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New Law Will Completely Change The Lives Of Retired Military Dogs And The Soldiers Who Love Them

Retired Military Dogs
Retired Military Dogs
New Law Will Completely Change The Lives Of Retired Military Dogs And The Soldiers Who Love Them

In 2011, President Obama met Cairo, the dog who was vital to the success of the mission that took down Osama Bin Laden. This meeting led to an awareness of the “dogs of war,” or military working dogs. One of the things the public learned about these dogs was heart-breaking. At that time, the military classified its working dogs as equipment and if they retired while overseas they weren’t granted transport back to the United States. The dogs were abandoned in war zones. The handlers, who were spending 24/7 with these dogs, had to arrange to get their partner back to the US at a cost of thousands of dollars and a lot of red tape.

This began to change in late November 2015 when the US enacted a new law that will completely change the lives of retired military dogs and the soldiers who love them. Tucked inside a massive defense bill was a provision that allowed U.S. military dogs to return to the United States after their retirement overseas.

If a dog was retired on US soil, or now returned to US soil by the military, it was sometimes sold to a police department, or offered for adoption. This was better for the dog, but still broke a deep bond between a soldier and the dog who loved one another. Very often the soldier who had lived and worked with the dog had no idea what had happened to the dog, and no way to find out.

Due to the efforts of North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Rep. Richard Hudson, an added amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act gives soldiers who served with dogs the opportunity to adopt their companions before the dogs are available to anyone else. Now soldiers and the dogs who faithfully served with them can retire together.

Cairo, the dog who helped put an end to Osama Bin Laden, also helped put an end to the separation of soldiers and the dogs who love each other.

If there is a law affecting you that you feel is wrong, or you need legal help, please contact us. We can help.

New Utah Law Will Require Abortion Doctors To Lie To Their Patients

A new Utah law that goes into effect on Tuesday will force doctors to shirk their promise to “do no harm” by dangerously over-anesthetizing women who seek a later abortion.

Informed by anti-abortion state lawmakers rather than by medical experts, the “Protecting Unborn Children Amendment” requires physicians to administer an anesthetic to any women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, to “eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child.” Like many anti-abortion laws on the state level, Utah’s law rests on the unscientific belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.
You want me to experiment on my patients.

Most states that introduce “fetal pain” legislation try to ban abortions entirely after 20 weeks — and at least 12 have been successful. Utah is the first to pass an anesthesia-related bill instead of outright prohibiting the practice. But according to physicians, it may as well be a ban.
“You’re asking me to invent a procedure that doesn’t have any research to back it up,” said Dr. Leah Torres, an OB-GYN, who works at one of Utah’s two licensed abortion clinics, in an interview with the New York Times. “You want me to experiment on my patients.”

Utah physicians have strongly opposed the bill since its inception, arguing that unscientific opinions from state lawmakers have no place in a safe doctor-patient relationship — especially if they put a woman’s life at risk.

Abortion providers already offer general anesthesia to women receiving a second-trimester abortion, and the drugs naturally enter the fetus’ bloodstream. Currently, these providers are mandated to inform women of anesthesia-related side effects and health risks. This new law does not include this precaution, and instead asks doctors to inform their patient that “substantial medical evidence from studies concludes that an unborn child who is at least 20 weeks gestational age may be capable of experiencing pain during an abortion procedure.”


Senate panel debates federal surveillance law set to expire in 2017

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel Tuesday previewed a major debate over government surveillance law that will come to a head next year after a new Congress and president take office.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from experts defending and criticizing a sweeping anti-terrorism law that allows U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on the electronic communications of foreigners living outside the United States but also collects a huge amount of email, texts, and other personal data from Americans.

That law, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008, has been credited with foiling terrorist plots — including schemes to bomb the New York City subway system and the New York Stock Exchange. But critics say it also gathers an unknown amount of email, texts, photos and other electronic data from Americans. The FBI is then free to search that data without having to get a warrant as would normally be required under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Recent data released by the Director of National Intelligence suggests that the number of these warrant-less, ‘back-door’ searches of 702 databases has doubled since 2013,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the panel, which is considering whether to renew the law before it expires at the end of next year. “These back-door searches raise serious constitutional questions, particularly since the FBI can use them to investigate crimes having nothing to do with national security.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and others have been pressing the Obama administration for five years to provide Congress and the public with an estimate of how much data is collected from Americans under the law. Data from Americans living in the United States can be swept up if they email, call, or communicate in any way electronically with foreigners who may or may not be suspected of terrorist activity. Administration officials have said they are developing a methodology to come up with an estimate of the impact on Americans.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the law “has been highly important to our national security.” He cited findings by the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that the law has been a huge boost to the nation’s anti-terrorism efforts.

