Ohio grand jury indicts university police officer for murder

The New York Times is reporting,

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month.

In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper.

According to the officer’s video above, which was recorded by the officer’s body cam, Tensing stopped DuBose because he was driving a vehicle without a front license plate, which is a traffic violation. The initial observation and the stop took place off campus. Although University of Cincinnati police officers have authority to stop and cite people off campus for traffic violations, they rarely do so. The county prosecutor, Joe Deters, characterized the stop as “what we call in the vernacular a pretty chicken-crap stop.” In my opinion, this is also an apt description of Texas State Trooper Brian Encina’s stop of Sandra Bland on July 10th for failing to signal a lane change.

When Samuel DuBose was unable to produce a driver’s license, Officer Tensing started opening the driver’s side door and ordered him to get out of the car. Instead of complying, Sam DuBose pulled the door shut and attempted to drive away. Tensing drew his gun and shot him in the head at point-blank range killing him.

This is similar to what happened in North Charleston, South Carolina last April when Patrolman Michael Slager, who is white, shot Walter Scott, who is black, four times in the back killing him as Scott attempted to run away after a traffic stop.

Another similarity is both officers lied about the incident. For example, Tensing told police that he struggled with DuBose. The video disproves that.

The legal rule in both cases is the same: A police officer may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless he reasonably believes the suspect is armed and presents a danger to the officer or to the public. Patrolman Slager and now Officer Tensing have been indicted for murder because the people they killed were not armed and there was no reason to believe they were dangerous to others.

Mr. DuBose was 43-years-old. He was the father of 10 children.

Officer Tensing was 25-years-old. He had been a police officer for four years. He was fired today by the campus police.

He turned himself in.

Guantanamo Lawyers’ Alarmingly High Cancer Rate Sparks Military Investigation

Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. (Wikimedia Commons / Kathleen T. Rhem)

Originally published at MintPress News.

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Despite promises to close the detention center during Barack Obama’s presidential run, the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base remains open. And now it appears those detained at the controversial site aren’t the only ones suffering and dying — their lawyers are also facing grave illness.

Carol Rosenberg, a Miami Herald reporter who covers Guantanamo, reported Monday that a Navy Reserves attorney, who had been previously assigned to work with a detainee, filed a complaint with the Inspector General’s Office on July 14. A spokeswoman for the naval base responded to the complaint on Monday, admitting the Navy was “aware of concerns about possible carcinogens around the Department of Defense Military Commissions site” and announcing that an investigation would be opened.

After learning of the complaint, the Herald began compiling a list of civilians and military lawyers with cancer from the hundreds of personnel that have worked at the detention center, eventually finding nine cases of personnel “who suffered from a range of cancers: lymphoma, brain, appendix or colon.”

Rosenberg reports: “Three of those stricken with cancer, aged 35 to 52, have died in the past 13 months.” The Herald identified one victim as Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, a 44-year-old attorney assigned to the case ofOmar Khadr, a Canadian citizen detained at Guantanamo for 13 years. Kuebler died on July 17. On Tuesday,The Washington Post published the names of two more of the lawyers who worked at Guantanamo at some point in their careers and died of cancer:

[A]nother cancer patient was Army Col. Robert J. Cottell, who died Jan. 6, just before his 53rd birthday. He was a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and remained on active duty right up until his death after doctors diagnosed him with cancer, … He worked at one point for the Office of Military Commissions, which oversees cases at Guantanamo. …

A third lawyer, Marine Maj. Joshua Kirk, 35, died June 28, 2014. His cause of death was not listed in his obituary, but Rep. Tim Ryan (D.-Ohio) recognized him on the House floor after his death last summer for his work everywhere from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California to the Office of Military Commissions, which deployed him to Guantanamo on occasion.

Reuters reports that Guantanamo detainees do not appear to suffer from increased cancer rates. Rather, the cancers could have been caused by pollutants in the lawyers’ living quarters:

(more…)

The Roundup for July 29th, 2015

Been a while since punk was on the Roundup.

International Politics

Overall

– Secretary of State John Kerry said, if Congress stopped the agreement with Iran, Iran would seek nuclear weapons; FOR THE LAST TIME THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY INTENTIONS

– Of course, Kerry said it would be “the easiest decision in the world” to bomb Iran if they violate the agreement

– Peter Van Buren: “It’s Not a Nuclear-Armed Iran That Israel and Saudi Arabia Really Fear

Middle East

– Because of the Syrian Civil War, it is difficult to come across clean water to consume

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he looked forward for the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in November

– It was thanks to Israel, not Iran, that an arms race began in the Middle East decades ago

– An Iraqi Shi’ite militia leader criticized the U.S. as not being serious in the fight against the Islamic State

– Meanwhile, militias in the country are training teenagers to fight against ISIS (more…)

Over Easy: Cecil the Lion

Earlier this month, Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer paid park guides $50,000 to participate in what turned out to be a canned hunt of a beloved, frequently photographed and GPS-collared African park resident lion named Cecil. Cecil lived in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, overseeing his group of cubs. In order to poach this lion, the hunting team lured him off national park property at night with dead animal bait strapped to the vehicle. Palmer first maimed Cecil with a cross bow and then tracked him for forty hours before killing him with a rifle. After a failed attempt to destroy Cecil’s tracking collar, the men skinned and beheaded Cecil, and left the carcass.

