Sunday, February 28, 2016

PNN - February Fun & Fumes

PNN - February Fun & Fume
Meredith Ockman
Frank Day

1. Hacked Mid-Air While Writing an Apple-FBI Story
By Steven Petrow, USA Today
25 February 16

I don’t really need to worry about online privacy,” I used to think. “I’ve got nothing to hide. And who would want to know what I’m up to, anyway?”
Sure, I’m a journalist, but I’m not an investigative reporter, not a political radical, not of much interest to anyone, really.
That was last week, when the standoff between the FBI and Apple seemed much more about principle than practice to me. That’s when I thought I’d write a column on whether this legal fight matters to regular folk — people like my mother, a retired social worker; my best friend, who works in retail; or even my 20-year-old niece in college. That was before I found out — in a chillingly personal way — just why it does matter. To all of us.
Just before midnight last Friday, my plane touched down in Raleigh after a three-hour flight from Dallas. As usual, I’d spent much of the flight working, using American Airlines Gogo in-flight Internet connection to send and answer emails. As I was putting on my jacket, a fellow in the row behind me, someone I hadn’t even noticed before, said: “I need to talk to you.” A bit taken aback, I replied, “It’s late … need to get home.”
“You’re a reporter, right?”
“Um, yes.”
“Wait for me at the gate.”
[I didn’t answer, but I did wait.]
“How did you know I was a reporter?” I asked while we started walking.
“Are you interested in the Apple/FBI story?” he responded, ignoring my question.
“Kind of. Why are you asking me that?” I thought he was some kind of creepy mind reader.
Then he dropped the bombshell.
“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.” He had verbatim detail of a long email that he repeated back to me essentially word for word.
In fact, as Steve Nolan, Gogo’s vice president of communications, told me, the service is “public” and “operates in the same ways as most open Wi-Fi hotspots on the ground.” He cautioned against “accessing sensitive materials while in flight.”
Gogo recommends that anyone sending sensitive information over any public WiFi network, including Gogo, use a virtual private network, or VPN, to protect their data, said CEO Michael Small.
One of my emails was pretty explicit about the focus of my story and I had emailed Bruce Schneier, a security expert who had previously written in the Washington Post about this very issue.
"The current case is about a single iPhone 5c, but the precedent it sets will apply to all smartphones, computers, cars and everything the Internet of Things promises," Schneier wrote.
The danger is that the court’s demands will pave the way to the FBI forcing Apple and others to reduce the security levels of their smart phones and computers, as well as the security of cars, medical devices, homes, and everything else that will soon be computerized. The FBI may be targeting the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, but its actions imperil us all."
That’s what my privacy-busting stranger had read. Back to my conversation:
“That’s how I know you’re interested in the Apple story,” he continued. “Imagine if you had been doing a financial transaction. What if you were making a date to see a whore?” My mind raced: What about my health records? My legal documents? My Facebook messages?
And then the kicker:
“That’s why this story is so important to everyone,” he told me. “It’s about everyone’s privacy.”
Then he headed down the escalator and I headed out the front door. I may have been wearing my jacket, but I felt as exposed as if I’d been stark naked.
With a newfound personal interest in the topic, the following day I called Alex Abdo, an attorney in the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, to talk about why ordinary Americans should care about the Apple case. At first he told me some of what I knew. If the government wins it would set a “dangerous legal precedent … that would force companies to build back doors into their products. It will be used hundreds and hundreds of times if it becomes lawful.”
Abdo made it clear why this matters to ordinary consumers like me — to all of us. “The risk is that it makes it more likely that individuals’ devices with no connection to any investigation will become less secure because companies will have established back doors …. that will fall into the wrong hands.” For emphasis, he added: “No back door is secure.”
But really, I pushed him, who is in actual danger here? The answer, apparently, is pretty much all of us. “Anyone who relies on the security of their devices,” he told me.
It should be up to each of us to decide what to make public, and what to keep private, he continued. For me, I felt as though the stranger on the plane had robbed me of my privacy—as was explicitly his intent. He took the decision of what to share out of my hands. He went in through the back door of the Gogo connection.
The Takeaway:
I asked Abdo what we could to do protect our privacy. This is what he told me:
  1. Call your representatives in Congress and on a statewide level and express your support for Apple in this case. Here’s a list of all U.S. members of the House and Senate.
  2. Make sure your devices are using their built-in encryption features. That’s FileVault for Apple devices and BitLocker on Windows products.
  3. Use a password manager to help you create and store different — and strong — passwords for all your accounts. Don’t use the same password repeatedly, and don’t ever use passwords like “password” or “123456.” Some popular ones include DashLane, LastPass, and Sticky Password.
  4. Download WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal, messaging apps that go great distances inencrypting voice and electronic messages. Keep in mind that even they are not 100% secure
2. More Than 100 Scientists Ask Leading Science Association to Cut Ties With Exxon
By Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress
25 February 16

More than a hundred scientists have sent a letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the largest association of earth and space scientists in the world, asking it to cut financial ties with Exxon in light of allegations that the fossil fuel company willfully misled the public about climate change for decades.
The letter was initially crafted by three early career scientists from MIT and Harvard, but has since garnered signatures from over 100 prominent scientists, including names like James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Michael Mann.
“Our intention is to help rebut the climate misinformation that has been put out, especially by ExxonMobil, by asking the AGU to reject sponsorship from Exxon for its conferences,” Ben Scandella, a PhD candidate at MIT and one of the letter’s original authors, told ThinkProgress. “We’re concerned that by accepting sponsorship from Exxon, AGU is engaging in a serious conflict of interest because it is lending its institutional license to a company that is working publicly to undermine the consensus about anthropogenic climate change that a number of AGU members have worked hard to establish.”
The AGU, which was created to promote the geophysical sciences, claims among its members a number of climate scientists. Of the roughly 104 scientists that have signed the letter, 70 are AGU members.
Posted Monday morning on the science website The Natural History Museum, the letter specifically asks that the AGU reconsider Exxon’s sponsorship of the society’s fall meetings. Exxon has been a primary sponsor of the meeting for years, but has come under increased scrutiny in recent months due to a series of investigations into Exxon’s climate policies published by both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.
The investigations found that Exxon’s own scientists knew about the dangers associated with climate change as early as 1977, and yet continued to fund misinformation campaigns that questioned the scientific consensus around climate change. In light of the investigations, lawmakers have called for the Department of Justice to launch a formal investigation into Exxon, and several state attorneys general have already initiated criminal investigations. Last week, three lawmakers also asked the Department of Justice to begin investigating Shell, citing a growing body of evidence that suggests there could be “a conspiracy between Shell, ExxonMobil and potentially other companies in the fossil fuel industry.”
The AGU, in its own Organizational Support Policy, states that it will “not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” That policy was established in the summer of 2015, just months before the allegations against Exxon became public.
“Exxon’s track record, with respect to climate science, is long and troubling and entirely inconsistent with [the AGU’s] policy and the society’s climate statement, which is clear and unequivocal about supporting deep reductions in emissions,” Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who also signed the letter, told ThinkProgress. “We set up a policy. We need to implement in a clear way, and we need to have a conversation about Exxon and other companies that misinform in order to avoid regulation with regard to climate.”
Margaret Leinen, AGU president, responded to the questions about the society’s relationship with Exxon in a blog post published on the AGU website, saying that “ExxonMobil’s current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU’s positions and the scientific consensus.” In light of the recent letter, however, Leinen updated the post to add that the AGU Board of Directors will look closely into the matter during an upcoming April meeting.
To be truly reflective of Exxon’s policies, however, many argue that the AGU would need to go beyond public statements and consider the private actions the company has taken to fuel public misinformation.
“If you’re looking at public statements, it’s hard to find because they are funneling their misinformation campaigns through dark money organizations,” Scandella said.
In a study published last November, Yale University sociologist Justin Farrell found a strong connection between the private funding actions of companies like Exxon and the overall polarization of climate change as a topic in the United States. According to Farrell’s research, groups that accepted money from Exxon were more likely to produce texts stressing things like the idea that climate change is a long-term cycle or that carbon dioxide is in fact good for the planet, key tenets of a climate misinformation campaign.
According to both Scandella and Frumhoff, it’s that misinformation — not the fact that Exxon is a fossil fuel company — that has led scientists to voice concerns with the company’s role in funding the AGU’s meetings. Fossil fuels have had a long relationship with earth and geosciences, Frumhoff explained, pointing to petroleum geology as an example. The concern, he added, is that by allowing Exxon to support the AGU’s meetings, the AGU is lending an air of credibility to the company. It’s a public relations tactic known as “greenwashing,” where organizations publicly fund campaigns or events that run counter to their private actions or interests.
“The letter isn’t about saying that Exxon scientists or Exxon-funded scientists have no place in society. The letter is about saying we shouldn’t be advertising Exxon as a good corporate citizen by accepting their funding when their behavior is so unequivocally inconsistent with scientific integrity and our commitment to address climate change,” Frumhoff said.

