23 Sep 2014

Ferguson residents begin using body cameras

A California-based group has distributed and trained some Ferguson residents on how to use body cameras to record police.
We Copwatch raised more than $6,000 to purchase 110 of the small devices to give to residents over the weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1uswQXx).
The organization joined Ferguson-based activists the Canfield Watchmen to meet with about two dozen residents near the site where Michael Brown was fatally shot last month by a Ferguson police officer.
David Whitt, a spokesman for the Canfield Watchmen, said that the body cameras offer people the ability to "challenge the police narrative."
Ferguson's police chief, Thomas Jackson, said residents are entitled to wear and use the small cameras. He also said the department's officers have been told not to interfere with that right.
"And really, many members of the public have already been (taking videos of police) with cameras in their phones," Jackson said.
Two companies last month donated 50 body cameras to the Ferguson Police Department. Last week, St. Louis County police began issuing cameras to officers, with the goal of equipping all patrol officers as soon as possible.
Jacob Crawford, a We Copwatch staff member, led Saturday's training session with a presentation on a person's rights during police interactions. Crawford, 36, works as an investigator for a San Francisco law firm and has traveled to U.S. cities where there have been protests over police shootings.
"Police are allowed to walk up to anyone they like and ask questions," he said. "Police like consent. They can use your consent in court against you."
He advised against consenting to a search, but cautioned that physically interfering with one would not stop it and could lead to an arrest.

Some in the Crawford's audience interrupted him and called some of his instructions unrealistic.

Man exonerated after 23 years in prison dies at 55 after one year of freedom

A New York City man freed last year after serving 23 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit has died just before his $124 million federal lawsuit against the city was due to start.
William Lopez died suddenly from a massive asthma attack over the weekend, the New York Postreported.
The 55-year-old Bronx man was freed in January 2013 after federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis called the case "rotten from Day 1" and threw out the conviction.
The case dated back to 1989 when, prosecutors said, two men shot a drug dealer with a double-barreled shotgun. Although no murder weapon or forensic evidence was found, two witnesses, one of whom later recanted, placed Lopez at the scene. 
Jeffrey Deskovic, whose Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice led the effort to overturn the conviction, said Lopez had hoped to travel and go to law school.
"His life was really robbed from him," he told the Post. Deskovic established his foundation after spending 15 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. According to the New York Daily News, Deskovic sued the federal and state governments for his wrongful conviction and used $1.5 million of his $8 million settlement to set up the foundation.
"He wanted to do some domestic travel to other states, and to travel internationally," Deskovic added in discussing what Lopez would do with any payout he received. "He wanted to go to college and to go to law school. He wanted to set his wife up in business, and he wanted to be an entrepreneur."
"It feels great to be back on Earth,'' Lopez had told the News after his release from prison. "I'm looking forward to restarting my life as best I can. I'll probably just take a nice breath of fresh air. Cold air."
The prosecution that sent him to prison for most of his adult life was heavily criticized by Judge Garaufis.
"In short, the prosecution's evidence was flimsy to begin with and has since been reduced to rubble," he wrote.

The American Middle Class Hasn’t Gotten A Raise In 15 Years

In 1988, the typical American adult was 40 years old, white and married, with a high school diploma. If he was a man, he probably worked full time. If she was a woman, she probably didn’t.
Twenty-five years later, Americans are older, more diverse and more educated. We are less likely to be married and more likely to live alone. Work is divided more evenly between the sexes. One thing that hasn’t changed? The income of the median U.S. household is still just under $52,000.
The government’s release last week of income and poverty data for 2013 brought renewed attention to the apparent stagnation of the American middle class — not just since the financial crisis hit six years ago this month, but for much of the decade that preceded the crash. The report showed that the economic recovery has yet to translate into higher incomes for the typical American family. After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999, and essentially unchanged since the end of the Reagan administration.
“As a country,” New York magazine’s Annie Lowrey wrote Friday, “we peaked in the late 1990s.”
There’s little doubt that the past 15 years have been hard ones for the middle class. But median income isn’t necessarily the best way to show that. The problem is that changes in median income reflect several trends all jumbled together: the aging of the population, changing patterns in work and schooling, and the evolving makeup of the American family, as well as long- and short-term trends in the economy itself. Understanding the state of the American middle class requires digging a bit deeper than median income alone.
Let’s start with what median income does measure: the amount of money earned by the household at the midpoint of the U.S. income distribution — half of households make more, and half make less. Journalists, including me, often refer to it as the amount earned1 by the “typical household,” which is true as long as we’re talking about a moment in time. But as soon as we start talking about change over time, median income becomes trickier to interpret.
 To understand why, imagine a simple model in which there are five people. The poorest makes $30,000 a year and the richest $70,000, with the other three evenly distributed in between. The group’s median income would be $50,000. The next year, everyone gets a $10,000 raise — except the richest person, who retires and starts drawing a $40,000-a-year pension. Most people see their income go up, but the median remains unchanged.2
This scenario is oversimplified, but it illustrates a trend. On average, people’s earnings rise in their 20s and 30s, peak sometime in their late 40s or early 50s, and then decline when they retire.3 All else equal, theretirement of the baby boom generation should push down the overall median income.

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22 Sep 2014

Boehner blasts America's unemployed as lazy

After the 2012 elections, it was tempting to think Republicans would be a little more cautious about economic elitism and callous indifference towards those struggling to get by. But in 2014, many GOP officials have thrown caution to the wind and embraced elitism with both arms.
 
