Prosecutors Are Reading Emails From Inmates to Lawyers / Eavesdropping …

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Attorney–client privilege is a legal concept that protects certain communications between a client and his or her attorney and keeps those communications confidential.

The attorney–client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications. The United States Supreme Court has stated that by assuring confidentiality, the privilege encourages clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation


Prosecutors Are Reading Emails From Inmates to Lawyers 

 22 July 2014 Jailhouse conversations have been many a defendant’s downfall through incriminating words spoken to inmates or visitors, or in phone calls to friends or relatives. Inmates’ calls to or from lawyers, however, are generally exempt from such monitoring. But across the country, federal prosecutors have begun reading prisoners’ emails to lawyers — a practice wholly embraced in Brooklyn, New York, where prosecutors have said they intend to read such emails in almost every case. The issue has spurred court battles over whether inmates have a right to confidential email communications with their lawyers — a question on which federal judges have been divided.

Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez protest airing of court chats


The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas


The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

–’Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list.’

23 July 2014 The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document  issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.”

Jurors convict friend of Boston Bombing Suspect Tsarnaev… (Find he obstructed a terrorism probe… IE: Nothing!)

July 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Bombers? Yeah right……. Friends: Azamat Tazhayakov and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pictured here in a photo prior to April 2013

Boston Globe

A former student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was convicted Monday of obstructing a terrorism investigation by concealing a backpack containing fireworks that belonged to his close friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

In the first trial related to the bombings, jurors in US District Court also found that Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, was part of a conspiracy with his off-campus roommate to hide incriminating evidence in the days immediately after the attack.

  • Tazhayakov sat stoically as he listened to the verdict Monday afternoon, occasionally looking back at his parents from Kazakhstan, who were seated several rows behind him.

Timeline: Three pivotal days in the case of Azamat Tazhayakov

Tazhayakov’s father, an oil executive from the central Asian country, showed little visible emotion, while his wife openly sobbed.

The jury deliberated for about 14 hours over three days and dismissed the defense’s efforts to paint Tazhayakov as a “good kid,” who did not know that his roommate planned to remove and get rid of incriminating items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room, according to one juror.

“He was not a passive actor,” said juror Daniel Antonino, 49, a software salesman.

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz addressed reporters very briefly after the verdict, saying she was gratified by the decision.

“They took their jobs very seriously,” she said. Ortiz also praised the work of the FBI and the two federal prosecutors, Stephanie Siegmann and John Capin, on the case.

Matthew Myers, one of three New York defense lawyers representing Tazhayakov, suggested that getting a fair trial for his client was challenging, given that Boston is still healing from the horrors of the bombings.

“It’s a difficult case to try in this culture,” Myers said, flanked by his colleagues, Diane Ferrone and Nicholas Wooldridge. He added that they plan to appeal the verdict.

Interactive: Tsarnaev’s texts with friends

Tazhayakov is the first of three college friends of Tsarnaev to face trial on charges that they interfered with the investigation into the April 15, 2013, bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260. Tazhayakov’s roommate — Dias Kadyrbayev, who faces the same charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice — is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 8.

A third friend, Robel Phillipos, faces charges of lying to investigators about his whereabouts the night of April 18. His trial is set for Sept. 29.

Monday’s verdict is likely to be daunting to Kadyrbayev and his lawyers, as significant testimony emerged over the past two weeks that Kadyrbayev took the lead in taking the items from Tsarnaev’s room and in tossing Tsarnaev’s backpack into a dumpster.

The backpack, which held fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive, was recovered from a nearby landfill by the FBI. That evidence is likely to be used against Tsarnaev, who faces the death penalty if convicted when he goes to trial in November.

According to testimony, Tsarnaev told his friends that he knew how to make homemade bombs. Federal investigators have said the pressure-cooker bombs used at the finish line contained powder emptied from fireworks.

Video: Tsarnaev, friend at gym day after bombings

The jury found that Tazhayakov played no role in the removal of Tsarnaev’s laptop, one of the questions on the jury slip. That determination, however, made no difference in Tazhayakov’s conviction on both counts of the two-count indictment; to find him guilty on each count, jurors only had to find that Tazhayakov interfered with the probe involving just one of the two items.