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Apple’s ongoing feud with the FBI, which has requested that the tech giant build custom software to let them open and access a suspect’s iPhone, has brought the issue of privacy on electronic devices into the public limelight. The polarizing issue has drawn battle lines in Silicon Valley, with such personalities as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates lining up on opposing sides.
But the concerns over electronic privacy that the issue has raised are overwhelming compared to the lackluster concern on genetic privacy.
Companies like and 23andMe invite people to submit their DNA for genealogy tracing and medical diagnostic tests. Privacy advocates voiced concerns over the creation ofgiant genetic databases that could be used against participants by law enforcement. Many criminal cases involve the use of DNA as an instrument for establishing a suspect’s guilt or lack thereof.
Nowadays, with both 23andMe and having over a million customers, these concerns are once again surfacing. A Wired article discusses a case in which filmmaker Michael Usry became a suspect in an unsolved murder case after cops performed a familial genetic search using semen collected in 1996. By using an database, the cops were able to obtain a familial match to a saliva sample Usry’s father had given earlier. He was eventually found innocent and the Electronic Frontier Foundation called it a “wild goose chase,” noting that the case represents the threat posed by genetic databases.
When the Wired article warned, “Your relative’s DNA could turn you into a suspect,” it seems that they were recognizing how big of a problem these databases—whether private or public—pose to privacy and civil liberties.
For example, the FBI maintains a national genetic database with samples from convicts and arrested persons, yet it is not precluded from utilizing private genetic databases to locate a suspect nor compelling such genetic database holders to cooperate. While the scenario above is only the most public example of cops relying on private databases, it puts at risk people who have submitted genetic samples for reasons of health or simple curiosity.
While both and 23andMe have privacy policies that lay out to what extent and how they turn over information to law enforcement, the end result is a chilling effect on their business model and on individuals who may now forfeit DNA testing in fear of inadvertently ending up in a genetic line-up of criminal suspects. 23andMe has previously stated that so far it has successfully resisted requests from state law enforcement and the FBI.
transparency report from 23andMe shows that it has released a total of four requests from the United States for genetic information related to five individuals. “In the event we are required by law to make a disclosure, we will notify the affected customer through the contact information provided to us, unless doing so would violate the law or a court order,” said 23andMe privacy officer Kate Black. has not released a similar transparency report but has released a statement regarding the Usry case. The local law enforcement was able to search through a formerly online public database that Ancestry hosted. Police came to with a warrant to get the name that matched the DNA.
“On occasion when required by law to do so, and in this instance we were, we have cooperated with law enforcement and the courts to provide only the specific information requested but we don’t comment on the specifics of cases,” said a spokesperson for the company.
While both and 23andMe offer options to delete your information from their sites, the fact that a user could opt to do so due to concerns over privacy seemed to be a repudiation of genetic databases.
It’s a grim reminder of the dangers of that brave new world we’re all entering. It’s likely the customers never imagined that they, or their family members for that matter, could become genetic criminal suspects when they initially signed up for services that, on the face of it, seemed nothing more than harmless novelties.

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Floridians Against Fracking issues statement following the Appropriations Committee hearing on Bill 318.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted down Senate Bill 318, the pro-fracking regulatory bill. While we are pleased with this success, and with the deliberativeness with which the Senate is approaching this topic, we acknowledge that Senator Benacquisto could bring the bill up again for a vote We urge Senator Benacquisto to refrain from doing so, however if she chooses to bring the bill for a revote, against the wishes of her constitents, we urge the Appropriations Committee to vote it down.
Floridians Against Fracking has come a long way in the year that we’ve been working on this issue as a formal coalition, but that is primarily because the citizens and local governments recognize the foolishness of allowing fracking in Florida, and also recognize the bill’s intent is to pave the way for fracking in Florida in the future. The bill allows fracking chemicals to remain secret, a situation that is unacceptable to the citizens of Florida. Senator Latvala recognized the tap dance that the Department of Environmental Protection did around this issue. The definition of fracking still doesn’t cover all forms of fracking, even with an amendment today by Senator Simmons, and the bill continues to preempt home rule, which cities and counties across the state object to.
This movement is a people’s movement, and we urge the citizens of Florida to continue to let their Senators know that this bill is not acceptable, and to thank those who voted No.

Kim Ross
ReThink Energy Florida

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5. Judge confirms what many suspected the Feds hired Carnegie Mellon to break TOR

A federal judge in Washington has now confirmed what has been strongly suspected: that Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers at its Software Engineering Institute were hired by the federal government to do research into breaking Tor in 2014. The judge also made a notable statement in his court order that "Tor users clearly lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP addresses while using the Tor network."
However, some of the details that Tor alleged previously seem to be wrong: the research was funded by the Department of Defense, not the FBI. Tor Project Director Shari Steele told Ars earlier this year that the organization still couldn't get straight answers from CMU. According to the judge, that research was then subpoenaed by federal investigators.

The Tor Project did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. Meanwhile, Kenneth Walters, a CMU spokesman, refused to answer Ars' questions, referring us only to the university's last statement, from November 2015, which hinted that the university was served with a subpoena.


Revelation raises more questions than it answers, Carnegie Mellon still silent.
The revelation, which was first reported by Vice Motherboard, came out as part of the ongoing criminal case against Brian Farrell, allegedly one of Silk Road 2.0’s top administrators. CMU's research enabled investigators to find him. Farrell was arrested over a year ago in Washington state—his trial is scheduled for April 25, 2016, to be held in federal court in Seattle.

The Tuesday court order by US District Judge Richard Jones was in response to a still-sealed motion to compel discovery filed by Farrell. According to Judge Jones, "the defendant seeks to compel disclosure of additional material pertaining to the relationship between SEI and federal law enforcement and the methods used by SEI to identify the defendant’s IP address."

In the order, the judge seems to suggest that even though Farrell took measures to protect his privacy, his actual IP address—which was what betrayed him and made it trivial for law enforcement to find him—was not in and of itself private.

In the instant case, it is the Court’s understanding that in order for a prospective user to use the Tor network they must disclose information, including their IP addresses, to unknown individuals running Tor nodes, so that their communications can be directed toward their destinations. Under such a system, an individual would necessarily be disclosing his identifying information to complete strangers. Again, according to the parties’ submissions, such a submission is made despite the understanding communicated by the Tor Project that the Tor network has vulnerabilities and that users might not remain anonymous. Under these circumstances Tor users clearly lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP addresses while using the Tor network. In other words, they are taking a significant gamble on any real expectation of privacy under these circumstances.

The paper shredder precedent?

Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, told Ars that the court’s analysis here is "right, although the application of that idea depends on how the surveillance occurred."


Court doc suggests investigators spent six months last year exploiting anonymity bug.
He suggested that Ars examine a 1992 case decided in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that just because someone takes steps to protect privacy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they continue to have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."
That case, US v. Scott, involved a man suspected of tax fraud by the Internal Revenue Service. The man used a paper shredder to destroy some documents, which were then picked up as garbage by investigators, "which when painstakingly pieced together produced incriminating evidence."

Scott challenged the collection of his trash, arguing that because he had "manifested an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the shredded remnants" that the evidence should be suppressed. He won on this argument at the district court level but then lost on appeal.

The 1st Circuit found in that case:

What we have here is a failed attempt at secrecy by reason of underestimation of police resourcefulness, not invasion of constitutionally protected privacy. There is no constitutional protection from police scrutiny as to information received from a failed attempt at secrecy.

Appellee here thought that reducing the documents to 5/32 inch pieces made them undecipherable. It turned out he was wrong. He is in no better position than the citizen who merely tears up a document by hand and discards the pieces into the sidewalk. Can there be any doubt that the police are allowed to pick up the pieces from the sidewalk for use of the contents against that person? Should the mere use of more sophisticated "higher" technology in attempting destruction of the pieces of paper grant higher constitutional protection to this failed attempt at secrecy? We think not. There is no constitutional requirement that police techniques in the detection of crime must remain stagnant while those intent on keeping their nefarious activities secret have the benefit of new knowledge.
However, not all legal scholars agree on this point.

Neil Richards, a law professor at Washington University in St Louis, said that this "reasonable expectation of privacy" for Internet users is "an open one." The so-called third-party doctrine, which stemmed from the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Maryland, found that telephone users do not have a privacy interest in the phone numbers that they dial, as the phone company has access to them.

"Law enforcement have argued that this sharing rationale applies to all Internet and digital data held by third parties—ISPs, e-mail providers, fitness trackers, cloud storage providers, etc," Richards told Ars. "The strong form of this argument is nonsense. Law enforcement in the past also argued that they didn’t need warrants to open mail or tap telephones, and ultimately lost on both counts. The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on e-mail yet, but lower courts require a warrant for e-mail, and the Supreme Court has made clear in recent cases that a majority of Justices are very concerned about digital privacy and are eager to extend the Fourth Amendment to that, just like they did for telephone calls in the 1960s."

Mark Rumold, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, concurred.

"The expectation of privacy analysis has to change when someone is using Tor," he said. "Rotely applying precedent leads to bad results, like courts finding that someone 'clearly' lacks a privacy interest in their IP address, even though they're using technology specifically designed to protect that privacy interest."

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6. Criminal Charges in Flint, MI?

Todd Flood, special counsel to the Michigan Attorney General’s office as it investigates what really happened in Flint, dropped something of a bombshell on Tuesday, telling reporters that criminal charges against government officials involved in the decisions that resulted in Flint’s poisoned tap water are not being ruled out.
In addition to 8,657 children under age six that are now expected to have lifelong medical needs from the damage caused by exposure to high levels of lead in the drinking water, there is a suspected connection between the improperly treated water in the Flint River and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County. At least 87 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in the last 17 months there, and nine people have died from it. Those deaths could very well be the trigger for the manslaughter charges.

