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Google, Facebook Oppose North Carolina’s HB2 Law

Lucy Westcott
Displayed with permission from Newsweek

A number of high-profile companies, including Bayer, Facebook and American Airlines, have spoken out against North Carolina’s move to prohibit any new LGBT protection laws in the state.

The bill, which was introduced, passed and signed into law within a matter of hours on Wednesday, was a response to a LGBT non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council in February that allowed transgender people to use the bathroom according to the gender with which they identify.

Corporations, celebrities and many members of the general public were swift to condemn the action. American Airlines, which has its second-biggest hub in Charlotte, said the law goes against company beliefs.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Ross Feinstein, an American Airlines spokesman. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

After the bill was signed into law on Wednesday, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the move “is not good for business. This is a bad bill for the Tarheel State.”

The National Basketball Association released a short statement on Thursday afternoon, saying it’s “deeply concerned” about the legislation.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games,” it said. The organization ended by saying it does “not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that the NCAA, which is planning to hold men’s basketball tournaments in the state in 2017 and 2018, is “monitoring the situation.”

Jim Whitehurst, the president and CEO of RedHat, an open-source software company, called HB2 a “clear step backwards” and said Wednesday was a “sad day.” Pharmaceutical company Bayer said it has “zero tolerance for discrimination. We continue to support all of our employees & remain on the side of equality.”

Some of the world’s leading tech companies also spoke out against the legislation. Google tweeted the hashtag #WeAreNotThis and said “we oppose all laws that enable or encourage discrimination.” In the statement, posted on Twitter on Thursday night, Google said it has previously stood against laws that discriminate against the LGBT community, including Proposition 8, the California ballot proposal that made marriage equality illegal in the state in 2008, and the Defense of Marriage Act.

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6th Circuit tells IRS Lawyers it Expects Them to do Better, Orders Disclosure of ‘Lookout’ Lists

A federal appeals court is showing impatience with the Internal Revenue Service in an opinion refusing to interfere with a federal judge’s order that the agency disclose lists of groups allegedly targeted because of their political beliefs.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled(PDF) on Tuesday in a suit by tea party groups who claim their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed and subjected to demands for unnecessary information, report the Washington Times, the Washington Post, Cleveland.com and the Volokh Conspiracy.

The IRS sought reconsideration and then applied for a writ of mandamus, described by the 6th Circuit as “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by the district court. We deny the petition.”

The 6th Circuit criticized the IRS for foot-dragging and a response of “continuous resistance” to discovery in the suit over IRS treatment of tax-exempt applications by targeted groups. “The lawsuit has progressed as slowly as the underlying applications themselves,” the court said in an opinion by Judge Raymond Kethledge. “At every turn, the IRS has resisted the plaintiffs’ requests for information regarding the IRS’s treatment of the plaintiff class, eventually to the open frustration of the district court.”

The lead plaintiff, NorCal Tea Party Patriots, had been forced by the IRS to produce 3,000 pages of information. Yet the IRS resisted providing basic information relevant to class certification, including the names of IRS employees who reviewed applications for tax-exempt status, the appeals court said.

The 6th Circuit concluded that the lookout lists were not barred from disclosure. The IRS had argued it couldn’t disclose the lists because of a federal law barring the disclosure of “return information.” But the law “was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers,” Kethledge wrote.

The appeals court said the Justice Department has a “storied tradition” of enforcing all of the nation’s laws, not just selective ones. “The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” the appeals court said. “We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”

Kethledge and another judge on the panel are appointees of President George W. Bush while a third judge is a Jimmy Carter appointee.

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After Baca’s Guilty Plea, L.A. Jail Corruption Case Turns Toward Trial of His Top Aide, Paul Tanaka

The criminal trial of Paul Tanaka, a once powerful figure in Los Angeles policing, is set to open with the former undersheriff facing charges he deliberately thwarted an FBI investigation into jail abuses.

Tanaka, who served as the second in command to former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for the role prosecutors say he played in a scheme to conceal the whereabouts of an inmate who was working as a federal informant and intimidate an FBI agent.

