Document: Groups file complaint with FCC over Baltimore Police’s stingray use – Baltimore Sun

Civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday, alleging that the Baltimore Police Department‘s  (BPD) unlicensed use of the controversial cell phone surveillance tool known as Stingray violates the law through racial discrimination and willful interference with cell phone calls.

The complaint, filed by the Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, calls on the FCC to “address harms caused by BPD’s unauthorized use” of Stingrays, also known as cell site (C.S.) simulators. 

(Published on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

byCommon Dreams)

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The groups argue that surveillance using the devices also undermines people’s free speech rights and describe the use of Stingrays as an electronic form of the intrusive police practices described in the scathing Justice Department report on the police department’s pattern of civil rights violations.

“The problem of radicalized surveillance is particularly pronounced in Baltimore, where BPD’s racially biased policing is clearly reflected in its racially biased deployment of [cell site] simulators,” the groups say in the complaint.

 Open as PDF  

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Belize’s Supreme Court Just Struck Down A Law That Made Homosexuality Illegal – BuzzFeed News

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled on August 10 that the law criminalizing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” violates constitutional protections for human dignity, privacy, and equality before the law. The case had been brought by Caleb Orozco, director of United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) more than six years ago. The Chief Justice ruled that the definition of “sex” in the country’s constitution, includes sexual orientation. BuzzFeed has the text of the ruling. Activists hope that the ruling will have an impact on other Caribbean countries; the attorney general of Antigua said that the government would be “looking at” the ruling. American Religious Right groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and C-Fam have provided support to Belize Action, a group that fought the decriminalization effort. (Religious Dispatches)

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VW owners, get the facts! | Consumer Information

If you own one of these cars, visit VWCourtSettlement.com. At the site, you can enter your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and find out how much you can get. Or you can call 844-98-CLAIM and ask.

It’s particularly important for you to get this information if you’re considering selling your car. Potential buyers may offer what sounds like a good deal, but it’s still less than you can get for a buyback under the FTC’s settlement with VW. Whether it’s a private purchaser or an unscrupulous dealer, those buyers are just going to turn around and sell the car back to VW for more money through the court-approved buyback program.

Read complete FTC article here…

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JURIST – Federal appeals court strikes down portions of North Carolina voting law

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From the decision:

Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.

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[JURIST] A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion, PDF] several provisions of North Carolina’s House Bill 589 (HB 589) [text, PDF], most notably its voter identification requirements. In its decision to annul the voter ID provision of the statute, as well as provisions eliminating early voting, pre-registration same-day registration, and out-of-precinct voting, the court stated that the legislation was “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” The panel further explained that it, unlike the lower district court, was unconvinced by the argument that the statute’s enactment was “the innocuous back-and-forth of routine partisan struggle.” Instead the panel suggested that the Republic-controlled state-legislature was motivated to enact HB 589 after an “unprecedented African American voter participation in a state with troubled racial history and racially polarized voting.” While the decision was unanimous, one justice disagreed with the decision to permanently enjoin the voter identification provision, expressing belief that the “reasonable impediment” exception provided ample protection against any potential discrimination. The decision overturns a district court decision [JURIST report] upholding HB 589 in April.

Read complete Jurist-Paper Chase analysis here.

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State v. Newcomb | Animal Legal & Historical Center

Summary: In this case, the Supreme Court of Oregon reviewed a case in which defendant accused the State of violating her constitutional rights by taking a blood sample of her dog without a warrant to do so. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant did not have a protected privacy interest in the dog’s blood and therefore the state did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Defendant’s dog, Juno, was seized by the Humane Society after a worker made a visit to plaintiff’s home and had probable cause to believe that Juno was emaciated from not receiving food from plaintiff. After Juno was seized and taken into custody for care, the veterinarian took a blood sample from Juno to confirm that there was no other medical reason as to why Juno was emaciated. Defendant argued that this blood test was a violation of her constitutional rights because the veterinarian did not have a warrant to perform the test. The court dismissed this argument and held that once Juno was taken into custody, defendant had “lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Finally, the court held that because Juno was lawfully seized and Juno’s blood was “not ‘information’ that defendant placed in Juno for safekeeping or to conceal from view,” defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated. 

In reaching that conclusion, the Court recognized that animals “are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain stress and fear” and that it indeed made a legal difference that the property seized was a living thing.

Documents: 

 State v Newcomb 2016.pdf (135.69 KB)

Texas NAACP v. Steen (consolidated with Veasey v. Abbott) | Brennan Center for Justice

In 2011, the Texas legislature passed SB 14, the strictest photo ID law in the nation. For example, the law requires voters to present photo identification from a very limited list before being allowed to vote. A Texas concealed handgun license is acceptable, but an ID from a public university or a tribal identification card is not.

After a long procedural history, described in detail below, on July 20, 2016, the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision finding that SB 14 has a racially discriminatory effect in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, because the law disproportionately diminishes African Americans’ and Latinos’ ability to participate in the political process. The appellate court sent the case back to the district court to craft a rule for the November 2016 election that will remedy SB 14’s discriminatory results. The appellate court also reversed and remanded the district court’s discriminatory intent finding for further review and vacated the district court’s findings on plaintiffs’ poll tax and right to vote claims.

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Read entire article and scroll down for all original documents at all levels of the case…briefs, etc..

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The Showman – The New Yorker

 Jeffrey Toobin‘s May 9 article in The New Yorker, appropriately called, “The Showman,” about United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s infatuation with and misuse of the media.

Read more…long article.

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