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Friday, September 03, 2010

News from the USA and Pakistan

== Warrantless GPS tracking ==

US courtcase:  police is allowed to
fix a GPS device on your car,
because it is the same
as if they would look where you are driving

Also, the Police can come on your property
to install the device, unless you have a
fence.  (see below for the full story)

== US airbase in Pakistan saved from flood ==

A US airbase in Pakistan ...
"The military" blew up a dam to divert waters away,
thereby flooding 900.000 people's homes. read below

== and now the GOOD NEWS ==

Domestic workers (nannies etc) in NEW YORK (only)
are now entitled to OVERTIME PAY and THREE DAYS
off (paid) per year! 

HUGE PROGRESS!!   3 days paid holidays !!  WOW !!!
(only having worked for a full year)

but only in New York.  There are no such laws
anywhere else in the USA.  A
rnold Schwarzenegger has recently
vetoed such a law in California.

Oh, and The legislation excludes casual workers
like occasional house cleaners and baby sitters,
relatives and those working for outside agencies
or providing services through government programs.
latina nanny - domestic workers united union has an interview with the person who
fought for the law for six-and-a-half years, PATRICIA FRANCOIS.

Law enforcement can enter the driveways of people suspected of criminal behavior and attach tracking devices to their cars, all without a warrant, says a panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision runs contrary to other legal opinions that have held the driveways and surrounding areas outside a home as private property and protected under the Fourth Amendment. But the legal rationale employed by the judges indicate that their decision applies only to driveways that are easily accessible—in other words, not to those blocked by a gate or fence, such as those commonly found outside the homes of people who are wealthy.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, a Ronald Reagan appointee, dissented vigorously from the decision, calling it "cultural elitism." "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench," he noted, "but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist. No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges."
In the case in question, police, suspecting Juan Pineda-Moreno to be a marijuana dealer, entered his property in the middle of the night and attached a GPS tracking device to the underside of his car, which was parked in his driveway. The court ruled that because a driveway is open to strangers, such as children retrieving a ball that went under a car or pizza delivery men, it is also open game for the police. Kozinski, who grew up in communist Romania, called the actions of the police "creepy and un-American."
According to Kozinski, "The very rich will still be able to protect their privacy with the aid of electric gates, tall fences, security booths, remote cameras, motion sensors and roving patrols, but the vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling. Open driveways, unenclosed porches, basement doors left unlocked, back doors left ajar, yard gates left unlatched, garage doors that don't quite close, ladders propped up under an open window will all be considered invitations for police to sneak in on the theory that a neighborhood child might."

He added, "When you glide your BMW into your underground garage or behind an electric gate, you don't need to worry that somebody might attach a tracking device to it while you sleep. But the Constitution doesn't prefer the rich over the poor; the man who parks his car next to his trailer is entitled to the same privacy and peace of mind as the man whose urban fortress is guarded by the Bel Air Patrol."

Local law enforcement agencies can now legally enter private driveways, install GPS tracking devices onto vehicles there and track the owner without having to get a warrant, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

"We do have access to that equipment and there have been occasions when we've used it," said Capt. Eben Bratcher, Yuma County Sheriff's Office public information officer, adding they only do so where it is allowed by law. "We follow the law in its application in every circumstance."

The Yuma Police Department also has access to the GPS tracking technology.

"We are aware of the technology but have not used them in the past," said Sgt. Clint Norred, YPD public information officer.

The 9th Circuit has jurisdiction over Arizona and several other Western states. The ruling was made in January of this year by Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and N. Randy Smith, 9th Circuit judges, and Charles R. Wolle, senior 9th Circuit judge, after an appeal by Juan Pineda-Moreno, a man convicted of growing marijuana in Oregon who claimed his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by police.

Over a four-month period in 2007, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents repeatedly monitored Pineda-Moreno's Jeep using various types of mobile tracking devices to gather enough information to make an arrest, the court stated.

"Each device was about the size of a bar of soap and had a magnet affixed to its side, allowing it to be attached to the underside of a car. Agents installed these devices on the underside of Pineda-Moreno's Jeep on seven different occasions."

On two of those occasions, the Jeep was parked in Pineda-Moreno's driveway a few feet from the side of his trailer, the court revealed.