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7.  By Federal Court - 4 B.C. residents challenged legislation introduced by the previous Conservative government
Vancouver, BC – A Federal Court judge has struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis and given the Liberal government six months to come up with new rules.
Judge Michael Phelan ruled Wednesday in Vancouver that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were an infringement on charter rights and declared they have no force and effect.
But the judge also suspended his declaration for six months to give the federal government time to come up with new rules.
Read the full decision (PDF)
The judge was careful to point out that the ruling does not change other laws that make it illegal for Canadians to use marijuana recreationally.
The judge also ordered that an earlier injunction remains in effect, allowing thousands of Canadians with prior authorization to use medical marijuana to continue to grow it at home.
‘Some fell through the cracks’
Lawyer John Conroy, who co-represented the plaintiffs in the case, noted the ruling did not automatically include all medical marijuana users.
He said the ruling applied only to about 28,000 Canadians who had the proper licences in place at the time of the injunction.
And he noted there remain thousands of other medical users not covered by the original injunction, who will still have to wait six months to legally grow their own medical marijuana themselves.
“We will be heading back to court to fine-tune that injunction,” said Conroy on Wednesday afternoon in Vancouver.
In addition, many people who had to change the address of their production site no longer have valid licences registered with Health Canada, and that issue needs to be addressed, he said.
He also cautioned users who have possession licences to make sure they are updated.
“Hopefully within six months we’ll have a reasonably regulated system in place that solves the problems for everyone,” he said.
Conroy noted that if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wanted to move quickly on the issue, cabinet could simply issue an order-in-council that would remove marijuana from Schedule 2 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
“The next fight is making sure the dispensaries are legal,” he said.
‘It was a complete victory’
Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, the co-counsel for Neil Allard, who launched the court challenge, was clearly pleased with the decision.
“Basically we won, and it was a complete victory,” said Tousaw, shortly after reading the decision. “[The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations] were declared to be unconstitutional and violate the charter rights of medical cannabis patients.”
Medical Marijuana
A Federal Court threw out a ban Wednesday on medical marijuana users growing their own supply. (Getty Images)
Tousaw said it will now be up to the Liberal government to come up with new rules.
“The ball is in the federal government’s court. Mr. Trudeau and the justice minister have six months to respond to the court’s ruling and come up with a system of medical cannabis regulation in this country that doesn’t impact and negatively take away the charter rights of medical cannabis patients and their providers.”
He believes the ruling will have implications for those who wish to grow their own pot for recreational use.
“We proved that growing medical cannabis can be perfectly safe, and can be done completely in compliance with the law and people ought to have a right to do that without fear of being arrested and locked in cages for that activity.”
“The lessons I think are pretty obvious. If you can grow cannabis for yourself for medical purposes safely and with no risk for the public, surely, you can grow cannabis for yourself for non-medical purposes safely and with no risk to the public,” Tousaw said.
The federal Liberal government has committed to regulating and legalizing recreational marijuana but has yet to introduce any legislation.
‘Most egregious example’
In his decision, the judge noted that “many ‘expert’ witnesses were so imbued with a belief for or against marijuana — almost a religious fervour — that the court had to approach such evidence with a significant degree of caution and skepticism.”
In particular, he called one RCMP witness for the Crown, Cpl. Shane Homequist, “the most egregious example of the so-called expert.
“He possessed none of the qualifications of usual expert witnesses. His assumptions and analysis were shown to be flawed. His methodologies were not shown to be accepted by those working in his field. The factual basis of his various options was uncovered as inaccurate,” he wrote.
“I can give this evidence little or no weight,” the judge concluded.
Phelan also dismissed many of the federal government’s arguments concerning the risks home grow-ops could pose to homes, noting mould, fire, break-ins and insurance concerns can be addressed within existing laws and regulations.
He found the rules which “limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one’s own marijuana or choose one’s own supplier” were an untenable restriction on the plaintiffs’ liberties.
Homegrown supply banned in 2013

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According to Breitbart News GOP presidential Sen. Ted Cruz asked his Communications Director Rick Tyler to resign. On Sunday, Tyler posted a story on Facebook falsely accusing (using subtitles) Cruz’s rival Sen.Marco Rubio of telling a Cruz staffer that there are “not many answers” in the Bible.

In actuality Rubio apparently said, “all of the answers” are in the Bible.
Tyler deleted the post on and published an apology on Facebook today.
“I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today,” Tylersaid. “The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark.”
But the apology wasn’t enough for Rubio.

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8a. Fired & Hired 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has fired his communication director, Rick Tyler, for peddling a video that falsely claims Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was mocking the Bible, upon encountering one of his campaign staffers, along with his father, Rafael, at a Hampton Inn in South Carolina (via Politico):

Rubio ran into Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, and a staffer in South Carolina on Saturday at a Hampton Inn. According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, which posted the video, the blog also had staffers present during the encounter.

The website reported that Rubio suggested that the Bible did “[n]ot have many answers in it.”
Cruz communications director Rick Tyler posted the story on Facebook but later deleted it and apologized after a Cruz staffer said Rubio didn’t make any such comment.
“I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today,” Tyler said. “The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark.”
In the clip, Rubio tells the staffer he has “a good book there.” “All the answers are in there,” he added. “Especially in that one.”

Earlier this afternoon, Sen. Cruz announced that he had asked for Tyler’s resignation:

Tyler posted the story on Facebook but later deleted it and apologized after a Cruz staffer said Rubio didn’t make any such comment.

But Cruz decided greater action was needed.
"Our campaign should not have sent it. That’s why I’ve asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation,” Cruz said about the social media posting about the Daily Pennsylvanian article.

He said he spent the morning investigating before coming to his conclusion. He added, “I have made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity.”

Tyler’s exit comes as the Cruz campaign has been under increased fire from his rivals, who have accused him of running a dirty campaign.
Prior to his termination, Sarah Rumpf at IJ Review contacted Tyler, saying that he backtracked on the false claim about the bible incident once the staffer in the video, named Collins, backed the Rubio campaign’s version of events:

Tyler told Independent Journal Review that he called Collins, the Cruz staffer who was reading the Bible in the video, and asked him about the incident. According to Tyler, Collins backed up the Rubio campaign’s version of the Senator’s words. “No, no, no, he was very nice to me,” Collins reportedly said about Rubio.

“I realized that the story got it wrong, so I deleted the post,” said Tyler. “When he [meaning Collins] told me it was wrong, I pulled it down.” When asked about the reason for the several hours delay in deleting the Facebook post, Tyler said he “forgot” he had the Facebook post until another colleague on the campaign called him and told him, and then he deleted it.

rubies people - let tyler off the hook - RWS

The Rubio campaign responded by saying that Tyler was a good man, who had the “unenviable task” of working with a candidate who would “do or say anything to get elected.” As Allahpundit noted, this firing had to come, given how South Carolinians thought Cruz ran an unfair campaign, and that Cruz needs to make sure that he a) doesn’t look as if he “smeared Rubio to death” should he win b) he needs this Rubio-Cruz battle to be won fair and square should he draw Rubio’s former supporters into his tent.

from rubio campaign
“rick is a really good spokesman who had the inevitable task of working for a candidate willing to do or sa”

Prior to Tyler’s dismissal, Erick Erickson noted that it’s become almost a fact on the campaign trail that Cruz is running a dirty presidential bid. This firing might have been an attempt to quell that narrative, but the damage is already done.

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9. Zombie Fracking Bill
A divided Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 10-9 to reject a controversial bill to give state regulators the framework to authorize fracking for oil and gas reserves in Florida but, because of a parliamentary maneuver kept the issue alive, but limping.
A divided Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 10-9 to reject a controversial bill to give state regulators the framework to authorize fracking for oil and gas reserves in Florida but, because of a parliamentary maneuver kept the issue alive, but limping.
The bill, SB 318, by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, imposes a temporary moratorium on fracking permits until a study of Florida's hydrology is completed to determine what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply.
The study will then be used to inform regulations by the Department of Environmental Protection by March 2018, and the proposed rules must come back for legislative approval. The House passed a similar bill, HB 191, by a 73-45 vote with seven Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure.
Richter agreed to modify the bill to expand the fracking technologies that would be regulated, an effort to address concerns by environmentalists, but several senators suggested they would prefer to see a ban on fracking or called for changes that require the disclosure of chemicals used in the process. 
"The people of the State of Florida don't want fracking,'' said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, comparing the potential damage in Florida to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the Love Canal tragedy, in which a toxic waste site contaminated the ground and water in Niagara Falls."When we start messing with the aquifer and not noticing what's going on, then things start happening to people."
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she opposed the bill because there remained "too many unanswered questions as to what does fracking mean for our environment.
"Are all these risks worth what we would be getting in return?,'' she asked. "The answer for me is no."
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, sided with Richter who argued that without the bill to create a regulatory framework for fracking the state is in a more vulnerable position than without out it. 
"Doing nothing is not a solution,'' he said. 
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, asked officials from Department of Environmental Protection how they could agree to a provision in the bill that allows companies to use the state's trade secret exemption from disclosing to the public the chemicals it is using in the fracking process. 
"I've questioned a lot witnesses...most importantly I've raised teenagers,'' he said. "I don't think a better tap dance than what the DEP did today on the subject of trade secrets and the disclosure these chemicals and until I get comfortable on this issue, I'm a no on this bill."
The committee adopted an amendment offered by Simmons, which changes the definition of fracking to include all forms of well-stimulation to tap hydrocarbons. It excludes procedures used for cleaning the fracking well bore.
"There is no moratorium on fracking in the State of Florida now,'' Richter said, acknowledging the public's opposition. "I wish I was on a bill that was 40-0 and out the door -- scoop of vanilla ice cream only."
Richter said the fierce opposition by community groups, environmentalists, and some local officials "have become extremely emotional" and, while he thanked them "for staying engaged," he added that "when debate becomes emotional, it magnifies the controversy."
That included the appearance of the fifth grade class of the Cornerstone Learning Community, whose students each arrived with a speech to urge the committee to oppose fracking but had one student, Jenna Caskey, speak on their behalf. 
Richter told them that without his bill, fracking would still be allowed. 
The bill bans the high pressure well stimulation until the study determines what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply and it also prohibits local governments from imposing their own bans or regulations. 
Richter said he sponsored the bill because in 2013 the Dan. A. Hughes Company began a fracking operation near his hometown of Collier County, and it "drew tremendous concern" from the community. He said he now believes "this bill may be the most important bill I have to do for the citizens I represent" because without it there is no regulatory framework.
He said that when Dan. A. Hughes Company asked for the fracking permit, the Department of Environmental Regulation's "hands were tied" when Hughes started its fracking operations because they didn't have the power to revoke the fracking permit unless it can determine it is harmful to citizens so the agency ordered the company to determine what impact it had on the aquifers.  
DEP now can only assess minimal fines of $1,000 a day, and could impose only $1 million in bonding requirements. Richter said that today DEP cannot force disclosure of any chemicals that a company is offering and the agency may not research the "bad actors" in the industry.
He said he and Rep. Ray Rodriques, R-Estero, the House sponsor of a similar bill for the last four years, "had a passion for creating a responsible regulatory activity" and "we wanted to untie the hands of the regulators." 
"The bill we have in front of you is a very collaborative effort between local governments, environmental groups,'' he said, noting that many modifications have been made to accommodate the concerns of environmental groups and local governments.
"Many well-intended, mis-informed people are going to testify for this bill,'' Richter said. "I have great respect for these people. It's my hope. It's my desire you will listen to why this bill is good for the State of Florida."
David Mica, director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said his organization supports the bill "because my industry needs to use the most modern technology that is available to us to provide products to Americans."
Rich Templin of the AFL-CIO said the state's 1 million union members voted to oppose bringing fracking technologies to Florida, and noted that 40 percent of the membership are registered Republicans.
"People's opposition to this is being under-noticed,'' Templin said. "A group of fifth graders was just told you won't be able to stop fracking unless this bill passes. Why then is oil and gas industry here in support of it?"
Voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, Don Gaetz, R-Crestview, Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, Richter, Simmons and Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. 
Voting against the bill were Sens. Flores, Dorothy Hukill, R-Ormond Beach, Joyner, Latvala, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Lisbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. 
Benacquisto moved to reconsider her no vote, allowing the bill to return to the committee at a later time. 

