The criminalization of investigative journalism
LOS ANGELES — California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden of Davis, California, and Sandra Merritt of San Jose. The two operate the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.
The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.
Liberal propagandist Michael Moore said Monday afternoon on Twitter that President Donald Trump will cause the “extinction of human life on earth.”
Liberal propagandist Michael Moore said Monday afternoon on Twitter that President Donald Trump will cause the “extinction of human life on earth.”
“Historians in the near future will mark today, March 28, 2017, as the day the extinction of human life on earth began, thanks 2 Donald Trump,” Moore tweeted.
Moore was angry Trump repealed a host of Obama-era job killing regulations.
“Trump has signed orders killing all of Obama’s climate change regulations. The EPA is prohibited henceforth from focusing on climate change,” Moore said in a follow-up tweet.
It’s incredible we somehow managed to survive before these regulations were put in place a few years ago.
Right-wingers mocked Moore’s stupid comments on Twitter:
HONOLULU (AP) — A federal judge in Hawaii decided Wednesday to extend his order blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban, preventing the government from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and halting the U.S. refugee program.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued the longer-lasting hold on the ban several hours after hearing arguments.
Hawaii says the policy discriminates against Muslims and hurts the state’s tourist-dependent economy. The implied message in the revised ban is like a “neon sign flashing ‘Muslim ban, Muslim ban'” that the government didn’t bother to turn off, state Attorney General Douglas Chin told the judge.
Extending the temporary order until the state’s lawsuit was resolved would ensure the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens across the U.S. are vindicated after “repeated stops and starts of the last two months,” the state has said.
Watson’s ruling is an affirmation of America’s value of religious freedom and allows Muslims and refugees to face less uncertainty, the state attorney general’s office said in a statement. Chin was traveling to Mexico for a western states attorneys general meeting and heard about the ruling while boarding a plane, said Deputy Attorney General Joshua Wisch, special assistant to Chin.
The government argued the ban falls within the president’s power to protect national security. Hawaii has only made generalized concerns about its effect on students and tourism, Department of Justice attorney Chad Readler told the judge via telephone.
The Trump administration had asked Watson to narrow his ruling to cover only the part of Trump’s executive order involving the six-nation ban. Readler said a freeze on the U.S. refugee program had no effect on Hawaii.
Watson rejected that argument, preventing the administration from halting the flow of refugees.
“It makes little sense to do so,” he wrote. “That is because the entirety of the Executive Order runs afoul of the Establishment Clause, where ‘openly available data support a commonsense conclusion that a religious objective permeated the government’s action.”
Watson said in court that the government only argued for that narrower interpretation after a federal judge in Maryland blocked the six-nation travel ban but said it wasn’t clear that the refugee suspension was similarly motivated by religious bias.
Watson noted that the government said 20 refugees were resettled in Hawaii since 2010.
“Is this a mathematical exercise that 20 isn’t enough? … What do I make of that?” the judge asked Readler.
The government attorney replied that 20 is simply a small number of refugees.
“In whose judgment?” Watson asked.
Hawaii was the first state to sue over Trump’s revised ban. The imam of a Honolulu mosque joined the challenge, arguing that the ban would prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting family in Hawaii.
In his arguments, Chin quoted Trump’s comments that the revised travel ban is a “watered down” version of the original.
“We cannot fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect,” Chin said.
Earlier this month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen and freezing the nation’s refugee program. His ruling came just hours before the federal government planned to start enforcing Trump’s executive order.
Trump called Watson’s previous ruling an example of “unprecedented judicial overreach.” The Department of Justice didn’t immediately comment on the latest ruling.
Watson wrote that he won’t suspend his ruling if the government appeals. Enforcement of both provisions of the ban is prohibited nationwide until he orders otherwise.
Hawaii’s ruling would not be directly affected by a decision siding with the federal government in the Maryland case, legal experts said. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set a hearing for May 8 to consider the administration’s appeal.
“What a ruling in 4th Circuit in favor of the administration would do is create a split in authority between federal courts in different parts of the country,” said Richard Primus, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Michigan law school.
“Cases with splits in authority are cases the U.S. Supreme Court exists to resolve,” he said.
Class action accuses operating system of causing hard drive failures and other problems.
Unhappy Windows 10 users in Illinois are taking Microsoft to court, claiming that problems caused by the Windows 10 upgrade show that it was negligently designed, that Microsoft fraudulently failed to disclose its defects, and that the upgrade is unfit for purpose.
In a break from tradition, Microsoft offered Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 for the first year of its release. This unusual offer was matched with a set of increasingly aggressive promotions within Windows itself. In the early days of the upgrade offer, there were even some users reporting that it installed automatically.
Three plaintiffs claim specific harm was caused by the operating system. Stephanie Watson claims that Windows 10 installed without her choosing to accept it. The upgrade destroyed some data, caused such harm that Geek Squad was unable to fully repair the machine, and forced the purchase of a new system.The suit claims that “many” consumers have had their hard drives fail because of the Windows 10 installation, and that the operating system does not check “whether or not the hard drive can withstand the stress of the Windows 10 installation.”
