Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court has handed down its decision in Elonis v. United States, a case that had sweeping implications for free speech on the Internet. The Obama Administration sought to establish a low standard for criminalizing speech based on a reasonable person standard that would have gutted the requirement of scienter or intent in establishing a criminal threat. The Court adopted the narrowest basis to remand the case but it clearly rejected the lower standard sought by the Administration. In doing so, free speech dodged a bullet today and the Obama Administration came perilously close to rolling back on protections for free speech on both the Internet and social media.

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Police Department Refuses To Release Videotape of Police Officer Shooting Elderly Man Out Of Concern Over Public Reaction


Dashcam DeniedThere is an interesting development in the case of North Augusta (S.C.) officer Justin Craven in the alleged murder of 68-year-old Ernest Satterwhite. Despite public disclosure laws, the police are refusing to release the videotape because the describe it as shocking and disturbing. Some would argue that that is precisely why it should be available to the public.

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Is The Cell Phone Kill Switch in the Wrong Hands?

Yet another reason to be worried.



Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court.

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Court rules that DEA Does Not Have to Pay Damages To Company After Agents Secretly Enlisted Its Driver To Participate In Drug Sting Resulting In His Death and Heavy Damage To Truck

When the government protects itself from the most heinous, morally reprehensible and negligent acts of its agencies and agents in clear violation of the Constitution (here taking both life and property without due process) then the result is that none of us can feel secure from it, none of us have redress through the courts because that redress has been made moot. And boondoggles like this and Fast and Furious become common place, bad ideas that nobody stops before people die because they know neither they nor their agency will in any way ever be held responsible.

Yes – This is what the War on Drugs, and Yes, even the War on Terror net you. Ideas that sounded good on paper, but ultimately were just excuses for overreaching Executive police powers, the loss of Liberty, and the erosion of Civil Rights.

Once these things are gone they can not be reclaimed.


Lee.Rosenthal4224622x350There is a troubling case out of Houston that shows the continuing immunity of the government from even lethal acts of negligence. In Patty v. United States, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54871A, Plaintiff Steven Craig Patty sought damages in a bizarre case where the DEA paid one of his drivers, without his knowledge, to participate in a highly dangerous drug sting with one of the most violent Mexican drug cartels. Lawrence Chapa, 53, (right) the driver, (who had been arrested in 2010 for possession of a controlled substance) was shot eight times. The sting went badly and resulted in the killing of Patty’s driver and shooting up his tractor-trailer. He claimed conversion, abuse of process, and constitutional torts, but U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal ruled that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is not liable to him even for the repair of this tractor-trailer. It is all an example…

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What Your Dog Is Really Thinking When He Poops


If you are lost in the woods with your dog and your compass breaks, do not despair. Wait for your dog to arch its back and poop and watch closely — Fido might be telling you which way is north. Or south.

In a study published by the journal Frontiers in Zoology, researchers found that, when the earth’s magnetic field is stable, dogs off leash prefer to poop with their bodies oriented along the north-south axis.

Scientists monitored 70 dogs of 37 breeds over a two-year period for a total of 1,893, um, “observations.” They found that “Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm [magnetic field] conditions.” The effect only holds when the earth’s magnetic field is stable, which, researchers note, is only about 20 percent of the time in daylight.

Researchers said this is the first time magnetic sensitivity was…

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Cities Have Found a New Way to Take Your Money

Criminal revenue generation by changing the rules.


Correction appended, Oct. 15.

All yellow traffic lights are not created equal, it seems. Especially in Chicago.

Earlier this year, the city began issuing tickets to motorists who drove through yellow lights that turned red fractions of a second shorter than the three-second city minimum. The change was slight, but the effect for the cash-starved city was real: nearly $8 million from an additional 77,000 tickets, according to the city’s inspector general.

All of those $100 tickets were issued after cameras installed at intersections caught the drivers as they passed through. These systems, known as red light cameras, are an increasingly controversial tactic for policing roadways. Established in the name of public safety, critics contend the cameras have become little more than a way for municipalities to funnel money into their coffers.

“If the machine is set to catch more people and generate more revenue, then it does not…

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