10.Radioactive waste from Hanford Nuclear Reservation spread across Washington highway--Fall windstorm spread radioactive contamination across Route 4 north of Richland | 21 Feb 2016 | The Environmental Protection Agency has called the uncontrolled spread of small [?] amounts of radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation "alarming" after a Nov. 17 windstorm. Surveys six miles north of Richland after the winds subsided found specks of [radioactive] contamination had spread beyond Route 4, the public highway from Richland out to the Wye Barricade secure entrance to Hanford. The contamination had blown from the 618-10 Burial Ground, which is being cleaned on the west side of the highway. The search also turned up previously undiscovered specks of radioactive waste believed to have been spread by plants or animals outside known contaminated areas.

10. Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan leaking radioactive water amid nationwide restart --34 liters of radioactive water - about 64,000 becquerels of radioactive waste - spilled. | 21 Feb 2015 | A nuclear power station in Japan is leaking, this time the Takahama plant, about 380km west of Tokyo. The radioactive water leak comes amid a nationwide push to restart reactors after the catastrophic meltdown[s] at Fukushima five years ago...The push by the government and utility companies came amid protests across Japan against the continued reliance on nuclear energy, prompted by failures to get the Fukushima crisis under control. Now Kansai Electric Power says about 34 liters of radioactive water have escaped the plant's reactor No. 4. An investigation is underway.


It appears the world-changing event didn’t change anything, and it’s disappointing,”said Pieter Franken, a researcher at Keio University in Japan (Wide Project), the MIT Media Lab (Civic Media Centre), and co-founder of Safecast, a citizen-science network dedicated to the measurement and distribution of accurate levels of radiation around the world, especially in Fukushima. “There was a chance after the disaster for humanity to innovate our thinking about energy, and that doesn’t seem like it’s happened.  But what we can change is the way we measure the environment around us.”
Franken and his founding partners found a way to turn their email chain, spurred by the tsunami, into Safecast; an open-source network that allows everyday people to contribute to radiation-monitoring.
“We literally started the day after the earthquake happened,” revealed Pieter. “A friend of mine, Joi Ito, the director of MIT Media Lab, and I were basically talking about what Geiger counter to get. He was in Boston at the time and I was here in Tokyo, and like the rest of the world, we were worried, but we couldn’t get our hands on anything. There’s something happening here, we thought. Very quickly as the disaster developed, we wondered how to get the information out. People were looking for information, so we saw that there was a need. Our plan became: get information, put it together and deseminate it.”
An e-mail thread between Franken, Ito, and Sean Bonner, (co-founder of CRASH Space, a group that bills itself as Los Angeles’ first hackerspace), evolved into a network of minds, including members of Tokyo Hackerspace, Dan Sythe, who produced high-quality Geiger counters, and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Technical Officer. On April 15, the group that was to become Safecast sat down together for the first time. Ozzie conceived the plan to strap a Geiger counter to a car and somehow log measurements in motion. This would became the bGeigie, Safecast’s future model of the do-it-yourself Geiger counter kit.
Armed with a few Geiger counters donated by Sythe, the newly formed team retrofitted their radiation-measuring devices to the outside of a car.  Safecast’s first volunteers drove up to the city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture, and took their own readings around all of the schools. Franken explained, “If we measured all of the schools, we covered all the communities; because communities surround schools. It was very granular, the readings changed a lot, and the levels were far from academic, but it was our start. This was April 24, 6 weeks after the disaster. Our thinking changed quite a bit through this process.”
Since their first tour of Koriyama, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Safecast’s team of volunteers have developed the bGeigie handheld radiation monitor, that anyone can buy on and construct with suggested instructions available online. So far over 350 users have contributed 41 million readings, using around a thousand fixed, mobile, and crowd-sourced devices.
According to Franken, “We’re working with communities to install these sensors in people’s neighborhoods. We’re financed by donations only. We get donations so we put together a plan, volunteers provide space, and Internet access, and agree that the data collected are public.
“What we’ve come to determine in Fukushima is that radiation levels are spotty. They can vary from street corner to street corner. We’ve also been able to determine that the levels over the last five years have reduced, partly because of half life of cesium, and because of environmental factors. We’ve also seen an increase in official government data being released in a similar style to Safecast’s drive-by method versus spot checking.”
According to Franken, “There is no safe dose of radiation as it’s debated by scientists; the higher the level, the higher the risk is that it will trigger a cancer. Though, at low levels the risk is much smaller, it is not zero. However, irrespectively of what we do, we will all be exposed to naturally occurring radiation. This varies worldwide a little, but in general you could say that if you’re exposed to those levels you’re not worse off than anywhere else. That level,” he says, “is somewhere between .05-.3 uSv/hr.”
“When Fukushima happened all of my education led to this moment,” said Joe Moross, a Tokyo-based radiation and environmental sensor engineer with 35 years of experience in radiation and environmental sensing in the U.S. and Japan. He has voluntarily driven and measured over 50,000 km [31,000 miles]. “I fit in this crisis better than I have ever before. Being trained in nuclear physics, and sensor technology, this is what I’ve been made for. One of the biggest problems in Fukushima is the anxiety and the uncertainty that people are suffering from the incident. I think what were doing is trying to alleviate that by giving them ways to educate themselves about the problem and giving them solutions where they can be empowered to do something about it, as a opposed to just going along with the current of the crisis.”

PNN - February Fun and FUMES!
News Director Rick Spisak, welcomes Associate Producer Brook Hines who will give us an updates on a variety of Progressive Issues, from Florida and beyond. 
Then we welcome a long time friend of the show, Ms Meredith Ockman a long time progressive leader and Womens Rights Advocate. She has been SE Regional Director for NOW and active in a wide range of Human Rights Fronts. 
We will also have a special guest from N. Florida Progressive Democrat Frank Day long time party activist and progressive leader in the Panhandle.
or Anytime

Solidarity & Peace

Sunday, February 21, 2016

PNN - Like a River

PNN 2//21/16

Brook & 
Marty Baum
Ray Seamans

1. Scalia’s Greatest Hits
"I don't assess the nation's mood, I assess my own, and I'm feeling good." 

"On controversial issues on stuff like homosexual rights, abortion, we [citizens] debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it — either our representatives or through a constitutional amendment in the states. Whether it's good or bad idea is not what I'm talking about, that's not my job ... I apply the limitations upon democracy that the American people have adopted." 

 On why he became a lawyer: "I had an Uncle Vince — most Italians have an Uncle Vince — who was a lawyer. And he seemed to have a good life so I thought I'd give it a shot. And it turns out it was what I loved. Don't do it if you don't love it, it's not the most exciting profession unless you love the process, you love words." 

"A journalistic purpose could be someone with a Xerox machine in a basement."

"What is a 'moderate' interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you'd like it to mean?" 

"As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to 'do what the people want,' instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically." 

“There are — there are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to — to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having slower-track school where they do well…. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re – that they’re being pushed ahead in — in classes that are too — too fast for them….”

“State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices,” Scalia wrote, citing a previous court decision upholding an anti-sodomy law. “Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them.”

[T]he States enacted numerous laws restricting the immigration of certain classes of aliens, including convicted criminals, indigents, persons with contagious diseases, and (in Southern States) freed blacks.

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. 

...the tradition of having government funded military schools for men is as well rooted in the traditions of this country as the tradition of sending only men into military combat. The people may decide to change the one tradition, like the other, through democratic processes; but the assertion that either tradition has been unconstitutional through the centuries is not law, but politics smuggled into law.

