Category Archives: Legislation

These are all the countries where same-sex marriage is legal (MAP)

It was just eleven years ago that Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. A groundswell of public support for gay marriage followed, as did a strong conservative backlash that led 31 states to pass some form of constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. Most had been struck down by the time the Supreme Court announced its decision today. Thirteen remained in place as of this morning.

The United States joins 20 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is now simply known as “marriage.”

Countries where same-sex marriage is legal, as of June 26, 2015.
Emilie Munson/GlobalPost

The countries include: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England/Wales, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United States, Uruguay.

Read more

San Diego Residents Face 6 Years In Prison For Washing Their Car

via Govt. Slaves:

San Diego Residents Face 6 Years In Prison For Washing Their Car

San Diegans could face 6 years in prison and fines of $100,000 dollars a day for washing their car in the driveway or failing to pick up dog poop under new EPA-mandated environmental regulations related to water quality.

Although residents of the city are forced to drink toxic waste in their water supply in the form of sodium fluoride, measures imposed as a consequence of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act would turn the most mundane of activities into a criminal offense.

“California’s latest experiment in faith-based policymaking is being unleashed today on the San Diego public, as regional water-quality officials begin hearings on new regulations that seem crafted to turn most owners of a car, house or dog into criminals within a decade or so. We wish we were exaggerating,” reports the North County Times.

“Under the draft rules, ordinary homeowners may face six years in prison and fines of $100,000 a day if they are deemed serial offenders of such new crimes as allowing sprinklers to hit the pavement, washing a car in the driveway, or, conceivably, failing to pick up dog poop promptly from their own backyards, let alone the sidewalk.”

The regulations will be enforced with the aid of a 24-hour telephone snitch line which residents of San Diego, south Orange and southwest Riverside counties can use to report on their neighbors for violating the new code.

The new rules could even force firefighters to collect the water they use to douse burning buildings.

The regulations are being passed under the justification of minimizing the bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that runs into rivers and streams.

The editorial board of the North County Times warns that the rules are “preposterous” and will “sap billions of dollars from the local economy.”

“In hundreds of pages, the new regulations set targets that measure bacteria from animal waste during dry periods at local beaches, even as they note that wide variations in bacteria occur naturally in the environment. And we could find no evidence from these officials that severe cuts in stormwater runoff will cause improvements in human or wildlife health. Indeed, nowhere do they bother to say why today’s levels are considered bad for us,” writes the newspaper.

Ironically, while San Diegans could be turned into criminals for failing to uphold dubious water quality standards, they are simultaneously being forced to consume drinking water contaminated with a known toxic waste – sodium fluoride.

Almost 60 years after it was barred from public pumps and pipes, the city utilities department started fluoridating the water supply in San Diego again last year.

As numerous studies and expert testimony affirm, sodium fluoride is a toxic waste from the phosphate industry and has been linked with innumerable debilitating and in some cases terminal health problems such as disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland, as well as lowering IQ.

Environmentalists and EPA regulators don’t appear to be too concerned about a product which has on its packaging a skull and crossbones being artificially added to the water supply, but the runoff from a car wash or a piece of dog poop apparently poses a big enough threat to turn residents into criminals for engaging in activity as mundane as cleaning their vehicle.

Stephanie Gaines, land use and environmental planner for the county’s Department of Public Works, pointed out that ”The regulations stem from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act and are passed down to the state, regional, and local levels.”

Planning group member Chad Anderson said that the regulations appeared to “Overlap with statements from Agenda 21, the comprehensive global plan for sustainable development that was created at a United Nation’s Earth Summit in 1992. It was signed by more than 178 countries, including the United States, and opponents say it targets private property.”

As we have previously highlighted, the UN’s Agenda 21, which is being implemented across the United States in a number of different guises, demands that member nations adopt “sustainable development” policies that are little more than a disguise for the reintroduction of neo-feudalism and only serve to reduce living standards and quality of life.

