Golden Oxen's First Amendment Forum

General Category => News Member Items of Interest => Topic started by: Golden Oxen on April 25, 2014, 08:08:21 am

Title: News Items Members Wish to Post For Viewing and Comment
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 25, 2014, 08:08:21 am
Any news item members present that they feel would be of interest to members, they feel are important, or just plain interesting and looking for comments are welcome at this area of the Forum. 
Title: Re: News Item : US warns Putin Stop 'Provocation' or Face 'Grave' Consequences
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 25, 2014, 08:15:54 am
While realizing it is just rhetoric, the newer tone of it has me worried. :-[

US warns Putin on Ukraine: Stop 'provocation' or face 'grave' consequences

Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Russian President Putin held to his current course on Ukraine, it would be an 'expensive mistake.' In Tokyo, President Obama said: 'We are ready to act.'


Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the situation with Ukraine and Russia from the State Department in Washington, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Kerry is accusing Russia of failing to live up to commitments it made to ease the crisis in Ukraine.
(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer / April 24, 2014 at 9:30 pm EDT

With Ukraine moving to the brink of open confrontation with Russia, and Moscow ordering fresh military exercises on the countries' common border, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a blunt warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday evening: Reverse his course of “provocation” or face “grave” and “costly” consequences from a united international community.

"The window to change course is closing,” said Secretary Kerry, as he laid out a list of covert and destabilizing actions he said Russia has pursued against Ukraine over the past week.

“If Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake, it will be an expensive mistake," he concluded.

Kerry’s statement, delivered in the State Department briefing room, echoed comments earlier Thursday from President Obama in Tokyo and, earlier in the week, from Vice President Joe Biden in Kiev.

Mr. Obama, at the start of a four-nation tour of Asia, raised the prospect of tougher economic sanctions from the West and said, “We are ready to act.” He was responding to comments from Mr. Putin Thursday warning the Ukrainian government that it faces “consequences” for moving against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Appearing to presage deeper Russian intervention, Putin said Russia would “have to react to such developments.” Ukrainian security forces attempting to clear roadblocks and take back barricaded government buildings in eastern Ukraine killed as many as five separatists Thursday.

Kerry’s statement, the most detailed and direct of those coming from US leaders, sounded like a final warning shot.

Kerry said Russia’s destabilizing activities and thinly disguised covert actions in Eastern Ukraine had started even as the US, Russia, the European Union, and Ukraine were meeting in Geneva last week to forge a stabilization plan to end the Ukraine standoff. But while the government in Kiev was doing everything it had agreed to under the plan, Kerry said, Russia was stepping up activities designed to undermine and provoke the Kiev government.

Offering copious examples of the subversion he was referring to – disciplined paramilitary groups in new but unmarked uniforms occupying Ukraine government buildings, arrests in Ukraine of undercover Russian intelligence agents, the kidnappings and murders of local Ukrainian officials and journalists – Kerry said, “We’ve seen this movie before – mostly recently in Crimea.”

Insisting that the world is not being fooled by Russia’s “propaganda” and “President Putin’s fantasy” of peaceful but besieged Russian-speaking protesters, Kerry said, “Russia is stoking the very instability they say they want to quell.”

Putin and other Russian officials have mocked the impact of existing or potential Western sanctions on the Russian economy. But Kerry offered statistics suggesting the Russian economy is already hurting from sanctions imposed over the Crimea annexation. He also cited some Russian officials acknowledging the blow sanctions have already struck, in particular to foreign investment and the confidence of foreign investors in considering Russia in the current climate.

But some analysts are considerably less confident than Kerry appears to be that the “international community” will be united in imposing a new round of broader sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy.

Experts considering sanctions at a Washington forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Thursday underscored that Western Europe remains reliant on Russian energy and is likely to find it difficult to replace that energy in time for next winter.

Others note that the European Union is not united on imposing broad sector sanctions, and that some Europeans could be sympathetic to a Russian claim, if it moved into Ukraine, that it acted to restore order where a civil war threatened.

“I can imagine the Russians claiming they acted to stop the unrest and reestablish order, and if they take that to the Germans and maybe some others, that could fall on some sympathetic ears, and we could see some breaks in a united Western front,” says Nikolas Gvosdev, a specialist in Russian security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. “That would put Obama in a tough spot.”
Title: Re: News Items : Keystone XL pipeline moving forward ... in Canada's eyes
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 28, 2014, 08:23:12 am
Keystone XL pipeline moving forward ... in Canada's eyes

Keystone XL pipeline decision was delayed again in the US. But Canada's new energy minister says he's confident the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will eventually win Obama's approval.