Myers, Tazhayakov’s defense attorney, said he plans to appeal the format of the jury slip, which he believes made jurors believe they were splitting the difference — and perhaps giving Tazhayakov a deserved break — when they found him guilty involving only the backpack, but not the laptop.

Antonino said the jury decided that Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev may have taken the laptop only for its resale value, not to protect Tsarnaev. The jury came to that conclusion, he said, because there seemed no effort to hide or destroy the item. The FBI found the laptop, untampered with, in the New Bedford apartment that Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev shared.

During the trial, which began about two weeks ago, prosecutors called on jurors to see Tazhayakov as a college student who did not do the right thing when it mattered, even when the magnitude of the bombings was apparent. They said that Tazhayakov could not have been oblivious to the bloody finish-line scenes or his friend’s potential involvement.

Forensic analysis of Tazhayakov’s laptop and cellphones showed that he viewed videos of the bombing and FBI video of the suspects over and over again. Also, as early as about 11 p.m. on April 18, 2013, six hours after the FBI had released photos of the suspected bombers but seven hours before authorities released their identities, Tazhayakov was using Tsarnaev’s name in Internet searches.

That was still two hours before Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, the other suspect, was killed during a shootout with police.

But defense attorneys insisted that Tazhayakov was a sweetly disposed teenager consumed with playing video games and getting high, someone who never imagined his friend was the bomber. They repeatedly referred to him as a “Mama’s boy” or a “good kid,” using depictions mentioned by one of Tazhayakov’s friends who testified in the case.

They went to great lengths to cast their client as likable. In fact, one defense attorney said Tazhayakov ordered Kadyrbayev to turn over a cap taken from Tsarnaev’s room, saying it showed his client was eager to help law enforcement.

Defense lawyers said that although Monday was “a brutal day for all of us,” they have been impressed with the calm disposition of their client throughout the trial. They said that they plan to appeal the verdict and that he is prepared for the legal challenges ahead.

“He’s a pretty strong 20-year-old,” said Myers.



Judge finds California’s death penalty unconstitutional

July 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional, saying the system is arbitrary, unfair, and that because the process is plagued with lengthy and unpredictable delays it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney, a conservative Republican judge appointed by President George W. Bush, is a major victory for California’s opponents of capital punishment in the state, and comes after a similar decision that halted executions in the state eight years ago.

In a case brought by a death row inmate against the warden of San Quentin state prison, Carney called the death penalty an empty promise that violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

“Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State,” the ruling read.

A death penalty appeal can last decades, Carney said, resulting in most condemned inmates dying of natural causes.

Full Article

Armed militia sets up Texas command center to ‘fight for national sovereignty’

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

A militia has set up a command center south of San Antonio to prepare for what they say is a mission to protect the United States from the influx of illegal immigrants.

The militia, operating via the website, founded by Barbie Rogers, said members at the command center in Von Ormy will deploy to Laredo first and spread to other parts of the border, a local ABC affiliate reported.

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Terror suspect says U.S. agents breach privacy rights of millions

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas, Police State

An Uzbekistan refugee charged with conspiring with foreign terrorists accuses U.S. intelligence agents of using a “backdoor” strategy to violate his privacy rights and those of millions of people, including virtually every U.S. citizen who corresponds with anyone overseas.

Defendant Jamshid Muhtorov of Aurora filed a motion seeking to toss out evidence collected against him through warrantless wiretaps. He is also seeking to view wiretap evidence collected against him that has been sealed for national security reasons.

Muhtorov’s arguments could have far-reaching consequences, if, as he claims, federal intelligence agents are routinely violating Fourth Amendment privacy rights on a massive scale. Documents released by the government in Muhtorov’s case have, piece by piece, defined a previously secretive intelligence-gathering strategy.

Intelligence agents have routinely scanned millions of e-mail and phone communications of U.S. citizens, even though it is illegal to directly tap those contacts without a warrant, his motion says.

Full Article

C.D.C. Shuts Labs After Accidents with Pathogens

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas, Sci-Tech

After potentially serious back-to-back laboratory accidents, federal health officials announced Friday that they had temporarily closed the flu and anthrax laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and halted shipments of all infectious agents from the agency’s highest-security labs.

