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Diversity News Publications goes dark This 4th of July supporting the 4th Amendment

Diversity News Publications goes dark This 4th of July supporting the 4th Amendment

Diversity News Magazine goes dark This 4th of July supporting the 4th Amendment (via Diversity News Magazine)

This 4th of July, we stand by the 4th Amendment and against the U.S. government’s unconstitutional surveillance of Internet users.The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly protects all citizens’ assets, both digital and physical, against…

Diversity News Publications Join Millions of Americans to oppose SOPA and PIPA bills

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Diversity News Magazine, an online and print consumer news magazine published by Diversity News Publications & Executive Editor-In-Chief Esteban “Steven” Escobar announced that they are on strike today to fight SOPA and PIPA.

They join Millions of Americans to oppose SOPA and PIPA bills. Also Diversity News Magazine website on strike today to fight SOPA and PIPA.

More about SOPA and PIPA

Members of Congress are trying to do the right thing by going after pirates and counterfeiters but SOPA and PIPA are the wrong way to do it.

1. SOPA and PIPA would censor the Web

The U.S. government could order the blocking of sites using methods similar to those employed by China. Among other things, search engines could be forced to delete entire websites from their search results. That’s why 41 human rights organizations and 110 prominent law professors have expressed grave concerns about the bills.

2. SOPA and PIPA would be job-killers because they would create a new era of uncertainty for American business

Law-abiding U.S. internet companies would have to monitor everything users link to or upload or face the risk of time-consuming litigation. That’s why AOL, EBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga wrote a letter to Congress saying these bills “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation.” It’s also why 55 of America’s most successful venture capitalists expressed concern that PIPA “would stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness”. More than 204 entrepreneurs told Congress that PIPA and SOPA would “hurt economic growth and chill innovation”.

3. SOPA and PIPA wouldn’t stop piracy

To make matters worse, SOPA and PIPA won’t even work. The censorship regulations written into these bills won’t shut down pirate sites. These sites will just change their addresses and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies will suffer high penalties for breaches they can’t possibly control.

There are effective ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that have made the Internet such an important driver of American economic growth and job creation. Congress should consider alternatives like the OPEN Act, which takes targeted and focused steps to cut off the money supply from foreign pirate sites without making US companies censor the Web.
If these bills pass, one infringement would be enough for a copyright holder to file to take down an entire website. YouTube could disappear overnight. Same with Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, or even WonderHowTo. Enacting such a draconian law would stifle innovation from new web startups. It would be too risky to create a website where people could submit their own whatever. Even the White House has spoken out about its concerns, emphasizing that they “will not support” any bill “that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

Sources: Google, http://www.businessinsider.com
Video courtesy of YouTube.com/EngineAdvocacy

James Risen, New York Times reporter subpoenaed by U.S. government

On Tuesday, May 24, 2011 the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a subpoena yesterday for the testimony of a New York Times reporter in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operations officer accused of leaking classified information, highlighting a trend of government attempts to use journalists’ testimony in cases against government employees who reveal government information in exchange for anonymity.
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Federal prosecutors also filed a motion late Monday in support of the subpoena, anticipating that Pulitzer Prize-winner James Risen would seek to have the subpoena quashed. “His testimony is directly relevant to, and powerful evidence of, facts that are squarely at issue in this trial — including the identity of the perpetrator,” the motion says.


In December 2010, a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., indicted Sterling of O’Fallon, Mo., on 10 counts, including unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and obstruction of justice. The government had issued a subpoena for Risen’s testimony in that proceeding, but the trial judge granted his motion to quash without providing an explanation. A 2008 attempt to require Risen to testify before a previous grand jury investigating Sterling failed when that grand jury expired while Risen’s motion to quash the subpoena was pending.

Procedurally, the government’s decision to compel Risen’s testimony by filing a motion in limine — a tool generally used to focus the evidence to be used at trial — along with a subpoena is unusual. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney could not be reached for comment on the move.

Sterling is accused of giving Risen national security information under the condition of anonymity to be published in newspaper articles and Risen’s 2006 book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”

Risen’s lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg, confirmed to The Associated Press that Risen will ask a judge to quash the subpoena.

Sterling, who worked at the CIA from 1993 to 2002, had conflicts with the agency, including the filing of a racial discrimination complaint. The indictment alleges these issues served as his motivation for leaking the information.


In its motion, the U.S. government argues that Risen is an eyewitness to the alleged crimes, and no federal law exists that exempts a reporter from his or her obligation to testy.

