AT&T becomes the first the first major advertiser to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/business/media/att-becomes-first-major-advertiser-to-protest-russias-antigay-law.html?_r=0&referrer=

In all candor, I have not been a fan of AT&T for some time. I applaud this news and commend the company for having such courage and convictions.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

President Obama and the Democratic Senate leaders meet to strategize on how to keep the Senate in 2014

I heard you to talk to your friends volunteer in campaigns to make donations if you can as it is of the utmost importance the Democrats keep the Senate and hopefully we get in the house.
http://news.yahoo.com/obama-dems-meet-struggle-senate-builds-082720746–politics.html?.tsrc=samsungwn&.sep=table

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

States look to rein in government surveillance

Associated Press By NIGEL DUARA  February 4th 2014 at 11:25 pm Pacific Standard Time

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Angry over revelations of National Security Agency surveillance and frustrated with what they consider outdated digital privacy laws, state lawmakers around the nation are proposing bills to curtail the powers of law enforcement to monitor and track citizens.

Their efforts in at least 14 states are a direct message to the federal government: If you don’t take action to strengthen privacy, we will.

“We need to stand up and protect our liberty,” said Republican Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf, author of a digital privacy bill.

Police groups, however, say the moves will in some cases hinder efforts to deter or solve crimes. “It would cripple law enforcement’s ability to do investigations,” said Bart Johnson, executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Proponents say the measures will overhaul the definition of digital privacy and help increase oversight of specific surveillance tools that law enforcement agencies have been using in the states that critics say mirrors federal surveillance technology.

The bills include a Colorado proposal that would limit the retention of images from license plate readers, an Oregon bill that would require “urgent circumstances” to obtain cellphone location data and a Delaware plan that increases privacy protections for text messages.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have joined in proposing the measures, reflecting the unusual mix of political partnerships that have arisen since the NSA revelations that began in May. Establishment leadership has generally favored the programs, while conservative limited government advocates and liberal privacy supporters have opposed them.

Supporters say the measures are needed because technology has grown to the point that police can digitally track someone’s every move.

Devices such as license plate readers and cellphone trackers “can tell whether you stayed in a motel that specializes in hourly rates, or you stopped at tavern that has nude dancers,” said David Fidanque, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

“It’s one thing to know you haven’t violated the law, but it’s another thing to know you haven’t had every one of your moves tracked,” he said.

As for digital privacy, bills promoting broader protections against email surveillance have popped up recently in various states with varying results. One proposal became law in Texas last year, but a similar measure was vetoed in California where the governor said it was too onerous for police to follow.

But proposals focused specifically on police surveillance are a new variety.

Schaaf’s proposal for a legislatively mandated ballot measure in Missouri would add electronic data to a list of property protected from unreasonable search and seizure. If it passes, it would go before voters in November.

“The people in Missouri, if they get the chance to approve it, will send a message that other states can, and must, do the same thing,” Schaaf said. “We can’t wait on Congress to pick up the banner.”

In Indiana, legislators have put forward a bill that would ban the warrantless use of a portable device that can track cellphone movements within a mile, as well as the numbers of incoming and outgoing calls and text messages. Indiana lawmakers also want to use warrants to limit the use of tracking devices and surveillance cameras.

“You could get to the point where you’re just tracking everyone’s car just for the fun of it,” said Republican Rep. Eric Koch.

Clatsop County, Ore., District Attorney Josh Marquis said the legislators’ concerns are misplaced. He said state agencies aren’t collecting the kind of metadata the NSA collects and bills curtailing the ability of local authorities to gather intelligence could do more harm than good.

Under NSA surveillance programs that NSA analyst Edward Snowden revealed, the agency sweeps up information about millions of Americans’ phone calls: the number called from, the number called and the duration of the call.

That information is stored at NSA facilities until a secret court known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gives intelligence officers permission to examine the phone call if investigators believed there was a connection to a terrorist. Another similar program examines Internet data and email traffic.

“People think of the NSA as this group of agents trotting the globe, snooping on people,” Marquis said. “That’s not the case. They’re geeks and analysts. They don’t want your data. What they’re looking for is four numbers in Lahore, Pakistan.”

Instead, local law enforcement agencies are using the technology to run surveillance on drug cartels or lure sex predators into online communication that leads to an arrest, Marquis said.

After months of NSA revelations, President Barack Obama last month proposed changes that would require bulk telephone data collected by the NSA to be stored outside the government to reduce the risk of abuse and put limits on the number of people who could be watched.

Still, Obama in calling for the changes Jan. 17, defended government surveillance programs.

“The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,” he said.

But whether these proposals or any others floating around Congress will actually come to a vote is unclear. NSA surveillance opponents say that even if those measures did pass, they won’t be enough to guard Americans’ privacy against what they see as an over-intrusive government.

“It was a shock to (constituents) when you tell them ‘this is legal,’ and people say, ‘No way!’ ” said Wisconsin Democrat Melissa Sargent, a state representative who sponsored bipartisan legislation aimed at social-media privacy and cellphone tracking.

