Ralph Nader, a former Green Party and Independent Party presidential candidate who frequently serves as a loud critic of federal safety standards, doesn’t have much love for presumptive Democratic Party White House candidate Hillary Clinton.
When asked by a writer with We Are Change what he thought of the the former Secretary of State seeking the nation’s highest office, Mr. Nader’s reply was less than enthusiastic.
“Well, Hillary is a corporatist and a militarist,” Mr. Nader said, Raw Story reported. “Do we want another corporatist and militarist? She thinks Obama is too weak. He doesn’t kill enough people overseas. So she’s a menace to the United States of America.”
But he wasn’t done.
“What we need is people — regardless of whether they are libertarians or not — that pull back on the empire and make Wall Street subordinate to Main Street,” Mr. Nader said, Raw Story reported. “People have got to start thinking, doing their homework, become informed voters and not coronet another corporatist and militarist.’
Mr. Nader had some harsh words for Sen. Rand Paul, too.
“He’s like his father Ron Paul,” Mr. Nader said, Raw Story reported, “He is against militarism, against the bloated military budget, against empire and against these foreign military unconstitutional adventures — but Rand Paul is changing by the month as he wants the White House. He is beginning to say, ‘Well, what if we give more aid to Israel?’ … So he is beginning to change.”
Mr. Nader had some words of advice for Mr. Paul: “What he ought to do is go back to his father, sit on his knee and become more like Ron Paul,” he said, Raw Story reported.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/29/ralph-nader-dubs-hillary-clinton-a-menace-to-the-u/#ixzz3HYgCWMfX
WASHINGTON — (NYT) In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.
The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.
The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The audit, which was reported on earlier by Politico, found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization.
Mail handlers in Virginia. The Postal Service approved nearly 50,000 requests last year to track the mail of Americans. CreditLuke Sharrett for The New York Times
In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. Many requests were not processed in time, the audit said, and computer errors caused the same tracking number to be assigned to different surveillance requests.
“Insufficient controls could hinder the Postal Inspection Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail and harm the Postal Service’s brand,” the audit concluded.
The audit was posted in May without public announcement on the website of the Postal Service inspector general and got almost no attention.
The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. At the request of state or federal law enforcement agencies or the Postal Inspection Service, postal workers record names, return addresses and any other information from the outside of letters and packages before they are delivered to a person’s home.
Law enforcement officials say this deceptively old-fashioned method of collecting data provides a wealth of information about the businesses and associates of their targets, and can lead to bank and property records and even accomplices. (Opening the mail requires a warrant.)
Interviews and court records also show that the surveillance program was used by a county attorney and sheriff to investigate a political opponent in Arizona — the county attorney was later disbarred in part because of the investigation — and to monitor privileged communications between lawyers and their clients, a practice not allowed under postal regulations.
Theodore Simon, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said he was troubled by the audit and the potential for the Postal Service to snoop uncontrolled into the private lives of Americans.
“It appears that there has been widespread disregard of the few protections that were supposed to be in place,” Mr. Simon said.
In information provided to The Times earlier this year under the Freedom of Information Act, the Postal Service said that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made more than 100,000 requests to monitor the mail of Americans. That would amount to an average of some 8,000 requests a year — far fewer than the nearly 50,000 requests in 2013 that the Postal Service reported in the audit.
The difference is that the Postal Service apparently did not provide to The Times the number of surveillance requests made for national security investigations or those requested by its own investigation and law enforcement arm, the Postal Inspection Service. Typically, the inspection service works hand in hand with outside law enforcement agencies that have come to the Postal Service asking for investigations into fraud, pornography, terrorism or other potential criminal activity.
The Postal Service also uses a program called Mail Imaging, in which its computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail sent in the United States. The program’s primary purpose is to process the mail, but in some cases it is also used as a surveillance system that allows law enforcement agencies to request stored images of mail sent to and received by people they are investigating.
