Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yes, It's Legal To Film The Cops

NEW YORK — It’s becoming clearer and clearer that smartphones have ushered in a new era of police accountability. Since mid-July, when a bystander on Staten Island filmed the death of Eric Garner in a prohibited police chokehold, at least eight other unsettling videos, most of them captured by smartphone, have emerged showing instances of apparent excessive force by NYPD officers. Four such videos have appeared this month alone.

Although police might intimidate bystanders into thinking otherwise, it’s perfectly legal to film the cops – not only in New York, but everywhere in the U.S. — as long as you don’t get in their way. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, encourages people to keep using their phones to film troubling police incidents. The more people who post these videos online, she said, the more likely it is that other people will reach for their own phones when they see cops doing something questionable.

“When police wrongdoing is captured on videotape, it makes the public understand what has happened and why we need to hold the police accountable, and that we need changes in the way police do business,” Lieberman told The Huffington Post.

“Nobody would have believed what happened to Rodney King if it hadn’t been caught on videotape,” she added, referring to the man who was brutally beaten by Los Angeles cops in 1991, leading to months of protests. “The same is true for Eric Garner.”

Lieberman also argued that the modern-day proliferation of video is actually good news for police officers.

More:  http://www.popularresistance.org/yes-its-legal-to-film-the-cops/

EFF: Updated Know Your Rights Guide

If the police come knocking at your door, the constitution offers you some protection. But the constitution is just a piece of paper—if you don’t know how to assert your rights. And even if you do assert your rights…what happens next? That answer may seem complicated, but protecting yourself is simple if you know your rights.

That’s why EFF has launched an updated Know Your Rights Guide that explains your legal rights when law enforcement try to search the data stored on your computer, cell phone or other electronic device.

The guide clarifies when the police can search devices, describes what to do if police do (or don’t) have a warrant, and explains what happens if the police can’t get into a device because of encryption or other security measures.

Our guide is up to date as of October 2014, and will always indicate when it was last updated. While the Constitution stays the same, there are constantly new court opinions interpreting the law in light of new technologies. Since we first published a Know Your Rights whitepaper in 2011, state and federal courts, including the US Supreme Court, have issued key opinions that affect rights around search and seizure. In an important 2012 decision in United States v. Jones, the US Supreme Court ruled police could not install a GPS device onto a car without a search warrant. And in the seminal 2014 case Riley v. California, the same court ruled an arrest isn’t sufficient reason to search a cell phone without a warrant. We expect there to be many new cases interpreting Jones and Riley to other forms of technologies, and will keep our Guide updated with those new developments.

Remember, when it comes to your legal rights, what you don’t know can hurt you. Read our guide, share it with your friends and family, and be prepared!

Know Your Rights Guide:  https://www.eff.org/issues/know-your-rights

Thousands of federal workers on extended paid leave

Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work, government records show.

During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone.

The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct.

And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason.

But a report by the Government Accountability Office, first made public by The Washington Post on its Web site Monday, found that 53,000 civilian employees were kept home for one to three months during the three fiscal years that ended in September 2013. About 4,000 were idled for three months to a year and several hundred for one to three years. This is the first time the government has calculated the scope and cost of administrative leave.

More:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/thousands-of-federal-workers-on-extended-paid-leave/2014/10/20/c1c963bc-53e3-11e4-ba4b-f6333e2c0453_story.html

Tightened Guidance for U.S. Healthcare Workers on Personal Protective Equipment for Ebola

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tightening previous infection control guidance for healthcare workers caring for patients with Ebola, to ensure there is no ambiguity.  The guidance focuses on specific personal protective equipment (PPE) health care workers should use and offers detailed step by step instructions for how to put the equipment on and take it off safely. 

Recent experience from safely treating patients with Ebola at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and National Institutes of Health Clinical Center are reflected in the guidance.

The enhanced guidance is centered on three principles:
  • All healthcare workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with PPE, including putting it on and taking it off in a systemic manner
  • No skin exposure when PPE is worn
  • All workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker putting PPE on and taking it off. 
All patients treated at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center  have followed the three principles. None of the workers at these facilities have contracted the illness.

More:  http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/fs1020-ebola-personal-protective-equipment.html

Mountaintop Removal Linked to Cancer

We know what a mess mountaintop removal makes when the tops of mountains are literally blown off to access the coal inside them. Forests are stripped and debris is dumped into streams and valleys, leaving behind a ravaged landscape. It’s partly responsible for the loss of jobs in the coal industry since it requires only a handful of workers to operate the huge machines involved. Now we’re learning that the process, which has been touted by advocates as cleaner and safer than below-ground coal mining, is the direct cause of a lung cancer epidemic in the Appalachian communities—primarily in West Virginia, Kentucky and southwestern Virginia—where mountaintop removal coal mining is taking place.