“The (board) found unequivocally that it ‘has helped the United States learn more about the membership, leadership structure, priorities, tactics, and plans of international terrorist organizations,” Grassley said, quoting a report from the panel. ” ‘It has led to the discovery of previously unknown terrorist plots directed against the United States and foreign countries, enabling the disruption of those plots.’ “

With recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, Calif., “Now is not the time to weaken our defenses,” said Kenneth Wainstein, a former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush.

“To the contrary, now is the time to ensure that our Intelligence Community operators have the surveillance authorities they need and to reauthorize a statute that has done so much to protect our people and their liberties over the past eight years,” he said.

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, said technological advances in electronic communication since the statute was passed have resulted in more and more data for intelligence agencies to search.

“As a result of these changes, the amount of information about Americans that the National Security Agency intercepts, even when targeting foreigners overseas, has exploded,” she said.

The NSA’s collection of an estimated 250 million communications a year under Section 702 “undoubtedly includes millions, if not tens of millions, of Americans’ emails,” Goitein said.

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about the law, arguing that government agents should have to get warrants before they search Americans’ data. U.S. intelligence agencies are permitted to spy on foreign citizens outside the U.S. without having to obtain search warrants.

Last June, House members voted 255-174 to approve legislation by Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., to prohibit intelligence agencies from using federal funds to search the data they collect under Section 702 for information about Americans. It was the second time in two years that the House voted for the measure as part of its passage of defense spending bills. The legislation did not become law because the spending bills it was attached to never won final approval by both chambers of Congress.

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Posting baby photos on Facebook could land parents in legal trouble

Posting baby photos on Facebook could land parents in legal trouble

Posting baby photos on Facebook could land parents in legal trouble

Kids can soon sue their parents for posting their pictures on Facebook

Authorities in France have warned moms and dads of posting intimate or embarrassing photos of their young children on Facebook. Such an act could land them with a fine and jail time.

French parents could face fines of up to €45,000 and a year in prison if found guilty of breaching their right to privacy when they are young, reported the Guardian. Thanks to the country’s strict privacy laws.

“In a few years, children could easily take their parents to court for publishing photos of them when they were younger,” Eric Delcroix, an expert on internet law and ethics, told The Telegraph.

“Children at certain stages do not wish to be photographed or still less for those photos to be made public,” he continued.

In a 2015 study, author and child psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair, said, “Your favourite picture of your child sitting on the potty for the first time may not be their favourite picture of themselves when they’re 13.” She found that parents in the U.K. post nearly 200 photos of their young children (under the age of 5) every year.

Earlier this year, France’s national gendarmerie wrote that “you can all be proud moms and dads to your magnificent children, but be careful.”

“We remind you that posting photos of your kids to Facebook is not without danger!” it wrote.

Given the relative youth of social media, it’s difficult to say precisely how growing up online could affect children but there are concerns around trespassing privacy, safety and security.

Professor Nicola Whitton from Manchester Metropolitan University added to The Guardian: “I think we’re going to get a backlash in years to come from young people coming to realize that they’ve had their whole lives, from the day they were born, available to social media.

“Parents have to work out what’s right for them, but be aware that this is another person, another human being, who may not thank them for it in 15 years to come.

“It may seem hard, but my line would be don’t put pictures online until they’re of an age where it’s appropriate to discuss it with them.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, Viviane Gelles, a lawyer specialising in internet privacy told that in French law, “Parents are responsible for protecting images of their children.”

They could in turn be harming the future reputation of their children by posting them online with irresponsible abandonment. As a result, a grown child would have all the possible rights to sue their parents arguing that their right to privacy was breached by them.

However, Professor Sonia Livingston at the London School of Economics – who has conducted research into children’s rights in a digital age – did not agree with the proposed new laws.

She claimed that the “draconian” rule need not apply if parents are honest and able to explain to their kids about what they do and don’t want online.

Prof Livingston said: “If (parents) can be open with their children about what they wish to share, with whom and why, this need not result in a draconian crackdown on all sharing.”

Gavin Newsom Helped Make Gay Marriage Legal. Now He Wants to Legalize Pot

Gavin Newsom Helped Make Gay Marriage Legal. Now He Wants to Legalize Pot

Gavin Newsom Helped Make Gay Marriage Legal. Now He Wants to Legalize Pot

“People don’t get what a big deal” the war on drugs is, he says.

Last week, backers of an initiative to legalize marijuana in California declared that they’d collected enough signatures to place it on the November ballot. The news was announced by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, a declared 2018 gubernatorial candidate best known nationally for using his power as San Francisco’s mayor to greenlight same-sex marriages long before courts had sanctioned the practice.

That experience has encouraged Newsom to take bold positions on other social issues, including drug policy reform. I sat down with Newsom in downtown San Francisco to talk about legalization, his college bong photos (it’s not what you think), and how the experiences of other legal-pot states helped him craft the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Mother Jones: You have the distinction of being the only statewide office holder who supports legalization.

