Manning Shafted By CFAA; Newspaper Slams Obama Ahead Of Visit; Limbaugh Criticizes RINOs; Detroit Cops Almost Shot Trying To Scare Public; Cops Investigate Cows Mutilated By… Aliens— Personal Liberty Digest ™ P.M. Edition 7-31-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Bradley Manning Faced Harsher Prosecution Merely Because His Leaks Involved a Computer

The Judiciary Committee basically copy-pasted the Espionage Act into the CFAA, but forbid “use of the computer” rather than accessing the documents. They specifically wanted to make the isolated act of using a computer a separate crime. Read More… 

Chattonooga Newspaper Editorial Snatches The Welcome Mat Out From Under Obama Jobs Visit

“Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough. That was the headline that ran above a scathing editorial in Tuesday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press greeting President Barack Obama. Read More… 

Rush Limbaugh Rips GOP Leaders For ‘Capitulating’ To Obama, Democrats

The Republican Party is shifting from its conservative base and ceding its position to President Obama on key issues, conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh says. Read More… 

Detroit Police Pretending To Be Robbers, For Experiment, Nearly Shot By Undercover FBI

On June 6, Fox 2 News reported that an FBI agent almost shot a Detroit cop at a gas station while filling up. The situation occurred after officers decided it would be a good idea to simulate a purse snatching and invite a TV crew to film Detroiters’ reactions. Watch… 

Aliens? Cops Don’t Know – Cows Carry Secret To The Grave

Authorities aren’t ruling out aliens in the mutilation of several cows in the rural Missouri countryside. Read More… 

Aliens? Cops Don’t Know – Cows Carry Secret To The Grave

Authorities aren’t ruling out aliens in the mutilation of several cows in the rural Missouri countryside.

The attacks, which have killed cows – all female – dating back to late 2011, all bear the same forensic markers: their reproductive organs are removed; their tongues cut out; their ears severed.

It wasn’t until the third and most recent attack that a veterinarian was called to the scene to examine the bovine victim. When he did, he judged the surgical precision of the attacks too sophisticated for typical cattle-killing culprits like coyotes or violent, maladjusted “pranksters.”

Robert Hills, the Sheriff of Henry County, apparently agreed, telling a local TV station the lack of evident trauma and absence of blood and bodily fluids at the scene had opened his mind to all possibilities.

Property owner Lyn Mitchell was more assertive, telling the Mutual UFO Network (yes, there really is such a thing) she wasn’t ruling out the possibility of aliens.

Watch the video, then get back to normal life.


Detroit Police Pretending To Be Robbers, For Experiment, Nearly Shot By Undercover FBI

Add this to the list of reasons Detroit is in shambles.

On June 6, Fox 2 News reported that an FBI agent almost shot a Detroit cop at a gas station while filling up. The situation occurred after officers decided it would be a good idea to simulate a purse snatching and invite a TV crew to film Detroiters’ reactions.

But, believe me when I say this, Fox 2’s Charlie LeDuff tells the story better than I can write it:

Two takeaways: 1) Good thing there were no concealed carriers around. And 2) Why the hell doesn’t every cable news station have a few reporters like LeDuff on staff?

Bradley Manning Faced Harsher Prosecution Merely Because His Leaks Involved a Computer

This post, written by surveillance, free speech, and government transparency expert Trevor Timm, was originally published on July 31, 2013 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

We wrote yesterday about the dangerous “hacker madness” strategy used by the prosecution in the Bradley Manning trial, a tried-and-true tactic that attempts to scare judges into sustaining convictions based on a defendant’s knowledge of computers. However, another interesting fact of the Manning trial is being overlooked by the media: this is the first time we know of where the government has sustained a conviction under a controversial section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) known as (a)(1).

Manning’s conviction under this provision looks to be yet another example of prosecutors leveraging the CFAA to force more prison time on computer users while using other, almost identical laws to punish the same acts.

Though his ultimate sentence may be significantly shorter, Manning faces a maximum of 136 years in jail for the nineteen counts on which he would found guilty. Most significantly, he was found guilty of six counts under the Espionage Act and two counts under the CFAA. But when you read both of the statutes closely, they are completely redundant except for one aspect: computers.

