Category: Law

SuperHero of the day


Meet “Buddie” – who consumes only the best buds

Metropolis has Superman, Gotham City has Batman, and now Ohio has a superhero of its very own. However, some critics wish it were somebody else — anybody else.

Meet Buddie, the caped crusader enlisted by ResponsibleOhio to aid in the fight to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. You’ll recognize him by his green-and-white costume, marijuana leaf-like gloves, washboard abs, half-closed eyes and blinding smile. Oh, and by the enormous marijuana bud that serves as his head.

He’ll probably never volunteer for anyone’s army. Unless Uncle Sugar is planning on invading somewhere with a long green growing season.

Parrot detained by coppers over obscene language

Police in India said a parrot detained on allegations of shouting obscenities at an elderly woman refused to utter a single word for officers.

Chandrapur district police said the parrot, Hariyal, was detained at the police station in Rajura, Maharashtra, after Janabai Sakharkar, 85, told investigators the parrot would shout obscene words and phrases at her whenever she would pass by the home of its owner, her stepson.

Sakharkar told police she believes her stepson, Suresh, trained the parrot to shout obscenities at her because of an ongoing land dispute between the family members.

Police said the parrot did not speak in front of officers, even when confronted by Sakharkar…

Police said they decided not to return Hariyal to his owner and instead put the bird in the care of forest department officials for rehabilitation.

You have the right to remain silent…

Ohio voters get to decide on marijuana legalization in November

Ohio citizens will vote on whether to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use in November, a decision that could concentrate the state’s legal marijuana business to 10 growers.

Ohio’s secretary of state Jon Husted said…that a measure to legalize marijuana had collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in the state’s 3 November election.

The measure includes a provision that would allow only 10 growers to grow and sell pot commercially.

Critics, including the state legislature, say this could create a monopoly. The legislature added a measure, called Issue 2, to the ballot that would block monopolies from operating in Ohio.

According to Husted, if both measures are approved, the one introduced by the legislature would take precedence.

Pro-legalization group ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James celebrated the news in a statement.

“Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens,” James said. “By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

Hope they can make it – or try again in 2016 if this try fails. Presidential elections turn out the most significant cross-section of voters – which would give a progressive move like decriminalizing weed a better chance.

Off-peak elections like the coming turn out the higher proportion of folks afraid of change as a general rule. We’ll see. Good luck, Ohio.

Supreme Court asked to rule on secret plan to cut cell service?

The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.”

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shuttering of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

So, what are the specifics of this regulation? Demonstrations for peace and justice or riots and anarchy in the streets? And who ultimately gets to make the determination to invoke SOP 303? Some New York City precinct commander or a bureaucrat in DHS, faceless or otherwise?

Republican “ag-gag” law simply ignored the First Amendment

The so-called ag-gag law, which passed in Idaho in 2014, is a sorry example of a special interest overreach that embraced the cries of lobbyists over First Amendment concerns and the state’s reputation as a transparent food producer.

That U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill would rule it unconstitutional this week should come as no surprise to anyone outside of the Idaho Legislature and the governor’s office. There is a long list of lawmakers who thought it a grand idea to protect agricultural producers at the expense of those who have a legitimate role in scrutinizing their practices. Not only did these lawmakers want to discourage any and all attempts at whistleblowing, they also wanted such “terrorists” to be threatened with punishment.

We hope the Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter will take Winmill’s ruling to heart and resist any urge or expense to appeal it, and also hope they will learn from it — though we have doubts.

What is especially troubling is the tone-deafness of the 20-some senators and 50-some representatives who voted to pass the law and saw only one side of the issue: the dairy lobby view that, by golly, barns should be like Vegas — what happens there, stays there.

The highly regulated agriculture industry is not a private matter, as Winmill pointed out in a ruling that references Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle,” for which the author misrepresented himself to Chicago slaughterhouses in order to research his exposé on the meatpacking industry. Winmill counters a perception that Idaho agricultural machinations deserve some special level of privacy when “food production and safety are matters of the utmost public concern.”…

There were warnings issued against this bill on its way to becoming law. Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, whom Otter negotiated with to lure the company to Idaho, urged the governor to veto the bill. Stalwart Republicans such as former Sen. Russ Fulcher, who knows his way around a dairy farm, and Rep. Lynn Luker had the sense to vote against it.

It’s time that some members of our Legislature put as much effort into all of our laws as they do focusing on a few favorites. They might wake up on the right side of a lawsuit someday.

Add to the list Republican governors, Republican-controlled legislatures that stand in line to ban women’s reproductive rights, labor’s right to organize, the right of all citizens to vote.

