Russian Supreme Court rejects lawsuit demanding Putin be removed from presidential race

The lawsuit requesting Putin be removed from the presidential race was filed in mid-February by presidential candidate, journalist and socialite Ksenia Sobchak, who is running as a candidate for the pro-business party Civil Platform. She describes herself as a “none of the above” candidate for those who wish to register their disapproval against the political situation in Russia.

In a letter to the court, Sobchak explained that Putin’s candidacy should be annulled because he has already repeatedly occupied the post, saying that he was elected president three times and also was acting president in early 2000, before he was first elected.

In addition, Sobchak accused Putin and his longtime ally, Dmitry Medvedev, of alleged “conspiracy to grab the presidential post for their group for a long period of time or indefinitely.” She was referring to the situation of 2008-2012 when Medvedev served as Russian president and Putin chaired the government. In the same letter, Sobchak said that this move was just “castling.”

Currently, the Russian Constitution allows the same person to run for the presidency for an unlimited number of terms on one condition – there can be no more than two consecutive terms. This is why Putin could not run for the presidency in 2008 after winning in 2000 and 2004. In 2012, the condition regarding consecutive terms was not applicable, so Putin ran in the election and won.

On Friday, Judge Nikolai Romanov announced the verdict rejecting Sobchak’s lawsuit. Earlier in the day, prosecutors said that the arguments listed in the lawsuit “were based on an erroneous interpretation of the law.”

Sobchak’s press secretary, Ksenia Chudinova, said in comments with RBC that their team planned to file the lawsuit again, but did not go into details.

The Russian Presidential Election is scheduled for March 18. There are currently eight candidates in the race and public opinion polls predict that Vladimir Putin will win in the first round.

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When It Comes to Voice Identification, the “NSA Reigns Supreme”

When It Comes to Voice Identification, the “NSA Reigns Supreme”

January 23rd, 2018

Via: The Intercept:

These and other classified documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA has developed technology not just to record and transcribe private conversations but to automatically identify the speakers.

Americans most regularly encounter this technology, known as speaker recognition, or speaker identification, when they wake up Amazon’s Alexa or call their bank. But a decade before voice commands like “Hello Siri� and “OK Google� became common household phrases, the NSA was using speaker recognition to monitor terrorists, politicians, drug lords, spies, and even agency employees.

The technology works by analyzing the physical and behavioral features that make each person’s voice distinctive, such as the pitch, shape of the mouth, and length of the larynx. An algorithm then creates a dynamic computer model of the individual’s vocal characteristics. This is what’s popularly referred to as a “voiceprint.� The entire process — capturing a few spoken words, turning those words into a voiceprint, and comparing that representation to other “voiceprints� already stored in the database — can happen almost instantaneously. Although the NSA is known to rely on finger and face prints to identify targets, voiceprints, according to a 2008 agency document, are “where NSA reigns supreme.�

It’s not difficult to see why. By intercepting and recording millions of overseas telephone conversations, video teleconferences, and internet calls — in addition to capturing, with or without warrants, the domestic conversations of Americans — the NSA has built an unrivaled collection of distinct voices. Documents from the Snowden archive reveal that analysts fed some of these recordings to speaker recognition algorithms that could connect individuals to their past utterances, even when they had used unknown phone numbers, secret code words, or multiple languages.




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Ross Ulbricht Takes Fight to Supreme Court to Appeal Life Sentence for Building a Website


By Aaron Kesel  — Imprisoned Silk Road creator, Ross Ulbricht, has one last chance at reducing his sentence with an appeal to the Supreme Court. After that, his options in court for appealing his double-life sentence (for victimless crimes) will be extinguished.

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 for running the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road. Ross admitted in trial that he helped create the site but denies that he was the only “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR) admin of Silk Road. Ross claims he sold the website and stated he was set up as the “ultimate fall guy.”

In fact, Ross Ulbricht’s defense team revealed in 2016, that one month after Ulbricht’s arrest (October 1st) on November 18, 2013, someone logged into “Dread Pirate Roberts” account on the Silk Road forum. The team has also disclosed that “evidence-tampering” may have taken place; these facts were documented in a discovery letter, Bitcoin Magazine reported.

