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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
Time to play History: Cruel…or Kind?
Florida Governor Rick Scott signs a bill into a law that forbids local governments in the state from requiring companies to provide paid sick time for employees.Round 2
History will be kind because businesses won't have to worry about shelling out money to employees who are probably just faking it, anyhow. After all, everyone knows no one gets sick enough to put in less than 110 percent at work---it's un-American!
History will be cruel because "AhhhhCHOO!!! 'Scuse me. So, uh, do you want fries with your influenza burger?"
Verdict: History will be CRUEL. Riding roughshod over the little guy by riding roughshod over local governments for no reason other than protecting corporate profits? Between this issue and many others (like his fetish for drug testing anybody in his state with a pulse), the 2014 anti-Scott campaign ads are practically writing themselves.
NSA contract employee Edward Snowden spills the beans to the media about the enormity of America's Borg-like domestic surveillance apparatus.Round 3
History will be kind because Hero!
History will be cruel because Traitor!
Verdict: History will be KIND. Because when the government tells us not to worry our pretty little peasant heads about what it's doing behind our back, it's time to worry our pretty little peasant heads about what it's doing behind our back.
Maine state Senator Ken Fredette (R) stands up on the Senate floor and cites the ancient scroll Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus to prove his point that women shouldn't have a say in whether or not to expand Medicaid in Maine as part of Obamacare because his manly brain is better at figuring this stuff out than the mushy womanly brains of his female colleagues.Next time: history judges the Massachusetts special election, squid pants, and what Jeb Bush thinks about WASP fertility. Meanwhile, Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
History will be kind because Og! Og! Ook ook og!!!
History will be cruel because, to quote Judge Judy: "Fredette, you're a moron! There's something wrong with you! You're not normal!"
Verdict: History will be CRUEL. The only thing Ken Fredette proved last week is that his brain is from a planet with the word anus in it.
• House: A big reason why I don't typically pay a lot of attention to generic congressional ballot polls this far out is because there's often a lot of inconsistency in the data. So far this year, most reputable pollsters have given Democrats a small lead, but every so often, one has shown a much bigger gap. The latest is PPP, which put Dems up 47-40 in their most recent poll. Last month, the Washington Post found Democrats in front by 8 points, and Quinnipiac also once came up with a D+8 result earlier this year.
More recently, though, Quinnipiac found the parties tied, and NBC/WSJ put Dems up just 3. It would be tempting to get excited about the polls which show Democrats way out in front, but excluding the unreliable Rasmussen, HuffPo Pollster pegs Dems to an average lead of about 4 points or so. I wouldn't want to conclude the gap is any bigger than that unless and until we see a whole bunch of polls demonstrating that, rather than just the occasional optimistic survey.
Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement was an unnecessary political gambit that suppressed the vote.More analysis from The New York Times:
But the court did not strike down Arizona’s law. The ruling applies only to federal forms and elections. The state can continue to impose the proof-of-citizenship rule for state registrations.
What’s more, Scalia outlined how Arizona could seek federal approval to apply the proof-of-citizenship requirement to federal registration forms, as well.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he intends to follow Scalia’s guidelines.
Let’s be clear: The integrity of elections is of paramount importance. But there was little evidence of voter fraud before Prop. 200. It was part of a backlash against illegal immigration that tapped into raw emotion without stopping to engage analytical thought processes.
Undocumented immigrants were not hijacking elections. They were busing tables.
So, let’s be even more clear: Participation in elections is also of paramount importance, and Prop. 200 hurt that.
The Supreme Court would have done the state a favor by sweeping away the law.