A group of ranchers, farmers, and indigenous leaders set up an encampment on the National Mall in Washington earlier this year to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline.
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File)

  By Euan Rocha, Reuters / April 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm EDT

Canada remains confident Washington will ultimately approve the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast, two prominent cabinet ministers said on Friday, adding that the latest U.S. delay is political and not based on environmental concerns.

In his first public remarks on the controversial project, the country's new energy minister, Greg Rickford, said he hoped the Obama administration will "depoliticize" its decision on Keystone XL and give it the green light.

"On the Keystone, we're still very hopeful ... that this will go ahead sooner rather than later, and it will simply add to the economic benefits of pipeline transmission of energy products," Rickford told reporters after a speech in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga on Friday.

"Obviously we hope sooner rather than later that this is depoliticized, if you will, and that the communities along the pipeline, which include Canada and the United States, can reap the tremendous economic benefits of Keystone," he said.

Rickford was reacting to Washington's move last week to further delay a decision on whether to approve TransCanada Corp's $5.4 billion Keystone XL project, which would transport crude from the Alberta oil sands and northern U.S. states to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

No U.S. decision on the proposed pipeline is now likely until after the midterm elections in November.

By linking to refiners in the Gulf Coast, the 1,200-mile (1,900-km) pipeline would provide a boost to the oil sands of the western province of Alberta, where heavy oil is abundant but requires the burning vast amounts of fossil fuels to extract.

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The project has galvanized the environmental movement, which says consuming carbon fuel to extract oil sands crude will worsen climate change.

Environmentalists opposed to Keystone are part of U.S. President Barack Obama's liberal-leaning base and approval of the project now might have resulted in Obama's Democrats losing votes in the Nov. 4 congressional elections.

The oil industry argues projects such as Keystone can reduce U.S. reliance on Middle East oil, while allowing the United States to partner with one of its closest allies, Canada.

The State Department said last week the delay was to extend the period for government agencies to comment on the project, citing a need to wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over what path the pipeline should take.

Rickford was appointed to his new portfolio last month and his main mandate is to win support forKeystone as well as other pipelines within Canada.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver, who was Rickford predecessor as energy minister and who aggressively lobbied in the United States for Keystone XL, told an audience in the Canadian oil industry capital ofCalgary on Friday that the government "will never give up on Alberta".

"We will continue to advocate for Keystone until it is approved, as we will advocate for other environmentally responsible projects in the national interest," he said.

Oliver slammed what he called "powerful and well-funded Americans" who have opposed oil sands development and the pipeline, without naming anyone in particular.

California billionaire Tom Steyer, a donor to the Democrats, is spending tens of millions of dollars to boost environmentally friendly U.S. candidates and has personally asked the president to reject theKeystone pipeline.

"On the merits, they have picked the wrong target," Oliver said, arguing that U.S. coal-fired electricity emits more greenhouse gases than the oil sands.

"The Keystone decision was political. Everything is in place for a positive national interest determination but politics intervened," he said.
Title: Re: News Items : When can cops search cellphones? Supreme Court to hear cases.
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 29, 2014, 07:50:39 am
When can cops search cellphones? Supreme Court to hear cases.

The US Supreme Court will hear two cases Tuesday that deal with police searching an arrestee's cellphone without a warrant. Lower courts have disagreed on whether that is constitutional.
People walk on the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday April 26. Two Supreme Court cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants present vastly different views of the ubiquitous device. Is it a critical tool for a criminal or is it an American’s virtual home?
(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
 By Warren Richey, Staff writer / April 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm EDT

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up two cases testing whether the police, after placing someone under arrest, are free to examine the full contents of the arrestee’s cellphone without first obtaining a search warrant.

Two statistics illustrate the broad national implications of a ruling by the high court.

    Ninety percent of Americans own a cell phone.
    Roughly 12 million Americans are arrested each year.

The case arrives at the court at a time of growing national unease about secret government programs designed to collect and store massive amounts of information about Americans through various forms of digital surveillance.

But the case also arises at a time of continuing concern about the threat from terrorism and crime. Warrantless cellphone searches can help quickly solve crimes and, perhaps, save lives.

“This court has long confirmed that officers possess ‘unqualified authority’ to search the person of an arrestee and any objects or containers found on his person for evidence of a crime,” US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in his brief to the court.

He said such searches are justified by important interests of law enforcement in gathering evidence of crime during the crucial period following an arrest.

If officers don’t act swiftly, the digital content of a cellphone could be concealed or destroyed during the extra time it would take to obtain a warrant from a neutral judge.

Others say there is no reason law enforcement officials couldn’t obtain a warrant before conducting any search of the contents of a cellphone.

Once seized, the phone could be disabled by removing the battery and placing it in a device to shield it from outside transmissions. That would secure the phone and any crime-revealing content for the hour or two it would take to justify to a judge that the cellphone search was not an unreasonable invasion of the phone owner’s privacy.

