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Court Officer Sexually Assaults Woman in Court, Arrests Her When Everyone in Court Ignores Her Pleas for Help

June 11, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

The Clark County family court is under heavy scrutiny after a video showed a woman who said she was sexually assaulted being arrested.


Employees from Clark County family court in Nevada are under investigation for covering up an alleged sexual assault by a court officer, according to KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate.

An internal affairs investigation has also revealed larger problems at the court, like more allegations of sexual assault and violence.

The story KLAS-TV focuses in on is what happened to Monica Contreras. The mother of a two-year-old daughter went to family court in August 2011 on a routine divorce case. Her husband didn’t show up, and so his request for a temporary restraining order was denied.

Things went downhill for Contreras from there, and there’s video to prove it. Court officer Ron Fox told Contreras she needed to be searched for drugs. According to Contreras and an internal investigation that verified her story, Fox touched her breasts and ordered her shirt to be lifted up. Contreras then went to the hearing master, Patricia Donninger, to tell her that Contreras’ requests for a female officer to conduct the search were ignored.

A second officer then begins to arrest Contreras. Fox says that it was because Contreras made “false allegations.” The news outlet notes that they could not find a “law that would support the arrest. It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter.”

Meanwhile, the hearing master was looking away while Contreras was pleading with her to pay attention to what was happening to her. “How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” she asks.

The court lieutenant did not inform anyone about the alleged sexual assault.

Two months after the arrest, Contreras filed a complaint, and an internal affairs investigation got underway. But eventually, Fox was fired, though he maintains his innocence. His attorney said the arrest of Contreras was legal because nobody in the court tried to halt his actions.

But nobody informed Contreras about the investigation, Fox’s firing or that her claims were verified. The news outlet …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Obama Nominates America’s Biggest Walmart Cheerleader as His Chief Economic Adviser

June 11, 2013 in Blogs

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

Jason Furman thinks Walmart is a “progressive success story.”


On June 10, 2013, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Jason Furman to become the next chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. This is a big-time, highly influential post. So what kind of economist is Furman?

One who thinks Walmart is the best thing since sliced bread.

For Furman, Walmart is nothing short of a miracle for America’s poor and working-class folks. For him, progressives should be cheering the firm: he even wrote a 16-page paper titled, “Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story,” which was posted on the Center for American Progress website. Here’s a sample of Furmanomics:

“By acting in the interests of its shareholders, Wal-Mart has innovated and expanded competition, resulting in huge benefits for the American middle class and even proportionately larger benefits for moderate-income Americans.”

Furman has championed the company’s low prices as a big boost to lower-income folks, and views Walmart jobs as good opportunities, never mind the low wages. In 2006, Jason Furman wrote a letter to author Barbara Ehrenreich, published on Slate, in which he extolled the Walmart business model:

A range of studies has found that Wal-Mart's prices are 8 percent to 39 percent below the prices of its competitors. The single most careful economic study, co-authored by the well-respected MIT economist Jerry Hausman, found that grocery sales by Wal-Mart and other big-box stores made consumers better off to the tune of 25 percent of food consumption. That doesn't mean much for those of us in the top fifth of the income distribution—we spend only about 3.5 percent of our income on food at home and, at least in my case, most of that shopping is done at high-priced supermarkets like Whole Foods. But that's a huge savings for households in the bottom quintile, which, on average, spend 26 percent of their income on food. In fact, it is equivalent to a 6.5 percent boost in household income—unless the family lives in New York City or one of the other places that have successfully kept Wal-Mart and its ilk away.”

In Furman’s view, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Shot at Wall; White Man Gets 0 Years for Shooting Man in the Back 3 Times, Killing Him

June 11, 2013 in Blogs

By Katie Halper, Salon

The insane double standard of stand your ground laws.


 

A man in Florida shoots a man he finds having sex with his wife, killing him.  A woman in Florida shoots the wall to scare off an abusive husband, harming nobody. Guess which one was acquitted? Guess which one was convicted?

On March 10 of this year, around midnight, Ralph Wald, 70, of Brandon Florida, got out of bed  to get a drink and found Walter Conley, 32, having sex his wife, Johanna Lynn Flores, 41, in the living room. He immediately went back into his bedroom, grabbed his gun and shot Conley three times. Conley died. Wald claims that he thought Conley was a stranger who had broken in and was raping his wife – despite the fact that Conley lived next door, had been his wife’s roommate and lover, and had his wife’s name tattooed onto his neck and arm. During a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man he shot was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” Wald never used the word rape in later reports to police, opting instead for “fornicate.” And while the fact that the two were lovers doesn’t imply consent, Flores has never accused Conley of rape — nor do prosecutors buy that that’s what Wald actually thought was happening. They say that Wald, who suffers from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage. Flores admits that she and Conley had sex regularly before and after her marriage to Wald. While testifying, Wald explained that his erectile dysfunction and his wife’s reluctance to have sex with him made them compatible: “In fact, she would joke a lot with me … that we were a perfect couple… She didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t do it.” On May 30, after deliberating for two hours, a jury found Wald not guilty. After the verdict was announced, Wald continued to show no remorse: “If the same thing happened again, I would do the same thing.”