The trial is the latest, and likely the last, in a series of high-profile prosecutions stemming from 2011, when sheriff’s officials discovered and objected angrily to a secret FBI probe into the jails. In all, nine members of the department have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

Last month, Baca himself joined the disgraced group when he admitted to lying to FBI agents and prosecutors investigating the beatings of inmates and visitors at the nation’s largest jail system. As part of a plea deal he struck, Baca, who left office two years ago, will avoid being indicted on more serious charges and can be sentenced to no more than six months in prison.

On Wednesday, the two sides entered U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson’s downtown courtroom and began selecting jurors. Always an arduous process, picking the panel was particularly difficult as many prospective jurors said they could not commit to the trial, which is expected to last three or four weeks.

Jury selection was scheduled to continue Thursday.

In the lead up to trial, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section have portrayed Tanaka in court filings as a malicious leader who, for years, “largely ignored” explicit warnings of abusive deputies beating inmates and “rebuffed and rebuked whistleblowers.”

“Given this background, it sadly is not surprising that, after learning of a federal grand jury investigation into excessive use of force and public corruption in the [Sheriff’s Department], Tanaka closed ranks and conspired to obstruct the investigation,” Brandon Fox, the lead prosecutor in the case, wrote in one filing.

An attorney for Tanaka, H. Dean Steward, called the charges “baseless” when the indictment was announced last year. At trial, Steward and his partner, Jerome Haig, are expected to present Tanaka as a convenient scapegoat who was uninvolved in any efforts to interfere with the FBI.

The allegations against Tanaka, 57, center largely on Anthony Brown, a convicted felon who began working as an FBI informant while he was serving time in the county’s main jail facility.

Prosecutors accuse Tanaka of playing a leading role in orchestrating a plan to keep FBI agents from speaking with Brown after sheriff’s officials discovered he was an informant in August 2011.

The indictment alleges that Tanaka gave jail staff an order forbidding agents from seeing Brown and says “a furious Tanaka” berated several underlings when agents were allowed to see their informant.

And, in late August 2011, deputies approached clerks working in the sheriff’s records center and said they were acting on orders from Tanaka, according to the indictment. They instructed the clerks to falsify entries in the agency’s database to show Brown had been released from custody when, in fact, he remained in a jail cell, the indictment alleged. The episode, prosecutors contend, was part of a broader scheme in which the deputies repeatedly moved Brown among various jail facilities under fake names to conceal his whereabouts from federal authorities.

During testimony at a deputy’s obstruction trial, Tanaka said that he did not have a clear memory of many events but that Brown was moved under false names for his own safety and to make sure the Sheriff’s Department could properly investigate a cellphone FBI agents smuggled into Brown.

Prosecutors also accuse Tanaka of having a hand in the decision to send two sheriff’s deputies to confront Leah Marx, the lead FBI agent in the case, at her home and question her about the cellphone.

Marx refused to speak, and one of the deputies threatened her with arrest. According to the indictment, when the agent’s supervisor called to inquire about the impending arrest, one of the deputies told him, “You’re going to have to talk to the undersheriff.“

Until he retired in 2013, Tanaka was a polarizing figure in the Sheriff’s Department. While he enjoyed support from a loyal segment of the force, he ultimately came to be seen as someone who carved out a powerful fiefdom beneath Baca that he ran with impunity.

A blue-ribbon panel that investigated the jails and found widespread problems of abuse faulted Baca for allowing his undersheriff to run the jails without effective oversight.

Tanaka, they found, “failed to uphold the department’s goals and values.”

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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US Marines Enter Ground Combat in Iraq to Defend Oil Fields

Jason Ditz
March 24, 2016

 (ANTIWAREven as Pentagon officials have sought to emphasize their claims of ISIS being “on the run,” ever more US ground troops are being deployed to Iraq to try to cope with ISIS offensives, with the battle of Makhmur leading to the introduction of US Marines in front-line combat roles.

Officials are trying to downplay the operation as “force protection” for Iraqi ground troops, who have been massing in the area in an effort to ultimately launch an attack on the ISIS-held city of Mosul, not far away.

