JTjaden's blog

Know Your Rights - Free Speech, Protests, and Demonstrations in California

Know Your Rights - Free Speech, Protests, and Demonstrations in California

    You have the right to speak out. Both the California Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protect your right to free expression. But there are many questions you face when you decide to organize and speak out. When do you need a police permit? Are there things you cannot say or do? Are there any limitations on when or where you can demonstrate? What about civil disobedience? This guide will help answer these questions

Click the link for the guide


Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information

Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information

Commentary by Kurt Opsahl

    Once upon a time, Facebook could be used simply to share your interests and information with a select small community of your own choosing. As Facebook's privacy policy once promised, "No personal information that you submit to Facebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings."

    How times have changed.

    Today, Facebook removed its users' ability to control who can see their own interests and personal information. Certain parts of users' profiles, "including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests" will now be transformed into "connections," meaning that they will be shared publicly. If you don't want these parts of your profile to be made public, your only option is to delete them.

School District Allegedly Snapped Thousands of Student Webcam Spy Pics

School District Allegedly Snapped Thousands of Student Webcam Spy Pics

By David Kravets

    A webcam spying scandal at a suburban Philadelphia school district is broadening, with lawyers claiming the district secretly snapped thousands of webcam images of students using school-issued laptops without the pupils’ knowledge or consent.

    Some of the images included pictures of youths at home, in bed or even “partially dressed,” according to a Thursday filing in the case. Pupils’ online chats were also captured, as well as a record of the websites they visited.

    When the story first broke in February, the district said the cameras were activated only handful of times when a laptop was reported stolen or missing — an assertion lawyers suing the district say is false.

    “Discovery to date has now revealed that thousands of webcam pictures and screen shots (.pdf) have been taken from numerous other students in their homes, many of which never reported their laptops lost or missing,” attorney Mark Haltzman wrote in a Thursday federal court filing.

There they go again

There they go again

The GOP says Goodwin Liu, Obama's 9th Circuit nominee, is 'beyond the mainstream.' Of course, they just mean he's the choice of a Democratic president.

    Republicans in the Senate are gunning for Goodwin Liu, the 39-year-old UC Berkeley law professor President Obama has named to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, who supports affirmative action and has theorized about whether welfare benefits can be considered a constitutional right, is “beyond the mainstream,” according to Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

The New Jim Crow: There are more African Americans under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850

I had first read a version of this essay at Black Agenda Report, and planned to post it here, but then Tomgram picked it up and gave an introduction that relates to the California prison crisis that I thought personalizes the issue for those of us here in California. Please click the header and read the entire essay. Also click the picture for a youtube of a British quiz show talking about the U.S. prison system

Tomgram: Michelle Alexander, The Age of Obama as a Racial Nightmare

    California is, as the time-worn adage has it, our nation's bellwether, and nowhere is that truer than in the Golden State’s prison crisis. California’s inmate population is among the highest in the nation. Its complex of prisons spills over with tens of thousands of inmates housed in every available inch of space and sleep-stacked three-high. So overcrowded are California’s prisons that the state penal system has been successfully sued for violating the constitutional rights of inmates -- essentially by subjecting them to a public-health crisis. That its inmates consistently resort to violence in prison should come as no surprise.

    The dire state of California’s prisons can, in part, be traced to its draconian “three-strikes law,” which throws three-time felons behind bars for a mandatory 25 years. Overflowing prison populations have, in turn, contributed to that state’s bleak economic future, helping consign California to a perpetual budget deficit, annual financial crises, and repeated deep cuts in education and social funding. The state currently spends a staggering 10% of its annual operating budget, or $10.8 billion, on its prison system and its nearly 170,000 prisoners -- more than it spends on the University of California system, once the jewel in the crown of American public higher education.

Reinhardt Stands Alone on 9th Circuit's Pledge of Allegiance 'Under God' Ruling

Reinhardt Stands Alone on 9th Circuit's Pledge of Allegiance 'Under God' Ruling

    Stephen Reinhardt and Dorothy Nelson have been simpatico on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for 30 years. One former Reinhardt clerk says they have a good personal relationship.