The Obama administration and the California Attorney General’s Office are urging the court to endorse a bright-line rule that would allow police to search the full content of any cellphone, tablet, or laptop computer being carried by anyone arrested by authorities for any reason.

Critics of this approach say cellphones, particularly so-called smart phones, and other electronic devices increasingly hold or provide access to the most private details of a person’s life – including personal photos, videos, messages, names of friends and associates, banking and financial information, and medical records, among others. 

“The government asks this court to transform the search-incident-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement into a blanket rule that would allow police carte blanche access to this information as a matter of right,” said Judith Mizner of the Boston Federal Defender Office in her brief to the court.

She said such a ruling would grant local, state, and federal authorities a power “that is virtually limitless and makes no distinction between a weapon, a bag, a cigarette pack, a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop computer, or any other item a person may carry.”

“Under the government’s all-encompassing view, everyone arrested with a cell phone or tablet computer is automatically subject to a search of any and all aspects of their lives contained in that personal electronic device – regardless of the purpose of the arrest,” Ms. Mizner wrote.

“The Fourth Amendment does not authorize such an unprecedented ability to pry into the most private matters of any person arrested for any violation of law,” she said.

Stanford Law professor Jeffrey Fisher said in his brief that the Framers of the Constitution included a prohibition against unreasonable searches in the Bill of Rights to prevent “general warrants” that had authorized British authorities in colonial America to enter a home and examine the owner’s private papers for evidence of a crime.

“Searching through a smart phone’s text, photo, and video files would be the modern equivalent of such a general search,” he wrote.

“Americans use smart phones to generate and store a vast array of their most sensitive thoughts, communications, and expressive material,” he added.

“Because the core purpose of the Fourth Amendment has always been to safeguard such personal and professional information from exploratory searches, this court should hold that even when officers seize smart phones incident to lawful arrests, they may not search the phones’ digital contents without first obtaining a warrant,” Professor Fisher said.

The high court is examining the issue through the lens of two criminal cases; a state prosecution of an alleged criminal gang member in San Diego, and a federal prosecution of an alleged crack **** dealer in Boston.

In the Boston case, Brima Wurie was arrested after a Boston police officer watched him complete an apparent drug sale. While in custody at the police station, officers noticed one of Mr. Wurie’s two cellphones received repeated calls from a number identified as “my house.”

Investigators accessed the phone’s call log to obtain the phone number for “my house.” They used a reverse directory to identify an address in South Boston associated with the phone number.

The officers then obtained a warrant to search the South Boston location. There they found crack ****, marijuana, cash, and a firearm with ammunition.

Wurie was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison. His lawyer challenged the conviction on grounds that the police conducted an illegal search of Wurie’s cellphone.

A federal appeals court agreed. In vacating a portion of his conviction, the judges rejected a government argument that the warrantless search of Wurie’s cellphone was justified by the need to prevent the destruction of data on the phone while he was in police custody.

The appeals court said the government’s concern was merely theoretical and that it did not outweigh the “significant privacy implications inherent in cell phone data searches.”

The other case involves David Riley, a suspected San Diego criminal gang member.

Mr. Riley was stopped by police for driving with expired tags and a suspended license. While impounding his car, police discovered two concealed firearms.

Riley was placed under arrest. After seizing and examining his cellphone, the arresting officer noticed several text entries suggesting to the officer that Riley was associated with a criminal gang.

The officer notified a detective who specializes in gang investigations. The detective then conducted a more detailed examination of the contents of Riley’s phone and found photos, video, and text information that police said linked Riley to a shooting incident three weeks earlier.

Based in large part on the information obtained from the phone, Riley was charged and convicted of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and attempted murder. He was also found guilty of committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

A state appeals court upheld the conviction based on an earlier ruling by the California Supreme Court that police are entitled to conduct a warrantless search of items and containers found on an individual during an arrest – including a cellphone.

Critics of the ruling say that the rationale for allowing police to conduct a warrantless search of items found during an arrest is based on two prime law enforcement interests – to protect officer safety by locating any potential weapons and to preserve any evidence of crime.

Neither justification applies to a search of the contents of a cellphone they say.

“Unlike physical items inside a container, the digital contents of a smart phone are categorically incapable of threatening officer safety,” Fisher says.

“And once the police have seized and secured a smart phone, there is no risk that the arrestee might destroy or alter its digital content,” he said.

Fisher said any threat that a third party might seek to alter the contents of a seized cellphone could be defeated by preventing the phone from receiving any signal during the time it takes to decide to obtain a search warrant.

The California Attorney General’s Office defends the police practice of searching cellphones without a warrant. “The law has long recognized that it is reasonable for police to search an individual they arrest, and to seize and examine personal effects discovered during such a search,” California Deputy Attorney General Christine Levingston Bergman wrote in her brief to the court.

