Better Believe It
Better Believe It's Journal
Member since: Sun Mar 16, 2008, 11:41 PM
Number of posts: 18,630
Number of posts: 18,630
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2012
Judge Rules in Favor of Bradley Manning Supporter, Allows Lawsuit Challenging Laptop Search
Decision Emphasizes David House's First Amendment-Protected Associations
BOSTON - March 29 - A federal judge late Wednesday denied the government's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the suspicionless search and seizure of electronics belonging to activist David House when he reentered the U.S. after a vacation.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts represent House in a suit charging that the government targeted House based on his lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise funds for the legal defense of the soldier accused of leaking material to WikiLeaks. The government had asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that it has broad powers to search and seize laptops, phones and any other electronic device at the border without any justification.
"This ruling affirms that the constitution is still alive at the U.S. border," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, who argued the case along with John Reinstein of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "Despite the government's broad assertions that it can take and search any laptop, diary or smartphone without any reasonable suspicion, the court said the government cannot use that power to target political speech."
The decision allows the case to move forward to the evidence-gathering stage, which could reveal why House became the subject of a government inquiry and which government agencies copied or viewed the contents of his laptop, phone and camera.
While the court held that the government does not need suspicion to search a laptop at the border, it also held that the government's power to search was not unlimited. U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper wrote that the fact that "the initial search and seizure occurred at the border does not strip House of his First Amendment rights, particularly given the allegations in the complaint that he was targeted specifically because of his association with the Support Network." The judge also acknowledged the complaint's allegations that "the search of House's laptop resulted in the disclosure of" the Support Network's supporters and internal communications and that these disclosures "will deter further participation in and support of the organization."
In November 2010, Department of Homeland Security agents stopped House at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago and questioned him about his political activities and beliefs. Officials then confiscated his laptop computer, camera and a USB drive and did not return them for nearly seven weeks. The government has not said what it did with House's possessions during that period. House's detention and interrogation and the seizure of his electronic papers and personal effects had no apparent connection with the protection of U.S. borders or the enforcement of customs laws.
The court ruled that even if the government could legally search House's devices at the border, this does not mean that agents could take and keep those devices for nearly seven weeks. Without some reasonable relationship between the original search and the extended seizure, the judge said, government agents may not "seize personal electronic devices containing expressive material, target someone for their political association and seize his electronic devices and review the information pertinent to that association and its members and supporters simply because the initial search occurred at the border."
The ruling is available at:
More information on the case is at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Thu Mar 29, 2012, 09:13 PM (0 replies)
Captive Virgins, Polygamy, Sex Slaves: What Marriage Would Look Like if We Actually Followed the Bible
How many so-called Biblical literalists have actually read the whole Bible? Let's see what God really has to say about marriage.
By Valerie Tarico
March 27, 2012
Let me tell you a secret about Bible believers that I know because I was one. Most of them don’t read their Bibles. If they did, they would know that the biblical model of sex and marriage has little to do with the one they so loudly defend. Stories depicted in the Bible include rape, incest, master-slave sexual relations, captive virgins, and more. Now, just because a story is told in the Bible doesn’t mean it is intended as a model for devout behavior. Other factors have to be considered, like whether God commands or forbids the behavior, if the behavior is punished, and if Jesus subsequently indicates the rules have changed, come the New Testament.
Through this lens, you find that the God of the Bible still endorses polygamy and sexual slavery and coerced marriage of young virgins along with monogamy. In fact, he endorses all three to the point of providing detailed regulations. Based on stories of sex and marriage that God rewards and appears to approve one might add incest to the mix. Nowhere does the Bible say, “Don’t have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you.”
Concubines are sex slaves, and the Bible gives instructions on acquisition of several types of sex slaves, although the line between biblical marriage and sexual slavery is blurry. A Hebrew man might, for example, sell his daughter to another Hebrew, who then has certain obligations to her once she is used. For example, he can’t then sell her to a foreigner. Alternately a man might see a virgin war captive that he wants for himself.