“The question here, therefore, is not whether the testimony is probative of factual issues that will be before the jury, but whether there exists a reporter’s privilege — either under the First Amendment or common law — that exempts this eyewitness from being called, like any other citizen, to provide relevant facts under oath to the jury . . . the answer is no,” the government lawyers said in the brief.

Indeed, although 40 states and the District of Columbia have shield laws that exempt journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources, there is no such statute at the federal level. However, some federal courts have interpreted the Supreme Court’s 1972Branzburg v. Hayes decision as providing a qualified privilege protecting reporters against compelled disclosure of anonymous sources, especially in civil cases.

According to the motion, the government is also seeking non-confidential information from Risen that would not require revealing his source’s identity, including establishing venue for certain counts, authenticating his book, and providing “necessary foundation to admit the defendant’s statements in the book.” However, many federal courts extend the First Amendment-based reporter’s privilege to unpublished, non-confidential information obtained while newsgathering.


Risen and other reporters have relied on the reporter’s privilege before to avoid giving up source names. He and four other reporters were held in contempt of court in 2004 for refusing to reveal confidential sources in a lawsuit against the government brought by former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee. In that case, a judge ordered a fine of $500 per day until they complied with the order. The five news organizations involved — The New York Times, ABC News, The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post — eventually agreed to pay an unprecedented $750,000 as its share of a settlement in exchange for getting the contempt charges dropped.

The case against Sterling represents a trend of the Department of Justice filing criminal charges against those who leak government secrets. Sterling is the fifth known leaker prosecuted by the Obama administration.

Among them is former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who faces a 10-count indictment after allegedly leaking government secrets to an unnamed reporter and then reportedly later lying about doing so. The reporter is believed to be Siobhan Gorman, then of the The Baltimore Sun, who wrote a series of articles about problems at the National Security Agency. Drake is scheduled to stand trial in Baltimore on June 13.



The other alleged leakers prosecuted by the Obama administration are: Stephen Kim, a former Department of State analyst who allegedly leaked an intelligence report to an unidentified reporter; Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private alleged to have leaked classified information to WikiLeaks; and Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist who was convicted in May 2010 of charges related to the leaking of classified information to an unidentified blogger and sentenced to 20 months in prison.

About James Risen:
James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist for The New York Times who worked previously for the Los Angeles Times. He has written or co-written many articles concerning U.S. government activities and is the author or co-author of two books about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a book about the American public debate about abortion.

Sources: http://www.rcfp.org & Wikipedia

San Diego County DA Bonnie Dumanis Suing former CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

On Wednesday, May 11, 2011 San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis announced that her office has filed a civil lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court, seeking to nullify the Governor’s commutation of Esteban Nunez’ prison sentence.  The lawsuit is believed to be the first-of-its kind in the nation filed by a District Attorney on behalf of the victims.

Nunez pled guilty to three felony charges in connection with his role in the assault on four young men, including Luis Santos who died as a result of the attack.  Nunez was sentenced to 16 years in state prison.  On his last day in office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Nunez’s sentence to seven years.


“Once again, we are going to court seeking justice for the victims in this case— Luis Santos, Evan Henderson, Keith Robertson, Brandon Scheerer and their families.” said DA Dumanis.  “A governor who is considering a commutation has a constitutional duty under Marsy’s Law to include the voices of the victims.  In this case, that clearly didn’t happen.”

The civil suit names the Governor of California, Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Warden of Mule Creek State Prison as defendants and respondents and Esteban Nunez as a real party of interest.  In the suit, the DA’s Office argues that the Governor was constitutionally obligated to notify the victims of crime of his intent to commute a sentence and provide them with an opportunity to be heard.  As a result of the Governor’s failure to do that, the victims’ constitutional rights were violated and the Governor’s Executive Order commuting Nunez’ sentence is void and unenforceable.


Nunez, along with a co-defendant, pleaded guilty in 2010 to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.  The assault occurred during a fight near San Diego State University that left Luis Santos dead from knife wounds and three other victims injured.  Nunez’ guilty plea was accepted by the court with no promises for leniency and he was sentenced to 16 years in state prison for his crimes.  Nunez’ case was being appealed when the commutation was suddenly announced by Governor Schwarzenegger on his last day in office.  Victims in the case learned of the commutation through news reports.