The Supreme Court, in a 7-to-2 ruling on Monday, strongly affirmed the power of Congress to regulate Congressional elections. The court held that Arizona cannot impose a requirement on voters to prove their citizenship when the federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, does not require any such thing. [...]The Washington Post:
While the decision was emphatic about federal authority over the manner of elections, the Scalia opinion also said that states have power to set the qualifications of voters, like residency requirements, and to enforce them. Justice Scalia wrote that Arizona could still ask the federal agency responsible for administering this federal law to permit the state to require proof of citizenship. And he said that if the agency did not grant the request, the state could ask a federal court to decide that signing the federal form is not enough to ensure that a would-be voter is actually a citizen.
In leaving open an avenue for an Arizona challenge, the court also made it clear that ensuring voting rights to every eligible American requires continued vigilance.
If Arizona doesn’t like how the feds are applying that clause, the state can take them to court. Arizona, however, has not pressed its case through the channels available to accommodate its interests in regulating voter qualifications.For more on the day's top stories, head below the fold.
And Arizona shouldn’t. The prospect of voter fraud should not be dismissed, but there is no evidence that it poses a practical problem. There is a far greater danger in limiting access to the ballot box, a sacrosanct right in America. Neither the states nor the federal government should be imposing new restrictions on the franchise. They should instead enact universal voter registration laws and other reforms to expand access to the vote.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) announced on Monday that she was writing a book filled with "legalese" about how to fight what some social conservatives call the "War on Christmas."Just ... sigh.
[...] "Kind of a legalese how-to push back and protect the heart of Christmas. At the same time, a very festive and happy and jolly book about tradition and recipes and fun things about Christmas."
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Clear Evidence of War Crimes: Stern Letters to Come?:
|It is impossible to escape a mixture of sadness and fury while reading the 149 horrific pages of the just-released report published by Physicians for Human Rights and called Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the US. Sadness for the victims. Fury for the fact that American citizens have paid for the ghastly criminal acts of guards and interrogators at U.S.-run prisons in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and Afghanistan. Sadness that Americans are now seen as torturers worldwide. Fury that high officials who ordered these acts are not digging holes and filling them up every day on some penal atoll.
The torture those officials authorized has been revealed over the years in bits and pieces. We’ve seen the photographs. Newspaper stories, magazine articles and a dozen books have been written. There have been previous scathing reports, including two by PHR. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights have delved into the matter. There was, of course, the Army’s 2004 investigation into what happened at Abu Ghraib. And, better late than never, Senator Carl Levin began presiding Tuesday over three days of hearings on the subject, Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody.
For the first time, however, Broken Laws, Broken Lives has added grim evidence gleaned from medical tests, both physical and psychological, of 11 former detainees. Unique stories, but with a theme that cannot - and must not - be ignored. The evidence was gathered and evaluated under strict internationally recognized standards and procedures for determining whether someone has been tortured or ill-treated and for documenting the consequences in a manner so that the results can be used in court. These standards are part of the Istanbul Protocol, Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the United Nations in 1999.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, NSA remains at the top of the charts this week, with things only becoming more confused the more articles are written on the subject. A CNET story stirred the hornet's nest over the weekend, setting off parallel chain reactions of rebuttal, retraction, walk-backs, debunkings, and everything in between. Greg Dworkin rounds up still more polling on the issue, and most of the show is once again given over to scurrying down the rabbit holes. Just for a change-up, we threw in the Lower Hudson, NY area Daily Journal's follow-up on their publication of names and addresses of area pistol permit holders. Did it in fact result in criminal targeting of those gun owners?
The Heartland Institute is a fossil-fuel front tasked with convincing as many people as possible to ignore their lying eyes. They were originally cooked up in 1984 to downplay the dangers of tobacco use. When last we heard from Heartland, they were for online theft before they were against it and comparing climate scientists to serial killers on public billboards. Recently Heartland bragged the Chinese were shying away from the idea of human-induced climate change because the science did not support it. This was so egregiously false the Chinese issued a stern correction reading in part:
The claim of the Heartland Institute about CAS’ endorsement of its report is completely false. ... The false claim by the Heartland Institute was made public without any knowledge of the translator group. ... we have requested by email to the president of the Heartland Institute that the false news on its website to be removed. ... If the Heartland Institute does not withdraw its false news or refuse to apologize, all the consequences and liabilities should be borne by the Heartland Institute.It's not that Heartland is in the denial business, it's that they're terrible at it, creating more bad press for the issue and their sponsors than they could possibly be worth. How do these clowns continue to get funded?
