MoJo Author Feeds: Gavin Aronsen | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/authors/91446 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Immigration Reform: Dead or Alive? http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/immigration-reform-recess-debt-ceiling-boehner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>When Congress reconvenes in September, the immigration debate will pick up where it left off&mdash;that is, at a complete impasse. There is still broad, bipartisan support for comprehensive reform, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to allow the bill passed by the Senate earlier this summer to come up for debate; instead, members of his caucus are pursuing piecemeal legislation that focuses primarily on border security. Meanwhile, the clock is running out. With a debt ceiling showdown looming this fall and the midterm elections fast approaching after that, it's unclear whether the congressional calendar will allow enough time for any immigration legislation to advance before the current session of Congress expires.</p> <p>Immigration reform advocates are publicly optimistic, but there's plenty of cynicism among political observers. Last week, <em>Talking Points Memo</em> editor Josh Marshall <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/08/reformers_in_denial.php" target="_blank">declared reform dead</a> and its proponents in denial that House Republicans will change their tune. Reformers should "forget the heroic measures to revive it," he argued, and "get about telling the public who killed it and holding them accountable for their actions" in the midterm elections.</p> <p>Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has repeatedly said nothing will happen unless Boehner allows a vote on a broad path to citizenship for most of the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. Reform advocates are looking to October, when the bipartisan Gang of Seven plans to unveil its long-delayed comprehensive reform bill in House. The introduction of the bill will force House members to go on the record supporting or opposing the comprehensive, Senate-style reform bill and may eventually lead Boehner to bow to pressure on a path to citizenship.</p> <p>"There's this sort of beltway conventional wisdom that we're dead, but we're optimistic," says Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, who responded to Marshall's cynical take <a href="http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/an-open-letter-to-josh-marshall-and-other-immigration-reform-pessimists/" target="_blank">with an open letter</a> touting the resolve of the immigration reform movement. "The Republicans have to do something or risk going out of business as a viable national party."</p> <p>Daniel Garza, a former Bush White House official who heads the Libre Initiative, an immigration reform group that approaches the topic from free-market perspective, doesn't see a path to citizenship as an all-or-nothing proposition. "At minimum, what we want is legality," he says. As a possible compromise with Democrats, <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/07/11/rep-sanchez-democrats-may-compromise-on-path-to-citizenship/" target="_blank">some House Republicans have suggested</a> a path to legalization that would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, but would not lead to citizenship. "We feel that at minimum, that provides certainty to the folks who are coming here unauthorized that they won't be deported tomorrow, and we think that is significant enough to get behind what they're going to be proposing in the House."</p> <p>"Republicans are for immigration reform, they're just not for what the Democrats are proposing," says Garza, who believes a path to citizenship will be limited to the something like the <a href="http://nbclatino.com/2013/07/29/opinion-proposed-kids-act-undermines-dreamers-and-real-reform/" target="_blank">KIDS Act</a>, which would only affect individuals brought to the country illegally when they were children. "Democrats have defined immigration reform as a path to citizenship," he adds, but while "publicly they won't tell you they would settle for legalization, I think secretly they would."</p> <p>Sharry dismisses that as "wishful thinking," arguing that giving undocumented immigrants the ability to become permanent residents but not citizens would relegate them to a "permanent underclass." This is a proposition, he says, Democrats will reject out of hand.</p> <p>Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, is more cautious. "I think it's a big assumption on both sides to say that under no circumstances would Democrats support, in the 11th hour, a program that didn't include a direct path to citizenship," she says. "But it's also hard to imagine there would be much of a political win for Republicans if they're supporting a second-class citizenship."</p> <p>For now, it's a waiting game. "Republicans are going to have to make some really tough decisions, but ultimately they realize the demographic cliff they're falling off of is only getting higher and their fall is only getter harder," Kelley says.