United Flew a Plane That Wasn’t Airworthy 23 Times, FAA Says

United Flew a Plane That Wasn’t Airworthy 23 Times, FAA Says


Image © Timothy Fadek-Bloomberg/Getty Images


United Airlines operated a plane that was "not in airworthy condition" during 23 domestic and international flights, the Federal Aviation Administration said.


Portland Mayor Demands Feds Bar Conservative Group From Speaking

Portland Mayor Demands Feds Bar Conservative Group From Speaking

by jonathanturley

JONATHAN TURLEY / 2017-05-31 00:19

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. PerezTed Wheeler, mayor of Portland, Oregon, has joined a growing list of liberals curtailing free speech and seeking exceptions for speech that they deem to be hateful or offensive. We saw recently Howard Dean espousing the false premise that there is a hate speech exception to the First Amendment. We also saw politicians in California seeking to curtail anything that they deem to be “fake news.” Now Wheeler is espousing the same anti-speech nonsense in seeking to ban a conservative demonstration by a group called Patriot Prayer.

I have no idea what the Patriot Prayer group is but I truly do not care. It is a citizen group seeking to hold a public event.

Wheeler wants the event canceled due to the double murder committed by white supremacist Jeremy Christian. He asked the federal government to revoke the permit of the group based on what he said was the expected hateful content of their speech. In doing so, Wheeler combines an unconstitutional denial of speech based on content with an unconstitutional act of prior restraint……..

Supreme Court strikes down Federal Circuit again, limits Lexmark patent rights

Supreme Court strikes down Federal Circuit again, limits Lexmark patent rights

by Joe Mullin

Ars Technica / 2017-05-30 21:34


Enlarge / Lexmark printer cartridges in a Staple’s store in New York. (credit: Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The US Supreme Court voted 7-1 to place more limits on the rights of patent-holders, striking down a decision by the nation’s top patent court for the second time in two weeks.

In Impression Products v. Lexmark International, the justices’ opinion (PDF) made crystal clear that once a patented item has been sold once, the patent is "exhausted" and can no longer be enforced. That’s true even if the sale happened abroad and the item was later imported. Lexmark had two different strategies for trying to control how its cartridges get re-used; the high court struck down both of them and paid scant regard to various industry briefs pleading to maintain the pricing structures used by Lexmark and others to maintain profits.

Lexmark had been trying to use patent laws to impose restrictions on companies like Impression Products, which are known as "remanufacturers." These companies acquire Lexmark cartridges, then re-fill and re-sell them. A strong 10-2 majority of judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent appeals, took Lexmark’s side and found that the patent-related restrictions were justified.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

This is a very pro-consumer decision and I’m pleasantly surprised that it was 7-1.

Judge Smacks NYPD For Its ‘Gotcha’ Tactics In Forfeiture Public Records Lawsuit

Judge Smacks NYPD For Its ‘Gotcha’ Tactics In Forfeiture Public Records Lawsuit

by Tim Cushing

Techdirt. / 2017-05-30 21:14

New York’s court system is finally pushing back against the NYPD’s refusal to provide better accounting of its forfeiture programs. Late last year, the NYPD informed people requesting information on seizures it had no way of compiling this data for them. Its $12 million software — meant to provide "cradle-to-grave" tracking of seized property — apparently couldn’t handle routine inquiries about seizure totals.

When the NYPD did decide to talk about its forfeiture operations, it used incomplete and misleading numbers. It claimed to have forfeited only around $12,000 in 2015, something miles away from the $69 million estimate of seized cash-on-hand others had cobbled together using info the NYPD had managed to turn over. According to numbers the NYPD said its software couldn’t compile, the department had generated $6 million in revenue in 2015 alone.

The Bronx Defenders, a group of public defenders, has been trying for nearly four years to force the NYPD to turn over documents related to its forfeiture programs. The NYPD has a few of these, including an unofficial program that turns personal belongings into "evidence" upon arrest and forces those with dismissed charges or acquittals to jump through a number of time-consuming and expensive hoops to reclaim their belongings — which include things like cellphones, cash, credit cards, and prescription medication.

The NYPD’s refusal to cooperate with the Bronx Defenders’ FOIL request has led to a lawsuit. The city moved to have it dismissed, but Judge Arlene Bluth doesn’t see much merit in the NYPD’s arguments. Or actions.

Displeased by what she described as the New York City Police Department’s “troublesome” litigation tactics, a judge advanced a lawsuit that asks what happens to millions of unclaimed dollars seized in civil forfeitures.


Rejecting a motion to dismiss the case in Manhattan Supreme Court, Judge Arlene Bluth accused the NYPD and its former Commissioner Bill Bratton on Friday of playing games to avoid disclosures.

In the dismissal of the city’s motion, the judge criticizes the NYPD for its constant claims its software can’t provide the information the plaintiffs are seeking. The plaintiffs have pointed out they don’t need aggregate data. They’re willing to take raw data, copies of original documents, or whatever else might allow them to get a better handle on the forfeiture programs the NYPD doesn’t want to discuss. The NYPD, however, keeps pointing at its expensive (but apparently worthless) PETS (Property and Evidence Tracking System) software and shrugging.