The regulations about to be foisted upon San Diegans are merely a taste of the kind of big government tyranny and control freak micromanagement we can expect to see unleashed against Americans under the guise of environmentalism when real environmental issues like toxic waste being added to the water supply are completely ignored.

Charitable group offers to pay fines if you keep feeding the homeless in Philadelphia

via The Blaze:

Willing to Go to Jail For Feeding The Homeless: Charitable Group Vows to Ignore Phillys New Ban on Outdoor Feeding

Philadelphia’s new law banning “all outdoor feedings of large numbers of people on City parkland” goes into effect Friday, according CBS Philly, and some charitable groups have elected to ignore it.

“I encourage every church, every organization, every individual that has been serving on the Parkway to continue serving on the Parkway, despite this law that is going into effect,” said Altressa Boatwright, operations manager for Chosen 300, a charitable organization which has proudly served Philadelphia’s homeless community for years with “outdoor feedings.”

But why would the city pass a ban on charitable giving?

According to proponents of the bill, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the new law will “protect the dignity of the homeless, cleanliness of the parks, and eliminate food health concerns.” However, dozens of opponents of the law testified at a hearing on Thursday and said the reasoning behind the ban was bunko.

“These regulations are clearly designated not with the intent of protecting the health and dignity of the homeless, but are designed to tuck the homeless in a corner and pretend that the problem does not exist in our city,” Reverend Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 Ministries said.

The group has established a fund to help anyone fined for breaking the “outdoor feeding” ban, philly.com reports.

“The people are the number one resources of this city, not the Barnes Museum,” said Philadelphia homeless advocate Erike Younge. “Feeding people and serving the needs of the people is a fundamental right. And to ban it or to oppose it and not to work to solve this problem is unconstitutional and inhumane.”

Meanwhile, a group of  students from The Mathematics Civics and Sciences Charter School said at the hearing that they raise about $500 to $1000 each week for food and toiletries for the homeless near Ben Franklin Parkway.

“The food we distribute is prepared in our school cafeteria in the same manner and under the same conditions as the food that is served to the students,” said Gregory Dooley.

Willing to Go to Jail For Feeding The Homeless: Charitable Group Vows to Ignore Phillys New Ban on Outdoor FeedingImage courtesy Bloomberg

“It is clear to me that the reason that the Mayor has implemented this new directive is that he does not like the way large groups of homeless people and the public looks to visitors and more affluent residents.”

According to CBS Philly, the ban applies to the Fairmount Park system, “which includes Love Park and the Ben Franklin Parkway.”

No one from the Nutter administration attended Thursday’s hearing.

David Shivel, who volunteers handing out doughnuts and coffee, says “he is willing to go to jail for feeding the homeless,” adding that city officials need to understand they alone cannot help the city’s homeless, philly.com reports.

“You need us,” Shivel said. “You may not know that, but you need us.”

7 Ways To Get Yourself Detained Indefinitely

via Nick Wing: 

Indefinite Detention

Debate continued to rage this week over a short, loosely worded segment of the new 565-page 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that critics, lawmakers and now a federal judge say makes permanent a controversial, post-9/11 loophole that opened a dangerous door to approving the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without a trial.

The Obama administration and the law’s supporters have maintained that thepresident’s signing statement that secured the legislation’s passage on New Year’s Eve, as well as additional rules he issued in February, should be enough to assuage the fears of the law’s opponents. Both documents suggest that U.S. citizens will have their constitutional right to a trial protected.

Civil liberties activists, however, are quick to argue that the statements lack the enforcement mechanisms to guarantee the administration will not use the vague language of the law’s Section 1021 to indefinitely detain Americans. It also provides no guarantee that future administrations wouldn’t willingly apply the statute more broadly.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with these concerns earlier this month, finding Section 1021 unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by a group of journalists and activists. The measure had a “chilling impact on first amendment rights,” she wrote in her ruling, deconstructing arguments from the president’s lawyers several times.

That didn’t sway House lawmakers, however, who shortly thereafter voted against a bill to guarantee civilian trials for any terrorism suspect arrested in the United States.