Robert Saiger agreed to the upgrade. However, this caused Saiger’s existing software to cease functioning, and it also caused some data loss. Saiger incurred costs reconstructing and replacing the lost data. The suit claims that the Windows 10 upgrader does not bother to check for hardware or software compatibility prior to installation.
Howard Goldberg eventually accepted the upgrade after declining it for six months. The download and installation failed three times, with Goldberg claiming that this “damaged” his PC, causing data loss, loss of revenue, and incurring costs to repair the system.
Similar problems were apparently so endemic and widespread that they show Windows 10 breached its implied warranty of merchantability according to the suit. The suit claims that there should have been greater warnings that it may damage PCs or data and that it should have told consumers to make backups. It further alleges that Microsoft was negligent; that the company failed to “exercise reasonable care in designing, formulating, and manufacturing” the upgrade, and moreover that Microsoft knew Windows 10 to have “potentially harmful propensities.”
Per the suit, there are hundreds or thousands of others who have suffered similar problems and incurred similar costs. It proposes a class of harmed users—Americans (that installed the Windows 10 upgrade on any computer equipped with Windows 7 “or earlier operating systems,” though no earlier operating system offered the upgrade) who suffered loss of data or damage to software or hardware within 30 days of the installation.
The lawsuit says that Microsoft owes more than $5 million in damages, both actual and punitive.
Microsoft, in response, says:
If a customer who upgraded during the one-year program needed help with the upgrade experience, we had numerous options including free customer support and 31 days to roll back to their old operating system. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.
President signs resolution overturning Obama’s ‘blacklisting’ executive order
President Trump on Monday repealed Barack Obama’s blacklisting rule that would have benefitted labor unions in federal contracting.
Trump signed a resolution passed by the House and Senate overturning the rule, which would have forced companies bidding for government contracts to report all allegations of unfair labor practices filed against them. Previously, contractors only needed to disclose incidents in which they had been found guilty of labor violations.
President Obama issued the “blacklisting” executive order in 2014, saying it would lead to “economy and efficiency in procurement by contracting with responsible sources who comply with labor laws.” The Labor Department announced the final rule in August 2016.
Labor law experts observed that the rule could tilt the scales in favor of labor organizations. Veteran union attorney Robert Schwartz said in a blog post that it gave “unions unprecedented new leverage against companies” during disputes because they could imperil federal contract opportunities with allegations, rather than proven violations.
The National Labor Relations Board, the federal government’s top labor arbiter, handles unfair labor practice complaints. The agency investigates allegations and either files official complaints against the defendant, encourages settlement between the two parties, or dismisses the charges. The agency handled more allegations in 2016 than in 2015, but the number of settlements and official charges fell. Workers issued 1,272 complaints in 2016, equal to the number issued in 2015, even though allegations increased by 5 percent over the year. Settlements were reached in 6,010 cases, a 7 percent decline.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, praised Trump for “rejecting this misguided approach.”
“This duplicative rule would have served only to empower union bosses,” Foxx said in a statement. “There has long been a system in place to hold federal contractors accountable, and the best way to ensure fair pay and safe workplaces is to enforce that system effectively.”
Several private sector companies and industry associations challenged the rule in federal court, leading Dederal Judge Marcia A. Crone to issue a temporary injunction against its implementation in October. Associated Builders & Contractors, which filed the suit, praised Trump for eliminating the rule.
“The rule violated the due process rights of contractors by forcing them to report mere allegations of misconduct—which are often frivolous and filed with nefarious intentions by special interest groups—the same as fully adjudicated violations,” ABC spokesman Ben Brubeck said in a statement. “ABC is committed to working with the Trump administration and Congress to improve the government’s current procurement system to ensure that taxpayer-funded projects are awarded through a transparent and fair bid process.”
‘The governor’s veto will likely cost innocent lives’, says advocacy group president
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) vetoed a bill on Friday that aimed to allow victims of domestic violence to carry concealed firearms without obtaining a permit.
House Bill 1852 would allow anyone in Virginia who has a protective order and is over 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for up to 45 days after the order is issued. It would then give anyone with an active order an additional 45 days to carry concealed should they apply for a permanent concealed-handgun permit, which can take up to 45 days to process. The person with the protective order would be required to show police the order or permit application and photo ID if stopped.
Governor McAuliffe noted in a statement that the bill bypasses the training and background check requirements associated with obtaining a Virginia concealed handgun permit and said it would make domestic violence situations worse, not better. “The bill perpetuates the dangerous fiction that the victims of domestic violence will be safer by arming themselves,” he said. “It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more.
“In 2014, there were 112 family and intimate-partner related homicides in Virginia. Sixty-six of those deaths were with a firearm. I will not allow this bill to become law when too many Virginia women have already fallen victim to firearms violence at the hands of their intimate partner.”
McAuliffe’s office did not respond to questions about whether the governor believed victims of domestic violence should ever arm themselves or what victims, especially those located far from police stations, should do if they find themselves in life-threatening situations.