The judge points out [PDF] that the NYPD has pushed the Bronx Defenders into a catch-22 in hopes of keeping this information from being made public.

Respondents have effectively changed their argument from stating that no responsive documents exist to insisting that producing the information would be too burdensome. This argument directly relates to a troubling assertion by petitioner that respondents refused to confer with petitioner about the way in which these records are kept. 21 NYCR 1401.2(b)(2) requires the records access officer to "assist persons seeking records to identify the records sought, if necessary, and when appropriate, indicate the manner in which the records are filed, retrieved or generated to assist persons in reasonably describing records." It is obvious that it would be necessary to assist a petitioner seeking records from a database under the complete control of the agency and a database not available for public use.

Otherwise, petitioner is forced to make requests without any knowledge of the capabilities of the database. That is what has occurred here. Respondents do not directly contest this point in their reply to the cross-motion and simply assert that they have no duty to solicit additional information about the requests. While that might be true, there is a difference between soliciting more information and assisting the requestor in reasonably describing the records sought especially, where, as here, the records are kept on a specialized database.

In other words, the NYPD is claiming requesters must know all the nuances and intricacies of a database they’re never allowed to access. If they don’t, then the NYPD is under no obligation to assist them in any way. This is a common government tactic and not solely limited to the NYPD, although this agency has been referred to as worse than the FBI, CIA, and NSA when it comes to FOI responsiveness.

Judge Bluth goes on to state the NYPD’s actions have been, at best, disingenuous.

The record before this Court shows that respondents have only now, more than two years after petitioner’s FOIL request, attempted to describe the ways in which these records are kept. This type of "gotcha" litigation tactic is especially troublesome in a FOIL proceeding where petitioner does not have access to the database containing the requested information. Respondents’ claims about the burdensome nature of producing individual invoices clearly demonstrates the purpose of assisting a requestor–it is consistent with the spirit of FOIL to let a requestor know how records are kept so that the petitioner can conform requests to receive the information sought and try to avoid unduly burdening an agency.

The NYPD has long shown it has no interest in following the letter of FOIL law, much less its spirit. For requesters, this means the path to responsive documents often leads through home team courtrooms. It’s a trip not many are willing to make and the NYPD knows it.

Intelligence Community Leaks Are Normalizing Domestic Surveillance Abuses

Intelligence Community Leaks Are Normalizing Domestic Surveillance Abuses

by Tim Cushing

Techdirt. / 2017-05-30 09:29

It’s the normal state of things, but familiarity makes it no less enjoyable to observe: power changes hands in the White House and suddenly everything the previous president authorized with the support of his followers becomes a dangerous weapon in the hands of the new guy. The only surprising thing is the cycle never ends.

As has been noted here, longtime fans of government surveillance under Obama were suddenly deeply concerned about Trump’s command of the nation’s spycraft. Then there were all those Republicans who helped assemble the surveillance machinery in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, expressing their displeasure with the FBI, NSA, and others using powers they’d granted them. Domestic surveillance is fine, they argued. Years later, it’s NIMBY but for recently-elected presidents.

But there’s a darker current running below the irony and schadenfreude. Both sides applaud possible surveillance abuses when they harm their political enemies, but act like these are Espionage Act violations when the target is one of their own. The ultimate problem isn’t the right/left, Republican/Democrat partisan divide and the hypocrisy that goes with it. The problem is the abuse/misuse of surveillance powers for political gamesmanship.

The FBI didn’t go rogue after Trump canned Director James Comey in the most duplicitous, chickenshit way ever. It had been coloring outside of the lines for months, if not years, with Comey making the most of his many grandstands to push his personal agenda at the expense of the agency’s. He routinely made statements others in the DOJ have refused to back up and broke protocol (twice) by openly discussing investigations that resulted in no criminal charges.

The Trump presidency has been notable for the number of leaks it has prompted, which seem to spring from nearly every agency with access to collected intelligence. The reaction to the leaks by the Trump Administration has been awful in pretty much every way, and the looming threat of prosecution by Jeff Sessions’ god-guns-and-government DOJ hasn’t done much to slow the bleeding.

What’s being overlooked is the danger this autonomy poses. While some would love to see every presidential administration undermined by intelligence leaks [raises hand], this isn’t always a good thing. Nor is it something that should be cheered on without reservation when it’s the other side sustaining damage. Agencies with access to domestic communications (and there are a lot of them, thanks to loosened information-sharing restrictions) have their own agendas to push, too, and they’re rarely directly aligned with either party.

As Julian Sanchez notes, partisans need to stop cheering when things go their way and crying foul when they don’t. The problem goes far beyond politics and stabs at the heart of rights and protections the government is supposed to be ensuring for everyone.

If we take it at face value (leaving aside whether that’s proper), the Flynn intercept reveals a president-elect apparently worried that his foreign policy would be undermined by his own government’s intelligence agencies. It would be easier to dismiss that fear as yet another fit of Trumpian paranoia if it didn’t seem like we were learning about that conversation from wiretaps.

