Crime & Legal

Administration Unveils the ‘Fetal 14th Amendment’

by Jon Perr – While most eyes this week were on the carnage in Las Vegas, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, or the dangerous provocations towards Pyongyang and Tehran, the Trump administration was hard at work deconstructing the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. While that bulwark of American civil rights promises “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws” to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” Donald Trump has declared that some persons are more equal than others. For starters, two years after Justice Kennedy ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the constitutionally-protected right to marry extends to LGBTQ Americans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began turning back the clock at the Justice Department. DOJ’s “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” signaled that the faith-based sensitivities of some religious people should literally trump the marriage rights, workplace protections, and other 14th Amendment guarantees for gay and lesbian Americans. By signing an...

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Big Pharma’s Neutering of the DEA Highlights Corruption of US Capitalist and Political System

by m2c4 – The pharmaceutical industry apparently just won’t stop in its efforts to expand the opioid crisis in order to line its own pockets with profits. A report from the Washington Post shows how, even at the height of the opioid epidemic in 2014, the industry basically bribed 23 members of Congress with over $1.5 million in campaign donations and spent over $100 million lobbying Congress in order to keep the DEA from interfering in its suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of opioid pills which netted pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars. A law, eventually passed in 2016 but effectively enforced by DEA lawyers starting in 2014, changed the level evidence that the DEA needed to intercept suspiciously large shipments of opioids to highly suspect pharmacies and doctors. The legal wording changed the existing law from requiring the DEA from merely determining “imminent danger” based on the “preponderance of evidence” to a...

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Fox News Commentator says Weinstein Allegations Should Close the Company. What About Ailes?

by Emily Q. Hazzard – This is a risky idea for Fox News to explore: they’re under federal investigation for a related reason. Gregg Jarrett, Fox News anchor and commentator, wrote in a Friday column for the site that the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the steps the company took to settle with his accusers should result in the company closing. Gregg Jarrett  ✔@GreggJarrett My new column on Weinstein. Time to close the doors on the company! –Gregghttp://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/10/13/gregg-jarrett-weinsteins-illegal-contract-should-force-his-company-to-close.html … 4:37 PM – Oct 13, 2017 Gregg Jarrett: Weinstein’s illegal contract should force his company to close The Weinstein Company should immediately shut-down its operations and permanently close its doors. foxnews.com  “The Weinstein Company should immediately shut-down its operations and permanently close its doors,” he wrote. Jarrett’s claim hinges on Weinstein’s contract with The Weinstein Company, and what other employees at Weinstein’s company knew about the alleged abuse and whether management practice...

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Small Donations to Trump Campaign Pay for Trump Jr.’s Massive Legal Bills

by Judd Legum – Paying legal bills for billionaires, ten bucks at a time. The Trump campaign spent $267,924 on lawyers for Donald Trump Jr. from July to September, according to disclosures made to the Federal Election Commission on Sunday. The figure includes $237,924 for Trump Jr.’s personal attorney, Alan Futerfas. Another $30,000 went to Williams and Jensen, which helped Trump Jr. prepare for Congressional testimony. In the previous quarter, the Trump campaign spent $50,000 on Trump Jr.’s legal bills. The Republican National Committee has also spent over $200,000 on lawyers representing Trump Jr., with most of that amount going to Futerfas. In total, donors to the Trump campaign and the Republican party have spent over half a million dollars on Trump Jr.’s legal representation. Trump Jr. has been under intense legal scrutiny since it was revealed that he set up a meeting between top Trump campaign officials and Russians who claimed to have damaging information about...

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Several States Vow to Sue Trump Administration Over Obamacare Sabotage

by Rebekah Entralgo – Attorneys general from across the country say they will take legal action. The Trump administration’s recent decision to abruptly end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that helps insurers lower out-of-pocket medical fees for millions of Americans has spurred some states to consider taking legal action. Attorneys general from across the country have said they plan to sue the Trump administration in order to keep money flowing to their states. “Hundreds of thousands of New York families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for their health care — and again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table. That’s unacceptable,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) in a press release late Thursday night, following the administration’s decision to cut off cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage. “I will not allow...

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ACLU Sues Kansas Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Law Barring Boycott of Israel

by Jessica Corbett – The law, part of a wider pattern of targeting the non-violent BDS movement, decried as “attempt by the government to silence one side of a public debate”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to challenge a Kansas law that requires any company or individual who contracts with the state to sign a statement certifying that they are not actively engaged in boycotting Israel. “This law is an unconstitutional attempt by the government to silence one side of a public debate by coercing people not to express their beliefs, including through participation in a political boycott,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss. The law took effect July 1, 2017. The lawsuit could have sweeping consequences nationally. Kansas’ law is similar not only to laws adopted by other states but also to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act that has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. In July, the ACLU sent...