Today, the two guides will be in court in Zimbabwe to face charges for luring Cecil off park property in order to kill him on the adjacent property.

Meanwhile, Palmer the dentist, who has lied to feds in the past about one of his illegal trophy hunts in the US, claims that he “deeply regrets” killing Africa’s loved lion Cecil.

Quoting Palmer, Sky News explains:

“Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

The Star Tribune reported that Mr Palmer’s dental surgery was closed on Tuesday, with a note directing reporters to a public relations firm.

Conservation chief Johnny Rodrigues told Sky News: “The professional hunters scented the area by dragging a dead animal … and lured the lion to this spot.

“And then they came in at night while the lion was feeding, with a spotlight, and shot it with a bow and arrow.

“They didn’t kill him straight away. They took 40 hours to do a follow-up and eventually they caught up with him and shot him with a rifle.”

Now that Cecil is dead, the remaining alpha male, Jericho, will likely kill all of the cubs in order to preserve his own bloodline.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife press statement regarding the two guides facing charges.

Footage of Cecil the Lion:

Meanwhile, Palmer the dentist is being utterly destroyed on Yelp and elsewhere on the internet. His dental office is closed, and stuffed animals are being placed outside the door. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has an additional report.

Late Night FDL: Shockwave Supernova

Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova

Satchmo has a brand new album out, Shockwave Supernova…

For many artists who reach the “double digit albums” stage of their career, inspiration often can be hard to come by.

However, for Joe Satriani—who released his 15th studio album, Shockwave Supernova, July 24—each album is seen as a chance to reinvent himself and test the limits of his guitar playing. The results don’t lie; he’s one of the most successful and innovative solo and instrumental guitarists playing today.

“I just approach each record like it’s a new thing and throw myself into it with total dedication,” he says during our phone interview from the G4 Experience in Cambria, California.

As a result of playing guitar with his teeth and a daydream, Satriani crafted up an alter-ego called Shockwave Supernova. The alter-ego, he says, is “a rock and roll animal” that tries to “draw attention to himself.” Throughout the album the alter-ego battles with his real self.

We talked with Satriani about how he still manages to keep things interesting. You can check out our interview here.

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Cyber Bill Gives Companies Perfect Cover to Gut Your Privacy

Some tech companies are eager to share more of our personal data with the government so long as they don’t have to worry about violating any privacy safeguards. CISA gives companies exactly what they want: ironclad liability protection to share information about any perceived cyber threats with federal agencies. (Photo: Mr. Thinktank/flickr/cc)

By Sandra Fulton

Following several high-profile data breaches — such as those at Sony and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — Congress is once again feeling the pressure to push “cybersecurity” legislation.

The problem is, the bill they’re laser-focused on is misguided, wouldn’t protect us — and is a huge gift to companies wanting legal cover if and when they choose to violate Americans’ privacy rights.

In March, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14–1 in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA). The bill, like its infamous predecessor CISPA, would allow companies to share vast amounts of users’ private and personally identifiable data with the government. That information would go straight to the Department of Homeland Security and then on to the NSA.

If CISA passes, companies would be permitted to monitor and then report to the government on vaguely defined “cyber-threat indicators” — a term so broad that it covers actual threats hackers pose to computer systems but also sweeps in information on crimes like carjacking and burglaries. Those are serious offenses to be sure, but they have nothing to do with cybersecurity.

While current law allows companies to monitor their own systems for cyber threats, CISA would take this to the next level. The bill would allow companies that hold huge swaths of our personal data — like health insurers and credit-card companies — to monitor and report online activity “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

This means that CISA would undermine the strong protections embedded in laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and the Privacy Act of 1964 — laws designed to keep the government from spying on our communications.

While posing a serious threat to our privacy online, CISA wouldn’t even guard well against cyber attacks. The bill offers a bad trade-off, to put it mildly.

In April, leading Internet-security technologists wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee, arguing that Congress didn’t need to create new legal authority to let companies share information designed to help protect their systems from future attacks. As their letter explains:

Waiving privacy rights will not make security sharing better. The more narrowly security practitioners can define these IoCs [indicators of compromise] and the less personal information that is in them, the better… Any bill that allows for and results in significant sharing of personal information could decrease the signal to noise ratio and make IoCs less actionable.