</p> </body></html> MoJo Congress Immigration Fri, 30 Aug 2013 18:37:58 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 232986 at http://www.motherjones.com Coroner's Report Rules Michael Hastings' Death an Accident http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/michael-hastings-coroner-report-conspiracy-theory-debunked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The Los Angeles County coroner's department concluded its investigation of the fatal Hollywood car crash of investigative journalist Michael Hastings on Tuesday, ruling his death an accident. The report should lay to rest any doubts about Hastings' death, though it likely won't satisfy conspiracy theorists like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/michael-hastings-conspiracy-theories-kim-dvorak" target="_blank">San Diego "investigative journalist" Kimberly Dvorak</a> and <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2013/08/20/mother-jones-upset-reporter-covering-mic" target="_blank">others</a> who have suggested that the journalist may have been assassinated or faked his death.</p> <p>The report ruled the cause of Hastings' death to be "massive blunt force trauma consistent with a high speed front-end impact to the sole of the right foot and to the front of the torso" after he lost control of his Mercedes. According to interviews conducted by the coroner's department, family members had been attempting to get Hastings to enter detox after he began using drugs including DMT in the month prior to the accident. Traces of THC and amphetamines were found in Hastings' blood, but are not believed to have been a factor in his death.</p> <p>The coroner's department investigation found no history of suicidal behavior, but the report does mention reckless behavior in Hastings' past, including a "traffic collision in which decedent collided into a pole several years ago, believed as under the influence at the time, with report decedent had been misusing Ritalin at about this time." One person told investigators that Hastings "believed he was 'invincible,' believing he could jump from a balcony and would be okay."</p> <p>You can read the full report by clicking on the document below (h/t <a href="https://twitter.com/JasonLeopold/status/369893804867739648" target="_blank">@JasonLeopold</a>).</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-116068">&nbsp;</div> <script src="http://s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/760556/annotations/116068.js'); </script> </body></html> MoJo Media Tue, 20 Aug 2013 20:36:54 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 232341 at http://www.motherjones.com Ken Cuccinelli Scrubs His Immigration Hardliner Past http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/ken-cuccinelli-immigration-virginia-governor-mcauliffe <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>As a member of the Virginia Senate, GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli used his email newsletter to tout his role in founding State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a group dedicated to cutting off economic, education, and employment opportunities to undocumented immigrants. Cuccinelli, who is now the state's attorney general, has <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/cuccinelli-immigration-stand-varies-with-venue-94704.html" target="_blank">softened his views</a> in recent months to appeal to a broader audience as he runs for governor. But as a potential swing-state governor, his past statements clash with the Republican National Committee's post-election autopsy <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/343492/rnc-s-immigration-advice-michael-barone" target="_blank">stressing the importance</a> of immigration reform for the future of the party.</p> <p>SLLI was launched in 2007 by Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican. The group aligned itself with anti-immigration hardliners in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/john-tanton-anti-immigration-laws" target="_blank">an effort to convince the Supreme Court</a> to use the 14th Amendment to end birthright citizenship&mdash;a position Cuccinelli endorsed in a Senate resolution urging Congress to take action against what he called "anchor babies." According to <a href="http://www.statelegislatorsforlegalimmigration.com/MissionStatement.aspx" target="_blank">its mission statement</a>, the group also aims "to provide a network of state legislators who are committed to working together in demanding full cooperation among our federal, state and local governments in eliminating all economic attractions and incentives (including, but not limited to: public benefits, welfare, education and employment opportunities) for illegal aliens, as well as securing our borders against unlawful invasion."