Tag Archives: amendment

Opponents of NSA surveillance aren’t giving up after House vote

By avandagriff

Privacy and digital rights groups have dug in for a longer fight against massive surveillance programs at the U.S. National Security Agency, even after the House of Representatives voted last week against an amendment to curtail the agency’s data collection. Read More: Opponents of NSA surveillance aren’t giving up after House vote | PCWorld#tk.rss_all.

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Opponents of NSA surveillance aren't giving up after House vote

Privacy and digital rights groups have dug in for a longer fight against massive surveillance programs at the U.S. National Security Agency, even after the House of Representatives voted last week against an amendment to curtail the agency’s data collection.

The House last Wednesday narrowly defeated an amendment to a defense spending bill that would have prohibited the NSA from the bulk collection of phone records from U.S. carriers and cut off funding for the phone records collection program as currently designed, but digital rights groups have said the close vote gives them hope of weakening support for the NSA programs in Congress.

Lawmakers have introduced several bills to curb the NSA data collection, and privacy advocates may push for another amendment to a bill on the House or Senate floor, said David Segal, executive director at Demand Progress, a digital rights group.

The vote last Wednesday “demonstrated that a majority of rank-and-file members agree with us, while the institutionalists — leadership, committee chairs — disagree,” he said by email. “So it could be difficult to move things through the committee process … but there’ll be some relevant floor votes in coming months.”

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at PCWorld

Justin Amash’s Revolution

By Breaking News

Justin Amash SC Justin Amash’s Revolution

The Republican congressional leadership didn’t even want to bring Michigan Rep. Justin Amash’s anti-surveillance amendment up for a vote. The Obama administration certainly didn’t want it to pass.

Yet last week, Amash managed to force a debate on the House floor that should have happened more than a decade ago in the aftermath of 9/11. His amendment would have denied funding to the National Security Agency’s vast data-mining program.

Amash’s opponents hid behind classified information and misguided emotionalism. “Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?” asked Rep. Mike Rogers, a fellow Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.

“We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools,” White House press secretary Jay Carney echoed in a statement.

Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a past chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a co-author of the Patriot Act, was one of the 93 Republicans who voted with Amash. Sensenbrenner argued that Congress never intended for the government to sweep the phone records of all Americans.

Read More at the American Conservative . By W. James Antle III.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Western Journalism

Louie Gohmert Compares Civil Rights Of Minority Groups To Snail Darters

By The Huffington Post News Editors

Rep. Louise Gohmert (R-Texas) compared the civil liberties of minority groups to snail darters and prairie chickens at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The hearing was convened to discuss the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a House bill that, according to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), “could be used to prevent federal regulatory actions from being implemented.”

Gohmert was responding to an amendment to the bill presented by Conyers and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). The amendment would prevent third party intervention in regulatory action that would protect individuals from discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

Comments by lawmakers during debate on cutting off NSA surveillance funds

Comments by House lawmakers during debate on an amendment to a defense spending bill that would end the statutory authority under Section 215 — the business records provision — of the USA Patriot Act for the National Security Agency to collect hundreds of millions of phone records: “The government collects the phone records, without suspicion, of every single American in the United States. …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

U.S. lawmakers vote against reining in NSA phone records collection

The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday narrowly rejected an effort to stop the National Security Agency from collecting millions of U.S. residents’ telephone records.

Late in the day, the House rejected a bipartisan amendment, with more than 30 co-sponsors, that would have prohibited the NSA from bulk collection of phone records from U.S. carriers and cut off funding for the phone records collection program as currently designed.

The amendment, considered as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, would have allowed the NSA to continue collecting phone records of suspects, but only when relevant to an antiterrorism investigation. The NSA is part of the Defense Department.

House members who supported the amendment voted to “oppose the suspicionless collection of every American’s phone records,” said Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and chief sponsor of the amendment.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at PCWorld

Justin Amash Amendment To Stop NSA Data Collection Voted Down In House

By The Huffington Post News Editors

WASHINGTON — Members of the House of Representatives engaged in a heated debate Wednesday over an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to halt the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone record data.

“We’re here today for a very simple reason: to defend the Fourth Amendment, to defend the privacy of each and every American,” Amash said as he introduced his measure. Lawmakers’ votes, he said, would answer one simple question, “Do we oppose the suspicionless collection of every American’s phone records?”