Gavin Newsom: It’s unfortunate. That’s not an indictment of my colleagues, it’s an indictment of the politics. The war on drugs is a political war, not a scientific war. If it was a scientific war, it would have collapsed under its own weight years ago.

MJ: Why haven’t more politicians come out in support of this?

GN: There is still a lot of big money to promote the status quo.

MJ: But when Californians had the chance to legalize marijuana in 2010 with Proposition 19, more money was spent in favor of the initiative than against it.

GN: Yeah, but that masks how politics works. You have outsized special interests that play huge in political campaigns. They didn’t play in that initiative, but they play profoundly in electoral politics with independent expenditures—not just direct contributions—that are holding the line on politicians from saying what they think.

MJ: What kinds of special interests? The alcohol industry?

GN: You name it. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and incarcerates 24 percent of its prisoners. There’s a lot of money behind that. Huge money behind it. Bail bondsman money. People say, “Oh, it’s prison guards.” It’s so much deeper than that. It gets into the politics of check cashers, the politics of payday lenders. It’s all connected. People don’t get what a big deal this is. This is about people’s heads being cut off south of the border. This is about families that are literally, 30 people, gunned down. This is about a bus with 50 kids and they’ve all disappeared. This is about corruption, cartels, the environment, tax dollars, waste and inefficiency, about kids that can’t hug their parents. This is about communities being ravaged and destroyed. This is about institutional racism and poverty. This is profound stuff, man. I get a little righteous here, because why the hell are you in politics if you can’t talk about this? If you can’t talk about this, then you don’t belong in politics. Either come out against our initiative or, if you don’t like the status quo, what the hell is your alternative? I’m all ears. But I don’t like the abdication—particularly in my party.

MJ: You’re probably not making any friends by saying all this.

GN: I am going to turn into the Ted Cruz of my party.

MJ: Well, your old college roommate probably likes you better than Cruz’s old roommate likes him.

GN: Yeah, probably. He was a big pot smoker, by the way. I wasn’t. You can call him. I don’t have to worry about the bong photo, okay? Except the beer one.

MJ: What motivated you to get involved in this issue?

GN: My foster brother lived in a Marin City housing project, a tough project at the time. He was living with us at the time of his 16th birthday, when his mom sent him a big bag of pot. It scared the hell out of him. I remember being freaked out by it. This is his mother. I remember it like it was yesterday. That young man ended up in San Quentin—a drug dealer. He’s out now, living in Marin City. He’s got five kids, and many more brothers and sisters with different fathers. I watched the sheriffs’ office arrest him half a dozen times—and not all the white folks at Redwood High School who were running around with cocaine in their BMWs.

My father was on the California Court of Appeals and he brought this into the home: He was just railing against mandatory minimums—how disgusted he was with the system, and with himself for perpetuating it.

When I got into elected office, I met the Drug Policy Alliance folks. We started passing resolutions condemning the disparity on cocaine sentencing, and [the DPA’s] Ethan Nadelman had me on panels. I kind of exposed myself and my position on marijuana [in 2012], and everyone said, “You’re finished!”

MJ: But by then you already had a rep for sticking your neck out—the whole gay marriage thing.

GN: I’d passed my sell-by date, man. After that, I had to be accountable to the position! A lot of folks began asking tough questions about what legalization looks like: How are you going to deal with Big Tobacco? How are you going to deal with the concerns around edibles and packaging? What tax rate do you support? Are you worried about kids? Are you worried about people driving under the influence? All of these legitimate questions were coming up in these forums, and discussions on the street, and, frankly, in my home with my wife. And that’s when I felt this responsibility to convene a workgroup. We put together a very thoughtful and comprehensive report to guide what was at the time a dozen-plus initiatives that were being discussed, proposed, and promoted. Ultimately, we landed on the one that we introduced today.

MJ: Several states have already legalized marijuana. What have you learned from their mistakes?

GN: California was the first to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. I was mayor when we did the first regulations on the medical marijuana industry. Things were getting out of control: These things were popping up near parks, playgrounds, schools. Frankly, there was a lot of abuse—guys in gym outfits popping in and then selling cannabis just down the block. That is not what the voters intended with Prop. 215. So we got our arms around it. What we learned from Colorado and Washington is that you can’t be too prescriptive because there are things no one can anticipate. So we’ve built in flexibility in the taxation rate, how we process permits, how we deal with transportation, how we address legitimate concerns about Big Tobacco coming in and becoming Big Marijuana. We had more aggressive language on packaging edibles, transparency in testing, around the type of edibles you can use—and we allowed more flexibility of the legislature to completely change those if we turn out to be wrong. Colorado didn’t have those regulations. And Washington in particular struggled with the collision of medical and recreational: If you don’t tax one but you tax the other, everyone remains “sick.”