 

On Aug. 1, 2010, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of three, with a Master’s degree and no criminal …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Russia Hints It Could Protect NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

June 11, 2013 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

The comments are a way to needle the U.S. from a country often criticized for human rights abuses and crackdowns on their own whistleblowers.


The Russian government has said that it would consider granting asylum to the person who leaked documents exposing the National Security Agency’s surveillance, The Guardian reports.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson told a Russian newspaper that “if such an appeal is given, it will be considered. We'll act according to facts.” A Russian Member of Parliament added, “that would be a good idea.”

The comments are a way to needle the U.S. from a country often criticized for human rights abuses. But Russia treats its own whistleblowers harshly. As Miriam Elder of The Guardian noted, “Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who revealed a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme involving officials from the interior ministry and tax police, was arrested and later died in jail after being refused medical attention. His body also showed signs of torture.”

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, had fled the U.S. and was last in Hong Kong, though his current whereabouts are unknown.

Over the weekend, he told The Guardian that his “predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values,” such as Iceland. That country has a tradition of protecting free speech, dissent and people from the U.S. have successfully sought asylum there. One Icelandic lawmaker has called on her country to grant Snowden asylum. But as the Washington Post's Max Fisher writes, “not everyone in Iceland is eager to harbor Snowden and there are reasons to suspect that the NSA leaker might not be necessarily win asylum in the country. Iceland’s government shifted to the right just a few weeks ago, empowering leaders who may be less eager to anger Washington.”

Snowden also could seek asylum from Hong Kong, but the territory has an extradition treaty with the U.S.


 

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Sen. Rand Paul on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose, Gayle King, and Norah O'Donnell – 6/11/13

June 11, 2013 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity- 6/10/2013

June 11, 2013 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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14-Year-Old Rape Victim Slut Shamed by Town: "I Can’t Walk Outside Without Someone Calling Me a Whore or Slut”

June 11, 2013 in Blogs

By Rebecca Leber, Think Progress

This ordeal is common for victims of sexual assault.


Several high-profile cases of sexual assault have shown the consequences of rape culture: From Rehtaeh Parsons’ suicide to the Steubenville rape trial, these girls were re-victimized by the harassment and public shaming that followed the sexual assault.

Now, a 14-year-old in Elwood, Indiana who is eight months pregnant faces ongoing harassment simply because her neighborhood sees her as a very young pregnant girl. But a reporter at the Indianapolis Star writes that her town does not know the full story of the 17-year-old boy who physically overpowered her after she told him “no.” On Tuesday, he faces sentencing for three counts of child molestation.

At the same time the girl has encountered vicious public shaming from her community, she and her mother Kristy Green have spoken out because they worry her assailant will walk free in juvenile court:

“I can’t walk out the door without someone calling me a whore or slut,” the girl said. “I used to have a lot of friends, or people I thought were my friends, but as soon as this happened I just isolated myself.”

The repeated vandalism incidents at the family’s home — including the words “whore” and “slut” scrawled on the garage doors — were reported to police. But Green said no charges were filed because there were no witnesses to the acts.

Her daughter also has been the target of mean-spirited rumors and speculation that her pregnancy is the result of promiscuous behavior.



This ordeal is all too common for victims of sexual assault — a reality that affects not just U.S. teens in school, but also pervades military and sports culture. The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board recently noted that “it’s still news when a rape victim stands in front of the cameras to state what ought to be obvious, which is that she has nothing to be ashamed of.”

But the people in Elwood — lacking the details of the rape due to privacy in the juvenile court system — reverted to alienating the teen for her …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: Big Brother Really Is Watching Us