“This categorical approach provides clear guidance and a practical rule for operation in the field,” she said.

She said seizing a cellphone and examining the contents was not substantially different from a police officer searching the wallet, address book, or personal papers being carried by a person at the time of arrest.

“While technology has increased the amount of information an individual may practically choose to carry, neither the form nor the volume of the information at issue here provides a sound basis for redrawing clearly established Fourth Amendment lines, or reveals any special of unjustified invasion of [an individual’s] privacy interests,” Ms. Bergman wrote.

“Here the facts reflect only solid police work leading to a sound and just result,” she said.

In his brief, Solicitor General Verrilli noted that arrestees have a diminished expectation of privacy and should not benefit by using of high-tech devices.

“Evidence of crime should not be insulated from traditional review because the arrestee maintains it in a technologically sophisticated form,” Verrilli said.

The cases are Riley v. California (13-132), and US v. Wurie (13-212).

A decision is expected by late June.

Title: Re: News Items Members Wish to Post For Viewing and Comment
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 29, 2014, 08:29:55 am


  Pro-Russian activists march with riot shields during a pro-Ukrainian rally in the eastern city of Donetsk, Ukraine. Marko Djurica/Reuters
Title: Re: News Items : Google will no longer data mine student e-mail accounts
Post by: Golden Oxen on April 30, 2014, 06:37:57 pm
Google will no longer data mine student e-mail accounts

After a lawsuit concerning privacy of students using Google's suite of education apps gained traction, the tech company announced it would end its practice of data-mining its education-specific apps.


 By Karis Hustad

posted April 30, 2014 at 5:54 pm EDT

Good news: Google will no longer sell ads based on information gleaned from its suite of education products.

Wait, they were doing that?

It’s no secret that the technology company in Mountainview, Calif., makes money off ad revenue, often through analyzing e-mail and search content. But the lines become a bit more blurred when it comes to education-specific products, as those protesting Google’s practice say this violates state and federal laws. In response, the search engine has halted data scanning on its “Apps for Education” products.

The practice came to light through a lawsuit filed by California students against Google. The students say the company’s practice of data-mining education apps, such as Gmail, is against the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the confidentiality of student information. Since they were required to use a school-specific Gmail, they were never were given the chance to opt-out of Google’s data-mining practices.

Google’s Apps for Education are Google products specifically designed for specific educational institutions, and can be used from kindergarten through college. The apps include Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, and Google Drive. More than 30 million students, educators, and administrators use these tools.

Previously, Google scanned e-mails for information, though it maintains that it did not include advertisements on Apps for Education products. Protesters still worried that information taken from these products could be used to target advertisements or spread confidential data about students in the future.

“Who knows what ... Google is doing with that information, and who knows what problems it could cause for that child in the future,” says Bradley Shear, a social-media and digital-privacy lawyer based in Bethesda, Md., to Education Week. “Years ago, it might have been put in a filing cabinet, but it wouldn’t be tagged to the child forever.”

However, Bram Brout, director of Google for Education, wrote a blog post on Wednesday announcing an end to the data-mining process. Specifically, these are the changes, according to Mr. Brout:

        We’ve permanently removed the "enable/disable” toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.
        We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.

Brout also says the company is taking steps to remove the practice from its business and government-specific apps, as well as a free version of the Apps.

“We know that trust is earned through protecting their privacy and providing the best security measures,” he writes.
Title: Re: News Items - Banks Close In Donetsk- A Lesson or the Rest of US
Post by: Golden Oxen on May 07, 2014, 10:24:12 am


    What is happening in Donetsk is by the classic book on how to wipe out an economy. The banking system has shut down. The banks simply have said it is too dangerous for their staff to work. The only way to get any money is using a bank card but that will soon run out. Ukraine’s biggest bank, Privatbank, says the situation in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Lugansk has reached a critical point that is too dangerous for staff to go to work. ATM and branch services have been shut down. Elderly who relied upon pensions from the state just do not know what will happen now.

This is a warning of what can happen in the middle of an economic crisis in the modern era. With everyone relying upon government handouts and the dwindling supply of actual real physical paper money (cash), we can easily end up in a situation of barter.
Title: Re: News Items : Tech giants urge rethink of net neutrality changes
Post by: Golden Oxen on May 09, 2014, 09:10:56 am

   8 May 2014 Last updated at 06:54 ET

Tech giants urge rethink of net neutrality changes

More than 100 technology companies have written to the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC), opposing potential changes to net neutrality rules.

The FCC is considering allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to charge content providers to prioritise their traffic.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon warn that such a move represents a "grave threat to the internet".

One FCC commissioner has called for a delay to the vote, due on 15 May.