Apparently, the answer was no. The House voted 217-205 to defeat the amendment Wednesday evening.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

White House opposes amendment to curb NSA spying

The White House is opposed to an amendment to a defense spending bill that would limit spending on mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, would limit spending only to orders by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that collect phone and other data only of a person who is the subject of an investigation.

Former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, disclosed through newspaper reports in June that the NSA was collecting phone metadata from Verizon customers in the U.S. as part of its surveillance which was said to include data collected from Internet companies as well.

The authorization to the NSA to collect phone metadata in bulk was last week renewed by the FISC court. The Department of Justice has said that it has to retain the bulk data required by its counterterrorism tools, as it need not be retained by telecommunications service providers.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at PCWorld

Obama and Congress square off over NSA authority amendment in defense bill

With a vote nearing on amendments to a $598.3 million bill to fund the military, the White House raised the alarm over a move to end the National Security Agency’s authority under the USA Patriot Act, preventing the secretive surveillance agency from collecting records unless an individual is under investigation.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox News – Politics

MPs pass gay marriage bill

MPs passed a bill legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales, paving the way for the first gay weddings in 2014.

The House of Commons decided not to oppose a number of minor amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill proposed by the House of Lords.

The legislation is now expected to receive official assent from Queen Elizabeth later this week after MPs agreed to changes such as ensuring protections for transgender couples.

Already on Monday night, jubilant gay rights activists danced outside parliament as the government-backed bill passed unopposed through the House of Lords. Some members there wore pink carnations.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is overseeing the new law, told AFP the bill would probably receive royal assent on Wednesday or Thursday.

“But we are looking at seeing the first gay weddings in the middle of 2014 because there are various issues to sort out, such as its impact on pensions,” the spokesman added.

Government computer systems also need to be updated to allow same-sex marriages to be registered, at an estimated cost of ??2 million.

But the government hopes legalising gay marriage will bring an overall boost to the economy, estimating that the change could bring in up to ??14.4 million a year for caterers, hotels and the rest of the wedding industry.

The bill survived a stormy passage through parliament, with dozens of Tories voting against it.

Tory minister Gerald Howarth criticised the way the government had backed the bill.

“I have to say that it is astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted against, has been bulldozed through both Houses and just two hours of debate tonight is an absolute parliamentary disgrace,” he said.

“I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches. Offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it.”

An attempt in the Lords last month to kill off the legislation with a “wrecking amendment” failed.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the new law would ensure that gay couples felt “recognised and valued, not excluded”.

Gay rights activists have vowed to press on for equal marriage in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But opponents of gay marriage have warned that the legislation will “come back to bite” Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Coalition for Marriage campaign group said it would mobilise a 700,000-strong support base ahead of next year’s European elections and the general election in 2015.

“They are passionate, motivated and determined to fight on against a law that renders terms like ‘husband and wife’ meaningless,” said the group’s chairman Colin Hart.

Civil partnerships for gay couples have been legal in Britain since 2005, giving them identical rights and responsibilities to straight couples in a civil marriage.

But campaigners point to differences, such as gay couples’ inability to choose a religious ceremony or to call their partnership a “marriage”.

The new law will ban the Churches of England and Wales — which are …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Pakistan to hold presidential election Aug. 6

Pakistan says it will hold an election for the country’s president on Aug. 6.

The country’s election commission said in a statement Tuesday that candidates can submit their nomination papers until July 24.

Pakistan’s president is elected by members of the Senate, National Assembly and the assemblies of the four provinces.

The current president, Asif Ali Zardari, has said he does not plan to run for a second term. His term ends in early September. His party, the Pakistan People’s Party, suffered a heavy defeat in parliamentary elections held in May.

The big winner in the election was the Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The position of president in Pakistan became largely ceremonial after a constitutional amendment in 2010 transferred significant power to the prime minister.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Proposed Constitutional Amendment That Would Help Zimmerman

By William Baldwin, Forbes Staff

Constitutional Amendments Here are six constitutional amendments that would, if passed by two-thirds majorities in each house of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states, give the citizens some basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The first would help George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin homicide case.