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, recently defended cuts to student aid by saying, “Not everybody needs to go to Yale.” As McConnell sees it, the nation’s elite institutions of higher ed should be within reach for students from rich families – and no one else. Soon after, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a leading U.S. Senate candidate, called those who rely on the safety net as “addicts.”
 
And then there’s House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who appeared at the American Enterprise Institute last week to discuss the economy. Asked about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) anti-poverty plans, Boehner was quite candid about his thoughts on the unemployed.
“I think this idea that’s been born out the last – maybe out of the economy last couple of years that, ‘You know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this, I think I’d just rather sit around.’ This is a very sick idea for our country.”
The Speaker’s perspective is bizarre as a matter of public policy, but I’m glad he made these comments because his candor sheds light on an ugly ideology.
 
When GOP lawmakers cut off extended jobless aid, on a substantive level, it seems bewildering. In recent decades, neither party even considered such radicalism with high unemployment, if for no other reason because cutting jobless aid hurts economic growth. But Boehner has offered a peek behind the curtain – the Republican argument isn’t about economics, so much as it’s about personal animosity. The Speaker and his allies seem to think there’s something wrong, and perhaps even offensive, about families struggling to get by.
 
It’s part of the same phenomenon that leads GOP officials to demand drug tests for those relying on the safety net. If you need a hand keeping your head above water, it may very well be the result of a drug addiction. If you want a job and can’t find one, the argument goes, the problem is almost certainly your fault – it’s because you’d “rather sit around” than work.
 
It stems from a school of thought that says many social-insurance programs shouldn’t exist because struggling Americans are lazy and simply don’t deserve public assistance.
 
I realize that evidence and substance has very little effect in this debate, but Igor Volsky explained that laziness isn’t the real problem.
Currently, there are more than two job seekers for every job opening in the country and the severity of the recession has created a long-term unemployment problem that has made many job seekers almost unemployable. Research shows that being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. As a result, many people who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired early, or continue to look for work without success.
 
In fact, millions of unemployed people are having a harder time finding a job since Congressional Republicans allowed the long-term unemployment benefits program to lapse. Research – and real world experience – has found that the program’s job search requirements encourage people to spend more time job hunting and helps cover essentialslike internet service for job applications or gas money for interviews.

Read More:http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/boehner-blasts-americas-unemployed-lazy 

Amend the Constitution to Declare Corporations Are Not People

There’s an old story about Ben Franklin and the founding of our country. In 1787, delegates met in private in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to draft a new Constitution. Throughout the Constitutional Convention, citizens gathered anxiously around the hall awaiting the results. When Ben Franklin finally exited, a citizen asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin responded “if you can keep it.”
The idea is that “we the people” share a common duty and responsibility to manage our affairs and our resources. But the truth is, we’re at risk of losing our republic.
In a series of Supreme Court rulings, a radical group of activist justices perverted the Constitution by declaring that corporations have the same rights as people and that money is free speech. But corporations are not people. They are legal entities and economic tools designed to maximize profit. Corporations are excellent for the economy. But they should not have the power to create and dictate laws. Money is not speech, it’s property. And in politics, because of lax campaign finance and lobbying laws, money is used to buy access and power.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s rulings, our representatives depend more and more on big dollar donors and less on voters. According to a recent study by professors at Princeton and Northwestern, our representatives are more responsive to wealthy people than average citizens. Our government resembles more of a plutocracy – rule by the wealthy – than a Constitutional republic.
That’s why I started the StampStampede.org. The First Amendment protects the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The Stampede is a petition on steroids. We’re stamping messages such as “Corporations Are Not People — Amend the Constitution” on dollar bills in order to tap into the viral circulation of money and create a cumulative mass visual demonstration of support for a constitutional amendment that declares: Money is not speech; corporations are not people.
We need to reclaim our republic and restore our constitution. Thankfully, the final veto rests with the people.

Newly Proposed Amendment Will Allow FBI to Hack TOR and VPN Users

In order to overcome the dilemma of privacy on internet, FBI has requested an amendment in the Rule 41 of Federal rules of criminal procedure.
According to the proposed amendment, FBI will have more control over overseas computer in an attempt to safeguard user’s anonymity in the world of internet. Furthermore, FBI will also enjoy seizure of any target whose identity is concealed by any technological means (TOR, VPN technology, proxies or hosted somewhere on darknet). An extract from the proposed amendment is as follows:
“Authority to Issue a Warrant. At the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government: (6) a magistrate judge with authority in any district where activities related to a crime may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and to seize or copy electronically stored information located within or outside that district if: (A) the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means; or (B) in an investigation of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5), the media are protected computers that have been damaged without authorization and are located in five or more districts”.
Though, this amendment does not allow FBI to issue any warrants for search in any foreign countries. But, it will be the widest expansion in the powers exercised by FBI, since it’s interception in the world of cyber-crimes.

A security expert (Ghappour) while highlighting the above argument said:
“Broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI’s inception”.
One of the greatest arguments of this proposal could be the effects on NSA if the proposal gets a g ahead from the court, when a security expert was asked this he said:
“Uncoordinated unilateral ‘cyber’ ops by FBI may interfere with US foreign affairs (or covert ops).”
Furthermore, the experts also believe the effect of this amendment might reach up to CIA and US state department. If this really happens NSA’s surveillance program might be in real danger and might end up in uncovering many hidden truths of NSA.

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