The explanation is unsatisfying for several reasons, but primarily because this “tactical assembly area” already includes thousands of Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga, and these are the same troops who are supposed to attack Mosul. These troops are apparently unable to hold even Makhmur, let alone advance toward Mosul.

The Makhmur District is also a key to holding oil fields around Kirkuk, and the ISIS offensive is seen by many analysts as part of an effort to ultimately regain control over those lucrative oil fields and has been “outgunning” the thousands of Iraqi troops in the area.

Whether they’re trying to save Iraqi ground troops who still can’t stand up to ISIS, or save oil fields, however, the latest escalation puts US troops even further in harm’s way, and has put the war even further afield from the “no boots on the ground” affair initially promised by the Obama Administration.


This article (US Marines Enter Ground Combat in Iraq to Defend Oil Fields) originally appeared on AntiWar.com and was used with permission. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

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Supreme Court Rejects Marijuana Lawsuit Against Colorado 

 Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to hear a lawsuit Nebraska and Oklahoma brought against Colorado’s marijuana legalization law, a rare case falling under the Court’s original jurisdiction to hear lawsuits between states. In 2012, Colorado voted to legalize marijuana production, sales, and consumption for adults, but Attorneys General in the two neighboring states claimed the law is causing marijuana to spill into their states, creating a law enforcement burden, and that the law is a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Colorado argued that their law is designed to minimize the illicit market and associated dangers. They also argued that the case is more appropriate for a lower court and that overturning their marijuana law won’t solve the problem outlined by the plaintiffs. SCOTUS didn’t explain the reason for refusing to hear the suit but recommended submitting the case to a federal trial court instead.
“If Nebraska and Oklahoma had the good sense to legalize and regulate marijuana too, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. What a monumental waste of time to ask our highest court to solve a problem that could be fixed with a well-written piece of legislation or a ballot initiative,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group working to end the War on Drugs.
SCOTUS typically decides on appeals from lower courts, but they occasionally take on disputes between states in “original jurisdiction” suits. These types of suits occur infrequently and generally deal with disagreements over the use of resources, such as rivers, that flow through more than one state. In December 2015, the U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli extended his recommendation to reject hearing the case, which he said would, “…represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this court’s original jurisdiction.”

Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have all legalized marijuana for adult use. 23 states and D.C. have legalized some form of access to medical marijuana. In August 2013, the Department of Justice released a memorandum indicating they would no longer interfere in states that choose to regulate marijuana as long as common sense measures are taken to prevent organized crime within the legal businesses and prevent youth access to marijuana, among other reasonable goals.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed marijuana policies that have engendered gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, clogged the justice system at every step of the process, and diverted significant resources away from addressing more important crimes.

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Full-time female lawyers earn 77 percent of male lawyer pay

BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

Median pay for full-time female lawyers was 77.4 percent of the pay earned by their male counterparts, according to data for 2014 released earlier this month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In all law-related jobs, median pay for female workers in 2014 was 51.6 percent of the pay received by male workers, according to the data.

The pay gap is large for all legal occupations because women in the law are more likely to be paralegals and support workers than men, and pay in those areas is lower, Census Bureau spokesperson John Barker tells the ABA Journal. The salary figures are for full-time, year- round workers; part-time workers aren’t included in the statistics.

Law overall has the widest gender gap, Fusion reports. Other fields with big gender gaps include an “other” category of financial specialists, aircraft mechanics, financial services sales agents, jewelers and photographic process workers.

Here are other findings:

• Female paralegals and legal assistants earned 94 percent of male paralegal pay.

• Female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned 71.8 percent of men’s pay in those occupations.

• Female legal support workers made 73.7 percent of the pay of male legal support workers.

Fusion spoke with former ABA President Laurel Bellows about the numbers. She said women face hurdles when trying to negotiate for better pay.

“Are women good negotiators? Yes,” Bellows said. “But women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus. Men who ask are viewed as strong and good negotiators hard workers worthy of consideration for an increase.”