“this Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” 

2. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) delivered yesterday with the wife of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling a petition for his pardon to the White House. The petition has now gathered over 150,000 signatures.  Sterling, a former C.I.A. operative and the latest victim in the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, was convicted in January 2015 of divulging classified information to New York Times journalist James Risen.
Jeffrey Sterling was convicted under the Espionage Act for merely communicating with New York Times journalist James Risen. He’s now serving a 3.5-year prison sentence in a federal correctional facility in Colorado.
Before delivering the petition to the White House, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) co-sponsored a press conference at the National Press Club for Jeffrey’s wife Holly. She thanked the over 150,000 people who signed the petition to pardon her husband.
Speaking on behalf of RSF was US Director Delphine Halgand: “as an organization that defends freedom of information, we are extremely concerned by the precedent set in the United States’ government’s case against Jeffrey Sterling. How is it possible that proving the mere existence of contact between a former CIA operative and a journalist is sufficient to convict someone of espionage?”
Other speakers included prominent activist, author and professor Dr. Cornel West, former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou, lawyer and whistleblower Jesselyn Radack, and Senior Director of Strategy for Free Press Tim Karr.
Kiriakou, who served time in prison for leaking information on the CIA’s torture program, said Jeffrey “did exactly what he was supposed to do when he encountered a program of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality.” The point of Jeffrey’s harsh 3.5 year sentence was “to utterly ruin him…to demonize him…and frighten any other would-be whistleblowers,” said Kiriakou.
During Jeffrey’s trial, the Department of Justice was unable to present any direct evidence proving that he divulged classified information to Risen. They relied on circumstantial evidence — emails and telephone conversations — to try to make a case to a jury who would likely favor his conviction.
Because Jeffrey utilized proper channels and informed the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of his concern for the safety of the American people, he is considered a whistleblower.
Last December RSF, RootsAction andExposeFacts led a coalition of organizations in support of a petition for his pardon on and on The Bill of Rights Defense Committee / Defending Dissent Foundation, Center for Media and Democracy, Freedom of the Press Foundation,The Nation magazine and Restore the Fourth are also supporting the petition. The White House acknowledged receipt of the 150,000 signatures yesterday.
To support Holly Sterling’s request to pardon her husband, sign the petition at or at  Use #pardonforjeffrey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to help spread the message.

3. Investigation concluded Now the Attack of the Bar 

When the Justice Department ended its investigation into Thomas Tamm in 2011, the Justice Department whistleblower who revealed warrantless wiretapping said it was a relief that a “long ordeal” was now over. But it turns out the “ordeal” has entered a new chapter. He now faces ethics violations for blowing the whistle on illegal surveillance.
The District of Columbia Bar, a body with the power to discipline lawyers who violate ethical standards and rules of professional conduct, initiated disciplinary proceedings for Tamm for revealing “secrets” or “confidences” of his “client” to New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau.
It charged him with failing to refer information in his possession that “persons within the Department of Justice were violating their legal obligations” to the Attorney General.
The alleged ethics violations specifically stem from Tamm’s work in the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review in the Justice Department. It notes one of his duties was to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for “warrants to conduct electronic surveillance in national security matters.” This information was “secret,” and Tamm was required to have a “special security clearance” to make applications.
When Tamm learned some of the surveillance applications were given special treatment, signed only by the Attorney General, and made only to the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, he became concerned. He learned this was part of something referred to as “The Program.” He asked about “The Program” and was informed it was “probably illegal.”
Even though Tamm “believed that an agency of the Department of Justice was involved in illegal conduct, he did not refer the matter to a higher authority within the department,” the complaint alleges.
Instead, the complaint says Tamm contacted a newspaper reporter in 2004 and told him he knew conduct he believed to be illegal was taking place. Tamm disclosed secret information that should have remained confidential.
The complaint was filed on December 29, 2015, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has the “ultimate authority for disciplining members” of the D.C. Bar. Tamm could be disbarred, suspended, censured, reprimanded, or face other sanctions. He has been a member of the D.C. Bar since 1978, and after nearly four decades as an attorney, his livelihood is under direct attack.
Through the act of bringing these ethics violations against Tamm, the D.C. Bar is sending a message to all of its members in government that it is far more ethical to keep evidence of illegal government activities confidential than it is to expose it to the public so officials may be held accountable for their misconduct.
The “client” in this case is the government employees involved in drafting applications for warrantless surveillance, who Tamm represented. Do disciplinary counsel with the D.C. Bar believe he should face punishment because he implicated those employees when he revealed corruption?
The D.C. Bar would have everyone believe that Tamm did not go through proper channels because he did not formally complain to any higher authority in the Justice Department. Yet, Tamm recognized those at the top were implicated in the criminal activity that was ongoing. He also went to someone working in Congress with his concerns, which is completely legitimate.
“I decided to go reach out to somebody who I knew on the Hill I had worked on a death penalty case with,” Tamm told PBS FRONTLINE. “I knew she would have a top-secret security clearance.”
Tamm asked her to talk to someone on an intelligence committee and find out if Congress knew what was being done. She did not respond to him for months and later she said she could not tell him anything. She warned him that “whistleblowers frequently don’t end up very well.” This led Tamm to conclude “The Program” was not being vetted by layers of lawyers. Only a small circle of people knew about this, and he needed to go to the press.
To further demonstrate how obscene it is that the D.C. Bar would launch disciplinary proceedings against Tamm, this is how Tamm defended the ethical choice he made to protect the United States Constitution by revealing details of “The Program” to a reporter.
Well, the oath that I took was to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic. And, you know, it’s my belief that we are a stronger country because of our Constitution and because of our democratic institutions, like the courts and the Congress, as well as the presidency. And I honestly thought I had an ethical obligation to talk to somebody about what I thought was an illegal abuse of executive authority. In fact, when I was working at the Department of Justice in OIPR, my boss said that if you don’t want to sign one of these affidavits, if you’re afraid to put your name on these affidavits, then he would sign his name. And that just sent up a red flag. I said I would look at these documents and say, what is in here that might be suspicious? And there wasn’t anything. And so, I really thought it was my duty.
Tamm heard chatter about how a sitting attorney general might be indicted. “It was pretty clear to me, at least, that I didn’t want to keep participating in whatever was going on,” Tamm concluded.
When the Justice Department abandoned its investigation into him in 2011, Tamm was certain the investigation into him collapsed because he had revealed something against the law. He also had not provided any documents to a journalist. He had revealed no sources. He had broken no law.
On top of that, when will D.C. Bar disciplinary counsel bring proceedings against lawyers in the Justice Department who engaged in illegal actions Tamm helped to expose? Or are they entitled to retroactive immunity for the felonious acts they were involved in committing?
It is astounding to think the D.C. Bar would be more overzealous than President Barack Obama’s administration in its pursuit of Tamm. Obama has led a government that has been more aggressive against whistleblowers and government officials accused of unauthorized disclosures than any previous president in U.S. history. Yet, it is a body that is supposed to support attorneys, which has set its sights on a whistleblower who dared to defend the ethics of the Constitution, and may end up making a quite positive contribution to the war on whistleblowers in this country.

4.  An exhaustive study shows privatization is more expensive, despite the right-wing’s insistence to the contrary
The most affordable water systems in the U.S. are publicly owned and operated by the government, an exhaustive study reveals. At the same time, for-profit private water companies charge 58 percent more than publicly owned ones.
Food & Water Watch, a non-governmental consumer rights organization based in D.C., comprehensively surveyed the 500 largest community water systems in the U.S., in what it says is “the largest U.S. water rate survey of its kind.”
The report, titled “The State of Public Water in the United States,” reveals that the average public water utility in the U.S. charged $316.20 for 60,000 gallons a year, while the average private, for-profit water company charged $500.96 for the same.
In states like New York and Illinois, the disparity is even greater, with privatized water systems charging twice as much as public, not-for-profit ones.
Pennsylvania for-profit systems charge a whopping 84 percent more than public systems — $323 more per year, on average. New Jersey private systems charge 79 percent more — $230 more per year.
“From emergency management in Michigan to failed privatization experiments across the country, corporate influence has failed U.S. water systems,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement regarding the study.
“Many of our community water systems are over 100 years old, and in desperate need of repair,” Hauter continued. “Rather than running water systems like businesses, or worse, handing them over to corporations, we need increased federal investment in municipal water. With this federal funding, we can help avoid future infrastructure-related catastrophes.”
For-profit companies own approximately 10 percent of U.S. community water systems. Most of these are small, however; 90 percent serve fewer than 3,300 people.
The vast majority of Americans, 87 percent, presently receive their water from a publicly owned, not-for-profit provider. And this number is growing.
Food & Water Watch also reviewed eight years of data from the Federal Safe Drinking Water Information System. It found that, between 2007 and 2014, the number of Americans who received water from a public system increased from 83 to 87 percent, while the number of private systems decreased by 7 percent.
The cheapest 142 of the 500 largest community water systems in the U.S. are public and/or non-profit. The cheapest private, for-profit water system comes in an inauspicious 143rd place.
The company American Water alone provides 15 of the 36 most expensive water systems. Of these 36 most expensive systems, 20 are privatized. Other prominent companies include Aqua America and United Water.
Phoenix, Arizona has the least expensive water service in the country, with an average annual bill of just $84.24. The average annual bill in Clovis, California is $100.80, $104.74 in Hempstead, New York, and $116.48 in Miami-Dade, Florida. All are public, not-for-profit systems.
There are a few outliers. Flint, Michigan is among them.
Flint charges an enormous $864.32 annually, making it the most expensive mismanaged water system in the country. Trailing close behind, the most expensive private systems, provided in five different parts of Pennsylvania by the companies American Water and Aqua America, charge between $782.38 and $792.84

In 2014, an unelected emergency manager appointed by the right-wing government switched Flint’s water supply from Detroit to the Flint River, in order to cut costs. This quickly corroded pipes, causing toxic waste-levels of lead poisoning and a deadly outbreak of the disease legionella.
Libertarians and right-wing pundits called for Flint to privatize its water in response to the crisis. Free-market capitalist publication Reason insisted privatization would be the solution to all of Flint’s problems. Hard-line right-wing billionaire David Koch sits on the board of the Reason Foundation. In her new book “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” New Yorker investigative journalist Jane Mayer documents how the Kochs bankroll the American right-wing and push a pro-privatization, pro-corporate agenda that both the Republican Party and much of the Democratic Party have largely embraced.
Supporters of privatization insist that reducing government regulation and letting corporations operate how they like reduces costs and increases efficiency. This study shows that this is not true, despite the frequent insistence to the contrary by neoliberal economists.
Privatization frequently moves the burden of cost onto external agents — particularly the commons, the environment and taxpayers — failing to factor in what are referred to in economics as externalities. Moreover, privatization often makes services unavailable to very poor people, or to people who live in rural or inaccessible areas.
“Government utilities have a responsibility to promote and protect public health and safety, and are generally more responsive to community needs,” Hauter explained, commenting on the study.
“More and more cities and towns are seeing that water is more efficiently and affordably delivered when it is controlled by a not-for-profit entity,” the Food & Water Watch executive director added. “Without shareholders expecting profits, public systems are less likely to cut corners on service, and excess funds are invested back into systems, not sent out of communities as dividend checks.”
Despite the clear benefits of public ownership, nevertheless, the report notes that politicians have underfunded water services for many years.
Federal funding for water utility improvement projects has decreased over the decades. Accounting for inflation, federal support for water utilities dropped 74 percent from 1977 to 2014.
Funding peaked in 1977, at just 63 percent of what was needed. In 2006, funding decreased to a record low of a mere 7 percent.
In the past few years, federal funding for water utility improvement projects has remained low. In 2010, it rose to 12 percent of what was needed, before dropping to 9 percent in 2014.
President Obama’s proposed budget cuts funding to the State Revolving Funds for water infrastructure by another 11 percent, Food & Water Watch noted.
“The proposed budget falls far short of what communities need,” the consumer rights group says.

