodson case. According to George Donnelly, blogger, video journalists in Iran aren't the only ones at risk for due process violations. That's what journalist Sam Dodson learned when he was arrested April 13 at Keene District Court for allegedly refusing to turn off a video camera in the lobby according to an April 14 Keene Sentinel article.

Dodson is being held indefinitely on $10,000 cash bail at Cheshire County Correctional Facility because he refuses to disclose his legal name to authorities per orders issued by Cheshire County District Court Judge Edward Burke on April 14 and 29 under docket number 09-CR-01825-1828.

"The first order states $10,000 cash bail and only when he reveals his name. In the latest order they have discovered his legal name, but again they say until he tells it to them, and tells them his address, he's staying in jail. In both orders they refuse to schedule any more dates, including trial, in this matter. They will not see him for arraignment, they will not see him for preliminary hearings, and they will not see him for trial until he gives them his name and address," said Dodson's attorney Sharon Walker.

"The state has not even told me what they are charging me with at this point for over two weeks which Article 15 of the New Hampshire Bill of Rights clearly says that they are not to hold anyone until the charges are substantially and formally given to them," Dodson said from a jail pay phone May 1 when he called in to WKBK-AM's The Dan Mitchell Morning show.

Private discussions with his attorney have been denied said Dodson. "They have not allowed her to visit or discuss my case unless its being recorded on the phone where they can hear everything."

"They were giving me motions where I couldn't respond to them because I didn't have pens or papers," said Dodson during an April 29th interview on talk radio show Free Talk Live.

Conditions in the jail are unsanitary said Dodson. "The toilet that has been stopped up for over 3 weeks now overflowed again and toilet paper, urine, feces starts flowing out onto the floor and it was also a hot day. "

Dodson is on a hunger strike and has lost 20 pounds. "I'm going to eat when I'm free," he said on WKBK-AM.

Cheshire County Superior Court rejected Walker's writ of habeas corpus for Dodson but she refiled the writ with the New Hampshire Supreme Court on April 29.

Grassroots support for Dodson made him the top choice of internet TV show "Freedom Watch on Fox" viewers in a recent poll, ahead of celebrities such as entertainer Penn Jillette and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

More than 40 friends attended a candlelight vigil for Dodson in Keene April 19. Some have also demonstrated in front of the jail where he is being held.

Letters from Dodson while he is in jail are being published at

Video of Judge Burke charging a man with contempt of court for taking 6 seconds to sit down in November 2008 was viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube.

"It is not supposed to work to where somebody in America is thrown in a jail cell and left there to rot until they cooperate and give up their rights in order to get whatever rights the government wants to hand out," Dodson said April 29 on Free Talk Live.

About Sam Dodson

Sam Dodson was living the American Dream in his native Texas when a series of events transformed him from unhappy corporate lackey to activist, filmmaker and entrepreneur. Sam's media company, Obscured Truth Network, educates viewers about the inner workings of government. Sam's videos can be viewed at Sam is also a co-host of the syndicated talk radio show Free Talk Live.

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