Portland neighbors pave their own potholes

PORTLAND – A group of Southwest Portland residents decided they were tired of neighborhood potholes and hired a contractor to fix the problem. But the city might now charge those residents to bring those unpermitted repairs up to code.

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The Washington Post: National conservative group mounts new lobbying push for gay marriage in Minnesota, elsewhere

FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton tell hundreds who turned out to rally at the State Capitol, in St. Paul, Minn. in support of a bill to legalize gay marriage that he hoped legislators will pass this year. A spokesman for American Unity PAC tells The Associated Press that the group has established a lobbying operation and already spent more than $250,000 to lobby Republican lawmakers in Minnesota, with plans to spend more. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

A national group of prominent GOP donors that supports gay marriage is pouring new money into lobbying efforts to get Republican lawmakers to vote to make it legal.

American Unity PAC was formed last year to lend financial support to Republicans who bucked the party’s longstanding opposition to gay marriage. Its founders are launching a new lobbying organization, American Unity Fund, and already have spent more than $250,000 in Minnesota, where the Legislature could vote on the issue as early as next week.

The group has spent $500,000 on lobbying since last month, including efforts in Rhode Island, Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Utah.Billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican donor Paul Singer launched American Unity PAC. The lobbying effort is the next phase as the push for gay marriage spreads to more states, spokesman Jeff Cook-McCormac told The Associated Press.

“What you have is this network of influential Republicans who really want to see the party embrace the freedom to marry, and believe it’s not only the right thing for the country but also good politics,” Cook-McCormac said.

In Minnesota, the money has gone to state groups that are lobbying Republican lawmakers and for polling on gay marriage in a handful of suburban districts held by Republicans. So far, only one Minnesota Republican lawmaker has committed to voting to legalize gay marriage: Sen. Branden Petersen, of Andover.

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Reuters: Senator Paul stirs business ire over blocking of U.S. tax treaties

Senator Rand Paul is coming under pressure from some multi-national businesses to drop his opposition to tax treaties between the United States and other nations.

Citing privacy concerns about Americans’ tax data, Paul, a Republican and libertarian, has single-handedly blocked Senate action on treaties with Hungary, Switzerland and Luxembourg that have been signed by authorities on both sides, but have been awaiting Senate review since 2011.

At least six other tax treaties or treaty updates – with Chile, Spain, Poland, Japan, Norway and Britain – may soon be added to the Senate’s queue for confirmation votes.

Major U.S. businesses such as IBM Corp and Fluor Corp are lobbying for Senate action on tax treaties, according to Senate lobbying disclosure documents.

“How many treaties will be held hostage?” asked Cathy Schultz, a lobbyist for the National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that represents companies such asCaterpillar Inc and Pfizer Inc.

Paul has said he is concerned that recent treaties would give foreign governments too much access to U.S. citizens’ tax information, a stance that has some support among like-minded conservative libertarians.

“Rand Paul is not a typical senator who may bend over to business lobbyists,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy at The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

“I am very concerned about this increasingly aggressive international exchange of information,” Edwards said.


No new tax treaties or treaty updates have been approved since 2010, when Paul was elected as the junior senator from Kentucky on a wave of support for Tea Party-aligned Republicans.

Paul recently declined to answer questions from a reporter in a Capitol hallway about the “hold” he has placed on the treaties. Under Senate rules, one senator can prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor.

Paul’s staff did not reply to repeated requests for comment.

“There’s never really been an objection of this sort and a hold that’s gone on this long,” said Nancy McLernon, president of the Organization for International Investment, which lobbies in Washington on behalf of foreign companies.

In an effort to sway the senator, McLernon said her group would be lobbying both parties to draw attention to the tax treaties. “Let’s stop with the self-inflicted wounds,” she said.

The United States has tax treaties with more than 60 countries, ranging from China to Kyrgyzstan.

The agreements previously have routinely won Senate approval with little controversy and accomplished their main purpose of preventing double-taxation of income and profits.

In recent years, tax treaties have begun to play an increasing role in efforts by the United States and major European Union countries to crack down on tax avoidance.