Even some opponents concede that changes to surveillance and data privacy laws are likely, with several of them in places such as Wisconsin, Texas and Montana already passed or awaiting governors’ signatures.

Increased oversight is “a reality that is coming to law enforcement,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Vernon Keenan. “And we can either try to stand up and fight it off, which is not possible,” Keenan said, “or embrace what is reasonable.”

___

Ivan Moreno in Denver, Lisa Baumann and Rachel LaCorte in Olympia, Wash., Tom LoBianco and Charles D. Wilson in Indianapolis and David Lieb in Jefferson City, Mo., contributed to this report.

___

Reach reporter Nigel Duara on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nigelduara

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Republicans propose changes to the Endangered Species

Have the inhabitants of the earth not done enough harm to our environment and those we share it with? This proposal is just another way around a good law for the use of corporations.

Republicans Call For Overhaul To Endangered Species Act
MATTHEW BROWNAP02/04/14 11:34 AM
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Republicans in Congress are calling for an overhaul to the Endangered Species Act, but experts say broad changes to one of the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws are unlikely given the pervasive partisan divide in Washington, D.C.

A group of 13 GOP lawmakers representing states across the U.S. planned to release a report Tuesday proposing alterations to the 40-year-old law, which protects imperiled plants and animals.Proponents of the federal law credit it with staving off extinction for hundreds of species — from the bald eagle and American alligator to the gray whale.

But Republicans want to curtail litigation from wildlife advocates that has resulted in protections for some species, and to give states more authority over imperiled species that fall within their borders. Also among the recommendations are increased scientific transparency, more accurate economic impact studies and safeguards for private landowners.

An advance copy of the report was provided to The Associated Press. It said only 2 percent of protected species have been recovered despite billions of dollars in federal and state spending.

“The biggest problem is that the Endangered Species Act is not recovering species,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington state Republican and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “The way the act was written, there is more of an effort to list (species as endangered or threatened) than to delist.”

The political hurdles for an overhaul are considerable. The Endangered Species Act enjoys fervent support among many environmentalists, whose Democratic allies on Capitol Hill have thwarted past proposals for change.

Federal wildlife officials said they had not yet seen the report from Hastings’ group and would not comment until they have a chance to review it, said Chris Tollefson, press secretary for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in December 1973, the act has resulted in additional protections for more than 1,500 plants, insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and other creatures, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Throughout its history, the law has faced criticism from business interests, Republicans and others. They argue actions taken to shield at-risk species such as the northern spotted owl have severely hampered logging and other economic development.

Those complaints grew louder in recent months after federal wildlife officials agreed to consider protections for more than 250 additional species under settlement terms in lawsuits brought by environmental groups.

Included in the settlement was the greater sage grouse, a chicken-sized bird that has been in decline across large portions of its 11-state Western range. A final decision on whether to protect sage grouse is due next year and could result in wide-ranging restrictions on oil and gas development, agriculture and other economic activity.

The endangered act was last amended in the 1980s. Given the current level of rancor between Democrats and Republicans, academics who track the law were skeptical that the latest calls for change would succeed.

“Both sides have enough power to prevent something happening that they don’t like. But nobody has enough power to pass anything,” said Dale Goble, an expert on the act who works as a law professor at the University of Idaho.

Goble added that the main reason some species linger for decades on the endangered list is a shortage of federal money to help pay for their recovery.

Vanderbilt Law School professor J.B. Ruhl said previous attempts to reform the Endangered Species Act in the 1990s and again last decade failed. Regardless of the merits of the latest proposal, Ruhl said the topic remains a “third rail” many politicians are unwilling to touch.
Also on HuffPost

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil

Secretary of State Clinton takes on Fox News

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4714733

I simply love her, and it seems fox news has taken more blows from democrats today then the seahawks did from the broncos.
On a personal note, I went to Gay pride in New York in 2000. Although I have been to gay events across the country I’ve never been to a gay pride. Miami in those days did not have one. I can be corny at times and insisted to watch the parade from in front of Stonewall bar. After fighting our way through the crowds we finally got there at the tail end of the parade. I saw a group of people walking and among them at first I believe it was one of the best drag queens doing Hillary Clinton but in fact it was our first lady. I never felt as proud to be gay as at that moment when the realization came that our first lady was standing there walking in the March with Mayor Rudy Giuliani next to her. She has one my loyalty forever. And I truly hope that she makes the decision to run for the Presidency of the United States of America. Not only will she be an incredible leader but she will make one giant crack in the glass ceiling that holds women back in our country. I realize a part of the Democratic Progressive movement is looking at Elizabeth Warren, whom I like a lot. But this is Secretary of State Clinton time and I am ready for Hillary. She has the credentials and the moxi to stand up for the values that I think we need in the White House. Go Hillary in 2016.

I hope we can agree or agree not to agree any to case let’s keep it all civil