</p> <p>In May 2007, Cuccinelli endorsed SLLI in his newsletter,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cuccinelli.com/get-involved/get-the-compass/" target="_blank">the <em>Cuccinelli Compass</em></a>, writing, "I was one of the founding members of State Legislators for Legal Immigration." He spelled out a version of the group's mission statement, expressing the importance of eliminating incentives that "continue to lure illegal aliens across the border," and wrote that he supported sending "illegal aliens back to their home country." He also wrote, "You can count on me to remain vigilant on this issue!" Cuccinelli sent out the newsletter days after <a href="http://www.statelegislatorsforlegalimmigration.com/NewsItemPrint.aspx?NewsID=5673" target="_blank">stating in an SLLI press release</a> that "[p]orous borders and lax immigration enforcement have left us vulnerable not only to terrorist attacks but to increasing levels of crime in our communities," specifically those who "traffic their deadly cocktail of drugs and gang violence into Virginia." (Read the full text of the email's immigration section below.)</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2013/08/ken-cuccinelli-immigration-virginia-governor-mcauliffe"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Immigration Top Stories Mon, 19 Aug 2013 18:54:54 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 232051 at http://www.motherjones.com Meet the Journalist Spreading Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/michael-hastings-conspiracy-theories-kim-dvorak <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The Los Angeles Police Department <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-michael-hastings-widow-20130807,0,891165.story" target="_blank">has ruled out foul play</a> in journalist <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/06/rip-journalist-michael-hastings-heres-his-advice-young-journalists" target="_blank">Michael Hastings' fatal car crash</a> two months ago in Hollywood, but several media outlets are continuing to promote conspiracy theories about the circumstances surrounding his death. The theories, which suggest Hastings was assassinated shortly after sending friends a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/22/michael-hastings-email_n_3484118.html" target="_blank">frantic email</a>, have received attention beyond the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Jones" target="_blank">usual fringe suspects</a> partly because of ongoing reporting by <a href="http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak" target="_blank">freelance blogger Kimberly Dvorak</a> for the CW Television Network affiliate San Diego 6.</p> <p>Dvorak, whom the station touts as an "investigative journalist," is a "<a href="http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak" target="_blank">National Homeland Security Correspondent</a>" for <em>Examiner.com</em>, a blog network&nbsp;owned by Republican billionaire Philip Anschutz that has minimal editorial oversight. Since Hastings' death, San Diego 6 has repeatedly given Dvorak airtime to float conspiracy theories&mdash;that the crash was not consistent with a car accident, that Hastings was cremated to cover up foul play, that federal officials may have ordered him killed. None of these theories, which often come from unnamed sources, are backed up by convincing evidence, but reputable media outlets keep falling for Dvorak's reporting anyway.</p> <p>Last month, for example,&nbsp;the <em>Independent</em>, a major British newspaper, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/diary/the-feral-beast-hunting-for-bbc-bias-royal-babies-holy-jokes-and-a-long-green-mystery-8723055.html" target="_blank">picked up</a> Dvorak's <a href="http://www.sandiego6.com/story/hastings-investigation-20130714" target="_blank">report claiming</a> that Hastings' body "was cremated and it wasn't the request of the family&hellip;in fact, the family wanted Michael's body to go home." But on Tuesday, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Baker" target="_blank">veteran journalist Russ Baker</a> dispelled the myth <a href="http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/08/13/exclusive-hastings-unauthorized-cremation-mega-rumor-false-family-says/" target="_blank">on his news site <em>WhoWhatWhy</em></a> by talking to a family member who confirmed that the cremation was done at the family's request.&nbsp;Dvorak later removed the passage saying Hastings' family wanted his body to "go home," but her story still hints at a cover-up, calling the cremation a "macabre twist."</p> <p>Dvorak's other theories are just as questionable. She <a href="http://www.sandiego6.com/story/details-of-reporter-hastings-death-remain-elusive-20130708" target="_blank">claimed on air</a> that the engine of Hastings' Mercedes C250 coupe had been found behind the crash site, which would have been impossible with the forward velocity of an ordinary accident. The engine was <a href="http://metabunk.org/threads/debunked-michael-hastings-crash-engine-found-north-of-crash-going-south.1964/" target="_blank">found in front of</a> the crash site. <a href="http://www.sandiego6.com/story/cia-director-brennan-confirmed-as-reporter-michael-hastings-next-target-20130812" target="_blank">Her suggestion</a> that a grainy video of the crash showed evidence of a "pre-explosion" sabotage has been <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/car-experts-michael-hastings-crash-572699" target="_blank">dismissed by car experts</a>. She <a href="http://www.sandiego6.com/story/details-of-reporter-hastings-death-remain-elusive-20130708" target="_blank">has