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How Chicago Gets its Guns (VIDEO)

by Mick Dumke – John Thomas set up the deal the way he had arranged nearly two dozen others. A friend said he wanted to buy as many guns as he could, so Thomas got in touch with someone he knew who had guns to sell. The three of them met in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in south suburban Lansing at noon on Aug. 6, 2014. Larry McIntosh, whom Thomas had met in his South Shore neighborhood, took two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun from his car and put them in the buyer’s car. He handed over a plastic shopping bag with four handguns. None of the weapons had been acquired legally — two, in fact, had been reported stolen — and none of the men was a licensed firearms dealer. Thomas’ friend, Yousef, paid McIntosh $7,200 for the seven guns. He always paid well. Thomas did little...

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Hackers Broke Into U.S. Voting Systems in Minutes. Now They’re Helping Prevent Attacks

by Kira Lerner – “Our voting systems are not secure.” This July, eight months after Russians targeted U.S. election systems, hackers gathered at a conference in Las Vegas to prove just how vulnerable our system is to interference. In a matter of minutes, hackers were able to break into and gain remote control of voting machines, changing votes and potentially shutting down the system. “These machines were pretty easy to hack,” Jeff Moss, founder the world’s largest hacker conference, DEFCON, said Tuesday. Hackers with very little prior knowledge and limited resources were able to expose personal voter information and undermine the integrity of every piece of equipment they attempted to breach. Now, using that information, those hackers are teaming up with U.S. governors to try to make U.S. election systems more immune to interference. DEFCON, the National Governors Association, the Atlantic Council, and other academics released a report Tuesday finding that “our voting systems are not secure”...

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Salt Lake Police Fire Cop Who Arrested Nurse Over Blood Draw

by Scott Shackford – Body camera footage has consequences. Remember the Salt Lake City cop caught on body camera footage roughly arresting a nurse for refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient? He’s been fired. His shift commander, who oversaw the encounter and ordered her arrest, has been demoted. The July confrontation between Detective Jeff Payne and University Hospital nurse Alex Wubbels was captured by police body cameras. A month later, Wubbels received a copy of the footage from the city and publicly released it to highlight what she believed to be a serious problem of police attempting to intimidate nurses. The video went viral over Labor Day weekend, and the public was outraged. Payne had demanded that Wubbels bring him to a patient to draw blood, but he did not have a warrant and the patient was unconscious and could not consent. The man wasn’t even a suspect in a crime:...

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The Evil That Guns Do

by Michael Winship – The firearms lobby suggests that because morality can’t be legislated, the evil of gun violence can only be controlled by… more guns. In the United States, you will hear madmen insist that: 59 dead and 500 injured in Las Vegas are the price of freedom. 49 dead and 58 wounded in Orlando, Florida, are the price of freedom. 27 dead and 2 injured in Newtown, Connecticut, are the price of freedom. And so it goes. This truly is insanity. We can try to deal with that small percentage of the population who collect or own guns for hunting, target shooting or security, but to claim as a constitutional right the possession of firearms intended for nothing less than brutal, gruesome warfare strains credulity. These are killing machines with no purpose other than to maim and destroy. Of course, we’ve said this time and again and will doubtless...

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LGBTQ and Abortion Advocates Have Found an Unlikely Champion: The Satanic Temple

by Brianna Acuesta – The Satanic Temple is an organization that is stepping up to help others. Tempers are running high this year, with arguably the most controversial president to date in the White House and the push for equality between a number of groups based on race, gender, and sexual orientation becoming even more heated than usual. Though the usual organizations are taking up the issues and organizing marches, their numbers have increased as support has flared since President Trump first announced his run for office. People say that politics makes strange bedfellows, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that LGBTQ activists and pro-choice groups have found an unlikely ally in their fight for rights. That ally is The Satanic Temple (TST), which, contrary to what your instinct may tell you about people who ‘follow Satan,’ is an ethical group that just wants to lend a hand. “The mission of The Satanic Temple is...

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Bolstering Case for Impeachment, Study Concludes Trump ‘Likely Obstructed Justice’

by Jake Johnson – A detailed analysis finds “substantial” evidence to support claims that Trump attempted to undermine an ongoing investigation by firing former FBI director James Comey. In a new study aimed at collecting and analyzing all of the relevant facts surrounding President Donald Trump’s legally questionable conduct in office—particularly his firing of former FBI director James Comey—three lawyers conclude it is “likely” that Trump has obstructed justice, and that whether he is held accountable for his actions “will have significant consequences for the functioning of our democracy.” “We do not yet know all the relevant facts, and any final determination must await further investigation, including by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” the analysis—authored by Norm Eisen and Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) and Barry Berke of the law firm Kramer Levin—concludes. Nonetheless, the lawyers argue that the facts currently in the public record amount to “substantial...

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White House Demands Border Wall Funding in Exchange for DREAMer Protections

by E.A. Crunden – The Trump administration’s new hard-line list includes draconian demands that seemingly contradict early agreement with Democratic leadership. Funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a crackdown on children fleeing Central America are among the demands laid out by President Donald Trump’s administration in exchange for protecting hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. According to a list released late Sunday night, the White House will ask Congress to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities in addition to funding Trump’s long-sought border wall and accelerating the deportations of children back to countries like Guatemala and Honduras — even if their safety is at risk from escalating violence. Family members of immigrants in the United States will also be barred from joining them. Other measures include hiring thousands of new immigration officials to oversee the proposed measures and appointing 370 additional...