In June 2015, further revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that much of the activity CISA would authorize has been going on for quite some time. Leaked government slides show that the NSA and the FBI secretly joined forces in 2012 to spy on Internet traffic in pursuit of cybersecurity suspects.

Despite these efforts, cyber attacks have continued to escalate. Yet this bill to immunize companies from liability for sharing our personal data sailed through the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The lone dissenter on that committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, noted that cyber attacks are a “serious problem.” However, Wyden said, “if information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections, then that’s not a cybersecurity bill — it’s a surveillance bill by another name.”

So who’s behind the massive push to pass CISA? Insurers, credit-card companies, banks, gas and oil giants, and telecom companies have all lined up behind the bill. Keepers of some of our most private and sensitive data — banks like JPMorgan Chase, and health insurers like Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield, to name just a few — are lobbying hard for CISA’s passage.

In fact, according to lobby-disclosure reports for the first quarter of 2015, the number of companies lobbying for CISA has just about tripled over the last year. Recent attacks have cost companies billions, not to mention embarrassment.

Stronger cyber “hygiene” would best protect these companies from intrusions and breaches, but that would be costly. Implementing invasive monitoring programs and handing the information off to the government is far preferable if that approach can be sold as a solution to the problem.

In short, these companies are eager to share more of our personal data with the government so long as they don’t have to worry about violating any privacy safeguards. CISA gives companies exactly what they want: ironclad liability protection to share information about any perceived cyber threats with federal agencies.

So while CISA would do little or nothing to improve cybersecurity, it would strengthen the surveillance regime and make our personal information even more vulnerable to government abuse.

Leaders in the Senate, who want to pass CISA before Congress breaks for its August recess, have announced that the bill will be up on their agenda as soon as this week. The Free Press Action Fund is working with our allies to fight back. Please click here to urge your senators to oppose this dangerous bill.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Sandra Fulton is a Legislative Assistant at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office working on First Amendment and privacy issues.

The Republican Party has nothing to offer except clowns, fear and hate

The Republican Party is destroying itself. A recent Pew Research Center poll conducted July 14-20 surveying 2002 adults found,

The Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of this year. Currently, 32% have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60% have an unfavorable view. Favorable views of the GOP have fallen nine percentage points since January. The Democratic Party continues to have mixed ratings (48% favorable, 47% unfavorable).

The Democratic Party has often held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last fall. Today, the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years.

Republicans, in particular, are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About two-thirds (68%) express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years. Six months ago, 86% of Republicans viewed the GOP positively.[P]ositive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably; 29% today, compared with 37% six months ago. Democrats, by contrast, continue to express highly positive opinions of their party: 86% view the party favorably, little changed from 84% in January.

/snip/

As has been the case over the past four years, the Republican Party is viewed as more extreme in its positions than the Democratic Party. Currently, 52% say the GOP is more extreme, compared with 35% who say this better describes the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party continues to hold wide advantages over the Republicans on empathy and honesty. By 53% to 31%, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me.” And the Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45% to 29%).

A Gallup poll conducted July 8-12 concluded,

The Democratic Party has regained its edge over the Republican Party in terms of favorability, another sign that it is recovering from its poor 2014 showing. But both parties remain unpopular relative to their historical performance, which suggests neither has the wind at its back going into the 2016 presidential contest.

Meanwhile Bloomberg is reporting,

Consumer confidence slumped in July by the most in almost four years as households became less upbeat about the outlook for the economy, employment and their finances, figures from the New York-based Conference Board showed Tuesday.

Swings in stock prices stemming from the Greek financial crisis and weakness in China took a toll, according to the group, showing why Federal Reserve policy makers may want to consider international events in determining when to raise interest rates. Outsized moves in confidence have been common this year, underscoring erratic consumer temperament that poses a risk to already uneven household spending.

“It’s a bit of a surprise and may prove a little erratic,” said David Sloan, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “If the stock market weakness recently extends further, a turnaround might be harder. But energy prices have slipped and that could give some support to consumers.”

The Conference Board’s index retreated to 90.9 this month from a revised 99.8 in June. The July reading, the weakest in 10 months, was lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The 8.9 point drop also marked the biggest negative surprise since February 2003. The median forecast was 100, with estimates ranging from 97 to 103 after a previously reported 101.4 in June. The gauge has moved at least five points in five of the first seven months of the year.

The Republicans have nothing to offer to reverse the trend except clowns, fear and hate.

Clowns, fear and hate do not create jobs that pay a living wage.

White House Responds to ‘Pardon Edward Snowden’ Petition with Character Assassination

Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event
Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event

The White House finally responded to a popular petition at WhiteHouse.gov urging President Barack Obama’s administration to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, the response is a bald-faced attempt to use the petition as a platform to assassinate Snowden’s character.