In fact, as the Judiciary Committee Report on the 1996 amendment to the CFAA makes clear, Congress explicitly based (a)(1) of the CFAA off 793(e) of the Espionage Act. “The bill would bring the protection for classified national defense or foreign relations information maintained on computers in line with our other espionage laws,” the report says. The original CFAA, written in 1984 was modeled on another part of the Espionage Act, section 794, which has never been used in leak cases. But Congress wanted it tailored after 793(e), a statute that in recent years has been used to prosecute a record number of leakers. (Compare the text here and here.)

The statutes are so similar, in fact, it’s hard to tell them apart even when reading the Judiciary Committee’s explanation about how they differ:

Although there is considerable overlap between 18 U.S.C. 793(e) and section 1030(a)(1), as amended by the NII Protection Act, the two statutes would not reach exactly the same conduct. Section 1030(a)(1) would target those persons who deliberately break into a computer to obtain properly classified Government secrets then try to peddle those secrets to others, including foreign governments. In other words, unlike existing espionage laws prohibiting the theft and peddling of Government secrets to foreign agents, section 1030(a)(1) would require proof that the individual knowingly used a computer without authority, or in excess of authority, for the purpose of obtaining classified information. In this sense then, it is the use of the computer which is being proscribed, not the unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over the classified information itself.

Did you get all that? The Judiciary Committee basically copy-pasted the Espionage Act into the CFAA, but forbid “use of the computer” rather than accessing the documents. So there you have it: they specifically wanted to make the isolated act of using a computer a separate crime.

In the government’s mind, the Espionage Act can be used to punish a leaker of information, and if that person merely used a computer to get that information, they are guilty of an additional felony. So someone who emails documents to a journalists it got off a government computer will face ten more years per charge, than a government official who photocopied documents he got off a shelf and physically mailed them to the same journalist.

Of course, leaks to the press should never be equated with espionage, regardless of what statute is used. But this is yet another example of the government using knowledge of computers to unjustly ratchet up penalties on a crime that caused little or no harm.

Spell Of Warm Weather Brings Blooms Of Jellyfish To British Waters

LONDON (UPI) — Britain’s coastal areas have seen a rapid rise in jellyfish blooms in an ongoing spell of warm weather, a conservation group says.

After a long, cold spring that saw very few reports of jellyfish before June, several species are now being seen in rapidly growing numbers, the Marine Conservation Society reported as part of its national jellyfish survey.

One species, the Lion’s Mane, is capable of inflicting a powerful sting and scientists are warning people not to touch them.

“They’re our biggest jellyfish, they grow to about two meters (6 feet) wide and have meters of trailing tentacles, and they have very powerful stings,” said Peter Richardson, the society’s biodiversity program manager.

The society has been releasing a jellyfish survey annually for 10 years based on reports from members of the public.

“We ask people to report what they see online and send us photos,” Richardson told the BBC.

“But always look and don’t touch, as [jellyfish] can sting and that could really spoil your day,” he said.

Theories Contradict On Animal Reasons For Monogamy

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. scientists have published competing theories for why some animals are monogamous and some are not: convenience or protecting offspring.

The answers to one of nature’s most vexing questions is a difficult one since scientists can’t see hard evidence of when and how certain species developed monogamous behaviors. That leaves them to study current mating and rearing habits and use mathematical equations to extrapolate how and when they began.

The two studies, one published in the journal Science and the other in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer differing hypotheses.

In Science, researchers suggest monogamy was an offshoot born of convenience for males mating with multiple females who lived great distances from one another. In the NAS study, scientists suggest males took a single female as a means to protect their offspring from competing males that might see it as a hurdle to mating with the female and try to kill the young animals, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

A third leading theory is that males mated exclusively with one female to prevent infanticide.

Birds are the animals most likely to live in monogamous relationships. Only 9 percent of mammals are monogamous. Among primates, the group that includes humans, 29 percent of species are monogamous.

Ancient ‘Halls Of The Dead’ Uncovered In British Countryside

PETERCHURCH, England (UPI) — British archaeologists say they’ve unearthed two 6,000-year-old Neolithic “halls of the dead” in the Herefordshire countryside.

Researchers from the University of Manchester and Herefordshire Council made the find on Dorstone Hill, near Peterchurch, where the remains of the halls were found within prehistoric burial mounds, a university release reported Tuesday.