Another system, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking Program, was created after anthrax attacks killed five people, including two postal workers, in late 2001. It is used to track or investigate packages or letters suspected of containing biohazards like anthrax or ricin. The program was first made public in 2013 in the course of an investigation into ricin-laced letters mailed to President Obama and Michael R. Bloomberg, then New York City’s mayor, by an actress, Shannon Guess Richardson.
Despite the sweep of the programs, postal officials say they are both less intrusive than that of the National Security Agency’s vast collection of phone and Internet records and have safeguards to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.
“You can’t just get a mail cover to go on a fishing expedition,” said Paul J. Krenn, a spokesman for the Postal Inspection Service. “There has to be a legitimate law enforcement reason, and the mail cover can’t be the sole tool.”
The mail cover surveillance requests cut across all levels of government — from global intelligence investigations by the United States Army Criminal Investigations Command, which requested 500 mail covers from 2001 through 2012, to state-level criminal inquiries by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which requested 69 mail covers in the same period. The Department of Veterans Affairs requested 305, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security asked for 256. The information was provided to The Times under the Freedom of Information request.
Postal officials did not say how many requests came from agencies in charge of national security — including the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection — because release of the information, wrote Kimberly Williams, a public records analyst for the Postal Inspection Service, “would reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement or prosecutions.”
In Arizona in 2011, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, discovered that her mail was being monitored by the county’s sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Ms. Wilcox had been a frequent critic of Mr. Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps.
The Postal Service had granted an earlier request from Mr. Arpaio and Andrew Thomas, who was then the county attorney, to track Ms. Wilcox’s personal and business mail.
Using information gleaned from letters and packages sent to Ms. Wilcox and her husband, Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Thomas obtained warrants for banking and other information about two restaurants the couple owned. The sheriff’s office also raided a company that hired Ms. Wilcox to provide concessions at the local airport.
“We lost the contract we had for the concession at the airport, and the investigation into our business scared people away from our restaurants,” Ms. Wilcox said in an interview. “I don’t blame the Postal Service, but you shouldn’t be able to just use these mail covers to go on a fishing expedition. There needs to be more control.”
She sued the county, was awarded nearly $1 million in a settlement in 2011 and received the money this June when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Mr. Thomas, the former county attorney, was disbarred for his role in investigations into the business dealings of Ms. Wilcox and other officials and for other unprofessional conduct. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on Mr. Arpaio’s use of mail covers in the investigation of Ms. Wilcox.
In another instance, Cynthia Orr, a defense lawyer in San Antonio, recalled that while working on a pornography case in the early 2000s, federal prosecutors used mail covers to track communications between her team of lawyers and a client who was facing obscenity and tax evasion charges. Ms. Orr complained to prosecutors but never learned if the tracking stopped. Her team lost the case.
“The troubling part is that they don’t have to report the use of this tool to anyone,” Ms. Orr said in an interview. The Postal Service declined to comment on the case.
Frank Askin, a law professor at the Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic, who as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union successfully sued the F.B.I. nearly 40 years ago after the agency monitored the mail of a 15-year-old New Jersey student, said he was concerned about the oversight of the current program.
“Postal Service employees are not judicial officers schooled in the meaning of the First Amendment,” Mr. Askin said.
Announcement coming (after school so kids dont get hurt during planned riots)
- Hacker group cite government source when making announcement
- A grand jury was due to make a decision on officer Darren Wilson in January
- But Anonymous says announcement is now expected within a fortnight
- Local police, prisons and the National Guard are on ‘high alert’
- Five other cases involving Wilson dropped after court no-shows
London Daily Mail
The policeman who shot teenager Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, Missouri, won’t be charged over the death, hacker group Anonymous claim, citing government sources.
If true, the decision will almost certainly inflame racial tensions in the United States. The killing of the unarmed black teenager by the white police officer Darren Wilson sparked weeks of angry protests in Ferguson and has become a flashpoint across America.
Wilson hasn’t been seen in public since Brown’s August 9 killing.