5. Nobody asked the workers- Anybody not been outsourced?

Janine Jackson: The Boston Globe’s decision to contract out its subscriber delivery service to a new company that said they could do it cheaper was the kind of business call made every day. And media usually treat such events as just that: business news, for the business page. But those decisions have human impacts, too, sometimes huge ones. It’s just that the lives they change, generally speaking, aren’t the ones that make the paper.
Something different happened at the Globe, though, at least for a little while. Our next guest tells the story in an article for TomDispatch called “All The News That’s Fit to Print.” Aviva Chomsky is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts. She’s author of the book Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, and also They Take Our Jobs! and 20 Other Myths About Immigration. She joins us now by phone from Massachusetts. Welcome to CounterSpin, Aviva Chomsky.
Aviva Chomsky: Thanks. Thanks for having me on the show.
JJ: The story you tell in the article is emblematic of a number of things, so let’s just start in. TheBoston Globe changes their delivery contractor, and what happens?
AC: In a way, not to be too historical, but I think we have to start before they changed delivery carriers, with how newspapers are delivered at all in today’s United States. Because I think a lot of people still have in mind that newspapers are delivered by 12-year-olds on their bicycles, and that’s not how it is at all anymore. Newspaper delivery has become big business, and it’s done through an elaborate system of subcontracting. And the people who deliver the newspapers are adults, they do it by car, and their routes are far longer and more complex than what the kids in the neighborhoods used to do.
So newspaper delivery is a job that’s done through subcontracting. It’s a 365-day-a-year job, it has to be done in the middle of the night from about 2 a.m. until 6 a.m., no matter what the weather, what the conditions. And it’s a job that’s extremely poorly paid; that is, you have to have your own car, your own insurance, you have to drive hundreds of miles a week.
But you’re not considered an employee, you’re considered an independent contractor. And therefore the employer, which is the subcontractor who is contracted by the newspaper, doesn’t have any of the responsibilities that an employer has. They don’t have to pay you minimum wage, they don’t have to give you unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, Social Security. They get out of all their responsibilities as an employer.

6. Kissinger? Kissinger who?
from Fair (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)

Last week, presidential challenger Bernie Sandersattacked his rival Hillary Clinton live on US television for taking advice from Nixon-era Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom he accused of paving the way for genocide with his bombing of Cambodia.

You know who wasn’t impressed? US television.
According to a search of the Nexis news database, there were exactly two references to Kissinger following the debate on the major broadcast networks.CBS‘s Gayle King (Early Show, 2/12/16) reported that “Sanders questioned why Clinton would praise former secretary of State Henry Kissinger,” and then played an excerpt from the exchange:

SANDERS: Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state. Count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.
CLINTON: I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy and we have yet to know who that is.
SANDERS: Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger, that’s for sure.
CLINTON: That’s fine. That’s fine.
On NBC‘s Today show, Andrea Mitchell (2/12/16) played an even shorter excerpt (beginning with “journalists have asked you…”) as an illustration of how the candidates “hammered each other…on foreign policy.”
That was it. The three network evening newscasts, with a typical combined nightly viewership of 24 million, didn’t mention Kissinger. Nor did any of the Sunday morning talkshows. Even PBS NewsHour, whose Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderated the debate, never discussed the Kissinger exchange.

Twenty-four-hour cable news did a little better, with CNN Newsroom(2/12/16) replaying the entire exchange, including Sanders’ explanation of why he objected to Clinton citing Kissinger as a mentor:
Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world.

This was aired in the context of former California Democratic Party chair Bill Press saying that “the weirdest part, I think, of the whole debate…was Hillary wrapping herself in the arms of Henry Kissinger as a role model,” since “90 percent of Democrats are going to say who is Henry Kissinger and the other 10 percent are going to say they hate him.” 

After which longtime Clinton family adviser Paul Begala lectured: “A president actually has to get advice from all kinds of people.”

On CNN‘s Legal View (2/12/16), author/activist Jonathan Tasini—who ran unsuccessfully for New York’s Democratic senatorial nomination against Hillary Clinton in 2006, and incidentally wrote a study of labor coverage for FAIR in 1990—seems to have been the only commentator on national TV who took a moral stand against taking advice from Kissinger:

I don’t think we would have imagined that in a Democratic debate someone would say that Henry Kissinger’s an adviser…. A war criminal. Someone who should have been indicted, should have been impeached, should have been in prison.

Tasini was interrupted by Democratic funder Robert Zimmerman—”And what’s your point, Jonathan? What’s your point?”–who went on to give what seemed to be the Clinton campaign’s line of the day: “Hillary Clinton, to her credit, takes input from a number of different people.”
That was also the line taken by retired Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN military commentator (New Day, 2/12/16):
You draw strength from a lot of different political and strategy theorists. That’s what you have to do as a politician and potential president. You have to find a lot of different things to look at from the standpoint of theory and policies.
Mostly, though, CNN seemed amused that Sanders would bring up Clinton’s connection to perhaps the Republican Party’s most famous foreign policy theorist: “Bernie Sanders may have won the 1976 part of the debate bringing up Henry Kissinger,” host John Berman quipped on CNN‘s Early Show(2/12/16). “Not resonating with millennials,” co-host Christine Romans chided.
Mockery was the order of the day on the right-wing Fox News Channel: “Of all the attacks Bernie Sanders could have launched against Hillary Clinton, this one truly came out of left field,” correspondent James Rosen began a segment on Fox‘s Special Report (2/12/16). Rosen told viewers that “Sanders advanced familiar left-wing criticisms of Kissinger’s role in the bombing of Cambodia, blaming him for the genocide that took place there years later.” (Actually, the mass killing in Cambodia began less than two years after Congress put a stop to the Nixon/Kissinger bombing campaign in 1973.)
Rosen said that “the explosion in Kissinger searches on Google suggested many of today’s voters didn’t even recognize the name.” Some might say it indicated a strong interest in learning more about Kissinger, an interest that media outlets could satisfy by providing information on his record and philosophy. Instead, Rosen offered Fox News host Jeanine Pirro definitively telling viewers that they are not, in fact, interested in Kissinger: “Does anyone care about Henry Kissinger now? I mean, do the people today care about that? No.”

A Wall Street Journal profile (2/23/12) of de la Renta noted:
Over Christmas the Kissingers were among the close group who gathered in Punta Cana, including Barbara Walters, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Charlie Rose. “We have two house rules,” says Oscar, laughing. “There can be no conversation of any substance and nothing nice about anyone.”
Henry Kissinger (photo: Marvin Joseph/Washington Post)
Washington Post photo of Henry Kissinger illustrating a book review (9/4/14) by Hillary Clinton that praised his vision of a “just and liberal order” (photo: Marvin Joseph/Washington Post)
Nor is the relationship purely social. 

As Clinton wrote in a glowing Washington Post review (9/4/14) of Kissinger’s book World Order:

Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of State. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels.

This collaboration, to hear Clinton tell it, was not based on a felt need to “get advice from all kinds of people,” as Begala would have it, but on shared ideology:

His analysis, despite some differences over specific policies, largely fits with the broad strategy behind the Obama administration’s effort over the past six years to build a global architecture of security and cooperation for the 21st century.