First off, the petition to pardon Snowden had nearly 168,000 signatures. Only a few petitions responded to by the White House have more signatures (for example, address gun violence through gun control legislation and legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

The petition was posted on June 9, 2013, and was largely inspired by the revelation that the NSA was collecting the metadata of phone calls of millions of Americans, who have Verizon as their phone carrier. Nevertheless, it took the White House more than two years to respond to this petition.

The response focuses on the “serious consequences” Snowden’s whistleblowing has had on “national security.” It includes a statement from Lisa Monaco, the President’s Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

“Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Monaco declares.

“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions,” Monaco adds. “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.”

Monaco concludes, “We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”

Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer for Snowden, a Justice Department whistleblower, and the director of the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Division, reacted to the White House’s response.

“The government loves to fear-monger, but has failed to articulate any clear harm from Snowden¹s revelations,” Radack stated. “The closest it has come, ironically, is a fully-redacted Defense Intelligence Agency internal assessment.” (more…)

Native American Civil Rights Activist Dies Mysteriously In Police Custody

ShippedAway

Originally published on MintPress News

NESHOBA COUNTY, Mississippi — Rexdale W. Henry, a Choctaw activist, died in Mississippi’s Neshoba County Jail earlier this month under circumstances that remain mysterious. Coming just one day after the alleged suicide of black civil rights activist Sandra Bland in Texas, questions are being raised about how an apparently healthy man died in police custody and why autopsy results are being withheld from the public and the media.

Rexdale Henry, a civil rights activist, was found dead in jail the day after Sandra Bland was arrested over failure to pay minor traffic citation
Rexdale Henry, a civil rights activist, was found dead in jail the day after Sandra Bland was arrested over failure to pay minor traffic citation

Henry was arrested on July 9 for an unpaid fine and held over the weekend. He was found dead on July 14 at 10:00 a.m., just 30 minutes after police said they had last seen him alive, according to the local ABC affiliate, WTOK. Cassandra Fairbanks, writing for Photography Is Not A Crime, commented:

Officials have been keeping extremely tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his death, perhaps hoping to avoid the public scrutiny and backlash that Waller County is facing for their negligence leading to Bland’s death.

The state crime lab conducted an autopsy, but they still have not yet released the results, nearly two weeks following the incident.

Now activists are helping Henry’s family seek answers, starting with demands for an independent autopsy, R.L. Nave reported for Jackson Free Press on Saturday:


‘At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,’ McDonald said in a statement.”“Helping with the family’s independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry’s, and Diane Nash, a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative.

Henry was an active member of his tribal community and an activist for native rights. The death of an activist in a Mississippi jail is an unpleasant reminder of the death of Michael Deangelo McDougle, who died in the same jail in November, as well as the state’s history of racist violence — in particular, the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner, who were arrested in Neshoba County during the 1964 “Freedom Summer” civil rights movement. Their bodies were later found buried in a dam nearby.

(more…)

On Human Rights, UN Committee Gives US Low Grades for Surveillance, Detention at Guantanamo

Screen shot of CCPR grades for United States
Screen shot of CCPR grades for United States

A United Nations committee, which reviews how countries comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), issued grades for the United States government’s implementation of recommendations issued last year. The committee gave the US low grades for surveillance and detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in facilities in Afghanistan.

The ICCPR is an international human rights treaty. Signatories are supposed to undertake measures to ensure the rights in the treaty are protected in their countries. In fact, since the US ratified the treaty in 1992, the government has an obligation to comply with the treaty as it would any other domestic law.

A committee of the UN, the Human Rights Committee, conducts periodic reviews of countries’ human rights records. It gives countries an opportunity to respond to the committee’s concerns. The committee makes recommendations. It then grades how countries implement those recommendations.

Countries, which are signatories, report to the committee every four years. This is the fourth periodic review of the US.

To understand the grades, “B1″ means “substantive action” took place but the committee still wants more information. “B2″ means some initial action was taken. “C1″ means US replied to UN but did not take actions to implement recommendation. “C2″ means US replied, and the reply was irrelevant to the committee’s recommendation. “D1″ means US did not cooperate with the committee on this recommendation.

The US did not receive any “A” grades. It received a high “B1″ grade for declassifying part of the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA’s detention and torture of detainees and a lower “B2″ grade for investigating cases of unlawful killing, torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, and enforced disappearances, and expediting the release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

The committee issued a “C2″ grade for the continued detention of detainees at Guantanamo and in facilities in Afghanistan.

In regards to surveillance, it gave the US a “C1″ grade for ensuring surveillance complies with the treaty, ensuring “interference with right to privacy, family, home, or correspondence” is authorized by law, reforming oversight of surveillance, and refraining from imposing “mandatory retention” of data on “third parties.”

The worst grade given was a “D1″ for failing to ensure persons are able to obtain remedies if they are the victims of surveillance abuse. (more…)