1. No person shall twice be put in jeopardy of criminal conviction for the same offense.

Defendants usually can’t be retried after being acquitted. But there’s a well-recognized exception for politically unpopular defendants.  The police officers who beat up Rodney King were retried after being acquitted. In similar fashion, Zimmerman, after being acquitted in state court of killing Martin, could be tried in federal court for the crime of showing animus to Martin while killing him.

The government also gets a lot of flexibility by discovering a dozen different offenses in the same set of facts (killing someone, conspiring to kill him, depriving him of his rights by killing him, using a weapon to kill him, committing child abuse by killing him, etc.).

A constitutional amendment, if enforced by the courts, would stop this nonsense.

2. Private property shall not be taken for public use without compensation.

There are several ways for the government to acquire real estate without paying for it. It can make the property you own worthless by declaring it to be in need of “historic preservation” (in Manhattan, even a gas station can be landmarked). It can get a conservation easement for free by imposing 20-acre zoning. It can convert a large plot into a wildlife refuge by finding a snail darter or owl on it.

It would be helpful to have a rule stating that parkland has to be paid for.

3. No search warrant shall be issued unless the police show a judge that the person to be searched has probably committed a crime.

That would put a stop to the NSA snooping on every phone call.

4. The Supreme Court’s judicial power extends to cases or controversies, not to advisory opinions.

The last thing a democracy needs is a body of platonic elders decreeing what they would or would not like in the way of legislation. But that’s the direction we veer off in when the judicial branch takes trumped-up cases. The judiciary’s bad habits started with Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 case in which Connecticut pretended to enforce an ancient law forbidding contraceptives. It continued with a factitious dispute that resulted in the recent DOMA ruling.

We should amend the Constitution to create three branches of government. In this system, Congress would repeal DOMA.

5. The president shall faithfully execute the laws.

With this written into the document defining our government, we would avoid a repeat of King George III—some monarch overriding the legislature on a whim. If the executive branch wanted a postponement of a healthcare law, it would have to get a statute passed.

6. To get a criminal conviction, the government must demonstrate that the defendant had criminal intent.

As defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate argues in Three Felonies a Day, there are so many criminal statutes, and so much vagueness in the way they define crimes, that everyone is guilty of something. The only reason we are not all in jail is that prosecutors wisely use their discretion to go after only really bad people.

The Russian legal system is like this. Everything is illegal, but the government prosecutes only those people it has good reason to prosecute, such as political opponents.

Maybe, if we had a Bill of Rights, the U.S. would have a government of laws and not of prosecutorial caprice.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

British gay marriage bill clears crucial hurdle

The first gay marriages in England and Wales are set to take place in 2014 after the legislation passed through parliament’s upper chamber the House of Lords on Monday.

Jubilant gay rights activists cheered outside parliament as the bill cleared unopposed, while gay lawmaker Lord Waheed Ali told colleagues in an emotional speech: “My life and many others will be better today than it was yesterday.”

The government-backed legislation now passes back to the lower House of Commons for final debates on Tuesday, but they are expected to be little more than a formality.

A spokesman for the culture ministry, which is overseeing the legislation, said the bill would probably receive official assent from Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, on Wednesday or Thursday.

“But we are looking at seeing the first gay weddings in the middle of 2014 because there are various issues to sort out, such as its impact on pensions,” the spokesman told AFP.

Supporters of the bill in the House of Lords wore pink carnations, while gay marriage activists danced outside the Houses of Parliament.

Gay rights activists have vowed to press on for equal marriage in Britain’s other constituent nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the new law would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people felt “recognised and valued, not excluded”.

The legislation represents “the kind of open, modern, tolerant and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st century”, he added.

But opponents of gay marriage warned that the legislation would “come back to bite” Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Coalition for Marriage campaign group said it would mobilise a 700,000-strong support base ahead of next year’s European elections and the general election in 2015.

The bill survived despite opposition from dozens of members of Cameron’s own Conservative party, and an attempt to kill it off with a “wrecking amendment” in the Lords last month failed.

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said it was “a defeat for discrimination and a victory for love and marriage”.

“It is of huge symbolic importance, signalling that same-sex love has social recognition, acceptance and parity,” he said.

Gay couples in Britain have had the right to enter into a civil partnership since 2005, giving them identical rights and responsibilities to straight couples in a civil marriage.