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Why We Need Sanctuary Cities

by Robert Reich – California lawmakers have just passed “sanctuary state” legislation – the first state since Oregon, which 30 years ago passed a law preventing state agencies from targeting undocumented immigrants solely because of their illegal status. Other states should follow California’s and Oregon’s lead. Since January, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered immigration authorities to target “public safety” threats, federal arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased by over 37 percent. California is home to an estimated 2.3 million unauthorized immigrants. California’s law limits the authority of state and local law enforcers to communicate with federal immigration authorities, and prevents officers from questioning or holding people depending on their immigration status or immigration violations. But it still allows federal immigration authorities to enter county jails to question immigrants, and allow police and sheriffs to share information on people who have been convicted of serious crimes. This is a fair balance. Sanctuary...

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Judge Grants Rapist Joint Custody of Victim’s Child

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The victim was only 12 years old when Christopher Mirasolo raped her and impregnated her. Despite also threatening her life, Mirasolo only spent six months in prison, only to spend four more years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. That being said, Mirasolo should NOT be allowed anywhere near a child and should still be rotting in prison. But a Michigan judge has decided that Mirasolo should have joint custody of the child his victim gave birth to eight years ago. According to The Detroit News, county officials surveyed the victim’s use of food stamps, aid she relies on to take care of her eight-year-old son. For some reason, the county connected her to Mirasolo and a DNA test was taken. It appears the county was searching for a reason to kick her and her son off the food stamp program so they did...

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Myth vs. Fact: Debunking the Gun Lobby’s Favorite Talking Points

The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), pursues a number of different policies in state legislatures across the country and in Congress, including eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry; expanding locations where guns may be carried; weakening regulation of the gun industry; and overriding duly enacted state laws that limit gun carrying. While each of these policies have different elements, all are united by a core set of dangerous and misleading arguments perpetuated by the NRA that more guns in more hands will lead to increased personal and community safety. Below are some of the top NRA-promulgated myths and the facts that expose them as false. Myth: Owning a gun makes you safer Fact: Owning a gun puts you at heightened risk for gun violence The NRA often argues that the United States is a dangerous place and that owning and carrying a gun is the...

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A Federal Judge Declares That Current and Former Wells Fargo Executives Can be Sued for Their Fraud

by Walter Einenkel – A federal judge has decided that Wells Fargo’s current and former executives will have to face their shareholders’ lawsuit that demands that these executives be held personally liable for the fraudulent practices at the big bank. Those practices led to at least 3,500 lower-level management employees being fired and the bank settling a modest $185 million deal with the DOJ for creating millions of fake accounts in order to generate the perception of growth needed to make billions. That was followed up by a Wells Fargo settlement with the government for $1.2 billion for deceiving the government into insuring rap home loans. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco told CEO Tim Sloan and the rest of his cronies that they were still on the hook and should have to face at least some music. “Where, as here, plaintiffs’ claims arise from a pervasive and undisputed fraud going to the core...

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Sotomayor Made the Pro-Gerrymander Lawyers Gibber

by ksmoore777 – Slate’s Mark Stern provided enjoyable commentary about Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s contribution to last Tuesday’s oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, the case examining the constitutional limits to political redistricting.  While her fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, went after preening idiot Gorsuch, Sotomayor honed in on Wisconsin’s lawyers. Stern describes as the “highlight of the hour” Sotomayor’s simple, practical and direct question:  “Could you tell me what the value is to democracy from political gerrymandering?  How does that help our system of government?” Helluva good question.  How does gerrymandering help? Stern reports that Erin E. Murphy, the attorney representing Wisconsin’s (very gerrymandered) State Senate, could only offer “word salad” in response. I don’t think that … districting for partisan advantage has no positive values.  I would point you to, for instance, Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion in which has an extensive discussion of how it can actually do good things for our system to have districts drawn...

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Gaping Holes in Gun Background Check System

by macguru – Gun store manager Christopher M. Sullivan of Guns and Guitars, who sold some of the weapons to the gunman who killed 58 and wounded over 500 people in Las Vegas last week made a statement. The gist of it was that he was sorry about the casualties, but his store performed all of the procedures required by law. And he is most likely correct. The laws governing background checks have holes in them a Mac truck could zip through without rifling the willows on the side of the road. The system has no trip points where any Federal agency is notified if, for instance, anyone buys an excessive number of firearms, anyone buys a particularly deadly form of weapon of mass destruction, (AK-47, AR-15, sniper rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammo, large ammo clips, etc.). No trip points for buying guns over a long period, no alerts if one...

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Mueller’s Investigators Met With Author of the Russian Dossier That Continues to Dog Trump

by Kerry Eleveld – The Senate Intelligence panel made news Wednesday when its leaders said they had been unable to interview the author of the salacious Trump/Russia dossier, but CNN reported Thursday that the special counsel’s team succeeded in meeting with former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter. Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. The news comes on the heels of recent reports that Mueller’s team was looking into the dossier. Also notable in CNN’s report is the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, took the dossier more seriously than has previously been thought....

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