also reported</a> that the intensity of the resulting fire might suggest the use of thermite accelerants&mdash;<a href="http://amesprogressive.org/2011/12/15/commentary/the-fallon-forums-baffling-promotion-of-911-trutherism/" target="_blank">a popular theory among 9/11 truthers</a> who believe thermite was used to melt the World Trade Center towers' steel columns. She's <a href="http://kimberlydvorak.blogspot.com/2009/12/grand-jury-presentment-case-against.html" target="_blank">written credulously</a> about the theory that President Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States. And Dvorak has repeated <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/michael-hastings-car-hacked_n_3492339.html" target="_blank">speculation</a> by Richard Clarke, the former Bush- and Clinton-era counterterrorism czar, that Hastings' car's computer system may have been remotely hacked&mdash;something that's technically possible but <a href="http://jalopnik.com/why-its-unlikely-someone-killed-michael-hastings-by-ha-584806047" target="_blank">highly unlikely</a>.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/08/michael-hastings-conspiracy-theories-kim-dvorak"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Media Top Stories Fri, 16 Aug 2013 10:00:11 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 232026 at http://www.motherjones.com There Is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/nsa-lavabit-email-obama-spying-constitution <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Since last June, when Edward Snowden tore the veil off the National Security Agency's vast data dragnet, Americans have been flocking to ultrasecure email services in the hopes of keeping the government out of their private business. Use of the most popular email encryption software, PGP, <a href="http://www.dailydot.com/news/pgp-encryption-snowden-prism-nsa/" target="_blank">tripled between June and July</a>, while revenue for the data-encryption company Silent Circle has <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/07/15/corporate-customers-flock-to-anti-snooping-app-silent-circle/" target="_blank">shot up 400 percent</a>.</p> <p>But even these services may not be able to protect your email from government prying. That fact came into stark relief last Thursday, when Lavabit, the secure email service used by Snowden, <a href="http://lavabit.com/">abruptly shut down</a>. Lavabit's 32-year-old founder, Ladar Levison, issued a statement saying he pulled the plug because he didn't want to be "complicit in crimes against the American people." He has since given up using email entirely, and he urges others to consider doing the same. "I would strongly recommend against entrusting your privacy to a company with physical ties to the United States," he told <em>Mother Jones</em>. "I honestly don't think it's possible to provide a secure service in this country."</p> <p>Levison, who is reportedly under federal gag order, declined to elaborate (though he opined, based on his experience, that we're a "whisper's breath away" from becoming a society where all electronic communications are recorded and scrutinized by the government). But according to other industry insiders and cybersecurity experts, there's good reason to be wary of transmitting sensitive information via email&mdash;even if your provider claims to have iron-clad safeguards.</p> <p>Tech giants, such as the Microsoft subsidiary Hotmail, regularly hand over data to the government. In fact, in the last eight months of 2012 (the most recent period for which data is available), Hotmail, Google, Facebook, and Twitter provided law enforcement authorities with information on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/google-microsoft-twitter-facebook-user-data-fisa-charts" target="_blank">more than 64,000 users</a>. And that doesn't include responses to secret national security letters ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, or FISA.</p> <p>Secure emails services, such as Lavabit, are supposed to guard against this kind of snooping (as well as hackers and phishers) by encrypting email messages&mdash;turning them into gibberish that can only be read by people who have a password, or "key." Theoretically, in most cases, the email provider can't even decipher the contents, much less government agencies. But even the most secure email systems don't completely encrypt "metadata," the bits of identifying information that accompany messages, such as the sender's name and IP address; the subject line; and the date and time the message was sent. <a href="http://spar.isi.jhu.edu/~mgreen/" target="_blank">Matthew Green</a>, an encryption expert at Johns Hopkins University, says the government can tell a lot about a person from these details. "If you can map out who someone has talked to, that's almost as useful as knowing what they were talking about," he explained, "especially if you're trying to map out a criminal conspiracy or find out who leaked information from reporters."