Net neutrality - the premise that all internet traffic should be treated equally - has been a cornerstone of the web for many years.

But with the growth of bandwidth-hungry services such as Netflix, ISPs have increasingly asked for the right to charge a fee for carrying such data at high speed on their networks.

A landmark court case in February, in which Verizon successfully challenged the FCC's right to stop it charging such fees, pushed the regulator into a major rethink of its rules.

Rather than enshrining the principle of net neutrality, leaked reports suggest the FCC will allow ISPs to strike such deals as long as they act "in a commercially reasonable manner".

In the letter, tech companies, ranging from three-person start-ups to the biggest names on the web, made clear their dismay at the feared U-turn.

"We write to express our support for a free and open internet," it said.

"The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination.

"Instead of permitting individualised bargaining and discrimination, the commission's rules should protect users and internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrimination and paid prioritisation."

The letter urged the commission to "take the necessary steps to ensure that the internet remains an open platform".
Street protests

More than a million people have signed petitions to the FCC calling for it to abandon plans to allow a tiered internet.

A handful of protesters have gathered outside FCC headquarters in Washington, promising to camp there until the 15 May vote.

And a group of net firms and civil liberty groups have called on the FCC to reclassify broadband companies as "telecommunication services", which would give it the authority to impose net-neutrality rules on them.

One of the FCC's four commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel, has called for the vote to be delayed by at least a month.

She said: "Rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response".

But an FCC spokesman said the vote would go ahead as planned.

"Moving forward will allow the American people to review and comment on the proposed plan without delay, and bring us one step closer to putting rules on the books to protect consumers and entrepreneurs online," he added.
Title: Re: News Items: World's No. 1 Pesticide Brings Honeybees to Their Knees
Post by: Golden Oxen on May 10, 2014, 08:06:35 am

World's No. 1 pesticide brings honeybees to their knees, say scientists

A new study from Harvard implicates two neonicotinoid pesticides, imidacloprid and clothianidin, in the ongoing plague of honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. Imidacloprid is the most widely used pesticide in the world, and both are approved by the EPA.
A honeybee gathers pollen from a vibrant bluebonnet flower Monday, April 7, 2014, at a home in Wichita Falls, Texas.
(AP Photo/Wichita Falls Times Record News, Torin Halsey )

A team of Harvard biologists has come closer to cracking the mystery of honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), eight years after its appearance.

CCD persists in transforming bee colonies around the world into ghost towns: by the end of each winter, some colonies wind up littered with dead bees and emptied of many more, with no signs of renewal.

"One of the defining symptomatic observations of CCD colonies is the emptiness of hives in which the amount of dead bees found inside the hives do not account for the total numbers of bees present prior to winter when they were alive," states the report, published May 9 in the Bulletin of Insectology.

The exact mechanism behind these collapses remains dauntingly unclear, but they have been linked with pathogen infestation, malnutrition, and pesticide exposure. This week's report strongly indicates that two neonicotinoid insecticides that are widely used on crops can decimate honeybee colonies' winter survival rates, whether or not mites or parasites are present.

The two chemicals, imidacloprid and clothianidin, both block insects' central nervous systems, killing them by paralysis. Imidacloprid is the world's most widely-used insecticide, and has been registered for use in the US since the 1994; clothianidin was registered in 2003 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which found that it had passed honeybee-specific toxicity tests.

These scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in central Massachusetts over a six-month period spanning the winter of 2012-2013. Six of the colonies were fed sugar spiked with sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid, six had theirs laced with clothianidin, and six less-unfortunate control colonies ate clean sugar, starting in October.

All of the colonies went about their apian routines in good form throughout the fall. But by late January, six of the 12 poisoned colonies experienced collapses with CCD-like symptoms, like en-masse disappearance and the presence of un-hatched young. Of the six control hives, only one failed to survive the winter, seemingly due to an infestation by Nosema Ceranae parasites.

"The honey bee clusters in the six surviving neonicotinoid treated colonies were very small, and were either without queen bees or had no brood," reports the study, suggesting the poisons harm the animals' abilities to raise and train new young. In contrast, the five surviving control hives replenished their populations quickly, as the winter gave way to spring.

According to the report, these results "reinforce the conclusion that sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD."

The finding raises a large question for further study: Why do honeybees, who don't normally abandon their hives during winter, do so when poisoned by neonicotinoids?

The finding may point to "the impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behavior, as the results from the chronic sublethal neonicotinoid exposure," suggest the authors. "Although the failure to initiate brood rearing and the vanishing of the worker caste in the neonicotinoid-treated colonies might be governed by completely different mechanisms, they suggest the possible involvement of cascading events prior to the occurrence of CCD."