“How do you make abortion funny?” That was a key question mulled at a major conservative gathering Friday on how to make social conservatism appealing to young people, after an election where Republicans got trounced in the battle for millennial voters (who are are moving even further and further away from the Christian-right on marriage on other issues).So the way to convince young Americans to join the Republican Party is to make abortion hilarious. Or at least be sarcastic about it. Your abortion-related humor will then get the young folks these days to realize that you are hip and with it and that they really want on board with that whole Gilead-patterened premise of social conservative religious rule, aka Jesus Sharia.
Abortion has to be made funny, the thinking goes, because funny sells on social media, and that’s where one goes to court young people. “You can engage with sarcasm, it’s hard with the abortion issue, but you have to,” said Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins at a breakout panel at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington today on how to win millennial voters. “Unfortunately we have to, because this is the generation that we’ve been dealt.”
You know something? Screw it. You go for it, folks. I would have paid solid pay-per-view prices to see Mitt Romney standing at the Republican National Convention plastering the audience with some truly top-notch abortion jokes. How many abortions does it take to change a light bulb? A priest, a rabbi and an abortion walk into a bar, and the priest says hey pal, you're an abomination, I can't believe they let you in here. You know, humor.
The premise apparently extends to being anti-gay-marriage as well; nothing attracts the young folks like treating gay people like dirt while also making jokes about it on Twitter. Unfortunately, those "young people" are about 12 years old, so they'll have to figure out a way to keep them occupied until voting age. Maybe some fetus-related puppet shows or something.
In the meantime, I think we all need to start preparing an escape plan. The moon is far too boring, and Mars might take a long, long time to terraform, but we've got to at least start considering our options. We're nearing maximum crackpot. This thing's about to go supernova.
Sen. Joe Manchin, co-author of a plan to expand background checks on gun sales, is launching a TV ad to defend himself from attacks by the powerful National Rifle Association. [...] The NRA is spending at least $100,000 on its ad campaign hitting Manchin, and an aide for the senator says he plans to “at least match” that buy. [...]This a perfect illustration of how the NRA has become a fringe group. Manchin is the kind of Democrat that the NRA depended on to claim its place as a political heavyweight. Sure, it leaned to the right, but there were still Democrats like Manchin who wanted to the NRA's support and were proud to receive it. But now that's changed, and it's not because Manchin has moved to the left—it's because the NRA can't accept even the most modest of gun safety measures.
Manchin has been increasingly critical of top NRA officials in recent months, attempting to portray the organization’s leaders as out-of-step with its 5 million rank-and-file members.
He accused the NRA of lying about the background checks measure during the Senate debate. “They are telling members that our legislation would criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest, law abiding citizens,” he said in April. “That is a lie, that is simply a lie and anyone that can read knows that is not factual.”
“The Washington NRA leadership is clearly out of step with the American people and law abiding gun owners, and is now attacking Senator Manchin for a position they once supported,” said Manchin aide Jonathan Kott. “The Washington NRA leadership is trying to distort Senator Manchin’s commitment to the [Second] Amendment because they know he is one of the most credible defenders of gun rights who also believes that it just makes sense to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those found severely mentally ill.”
On a political level, this is a battle that Manchin is going to win. And in the process, he's going to put to rest the myth that Democrats in conservative states need the NRA on their side, because in fact it's the exactly the other way around.
With some five million people have security clearances, and everybody from NSA contractors to Microsoft employees having access to classified information, that assertion from program supporters rings hollow.
