Tuesday, September 30, 2014

College picks convicted Pa. cop killer, Abu-Jamal as commencement speaker

9/30/2014


HARRISBURG, Pa. —A man convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 will deliver the commencement address for a Vermont College. Now the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is reacting.

"I cannot express my disdain enough about Goddard College’s decision to allow this individual to be a commencement speaker," Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said in a news release. "Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect society and now we have a college allowing an individual convicted of murdering a police officer to share his opinions with impressionable students. This fact is very troubling."
According to a news release posted on the Goddard College website, students at the school selected Abu-Jamal as their speaker. Abu-Jamal received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the college in 1996. 
The release includes the following quote from Goddard College Interim President Bob Kenny, "As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model, our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker ... Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that."
The address will be delivered via an audio recording made over the state prison telephone system, according to the DOC.
“Inmates do have a constitutional right to access telephones. While we do not support or endorse this specific type of activity, we cannot prohibit it from happening.”
The DOC may monitor phone calls, but they cannot control what happens on the other end, according to Wetzel.
Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He originally was sentenced to death in 1983, but the sentence was changed to life in 2012. Abu-Jamal is held at the State Correction Institution at Mahanoy, Schuylkill County.


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BREAKING: North Texas Hospital Evaluating Patient For Potential Ebola Exposure

9/30/2014


A North Texas hospital has a patient in isolation as they evaluate them for potential exposure to the Ebola virus.
Officials with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas released the following statement Monday night:
“Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has admitted a patient into strict isolation to be evaluated for potential Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) based on the patient’s symptoms and recent travel history. The hospital is following all Centers for Disease Control and Texas Department of Heath recommendations to ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, volunteers, physicians and visitors. The CDC anticipates preliminary results tomorrow.”
It is unclear what specific symptoms the patient has or what the patient’s travel history was.
CBS 11 News spoke with Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson who confirmed the patient had been in an area where the Ebola virus exists. “Looking at the travel history is the first indicator and then the next step is [treatment or non-treatment] once we get lab results,” he said.
Thompson definitely felt that there should be a heightened sense of awareness in North Texas, based on what has happened internationally. “With what we’ve seen in the media and how deadly the Ebola virus is, it is a concern.”
The badge of a Red Cross worker is disinfected after working with an Ebola patient. (credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
The badge of a Red Cross worker is disinfected after working with an Ebola patient. (credit: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)
Thompson stressed that there are certain procedures that will be followed if tests for the ptient come back positive. “We [health professionals] all had been planning to look at what our next steps are if there is a confirmed case. Again, we have to do the public health follow up, to see what contacts… where this individual has gone since they arrived here in Dallas. There are a number of things that have to be looked at.”
As far as possible infection to others here in North Texas Thompson said, “The key point is, if there’s been no transmission, blood, secretion, any type of bodily fluids by the infected person to someone else, then that risk is low to none.”
The Ebola virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected several Americans who have traveled to the region, including Fort Worth Doctor Kent Brantly who contracted the disease while doing missionary work in Liberia.
This is a developing story. CBS 11 News has crews gathering more information and will have more as soon as it is available.


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Border Patrol making film highlighting teen smugglers

9/30/2014


Border Patrol is looking to prevent teens from getting involved with organized crime rings.
Monday, a Border Patrol agent spent the day shooting video in the 449th State District Court, which primarily sees juvenile offenders.
Border Patrol confirms they are shooting a film, which will document the reality teens face when they commit crimes.
"One of our concerns is that criminal organizations take advantage or misguide our youth here in our community," agent Omar Zamora, with the Rio Grande Valley Sector, said.
Zamora said teens are increasingly recruited to smuggle humans and drugs and they are under the impression they won’t face major crimes if caught.
In August one teen learned the truth when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the death of 9 immigrants in Palmview in a smuggling attempt gone wrong.
"We want to message that out to them that these organizations will take advantage of you and in the end you could hurt yourself, somebody else or end up in prison," Zamora said.
The documentary, called ‘Operation Detour RGV,’ highlights real teens facing real crimes.
As the border crisis continues in the Rio Grande Valley, the film couldn’t be more relevant.
"Now they can relay to high school children that are out and free the mistakes that they’ve made," Zamora said.
The film focuses on drug and human smuggling, but overall, Border Patrol hopes to show teens who commit major crimes.
Since the beginning of 2014, more than 1,000 teens have set foot in the 449th State District courtroom, which Judge Jessie Contreras presides over.
Nearly 400 of the teens are facing felony charges.
"We'd like to get some of the locals here on camera to do some interview so it kind of hits home," Zamora said.
Border Patrol hopes to catch teens before criminal organizations can recruit them and save them from a life riddled with crime.
The film should be completed by October, just in time for Red Ribbon Week.
It will be shared with high school and junior high schools in the Valley.