The study comes amid a busy spring season for honey bee research. Last month a team of Kenyan biologists found that African honey bees seem be impervious to the pests, Varroa and Nosema, which plague honey bee populations in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

And earlier this week Brazilian scientists identified two substances in honeybees' brains, that appear to vary as the insects move through space and time, guiding their age-related division of labor.  :-\

Title: Re: News Items : Internet Access May be Taxed for First Time
Post by: Golden Oxen on May 16, 2014, 08:24:25 am

Internet access may be taxed for first time

 The Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 will expire on Nov. 1, which means US's internet access and usage could soon be taxed for the first time. How will this affect your internet access bills?


  Hands type on a computer keyboard in Los Angeles.The Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 will expire on Nov. 1, which means Americans may be taxed for their internet usage.
(Damian Dovarganes/AP/File)

 The Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 is set to expire on Nov. 1, which means internet access and usage in the US could soon be taxed for the first time. Combined with efforts to standardize a sales tax on online purchases, these new taxes could mean a big hit on consumers. Congress could act to eliminate one or both taxes, but it is unlikely they will make any unpopular moves so close to the midterm elections.

Fortunately for Internet users, extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act enjoys broad bipartisan support in Congress. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, these tax cuts are likely to get bundled with other internet taxes — specifically, state-level sales taxes on out-of-state online retailers (a Supreme Court decision had previously prohibited taxing online retailers without a presence in the state). And while the ITFA has bipartisan support, collecting sales taxes over the internet does not, especially in the Republican-controlled House. Combining the bills could force the issue of the sales tax by tacking it on to more widely supported legislation, but it could leave both issues stalled
Perhaps the biggest problem is the timing: the ITFA's Nov. 1 deadline is just before the midterm elections on Nov. 4. Just before election day, no one's going to want to make an unpopular move like supporting internet sales taxes — and internet access taxes, which consumers are less aware of than extra fees tacked on to everyday purchases, might just slip through in the confusion.

So how much will this cost the consumer? The Journal estimates an average $50 to $75 extra a year tacked on to internet access bills. But even if the ITFA does expire, we're unlikely to see new taxes appearing on Nov. 2. Some states may need to pass additional legislation before they could implement any kind of internet access tax.

Whether we see new internet access taxes, more internet sales taxes, or neither is still up in the air — there's plenty of time for Congress to act before the ITFA expires. As to whether they will, however, is something we're all going to have to wait and see.

Elizabeth Harper is a contributing writer for, where this story first appeared:
Title: Re: Supreme Court vacates police-immunity ruling in suit over multiple Tasering
Post by: Golden Oxen on May 19, 2014, 11:11:43 pm

Supreme Court vacates police-immunity ruling in suit over multiple Tasering

The Supreme Court ordered the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit to reexamine a case involving a suit against a police officer for repeatedly Tasering a handcuffed arrestee who was lying on the ground.


   Former Winnfield Police Officer Scott Nugent (c.) walks with his attorneys Phillip Terrell (l.), and George Higgins in the Winn Parish Courthouse in Winnfield, La., Oct. 22, 2010. Mr. Nugent deployed an electronic Taser device eight times against a handcuffed arrestee who was lying on the ground.
(Billy Gunn/The Daily Town Talk/AP/File)

 By Warren Richey, Staff writer / May 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm EDT

The US Supreme Court ordered a federal appeals court Monday to reexamine a case involving the alleged use of excessive force by a police officer in Louisiana who deployed an electronic “Taser” device eight times against a handcuffed arrestee who was lying on the ground.

The suspect, who later died, had reportedly refused to obey a police command to stand up and walk to the patrol car. The police officer was fired for using “unnecessary force,” but was found not guilty of manslaughter.

A panel of the New Orleans-based Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently ruled that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity and could not be sued for allegedly violating the rights of the handcuffed prisoner.

The appeals court said that it was not clearly established in American law that such conduct by a police officer would violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In a summary order on Monday, the high court vacated that Fifth Circuit decision and sent the case back with instructions that the appeals court comply with a Supreme Court decision issued two weeks ago in a case called Tolan v. Cotton.

That case was also from the Fifth Circuit and also involved allegations of excessive use of force by police. In the Tolan opinion, the Supreme Court said the Fifth Circuit had not given proper weight to evidence offered by those suing the police.

In essence, the high court said the Fifth Circuit improperly sided with the account offered by the police officer. Instead, judges at the summary judgment stage of litigation must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the alleged victim of the excessive force, the Supreme Court said.

The high court order requires the Fifth Circuit to reconsider whether the young son of the deceased arrestee can sue the Taser-wielding police officer in federal court for civil damages. The appeals court must decide whether the case should proceed to a trial.

The January 2008 incident took place in Winnfield, La.

