0306 OR Verbal altercation closes Port of Portland container terminal
The Port of Portland's container yard closed for the second day in a row. This time following an argument between security workers and longshoremen.
Port spokesman Steve Johnson told The Oregonian (http://is.gd/qvN22O
) that the angry words were exchanged Wednesday after longshoremen started moving traffic cones in a parking lot.
The closure came a day after dockworkers stopped working to honor a picket line.
The Terminal 6 container terminal has been the site of repeated turmoil since 2012, as members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union clash with the company hired to operate it.
Hanjin Shipping, Portland's most important container carrier, has threatened to abandon the city because labor-management friction has reduced productivity.
0306 WA Minimum wage increase supporters pack Seattle hearing
Last night A public hearing on Seattle's minimum wage drew a crowd estimated at about 700 people . many of them red-shirted advocates of a move to increase the city's minimum to $15 an hour.
The mayor's Income Inequality Committee is expected to offer the City Council a proposal by April 30.
The Times says that so far, the committee hasn't addressed the issues of how much to increase pay, how quickly and whether there will be exemptions. Washington state's minimum wage is $9.32 an hour.
0306 US Pentagon Calls Climate Change Impacts "Threat Multipliers," Could Enable Terrorism
A “civilizational threat” is how the Pentagon puts it. and as the source of terror for millions of people around the world, the US military would know whereof it speaks. And speak it did in the 2014 U.S. Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). Out yesterday. the Review , declaries that the threat of climate change impacts a very serious national security vulnerability that, among other things, could enable further terrorist activity.
Released every four years, the QDR is a broad outline of U.S. military strategy discussing how to maintain global U.S. military hegemony. Like the 2010 document, the 64-page 2014 QDR again highlights the threats posed to national security by ever-worsening global climate disruption.
The report states that the impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities.
"Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating."
For sake of context, some members of the U.S. Congress still deny the existence of climate change, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But the Pentagon's assessment is that global warming is not only real, but also a civilizational threat, as stated in sobering language in the past three QDRs.
As outlined in Christian Parenti's 2011 book, "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence," the military establishment understands climate change is an unparalleled global threat, saying so clearly in reports like the QDR. The problem: its activities around the world are in large part responsible for the threat to begin with.
0306 US Massive license plate location database just like Instagram, Digital Recognition Network insists
It started yesterday At a state house hearing before the Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee , the chief executive of the largest license plate scan database in the country insisted that license plate recognition technology is “simply photography.”
Or, as Chris Metaxas, chief executive of Digital Recognition Network based in Fort Worth, Texas, puts it, the scans are the same as storing pictures on Instagram, which are available for all to see.”
Metaxas was the sole witness to testify against a bill that would regulate use of license plate readers. His company oversees a nationwide network of license plate reader cameras operated by repo agents, many of whom collect their geotagged “pictures” of license plates in shopping mall parking garages, office park lots, and residential parking facilities.
DRN’s database currently stores 1.8 billion vehicle location records, and its network adds 70 million scans each month.
A bill proposed by state Senator Cynthia Creem (D - Newton) and state Representative Jonathan Hecht (D – Watertown) would put a number of restrictions on license plate readers. If passed, the bill would ban most uses of the technology, making exceptions only for law enforcement, toll collection, and parking regulation.
License plate scan companies argue that the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, passed in 1994, adequately guards against abuses of the technology. DPPA limits the disclosure of Registry of Motor Vehicles information that connects a particular plate to an individual.
Supporters of restrictions countered that DPPA allows a wide range of permissible uses, and that RMV listings are not the only way to tie a plate to an individual.
DRN has filed suit against the state of Utah over a similar ban on commercial use of license plate scanning, claiming that the company has a First Amendment right to photograph license plates in public view.
A handful of civil liberties and privacy groups also testified in support of restrictions, including the American Friends Service Committee, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus.
Law enforcement representatives were notably absent among witnesses.
0306 US Massive Pushback in Utah
Private businesses are using the 1st Amendment to mount a legal challenge to regulations on automatic license plate readers signed into law in the state of Utah in April of last year. License plate readers are another in the great panoply of spying technologies that automatically read the plate number, direction and time of travel for any car it catches in its lens. This data can then be aggregated and cross-referenced by police or other government agents to discern whether or not the car is stolen or otherwise involved in a criminal investigation.
The regulation in Utah effectively banned the private use of license plate scanners and put in place strict guidelines for how the scanners are to be used by police. Included in the regulation is a 30-day cap on information retention, meaning all the license plate data collected by the cameras is discarded after the 30-day period is up.
Private companies who collect and sell data gleaned through the use of license plate scanner technology are now prevented from engaging in the practice as a result of the ban on private data collection. From Ars Technica:
“Two major private LPR firms—Digital Recognition Network and Vigilant Solutions—are suing Utah’s governor and attorney general, arguing that they have a First Amendment right to collect data on license plates, which are displayed in public on open roads.
The case seemingly pits the privacy rights of individuals against the First Amendment rights of corporations to engage in constitutionally protected speech. Legal experts say that this case presents a unique challenge in balancing these two constitutional rights, and it may have implications for future, similar laws across the country.”