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Nixon Policy Adviser Admits He Invented War On Drugs to Suppress ‘Anti-War Left and Black People’

Dan Baum, writing in support of drug legalization at Harper’s, has unleashed a frank 1994 quote from former Nixon policy advisor John Ehrlichman, and as inadvertently salient an argument for legalizing drugs as any I’ve ever seen:

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

I must have looked shocked. Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel,The Company, and led me to the door.

Bold mine.

That drugs have been used as a tactic to marginalize and imprison peoples who are inconvenient, so to speak, for conservatives and neo-cons doesn’t really come as a surprise—and not just because Nixon was a noted racist. The War on Drugs was a Nixon invention but, as Baum explains, it’s been useful for every president thereafter, and its function as a suppressive tool didn’t exactly wane—recall the way it defined Reagan’s crack era, which was funneled into black neighborhoods by the CIA and then used to decimate an entire generation. Or the way relatively minor drug offenses are the main contributor to the current mass incarceration crisis, which disproportionately affects young black and brown men.

Adjacent to this, Baum lays out a clear and logical argument for the way legalization could work, using Portugal and the Netherlands as precedents, and advocating for it to remain in the control of the state—a “state-run monopoly”—rather than free markets, lest addiction become a market incentive the way it has with alcohol and cigarettes. (Of course, the deeper problem of racial prejudice remains strong in this scenario too—the legal weed market has already locked out people of color to a dramatic and unfair degree, and black people are much more likely to be arrested for pot-related offenses even in states where it’s legal.) Baum cites the way marijuana is regulated in his home state of Colorado (of course this dude is from Boulder), but also makes the case that weed is the path to killing the drug war, in its capacity as an admitted racist and antiliberal Nixonian tool:

The citizens of the U.S. jurisdictions that legalized marijuana may have set in motion more machinery than most of them had imagined. “Without marijuana prohibition, the government can’t sustain the drug war,” Ira Glasser, who ran the American Civil Liberties Union from 1978 to 2001, told me. “Without marijuana, the use of drugs is negligible, and you can’t justify the law-enforcement and prison spending on the other drugs. Their use is vanishingly small. I always thought that if you could cut the marijuana head off the beast, the drug war couldn’t be sustained.”

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Supreme Court Cites Second Amendment in Stun-Gun Decision

Massachusetts’ top court contradicted Second Amendment precedent in the reasoning it used to uphold a ban on stun guns, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a per Curiam opinion.

The court granted cert and vacated the judgment without argument. The court ruled in the case of Jaime Caetano, who had acquired a stun gun to protect herself from an abusive former boyfriend, according to a concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito Jr.

The Massachusetts court had cited three reasons for its decision upholding the ban, and all of them conflicted with District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court said in its per Curiam decision(PDF). The 2008 Heller decision held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts had ruled stun guns weren’t protected because they weren’t in common use at the time the Second Amendment was enacted, they fit within an exception for “unusual” weapons due to their “thoroughly modern” nature, and they are not readily adaptable to use in the military.

But Heller extends to weapons not in existence at the time of the Second Amendment, and to weapons that aren’t useful in warfare, the Supreme Court said.

In his concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Alito said the reasoning of the Massachusetts court “poses a grave threat to the fundamental right of self-defense.”

Alito said Caetano had armed herself with the stun gun after an altercation with the former boyfriend put her in the hospital, and after multiple restraining orders against the man “proved futile.” When the ex-boyfriend confronted Caetano outside work and started screaming, Caetano told the man she had a stun gun and was prepared to use it. Her threat worked, scaring the man away.

The stun gun was discovered by police when a shoplifting suspect said Caetano was a potential accomplice. When Caetano agreed to a search of her purse, police found no evidence of shoplifting but discovered the stun gun. She was charged with violating the ban on electrical weapons and convicted despite her attempt to dismiss the charge on Second Amendment grounds.

Alito said Caetano had been prosecuted for arming herself with a weapon that may have saved her life. “The Supreme Judicial Court then affirmed her conviction on the flimsiest of grounds,” Alito wrote. “This court’s grudging per Curiam now sends the case back to that same court. And the consequences for Caetano may prove more tragic still, as her conviction likely bars her from ever bearing arms for self-defense.