The U.S. Treasury in 2012 began signing new tax pacts with countries as part of implementation of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a 2010 anti-tax-evasion law.

The law, known as FATCA, which takes effect in January 2014, will require foreign financial institutions to disclose to the United States information about Americans’ accounts worth more than $50,000.


Switzerland, a long-time bastion of banking secrecy, is under international pressure to change its ways, and FATCA has been a driving force in that. The United States and Switzerland in February signed a FATCA implementation agreement that would make more information available to U.S. authorities about the financial interests of Americans in Switzerland.

But the taxpayer information exchange cannot go into force without Senate approval of the U.S.-Swiss tax treaty.

The Senate’s delayed action on tax treaties could convince other countries to stop negotiating with the United States on tax matters, said John Harrington, a former Treasury tax official who is now a partner at law firm SNR Denton.

Paul, seen as a possible 2016 presidential contender, has taken a position that sets up a clash of traditional Republican interest groups: big business and libertarian ideologues.

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Daily Kos: The Slow Death of the Fourth Amendment

The government has been chipping away at the 4th Amendment since the start of the War on (some) Drugs. The stop-and-frisk policy in New York is just one of the latest steps in destroying privacy in this country.

Now the DHS has decided that the freedom from suspicionless searches doesn’t apply near the nation’s borders.

 “We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.

 The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.    According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

Did you catch that? 100 miles inland. That includes shipping ports. That means that around 2/3rd of the nation’s population, around 190 million, lives in these areas that are free of the 4th Amendment restrictions.Photobucket

The DHS has already set up 33 “internal checkpoints” deeper in the country.

The expansion of the police state in America would be mindboggling to anyone living as recently as the 1980’s or 1990’s. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party is in power.

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Bloomberg: Obama Decision on Interrogating Suspect Draws Criticism from Civil Liberties Groups; Republicans argue still not tough enough

The Obama administration’s decision to interrogate the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing without first warning him of his rights has sparked criticism from both sides of the political spectrum about the best way to prosecute terrorism cases.

Justice Department officials have said their move to question bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, without reading him the Miranda warning of his right to remain silent is a necessary legal tool in cases of domestic terrorism.

Civil liberties groups said yesterday the tactic raises concerns about infringement of Tsarnaev’s constitutional rights, especially since he’s a naturalized American citizen. At the same time, four Republican lawmakers criticized the administration for not being tough enough, saying Tsarnaev should be designated an enemy combatant with no right to counsel……..


Holder’s push has been criticized by civil liberties groups that say delaying Miranda warnings poses risks to the constitutional rights of suspects.

“Obama’s Justice Department unilaterally expanded the ‘public safety exception’ to Miranda in 2010 beyond anything the Supreme Court ever authorized,” Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group that focuses on civil-liberties litigation, said in a statement yesterday. “Each time the administration uses this exception, it stretches wider and longer.”

As we stated before, Republicans and Democrats (at least some of the key players in both parties) seem to think that the constitution only applies some of the time and to a subset of the citizenship.  What do you think?

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Republican Mike Rogers led CISPA bill, the Fourth Amendment, and you

Overshadowed by congressional action on guns and immigration is an Internet privacy bill that could affect most Americans, without them knowing it, on a daily basis.

computer servers

The final vote in the House was 248-168, as 42 Democrats voted for the bill, while 28 Republicans voted against it.

And like gun control, it’s far from a done deal after the House passes CISPA. It would need Senate approval, and President Barack Obama has indicated he’ll possibly veto CISPA if it comes to his desk.

Both sides of Congress would need to muster a two-thirds majority vote to override the president’s veto, which would seem unlikely in the current political atmosphere of Washington.

At the heart of CISPA is a Fourth Amendment issue.

The amendment reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

CISPA is designed to let the federal government work with private companies to fight hackers and cybercriminals in and outside of the United States. As part of the effort to detect cyber threats, private companies could voluntarily share with the government data about Internet users.

The sharing could be done in “real time” as the cybercops try to defeat and track down the evildoers. Companies could also share data among themselves as part of the effort.