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Liberalism: School District Considering Sex Education for Kindergartners

9/30/2014



Clark County School District in Las Vegas is considering updating its curriculum to require a sex education program for all kindergarteners that teaches them how to masturbate. 
Under the new curriculum, children ages 5 through 8 would be taught that “touching one’s genitals to feel good is called masturbation.”
Last week, dozens of parents went to the school board to express their horror, according to an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal
“You want to teach my 5-year-old how to masturbate?” parent Julie Butler said, according to the Journal
The masturbation information is just one part of more than 100 pages of changes the school is considering making to its sex education policy. Other controversial suggestions include teaching kids ages 5 through 8 about homosexuality and homosexual attraction. 
Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky tried to calm the outraged parents by assuring them that the board had not formally proposed the policy for the district — it was simply seeking community input.
But some say the board seems to be purposely limiting community involvement in the decision. In fact, the meetings are invite-only.
“I felt it was quite limited in scope and who was able to attend,” parent Nicole Luth said.
But the potential changes hit the headlines after invited attendees emailed them to other parents. 
“I don’t’ think any of us were ready for anything like that to come out; it was shocking,” said CCSD Trustee Deanna Wright, said.


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ACLU Report: New Documents Shed Light on One of the NSA's Most Powerful Tools

9/30/2014


NSA Headquarters















Today, we're releasing several key documents about Executive Order 12333 that we obtained from the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that the ACLU filed (along with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School) just before the first revelations of Edward Snowden. The documents are from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and others agencies. They confirm that the order, although not the focus of the public debate, actually governs most of the NSA's spying.
In some ways, this is not surprising. After all, it has been reported that some of the NSA's biggest spying programs rely on the executive order, such as the NSA's interception of internet traffic between Google's and Yahoo!'s data centers abroad, the collection of millions of email and instant-message address books, the recording of the contents of every phone call made in at least two countries, and the mass cellphone location-tracking program. In other ways, however, it is surprising. Congress's reform efforts have not addressed the executive order, and the bulk of the government's disclosures in response to the Snowden revelations have conspicuously ignored the NSA's extensive mandate under EO 12333.
The order, issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, imposes the sole constraints on U.S. surveillance on foreign soil that targets foreigners. There's been some speculation, too, that the government relies directly on the order — as opposed to its statutory authority — to conduct surveillanceinside the United States.
There's a key difference between EO 12333 and the two main legal authorities that have been the focus of the public debate — Section 215 of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, which the government relies on to justify the bulk collection of Americans' phone records and the PRISM program. Because the executive branch issued and now implements the executive order all on its own, the programs operating under the order are subject to essentially no oversight from Congress or the courts. That's why uncovering the government's secret interpretations of the order is so important. We've already seen that the NSA has taken a "collect it all" mentality even with the authorities that are overseen by Congress and the courts. If that history is any lesson, we should expect — and, indeed, we have seen glimpses of — even more out-of-control spying under EO 12333.
Here are some of the most significant things these new records show:
The documents confirm our suspicions that the NSA relies heavily on EO 12333 and that the order, therefore, deserves far more scrutiny than it has received. This vindicates those who've been warningus about the scope of the NSA's surveillance activities under the executive order — including a former State Department official who has tried to draw attention to its wide-ranging uses.
Here's how the NSA itself describes EO 12333 in an internal surveillance manual from 2007 (all highlighting is added):
Overview of Signals Intelligence Authorities, page 4
And here's a similar description from a "Legal Fact Sheet" on the executive order, which the NSA produced exactly two weeks after the first Snowden disclosure:
Legal Fact Sheet, page 1
In other words, EO 12333 is the main game in town for NSA surveillance. Of course, the debate about reforms to Section 215 and the FISA Amendments Act is tremendously important to Americans' privacy. But those authorities, while dramatically overbroad, pale in comparison to the executive order.
The documents make it clearer than ever that the government's vast surveillance apparatus is collecting information — including from Americans — about much more than just terrorist threats. The government generally defends its sweeping surveillance authorities by pointing to the threat of terrorism. But the truth is that its surveillance powers bear little relationship to that narrow goal. They reach far more broadly, allowing the government to monitor any international communication that contains "foreign intelligence information." That phrase is defined so nebulously that it could be read to encompass virtually every communication with one end outside the United States.
Some commentators have worried that the government could use this broad surveillance power to conduct economic espionage or to spy on Americans it hoped to convert into confidential informants.
According to at least this internal Defense Department presentation, the concerns are real (N.B.: "USPs" refers to "U.S. persons," which the government defines as American citizens or organizations, as well as legal residents):
DoD HUMINT Legal Workshop Fundamentals of HUMINT Targeting, page 6
The documents openly acknowledge the word games that the government plays when describing its surveillance. Two of my colleagues have previously highlighted the NSA's "vocabulary of misdirection — a language that allows [it] to say one thing while meaning quite another." One of the slippery words that the NSA uses is the seemingly straightforward "collect," which the NSA has redefined to let it simultaneously acquire huge amounts of data while denying that it is "collecting" anything at all.
An "intelligence law handbook" disclosed by the Defense Intelligence Agency acknowledges this misdirection, admonishing intelligence analysts to "adjust" their surveillance vocabulary. It is a case study in Orwellian doublespeak:
Intelligence Law Handbook Defense HUMINT Service, page 22
Finally, the candid tone of the DIA handbook is striking. Its frank discussion of government surveillance authority would serve the public far better than the dissembling and obfuscation we too often see from the government in describing its powerful spying tools.
Here's a characteristic passage from the handbook:
Intelligence Law Handbook Defense HUMINT Service, page 34
The author appears to grapple with several of the weighty questions surrounding the scope of the government's surveillance authority. It's worth asking whether those policy debates had to take place in secret. Based on these documents, it's clear that they should have taken place in public.


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