Progressives who’ve recently learned to stop worrying and love the surveillance state should think hard about the precedent such leaks set — and the implicit message they send to political actors — even if any particular instance can be justified as serving the public interest. The leaks may not be, as conservative media would have it, the only real scandal, but nobody should be too enthusiastic about the prospect of living in a country where officials who antagonize spy agencies find their telephone conversations quoted in news headlines.

Speaking personally, as much as I’d like to see every president supportive of constant surveillance and law enforcement mission creep be the victim of an apparatus they think they control, I also want overreaching agencies to be subjected to the same involuntary transparency and accountability. But the power has tipped too far in one direction, thanks largely to the alienating acts of the current administration. The IC is not-so-subtly sending out a warning to meddling politicians and enemies of their desires. In an effort to undermine an administration they don’t like, unnamed intelligence community operatives are undermining the entire system. It won’t stop here. It will only get worse.

The response to the leaks only aggravates the issue. A desire to punish leakers for exposing the administration’s misdeeds will result in harsher policies and punishments for whistleblowers, who cannot help but be caught up in the purge the DOJ is threatening. The agencies themselves have already put themselves in the position to nullify their oversight through the existential threat of leaked communications. A hunt for whistleblowers and leakers (often the same thing) will only increase the agencies’ autonomy, making them even more dangerous in the future.

Kathy Griffin ‘Beheads President Trump’ In Shocking New Photos – Breaking911


Kathy Griffin ‘Beheads President Trump’ In Shocking New Photos – Breaking911

A shocking new photo has emerged of comedian Kathy Griffin posing with a bloody, severed head—one resembling President Donald Trump. The leaked image was taken by provocative photographer Tyler Shields. TMZ broke the news: “During the photo shoot, Kathy joked that she and Tyler would need to move to Mexico once the pics got released, …


What the hell is wrong with people!!!

11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida

11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida

/ 2017-05-28 11:14

Op-Ed Columnist

May 26, 2017

Nicholas Kristof
Nicholas Kristof

When she was a scrawny 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson found out one day that she was about to be married to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped her.

“It was forced on me,” she recalls. She had become pregnant, she says, and child welfare authorities were investigating — so her family and church officials decided the simplest way to avoid a messy criminal case was to organize a wedding.

“My mom asked me if I wanted to get married, and I said, ‘I don’t know, what is marriage, how do I act like a wife?’” Johnson remembers today, many years later. “She said, ‘Well, I guess you’re just going to get married.’”

So she was. A government clerk in Tampa, Fla., refused to marry an 11-year-old, even though this was legal in the state, so the wedding party went to nearby Pinellas County, where the clerk issued a marriage license. The license (which I’ve examined) lists her birth date, so officials were aware of her age.

Not surprisingly, the marriage didn’t work out — two-thirds of marriages of underage girls don’t last, one study found — but it did interrupt Johnson’s attendance at elementary school. Today she is campaigning for a state law to curb underage marriages, part of a nationwide movement to end child marriage in America. Meanwhile, children 16 and under are still being married in Florida at a rate of one every few days.

You’re thinking: “Child marriage? That’s what happens in Bangladesh or Tanzania, not America!”


Interactive Feature | The Landscape of Child Marriage

In fact, more than 167,000 young people age 17 and under married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010, according to a search of available marriage license data by a group called Unchained at Last, which aims to ban child marriage. The search turned up cases of 12-year-old girls married in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina, while other states simply had categories of “14 and younger.”

Unchained at Last was not able to get data for the other states. But it extrapolated that in the entire country, there were almost 250,000 child marriages between 2000 and 2010. Some backing for that estimate comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, which says that at least 57,800 Americans age 15 to 17 reported being in marriages in 2014.

Among the states with the highest rates of child marriages were Arkansas, Idaho and Kentucky. The number of child marriages has been falling, but every state in America still allows underage girls to marry, typically with the consent of parents, a judge or both. Twenty-seven states do not even set a minimum age by statute, according to the Tahirih Justice Center’s Forced Marriage Initiative.

A great majority of the child marriages involve girls and adult men. Such a sexual relationship would often violate statutory rape laws, but marriage sometimes makes it legal.

In New Hampshire, a girl scout named Cassandra Levesque learned that girls in her state could marry at 13. So she set out to change the law.

A legislator sponsored Cassandra’s bill to raise the age to 18, and researchers found that two 15-year-olds had recently married in New Hampshire, along with one 13-year-old. But politicians resisted the initiative.

“We’re asking the Legislature to repeal a law that’s been on the books for over a century, that’s been working without difficulty, on the basis of a request from a minor doing a Girl Scout project,” scoffed one state representative, David Bates. In March the Republican-led House voted to kill the bill, leaving the minimum age at 13. (Legislators seem willing to marry off girls like Cassandra, but not to listen to them!)


Interactive Feature | The Youngest Legally Able to Wed

Click the headline to read the full article.