</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/08/nsa-lavabit-email-obama-spying-constitution"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Civil Liberties Courts Tech Top Stories Wed, 14 Aug 2013 20:48:19 +0000 Mariah Blake, Gavin Aronsen, and Dana Liebelson 231751 at http://www.motherjones.com NRA to Supreme Court: Give Handguns to 18-Year-Olds http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/nra-handgun-control-atf-supreme-court <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Last week, the National Rifle Association <a href="http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/NRA-petition-13-137.pdf" target="_blank">filed a petition with the Supreme Court</a> (PDF) asking it to strike down a ban on the sale of handguns to people who are at least 18 and younger than 21. The NRA, which sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2010 over the age restriction, argues that it denies young adults their Second Amendment right to self-defense by suggesting without sufficient evidence that they are too irresponsible to own handguns.</p> <p>The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/10/25/fifth-circuit-upholds-ban-on-gun-sales-to-people-under-21/" target="_blank">ruled last year</a> that the restriction was "consistent with a longstanding tradition of targeting select groups' ability to access and to use arms for the sake of public safety." It also acknowledged that Congress found people below the age of 21 to be "<a href="http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C11/11-10959-CV0.wpd.pdf" target="_blank">relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime</a>" (PDF). The Supreme Court has never considered the restriction since it became law as part of the Gun Control Act on 1968.</p> <p>The NRA's petition, filed with two 19-year-olds, questions whether "a nationwide, class-based, categorical ban on meaningful access to the quintessential means to exercise the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense can be reconciled with the Second Amendment, the equal protection guarantee, and this Court's precedents." The petition argues that the appeals court's ruling contradicts the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in <em>DC v. Heller </em>that affirms the right to own a handgun for self-defense, and the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in <em>McDonald v. Chicago </em>that applies the <em>Heller</em> decision to every state.</p> <p>Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor who studies Second Amendment cases, predicts that the Supreme Court&mdash;if it even decides to hear the case&mdash;will uphold the restriction because of its tendency to be deferential to state and federal lawmakers on gun control. The court hasn't reviewed a gun control case since 2010 and <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/07/new-plea-for-gun-rights/" target="_blank">has turned down at least six</a> since 2008. But if the court decides to review the case, the decision may be close because the NRA has a relatively strong argument, Winkler says.</p> <p>"There's something compelling about the argument that 18- to 21-year-olds who are able to bear arms in defense of the nation should be able to bear arms in defense of themselves," Winkler says. "I think, symbolically, there's a strong case to be made."</p> <p>On the other hand, the defense would have a variety of arguments for the law's public safety merits. Risky behavior, which <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396566/" target="_blank">teenagers engage in more than</a> older people, leads to increased gun accidents and violence. Greater access to guns would <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/03/suicides-vs-handgun-background-checks" target="_blank">likely increase suicide rates</a> among at-risk youth, and people between the ages of 18 and 24 <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-crime/" target="_blank">are responsible for more gun homicides</a> than any other age group.</p> <p>One complicating factor that may improve the NRA's case is that the so-called gun-show loophole that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/senate-rejects-gun-background-check-compromise" target="_blank">Congress failed to close</a> earlier this year <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/18_year_olds_can_buy_handguns/" target="_blank">already allows people between the ages of 18 and 21 to buy handguns</a>. Federal law prohibits them from buying guns from federally licensed dealers but not from private sellers at gun shows or on the internet. "That strongly undermines the value of the law, and I think helps the NRA," Winkler says. "Their argument's made stronger by the fact that you can't buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer, but you can buy a gun from anyone else."</p> <p>Still, Winkler says, "In general I think the idea of keeping people who are too young to use firearms responsibly from getting their hands on guns is a perfectly legitimate government objective."