NSA officials say that kind of information is irrelevant to the agency. It is tasked with collecting foreign intelligence and stopping terrorist plots, they say, and analysts would not be authorized to examine records on Americans unless they showed a link to a terrorism suspect or a foreign agent. All of the surveillance programs Snowden revealed, they add, were approved by Congress and are supervised by federal judges.It's also hard to argue, as Feinstein and others have, that Congress has real oversight when Congress is lied to, when staff isn't allowed to attend meetings and when they're told to pretend like the leaked NSA documents don't exist, and when members can't take notes and can't talk about the programs outside of classified meetings. It's also hard to argue that there's rigorous court oversight when the FISA court has denied just 10 applications, modified a few dozen, and approved more than 15,000 in the past 11 years.
Critics say assurances about limits, rules and oversight would be more convincing if not for Snowden himself: He was able to remove highly classified documents from an NSA facility in Hawaii that officials say he was not authorized to access.
"Here's a low-level systems guy" who copied a top-secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and a presidential directive about cyber attacks, said Mark Rumold, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group in San Francisco. "To say that there is a rigorous technical program in place to prevent broad-based lurking around through the data—I have a hard time believing that."
We've also got some history that argues against the idea that low-level employees anywhere down the line in the system are walled off from the content of our communications. Here's a reminder from Atrios from when we learned that the NSA guys supposedly looking for that terrorist needle in the haystack were actually looking for the phone sex people in the military were having.
The system is just too big to provide the safeguards our president and national security leaders and congressional supporters like Feinstein insist are there. The fact of Edward Snowden and his access to classified information proves that. The big question going forward is whether it's also just too lucrative to be curtailed.
- Today's comic by Tom Tomorrow is Sensible thinkers:
- What you missed on Sunday Kos ...
- Rand Paul's outreach coordinator declares "holy war" on us, by Denise Oliver Velez
- Bill Clinton (and Barack Obama?) demonstrates the type of thinking that led to the Iraq Debacle, by Armando
- Book discussion: Eyal Press' "Beautiful Souls" ... and whether Edward Snowden is one of them, by Susan Gardner
- What polling tells us (and what it doesn't) about public reaction to NSA revelations, by Greg Dworkin
- After Newtown: An interview with American Academy of Pediatrics president Thomas K. McInerny, MD, FAAP, by Greg Dworkin
- It's not personal, it's just business, by DarkSyde
- Extra, extra, read all about ... what's killing journalism, by Mark E Andersen
All good things must come to an end, even after numerous awards and accolades, it’s time to acknowledge that I cannot continue to run on fumes alone. The Blend could continue limping along, but my health and well-being come first; over the last few years burning the candle at both ends with a full-time offline job and PHB. It has taken a severe toll — most readers have learned that I am dealing with chronic pain conditions — fibromylagia, and in the last couple of years, aggressive rheumatoid arthritis.
My decision to close the blog is just as reality-based as its content has been.
- Probably one of the most bizarre "he said, he said" of all time:
Russia's president is fighting back: No, he did not steal a Super Bowl ring. And no, he's not rocking the diamond-encrusted prize on his finger, either.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman denied that the leader kept a Super Bowl ring that New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft wanted back.
- Sweet gig if you can get it:
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, have used taxpayer money for a range of small personal items they should have paid for themselves under state policy, according to spending records.
The McDonnells have billed the state for body wash, sunscreen, dog vitamins and a digestive system “detox cleanse,” the records show. They also have used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children.
- Offered without comment:
Thursday night at the Capitol Hill Club, Representative Ted Poe had a scary choking incident and was thankfully aided by a doctor-turned-GOP-aide, Nick Muzin, who may have saved his life.
Poe was eating dinner alone downstairs at the Club’s Grill when he began choking on a piece of popcorn.
- You're going straight to hell ... now give me your money:
Danielle Powell was going through a hard time in the spring of 2011, just months away from graduating from a conservative Christian college in Nebraska. She had fallen in love with another woman, a strictly forbidden relationship at a school where even prolonged hugs were banned.