While the the legal jargon of the case and the ambiguous wording of Section 1021 can be hard to wade through, Americans might be interested to learn what actions might lead to their detention according to the National Defense Authorization Act. Below are a few hypothetical examples, based both on the legislation, as well as the court case that found it unconstitutional:

Interview A Member Of The Taliban
  1  of  7
 
Scenario:
As a foreign correspondent on assignment in Afghanistan, you successfully contact Taliban representatives who take you to meet a mullah. After you’ve completed your interview and fact-finding mission, U.S. officials arrest you under suspicion of terrorism.

How:
Section 1021 (2) of the National Defense Authorization Act grants power to indefinitely detain “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

You’re not sure if what you did was “substantial” or really “supported” anyone. It’s quite possible that nobody does, as the text of the law doesn’t define these words. This could take a while to sort out.

In the recent hearing on a lawsuit challenging that section of the act, Judge Katherine Forrest asked an Obama lawyer if plaintiff Chris Hedges could be assured that he would not be subjected to detention under Section 1021, journalist Naomi Wolf noted.

Hedges is a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who has worked extensively in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The administration attorney suggested that the specifics of Hedge’s situation would make his detention unlikely, but responded, “I cannot say that today.”

While the Obama administration has said you’re entitled to a trial as a U.S. citizen, this won’t preclude you from a protracted journey through an encumbered court system charged with figuring out — based on secret evidence — why you were picked up. And if it this happens during a future administration, officials might not agree with Obama on your right to a trial.

Attend A Fundraiser
2  of  7
Scenario:
A local civil liberties group holds a swanky fundraising event and you, a wealthy philanthropist, write a sizable check. Sometime later, the group is placed on a watch list, which results in authorities arriving at your door, hauling you away.

How:
It’s possible a portion of your money somehow got funneled to al-Qaeda or a pro-Taliban group or that somehow you became an indirect material supporter of what the National Defense Authorization Act calls an “associated force.”

But just what are “associated forces”? That question appeared to stump Obama administration lawyers when pressed by Judge Katherine Forrest during a recent hearing.

“I don’t have specifics,” an attorney told her.

Answering a later question about whether WikiLeaks could be construed as an “associated force,” an administration lawyer suggested that it couldn’t, unless there were a connection to the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

If someone happens to be wrong about your case, you might sit in detention until the courts figure it out. Or, according to the act, you’ll be released when officials determine it is “the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

Write A Book
 3  of  7
This hypothetical situation comes straight from this spring’s hearing on a lawsuit challenging parts of the National Defense Authorization Act, as captured by Naomi Wolf:

Bruce Afran, lawyer for the plaintiffs, presented the hypothetical of a book that did not say how to make a bomb but simply expressed support for the political goals of the Taliban, or that made the case that the Taliban’s view that the US government overreaches in occupying other countries, has merit. He and Judge Forrest discussed the hypothetical that such a book could be a bestseller and be on a book tour, generating comment throughout the Middle East.

Judge Forrest simplified the example to a hypothetical of a book with only one sentence, and whose only sentence read: “I support the political goals of the Taliban’. She asked the government lawyers if such a book could be read as providing ‘material support’ for ‘associated forces” under the NDAA. They did not rule it out.

Judge Forrest pushed:

“You are unable to say that [such a book] consisting of political speech could not be captured under [NDAA’s Section] 1021?”

Obama lawyers: “We can’t say that.”

Organize A Demonstration
 4  of  7
Scenario:
Some societal injustice is prompting you to start a movement in protest. Hours after a particularly well-attended and rambunctious rally, you’re approached by men in black suits who flash their badges and toss you in the back of their unmarked SUV.

How:
It’s possible that you or one of your loosely connected crew of associates did something to make you a suspect linked to an “associated force.” Or perhaps, according to another part of National Defense Authorization Act’s Section 1021 (2), your actions constituted “substantial support” to a “person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of [al-Qaeda or the Taliban].”