June 11, 2013 in Politics & Elections

When Americans expressed outrage last week over the seizure and surveillance of Verizon’s client data by the National Security Agency, President Obama responded: ‘In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother . . . but when you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance.’
How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon? Hundreds of millions. We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies. These are the ‘details,’ and few Americans consider this approach ‘balanced,’ though many rightly consider it Orwellian.
These activities violate the Fourth Amendment, which says warrants must be specific-’particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’ And what is the government doing with these records? The president assures us that the government is simply monitoring the origin and length of phone calls, not eavesdropping on their contents. Is this administration seriously asking us to trust the same government that admittedly targets political dissidents through the Internal Revenue Service and journalists through the Justice Department?
No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We’ve always done this.
What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won’t be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation. Americans should trust the National Security Agency as much as they do the IRS and Justice Department.
Monitoring the records of as many as a billion phone calls, as some news reports have suggested, is no modest invasion of privacy. It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked. Our lives are now so digitized that the government going from computer to computer or phone to phone is the modern equivalent of the same type of tyranny that our Founders rebelled against.
I also believe that trolling through millions of phone records hampers the legitimate protection of our security. The government sifts through mountains of data yet still didn’t notice, or did not notice enough, that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was traveling to Chechnya. Perhaps instead of treating every American as a potential terror suspect the …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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'It Can't Happen Here' Just Did

June 11, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

As a Senate candidate in 2003, Barack Obama called the PATRIOT Act “shoddy and dangerous.” Once safely in power, Obama started demonstrating his remarkable capacity for “growing in office” — expanding federal powers while piously moralizing about their potential abuse.

As a senator, he voted to reauthorize the surveillance law in 2006; and as president, signed another PATRIOT renewal from Europe via presidential autopen in 2011.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has long warned of a “secret PATRIOT Act” — a classified interpretation of the law that allows the administration to undertake massive data collection on American citizens.

Last week, we got a glimpse of what he meant, when a National Security Agency contractor revealed that the agency has assembled a database of at least seven years’ worth of Verizon customers’ call records — a practice that apparently extends to other carriers.

We needn’t resort to hyperbolic examples like the East German Stasi to understand the dangers here — there’s a relevant comparison much closer to home.”

“Nobody is listening to your calls,” the peevish president said last week; they’re “sifting through this so-called metadata,” trying to identify potential leads.

About that “metadata”: It allows the government secretly to track who a target communicates with and where he’s physically located. That knowledge can be used to unearth who’s leaking to reporters, when and where political opponents are meeting — even who’s sleeping with whom.

The NSA’s massive call-records database is thus a potential treasure trove for bad-faith political actors — it can be used to ferret out the sort of information that governments have historically used to blackmail and control dissenters.

We needn’t resort to hyperbolic examples like the East German Stasi to understand the dangers here — there’s a relevant comparison much closer to home. A series of congressional investigations in the 1970s taught Americans shocking lessons about Cold War-era surveillance abuses.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee tasked Deputy Attorney General Laurence Silberman with reviewing former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s secret files.

Silberman was revolted by what he found: Hoover had let the bureau “be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes” and engaged in “subtle blackmail to ensure his and the bureau’s power.”

In his book The Secrets of the FBI, Ronald Kessler quotes one of the FBI director’s former top lieutenants: “The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator,” he’d send an emissary to the Hill to “advise the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Rand Paul Can Take on the NSA

June 11, 2013 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

Senator Rand Paul is itching to challenge the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the American Civil Liberties Union has already filed such a suit. Justice Sonia Sotomayor might be glad to see them both there.

Specifically, Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has pledged to spearhead a class-action lawsuit against the NSA on behalf of the millions of Americans whose phone and Internet activity logs have been vacuumed up under sweeping Patriot Act orders for “business records.” Yet the NSA program’s defenders insist it’s entirely legal — that the Constitution doesn’t even protect these records, making any court challenge a nonstarter.

The terrifying thing is they may be right, which means we need to seriously rethink how the Fourth Amendment works in the 21st century.

Simply by using modern technology, Americans have — for the most part unwittingly — abandoned the Fourth Amendment’s protection for a vast and growing portion of their intimate activities.”

This isn’t to say that the bulk surveillance on the scale we have been hearing about is currently lawful under federal statute. The Republican author of the Patriot Act, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, says these spying practices exceed the authority Congress intended to give intelligence agencies. It hadn’t imagined that a power to obtain records relevant to specific investigations would be used to demand daily copies of every American’s information, just in case it proves relevant in the future.

General Warrants

Moreover, an entirely different section of the law provides authority to monitor future calling activities, as these orders do. But that provision is more explicitly limited to monitoring a specific list of individual targets, phone lines or online accounts — which makes the use of business-records powers to obtain the data in bulk seem like an effort to dodge those limits.

But what about the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure” against “unreasonable searches and seizures”? Aren’t universal orders for phone and Internet logs precisely the kind of “general warrant” that inspired so much fear and loathing in the Framers of the Constitution?

Unfortunately, as the NSA dragnet’s defenders are quick to point out, that’s not how the Supreme Court sees things. In its earliest Fourth Amendment decisions, the court held that business records were as protected as any other private papers. But as the modern regulatory state grew in the early 19th century, the court changed its tune — not because there …read more

Source: OP-EDS