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I. RECOGNITION OF UNIVERSAL RIGHT TO PRIVACY A WELCOME CHANGE.
The President acknowledged the privacy concerns of people in other countries who are the subject of NSA surveillance and suggested he will consider curtailing wholesale international data collection. He appeared to recognize that this country is not entitled to subject other populations to dragnet surveillance. This restriction is based on Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the international right to privacy. The United States is a signatory nation to the declaration.
Last night Congress passed a 2014 funding bill, restoring significant cuts that had been imposed through sequestration last year. The measure commits increased resources to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) shelter funding.
“This is a welcome relief after the devastation caused by sequestration cuts,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). “Sequestration jeopardized access to safety for victims, and now local domestic violence programs will begin to rebuild some of their services in an effort to meet the need. But the funding crisis continues for most local programs.”
Washington, D.C. – It has been one week since Senator Max Baucus, Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Dave Camp introduced the long-awaited fast-track trade promotion authority legislation. This outdated version of trade promotion authority would strip Congress of its Constitutionally-granted role on trade agreements in favor of a “take it or leave it” stamp of approval on the massive and secretive 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
With the introduction of fast track authority (also known as "trade promotion authority") in Congress, by which Congress abdicates its constitutionally-granted sole power to regulate foreign commerce, the USTR (which gains that power) is out in force, spreading all sorts of lies about what this means. It's not exactly encouraging when the organization that has been hiding all the details of the TPP agreement for years is now trying to push it forward by directly lying to the American public. It's almost as if the USTR can't be honest or people might realize that it's spent the last few years pushing forward on an agreement designed to prop up old legacy businesses at the expense of the public and new innovators.
The Wall Street Journal's description of the actions of Governor Christie's aides with regard to the traffic problems in Fort Lee, New Jersey (Emails Raise New Questions for Christie in Bridge Spat, January 9) paints a frightening picture of abuse of power by senior officials in the New Jersey state government. Without presupposing the guilt or innocence of any of the officials, the emails and texts reflect individuals without appropriate concepts of right and wrong conduct. Replying to one text expressing concern for the school buses affected by the snarled traffic, Governor Christie's childhood friend David Wildstein replies "They are the children of Buono voters," as if the political opinions of their parents justifies intentional mistreatment of the children. How can we explain a group of otherwise intelligent high-achievers justifying their bad deeds in such a callous manner?
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision January 13 in the landmark federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto. Farmers were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.
West Virginia legislators are currently faced with deciding if the state should ship prisoners across state lines to for-profit private prisons. To do so would not only twice punish incarcerated West Virginians and their families, it would also represent an irresponsible use of taxpayer money.
January 15, 2014 (Washington, DC) - Today, citizens marked the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. byrisking arrest to stop the scheduled Jan. 22 start-up of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma. They are calling on President Obama to exercise his executive powers to permanently shut the pipeline down, starting with ordering the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration to re-inspect the pipeline's anomaly-plagued 485-mile southern leg.
Some suggested the German "Word of the Year" should be "whistleblower" -- in the Denglish language here breezily called "Neu-Deutsch" ("New German"). But chosen instead was "GroKo," headline shorthand for "Grosse Koalition," a term used constantly during three months of wrangling between Germany's two biggest parties, once seen as "irreconcilable foes," to form a nice joint government. (NB: in German, gross or grosse does not mean gross, it means big or grand!)