NSA Now Claims DNI Director Clapper Merely Forgot About Massive Surveillance System Targeting Millions of Citizens

Robert-Litt220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portraitThe National Security Agency is still struggling to explain what many denounced as the uncharged act of perjury by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in denying the existence of the secret NSA surveillance program targeting the communications of all Americans. If you recall, the first explanation by Clapper was that his denial was an intentional act to pick the “the least untruthful” statement to answer the question. Then, National Intelligence general counsel Robert Litt (left) insisted that Clapper “misunderstood” the question. Now, Litt is changing spins and saying that Clapper merely forgot about the massive surveillance system. It was not only massive but recently declared illegal, as some of us have long maintained. It is the latest chapter in America’s Animal Farm as average citizens are criminally charged with small discrepancies in statements to investigators while people like Clapper and David Petraeus and Sandy Berger are protected from serious repercussions for alleged criminal acts.

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Is The Cell Phone Kill Switch in the Wrong Hands?

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court. Continue reading

Asian American Band Granted Appellate Hearing On Denial Of Trademark Of Its Name As Racially Disparaging

textonlyI have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. That case is still being appealed but a new case may well answer some of the question raised in the prior column. An Asian American rock band called “the Slants” has appealed a decision to deny it trademark protection — allowing the question to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A panel previously upheld the denial in In re Simon Shiao Tam, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6430.

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Follow The Money

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

 

Over the last few years we have seen many stories and articles that discuss the problems States and Municipalities are having in paying their public pension payments and how various politicians propose to fix those “problems”.  The politicians almost always seem to blame the pension problems on the overpaid government workers and their unions. The idea that Wall Street might have something to do with these government pension plans being underfunded is rarely discussed.  Until now.

A significant portion of the funds deposited in government employee pension plans is invested with Wall Street. According to one recent study, the public pension plans are paying at least $5.4 Billion dollars each year to Wall Street. Continue reading

No Comprendo: Federal Government Approved “Disability” Payments to Puerto Ricans Who Cannot Speak English . . . in Puerto Rico

220px-US-SocialSecurityAdmin-Seal.svgJust when you think that the federal government could not be more moronic in the spending of money, you read a story like this. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been approving disability benefits for hundreds of Puerto Ricans because they do not speak English. However, these “disabled” individuals are living in a predominantly Spanish-speaking territory. Having worked for the Puerto Rico House of Representatives years ago, the story seemed to me a belated April Fool’s joke but it appears to be true.

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Court Sentences Man To 13 Years For Removing Turkish Flag

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag of TurkeyIn an injustice to both the liberty of a Kurdish man and free speech in general a court in Turkey handed down thirteen year sentence to a defendant accused of removing a Turkish flag at a military base near Diyarbakir, Turkey. The disproportionate sentence followed an outraged Recep Erdogan who declared after the act, “[w]e don’t care if he is a child. Even if a child dares to take down our sacred flag both him and those who send him there will pay a price.”

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