Powell said she was working at a civil rights foundation in Mississippi to finish her psychology degree when she was called back to Grace University in Omaha and confronted about the relationship. She was eventually expelled — then sent a bill for $6,000 to reimburse what the school said were federal loans and grants that needed to be repaid because she didn’t finish the semester.
- Possible gravesite #8,732:
- On today's Kagro in the Morning show, NSA remains at the top of the charts this week, with things only becoming more confused the more articles are written on the subject. A CNET story stirred the hornet's nest over the weekend, setting off parallel chain reactions of rebuttal, retraction, walk-backs, debunkings, and everything in between. Greg Dworkin rounds up still more polling on the issue, and most of the show is once again given over to scurrying down the rabbit holes. Just for a change-up, we threw in the Lower Hudson, NY area Daily Journal's follow-up on their publication of names and addresses of area pistol permit holders. Did it in fact result in criminal targeting of those gun owners?
“It’s very easy to blame an inanimate object. Any kind of instrument in the wrong hands can be put to evil use. This comes down to intent — criminal behavior, accountability and responsibility,” Mr. Kollitides said in an exclusive interview last week. [...] “He killed the gun’s owner, stole her car, stole her gun and then went to a school and killed innocent kids. No background checks could have prevented that. He illegally obtained the guns,” he told me in his small New York office. “Only two things could have potentially stopped him: his mother locking up her guns and an armed guard. Even then, he could have driven his stolen car into a playground full of kids. He was intent on killing, which we know is already illegal.”Sure, except that aside from guns like the AR-15, there basically aren't any other legally available "inanimate objects" capable of inflicting the sort of damage necessary to carry out a Newtown massacre. It's one thing to argue that guns should be legal, but don't tell me that there's no difference between a semiautomatic rifle and a stolen car. That's just ridiculous.
But even if cars were as effective as semiautomatic rifles at carrying out mass murders, so what? We do a lot more regulating of cars than we do of guns, and yet nobody feels like their freedom is seriously jeopardized. Despite the fact that you are required to register your car, that you're required to have a driver's license to operate a vehicle, and that you must carry auto insurance, I don't think a single person has ever seriously argued that their liberty has been curtailed in any meaningful way.
I really have no idea what could have been going through Kollitides's head when he made that comparison, but I am sure of one thing: If I ever see him behind the wheel of an auto, I'm going to get as far away from his as I can, as quickly as possible.
House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don't support it, sources familiar with his plans said.The radicalized House GOP, bolstered by gerrymandered-induced safe districts, are hell-bent on killing Senate efforts to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. On the other hand, the Republican establishment understands that their long-term prognosis is poor unless they can start eating away at Democratic base supporters in immigrant communities (Asian and Latino, mostly, but pretty much everything else as well).
"No way in hell," is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him.
Remember, of the 2.4 million new Americans in 2012, only seven percent were white, and all of those were immigrants.
It's widely assumed that immigration reform can pass the House with Democratic support and a few dozen Republican defectors, but only if Boehner ditches the Hastert Rule one more time. But after blowing off the Hastert Rule on a handful of legislative efforts, such as the fiscal cliff nonsense, his charges are restless. Few think Boehner could survive one more perceived betrayal.
So how firm is Boehner's insistance that he won't violate the Hastert Rule? We'll find out soon enough. It comes down to this formulation:
What's more important to John Boehner?
A) His speakership
B) The future of his party
If he opts for (A), he might keep control of the House for a while, but his role will be that of an endless obstructionist. And even the House won't be immune to the nation's demographic changes.
If he opts for (B), he gives his party a future fighting chance. As for him? K-Street will reward him richly. No one will weep for super-lobbyist Boehner.
