A Week in Review - March 11th, 2016

Our right to protest was severely curtailed in 2012, and few people noticed until this election cycle.  It is now a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison to 'willfully and knowingly' enter a restricted area or to engage in 'disorderly or disruptive conduct' that in any way impedes 'government business or official functions.'  Such restricted areas include the vicinity of any person under the protection of the Secret Service, a select group which includes both major parties' front-runners for the presidential nomination."

In West Virginia, HB 4145, removing an infringement of Second Amendment rights by doing away with concealed carry permits, was vetoed by Governor Tomblin.  However, members of the House immediately voted to override this veto, a move supported by the Senate which followed suit the next morning.  The new law takes effect in May, and we congratulate the citizens of West Virginia on their victory.

The IRS has suspended an online Identity Protection PIN retrieval tool, which contained a security flaw that allowed at least 800 fraudulent tax returns to be filed.  This flaw was also present in another IRS online tool, affecting over 700,000 tax payers - an estimate that was repeatedly increased after initial reports.

Mississippi state Representative Gregory Holloway (D-Hazlehurst) has submitted House Bill 4 - the "Parent Involvement and Accountability Act" - which would require teachers in that state to grade parents’ involvement with their children’s education. The legislation "would mandate a section be added to each child’s report card on which the parents are graded on their responsiveness to communication with teachers, the students’ completion of homework and readiness for tests, and the frequency of absences and tardiness."

The Department of Justice has asked the FBI to examine the feasibility of taking civil action against those who disagree with the current administration's position on climate change.  Based on comments by the current Attorney General, the tactics used to attack the tobacco industry are being considered for the energy industry, meaning disagreement may result in civil action and/or public refutation could result in federal fraud charges.

A recent NY Times article reported that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.  This means that "FBI agents don’t need to have any 'national security' related reason to plug your name, email address, phone number, or other 'selector' into the NSA’s gargantuan data trove.... And if they find something that suggests, say, involvement in illegal drug activity, they can send that information to local or state police."

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is being ignored at a record rate, bordering on a display of complete contempt for the process and the American public.  There are currently 200,000 unanswered requests, and recent incidents include a more than seven year wait for documents regarding TSA misconduct, and Navy officials actively strategizing about how to thwart the request (this came to light only after personnel mistakenly forwarded its internal email traffic to the reporter).