The arrested man, Baron Pikes, was wanted on two outstanding warrants, one for crack **** possession, the other for possessing an open beer bottle. He was subjected to 50,000-volt electric shocks at least eight times within a 14-minute period. Later, at the police station, Mr. Pikes repeatedly fell from his chair to the floor, began foaming at the mouth, and lost consciousness. Eventually, police called an ambulance.

Paramedics were unable to revive him and he was declared dead at the hospital.

The police officer, Scott Nugent, was fired from the Winnfield Police Department for using what the police chief characterized as “unnecessary force and violence.”

Mr. Nugent was charged with manslaughter in Pikes’ death. Nugent’s defense lawyer claimed that Pikes died from a pre-existing physical condition. The coroner’s report said Pikes died of heart failure following the electric shocks. A jury found Officer Nugent not guilty.

Lawyers filed a civil suit on behalf of Pikes’ son, claiming the police officer used excessive force that resulted in Pikes’ death.

Nugent’s lawyer argued that the civil lawsuit must be thrown out because Nugent had been acting in an official capacity as a police officer and was entitled to qualified immunity from such litigation.

The federal judge disagreed and allowed the case to move forward toward a trial. A panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed that decision.

The appeals court said Pikes’ lawyers had failed to prove that it was clearly established in 2008 that a restrained suspect in police custody had a constitutional right to be free from repeated 50,000-volt shocks for failing to comply with a police command to stand up and walk to the patrol car.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision in this case creates a clear conflict with the decisions of other circuits,” Michael Vatis, a lawyer with the New York firm Steptoe & Johnson, wrote in his brief urging the high court to take up the case.

“Those circuits have held that even as of January 2008, it was clearly established that the use of an electronic control weapon or an analogous (or even lesser) use of force on a suspect who was already within an officer’s control and posed no flight or safety risk was unconstitutional, even if the person failed to comply with an officer’s commands,” he said.

Five federal appeals courts – the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit, the Richmond-based Fourth, the Cincinnati-based Sixth, the Chicago-based Seventh, and the St. Louis-based Eighth – have ruled that the use of a Taser on a restrained subject who refuses to obey an officer’s command is excessive force, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of experts in police accountability and the use of force.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision creates considerable uncertainty regarding whether it is clearly established that such Taser use constitutes excessive force,” Pablo Quinones, of the New York law firm Reed Smith, wrote in the experts’ brief.

“While Tasers may be appropriate in some circumstances, their use by law enforcement to force compliance by non-threatening persons undermines public confidence and trust in law enforcement and erodes the Fourth Amendment ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons … against unreasonable searches and seizures,’ ” Mr. Quinones said.

In his brief urging the court to allow the Fifth Circuit’s decision to stand, Nugent’s lawyer, Randall Keiser of Alexandria, La., said there were no court decisions directly addressing the facts presented in the Nugent-Pikes case.

He added that the very fact that a split exists among the circuit courts on the issue “necessarily means that qualified immunity was properly granted.”

“This Court has explained on at least three occasions that qualified immunity should be granted where a circuit split on the relevant issue exists, because if judges thus disagree on a constitutional question, it is unfair to subject police to money damages for picking the losing side of the controversy,” Mr. Keiser wrote.

Vatis replied in his own brief: “If the Court were to allow this decision to stand, officers in the future could repeatedly electroshock fully restrained arrestees who pose no flight or safety risk, just to force them to get up, and they would be protected by qualified immunity because of the circuit split that the Fifth Circuit has created.”

The Police Executive Research Forum established guidelines in 2005 for police use of electronic control weapons. The policy says that such weapons “should only be used against persons who are actively resisting or exhibiting active aggression, or to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others.”

“When used properly, electronic control weapons can serve legitimate law enforcement purposes, and can reduce the need for lethal force,” Vatis wrote in his brief. “But they are also dangerous and potentially lethal: since 2001, over 540 people have died after being shocked by police Tasers.”

The case was Thomas v. Nugent (13-862).

Title: Re: News Items China in security Clampdown on Tiananmen Crackdown Anniversary
Post by: Golden Oxen on June 04, 2014, 06:25:27 am

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - China deployed its vast security apparatus on Wednesday to snuff out commemoration of the suppression of pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square 25 years ago, flooding the streets with police as censors scrubbed the Internet clean of any mention of the crackdown.

Several governments including the United States urged China to account for what happened on June 4, 1989, comments that riled China, which has said the protest movement was "counter-revolutionary". Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama used the anniversary to call on China to embrace democracy.

China has never released a death toll for the crackdown, but estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand.

Troops shot their way into central Beijing after demonstrators had clogged Tiananmen Square in Beijing for about six weeks. There were also protests in many other cities.

Taking no chances on Wednesday, police, soldiers and plainclothes security personnel enveloped Tiananmen Square, checking identity cards and rummaging through bags looking for any hint that people might try and sneak onto the square to commemorate the day.