Some of their sleaziness is native bigotry. The rest can be chalked up to special interests buying their votes. Either road leads to lawsuits and taxpayer dollar$ wasted in the defense of fools who think they miss the 19th Century.

Court strikes down Texas voter ID law


My father-in-law still has one of these from the 1950’s – Texas bigotry hasn’t changed much

A U.S. appeals court struck down a Texas law…requiring voters to show authorized identification before casting ballots, saying the measure violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act through its “discriminatory effects.”

The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit pertained to one of a series of laws enacted in Republican-governed states requiring potential voters to show identification that Democrats saw as intended to disenfranchise minorities who typically support their party.

“We affirm the district court’s finding that SB 14 (Texas Senate Bill 14) violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effect,” a three-judge panel from the New Orleans-based court said.

The measure was signed into law in 2011 by then Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, and has been the subject of legal battles since then.

Plaintiffs argued the law would hit elderly and poorer voters, including minorities, hardest because they are less likely to have such identification…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the state will continue to fight to keep the voter ID requirement.

He has a reason or two. All lies not worth repeating.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the case to strike down the law, hailed the decision that came near the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

“It is fitting for the court to recognize that laws that deliberately make it harder for black and Latino Americans to vote have no place in our democracy,” said Sean Young, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

There is no voting rights project inside the Republican Party. Of course.

They have only a policy to stop voting rights.

Looks like Shakespeare was smoking homegrown?


Now, what rhymes with “ganja”?

Residue from early 17th century clay pipes found in the playwright’s garden, and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry…

Of the 24 fragments of pipe loaned from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to University of the Witwatersrand, cannabis was found in eight samples, four of which came from Shakespeare’s property.

There was also evidence of cocaine in two pipes, but neither of them hailed from the playwright’s garden.

Shakespeare’s sonnets suggest he was familiar with the effects of both drugs.

In Sonnet 76, he writes about “invention in a noted weed”, which could be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed”, or cannabis, while he was writing.

The article seems a bit of a stretch trying to include cocaine – though opium certainly wasn’t unknown in England BITD.

Whatever. Smoking a little weed obviously didn’t harm his creative juices – as anyone with a modicum of good sense already knows.

Religions still try to impose ideology on employees — courts say NO!

Four Roman Catholic nonprofits in New York must allow employees access to contraception, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday, reversing a decision by a lower court that allowed the organizations to get around a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

Six other circuit courts around the country deciding on similar arguments involving religious groups have come to similar conclusions, the unanimous three-judge panel noted in its decision, which was written by Judge Rosemary S. Pooler for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York…

Under the Affordable Care Act, religious nonprofits that object on religious grounds to providing contraception can opt out by completing a one-page form. Then, a third party, either an insurance company or a health insurance administrator, takes over providing and coordinating payments for the employees’ contraceptives.

The four New York groups — a Catholic high school in the Bronx and another on Staten Island, as well as two Catholic health care systems — argued that the opt-out sheet imposed a “substantial burden” on their religious freedom. Either they had to offer “access to products and services they find objectionable,” as Judge Pooler summarized it, or they faced high fines…

…Judge Pooler wrote that the opt-out form was, in fact, “a modicum of paperwork” that “relieves, rather than imposes, any substantial burden” on the plaintiffs’ religious freedom.

“Eligible organizations are provided the opportunity to freely express their religious objection to such coverage as well as to extricate themselves from its provision,” she wrote. “At the same time, insured individuals are not deprived of the benefits of contraceptive coverage.”

As an alternative to the opt-out form, which is sent to the federal Labor Department, religious groups may send a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services “detailing their religious objections in their own words,” and the government would then notify insurance administrators…

Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the case, said: “It’s a huge victory for all the female employees who work at the organizations. The scorecard is really 7-0 in the Courts of Appeals on this issue.”

It’s also another victory for Americans who believe that our Constitution even in early days was a document that guaranteed freedom from religions interfering with civil rights, individually and collectively. Although a few generations of cowards and opportunist politicians in Congress and the White House have diminished the strength of those freedoms – obviously, there are individuals with integrity still within the judicial portion of our government.

Certainly, we run the continued risk of conservative ideologues – and demagogues – trying to defeat that protection through political maneuvering. Again, via Congress and the White House. As limited as we may be by the device of an institutionalized 2-party political system, the electoral college and state-based limitations on voting rights, we must utilize every avenue available to us to protect our rights.

