Friday, June 27, 2014

A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son

After our house burned down in Wisconsin a few months ago, my husband and I packed our four young kids and all our belongings into a gold minivan and drove to my sister-in-law’s place, just outside of Atlanta. On the back windshield, we pasted six stick figures: a dad, a mom, three young girls, and one baby boy.

That minivan was sitting in the front driveway of my sister-in-law’s place the night a SWAT team broke in, looking for a small amount of drugs they thought my husband’s nephew had. Some of my kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. Our whole family was sleeping in the same room, one bed for us, one for the girls, and a crib.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Obama’s Unconstitutional Executive Overreach 9–0

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to receive the “advice and consent” of the Senate when filling vacancies in high government offices. Yet in January 2012 President Barack Obama bypassed that requirement and placed three new members on the National Labor Relations Board without first receiving senatorial confirmation. To justify this unilateral exercise of executive power, Obama cited the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause, which permits the president to make temporary appointments to “fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” But there was a problem: The Senate was not in recess at that time. In fact, Senate Republicans were then holding pro forma sessions for the precise purpose of denying Obama a legitimate opportunity to make any and all recess appointments. Obama’s actions therefore violated both the text of the Constitution and the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

Today, by a vote of 9-0, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Obama’s unconstitutional overreach in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning. “In our view,” declared the majority opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer, “the pro forma sessions count as sessions, not as periods of recess.” Therefore, “We hold that, for purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is.”

This ruling represents a resounding and well-deserved defeat for the Obama administration, which failed to garner even a single vote for its expansive theory of executive power. Indeed, in terms of recess appointments, President Obama has revealed a tendency towards unilateral action that exceeds even that of his predecessor George W. Bush, who was no slouch in the executive power department.

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Your Doctor Knows You’re Killing Yourself. The Data Brokers Told Her

You may soon get a call from your doctor if you’ve let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of picking up candy bars at the check-out counter or begin shopping at plus-sized stores.

That’s because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do.

Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke. The largest hospital chain in the Carolinas is plugging data for 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients, while Pennsylvania’s biggest system uses household and demographic data. Patients and their advocates, meanwhile, say they’re concerned that big data’s expansion into medical care will hurt the doctor-patient relationship and threaten privacy.

It is one thing to have a number I can call if I have a problem or question, it is another thing to get unsolicited phone calls. I don’t like that,” said Jorjanne Murry, an accountant in Charlotte, North Carolina, who has Type 1 diabetes. “I think it is intrusive.”

Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. Acxiom says their data is supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. LexisNexis said it doesn’t sell consumer information to health insurers for the purposes of identifying patients at risk.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Emails Show Feds Asking Florida Cops to Deceive Judges

Police in Florida have, at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service, been deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of a controversial surveillance tool to track suspects, according to newly obtained emails.

At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a “confidential source” rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.

A series of five emails (.pdf) written in April, 2009, were obtained today by the American Civil Liberties Union showing police officials discussing the deception. The organization has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with police departments throughout Florida seeking information about their use of stingrays.

“Concealing the use of stingrays deprives defendants of their right to challenge unconstitutional surveillance and keeps the public in the dark about invasive monitoring by local police,” the ACLU writes in a blog post about the emails. “And local and federal law enforcement should certainly not be colluding to hide basic and accurate information about their practices from the public and the courts.”

The U.S. Marshals Service did not respond to a call for comment.

Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick any nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. When mobile phones—and other wireless communication devices—connect to the stingray, the device can see and record their unique ID numbers and traffic data, as well as information that points to the device’s location. By moving the stingray around, authorities can triangulate the device’s location with greater precision than they can using data obtained from a fixed tower location.

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Establishment Republicans secretly support Hillary over Rand Paul

It’s no secret that establishment Republicans are out to get Rand Paul, but the “darkest secret” on Wall Street, reports Politico, is that they’ll happily vote Hillary in 2016 to do it.

The Monday piece reveals that Wall Street Republicans won’t think twice about voting for Hillary Clinton in a world where Jeb Bush and Chris Christie aren’t running for president and Rand Paul holds the GOP nomination.

“The bulk of the big money guys are either Big Boy [Christie] or Jeb,” said a top GOP donor. “Rand Paul still is a grass-roots phenom and a boardroom horror show.”

The prevailing sentiment of Wall Street Republicans is as follows: “If we can’t nominate someone like Bush or Christie from the pro-business wing of the party, and if the GOP nominee is from the far right, then we will hold our noses and tolerate Clinton.”

It appears that Wall Street would even support Joe Biden over Rand Paul.

A Republican-leaning Wall Street lawyer commented, “If it turns out to be Jeb versus Hillary we would love that and either outcome would be fine. We could live with either one. Jeb versus Joe Biden would also be fine. If it’s Rand Paul or Ted Cruz versus someone like Elizabeth Warren that would be everybody’s worst nightmare.”

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