Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Supreme Court rules 8-1 that cops can pull you over for the wrong reason

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a police officer can make a traffic stop for the wrong reason so long as they have a “reasonable” understanding of the law they are enforcing, NBC News reported on Monday.

“To be reasonable is not to be perfect,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s 8-1 decision. “And so the Fourth Amendment allows for some mistakes on the part of government officials, giving them ‘fair leeway for enforcing the law in the community’s protection.’”

The case concerned the 2009 arrest of Nicholas Heien near Dobson, North Carolina. Sgt. Matt Darisse pulled Heien over for having only one working brake light, then found a bag of cocaine while searching his vehicle and charged him with attempted drug trafficking. However, the state only requires motorists to have one brake light working at any time. Heien’s attorneys argued that this made Darisse’s search unlawful.

Roberts wrote that the ruling “does not discourage officers from learning the law,” because the Fourth Amendment only covers “objectively reasonable” errors from police.

Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed separate concurring opinions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed the only dissent, arguing that the ruling meant “further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties” at a time when that protection has already been deteriorated.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

No charges for GA cop with questionable past in fatal shooting of teen holding Wii controller

Georgia police officer won’t be charged in the fatal shooting of a teenager holding a video game controller — even though a previous grand jury found the use of force was not authorized.

A grand jury in Bartow County declined to indict Cpl. Beth Gatny, of Euharlee police, in the February shooting death of 17-year-old Christopher Roupe.

Police said the teen pointed a gun at one of them Feb. 14, when officers knocked on the door of his family’s mobile home to serve a warrant to Roupe’s father on a probation violation.

Gatny said she heard “what she believed to be the action of a firearm” before the door was opened and drew her own weapon, which she fired after the teen opened the door holding what she believed was a pistol.

Family members, however, said the boy was holding a Nintendo Wii game controller.

Gatny could have faced possible charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct in the teen’s death.

But the grand jury this week found insufficient evidence for the case to proceed.

“Because the grand jury has determined that the actions of Officer Gatny did not rise to the level of a criminal offense, this concludes the involvement of the District Attorney’s Office in this matter,” said District Attorney Rosemary Greene.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Senators kill bill aimed at ending NSA’s mass phone surveillance

Back in May, the US government began to process a bill aimed at reining in the NSA’s powers of surveillance — if Google, Apple and Microsoft are sending group letters, you know it’s an important bill. However, it’s been left on Capitol Hill, rejected by the Senate. It failed a procedural vote, after senior Republicans said it would affect efforts to defend the country from enemies. It fell short of the 60 votes needed, gathering 58 to 42 votes. It’s now unlikely to become law, as Republicans (who made up most of the opposition), will hold a majority in the Senate in the new year.

“If our aim is to degrade and destroy ISIL, as the president has said, then that’s going to require smart policies and firm determination. At a minimum, we shouldn’t be doing anything to make the situation worse,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. The bill was the first to follow the NSA leaks from Edward Snowden, detailing that US intelligence was collecting and storing records of millions of Americans’ telephone calls.

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Rand Paul: ‘Deceitful’ Obamacare ‘Henchmen’ Should Return Money Made

“The one thing we can do is that this Mr. Gruber… he was paid and now he’s admitted he was deceptive and deceitful, I’m going to ask for an investigation from the Investigator General and I’m going to ask that he return his pay,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on the “Hannity” show last night. “Because how can you — how can we pay someone to be a consultant to government who’s frankly admitting they were dishonest? So I think he should be made to return his pay.”

Gruber referred to “lack of transparency” as key to passing Obamacare at several academic conferences in 2012. He also made explicit reference to the “stupidity of the American voter” as “critical to getting this thing passed.”

Buried in hour-long videos on Youtube, his remarks were only recently discovered, creating a firestorm.

In his interview with Hannity, Paul refers to “the public deception” of “the president and all of his henchmen and women” and “the deception of paid consultants.”

“The other thing we ought to investigate is there’s about ten different states where [Gruber] got between $200,000 and $400,000 for specific reports,” said Paul. “Who was sort of organizing this for him?”

“Is this some sort of thing that happened within government?” asked Paul. “Was he just able to market himself everywhere? Or was this all coming as sort of an organized way to enrich Obama consultants?”

Although Obama claims that Gruber was merely “some advisor” who “never worked on our staff,” Gruber is actually an MIT economist who helped create the Obamacare law. The Obama administration had paid Mr. Gruber $380,000 in 2009, cited him several times in hearings and White House blogs, and even dedicated a webpage to his expert analysis. Visitor logs show Gruber meeting repeatedly with senior officials at the White House including one meeting with President Obama.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Don’t be fooled: Net neutrality is all about cronyism

There are two articles out that go into greater detail as to why Campaign for Liberty is against so-called “Net Neutrality.” The first is an excellent article over at Rare that does a good job of explaining one problem with Net Neutrality: cronyism

For years, Internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Netflix have been pushing for network neutrality to avoid paying for the traffic their users hog from ISPs. As it currently stands, Netflix and YouTube account for half of all peak-hour download traffic in the United States, often leading to slow buffering speeds during prime hours. As a result, some ISPs have sought to provide better service to their customers by suggesting that the Netflix and YouTubes of the world pay slightly more for their users to stream videos faster — a pretty clear-cut win for customers if ever there was one.

Unfortunately, big businesses too often think about how the government can help their bottom line instead of what’s best for the little guy. As a result of a well-orchestrated media campaign, the FCC is on the cusp of reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act to enact net neutrality so Big Internet doesn’t have to pay its share of traffic. Ultimately, the change would empower the government to regulate the business models of private ISPs, chaining the Internet to one-size-fits all solutions for millions of customers with different needs.

Internet giants love to scaremonger the public into believing that a world without net neutrality would lead to customers being charged different data plans for the amount of internet they use, much like cell phone companies currently do. The problem with this argument is that we already live in this world, and it is largely not the case. Most Internet subscribers pay a monthly fee that entitles them to as much data as they desire, and that will likely not change anytime soon.

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