“Marsy’s Law was designed to keep people from being re-victimized and the former Governor’s action violated that law,” said DA Dumanis.   “We don’t argue with the Governor’s constitutional ability to grant pardons or commutations.  Historically, the Governor was entrusted with this power in order to represent the conscience of the community and to insure against miscarriages of justice.  Instead, this last-minute commutation made without all the facts or input from the parties, only fueled the public’s mistrust of government and greatly diminished justice.”

“I support the effort of the District Attorney to achieve justice for the victim’s family and all of San Diego,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.


Earlier this year, the District Attorney’s Office also announced support of Assembly Bill 648, which would require the applicant for a commutation of sentence notify the District Attorney 30 days before the governor acts upon the application.  The District Attorney must then notify the victims, and both the District Attorneys and the victims will have the opportunity to provide written recommendations to the Governor for or against the commutation or pardon.  AB 648 is being co-authored by California Assemblymembers Marty Block and Nathan Fletcher.

About San Diego County District Attorney:
The employees of the San Diego District Attorney, in partnership with the Community they serve, are dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice and protection of the innocent and the prevention of crime through the vigorous  and  professional  prosecution  of those  who  violate the law.

Source: http://www.sdcda.org
Photo credit to: The San Diego County District Attorney Office

BREAKING NEWS: Lindsay Lohan Sentenced to 120 Days Jail Time

April 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Breaking News, Celebrities, Laws, News

CBS Los Angeles reports that Actress Lindsay Lohan has been ordered taken into custody after a judge has ruled the actress violated her probation in the theft of a necklace from a Venice jewelry store.
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Lohan, whose grand theft case was just reduced to a misdemeanor charge, has been fighting the accusation that she stole the necklace from the store, Kamofie & Co. Lohan has claimed she borrowed the $2,500 necklace with the knowledge of the store’s owners.

A judge sentenced the actress to 120 days in jail for violating her probation, which includes also 480 hours of community service.

Attorney are preparing an immediate appeal, after which the judge can grant bail. Lohan will likely be freed on bail.


A misdemeanor charge carries a potential penalty of a year in jail. A trial for the misdemeanor charge has been tentatively set for June 3.

Kamofie & Company is located at 1350 Abbot Kinney, suite 102 • Venice, CA 90291.

Source: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com

Photo credit to: Koi Sojer / PR Photos


Editor’s Note: We contacted via email Kamofie & Co asking for their reacting to the judge ruling. We will update story posting as soon we heard from representatives of the company.

F.Y.I.: Sources to Diversity News Magazine tell us that she will not be the total 120 days in jail, she may just get 1 week. What do you think? Please leave your comments. Thanks


Collection Agencies Using Facebook & other Social Media to Harass You

April 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Business, Featured, Finances, Laws, Money, News

“Don’t post pictures of the new speed boat you just purchased or the great vacation you just took, and then tell the debt collector you’re broke and don’t have any money to pay them,” McClary advises. “If you’re caught in a bold-faced lie, you could be fast-tracking your way to court.”
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Herb Weisbaum, msnbc.com contributor reports that: Bill collectors have upped their game. They’ve added social media to their arsenal of tools. That’s right, they’re on Facebook, too!
“Normally, collectors use social media to locate people or see if there are any assets that might be collectable,” notes Joel Winston with the Federal Trade Commission. “But we have received a few complaints about collectors who are using social media to either impersonate the person’s friends or otherwise use it for harassment.”
For debt collectors who don’t want to play by the rules, social media can be a powerful way to badger someone. They can post messages that let the world know you owe a debt — a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.