7. Florida Fracking Update

    1. Bills Update
      1. HB 191: Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources - by Reps. Ray Rodrigues and Pigman. HB 191 was passed by a vote of 73-45 on Wed Jan 27, and will remain as-is as SB 318 approaches its next committee and possibly the Senate floor. Eight Republicans (Adkins, Beshears, Latvala, Miller, Raschein, Steube, Trumbull, Van Zant) voted against the bill along with all the Democrats (day-of, Representative Plasencia switched his vote to No a week later). For bill information, look hereBe sure to thank our Nos for voting with us!
      2. SB 318: SB 318: Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources by Sen. Richter. SB 318 was passed through the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government with 4 yeas and 2 neas on Mon Jan 25. SB 318 was NOT yet scheduled for a hearing in its final committee of reference, Appropriations, on 2/18, though it may be scheduled as late as 2/23 for the 2/25 Appropriations meeting. We are preparing as though it will be scheduled for next week’s hearing. For bill information, look here. For current bill text, look here.
      3. SB 166: SB 166: Oil and Natural Gas Production or Recovery - by Sens. Soto and Bullard, would ban fracking. Bill has not been heard in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, and at this point it is very unlikely that it will be heard. For bill information, look here.
      4. HB 19: Well Stimulation Treatments by Rep. Jenne would ban fracking. Referred to Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, Energy & Utilities Subcommittee, Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, and State Affairs Committee. Bill has not been heard and at this point is very unlikely it will be heard. For more information, look here
    2. Resolutions/ordinances Achieved this Week:
      1. Wakulla Co. BOCC passed an ordinance 5-0 to ban fracking in their area on Feb 16.
      2. Volusia Co. BOCC passed an ordinance to ban fracking it their area on Feb 18.
      3. Total resolutions/ordinances as of 2/18/16 is: 79. For full list of city and county resolutions and ordinances here.
    3. Upcoming Votes on Resolutions/Ordinances 1.
      1. None that we know of.
    4. In-district Legislative Visits:
      1. None that we know of.
    5. In-District Legislative Visits
      1. Lois Kershner and Kathy Spaulding of the Temple Terrace Garden Club, activist Wendy Nowlen, and Area Captain Michelle Allen of Food and Water Watch delivered 42 handwritten letters, 200 petition signatures, and  letter from the Temple Terrace Garden Club signed by 39 of its members, to Senator Lee’s on Tuesday Feb 16th. For more information, contact Michelle Allen at
      2. Coalition Activist Michelle Gale met with Sen. Garcia’s aide. For more information, contact Michelle Gale at
    6. Upcoming In-district Legislative Visits:
      1. None that we know of.
    7. Other Area Updates!
      1. On Feb 10, the Volusia County Soil and Water Conservation District banned fracking in Volusia County via a Conservation Program. They will be working with the Volusia BOCC to get a ban at the BOCC level as well.
      2. In anticipation of the possible scheduling and vote on SB 318 on Thurs Feb 18, Coalition members and anti-fracking activists completed 1) a successful call-In to Senators Garcia, Latvala, Lee, Ring and Simmons and 2) successful Interfaith actions Feb 17 in Brevard and Alachua Co.
      3. Full Coalition call took place at 2:00 PM on Feb 17. Topics covered included the status of bills, tactics inside Tallahassee (packet delivery, amendment strategy, DEP testimony, and commissioner letters) as well as in-district meetings and the on the ground events (Film Screenings, Letter-writing (Brian); and Call-ins, and further brainstorming).
      4. Sayfie Adds: a small group of people got together and sponsored a few Sayfie press releases, which were and are being posted on The first one posted was a link to this research:
      5. “The Suwannee County BOCC approved three identical fracking opposition letters to Governor Scott, Pro-fracking Bill Sponsors Senator Richter  (SB 318) and House Representative Rodrigues (HB 191) tonight,” writes Debra Johnson on the Spectrabusters blog. For entire post, visit link here.
    8. Media Hits and Op-Eds:
      1. Fracking could become a disaster here in Florida, Sun Sentinel, Feb 17. Link here.
      2. Fracking not worth the environmental risks, Orlando Sentinel, Feb 17. Link here.
      3. Lee commissioners oppose state ‘fracking’ bill, Naples Daily News, Feb 17. Link here.  
      4. Sen. Nelson: Fair Districts will change legislature, Tallahassee Democrat, Feb 17. Link here.
      5. Intro to Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking 101), Forward Florida, Feb 17. Link here.
      6. Letter: Fight for parks, against Fracking. The Ledger, Feb 17. Link here.
      7. Bay County Commissioners ban fracking in the county, News Channel 7, Feb 16. Link here.
      8. City opposes fracking, votes to create new City Council workshop public comment period, Palm Coast Observer, Feb 16. Link here.
      9. Time is running out to stop fracking, Tallahassee Democrat, Feb 16. Link here.
      10. Bay County says hell no to fracking, Panama City News Herald, Link here.
      11. With Fracking, ride-hailling, state lawmakers challenge local control, Tampa Bay Tribune, Feb 16. Link here.
      12. Regulating Fracking Impossible Task, Citrus County Chronicle, Feb 15. Link here.
      13. Letter: Fracking goes against the will of the people, Tallahassee Democrat, Feb 14. Link here.
      14. No to fracking in Florida, Tampa Bay Tribute, Feb 14. Link here.
      15. Stop legislation prohibiting local governments from adopting fracking bans, Bradenton Herald, Feb 14. Link here.    
      16. Is court-imposed redistricting already moderating Florida Senate, mypalmbeachpost, Feb 14. Link here.
      17. Murky prospects: Fracking will put Florida in communities in a class with Flint, Citrus County Chronicle, Feb 17. Link here.
      18. ALEC-Tainted Legislation Designed to Block Local Control Over Fracking Bans Stalled in Florida, DeSmog blog, Feb 12. Link here.
      19.  DEP dismisses challenge to Seismic Testing, Tallahassee Democrat, Feb 13. Link here.
      20. Editorial: Florida lawmakers big-foot local government, Tampa Bay Times, Feb 12. Link here.
      21. Thumb up: Fracking proposal hits roadblock, TC Palm, Feb 11. Link here.
    9. Upcoming Educational Events and Actions:
      1. “From Pensacola to Paris and Back,” Feb 25th, Pensacola FL Join Earth Ethics, Inc. on Thursday, February 25th beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown library located at 239 N Spring Street for a discussion of the UN Climate Change Conference. From Pensacola to Paris and back explores Earth Ethics Executive Director trip to Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference.  With the agreement signed, what happens now? How do we move forward as a community and a nation? Learn what you can do to be part of this historic event. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.

    10. Calls to Action:
      1. While it’s impossible to say for certain, there’s a good chance that SB 318 will appear in committee next Thursday Feb 25. To ensure the Appropriation Committee members know where Florida’s communities stand, the Coalition has several tactical idea ideas (that were discussed on the Coalition call email):
        1. Letters from County Commissioners to the Appropriations Committee: If you have a relationship with a city or county commissioner who voted yes on an anti-fracking resolution or ordinance, and can make a call, we need help getting in touch with commissioners to ask them to put a letter to Sen. Lee and the Appropriations Committee on letterhead expressing opposition to 318. If you can help, please email Kim Ross at
        2. If you can help make phonecalls this weekend to constituents in key districts to get them to call or write their Senator, email Michelle Allen at
        3. If you have an expert who is either willing to come to Tallahassee next week to testify (keeping in mind there won’t be much time) OR is willing to write a short statement that can be read into the record, please contact them and get them in touch with Kim Ross at
      2. Feb 20-24: Florida's Groundswell Against Fracking: FLAF movie screenings in your city! Gather your community to learn the facts (not the "fracts") by attending an FLAF movie screening! Between Feb 20-22, coalition activists will host public movie screenings of Gasland, Groundswell Rising, and Fracking Stories, among others, to inform the public about the dangers of fracking. We expect to schedule many more screenings soon, but you can find the dates and times of currently scheduled public screenings near you on the facebook event. The three public screenings scheduled at the moment are:  
        1. Orlando: Audubon Park Covenant Church, 3219 Chelsea St., 4:00 PM Saturday Feb 20. Will be watching Groundswell Rising:
        2. Pensacola - Open Books Bookstore & Prison Book Project - 1040 N Guillemard St, Pensacola, Florida 32501. Saturday, 2/20, event starts at 6:30 p.m., Film at 7 p.m. Join us for Fracking Stories:
        3. Tallahassee: "Fracking Stories," UU Church of Tallahassee, 4 PM Sunday 2/21:
        4. Merritt Island: "Groundswell Rising," A-Live and Healthy Cafe, 4pm Sunday 2/21:
        5. Cocoa: "Groundswell Rising" Port St. John Public Library, 2 PM Monday 2/22:
        6. Palm Bay: "The Knowledge Exchange," 5151 Babcock St Babcock St NE, 7:00 PM. Monday Feb 22. Film choice Groundswell Rising:
        7. Miami: "Groundswell Rising," Mind Warehouse, 111 NE 1st ST, 7th floor Miami, FL, 33132., Wednesday Feb 24:

This is the email list for the Floridians Against Fracking Coalition.

8. There wil be no Spying Worm in our Apple

A Message to Our Customers
The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. 
This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.
The Need for Encryption
Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.
All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.
Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.
For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

Mississippi Dems Hope to Fix ‘All the Things Going Wrong’ by Making Bible State’s Official Book
Lawmakers threaten to close the gap between church in state with proposal to make the Bible a state book. 

Christian lawmakers in Mississippi want to enshrine the Bible as the official state book, according to
The bill to do so is being sponsored by two Democratic state representatives, Tom Miles and Michael Evans, who told the idea came from a constituent who believed it would encourage people to read the text of the Christian religion.
“Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people ought to start reading the Bible,” Evans told, pointing out it wouldn’t force people to read the Bible.
The idea came about during a discussion about, “all the things going wrong in the world.”

Miles said he’s not trying to force his religious beliefs on Mississippi residents but believes the Bible promotes compassion.
A previous version of the bill died in committee, but the two lawmakers have brought it up again, according to the Friendly Atheist.
Christian lawmakers have made similar efforts in the past in Louisiana and Tennessee.
In 2014, Louisiana Republican Rep. Thomas Carmody tried to pass legislation making the Bible the official state book. He scrapped the proposal because he said it had become a “distraction” and he was being forced to explain that he was not trying to establish a state religion, according to
Last year, a similar bill was killed by the Tennessee state senate, with key opposition coming from Republicans.
“We don’t need to put the Bible beside salamanders, tulip poplars and ‘Rocky Top’ in the Tennessee Blue Book to appreciate its importance to our state,” the state’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

