“The USA Freedom Act
extends many parts of the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which expires June 1. The measure’s fate in the Senate is less likely.
The surveillance issue has sparked “rare bipartisan unity” in the House, NPR’s David Welna reports for today’s All Things Considered
. He notes that the push to change the law comes from Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
“Despite changes to the NSA bulk telephone metadata program announced by President Obama last year,” Goodlatte says, “the bulk collection of the records has not ceased, and will not cease, unless and until Congress acts to shut it down.”
Wednesday’s vote comes nearly two years after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. government’s secret program to collect and store huge amounts of data from millions of Americans’ phone records.”
Missing in the lack of “all things considered
” press coverage is a comprehensive national debate on why Congress is renewing most of the components of the Patriot Act
to begin with? The questionable support in the Senate for supporting this House measure, speaks to the nature of the “world’s greatest deliberative body
Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, has told a lawyers group in Colorado that slavery and Jim Crow helped fuel the Ferguson and Baltimore riots.
The last few days have seen a number of fanciful stories with the Obama administration seemingly questioning the authority of local police. I’ve long maintained that the administration is nakedly seeking to federalize policing standards — but get rid of local police? No way, that sounds like something broadcast from a shortwave station in Austin, Texas.
But then up steps Vanita Gupta to lend some credibility to the idea that some want to disband local police and replace police powers with the federal government. Speaking to a group of left-wing lawyers in Colorado, Gupta had this to say
The conversation in these rooms, however, is not about whether to have police or not but about what kind of policing communities want and deserve.
There is no question that we need police in our communities.
Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. John Crawford. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray.
These names and many others have become familiar to us under tragic circumstances in recent months. Their deaths and those of other unarmed African American men and women in encounters with police officers, have provoked widespread responses across the country and have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. In communities of color, in particular, the reaction has been stark and sobering.
In the seven months I have been at the Civil Rights Division, I have spent a lot of time with local leaders and community members in cities all across America, including with numerous mothers who have lost their children in officer-involved shootings. The pain, anger, frustration — the lack of trust in the police — is real, and it is profound.
Gupta asks the question that many Americans have already asked and answered:
It’s worth asking, first, how did we get here? And second, what are we going to do about it?
To most law-abiding Americans, the idea of fleeing from the police, or worse, charging at a policeman you have already punched, is simply beyond the realm of possibility.
So how did we get here? Was it a breakdown of values? Perhaps a pervasive tolerance for lawlessness? Of course not. Says Gupta:
Let’s start with the first question and consider the source of the mistrust. Mistrust can’t be explained away as the kneejerk reaction of the ill-informed or the hyperbolic. It’s in part the product of historical awareness about the role that police have played in enforcing and perpetuating (wait for it! here it comes!) slavery, the Black Codes, lynchings and Jim Crow segregation.
In many ways, Ferguson is not an anomaly. Through our work around the country, we know there are similar police and court practices in many places. I also know of several police chiefs around the country that assigned the report as required reading for their officers. We are already seeing the force multiplying effect of the report. In the days subsequent to the issuance of our report, cities around the country are beginning to re-examine their policing and municipal court practices, though we know there is much more work to do.
Gupta “knows of several police chiefs around the country that assigned the report as required reading for their officers.” Let’s decode: this means that several police chiefs around the country know that if they tell Gupta it is required reading, the federal government will stay off their backs and another police chief won’t get fired.
Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.
The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.
“Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”