“If the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe.”

The case is Caetano v. Massachusetts.

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“The Real March Madness” on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee”

From Donald Trump to Protestors to the War on Drugs to Money in Politics to Education to the Military Industrial Complex to Hate to the IRS to Islamaphobia to Immigration to Racism and Bigotry and so on and so on. We need to talk.

You know, to each other. Like we care. Join me for a cup and let’s go over what is really going in this March as we enjoy the first day of spring. Longtime Activist, Journalist, Coffee Party Director & Radio Host, Bobby Rodrigo brings you “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee” on the Coffee Party USA Radio Network every Sunday Morning at 10:00 AM. Advocating engagement Bobby points out the Constitution is the Rule of Law and why it should remain so. Money in Politics, the Political Party Machine, Cannabis Prohibition and partisan blind allegiance is on full display as he advocates against the erosion of Constitutional Protections in the name of corruption & tyranny. “If we focused on following the Constitution we would solve many of the ills of our society.”  Offering guests from Political Organizations, Activism, Media & Artists Bobby invites you to join him Sunday Morning at 10:00 AM on Coffee Party USA Radio.

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(Video) Lost at sea and presumed dead, dog miraculously finds its way home

One second Luna was there.

The next, “she was gone,” Nick Haworth told Navy officials during his frantic search for his beloved blue-eyed dog.

The 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd-husky mix disappeared from Haworth’s fishing boat while skimming through the blue-gray waters of the Pacific near San Diego more than a month ago. Haworth and his fellow crew member searched the vessel frantically for her the minute they noticed she was missing, but there are only so many places a 40-pound dog can be on a 45-foot boat. If she wasn’t there, she could only be in the water.

Haworth called for help from Naval Base Coronado, which controls the nearby island of San Clemente. Luna was a pretty good swimmer, and Haworth felt sure she could make it to the island, even though it was a full two miles away, according to the Associated Press.

The Navy sent out search planes. Haworth scanned the sea in his tiny fishing vessel. For days, he refused to let go of Luna’s long pink leash, he told KGTV, hoping against hope he’d have reason to use it again.

But time wore on, and still Luna was nowhere to be found.

“To be honest, we had pretty much given up hope,” Melissa Booker, a Navy marine biologist who helped with the search, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

By day 10, even Haworth had to make peace with his loss. Assuming Luna had swum to dry land, there was nothing to sustain her on barren San Clemente Island – a dry, windswept expanse of mostly cacti and foxes. In all likelihood, she was never coming home.

On Facebook, he typed a last goodbye to the husky. “RIP Luna, you will be greatly missed”

And then, on Tuesday morning, almost exactly five weeks after her disappearance, staff arriving for work at San Clemente spotted something unusual sitting by the side of the road: a dog.

But pets are banned from the island in order to protect the endangered species that live there. Which could only mean one thing.

“Luna!” Sandy Demunnik, a Navy public affairs officer, told the Union-Tribune. “Just sitting there, wagging her tail. Like, ‘Hey guys, I’m a little hungry.'”

A staff biologist for the Navy’s environmental program on the island examined the dog to make sure she wasn’t hurt or dehydrated. They even took a blood sample, just in case.

Aside from looking a little thin, Demunnik told the AP, Luna was perfectly healthy. “It looks like she was surviving on rodents and dead fish that had washed up,” she said.

Haworth was out of state, working in the middle of a lake, when he got the call he never thought would come. The Navy had his dog.

“Getting that phone call yesterday was like no feeling I’ve ever experienced,” he told the Union-Tribune. “It was a real rollercoaster of emotions, really.”

On Wednesday, the dog was flown to a naval base on the mainland and given to Haworth’s best friend. And Thursday night, when Haworth was due to get back to San Diego, she would finally reunite with her owner – a few pounds lighter than when she left him, perhaps, but with one extra token from her ordeal.

It was a dog tag given to her by the Navy at San Clemente (she’d lost her old one at some point during her travels), according to the AP. Along with her name, it bears three words taught to Navy and Marine personnel during their training on the island.

They are: “Keep the Faith.”