Journalist and “Day of Rage” organizer Alexa O’Brien joined a recent lawsuit challenging sections of the act out of concern that she was being targeted as a potential terrorist threat.

But at a hearing on the suit this spring, Obama administration officials did not alleviate such concerns, as Naomi Wolf has documented:

O’Brien produced into evidence a [Department of Homeland Security] memo that sought to link US Day of Rage to their cyberterrorism initiative. The government lawyer was given a chance by Judge Forrest to dispute the memo as fraudulent and did not do so.

Help Out A Friend
 5  of  7
Scenario:
A good friend whom you’ve lost touch with contacts you, asking for help funding his around-the-world trip. You wire money and wait for him to return.

Sometime later, there’s a knock on your door. The people on the other side of it have questions about a sum of money you sent abroad to someone questionable. They ask you to come with them.

How:
You’re finding it impossible to believe that your childhood friend became a terrorist or connected with al-Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.” But even if he did manage to get mixed up in some sketchy business, shouldn’t there be an exception for you, his well-intentioned friend who was just helping someone in need?

Not necessarily.

At a recent hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest tried to get the Obama administration to give an assurance that “unwitting” support could be protected, noting that there was no direct reference to such language in the law.

Obama’s attorney was unable to provide such a safeguard, instead arguing that the new law possessed the same exemptions contained within the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which was passed by Congress after 9/11.

The brief and broadly interpreted authorization makes no mention of the word “unwitting,” though.

Accidentally Provide Missiles To Insurgents
6  of  7
Scenario:
You’re a flippant, billionaire playboy or -girl with a cool haircut and two Ph.D.s., one in nuclear fusion and the other in kicking ass. You get bored, so you decide to fight crime in Afghanistan and make a quick jaunt to Kandahar.

In the process of taking on an encampment of Taliban insurgents, the firing mechanism for one of your missiles malfunctions, launching it thousands of feet into the air. It returns to Earth undetonated, only to be picked up by an enemy who uses it as the centerpiece of an improvised explosive device.

When a U.S. mine-sweeping crew deactivates the makeshift bomb and finds your name emblazoned on the device, you’re picked up.

How:
This appears to be a clear-cut case of “substantial support” to the Taliban or at least “associated forces” who wanted to do harm to U.S. troops.

So much for your intentions of wanting to help out with a little vigilante justice. Any resulting court case could take ages.

Plan A Terrorist Attack
 7  of  7
Scenario:
You’re a total jerk and not a very big fan of America, so you decide that the best course of action is to take out your anger with an act of destruction on a densely populated city.

You do some planning and set up your device, but when it comes time to use it, it malfunctions, leaving you injured and going to jail on a stretcher.

How:
You’re an American citizen, you’ll get your constitutional guarantee of a trial, right?

If President Barack Obama’s promises are followed, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t undergo some form of indefinite detention while you await trial.

During a hearing on the lawsuit challenging parts of the new National Defense Authorization Act, Obama’s lawyers were unable to say for sure if the trial promised in his signing statement would be a civilian or military one. This could have a heavy bearing on the nature of your detention.

And if you were to commit such actions under the administration of another president, there’s no telling how a new commander in chief would interpret the act, making your fate even less certain.

Chris Christie Is Going To Defy The Federal Government And Allow Sports Gambling In New Jersey

Via Business Insider:

Chris Christie is a bold governor.

 

In an effort to juice the casino and tourism industry in his state, along with the state’s own coffers, Chris Christie is going to legalize sports betting, according to the Washington Post.

The trick is this: the federal government still has a ban on it in all but four states.

“If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us,” Christie said.

He is practically daring the Obama administration (or any future one) to go after him, “Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes.”

This has been in the works for a while now. New Jersey held a non-binding referendum on it, and sports betting was approved 2-1 by the public.

But there is one catch. None of the 12 casinos and four racetracks in New Jersey want to invest a lot of money building a sports-book operation if it is vulnerable to being shut down by the federal government, or if suddenly their licenses in other states are revoked.

