In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

The Obama administration is "preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency's once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that—if approved by Congress—would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials. Under the proposal, they said, the NSA would end its systematic collection of data about Americans' calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the NSA could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order." A new kind of court order that will probably be garbage like most of the other new kinds of courts orders that have been proposed regarding surveillance over the last decade.

[Content Note: Homophobia] The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage, on the basis that the law violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the US Constitution. Woot! You can read the press release, which includes information on the plaintiffs, here (pdf), and, if you live in Indiana, the ACLU is soliciting stories about what the freedom to marry means to you, in preparation for the challenge. (Your story will not be used without your permission.)

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, US District Judge Barbara Crabb "denied a motion filed March 14 by state lawyers to stay a court challenge to Wisconsin's anti-gay marriage amendment."

[CN: Guns; violence] Last night, a civilian breached security and boarded the US Navy destroyer USS Mahan at Virginia's Naval Station Norfolk, where "he fatally shot a sailor on the ship before security personnel shot and killed him, a US defense official said Tuesday. ...Once on board, the civilian grabbed the service pistol of a petty officer who was standing guard, the official said. Two other security sailors arrived, and the civilian fatally shot one of them, according to the official." We've become so inured to shootings that I've barely heard or read anything about this story. Just another day in the US of A.

[CN: Disaster; death] Six more people have been found dead in the wreckage of the landslide in Washington, bringing the total number of deaths to 14 so far. More than a hundred people are still missing as searchers contend with "dangerous quicksand-like conditions."

[CN: War on agency] The Kansas state legislature is considering legislation that "would mandate reporting for miscarriages at any stage in pregnancy, the first step along the path to criminalizing pregnant women's bodies. Under an amendment attached to HB 2613—which was originally intended to update the state's procedure for issuing birth certificates for stillborn babies—doctors would be required to report all of their patients' miscarriages to the state health department." There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin.

[CN: Guns; violence; abuse] The prosecution has rested in trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. After a two-day recess, the defense will begin to present its case, at which point Pistorius will likely take the stand. I don't know how this is going to play out, but I hope the judge isn't persuaded with whatever crocodile tears he's fixing to spill during his testimony, after hearing all the evidence about his obsession with guns and his obsession with controlling Steenkamp.

ProPublica finds that 10% of researchers "have multiple ties" to the nine pharmaceutical companies analyzed as part of ProPublica's researching, raising questions "about doctors' impartiality." Our for-profit healthcare system continues to be working GREAT.

And finally: Here is just another amazing story about a rescued dog saving its adoptive family—and, in this case, possibly several other families: Erin Cramer's recently rescued greyhound, Clobber, alerted Cramer to a gas leak from the water heater. "Her water heater had sprung a leak and begun filling the room with natural gas. Later, Cramer also learned the heater was sparking. '(The plumber) said it probably would have ignited the gas fumes and taken out not only this house but several around me,' Cramer said. 'If it wasn’t for him coming into our lives, we probably wouldn't be here right now.'" All the blubs forever and ever. Good dog.

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