Florida attorney Billy Howard, head of the consumer protection department at the law firm of Morgan & Morgan, calls social media “a dangerous weapon” that some debt collectors use to deliberately harass people.
“They’re using Facebook because it adds that extra shock value. The more shocking, the more harassing, the more outrageous, the more these debt collectors get paid,” Howard says. “What makes it so dangerous is you can contact somebody’s family and friends very quickly and very easily, and you can set off a domino effect of panic that can be devastating.”
That’s what Melanie Beacham of Tampa, Fla., said happened to her. Beacham fell behind in her car payments by $362. To collect the debt, MarkOne Financial called and called. They also sent e-mail and text messages.
Then, for some reason, MarkOne started using Beacham’s Facebook account. They contacted friends and family members, asking them to have her call the company.
“I was irate,” Beacham recalls. “I didn’t want anyone to be in my personal financial business. It was very disturbing. It was hurtful. It was just horrible.”
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Beacham points out that not only had she agreed to a payment plan before MarkOne turned to Facebook, but they clearly knew how to contact her. They had her home and work phone numbers, they knew where she lived and they had her e-mail address.
“Facebook should be off limits,” she tells me.
Beecham hired Howard, who sued MarkOne, claiming violations of both federal and Florida law. The complaint states that MarkOne has a corporate policy to contact individuals and their friends and family using Facebook “as a means to harass consumers and their families.”
The lawsuit is still pending. But last month, a judge in Pinellas County, Fla., ordered MarkOne not to contact Beacham, her friends or family via Facebook or any other social networking site. The order (which MarkOne agreed to) is not an admission of any wrongdoing, and it cannot be used as evidence in the case.
Even so, Howard considers it a victory. He tells me this is the first ruling in the country where a judge has specifically banned a debt collector from using social media. Howard calls it “a big win” for Melanie Beacham and people across the country who want to protect their right of privacy.
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Three weeks ago, Howard filed a second lawsuit against MarkOne. Another woman in the Tampa area claims the company “intentionally harassed and abused” her by using Facebook to request she call them, even though they had her phone number and knew where she lived and worked.
What does MarkOne have to say about all of this? I spoke to Walter Riehemann, the company’s general counsel, who told me they do not comment on pending litigation.
Social media isn’t totally off limits Debt collectors can and do use the Internet to find people who owe money. What you have posted for public consumption on your Facebook or MySpace page, such as contact information, is fair game for anyone to see and use. So think about what you post, and use the tools available on your social media platforms to protect your privacy.

Bruce McClary with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions says it’s important that what you post on your site matches what you tell debt collectors.
“Don’t post pictures of the new speed boat you just purchased or the great vacation you just took, and then tell the debt collector you’re broke and don’t have any money to pay them,” McClary advises. “If you’re caught in a bold-faced lie, you could be fast-tracking your way to court.”
ACA International is the trade association that represents third-party collection agencies. Mark Schiffman, the group’s director of public affairs, tells me they advise their members about “the perils of using social media” and how careful they must be to follow both state and federal law.


“You can’t write on someone’s wall on Facebook. You can’t harass. You can’t threaten. The laws are pretty clear in that regard,” Schiffman says. “These laws are not guidelines: They are laws. And we believe firmly that any debt collector who is breaking the law or not following the rules, deserves to be held accountable for their actions.”
Is it time to rewrite the rules for fair debt collection?
On April 28, the Federal Trade Commission will host Debt Collection 2.0, a daylong public workshop in Washington, D.C., that focuses on the new technologies of debt collection. One of the panels will be on the use of social media. And attorney Billy Howard will be there.
When the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was written (back in 1977), e-mail, social networks and text messaging were not issues because they didn’t exist. This technology gives debt collectors more ways to contact people. Does the law need to be modernized to deal with this?
For instance, should collectors be able to use text messaging? Remember, some people will pay the cost of that message. The issue is, when does the use of these new means of communication cross the line and become harassment?
“It’s sort of a grey area right now,” says the FTC’s Joel Winston. “That’s something we certainly want to explore.”

These practices are off limits for debt collectors:
Harassment:

Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:

Use threats of violence or harm.

Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies).
Use obscene or profane language.
Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
False statements:

Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives.
Falsely claim that you have committed a crime.
Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company.
Misrepresent the amount you owe.
Indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they aren’t.
Indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are.

Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:

You will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt.
They’ll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so.
Legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.

About The Federal Trade Commission: As a consumer or business person, you may be more familiar with the work of the Federal Trade Commission than you think.

The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American. It is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy. The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers’ interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.

When the FTC was created in 1914, its purpose was to prevent unfair methods of competition in commerce as part of the battle to “bust the trusts.” Over the years, Congress passed additional laws giving the agency greater authority to police anticompetitive practices. In 1938, Congress passed a broad prohibition against “unfair and deceptive acts or practices.” Since then, the Commission also has been directed to administer a wide variety of other consumer protection laws, including the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Pay-Per-Call Rule and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. In 1975, Congress gave the FTC the authority to adopt industry-wide trade regulation rules. The FTC’s work is performed by the Bureaus of Consumer ProtectionCompetition and Economics. That work is aided by the Office of General Counsel and seven regional offices

For More Information:

To learn more about debt collection and other credit-related issues, visit www.ftc.gov/credit and MyMoney.gov, the U.S. government’s portal to financial education.

The FTC works to prevent fraud deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.


Sources: msn.comhttp://ftc.gov

Editor’s Note: Collection practices have change with the new technology as you may remember in the past some agencies will go to your home and take goods from you, now they need to keep up with technology but yes they need to not break the rules.