Michael Brown, left, was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson, right. Anonymous cites unnamed sources as saying Wilson will not face charges over the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9
An autopsy leaked online last week revealed Brown had been shot six times at close range, and had cannabis in his system
Anymous, claiming it had information leaked to them by two sources, reported via Twiitter that Wilson will not be charged
The group tweeted the decision would be made public in an ‘imminent announcement.’
Authorities have made no official decision on whether Wilson will be charged and a grand jury is not set to decide until January 7, but according to Anonymous, a decision may now come within two weeks.
According to the sources speaking to Anonymous and reported by the International Business Times, ‘virtually every local police agency as well as the National Guard and all local jails are on high alert’ ahead of the announcement.
Last week, an official autopsy report into Brown’s death was leaked online and revealed Wilson shot the teenager six times at close range as he ran towards him.
The killing by a white police officer of the unarmed teenager Brown triggered a storm of protest. Anonymous reported that ‘virtually every local police agency as well as the National Guard and all local jails are on high alert’ ahead of the announcement about whether Wilson will be charged
A decision on charges was not expected until January
Ferguson residents continue to call for arrest of officer
A toxicology report revealed that Brown was under the influence of marijuana at the time.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that five criminal cases have been dismissed because Wilson has not shown up at court to give evidence.
Details of the dropped cases have not been released, but the latest involved Christopher A. Brooks, 28, having a charge of marijuana possession dropped.
The judge had agreed to put the case on hold after Wilson missed a late September preliminary hearing.
Wilson also didn’t appear before a grand jury in the Brooks case, an alternative that Associate Circuit Judge Mary Bruntrager Schroder signed off on at the previous hearing.
Prosecutors have said they won’t take any action against Wilson, who received a Ferguson City Council commendation in February for his role in Brooks’ arrest, over his failure to appear to give evidence.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2810141/Drug-case-dropped-Ferguson-officer-no-show.html#ixzz3HT0RdNd9
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Around two million barrels of oil from the BP spill off the US Gulf Coast in 2010 are believed to have settled on the ocean floor, according to a study Monday.
The fate of two million of the nearly five million barrels that gushed into the open waters has remained a mystery until now, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.
Researchers analyzed samples collected at more than 500 locations around the Macondo Well, where the leaked oil emerged, and found it had spread widely, settling down like dirt in a bathtub.
The oil was found to have spread as far as 3,200 square kilometers (1,235 square miles) from the site, and may have gone even further, the report said.
“Our analysis suggests the oil initially was suspended in deep waters and then settled to the underlying sea floor,” said the study by the University of California, Santa Barbara; the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts; and the University of California, Irvine.
Researchers came to this conclusion by studying seafloor sediment cores for residual hopane, a hydrocarbon that comes from crude oil.
BP took issue with the findings and the method researchers used, saying the impacted area was overestimated.
“The authors failed to identify the source of the oil, leading them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the sea floor and the geographic area in which it is found,” said a statement from BP spokesman Jason Ryan.
“Instead of using rigorous chemical fingerprinting to identify the oil, the authors used a single compound that is also found in every natural oil seep in the Gulf of Mexico, causing them to find false positives all over the sea floor.”
- Sea-life damaged -
According to the National Science Foundation, which funded the study, “hopane was concentrated in a thin layer at the sea floor within 25 miles of the ruptured well, clearly implicating Deepwater Horizon as the source.”
Study author David Valentine, a bio of the University of California, Santa Barbara, said the process likely led to the damage of deep sea corals.
“The pattern of contamination we observe is fully consistent with the Deepwater Horizon event but not with natural seeps — the suggested alternative.”
The National Wildlife Federation said earlier this year that scientific studies on 14 different types of creatures affected by the spill show that long lasting harm was done to dolphins, sea turtles, tuna, loons and other animals in the region.
In pleading guilty to the spill, BP agreed to pay the government $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges in the case.
It also agreed in 2012 to settle damage claims by businesses and individuals for about $7.8 billion.
Last month, a federal court judge in New Orleans concluded that BP acted with “gross negligence” ahead of the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, meaning BP may face billions of dollars in new fines.