But campaigners point to some differences such as international recognition, which applies to marriage but not partnerships.

The new law will ban the established Churches of England and Wales — which are opposed to gay marriage — from conducting ceremonies.

Other religious institutions will be able to “opt in” if they wish.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own laws on the matter.

The Scottish government published its own same-sex marriage bill last month, but Northern Ireland’s assembly voted to block a similar measure.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Turkey redefines armed forces' duties

Turkey’s parliament has amended an armed forces regulation which once-powerful military leaders have held up in the past as justification for intervening in politics.

In a vote late Friday, legislators amended the regulation which defined the military’s duty as watching over and protecting the Turkish republic, changing it to “defending the Turkish nation against external threats.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government has already significantly curtailed the military’s clout through reforms asserting civilian control and the amendment was seen as being largely symbolic.

The Turkish military, which long regarded itself as protector of the country’s secular system, forced four governments out of power between 1960 and 1997.

The vote follows a spate of anti-government protests in June, which Erdogan has labeled a conspiracy against his democratically-elected government.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Republicans Defend Texas Abortion Bill

By The Huffington Post News Editors

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republicans turned back amendment after amendment that Democrats offered Friday to try to change proposed new abortion restrictions, refusing to allow exceptions for cases of rape and incest or expanding exceptions for the health of the mother.

Democrats have called the sweeping GOP proposal unnecessary and unconstitutional, but pressed for minor changes to soften the impact of the bill.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

D.C. Budget Autonomy Coming Soon? Referendum Could Grant District Control Of Budget

By The Huffington Post News Editors

WASHINGTON — Voters in the nation’s capital are all but certain to approve a charter amendment on Tuesday that would grant the city more control over its municipal budget.

In theory, the amendment would take effect unless Congress passes a disapproval resolution and President Barack Obama signs it. But both the White House and Senate Democrats have shown strong support for greater independence for the district, so that is highly unlikely.

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From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/21/dc-budget-autonomy_n_3128414.html

Video: House Dismantles Fourth Amendment While America Distracted

By Daniel Noe

US Department Of Justice Seal SC Justice official: No reading of Miranda rights

While Americans were focusing on the Boston Marathon bombings and defending the Second Amendment to the Constitution from the Senate’s efforts to eliminate guns, the House was busy about the business of destroying the Fourth Amendment.

After two days of debate this week, the House passed CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, by a vote of 288-127, with 18 abstaining. The legislation would allow the federal government to engage private sector firms — think Google — in the business of monitoring your emails, postings and user data for nebulous “threat information” which would then be shared “voluntarily” without need for any sort of warrant.

The IRS and other federal agencies already have policies in place stating their belief that they are allowed to waltz through your data anytime they please, so CISPA seems primarily crafted to protect the Facebooks, Twitters, Yahoos, Sprints and other electronic communications businesses from legal reprisals.

Amendments that would have required data to be made anonymous before being handed over were defeated. Among the defeated amendments was a proposal to allow companies to keep their privacy policies intact and legally enforceable.

Democrat Rep. Jared Polis told CNET that CISPA would ensure that firms that hand over private user data would be “completely exonerated from any risk of liability.”

Read more at Godfather Politics. By Tad Cronn.

From: http://www.westernjournalism.com/house-dismantles-fourth-amendment-while-america-distracted/

US House moves toward passage of CISPA

The U.S. House of Representatives moved closer Wednesday toward the passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), despite concerns that the cyberthreat information-sharing bill will allow Web-based companies to share a wide amount of customer information with government agencies.

The House on Wednesday debated several amendments to the bill, some of them minor changes related to what groups government agencies can share cyberthreat information with. The House, in a 227-192 vote Wednesday, rejected efforts by some Democrats to allow additional amendments to overhaul privacy protections in the bill.

The House is scheduled to continue debate on amendments and vote on CISPA Thursday. The bill is likely to pass in the House, even though President Barack Obama has threatened a veto over privacy concerns.

The bill is a backdoor attack on the U.S. Constitution’s fourth amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches, said Representative Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat. “This is the biggest government takeover of personal information that I’ve seen during my time here in Congress,” he said.

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From: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2035648/us-house-moves-toward-passage-of-cispa.html#tk.rss_all