The senior senator from Delaware will become the 51st sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Washington Blade has learned.Having a majority of the U.S. Senate on record supporting ENDA is good, but what ultimately matters is whether it becomes law. As we all know, it takes 60 votes to get anything done in the hopelessly dysfunctional Senate—having 51 co-sponsors isn't enough, by itself, for passage. Still, it's unusual for a bill to have this many co-sponors. Of the four bills signed into law this year that originated in the Senate, only the Violence Against Women Act had more co-sponors—61.
In response to a Washington Blade inquiry, the office of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) confirmed on Monday that he’ll sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill. Ian Sams, a Carper spokesperson, said Carper is “signing on as a co-sponsor of ENDA.”
“Sen. Carper believes it is important for federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – in the same way that current law addresses race, sex or religion – in order to ensure that all Americans are protected equally under the law,” Sams added.
As with most things, Congress is lagging behind the public, which strongly supports the principle of non-discrimination embodied in ENDA. Just today, Public Policy Polling released a poll showing 71 percent of North Carolinians believe that employers should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, including 58 percent of Republicans. Now, with Majority Leader Harry Reid and a majority of senators on board, ENDA has momentum. And while it's possible that Republicans will decide to filibuster it if and when it comes up for a vote, it's becoming increasingly clear that if they do, they will pay a political price.
Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina will face voters in 2014 for the first time since voting for the Affordable Care Act – also known as "Obamacare" – three years ago. They aren't apologizing for their vote, and several are pursuing an aggressive strategy: Embrace the law, help voters use it and fix what doesn't work.It's the only strategy that will work to defang the Republicans on the issue in 2014—making the law work, and making sure that Republican lies about it are exposed. To that end, Organizing for Action is unrolling a big education campaign on the airwaves. Given that consistent majorities, while not so thrilled with the law itself, are fed up with continued repeal efforts, it wouldn't hurt Democrats to hammer on that a bit, as well.
"I don't run from my votes," Begich told The Associated Press. "Politicians who sit around and say, `That's controversial so I better run from it,' just ask for trouble. Voters may not always agree with you, but they respect people who think about these issues and talk about them." [...]
"There's a lot of good that people will realize as this all comes online," the first-term senator said.
Making sure the law is implemented as smoothly as possible, though, will be key for many voters. Plenty will see nothing change at all, except the good stuff. Nothing will change for many who will remain on exactly the same plan except what they've already seen; they don't have to pay copays for preventive care, they can keep their adult children on their plans until age 26, and if their children have pre-existing conditions, they can still get coverage for them. For those who will be on the exchanges, the kinks need to be worked out early on. Here's one silver lining of so many Republican governors deciding against setting up their own state exchanges and leaving it to the federal government: less opportunity for state-level sabotage.
Contrary to what Republicans yelling about poor people with TV sets and refrigerators would have you believe, the "extreme" in "extreme poverty" is no joke here. We're talking about households living on with less than $2 per person per day, and if you only count cash income, there were 1.6 million such households in 2011. If you include SNAP benefits, the number drops to 857,000. What's more:
SNAP also cut, by roughly half, the rise in extreme poverty among households with children between 1996 and 2011, the study found.That rise, by the way, was driven by the grand and glorious welfare reform law of 1996. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reminds us that:
One reason SNAP is so effective in fighting extreme poverty is that it focuses its benefits on many of the poorest households. Roughly 91 percent of monthly SNAP benefits go to households below the poverty line, and 55 percent go to households below half of the poverty line (about $9,800 for a family of three). One in five SNAP households lives on cash income of less than $2 per person a day.To put this in the context of the minimum wage, it takes about 25 hours a week at $7.25 to earn that $9,800 that represents half the poverty line for a family of three. That's obviously a different situation than $2 per person per day, but let's be clear: If Republicans want to make food stamps less necessary, rather than simply kicking people off the program to go hungry, the way to do that would be by raising the minimum wage and then passing some job creation programs so that job seekers no longer outnumber job openings by three to one. Because oddly enough, putting people to work at above poverty wages will tend to reduce the number of people forced to rely on government assistance to feed their kids. But no, the Republican solution to SNAP cutting extreme poverty by 48 percent is to make drastic cuts.