The accidents, and the C.D.C.’s emphatic response to them, could have important consequences for the many laboratories that store high-risk agents and the few that, even more controversially, specialize in making them more dangerous for research purposes.

If the C.D.C. — which the agency’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, called “the reference laboratory to the world” — had multiple accidents that could, in theory, have killed both staff members and people outside, there will undoubtedly be calls for stricter controls on other university, military and private laboratories.

Full Article

Student Sues College Over “Free Speech Zone”

July 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Pretend its a VW Bug? CRAP!

Via Ben Swann

Glendora, CA – Citrus Community College is one of many universities in the nation that contains a “Free Speech Area.” This area is a designated space on campus; where students can set up booths, hand out pamphlets, and host speeches concerning the things they are passionate about.

While expressing one’s views may be encouraged inside a “Free Speech Area,” it is not welcomed in the same way in other areas around campus. Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle learned this lesson the hard way last year, when he started a petition against the National Security Agency’s spying program. According to Sinapi-Riddle, he was approached by an administrator, who warned him that he was outside of the designated zone and could be removed from campus.

It was shocking to me that there could be so much hostility about me talking to another student peacefully about government spying,” Sinapi-Riddle told the Los Angeles Times. “My vision of college was to express what I think.”

Sinapi-Riddle recently filed a lawsuit against the Citrus Community College District, with the intent to eliminate speech codes and any other policies that limit expression on campus. His lawsuit is sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that promotes free speech and due process rights at colleges and universities.

In addition to contesting the concept of the “Free Speech Area,” Sinapi-Riddle is also challenging the school’s anti-harassment policy, calling it “overly broad.” He added that although Citrus College eliminated all free speech zones after being sued in 2004, last year it “readopted in essence the unconstitutional policy it abandoned.

Sinapi-Riddle has the support of the First Amendment Center’s President, and Middle Tennessee State University’s Dean, Ken Paulson, who called the legal movement “right on the money and long overdue.”

Universities are scared of people who demand censorship – they’re afraid of lawsuits and PR problems,” said Robert Shibley, the Senior Vice President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Unfortunately, they are more worried about that than about ignoring their First Amendment responsibilities.”

Water being auctioned for millions of dollars in California? (Drought reaches extremes )

July 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

Past reports include the addition of “Water Police

(NaturalNews) As the water shortage crisis in California rises to a boil, desperate farmers are coming forward to bid on the remaining steam. The Central Valley in California is indeed drying up, but private landowners who still have leftover water reserves on their property are now looking to cash in.

A California water rush is on, as water is being auctioned for millions and aquifers are depleted

According to state records, two water districts in California are beginning to auction off their private supplies of water. The two landowners in charge have reportedly made millions off their water stashes. The Buena Vista Water Storage District has already raked in about $13.5
million from the auction of 12,000 acre-feet of water this year.

Upon hearing the news, at least 40 other land owners have begun to prepare for a massive sell-off of their surplus water storage. Drilling for water has become more important than drilling for oil, as water banks are drained at an alarming rate.

The demand for California water is at an all-time high. In the past five years, the price of water has spiked tenfold. An acre-foot of water can now go for $2,200 in drought-stricken regions. As the aquifers are depleted to the highest bidder, it’s only a matter of time before the less fortunate are put at the mercy of those who have a hand on the water tap.

Some are calling on new state regulations to ensure that the water distribution remains transparent. “If you have a really scarce natural resource that the state’s economy depends on, it would be nice to have it run efficiently and transparently,” said Richard Howitt, professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis.

Others believe that the free market is more capable of controlling the price of the important natural resource. “We think that buyers and sellers can negotiate their own deals better than the state,” said Nancy Quan, a supervising engineer with the California Department of Water Resources

California water rush is on, extracted like gold from underwater caverns

Those auctioning off the high-demand water are private firms who hold claims on the underground commodity that date back a century. Underground caverns known as “water banks,” where individuals store extra water for later use, are now being emptied as if water has become the new gold or oil.

“This year the market is unbelievable,” said Thomas Greci, the general manager of the Madera Irrigation District, which recently made nearly $7 million from selling about 3,200 acre-feet. “And this is a way to pay our bills.”