    But Nelson handed Reinhardt a bitter defeat by siding with conservative Judge Carlos Bea in an opinion upholding the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The ruling, handed down Thursday, is the latest episode in a case that has brought scorn on the 9th Circuit from across the country, and has highlighted Reinhardt as an unapologetic -- yet increasingly solitary -- iconoclast.

    In a 132-page dissent, Reinhardt said he doubts the constitutional protections at stake will evoke much concern in the political world.

    "Instead, to the joy or relief, as the case may be, of the two members of the majority, this court's willingness to abandon its constitutional responsibilities will be praised as patriotic,"

Minority Report Like Precrime Detector Coming Soon to an Airport Near You

Click for video

'Terrorist Intent' Detector Set for Demo Next Year

    (Feb. 25) -- New security technology at airports around the country is creating a furor over concerns that the screening devices can "see" beneath people's clothes. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is set to take technology one step further with a screening system that would, in a sense, peek inside your head.

    The Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, is designed to spot terrorists, or more specifically, people who are thinking about carrying out terrorist acts.

    "The theory we're looking at here is [whether] there's a way to look at you, and only you, in a specific situation, and based on your presentation, make an assessment that you're showing indicators of what we call malintent," Robert Burns, the deputy director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, told AOL News. "Malintent, as defined by the problem, is the intention or desire to cause harm."



There are just a few problems with this, for instance ...

9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski writes scathing dissent in Fourth Amendment case

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski writes scathing dissent in Fourth Amendment case

    When a judge called for United States v. Lemus to be reheard en banc, the majority of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did not vote to rehear the case. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote an absolutely blistering dissent to that denial. With Judge Paez joining in the dissent, he wrote:
      This is an extraordinary case: Our court approves, without blinking, a police sweep of a person’s home without a warrant, without probable cause, without reasonable suspicion and without exigency—in other words, with nothing at all to support the entry except the curiosity police always have about what they might find if they go rummaging around a suspect’s home. Once inside, the police managed to turn up a gun “in plain view”—stuck between two cushions of the living room couch—and we reward them by upholding the search.

      Did I mention that this was an entry into somebody’s home, the place where the protections of the Fourth Amendment are supposedly at their zenith? The place where the “government bears a heavy burden of demonstrating that exceptional circumstances justif[y] departure from the warrant requirement.” United States v. Licata, 761 F.2d 537, 543 (9th Cir. 1985). The place where warrantless searches are deemed “presumptively unreasonable.” Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980).

Congress' Epic Fail: USA PATRIOT Act Renewed Without Any New Civil Liberties Protections

Epic Fail in Congress: USA PATRIOT Act Renewed Without Any New Civil Liberties Protections

News Update by Kevin Bankston

    Yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to renew three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, after the Senate abandoned the PATRIOT reform effort and approved the extension by a voice vote on Wednesday night.

    Disappointingly, the government's dangerously broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unspecified or "John Doe" targets, to secretly wiretap of persons without any connection to terrorists or spies under the so-called "lone wolf" provision, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records without warrants under PATRIOT Section 215 were all renewed without any new checks and balances to prevent abuse. Despite months of vigorous debate, when PATRIOT renewal bills providing for greater oversight and accountability were approved by the Judiciary Committees of both the House and the Senate, Democratic leaders' push for reform fizzled in the face of staunch Republican opposition buoyed by recent hot-button events such as the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day and the shooting at Fort Hood.

Why the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy is doomed

Why the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy is doomed

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey
Saturday, February 13, 2010; A21

    When the Pentagon's top brass announced last week that they no longer believe military unit cohesion suffers from the presence of openly gay men or women in the ranks, they effectively transformed a policy question into a legal one, to which the answer is clear: Congress can no longer mandate discrimination in the armed forces on the basis of sexual orientation.

    In the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law criminalizing same-gender sexual relations, reasoning that such conduct was part of a constitutionally protected liberty interest. The court also suggested that the Texas statute was vulnerable to challenge as a denial of equal protection of the laws. And it is application of the equal protection doctrine to the military's professional assessment of the impact that openly gay service members have on combat effectiveness that is likely to be the end of "don't ask, don't tell."

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