In the book of Numbers (31:18) God’s servant commands the Israelites to kill all of the used Midianite women who have been captured in war, and all of the boy children, but to keep all of the virgin girls for themselves. The Law of Moses spells out a purification ritual to prepare a captive virgin for life as a concubine. It requires her owner to shave her head and trim her nails and give her a month to mourn her parents before the first sex act (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). A Hebrew girl who is raped can be sold to her rapist for 50 shekels, or about $580 (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). He must then keep her as one of his wives for as long as she lives.
Read the full article at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Thu Mar 29, 2012, 07:50 PM (4 replies)
President Obama ignores facts and continues to give green light to Arctic drilling
Statement from Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League
March 28, 2012
“Today’s announcement that the Obama administration has approved Shell’s oil spill response plan
for the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, following on the tail of the approval of Shell’s spill response plan for
the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, is extremely disappointing. There is no viable way to clean up an oil spill in
the extreme conditions of America’s Arctic Ocean, yet the Obama administration continues to give
the green light to Shell Oil’s plans for drilling this summer. We can only hope that President Obama
shows the leadership he promised and refuses to bow to the demands of Big Oil by not granting
Shell the final permits it needs to begin drilling in July.
The Arctic Ocean is prone to hurricane-force storms, 20-foot swells, sea ice up to 25 feet thick, subzero
temperatures and months-long darkness. What’s more, the Arctic has extremely limited
infrastructure (there are no roads or deep water ports and only a handful of small airports) and the
nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away. These conditions and the current lack of
information and technology combine to make Arctic drilling tantamount to ‘Mission Impossible.’
At a recent meeting in Alaska, officials with the international Arctic Council noted that Arctic
nations are not ready to respond to an Arctic oil spill. ‘In terms of getting the tug equipment there
or in the Aleutians, we are naked in the north,’ said Alaska’s Lieutenant
Governor Mead Treadwell, according to KTVA.com.
Meanwhile, the oil industry continues to remind us that drilling is a dangerous and dirty business.
Today the news out of Britain is grim as the gas spill in the North Sea enters its fourth day.
According to news reports, an enormous gas cloud is spewing from the ‘well from hell’ and there is
extreme danger of a massive explosion. It could take six months to fully stop the leak.
The gas spill in the North Sea and other recent disasters – including a recent natural gas blowout in
Alaska - remind us that the risks are too great, particularly in places like the Arctic where the
challenges are foreboding. If President Obama fails to stop Shell from drilling in America’s Arctic
Ocean he could be left with the next major drilling disaster on his hands and the destruction of one
of our planet’s most vital ecosystems.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2012
CONTACT: Center for Biological Diversity
Feds Approve Weak Oil-spill Response Plan in Arctic; Move Toward Offshore Drilling Off Virginia
SAN FRANCISCO - March 28 - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced approval today of Shell Oil’s oil-spill response plan for offshore drilling in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. At the same time, the secretary announced plans to move forward with seismic exploratory surveys for oil in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Virginia. Both announcements move these areas that have largely been closed to offshore drilling closer to becoming industrial oil fields.
“It’s deeply disappointing that President Obama is choosing to ignore the enormous risks of opening the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All signs point to environmental disaster if an oil spill were to occur in the harsh Arctic waters — it’s just absurd that Shell’s unproven response plan got the green light.”
The unrealistic oil spill plan claims that 95% of oil spilled could be recovered when only 3% of oil was recovered in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Drilling in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean could put human lives and wildlife at risk; so far, testing of oil-spill response in the area has proven a failure, the containment cap in the plan is untested, and the nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away. The Arctic is home to the most pristine ocean habitat in the world for polar bears, whales and walruses.
Earlier this year, Shell Oil sued the Center and other environmental organizations, asking the court to declare that its oil-spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea was adequate — a move seemingly aimed at intimidating organizations opposing Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic this summer.
The government today also announced plans to conduct seismic surveys along the Atlantic coast in hopes of finding oil deposits that could lead to leasing Atlantic waters for offshore drilling. The seismic surveys pave the way for new drilling.
“Seismic surveys are, in and of themselves, very harmful to marine life. The blasts are like explosions that can cause hearing loss, disturbance and even stranding for animals like whales,” said Sakashita. “And besides hurting marine animals, these exploratory surveys are the gateway to more risky drilling.”
The Center and its allies are part of a pending lawsuit challenging seismic surveys for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico that were approved without the permits needed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.