The timber buildings may have been “halls of the dead” similar to others from the Neolithic period found in Europe, where bodies would have been placed before being moved to nearby chambered tombs, the archaeologists said.

The buildings, probably used by entire communities, were deliberately burnt down after they were constructed and their remains incorporated into the two burial mounds, they said.

The researchers said they’ve uncovered structural timbers in carbonized form, post holes showing the positions of uprights, and the burnt remains of stakes forming internal partitions.

“The mound tells us quite a bit about the people who built it: they sought to memorialize the idea of their community represented by the dwelling,” Manchester archaeology Professor Julian Thomas said.

“And by turning it into part of the landscape, it becomes a permanent reminder for generations to come.”

“Just think of how the burning of the hall could have been seen for miles around, in the large expanse of what is now the border country between England and Wales,” he said.

Archaeologists have long speculated a close relationship existed between houses and tombs in Neolithic Europe, and that “houses of the dead” amounted to symbolic representations of the “houses of the living.”

“This find is of huge significance to our understanding of prehistoric life — so we’re absolutely delighted,” Thomas said.

Scientists Probe Innards Of Distant Star To Learn About Its Planet

NEW YORK (UPI) — An international team of scientists says a new way to measure the internal properties of stars can offer a more accurate assessment of their orbiting planets.

Previously, scientists inferred stars’ properties such as radius, mass and age through observations of their brightness and color, but the results were often not accurate enough to make assumptions about their orbiting planets, they said.

Now, a U.S.-German team of scientists, reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has described a new approach to characterize star-planet systems: asteroseismology.

The technique identifies the internal properties of stars by measuring their surface oscillations, comparable to the way seismologists use earthquake oscillations to examine the Earth’s interior.

The researchers, from New York University, Princeton University and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, used asteroseismology to examine HD 52265, a star approximately 92 light years away and nearly 20 percent more massive than our Sun known to have an exoplanet in orbit around it.

They were able to make several assessments of the star’s traits, including its mass, radius, age and — for the first time — its internal rotation.

They were able then to use these findings to make a more definitive assessment of its orbiting exoplanet, including its true mass of roughly twice that of our solar system’s planet Jupiter.

Study Suggests Costa Rica Volcano Powered By ‘Highway From Hell’

NEW YORK (UPI) — A Costa Rica volcano may have been fast-tracked for eruption triggered by magma rising over a few short months rather than thousands of years, researchers say.

A study by scientists at Columbia University is the latest to suggest deep, hot magma can set off an eruption fairly quickly, a university release said Wednesday.

That finding, from a study of Costa Rica’s Irazu volcano, could potentially provide another tool for detecting an oncoming volcanic disaster, the researchers said.

“If we had had seismic instruments in the area at the time we could have seen these deep magmas coming,” said study lead author Philipp Ruprecht, a vulcanologist at the university’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “We could have had an early warning of months, instead of days or weeks.”

The 10,000-foot Irazu volcano erupts about every 20 years or less.

While most vulcanologists have long assumed mantle magma feeding eruptions rises and lingers for long periods of time in a mixing chamber several miles below a volcano, a study of Irazu’s eruption history suggests some magma may travel directly from the upper mantle, covering more than 20 miles in a few months, the Columbia researchers said.

“There has to be a conduit from the mantle to the magma chamber,”study co-author Terry Plank, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty, said. “We like to call it the highway from hell.”

Chemical studies of ashes from Irazu eruptions showed the erupted magma was so fresh it had to have come directly from the mantle without a long period of collecting in chambers below the volcano.

“The study provides one more piece of evidence that it’s possible to get magma from the mantle to the surface in very short order,” said John Pallister, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program in Vancouver, Wash. “It tells us there’s a potentially shorter time span we need to worry about.”

Kids Should Always Wear Life Jackets On Boats

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (UPI) — Children should always wear life jackets when on boats or near bodies of water and never swim alone, U.S. pediatricians advise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to make sure the life jacket is the right size for the child and that the jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.

“Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices,” the AAP said. “Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.”

Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications.

In addition, the AAP also advised people should never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies, the AAP said.

A lifeguard, or another adult who knows about water rescue, needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. However, younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water. Use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away, the AAP said.

“Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects,” the AAP said.

“Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water. Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.”