MJ: Yeah, California’s medical marijuana system is notoriously permissive. Back in 2010, I got a pot card for writer’s cramp.

GN: It’s a serious condition! [Laughs.] I can imagine that you have struggled and suffered through it and have been aided greatly.

MJ: Will I escape taxes under your initiative?

GN: You will be able to avoid sales tax. But you will have to pay a 15 percent excise tax that goes to children’s programs, law enforcement, and other functions. No one is saying this is perfect. But my hunch is that 10 years from now, you will have one system.

MJ: We don’t have a separate system for “medical alcohol.”

GN: Thank you. Though I am in the wine business and we do claim red wine has a benefit to your heart health, medical marijuana has a little more scientific backing.

MJ: Well, there is Fernet Branca.

GN: That’s true, too!

MJ: When Prop. 19 was coming up for a vote, I went to the Hemp Fest at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

GN: Look at you!

MJ: Prop. 19’s bankroller, Richard Lee, was speaking about why pot should be legal, and a fistfight nearly broke out between pot farmers and legalization advocates.

GN: I wasn’t prepared for that when we went up to Trinity and Humboldt counties. We had a town hall to end all town halls. It was intense. People were in the rafters. They were passionate. First of all, I said “marijuana.”

MJ: The M-word!

GN: The M-word is absolutely unacceptable up there. It’s cannabis. But there’s been a lot of opposition up there on 19. And so we really went an extra mile. We put in language that prioritizes small growers over larger ones for the first five years. We actually specifically exclude those larger cultivators so we can encourage local farmers.

MJ: Why do you think that’s important?

GN: They’ve put their lives on the line. They deserve a voice. Plus, it’s California. We have different terroir. We are an agricultural state. We value the small farmer. We value the organic grower. We value the farmers market. There’s an artisanal quality to what makes California great, and that quality exists in the cannabis community.

MJ: But what about small-time pot dealers, who are often people of color? You don’t see them at pot investment conferences. They’re the ones who get thrown in jail.

GN: We co-chaired this workgroup with the ACLU, and this was the fundamental issue. The war on drugs has been a war on poor people. So we have provisions that would allow people to participate in this industry without the burden of their previous mistakes impairing them. Folks that are still incarcerated with [certain pot-related] convictions will have the ability to petition courts to reduce their sentences or have records expunged. We want to give opportunities to people who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. And there’s money: 20 percent of the revenues are for economic development targeting low-income communities—like small grants and loans to help with expungement.

MJ: Where else will the money go?

GN: To children, youth, and family public safety. A huge amount will go into R&D. We will have the most robust [cannabis] research, arguably, of any country in the world—it will be coming out of our UC system in the next few years. This is a big deal.

MJ: Critics claim that legalization will convey to kids that smoking pot is okay.

GN: I get it. You don’t want to normalize something that isn’t healthy for kids. It’s not; it just isn’t, we dismiss that at our peril. We have to be honest about the brain development for children. Alcohol is not good for kids either, and tobacco is more devastating in many ways. But we don’t incarcerate people for smoking a cigarette. We don’t incarcerate people for having a beer.

U.S. government and North Carolina escalate legal fight over transgender law

U.S. government and North Carolina escalate legal fight over transgender law

A fight between the Obama administration and North Carolina over a state law limiting public bathroom access for transgender people escalated on Monday as both sides sued each other, trading accusations of civil rights violations and government overreach.

The U.S. Justice Department’s complaint asked a federal district court in North Carolina to declare that the state is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act and order it to stop enforcing the ban.

Hours earlier, North Carolina’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and the state’s secretary of public safety sued the agency in a different federal court in North Carolina, accusing it of “baseless and blatant overreach.”

The so-called bathroom law, passed in March and known as HB 2, prohibits people from using public restrooms not corresponding to their biological sex.

It has thrust North Carolina into the center of a national debate over equality and privacy, and has now led the state into what could be a long and costly legal battle with the U.S. government.

Americans are divided over how public restrooms should be used by transgender people, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, with 44 percent saying people should use them according to their biological sex and 39 percent saying they should be used according to the gender with which they identify.

By passing the law, North Carolina became the first state in the country to ban people from using multiple occupancy restrooms or changing rooms in public buildings and schools that do not match the sex on their birth certificate.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Monday the department “retains the option” of curtailing federal funding to North Carolina unless it backs down.

“None of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something or someone that they are not,” Lynch said at a news conference, comparing the measure to Jim Crow-era racial discrimination laws and bans on same-sex marriage.

Lynch said the department is monitoring other U.S. jurisdictions that have passed or considered laws similar to North Carolina’s but declined to say whether the agency was planning any action against them.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the North Carolina law “mean-spirited” but McCrory said in his complaint that it is “common sense privacy policy.”

North Carolina Republicans say the law stops men from posing as transgender to gain access to women’s restrooms.