Obama Admin Takes Steps Towards More Oil Drilling
Shell's oil spill plan for Beaufort Sea drilling approved, seismic surveys for oil off east coast get OK
by Common Dreams staff
March 28, 2012
The Obama administration has taken steps towards increased oil drilling today in Alaska and off the east coat. It approved Shell's oil spill response plan for the Arctic waters of the Beaufort Sea, a move slammed by environmental groups who warn of a likely environmental catastophe if Shell is given its final permits. The administration also allowed today seismic exploratory surveys for oil off the coast of Virginia in the Atlantic Ocean.
Shell's oil spill plan suggests little likelihood of a blowout and calls for a containment device like the one used in the Deepwater Horizon blowout to be clamped onto the well in the event that Shell's built-in blowout preventer failed.
"If Shell goes there to drill, they will kill the Arctic Ocean along the way—we must fight and stop them," says Subhankar Banerjee, founder of ClimateStoryTellers.org.
Posted by Better Believe It | Thu Mar 29, 2012, 07:38 PM (20 replies)
March 29, 2012
That Peculiar Odor...
A Jobs Bill for Wall Street
by ROBERT HUNZIKER
It’s about time Congress focuses attention on jobs for Wall Street, and it appears they are going overboard to help in the new JOBS Act that recently passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 380-to-41. After all, last year Wall Street cash bonuses fell 14% to $19.7 billion or $121,150 per employee, and the industry suffered thousands of job cuts.
Before celebrating this new bill too much, and in fairness to balanced opinion, this from the Council of Institutional Investors about the JOBS Act: “We are disappointed that the Senate failed to include investor protections in a bill that would make it easier for companies to raise money… While it’s not at all clear that the legislation will create jobs, it will create greater risks for investors… The bill dismantles many investor protections Congress put in place a decade ago after accounting scandals at Enron, WorldCom….”
The brand spanking new JOBS Act, an acronym for Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act sped through Congress at break-neck speed with huge bipartisan support in large measure because the IPO (Initial Public Offerings) Task Force convinced members of Congress that 90% of job creation comes after companies go public.
According to the messiah of capitalism, Forbes Magazine, “With the JOBS Act, Congress Throws Open the Door for Private Stock Offerings” (March 28, 2012) “… the JOBS Act turns its back on several decades of established securities law practice, which has led to significant restraints on how equity can be raised in private markets. Whether the boost to economic growth will outweigh the risk of defrauded investors remains to be seen.”
Read the full article at:
Obama Administration takes credit for pro-fraud legislation calling it a "bipartisan jobs measure" BBI
Democrats Realize Pro-Fraud Legislation Not in Their Interests
By: David Dayen
March 27, 2012
After both houses of Congress passed it, the White House is finally recognizing that the deregulatory bill they proposed and pushed is distasteful to liberals who have actually looked at it for longer than two seconds:
There are only two ways to look at the JOBS Act. Either you agree with the Republican critique that regulations are a boot stamping on a human face forever, something the White House has rejected over and over again, or you think the economy will be served by a pro-fraud bill, a bill that makes it easier for companies to bilk investors and for Wall Street financiers to facilitate it. Neither makes the White House come off looking good.
The Administration took credit for the JOBS Act last week, and this article fleshes out more details about its origin. Apparently it’s a holdover from the dark Bill Daley days.
As Bill Black writes, most pro-fraud legislation ends up being bipartisan. Republicans are down for whatever pro-fraud bits they can get for their constituency. So when Democrats support something, it’s sure to get votes. And since Washington chases bipartisanship like a tiger chases its tail, you end up with legislation like this, that can be called a “bipartisan jobs measure” if you stretch the definition to its very limits.
Posted by Better Believe It | Thu Mar 29, 2012, 03:32 PM (0 replies)
Can We Have Health Reform Without an Individual Mandate? Yes, It's Called 'Medicare for All'
by John Nichols
August 13, 2011
Those of us who favor fundamental healthcare reform have always been uncomfortable with the individual mandate. So was candidate Barack Obama, who distinguished himself from Hillary Clinton (a mandate backer) by saying in a February 2008, interview: “Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it. So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”
The individual mandate was always a bad idea. Instead of recognizing that healthcare is a right, the members of Congress and the Obama administration who cobbled together the healthcare reform plan created a mandate that maintains the abuses and the expenses of for-profit insurance companies—and actually rewards those insurance companies with a guarantee of federal money.