The three-judge panel stated since the driveway leading up to the trailer was open and agents did not observe any fence, gate or "No Trespassing" signs indicating that they were not to enter the property, they were legally allowed to come onto the property and place the GPS devices.

According to the court, the agents entered Pineda-Moreno's driveway between 4 and 5 a.m. and attached the tracking devices to the Jeep. Once in place, the tracking devices recorded and logged the precise movements of the vehicle.

The curtilage is the portions of a homeowner's property so closely associated with the home as to be considered part of it, explained Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th Circuit.

This includes the walkway leading from the street to the house, the stairs from the walkway to the porch, the porch, attached garage, the detached shed, the front lawn, the driveway and the backyard (if fenced).

The Jeep was parked in Pineda-Moreno's driveway, which is only a semiprivate area having no features to prevent someone standing in the street from seeing the entire driveway, the panel stated.

Kozinski, who opposes the ruling, was disturbed by that assumption. "The panel holds that Pineda-Moreno was required to separately establish a reasonable expectation of privacy in the curtilage," he wrote. "That ... is like requiring the homeowner to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy in his bedroom."

The panel that made the ruling also believed since Pineda-Moreno allowed the mail carrier and other workers to walk through his driveway, as well as visitors coming to call, that by default meant the agents could do the same.

"If a neighborhood child had walked up Pineda-Moreno's driveway and crawled under his Jeep to retrieve a lost ball or runaway cat, Pineda-Moreno would have no grounds to complain," they stated. "Thus, because Pineda-Moreno did not take steps to exclude passersby from his driveway, he cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy in it, regardless of whether a portion of it was located within the curtilage of his home."

Kozinski disagreed. "The panel's rationale for concluding that Pineda-Moreno had no reasonable expectation of privacy is even more worrisome than its disregard of Supreme Court precedent," he wrote.

"There are many parts of a person's property that are accessible to strangers for limited purposes ... This doesn't mean that we invite neighbors to use the pool, strangers to camp out on the lawn or police to snoop in the garage. The panel authorizes police to do not only what invited strangers could, but also uninvited children — in this case crawl under the car to retrieve a ball and tinker with the undercarriage."

In conclusion, the panel ruled that the agents did not invade his property, they conducted no search and there was no Fourth Amendment violation since Pineda-Moreno could not prove they had entered a private area.

According to Kozinski, now only the very rich will still be able to protect their privacy with the aid of electric gates, tall fences, security booths, remote cameras, motion sensors and roving patrols.

The next step to appeal the 9th Circuit would be the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shahbaz Air Base

in Jacobabad district

The water was increasing in pressure and volume, and it could have been diverted in two directions. One was toward the city where—Jacobabad city, where 900,000 people would have been affected.
On the other side, it could have been diverted, and far less people, less than 100,000, would have been affected, but an air base would certainly have been sacrificed. And the military, in the dead of night, breached the canal so that the water goes towards the 900,000 people, as opposed to the air base. And, you know, it's said that the air base is in the control of US military and that this is where the drones are flown from. And the secretary of—health secretary, in fact, in the Senate committee said that relief efforts cannot take place in Jacobabad, because the US government would not allow flights from Shahbaz Air Base to take off for relief work. And yesterday, there was an air strike by the Pakistan military—pardon me—in the northern area, which killed around forty people. Now, the headlines always say "militants," but we do not know how many were militants and how many were innocent.

I heard it today on democracy now.

TIMES OF INDIA - 19 august 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Shahbaz air force base in southern Sindh province, which is home to the country's newest F-16 jets, is "controlled by the US", a senior official has said, triggering a denial from America which described the remarks as "completely false."

Health secretary Khushnood Lashari made the stunning claim about the Shahbaz airbase in Jacobabad area during an appearance before the Standing Committee on Health of the Senate or upper house of Parliament yesterday.

Lashari said the relief operations in flood-hit areas of Jacobabad could not be conducted from the airbase because of this reason.

"Health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is with the United States," he said answering a question from a member of the committee.