There are major drawbacks about the legislation, say CISPA’s critics. The privacy provisions for consumers, they claim, are vague or nonexistent. The government and companies can’t look at your personal data, such as medical records and tax returns, if they are part of the “data dump” that is shared in real time. But the law doesn’t require that companies excise, or edit out, that information in the transfer process.

Another criticism is that a warrant isn’t needed for the government to obtain that information. And companies that share your information won’t be held legally liable for sharing that information, a practice that seemingly conflicts with privacy policies on existing websites.

CISPA’s biggest critic in Congress is a representative from Colorado, Jared Polis. The Democrat told the House on Wednesday, “This is the biggest government takeover of personal information that I’ve seen during my time here in Congress.”

Mike Rogers, a Republican representative from Michigan and the House Intelligence Committee chairman, is leading the CISPA effort, along with Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat from Maryland.

Rogers believes the measure is long needed. “People were stealing their identities, their accounts, their intellectual property, and subsequent to that, their jobs,” he recently said. “[Web users] began to question the value of getting on Internet and using [it] for commercial purposes. Their trust in the free and open Internet … was at risk.”

He has also stressed that participation in CISPA is voluntary for companies.


What do you think about this clear violation of the fourth amendment?  Michigan residents living in the 8th US Congressional district can reach out to Mike Rogers to give their opinion of his bill:

Office Information
2112 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: (202) 225-4872 Fax: (202) 225-58201000 West St. Joseph Suite 300 Lansing, Michigan 48915 Phone: (517) 702-8000 Toll Free: 877-333-MIKE Fax: (517) 702-8642To Send an e-mail:http://mikerogers.house.gov/contact/

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Power of the People? Redditors May Have A Found A Hi-Res Image Of Boston Bombing ‘Suspect 2’

A photo  posted on Reddit may show a hi-res image of Suspect 2 from the  Boston bombings.

This image has not been confirmed.

The FBI released low-res  images and video from security cameras of two suspects to the public, asking  for help in identification.

Reddit, which has been studying every angle of this case from the beginning,  responded quickly.

Suspect 2 in the FBI release (see upper right) looks a lot like the man in a  backwards white baseball cap and grey hoodie in the photo posted on Reddit (see  below).

Redditors have also below  that the man in the hi-res photo appears not to be carrying a backpack,  suggesting that he may have put it down.

Commenters on the Reddit  thread seem confident that the image is not photoshopped, though this question  is still up in the air.

boston suspect 2 red

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The Blaze: MSNBC Publicly Shames Senators Who ‘Voted Against Common Sense,’ Warns Of Retribution In 2014

The air in the small town of West, Texas was still filled with the smell of smoke and ammonia as medical crews worked to help the hundreds who were injured while rescue workers struggled to locate and identify the dozens killed in yesterday’s fertilizer plant explosion, MSNBC was looking for revenge. Revenge for the death of the gun control bill in the U.S. Senate.

Following the Senate’s rejection of the gun control bill, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” launched a campaign of public shaming of those who voted “no.” (And in some cases, they chose a few unflattering photos to display.)

MSNBC Publicly Shames Senators Who Voted No On Gun Bill

On Thursday morning, the majority of the first hour of “Morning Joe” was dedicated to the not-so-surprising results from yesterday’s defeat of the Senate’s gun bill. Co-host Mika Brzezinski talked about the “stinging loss for the president…and might I add to the script, the country.” Brzezinski went on to talk about those who voted against the bill, announcing that the show was going to put their names and pictures on the screen so all could see the 54 “Faces of Cowardice.”

Democrats who voted against the bill were featured individually as well as given their own special page at the end of the segment.

MSNBC Publicly Shames Senators Who Voted No On Gun Bill

Joe Scarborough also piled on, warning of consequences coming to anyone who voted against the “90 percent.” (Scarborough declared himself and anyone who supported the background checks in the now-dead bill, “We are the 90 percent!”)


Click below for the full article and some other related articles.

MSNBC Publicly Shames Senators Who ‘Voted Against Common Sense,’ Warns Of Retribution In 2014


Is the liberal anti-gun push backfiring?

MSNBC Host Blames NRA for ‘Slow’ Boston Investigation: ‘In the Business of Helping Bombers Get Away With Their Crimes’