In the last 7 months there have been 7 people exonerated from death row who had been incarcerated for at least 25 years.
In September 2014, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, brothers, were freed after 30 years because of evidence uncovered by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. the Death Penalty Information Center reports, “both men are intellectually disabled – McCollum has an IQ in the 60s and Brown has scored as low as 49 on IQ tests. They have maintained their innocence since their trial, saying they were unaware they were signing a confession.”
In November 2014, Ricky Jackson, Wiley Bridgeman, and Kwame Ajamu were exonerated 39 years after their convictions, after the lone witness in their case recanted and said that he did not in fact witness the crime; there was no other evidence linking the three men to the murder.
In March 2015, Debra Milke had all charges from her 1990 conviction dismissed as a result of “egregious” police and prosecutorial misconduct.
In April 2015, Anthony Hinton had the charges against him for 2 murders committed in 1985 dismissed after experts said they could not link the bullets to a gun found in his home when he was arrested.
I rarely discuss religious topics, however there are times when it must be done. The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, recently signed a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law in the Hoosier State.
Some people say the law will open the door to discrimination, such as allowing a baker or florist from providing service to a gay couple seeking a cake or flowers for their wedding, or allowing a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control.
Supporters of the new law, including Pence, disagree.
Pence said, “this law is not about discrimination. If it was, I would have vetoed it.”
However, he has not explained how the bill does not allow discrimination, or even how the bill does allow one to exercise their religious freedom. see more…
We spend a lot of time looking at the section of national income that goes to the top 1%. That’s interesting, but the fact that the 1% pays a much larger share of tax is a lot more significant. Washington, DC doesn’t want to attack “Too big to fail” banks because their taxes pay bureaucrats’ salaries…
For the second consecutive year, Edward Snowden appeared at South by South West in Austin, Texas, and once again, he was not able to attend in person.
Snowden, again, appeared via internet stream, this time to a select group of people from the technology and policy world.
The Verge reports, “Sunday Yokubaitis, president of online privacy company Golden Frog, described as a ‘call to arms’ for tech companies to foil spying with better privacy tools.”
Adding that “Snowden said that as policy reform lagged, companies should adopt more secure technology that could block surveillance altogether or make it too difficult to pursue en masse. A big focus was end-to-end encryption, which would mean no one (including companies) could see the contents of communications except the sender and recipient.”
One topic not discussed was in regards to the former NSA contractor: the possibility of a fair trial. see more…
These are the same people who then look for government solutions to what they perceive as problems: immigration, drugs, same-sex marriage, terrorism, and a myriad of other issues whereby they want government to find a solution.
On the flip-side, you have many liberals/progressives who think that government is not doing enough to solve a myriad of what they perceive as problems: campaign financing, unfair taxation, guns, drugs, terrorism, and a myriad of other issues whereby they want government to find a solution.
So, right off the bat you have two seemingly opposing sides who want government to find solutions to their perceived problems.
And both sides – which are really different feathers on the same bird – agreeing on some of the problems.
The difference between them is they disagree on the solutions, which may explain why only 31% of respondents stated they were “satisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time,” whereas 67% were dissatisfied.
But what about the survey title? Good question. see more…
During the 2015 NH Liberty Forum, the NH Liberty Party held its third annual convention.
The NH Liberty Party is an avowed pro-secessionist party with a 5 plank platform that can not be changed “except by 100% of voting members at the annual convention.” Of course, secession is only 1 plank in the platform, with the party also taking a staunch libertarian position on Self-determination, Non-aggression, Crime, and Voluntary Interaction.
The reason for these libertarian planks, according to Ian Freeman, party co-founder and co-chair, is to exclude the bigots and xenophobes who may wish to seceded to then implement their bigotry.
Many people who advocate for secession will not use the word, seeing it as a third rail, of sorts. see more…
Many Republican lawmakers are digging in their heels in the fight to defund implementation of what they see as an executive overreach by President Obama. They’re so entrenched in their position that they’re acting as though they’ll allow the Department of Homeland Security budget to not be adopted. Which in reality wouldn’t have much impact on DHS activities, as approximately 200,000 of the 230,000 DHS employees are considered essential. The Chicago Tribune reports, “Most training, hiring, research and purchasing would be suspended. Border security, disaster relief and cybersecurity programs would continue uninterrupted.” In other words, nothing will really change, except that “essential” DHS employees will work without a paycheck until a budget is adopted. see more…
After nearly four years of delay, the FAA is poised to release regulations for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drone). A document, that could be a draft of the proposed regulations, was spotted on a federal website on Friday by a drone user and downloaded before being removed from the website, according to the Wall Street Journalhost. Forbes reports, “The document is dated February 2015 and is captioned ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ authored by George Thurston of the Office of Aviation Policy and Plans, Economic Analysis Division. But, it’s possible this is a leaked early draft that has since been revised or is otherwise incomplete or inaccurate.” see more…
Last Summer, data came out of Colorado reporting that traffic fatalities were near-historic lows. Now, new studies by the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) have scientifically proven what some have already known: there doesn’t seem to be a link between cannabis use and car accidents.
The Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk Study which looked at 9,000 participants over a 20 month period found that “about 8 percent of drivers during weekend nighttime hours were found to have alcohol in their system, and just over 1 percent were found with 0.08 percent or higher breath alcohol content – the legal limit in every state. This is down by about 30 percent from the previous survey in 2007 and down 80 percent from the first survey in 1973.”
The study confirmed that alcohol use by drivers was clearly associated with elevated risk of crash involvement. A driver with a breath alcohol content (BrAC) above 0.08 was 4 times as likely to have an accident compared to a driver with a lower or no BrAC, and “[d]rivers with alcohol levels at .15 BrAC had 12 times the risk.” see more…
For many years, McDonald’s has used the slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” Now they’re running an ad campaign titled “Choose Lovin” in which they will randomly select customers to “pay with lovin.” The idea is supposed to be a light-hearted gimmick to get people to do something that spreads joy or love, this could be as simple as dancing, calling a family member, or saying something a person loves about himself. see more…
The prosecution of Barrett Brown, which seemed to go under the radar of the mainstream media, is one of the most important cases of my lifetime, and has taught us several important things.
There is no Freedom of the Press:
Barrett Brown is an investigative journalist and had been a contributor to Vanity Fair and The Guardian. He also founded Project PM, a project to crowdsource review of documents for investigative journalism.
EFF reports, “Brown’s legal trouble began in 2011, when hackers obtained a voluminous set of emails from government contractor HBGary and placed them on the Internet. He turned to crowdsourcing to review records and emails taken from another government contractor, Stratfor, after hackers broke into their servers later in 2011. Those records included millions of emails discussing opportunities for rendition and assassination, and detailing attempts to subvert journalists, political groups and even foreign leaders. They also included tens of thousands of credit card numbers and their verification codes.” see more…
The Drug War is complicated stuff, and Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF) is one of the more convoluted bits of it.
It is therefore understandable that some journalists, at Reason and Vox specifically, are missing the forest for some admittedly distracting trees.
CAF is a license for theft by government. All levels of government want to take advantage.
The federal government does a lot of it, and individual states do a lot of it.
Up until last Friday, the federal government made it even easier for local police forces to do it — encouraging them to make all sorts of unnecessary stops and seizures, even if their state laws were against CAF or limited its use.
So even if a state wanted to shut down CAF in their jurisdiction, the police could ignore their legislators and continue regardless. This program, known as “Equitable Sharing” was limited by Eric Holder last Friday. It doesn’t end CAF of course, but it does allow state reform to go forward, which is a big fricking deal, and it has made the worst abuses less likely.
I think cautious excitement about the progress made is the right response, as I make clear in my video on the topic: see more…
Eric Holder made headlines this week when he announced a new policy prohibiting state and local governments from using federal civil asset forfeiture laws for most cases.
The Washington Post reported, “Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.”
The DOJ’s Equitable Sharing program has allowed thousands of local and state police agencies to have seized nearly $3 billion in cash and property since 2008.
Using Equitable Sharing, a state or local police department or drug task force would seize property and then have that property adopted by a federal agency.
The agency making the seizure would then be allowed to keep up to 80 percent of the value of the items confiscated. see more…
Not many elected officials explain to their constituents the reasons they vote a certain way on a given bill. Even fewer are those who will explain their vote on every bill! Justin Amash seems to be doing just that, posting on his facebook profile an explanation for his votes.
Most recently, he explained his reasons for voting “present” on a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline: “I voted present on H R 3, Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation. This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—and no other company—from laws that require pipeline owners and operators to obtain certain government permits and approvals.
I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for political reasons is wrong. see more…
I recently read a pair of articles that on the surface are only tangentially connected. However after a little deep thought, I realized the authors are looking at the same problem from both a micro and macro level. The articles were “‘Buy Local’ is really bad economics” and “The economic case for open borders.” Again, after some thought I came up with the hypothesis: people who are xenophobic have a flawed understanding of economics. see more…
Everyone has a pet explanation for the mass shootings that keep happening. Some say video games, progressives say gun control. I think it’s all much simpler than that. We need to stop turning killers into celebrities…
It’s time again to look at a year gone by, though unlike years past where I attempt to summarize the year, I will instead look at what I consider to be the story of the year. It’s not easy picking a top story for the entire year, in fact the top story of 2014 isn’t just 1 story, it’s an entire genre of news stories: Police Abuse. see more…
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