Police escorted a Reuters reporter off the square, which was thronged with tourists, saying it was closed to foreign media. Police also detained another Reuters journalist for trying to report on the anniversary in one of Beijing's university districts, releasing him after a few hours.

Public discussion of the crackdown is off-limits in China. Many young people are unaware of what happened because of years of government efforts to banish memories of the People's Liberation Army shooting its own citizens.

"They have covered up history. They don't want people to know the truth of what they did," veteran activist Hu Jia told Reuters from his home in Beijing, where he said police were present to prevent him from leaving.

"Nobody would have confidence in them if they knew what they did... They should have fallen because of what they did," he added, speaking by mobile telephone.

While the anniversary has never been publicly marked in mainland China, more than 150,000 people are expected to gather on Wednesday evening in Hong Kong for a candlelight vigil.

A large number of mainland Chinese are expected to join the event in the former British territory, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but remains a free-wheeling, capitalist hub. The vigil has been held in Hong Kong every year since 1989.


China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday defended the crackdown, saying the government had chosen the correct path for the sake of the people.

The protests began in April 1989 as a demonstration by university students in Beijing to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, the reformist Communist Party chief who had been ousted by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. The protests grew into broader demands for an end to corruption as well as calls for democracy.

Many Chinese would balk at the idea of mass revolution today. China is now the world's second biggest economy, with most Chinese enjoying individual and economic freedoms never accorded them before.

"I don't think it can happen again," said a Beijing resident who gave his family name as Xu. "China's system is certainly different from the West. The population is huge, 1.4 billion people. If you want to govern it well, it's not easy."

But Wu'er Kaixi, a leading figure in the pro-democracy movement of 1989, said Chinese people could rise up once more against the Communist Party in anger at anything from endemic graft to the country's badly polluted air, water and soil.

"Yes, you gave us economic freedom, but you are jumping in and looting us, robbing us of our future, corrupting the culture, our values and the environment," Wu'er Kaixi told Reuters ahead of the anniversary from Taiwan, where he works at an investment firm.

"All this has been clearly and widely expressed by Chinese people in the last two decades. This discontent will emerge into one thing one day: a revolution. I am sure the Communist Party is very well aware of this."


Rights group Amnesty International has said at least 66 people had been detained in the period leading up to the anniversary.

That includes prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and four other activists who were detained last month after attending a private meeting at an apartment in Beijing to discuss the crackdown, prompting concern in the United States and Europe.

The White House said in a statement that the United States continued to honour the memories of those who gave their lives on June 4, and called for a full accounting of what happened. [ID:nL3N0OL1RF] In democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own, President Ma Ying-jeou said China should ensure that a "tragedy" like June 4 never happened again.

"If Chinese authorities can tolerate differences, not only can that raise the height and the legitimacy of those in power, but also send a clear message to Taiwan that political reform in China is serious," Ma said in a statement.

Japan, engaged in a bitter territorial dispute with China, used the anniversary to urge Beijing to respect human rights and the rule of law. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday called on China to reveal the truth about what had happened 25 years ago.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed anger at the comments from the United States and the United Nations, saying they interfered in China's internal affairs.

In a daily news briefing, he also said the Dalai Lama had "ulterior motives" for his Tiananmen comments. The run-up to the anniversary has been marked by tighter controls on the Internet, including disruption of Google services, and tougher than normal censorship of the popular Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo.

"This is the 1,008th post that I've had scrubbed today," complained one Weibo user, attaching a screen shot of a message received from censors telling him that his post reading "It's been 25 years since that event" had been deleted.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Joseph Campbell, Faith Hung and Michael Gold in TAIPEI, James Pomfret in HONG KONG, and Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO; Editing by Dean Yates)

© Thomson Reuters 2014. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world.

Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

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Title: Re: News Items - German intelligence employee arrested for spying for US
Post by: Golden Oxen on July 06, 2014, 11:24:50 am

Title: Re: News Items Members Wish to Post For Viewing and Comment
Post by: Golden Oxen on November 02, 2014, 10:03:22 am
                                      (                    ;D
Title: Re: News Items Members Wish to Post For Viewing and Comment
Post by: Golden Oxen on January 23, 2019, 08:19:32 am

  Video capturing the heartbreaking moment when a two-year-old toddler got out of her father’s car and walked towards gun-wielding police when her hands raised spread like wildfire on social media. Immediate reactions to the footage berated the police for “holding the gun at the baby.” #Tallahassee Police were forced to release bodycam footage of the incident in a bid to calm public fears that police brutality had reached a new low.

                                            [embed=425,349]<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/embed]
Title: Re: News Items Members Wish to Post For Viewing and Comment
Post by: vicky007 on October 30, 2020, 06:44:27 am
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