As former Labor Secretary Robert Reich notes: " federal judge has struck down Social Security or Medicare as being an unconstitutional requirement that Americans buy something. Social Security and Medicare aren’t broccoli or asparagus. They’re as American as hot dogs and apple pie.”
“So if the individual mandate to buy private health insurance gets struck down by the Supreme Court or killed off by Congress, “ says Reich, “I’d recommend President Obama immediately propose what he should have proposed in the beginning — universal health care based on Medicare for all, financed by payroll taxes.”
Americans don’t need mandates. They need healthcare.
Read the full article at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 06:01 PM (49 replies)
It works for me!
And besides that, posters aren't given the opportunity to defend themselves from charges made in "alerts" requiring DU "jurors".
What the hell kind of "jury system" is that?
I just won't use use the "alert" against any poster or vote to hide a post because in reality this so-called "jury system" is such an undemocratic procedure denying a poster the right to defend themselves from what could be misleading alerts.
I don't see any further personal attacks and other attempts to disrupt democratic debate and discussion on DU by those I put on full ignore.
If those folks want to engage in trash talk let them leave DU and find a board that discourages democratic discussion and promotes trash talk.
Use ignore and don't alert!
Posted by Better Believe It | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 02:12 PM (349 replies)
It works for me!
So I don't see any further personal attacks and other attempts to disrupt democratic debate and discussion on DU by those I put on full ignore.
If those folks want to engage in trash talk let them leave DU and find a board that discourages discussion and encouages trash talk.
Host. Can you please move this post to the Meta discussion?
Posted by Better Believe It | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:59 PM (4 replies)
By Ditching the Public Option, Obama Gave His Enemies a Path to the Supreme Court
By Matthew Rothschild
Editor of The Progressive
March 27, 2012
The sad thing about the rightwing Supreme Court challenge to President Obama’s health care policy is that it was totally avoidable. It would have been impossible if Obama had offered a robust public option, like “Medicare for All Who Want It.”
Rather than forcing people to buy private insurance largely from the companies who’ve been ripping us off every step of the way, Obama could have and should have given people a choice.
Instead, he bought in—and told everyone else under 65 who is not disabled to buy in—to the private insurance model.
And that’s the core of his problem today at the Supreme Court.
Read the full article at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:01 PM (147 replies)
Barack Obama Prepares for War Footing
By Edwin Black
Edwin Black is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling and international investigative author of 80 award-winning editions in 14 languages in 65 countries.
March 19, 2012
Last Friday, March 16, President Barack Obama may have quietly placed the United States on a war preparedness footing, perhaps in anticipation of an outbreak of war between Israel, the West, and Iran. A newly-propounded Executive Order, titled "National Defense Resources Preparedness," renews and updates the president's power to take control of all civil energy supplies, including oil and natural gas, control and restrict all civil transportation, which is almost 97 percent dependent upon oil; and even provides the option to re-enable a draft in order to achieve both the military and non-military demands of the country, according to a simple reading of the text. The Executive Order was published on the White House website.
The timing of the Order -- with little fanfare -- could not be explained. Opinions among the very first bloggers on the purpose of the unexpected Executive Order run the gamut from the confused to the absurd. None focus on the obvious sudden need for such a pronouncement: oil and its potential for imminent interruption.
If Iran was struck by Israel or the West, or if Iran thought it might be struck, the Tehran regime has promised it would block the Strait of Hormuz, which would obstruct some 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil, some twenty percent of the global supply, and about 20 percent of America's daily needs. Moreover, Tehran has promised military retaliation against any nation it feels has harmed it. The United States is at the top of the list.
At press time, administration sources could not be reached to elaborate on the timing of what many see as a year's overdue preparation for an oil interruption. Such an interruption and its disastrous consequence have been threatened for years. In short, for many years there has been no plan. But now apparently, the legal authority to organize a specific plan has been renewed and updated in crystal clarity.
Please read the full article at:
Posted by Better Believe It | Wed Mar 28, 2012, 11:56 AM (1 replies)