9. UKRAINE, UKRAINE everybody do the NAZI
Western-backed governing regime in Ukraine facing collapse, snap election
By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets, Reuters, Feb. 16, 2016
KYIV–Ukraine’s biggest political party said on Tuesday it will rate the performance of Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s government as “unsatisfactory” in an imminent vote that could precipitate a collapse of the coalition government and snap elections.
Parliament could vote as early as Tuesday on a report that reviews the government’s performance in 2015 and its agenda for this year. The final time and day of the vote has not been confirmed.
If the government loses, lawmakers need 150 signatures in parliament to hold a no-confidence vote, which could lead to national elections if the coalition cannot agree on a new cabinet. Two legislators told Reuters they had already secured the signatures.
Yuriy Lutsenko, the parliamentary leader of President Petro Poroshenko’s party, said his party had “taken the decision to rate the cabinet ministers’ work as unsatisfactory”. Poroshenko heads Ukraine’s largest party [sic], and Yatseniuk the next largest. Both are in the ruling coalition.
Maksym Burbak, the parliamentary leader of Yatseniuk’s party, told lawmakers that the consequences of voting against the government would be felt “literally the next day – since this could trigger early elections and chaos.”
The government’s collapse would dismay Ukraine’s international backers, who have invested much cash and political capital supporting the Ukrainian government in its standoff with Moscow after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ukraine’s failure to tackle corruption and implement reforms has already derailed a Western aid programme that keeps its war-ravaged economy afloat.
Last year, the International Monetary Fund gave Ukraine a $17.5 billion package to be spread over four years, but so far only $6.7 billion has been disbursed.
Ukraine has been waiting since October for the next tranche of aid, worth $1.7 billion, which has been held up by concerns over the slow pace of reform.
The economy minister quit at the start of February, complaining corrupt vested interests were meddling in his ministry’s work.
Ukraine’s hryvnia currency fell to a new 11-month low of below 27 to the dollar on Tuesday, central bank data showed, and has fallen 12.2 percent since the start of the year.
The government is struggling to haul Ukraine out of recession at the same time it is fighting a pro-Russian separatist insurgency [sic] in its industrial east.
Prime Minister Yatseniuk’s approval ratings have plunged to less than one per cent since taking office in 2014. He has no obvious successor, although the parliament speaker and the technocrat finance minister are considered contenders.

10. Ukraine’s president calls for prime minister’s resignation amid political crisis
By Lydia Tomkiw, International Business Times, Feb 16, 2016

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has called for Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to resign and for a total cabinet reshuffle Tuesday amid a growing crisis following the resignation of several reform-minded politicians who accused the government of giving only lip service to fighting corruption.
Protesters gathered outside the parliament in Kiev to demand a crackdown on corruption and improved economic conditions ahead of a scheduled no-confidence vote, local media reported.
In a statement on the presidential website, Poroshenko also called for the resignation of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, acknowledging that a government reboot was necessary to avoid early elections.
“To restore trust, therapy is too little; surgery is needed,” said Poroshenko’s statement, which paved the way for the formation of a technocratic government. He said political infighting in Ukraine served the interests of the country’s neighbor, Russia.
Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk are both part of the ruling coalition and have seen their approval ratings drop dramatically in recent months, with citizens unhappy over the pace of reforms. Members of parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, will need 226 votes Tuesday to dismiss Yatsenyuk and begin the process of selecting a new prime minister, AFP reported.
The vote comes at a difficult moment, with the International Monetary Fund putting its economic assistance on hold. Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius resigned earlier in the month and publicly accused top levels of the government of impeding needed economic reforms. Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaly Kasko resigned Monday with similar accusations and complaints, the Associated Press reported.
“My team and I have no wish to be a cover for open corruption or puppets under the control of those who want to establish control over state money in the style of the old authorities,” Abromavicius said at the time of his resignation, Reuters reported.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia are at their worst following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has pitted Ukrainian government forces against Russian-backed rebels. The conflict has left more than 9,000 people dead, and fighting flared again Monday as the government reported three servicemen killed and seven others wounded.

Read also:
Ukrainian deputy prosecutor quits over corruption as government teeters, Reuters, Feb 15, 2016

11. The Cop Who's Suing the Family of the Teen He Killed Is Why People Hate Cops
By Deborah Douglas, VICE /  16 February 16
It takes roughly the same amount of nerve that inspired Donald Trump to repeat the word "pussy" at a campaign rally for a Chicago police officer who shot and killed a college student he was called to save to sue that teenager's estate for $10 million.
But that's what's happening.
"The fact that [Quintonio] LeGrier's actions had forced Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier's life, and to accidentally take the innocent life of [neighbor] Bettie Jones, has caused and will continue to cause Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma," according to the claim, which was filed on Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Robert Rialmo's suit counters a wrongful death claim filed by LeGrier's father seeking more than $50,000, saying he was forced to go to a police station, where he was detained, while his son lay dying on the day after Christmas. The elder LeGrier's lawsuit also claims neither the officer nor anyone else was being threatened when Rialmo opened fire without warning.
Citing the danger of facing the 19-year-old African-American engineering student, whom he claims was waving a bat at him, Rialmo, who is white, says he is traumatized, suffering injuries of a "pecuniary nature." Jones, a 55-year-old neighbor, was also killed when the officer opened fire.
This suit comes in the wake of a season marked by weeks of protests that blocked retail traffic in downtown Chicago, a city still reeling from revelations of what was essentially a multi-institutional cover-up around the shooting death of another teen, Laquan McDonald. Chicago has lost a police superintendent and withstood calls for its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to step down. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, facing a March Democratic primary against two opponents, incredulously insists she did nothing wrong in the McDonald case.
This universal exercise in tone deafness to the racial and social differences between the lived experience of African-Americans and other marginalized groups is astonishing given the intense national conversation about these issues the past year and a half. One simple example is that, as of press time, Laquan McDonald's name doesn't show up in a search of the Cook County State's Attorney's website. That search box is as empty as the state's attorney's memory and sense of responsibility for a botched investigation and lack of transparency around that Chicago teen's death.
Lost in debates over whether black lives, in fact, matter, is the work that needs to be done is by those who regard themselves as faultless. A study released this month by the journal Psychological Science suggests as much: Much of society is wired to edit out the humanity of black children—which, make no mistake, LeGrier and McDonald were, even if they approached adulthood.
People are more likely to interpret a toy as a weapon after seeing a black face, according to the study, which showed participants images of both black and white children along with adults holding toys.
"It was the alarming rate at which young African-Americans—particularly young black males—are shot and killed by police in the US," that inspired the study, wrote University of Iowa Professor Andrew Todd, the lead author. "Although such incidents have multiple causes, one potential contributor is that young black males are stereotypically associated with violence and criminality."
Would that LeGrier were regarded as what he was: a troubled young man.
One can't help ask what Rialmo was thinking when he signed up to be a policeman, one of the more potentially injurious occupations out there. Would a log cutter be justified in suing if the sound and feel of a falling tree gave him anxiety? Does it make sense for a pilot afraid of landing a plane in the rain justify a lawsuit after being faced with an unexpected downpour? Rialmo wasn't even hurt! Meanwhile, in 2014, more than 4,000 American workers were killed on the job, including falls, electrocutions, and actually being hit by things. Law enforcement has one of the highest rates of injury, according to 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nursing, meat processing, fire protection are some, but not all, jobs where American workers regularly face risks.
Rialmo, who very likely feels badly, apparently senses he is going to need a lot of money to get over the memory of the strong whiff of a swinging baseball bat fly by his head the morning he responded to that domestic disturbance call. (Never mind Rialmo is the only one alleging the teen, who suffered emotional problems, was actually wielding a bat when police arrived at the westside home.)
Meanwhile, in the original December 28 suit filed by LeGrier's father, Antonio, he says his son "never did anything that suggested that he was armed with a weapon immediately before he was shot." In a description reminiscent of the 2014 Cleveland police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Antonio Legrier said after Quintonio was shot, "the police officer who shot [him] did not do anything to try to provide" his son medical care."
Presumably Rialmo's lawsuit represents an effort to negate the lawsuit filed by LeGrier's dad, who simply called police early that fateful morning to get his emotionally disturbed son some help. Indeed, Quintonio Legrier, a student at Northern Illinois University, had also called 911—three times—insisting his life had been threatened.  Like his dad, he wanted help.
In the black community, galling behavior that embarrass you, your family, and your community is sometimes described as reflecting a lack of "home training," and Rialmo's suit is a prime example. His nervy claim is the embodiment of an ethos practiced by law enforcement and other public institutions that regard their role in minority communities as being an occupying force rather than a protective one.
LeGrier, McDonald, Ms. Bettie Jones, and the rest are evidence of a long ago social contract written in invisible ink that charges too high a blood price we can no longer afford to pay.

12. Hillary Clinton, With Little Notice, Vows to Embrace an Extremist Agenda on Israel
Former President Bill Clinton on Monday met in secret (no press allowed) with roughly 100 leaders of South Florida’s Jewish community, and, as the Times of Israel reports, “He vowed that, if elected, Hillary Clinton would make it one of her top priorities to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.” He also “stressed the close bond that he and his wife have with the State of Israel.”
It may be tempting to dismiss this as standard, vapid Clintonian politicking: adeptly telling everyone what they want to hear and making them believe it. After all, is it even physically possible to “strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance” beyond what it already entails: billions of dollars in American taxpayer money transferred every year, sophisticated weapons fed to Israel as it bombs its defenseless neighbors, blindly loyal diplomatic support and protection for everything it does?
But Bill Clinton’s vow of even greater support for Israel is completely consistent with what Hillary Clinton herself has been telling American Jewish audiences for months. In November, she published an op-ed in The Forward in which she vowed to strengthen relations not only with Israel, but also with its extremist prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I have stood with Israel my entire career,” she proclaimed. Indeed, “as secretary of state, [she] requested more assistance for Israel every year.” Moreover, she added, “I defended Israel from isolation and attacks at the United Nations and other international settings, including opposing the biased Goldstone report [which documented widespread Israeli war crimes in Gaza].”
Clinton media operatives such as Jonathan Alter have tried to undermine the Sanders campaign by claiming that only Sanders, but not Clinton, has committed the sin of criticizing Obama: “Hillary stopped criticizing Obama in 2008, when [Obama] was nominee; Sanders stopped in 2015, so he could run as Dem.” Aside from being creepy — it’s actually healthy to criticize a president and pathological to refuse to do so — this framework is also blatantly false. Clinton, in her book and in interviews, has often criticized Obama for being insufficiently hawkish: making clear that she wanted to be more militaristic than the Democratic president who has literally bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries (thus far).