There have been unconfirmed reports in the past that the Shahbaz airbase is used by the US to operate drones which have been targeting militants in Pakistan's restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Senator Semeen Yusuf Siddiqui, a member of the Senate panel, was quoted by the media as saying, "It is very unfortunate that Americans can launch a drone attack from Shahbaz airbase but the government is helpless even in using the country's base for relief operations."

She questioned why the health minister had failed to report the matter to the Pakistan Army.

However, the US embassy denied that Shahbaz airbase was controlled by American authorities.

"These allegations are completely false. Shahbaz airbase in Jacobabad is a Pakistan Air Force base, commanded and operated by PAF forces," the embassy's spokesman said in a statement.

The Shahbaz airbase is home to Pakistan's newest F-16 Block 52 jets that were delivered by the US this summer, the spokesman said.

"PAF personnel maintain high security standards there to ensure that the technologically advanced aircraft can be securely maintained and operated from the base," he said.

On August 18, at the request of the Pakistan government, C-130 aircraft of the US Air Force flew to Shahbaz airbase from the PAF base in Rawalpindi to ferry urgently needed relief supplies for Jacobobad, the spokesman said.

He contended that "misinformation during times of disaster can hurt relief efforts."

The US has emerged as one of the main contributors of funding and relief materials for the millions of victims of the floods across Pakistan in a bid to counter rising anti-American sentiments in the country.

THE NATION (Pakistan 20 August 2010)

Who really controls Shahbaz Air Base?
By: Kaswar Klasra | Published: August 20, 2010

ISLAMABAD – The floods have not only shown the ineptitude of the Pakistan government but also the confusion that prevails within government institutions. On Wednesday the Federal Health Secretary informed a Senate Panel that Jacobabad air base was under the US control so health relief operations could not be provided. On Thursday, the PAF through APP issued a strange press release stating that "certain sections of the print and electronic media have wrongly reported that the PAF Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad) is under the control of the US. This has been spread by uninformed people". So was the PAF referring to Federal Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari as "uninformed? After all, it was he who gave out the information about the Base being under the US control and to a Senate Panel.
While the PAF stated that Shahbaz Base was under complete command and control of the PAF and was being used extensively for providing relief and medical care to the affected people of the area, the US embassy had already issued another interesting response to the Khshnood Lashari's claim. On Thursday, the US press note issued from Embassy of US in Islamabad stated that Shahbaz Air Base in Jacobabad is a Pakistan Air Force Base and is commanded and operated by PAF forces. The base is home to Pakistan's newest F-16 Block 52s, which arrived this summer. PAF personnel maintain high security standards there to ensure that the technologically advanced aircraft can be securely maintained and operated from the base. On August 18, at the request of the Pakistan government, US Air Force C-130 aircraft flew to Shahbaz Air Base from the Pakistan Air Force Base in Rawalpindi bringing urgently needed relief supplies for Jacobabad.

What was left unsaid was that it was the PAF that was denying all manner of access to the airbase because of the presence of US personnel who had come along with the Block 52 F-16s, which were delivered at this base and had US conditionalities including the presence of US personnel to "keep an eye" on how the planes were used by the PAF. While the PAF was responsible for the security of the base, it was the pressure from the US on security grounds, that was preventing access to the base-even of Pakistanis who had been involved in carrying out building work at Shahbaz. So, it appears that both the US and the PAF together are responsible for the relief work hurdles as news from the ground shows that the hurdles are very much there. Hopes are fading away to provide food and clean drinking water to 500,000 to 700,000 people who have been displaced from Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmore Ghouspur and Karumpur (currently campaign in Dera Allah Yar) as Jacobabad was still no-go area for choppers or C-130 due to security concerns to the American personnel deployed at the Jacobabad air base, well-informed sources told TheNation on Thursday. Organisers of national and international NGOs told TheNation on condition of anonymity, when contacted on telephone, that they could not reach Jacobabad to provide food and drinking water to as many as 500,000 to 700,000 flood victims due to strict security conditions adopted for Shahbaz Air Base. Although Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has ordered PAF to form an air bridge of relief supply for Jacobabad which has been cut off from the rest of the country and make operational an airfield near Sibi for immediate supply of relief goods to flood-hit areas in the vicinity, however, Jacobabad is still the only location in Pakistan where rescue choppers of PAF have no access to carry out relief operation.

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