The April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blowout, which killed 11 people, happened because BP’s US subsidiaries, along with oil-services company Halliburton and rig owner Transocean, did not take adequate care in drilling a risky well, the court found.
3 sheriff’s deputies, bystander shot in series of Calif. shootings; one deputy has died–Motive for shootings ‘unknown’ 24 Oct 2014 A Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy who was shot while investigating a suspicious vehicle has died and the suspect has been taken into custody after an intensive manhunt. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones says the 47-year-old deputy, Danny Oliver, was killed after he approached a suspicious vehicle and was shot in the forehead. Three deputies and a bystander were shot during a series of shootings Friday that spanned more than 30 miles through two California counties.
CHICAGO (FOX) — Early voting in Illinois got off to a rocky start Monday, as votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats.
Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote Monday at the Schaumburg Public Library.
“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”
The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.
Moynihan offered this gracious lesson to his followers on Twitter: “Be careful when you vote in Illinois. Make sure you take the time to check your votes before submitting.”
Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti, told Illinois Watchdog, the machine was taken out of service and tested.
“This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said. “When Mr. Moynihan used the touch-screen, it improperly assigned his votes due to improper calibration.”
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Mexico City (AFP) - Mexico on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the mayor of the city of Iguala, his wife and an aide, charging they masterminded last month’s attack that left six students dead and 43 missing.
“We shall overcome,” protesters shouted with clenched fists in the air. Marching were students, teachers, farmers and activists joining relatives of the missing students.
“They took them away alive. We want them back alive”, ran another slogan.
The march was peaceful. Town hall gave the figure of participation at 45,000.
Protesters carried large black and white photos of the missing and called out their names, one by one, as if in a roll call in class, followed by the world “present.”
Protesters banged drums, strummed guitars and blew whistles.
“I am indignant over what happened. They could have been my students, my brothers, my children,” said Jorge de la Pena, a psychology professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Mexican authorities have searched in vain for any trace of the teachers college students who disappeared on September 26, in a case that has sparked national and international outrage, including mass demonstrations that saw the Iguala city hall torched Wednesday.
“Arrest warrants have been issued for Iguala mayor (Jose Luis Abarca),” as well as his wife and public safety chief, “as the individuals who likely organized the events that took place in Iguala,” Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told reporters.
Abarca “gave police the order to confront” students, who were known for frequent protests, so that they would not derail a public event by his wife, the head of a local state children’s protection charity.
Authorities say corrupt officials and police worked hand-in-hand with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel in the attack, which could prove to be one of the worst slaughters that Mexico has witnessed since the drug war intensified in 2006.
The mayor’s wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, is a sister of at least three known drug traffickers, and the couple has ties to Guerreros Unidos, authorities said.
Searchers are still desperately combing the area for the missing students by land and air, almost a month later.
- Protesters torch city hall -
Authorities say Iguala’s police force shot at buses carrying the students and handed them over to officers in the neighboring town of Cocula, who then delivered them to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang.
Thousands of teachers and students demonstrated, an unspecified number of whom torched the building, which at the time had no workers inside, an AFP reporter said
It was the second incident in which demonstrators set fire to local buildings in Iguala in as many days.
On Tuesday, 500 teachers set fire to a political party office in the capital of Guerrero state, Chilpancingo.
Armed with pipes and sticks, the protesters burst into in the state headquarters of the Democratic Revolutionary Party demanding the resignation of state governor Angel Aguirre.
The protesters burned computers and documents, but no one was hurt.
Authorities have found several mass graves in Iguala but say 28 sets of remains examined so far do not correspond to the students.
This week, the government announced a $110,000 (87,000 euros) reward for information in the disappearance of the students.
A total of 36 municipal officers in Iguala have been arrested in the case, along with 17 Guerreros Unidos members and their boss.
Mexican authorities last week announced the arrest of the “maximum leader” of the Guerreros Unidos gang, Sidronio Casarrubias, at a police checkpoint on a highway between Mexico City and the nearby city of Toluca.
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament.
“They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited,” he told the House of Commons, one day after a gunman launched an attack on Parliament and was shot dead.
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