0306 US CIA Accused Of Spying On Senate Intelligence Committee Staffers
from the biting-the-hand-that-oversees-you dept
While at times, it's appeared that the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Dianne Feinstein, serves more to prop up the intelligence community than to handle oversight, it has actually clashed quite a bit with the CIA. We've discussed a few times how the Committee has been pushing to release a supposedly devastating 6,000 page report about the CIA's torture program, which cost taxpayers an equally astounding $40 million to produce. However, the CIA has been fighting hard to block the release of the report, arguing that it misrepresents the CIA's actions.
However, things are getting even more bizarre, as the NY Times is reporting that the CIA is now accused of spying on the Intelligence Committee and its staffers in its attempt to keep that report from being released.
The details are still a little cloudy, but in December, Senator Mark Udall revealed that the Senate Intelligence Committee had come across an internal CIA study that apparently corroborated the information that is in the big Senate report -- and which directly contradicted claims by the CIA to the Committee about how the report was inaccurate -- suggesting that, on top of everything else, the CIA lied to the Intelligence Committee. Udall quizzed CIA boss John Brennan about that internal report. And according to the NY Times, it appears that CIA folks freaked out that the Intelligence Committee somehow got access to that internal study, and responded the way the CIA knows best: by starting to spy on Intelligence Committee staffers:
The agency’s inspector general began the inquiry partly as a response to complaints from members of Congress that C.I.A. employees were improperly monitoring the work of staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to government officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The committee has spent several years working on a voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its investigation.
On Tuesday, Udall sent a strongly worded letter to President Obama, pushing for the declassification and release of the big 6,300 page report, but also that internal CIA study, which would highlight how the CIA lied. On top of that, he made an oblique reference to this spying activity by the CIA:
As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIA review, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee's oversight responsibilities and for our democracy. It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work -- consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers -- without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.
In many ways, the idea that the CIA is directly spying on the Senate Committee charged with its own oversight is a bigger potential scandal than many of the Snowden NSA revelations so far. Even more importantly, it may finally lead to Congress taking action against an out-of-control intelligence community.
0306 US Blocked confirmation of Obama civil rights enforcement has lawyers worried about clients
Should a lawyer be disqualified from public service for representing a client like a cop killer? The question arises after the Senate rejected President Barack Obama's candidate to be the government's chief civil rights attorney.
The White House, attorneys and civil rights groups argued that a bipartisan vote Wednesday blocking Debo Adegbile from advancing toward confirmation set a troubling precedent that could dissuade lawyers with aspirations to serve in government from taking on unpopular clients or working for unpopular causes.
"The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice," Obama, a lawyer himself, argued after the final vote.
Adegbile spent much of his career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where he argued before the Supreme Court that Mumia Abu-Jamal's conviction for killing a Philadelphia police officer should be overturned because of discrimination in jury selection. Abu-Jamal is now serving a life sentence without parole.
The National Fraternal Order of Police urged senators to oppose Adegbile for his advocacy in the case. All 44 Republicans and eight Democrats voted against his nomination as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, likely dooming the nomination in what Obama called a "travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks." It was unknown what the next steps the White House will take with the nomination
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a lawyer, voted no because Adegbile "would face such visceral opposition from law enforcement on his first day on the job." But Coons also said he embraces "the proposition that an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client."
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said senators had a right to probe Adegbile's work because it was for an advocacy group.
"They tried to bring racial politics into this murder of a police officer, and not only that, they used it to try to try to make the false claim that we have an entirely racist judicial system and they used it to raise money," he said. "I don't know of any private attorneys who use their representation of clients to try and raise money for their organization. It is very much on point to be able to criticize him for the kind of representation they provided."
The Adegbile vote was the latest example of changing standards for legal nominees that reflects increasing politicization of the nomination process. Adegbile's backers point out that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts aided in the representation of Florida death row inmate John Ferguson, convicted of killing eight people.
"During the course of their long careers, both John Roberts and Debo Adegbile each performed a vital constitutional service by representing an unpopular client on death row," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Roberts is now chief justice of the Supreme Court, but opponents of the Adegbile nomination twisted reality and resorted to some of the dirtiest attacks I've seen in my professional career."
Democrats opposed Obama's nomination of Atlanta attorney Mark Cohen as a federal judge because he argued in favor of Georgia's voter identification law. And Republicans opposed Obama's nomination of Caitlin Halligan as an appellate judge because of her work on a case against gun manufacturers as solicitor general of New York.
Obama's counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, said rising young lawyers who have taken on unpopular clients were watching the Adegbile vote and thinking they will never be able to serve at a senior level in the government.
0306 US Senate to vote on bill that would strip commanders of authority to prosecute sex crimes
Will legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military by stripping senior commanders of their authority to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses make it a vote in the Senate? It could happen this afternoon…
The bill, is firmly opposed by the Pentagon's leadership, which argues officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the troops they lead.
A solid majority of the Senate backs the bill, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., illustrating the deep frustration among Republicans and Democrats over the military's failure to stem the epidemic of sexual assaults in the ranks.