 

 

Delaware’s Governor could take a lesson here when it comes to medical marijuana.

A Crazy Canadian Case Over A Bad Breakup Could Force Non-Married Partners To Pay Alimony

via Business Insider

A case involving a billionaire Quebecois man and his jilted ex could force unwed couples in the province to pay alimony even if they didn’t put a ring on it.

“Lola,” a Canadian woman who was in a 10-year relationship with “Eric,” has successfully challenged a Quebec law that allows non-married couples to classify themselves as “spouses” without requiring that they support each other should the relationship end, Slate reported.

She claims she deserves just as many rights as an ex-wife would.

But provincial Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier is asking Canada’s Supreme Court to protect Quebec’s law on so-called de facto spouses, saying it gives couples the ability to choose the type of relationship they have.

De facto spouses are two people who have lived together for a year or more, but aren’t married, and check the “couple” box on their income tax form.

In de facto couples, the “spouses,” have no obligation to financially support each other should the relationship end, making it an attractive option to the more than 1 million Quebecois in de facto relationships, Slate reported.

The Superior Court of Quebec rejected Lola’s (Canadian law forbids publishing their real names) claim in 2009 for $56,000 (Canadian) per month and $50 million as a lump sum, in addition to the child support Eric was already paying.

When Lola appealed the court’s decision, the province’s appeals court in 2010 sided with Eric’s former partner, Slate reported.

The appeals court essentially invalidated Quebec’s law, saying Lola, and anyone in her situation, deserves the same rights as legally married spouses.

Fournier has claimed the decision invalidates a couple’s right to choose the kind of relationship they want.

A Canadian Supreme Court decision is expected some time in July.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/quebec-might-soon-make-even-non-married-spouses-pay-up-2012-5#ixzz1vvTqYzws

Congressman want to legalize it to surround you with propaganda

Propaganda: noun

1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation,etc.
2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
When I think of propaganda, I think of the Nazis. National Socialist propaganda provided a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war and the extermination of millions of people in the Holocaust.

The pervasive use of propaganda by the Nazis is largely responsible for the word “propaganda” itself acquiring its present negative connotations.  This could be why I was alarmed when I read that Congressman want to lift the propaganda ban in the United States.

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

The bill’s supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.

Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.

“Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,” says Michael Shank, Vice President at the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington D.C. “That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators – who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous.”

“I just don’t want to see something this significant – whatever the pros and cons – go through without anyone noticing,”
“ says one source on the Hill, who is disturbed by the law. According to this source, the law would allow “U.S. propaganda intended to influence foreign audiences to be used on the domestic population.”

The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

According to this official, “senior public affairs” officers within the Department of Defense want to “get rid” of Smith-Mundt and other restrictions because it prevents information activities designed to prop up unpopular policies—like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.

The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

In an apparent retaliation to the USA Today investigation, the two reporters working on the story appear to have been targeted by Pentagon contractors, who created fake Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in an attempt to discredit them.

(In fact, a second amendment to the authorization bill — in reaction to the USA Today report — seeks for cuts to the Pentagon’s propaganda budget overseas, while this amendment will make it easier for the propaganda to spread at home.)

The evaporation of Smith-Mundt and other provisions to safeguard U.S. citizens against government propaganda campaigns is part of a larger trend within the diplomatic and military establishment.

In December, the Pentagon used software to monitor the Twitter debate over Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing; another program being developed by the Pentagon would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets; and, last year, General William Caldwell, deployed an information operations team under his command that had been trained in psychological operations to influence visiting American politicians to Kabul.

The upshot, at times, is the Department of Defense using the same tools on U.S. citizens as on a hostile, foreign, population.

A U.S. Army whistleblower, Lieutenant Col. Daniel Davis, noted recently in his scathing 84-page unclassified report on Afghanistan that there remains a strong desire within the defense establishment “to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to “protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will,” he wrote, quoting a well-regarded general.

The defense bill passed the House Friday afternoon.

Funny how these things work, isn’t it?