</p> </body></html> MoJo Courts Guns Top Stories NRA US Supreme Court Tue, 06 Aug 2013 21:10:49 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 231246 at http://www.motherjones.com N.H. City Wants a "Tank" to Use Against Occupiers and Libertarians http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/occupy-free-state-project-dhs-police-concord <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>After the public release of a document in which he suggested that Occupiers and libertarians pose a domestic terror threat to Concord, New Hampshire, the city's police chief has backed away from the claim.</p> <p>In an application to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeking more than $250,000 to purchase an armored police vehicle, the capital city of New Hampshire specified the local branch of the Occupy movement and the Free State Project, an effort to recruit "<a href="http://freestateproject.org/about" target="_blank">liberty-loving people</a>" to relocate to the Granite State, as potential sources of terrorist action.</p> <p>"The State of New Hampshire's experience with terrorism slants primarily towards the domestic type," the filing reads. "We are fortunate that our State has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges."</p> <div class="sidebar-small-right"> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/new-hampshire-libertarian-movement" target="_blank">Read our story about New Hampshire's libertarian utopians</a>.</div> <p>The <a href="http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2013/08/05/10996541/Concord%20BearCat%20Application.pdf" target="_blank">application</a> was obtained by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union (NHCLU) through a public records request, and is one of <a href="http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130728/NEWS07/130729284" target="_blank">more than 250 filed</a> by the American Civil Liberties Union <a href="http://www.aclu.org/militarization" target="_blank">to track</a> what it sees as the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/how-to-fund-american-police-state-homeland-security" target="_blank">increasing militarization of police departments</a> throughout the country.</p> <p>While the sovereign citizens movement has a <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/sovereign-citizens-movement" target="_blank">history of racism and violence</a>, Police Chief John Duval now says that he doesn't actually believe the Free State Project or Occupy New Hampshire are domestic terror threats. "I wish I would have worded things different in retrospect," he says. "I understand why their eyebrows are raised about that." He chalks up the wording to the limitations of writing a detailed proposal in only three pages and says it was meant to refer to the "unpredictable nature of unpredictable people who attach themselves to otherwise lawful situations."</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/08/occupy-free-state-project-dhs-police-concord"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Top Stories OWS Tue, 06 Aug 2013 10:00:07 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 231146 at http://www.motherjones.com Federal Gun Agency Gets Its First Permanent Director in Seven Years http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/07/nra-atf-gun-control-senate-heitkamp <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/obama-administration-gun-control-congress-executive-order-regulation" target="_blank">Todd Jones</a> to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the agency tasked with enforcing federal gun laws. Jones, an attorney and former Marine, has served as the acting head of the agency since 2011. He becomes its first permanent director since 2006, the year that the <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/01/12/138512/no-atf-director/" target="_blank">National Rifle Association successfully lobbied Congress to require</a> that ATF directors be confirmed by the Senate.</p> <p>When President Obama nominated Jones to head the ATF <a href="http://www.startribune.com/local/187204251.html" target="_blank">in January</a>, politicos expected a gun-lobby showdown. But although the NRA has opposed all ATF nominations since the 2006 rule change and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/atf-obama-gun-reform-control-alcohol-tobacco-firearms" target="_blank">for decades has prevented</a> the agency from fully enforcing gun laws, it <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2013/07/30/acting-atf-director-todd-jones-appears-headed-for-confirmation/" target="_blank">unexpectedly announced on Tuesday</a> that it would not take a position on Todd's confirmation vote. The Newtown, Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association that represents gun manufacturers, <a href="http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/07/gun-manufacturer-group-to-back-obamas-atf-choice-169537.html" target="_blank">announced its support for Jones</a> the same day.</p> <p>New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/31/maig-atf-jones-idUSnPNDC56948+1e0+PRN20130731" target="_blank">hailed the vote</a> as a "critical step in the fight to reduce gun crime." Boston Mayor Tom Menino, the group's other co-chair, said, "After seven years without a permanent director at the helm, ATF will finally have the strong leadership it needs to stem the flow of illegal guns onto our streets and help keep our communities safe."