The water is quickly being bought up by the city of Santa Barbara, which has been struck hard by the water shortages. Other top bidders include almond farmers desperately needing some H2O for their crops.

Underground water banks aren’t the only sources being extracted from. A water district northwest of Bakersfield, California, announced that it would sell off water from the Kern River. The district claims its right to the river due to a century-old right-to-use law.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the State Water Resources Control Board have documented at least 38 separate sales this year. The agency has set the maximum volume that can be sold, 730,323 acre-feet. This amount is about one-fourth of what the State Water Project has delivered to farms in previous years. There’s obviously a more desperate demand than ever before.

Anthea Hansen, general manager of the arid Del Puerto Water District, estimates that farmers will realistically pay on average $775 to $980 for an acre-foot of water in the year ahead.

Sources for this article include:

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“Forgotten” vials of smallpox found in DC storage room

July 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Americas

A government scientist cleaning out an old storage room at a research center near Washington made a startling discovery last week — decades-old vials of smallpox packed away and forgotten in a cardboard box.

 Yahoo / AP

The six glass vials of freeze-dried virus were intact and sealed with melted glass, and the virus might have been dead, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Still, the find was disturbing because for decades after smallpox was declared eradicated in the 1980s, world health authorities believed the only samples left were safely stored in super-secure laboratories in Atlanta and in Russia.

Officials said this is the first time in the U.S. that unaccounted-for smallpox has been discovered.

It was the second recent incident in which a government health agency appeared to have mishandled a highly dangerous germ. Last month, a laboratory safety lapse at the CDC in Atlanta led the agency to give scores of employees antibiotics as a precaution against anthrax.

The smallpox virus samples were found in a building at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, that has been used by the Food and Drug Administration since 1972, according to the CDC.

The scientist was cleaning out a cold room between two laboratories on July 1 when he made the discovery, FDA officials said.

Officials said labeling indicated the smallpox had been put in the vials in the 1950s. But they said it’s not clear how long the vials had been in the building, which did not open until the 1960s.

No one has been infected, and no smallpox contamination was found in the building.

Smallpox can be deadly even after it is freeze-dried, but the virus usually has to be kept cold to remain alive and dangerous.

In an interview Tuesday, a CDC official said he believed the vials were stored for many years at room temperature, which would suggest the samples are dead. But FDA officials said later in the day that the smallpox was in cold storage for decades.

Both FDA and CDC officials said more lab analysis will have to be done to say if the germ is dangerous.

“We don’t yet know if it’s live and infectious,” said Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the CDC center that handles highly dangerous infectious agents.

The samples were rushed to the CDC in Atlanta for testing, after which they will be destroyed.

In at least one other such episode, vials of smallpox were found at the bottom of a freezer in an Eastern European country in the 1990s, according to Dr. David Heymann, a former World Health Organization official who is now a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Heymann said it is difficult to say whether there might be other forgotten vials of smallpox out there. He said that when smallpox samples were consolidated for destruction, requests were made to ministers of health to collect all vials.

“As far as I know, there was never a confirmation they had checked in with all groups who could have had the virus,” he said.

Smallpox was one of the most lethal diseases in history. For centuries, it killed about one-third of the people it infected, including Queen Mary II of England, and left most survivors with deep scars on their faces from the pus-filled lesions.

The last known case was in Britain in 1978, when a university photographer who worked above a lab handling smallpox died after being accidentally exposed to it from the ventilation system.

Global vaccination campaigns finally brought smallpox under control. After it was declared eradicated, all known remaining samples of live virus were stored at a CDC lab in Atlanta and at a Russian lab in Novosibirsk, Siberia.

The labs take extreme precautions. Scientists who work with the virus must undergo fingerprint or retinal scans to get inside, they wear full-body suits including gloves and goggles, and they shower with strong disinfectant before leaving the labs.

The U.S. smallpox stockpile, which includes samples from Britain, Japan and the Netherlands, is stored in liquid nitrogen.

There has long been debate about whether to destroy the stockpile.

Many scientists argue the deadly virus should be definitively wiped off the planet and believe any remaining samples pose a threat. Others argue the samples are needed for research on better treatments and vaccines.

At its recent annual meeting in May, the member countries of the WHO decided once again to delay a decision.

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