A new peer-reviewed study by researchers from West Virginia University’s Mary Babb Cancer Center found that the coal-dust particulates it blows into the atmosphere has fueled an epidemic of lung cancer.

“Epidemiological studies suggest that living near mountaintop coal mining activities is one of the contributing factors for high lung cancer incidence,” the study states unequivocally in its introduction.

“This study shows that dust collected from mountaintop-removal communities promotes lung cancer,” the University of Indiana’s Dr. Michael Hendryx, who published earlier studies showing health problems linked to mountaintop removal, told the Ashland, Kentucky Daily Independent. “Previous studies have shown that people who live in these communities have higher lung cancer rates, not due just to smoking. But with this study we now have solid evidence that dust collected from residential areas near mountaintop-removal sites causes cancerous changes to human lung cells.”

More:  http://www.nationofchange.org/2014/10/21/mountaintop-removal-linked-cancer/

The Best Investigative Reporting on Campaign Finance Since 2012

From dark money to a mysterious super PAC donor, here are a few of the best investigations of money in politics since the last elections.

The 2012 elections shattered spending records, with outside groups such as super PACs, nonprofits, unions and corporations plowing an estimated $1.3 billion into federal campaigns. With this year's elections just two weeks away, we've rounded up some of the best investigative reporting on campaign finance. The list includes stories that provide fresh insight into what happened in 2012 and ones that get inside who's shelling out on campaigns this cycle. In addition, we've spotlighted a couple of ProPublica's stories on the subject.

Read:  http://www.propublica.org/article/the-best-investigative-reporting-on-campaign-finance-since-2012

I Will Ask - Willl You Ask? - www.IWillAsk.info - Global Peoples Campaign to Free Leonard Peltier

On Indigenous, constitutional, and overriding human rights (and compassionate) grounds, please join us on December 10th (and every day thereafter) in asking President Obama to free Leonard Peltier!!! Will You Ask? Campaign headquarters: www.IWillAsk.info. Spread the word!!!

 
 
 
 

Climate Change: The State of the Science



http://youtu.be/_EWOrZQ3L-c

Our planet is vast. It is difficult to comprehend the scale. It is difficult too to comprehend the scale of humanity and the vast changes we've wrought in a lifetime.

Population, production and consumption have grown exponentially. Roads, railways, airlines, shipping routes. The digital revolution. We've created a globally interconnected society. Evidence is mounting we've entered the Anthropocene.

Humanity is altering Earth's life support system. Carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating. Greenhouse gas levels are unprecedented in human history. The climate system is changing rapidly.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assesses the risks and options for societies.

Its latest report states it is extremely likely humans are the dominant cause of warming in the past 60 years.

Without deep emissions cuts, it is likely Earth will cross the target of two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The target set by international policy. This could happen as early as 2050.

If emissions keep rising at current rates, a four-degree rise by 2100 is as likely as not. This marks a vast transformation of our planet.

It is very likely heatwaves will occur more often and last longer.

The Arctic will warm faster than the global average. It is likely sea ice will all but vanish in summer within decades if high emissions continue. It is very likely sea-level rise will accelerate. Cities and coastal areas are vulnerable.

In general, wet regions are set to get wetter, dry regions drier. Monsoons are likely to become longer, their footprint likely to grow and downpours likely to intensify.

The acidity of the ocean has increased 26% since the start of the industrial revolution.

The full consequences of all these changes on the Earth system are unknown.

Humanity's carbon footprint is huge. Societies will need to adapt to climate change. The scale of change depends on decisions made now.

Can we remain below two degrees? It is possible. But it is up to societies now to decide the future we want. For a likely chance of achieving the two-degree target, societies can emit another 250 billion tonnes of carbon.

We burn about 10 billion tonnes of carbon a year.

At current rates we will use this budget in about 25 years.

Make A Difference Day

This October 25th, millions of volunteers across the nation will unite with a common mission – to improve the lives of others.

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine, in collaboration with Points of Light, has brought you Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service.

Visit http://makeadifferenceday.com/ and make a difference.

Monday, October 20, 2014

President Obama Announces 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference

WASHINGTON – The White House announced today President Obama will host the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Capital Hilton in Washington on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

The location of this year’s White House Tribal Conference is a departure from being held at the US Department of the Interior where President Obama has hosted five consecutive tribal conferences. The previous tribal conferences were held in the Department of the Interiors auditorium, which section of the building is under renovation and will not be completed by December 3.

“We have been honored and enjoyed having the tribal conference in our building in past years, but the renovation will make it impossible this year,” stated Nedra Darling, spokesperson for the Department of the Interior – Indian Affairs.

President Barack Obama
President Obama at the White House Tribal Nations Conference

The conference will provide leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which is led by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
Each federally recognized tribe will be invited to send one representative to the conference.

This will be the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference for the Obama Administration, and continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and to improve the lives of Native Americans, according to a news release issued by the White House Monday afternoon.