</p> <p>With the vote stalled at 59-40 through Wednesday afternoon, senators waited for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to arrive at the Capitol en route from her home state to cast the deciding vote needed to overcome a filibuster. Heitkamp, whose return to Washington was <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/heidi-heitkamp-senate-atf-vote-94994.html" target="_blank">delayed because of an illness</a>, was one of only <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/democrats-no-senate-gun-background-checks-nra" target="_blank">four Democrats to vote against</a> the Senate's failed gun reform legislation in April. All four voted to break the filibuster against Jones, as did six Republicans: Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).</p> <p>I emailed Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University, to ask how common it is for senators to fly into Washington to cast a deciding vote:</p> <blockquote> <p>It's not very common (at all), but neither is it unprecedented. The example that comes to mind is a (roughly) similar situation <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/13/brown.stimulus.vote.flight/" target="_blank">when the 2009 stimulus vote was held open</a> to give Sherrod Brown time to get back to Washington amidst funeral services for his mother in Ohio.</p> <p>But other than that recent example, nothing else expressly similar comes to mind. There are older stories of the House GOP leadership holding open the vote on Medicare expansion in 2003 for several hours, and a House Dem open vote some years earlier (involving Rep. Jim Chapman and Speaker Wright). Both of those episodes entailed holding open a vote for the winning side to squeak by (if I'm recalling correctly!).</p> </blockquote> </body></html> MoJo Congress Guns Thu, 01 Aug 2013 00:13:20 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 230756 at http://www.motherjones.com Will the House Immigration Bill Scale Back on Border Militarization? http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/07/house-immigration-reform-hinojosa-orourke-migrants <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Immigration reform advocates representing border communities continued to press for a more humane approach to security measures on Wednesday outside the US Capitol. Texas Democratic Reps. Ruben Hinojosa and Beto O'Rourke, who both represent border districts, joined them to tout Rep. Mike McCaul's (R-Texas) bipartisan <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1417" target="_blank">Border Security Results Act</a> as an alternative to the Senate immigration bill's $40 billion Corker-Hoeven compromise, which O'Rourke denounced as a "bonanza" <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/immigration-reform-border-security-contractors" target="_blank">for defense contractors</a>. McCaul's bill emphasizes the more efficient use of existing resources, but it is just one of several enforcement bills advanced by House Republicans.</p> <p>Hinojosa and O'Rourke spoke alongside human rights advocates, a sheriff's chief deputy, and families of relatives who have gone missing along the US-Mexico border. Christine Kovic, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, distributed a <a href="http://www.texascivilrightsproject.org/5208/migrant-deaths-at-the-south-texas-border-tcrp-human-rights-report-summer-2013/" target="_blank">report she authored</a> that explained how, even with border crossings at a 40-year low, deaths are on the rise as increasingly tough enforcement policies force immigrants to cross in more isolated areas. Meanwhile, record deportations continue to separate undocumented parents from their children who have legal status.</p> <p>O'Rourke agreed. "We will definitely see more death and suffering if we pass immigration reform with something like Corker-Hoeven," he said. "I'm here to tell you that I support immigration reform, but we have to do it in a reasonable, moral, humane, and fiscally responsible manner. This is one area where I think the House is going to get this one right." El Paso, where O'Rourke is from, reinforces his views well: Last year, it boasted the <a href="http://www.kvia.com/news/El-Paso-Ranks-Safest-City-In-US/-/391068/543218/-/g7i086z/-/index.html" target="_blank">lowest crime rate in the country among large cities</a> despite its close proximity to Juarez, Mexico, a town plagued by drug cartel violence.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2013/07/house-immigration-reform-hinojosa-orourke-migrants"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Congress Immigration Thu, 25 Jul 2013 18:08:25 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 230106 at http://www.motherjones.com Democratic Super-PAC Turns Up the Heat on Immigration Reform http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/07/democratic-super-pac-turns-heat-immigration-reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/W2uMUvoyTEE" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>There's no endgame yet for comprehensive immigration reform, but the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/07/immigration-reform-congress-ad-wars" target="_blank">lopsided reform ad wars</a>, which are largely focused now on targeting House Republicans in Latino-heavy districts with Spanish-language TV and radio ads, may become central to securing a path to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. The House Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, continued the ad wars on Thursday with a two-week, $175,000 ad buy targeting three lawmakers who have already faced considerable pressure from pro-reform groups. The Spanish-language TV ads take aim at...