Gun-rights advocates who championed the bill decried the governor’s veto and said it would likely cost innocent lives.
“Governor McAuliffe claims we don’t need to introduce a gun into a ‘volatile situation,’ where there is a protective order in place,” Philip Van Cleave, the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s president, told the Washington Free Beacon. “He’s completely wrong. That situation is exactly where we DO want to introduce a firearm. Knowledge that the victim is armed is a great incentive for the aggressor to stay away.”
Van Cleave said the first 48 hours after a protective order is issued are the most crucial time for a potential victim to be armed.
“Protective orders really enrage the aggressor and the vetoed bill would have allowed the victim to be fully armed, yet in a discreet manner, even during those initial 48 hours,” he said. “Sadly, the governor’s veto will likely cost innocent lives.”
The bill passed by a vote of 63-31 in the house of delegates and 26-14 in the senate. A veto override would require a two-thirds majority in both houses.
“Victims of domestic abuse should be free to protect themselves with more than a piece of paper,” Catherine Mortensen, a spokesperson for the NRA’s lobbying arm, told the Beacon. “This bill would allow a victim of abuse who already has a protective order to immediately protect herself with a concealed firearm. Governor McAuliffe is siding with the gun control lobby that funds his campaign over victims of abuse who want more than a piece of paper to protect themselves.”
For years, Democrats have shamed conservatives for considering Russia one of the biggest enemies of the United States. However, after the 2016 election that put President Trump in the White House, they seem to have changed their tune.
During a 2012 election debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who was also Governor of Massachusetts at the time, President Obama laughed at the idea Russia posed any threat to the United States.
“Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize Al Qaeda as a threat because a few months ago, when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said to his opponent, referring to a previous statement Romney had made about the former Soviet country. He continued, “Not Al Qaeda, you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”
In a previous interview, Romney had voiced his concern about Russia being a big threat to the United States.
“This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed,” said the presidential nominee.
When asked if he thought Russia was a bigger threat than China, Iran, or North Korea, he replied, “I’m saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation that lines up with the world’s worst actors,” Romney said. “Of course the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran, and a nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough. But when these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them … who is it that always stands up with the world’s worst actors? It’s always Russia, typically with China alongside. And so in terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that’s on the Security Council that has the heft of the Security Council, and is of course is a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe.”
While at the time of the interview, the American people only saw one side of the story, Obama’s, there was more to it. Romney was truly concerned that if US officials began trusting Russia too much, it could be seriously damaging to the country. His comments also came after Obama was caught in an incident in which he forgot his mic was still on as he spoke to Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev about his plans to negotiate with the Russians regarding missile defenses after the election was over.
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama was heard telling Medvedev, apparently referring to incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replied.
Obama interjected, saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
The exchange drew criticism from Republicans, who accused Obama of caving on an important security issue. Romney’s statement was a way of speaking out as publicly as he could in opposition of the incumbent president.
Democrats, who obviously supported Obama’s comments to Romney in that 2012 debate, are now crossing lines to the other side of the argument. It’s to such a high degree, though, that instead of warning others of the possibility of Russia becoming a larger threat, liberals are seemingly poking the bear. With the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia, Democrats are taking every opportunity to connect Russia’s meddling with terrorism.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) most recently accused Russia of engaging in warfare.
“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” Coleman said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.
She also criticized Trump for his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and asked a panel of experts and former officials what message Trump’s “borderline dismissive attitude” toward the cyberattack sends to the Kremlin and other nations. Seriously.
Rep. Coleman isn’t alone, either. After all, Democrats travel in packs.
Democratic California Representatives Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell each put their two cents in as well.
“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it,” said Speier.
“This past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia,” added Swalwell. “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us.”
Conservative lawmakers and government officials have given liberals countless warnings about the language they choose to use when talking about Russia. Michael Schmitt, who led the team of legal experts that formulated the Tallinn Manual 2.0, a comprehensive analysis of how international law applies to cyberspace, says he finds “that sort of talk dangerous.”
Schmitt assesses that the hacking campaign was not an act of war. “Without a scintilla of a doubt, it is not an act of war,” he says.
Army General Mark Milley also cautioned individuals about using the term “war” to refer to the cyberattacks, saying at a conference last week, “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing.”
It’s obvious that once they were no longer in control of manipulating foreign relations, Democrats finally focused on Russia as an issue. It should also be noted that Democrats are great at using terrorism as the key tactic of any argument. Obama’s statement from 2012, while it asserted Russia was not a geopolitical threat (which it was), also brought Al Qaeda into the conversation to connect it all back to terrorism. Obama was blurring the distinction between “geopolitical” and other sorts of threats. Voters do not fear Russia, or particularly care about what Russia does it its cold sphere of influence. They do care a lot about terrorism, though, and Obama used every chance he had to remind voters that he was president when Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Unfortunately, Obama was able to spin everything Romney said to get in several cheap shots, which ultimately led to his win. Now that he is out of office, and the Trump administration is working to keep an eye on Putin and his intentions worldwide, hopefully something can be done before liberals say or do something that can’t be cleaned up by the GOP.