Late December, 1992: double murder in a home, no witnesses. Police recover six shotgun shell casings at the scene. The investigation leads police to Salinas, who had been with the deceased at a party the night before, and who owned a car similar-ish to the one seen leaving the scene. Salinas agreed to hand over his shotgun for ballistics testing and to accompany police to the station for questioning. Heck, they told him they wanted to take some pictures of him and help clear him.
Because this was voluntary and Salinas was not in custody, he wasn't read his Miranda rights. He answered questions in the interview room voluntarily, until he was asked whether his shotgun “would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder.” According to the record, Salinas “[l]ooked down at the floor, shuffled his feet, bit his bottom lip, cl[e]nched his hands in his lap, [and] began to tighten up.” He answered a few more questions, and left.
A few days later, another witness claimed he heard Salinas confess. He was charged, but by that time had fled the scene, and was not arrested until 2007. At his trial, Salinas did not testify, and prosecutors used his reaction to the officer’s question during the 1993 interview as evidence of his guilt. At closing argument, drawing on testimony he had elicited earlier, the prosecutor pointed out to the jury that Salinas, during his earlier questioning at the police station, had remained silent when asked about the shotgun. The prosecutor told the jury, among other things, that “‘[a]n innocent person’” would have said, “‘What are you talking about? I didn’t do that. I wasn’t there.’” But Salinas, the prosecutor said, “‘didn’t respond that way.’” Rather, “‘[h]e wouldn’t answer that question.’”
It is hornbook law that when a defendant opts not to testify at his own trial or speak to police, the prosecutor can't comment on that—you can't penalize him for invoking his right against self-incrimination. According to Justices Alito, Kennedy and the chief justice, however, Salinas didn't exactly invoke his Miranda rights here.
The document, known as a "primary order," complements a shorter Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court document leaked to The Guardian newspaper earlier this month. That document revealed the U.S. government had been asking Verizon Business Network Services Inc. to turn over, on a daily basis, phone call records for its subscribers, for 90 days. [...]Release of this order would explain specific constraints on the surveillance program, as well as the safeguards in place to protect U.S. citizens' rights and privacy. This is the kind of transparency organizations like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been suing the government for, and what senators Mark Udall, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have been pushing for.
The still-secret primary order provides more information about the program, spells out specific limits on government authority and includes safeguards to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, a senior administration official said.
If the government has nothing to hide in terms of the lengths it goes to to protect civil liberties, then declassification of the document that spells out how it does so shouldn't be a problem. But it will certainly give us the necessary background to have the debate President Obama has said he welcomes.
We don't actually know about the Williams Olefin plant; according to Erik Loomis:
The last time this plant received an OSHA inspection? We actually don’t know. But definitely not since 1993. And this is one of the most dangerous industries in the country. Petrochemical plants should be inspected at least a few times a year, if not weekly. Instead, not even once in 20 years.This is a government oversight fail that should feel familiar from April's fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. As for Friday's totally-not-an-explosion-just-a-rupture,
Friday’s deadly blast wasn’t the first at the company’s Donaldsonville plant. The Associated Press reported that three workers were killed and nine injured by an explosion and fire at the facility in May 2000.All of this is happening in a state where it would take OSHA more than 150 years to inspect every workplace once, and where the workplace fatality rate is 6.3 per 100,000 workers, compared with a national rate of 3.5 per 100,000. Oh, and also, the two plants are close by each other in an area filled with such facilities and called "Cancer Alley" or "Bhopal on the bayou," which should give you some idea of how well health and safety are being protected there.
Later that year, OSHA imposed a fine of nearly $150,000 against CF Industries, AP said. OSHA cited the company for 14 alleged safety and health violations, 12 of which were described by the agency as serious. The company didn’t contest the citations and agreed to pay the penalties.