Fortunately, my personal convictions do not include treating my right to vote as a religion. I need not and do not limit that activity to standards of purity. It’s as limited as so many aspects of our life by the choices we have available. That includes the limits of an ignorant, lazy-ass body politic.

Copper pulls gun on man recording him


Raw, uncut recording

A Northern California police officer has been placed on leave after a video surfaced showing him pulling a gun on a man who was recording him on his cellphone.

Rohnert Park officials announced their decision Thursday to place the officer on administrative leave…

Don McComas said he was in front of his home and hooking his boat to a trailer when he saw the officer drive into his neighborhood. The officer, he said, made a few turns and stopped to face McComas. The officer did nothing but point at McComas and his home, McComas said.

McComas became concerned, so he pulled out his cellphone camera and started filming.

The video shows the officer stopping his police SUV and appearing to film McComas with a camera or cellphone.

On the video, McComas moves in closer to record the license plate number on the officer’s vehicle. The officer gets out of the SUV and tells McComas to take his hand out of his pocket.

McComas replies: “No sir, I’ve done nothing. I have done absolutely nothing. No.”…

The video shows McComas backing away as the officer moves the gun toward him.

McComas repeats he did nothing wrong and tells the officer not to touch him.

When McComas asks why the officer stepped out of his vehicle, the officer responds, “You’re taking a picture of me. I am taking a picture of you.” The officer then asked whether McComas was “some kind of a constitutionalist or crazy guy or something like that.”

“Why are you doing this?” the officer asks McComas, who responds, “Why are you sitting here with your gun on me? This is why I am doing this. To protect myself from you….”

As the officer walks away, he tells McComas, “Go ahead, have a nice day and put it on YouTube. I don’t really care.”

Another good reason why you need to have some kind of device with you to record interaction with officialdom of just about any kind IMHO. Cops are the most dangerous, of course, They’re usually carrying a gun – if you’re in the GOUSA.

The uncut quality of the video speaks for itself. This wasn’t a civilian trying to produce the sort of gotcha film beloved of Tea Party agitprop. Just a guy in his neighborhood wondering why a cop wanders up to the front of his driveway and stops.

I would recommend a little more discretion. Putting your cellphone in a shirt pocket might be less likely to set off a creep who already thinks he’s superior to all other mortals.

“Are you a constitutionalist or crazy guy or something like that” pretty much sums it up. That’s what too many coppers think of civilians and our rights.

Germany halts treason charges against journalists – for the present


Andre Meister and Markus Beckedahl

A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media.

Harald Range, Germany’s prosecutor general, said on Friday he was halting the investigation “for the good of press and media freedom”. It was the first time in more than half a century that journalists in Germany had faced charges of treason.

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Range said he would await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed.

His announcement followed a deluge of criticism and accusations that Germany’s prosecutor had “misplaced priorities”, having failed to investigate with any conviction the NSA spying scandal revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and targeting instead the two investigative journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister.

In a scathing attack, the leading Green MP Renate Künast, who is also chair of the Bundestag’s legal affairs committee, called the investigation a “humiliation to the rule of law”. She accused Range of disproportionately targeting the two journalists, whilse ignoring the “massive spying and eavesdropping [conducted] by the NSA in Germany”.

Künast told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger: “Nothing happened with that. If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we would know nothing.”…

In articles that appeared on netzpolitik.org in February and April, the two reporters made reference to what is believed to be a genuine intelligence report that had been classified as confidential, which proposed establishing a new intelligence department to monitor the internet, in particular social media networks.

The federal prosecutor’s investigation was triggered by a complaint made by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) over the articles, which it said had been based on leaked documents…

In an act of solidarity, the research website Correctiv reported itself to the general prosecutor’s office on Friday, saying that it too was “guilty of treason”, at the same time as republishing the controversial documents originally published by netzpolitik.org.

“They should be investigating the whole lot of us!” said Correctiv’s editor-in-chief, Markus Grill. Meanwhile, German lawyers called for the abolition of the offence “journalistic treason”.

The uproar against NSA-style security measures seems to have had the desired effect for now. German justice minister, Heiko Maas, is requesting the dismissal and retirement of the chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, who initiated the charges against the journalists.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect the same to happen here in the GOUSA. And it hasn’t. Much of our Free Press is owned by entertainment media corporations. They aren’t about the rock the boat. The Democratic Party couldn’t turn out a united demonstration for Free Speech if it threatened the military-industrial complex. Republicans would start wearing armbands if requested. And American Greens don’t seem able to generate a grassroots movement with the energy and smarts to grow into a national party.

Yup. Still a cynic. Mail me a penny postcard when Obama invites Ed Snowden to return home.