</p> <p><strong>Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.)</strong><strong>: </strong>In 2009, Coffman took over the Colorado district formerly represented by Rep. Tom Tancredo, an anti-immigrant hardliner who once called the National Council of La Raza, a pro-reform group, a "<a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0509/Tancredo_La_Raza_is_Latino_KKK.html" target="_blank">Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses</a>." Coffman has <a href="http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/hypocrisy-alert-nrcc-attacking-colorado-democrat-for-being-too-strict-on-immigration/" target="_blank">his own history</a> that includes warning that President Obama would <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/09/meme-busting-obama-secret-plan-win-2012-election" target="_blank">try to steal the 2012 election</a> by giving amnesty to undocumented immigrants and supporting Arizona's Draconian immigration laws that the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/scotus-illegal-immigration-decision-arizona" target="_blank">Supreme Court partially struck down</a> last year. But after a 2011 redistricting, Coffman's Latino constituency doubled, and this February he <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/02/mike-coffman-colorado-path-to-citizenship" target="_blank">said he supported legal status</a> for undocumented immigrants and a path to citizenship for those brought into the country as minors.</p> <p><strong>Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.): </strong>Heck is one of just 15 House Republicans representing a district won by Obama in 2012. His district includes sizable Latino and Asian-American populations that have hammered him on immigration reform, but Heck also faces heavy pressure from the local Republicans opposed to reform who voted him into office. He's tried to appease both groups, expressing openness to a path to citizenship while voting last month for Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) amendment to deport undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children (Coffman also voted in favor). Recently, Heck's kept a low profile&mdash;the <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/it-s-hell-to-be-joe-heck-20130627" target="_blank"><em>National Journal</em> explained</a> how he uses his Army training to navigate the Capitol's basement tunnels without being detected by reformers.</p> <p><strong>Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.): </strong>Miller represents a district that houses the Inland Empire, a metropolitan area east of Los Angeles that's more than 40 percent Latino. During his eight terms in the House, <a href="http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/07/16/19506791-the-evolving-rep-gary-miller" target="_blank">he's suggested</a> deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, whom he's frequently referred to as "illegals," and opposed birthright citizenship. Like Coffman, Miller was recently redistricted and now represents many more immigrants, and there are signs he may also be softening his views. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/immigration-hardliner-in-congress-quietly-pulls-youtube-vide" target="_blank">He recently purged</a> several anti-immigration videos from his YouTube page, and his office is hedging on where he stands on reform. But Miller, too, voted for King's deportation amendment last month.</p> <p>"House Republicans are working on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fix what has long been a broken system, and these three members in particular are working hard in their districts to listen to the voices of their constituents, especially within the Hispanic community," Daniel Scarpinato, a National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/gary-miller-mike-coffman-joe-heck-immigration-94400.html" target="_blank">told <em>Politico</em></a> in response to the ads. "Unfortunately, Democrats ignored the immigration issue when they controlled the House, and Republicans are cleaning up their mess." Many Republican operatives see immigration reform as vital to the continued relevance of their party, but top Democrats&mdash;<a href="http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/16/19507623-obama-immigration-bill-without-citizenship-path-not-who-we-are-as-americans?lite" target="_blank">including President Obama</a>&mdash;have made clear that anything less than a bill with a path to citizenship, which House GOP leadership has yet to embrace, is a non-starter.</p> </body></html> MoJo Congress Immigration Thu, 18 Jul 2013 17:47:23 +0000 Gavin Aronsen 229641 at http://www.motherjones.com