“We have recently learned that someone using the Dread Pirate Roberts account logged into the Silk Road forum nearly seven weeks after Ross was arrested. A record of this was buried deep within the five to six terabytes the government produced in the discovery. The evidence shows that the last login by DPR was made November 18, 2013, four days before the Silk Road forum was taken offline on November 22, 2013. Ross Ulbricht was arrested on Oct. 1, 2013, and has been in custody ever since.”

Lyn says that the recently uncovered evidence is mentioned in the demand for additional discovery that was sent to the AUSA in Maryland:

“There is a record in the database for every account, showing the most recent login. We don’t know when that person or persons originally gained access, or how many times they logged into Silk Road as DPR. We don’t know how many DPRs there were. What we now know from the discovery evidence provided by the government is that the last time someone using the DPR account logged into the Silk Road Forum was November 18, 2013, when Ross Ulbricht had been in prison for nearly seven weeks.”

She continues:

“Joshua Dratel, Ross’ lawyer, said a long time ago that we only know the tip of the iceberg regarding the corruption in this case. This week we have seen another big chunk of ice revealed: evidence tampering and apparently at least one additional DPR. If this backup of the forum database had not been saved or discovered; if logins made by DPR after Ross’ arrest were not found, no one would be the wiser. This begs the question: how much more is there? Unfortunately we may never know, as it’s the nature of digital evidence that it’s easily changed, planted or deleted without a trace. That my son — or anyone — would get a life sentence without parole based on vulnerable digital evidence, especially when it’s been corrupted, puts us all in peril.”

The guy who concocted DPR and mentored Ulbricht, according to Wired, was someone who called himself Variety Jones, and later, Cimon.

A federal judge, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Forrest, sentenced Ross Ulbricht to life in prison without parole in 2015.

It also came out that there was government corruption in the case that the jury was not allowed to know about during the trial. Federal agents Carl Mark Force IV and Shaun Bridges, who were involved in the Silk Road investigation, used their position to steal and extort millions of dollars in Bitcoin for the website and its users. Due to this corruption, Ulbricht’s lawyers subsequently filed for a re-trial motion on March 6th 2015.

On appeal last year, Ulbricht had argued that the evidence gathered with five warrantless “pen/trap orders” allowed the government to monitor IP addresses associated with traffic to and from Ulbricht’s home router, which ultimately violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

That re-trail appeal was denied by the courts last year, with the decision being upheld by a panel of three judges. Citing the 1979 Smith v. Maryland, case which allowed investigators to gather dialed phone numbers without a warrant, the panel of judges said that IP addresses were similar to phone numbers.

His defense “called for a re-evaluation of the third-party disclosure doctrine established by Smith.” But the judges were bound by it “until and unless it is overruled by the Supreme Court,” Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The Supreme Court will be weighing in on these issues and more in the case, as reported by Reason.

Kannon K. Shanmugam, the lawyer managing the appeal, summed up the legal issues that require settling by the Supreme Court in a December memo to potential amici in the case. Even those who might never dream of launching a darkweb site facilitating possibly illegal substance sales should be very worried about how the government convicted and sentenced Ulbricht, he explains:

This case presents two important questions of constitutional law with broader significance for the rights of criminal defendants generally. First, the Second Circuit affirmed the government’s warrantless collection of Mr. Ulbricht’s Internet traffic information by relying on the third-party doctrine, which the Court is reviewing in a different context this Term in Carpenter v. United States….This case would afford the Court an ideal opportunity to address how the doctrine applies to Internet traffic information.

Lyn Ulbricht told Activist Post in an email to this writer that this is one of the most important cases of our time and this is more than just about Ross, this is about our digital rights. Further, isn’t U.S. law supposed to prevent cruel and unusual punishment? You wouldn’t know that was the case with the fact that the judge bypassed a jury and enhanced Ulbricht’s sentencing with unproven allegations that were never brought to trial. The Ross Ulbricht case will set a precedent for the Fourth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. As Lyn stated to Activist Post:

Ross’ petition to the Supreme Court presents important constitutional questions that have broad significance, not only for the rights of criminal defendants but for us all.  Can the government legally collect our Internet traffic without a warrant? Does a judge have the right to bypass a jury and enhance an unreasonable sentence with unproven allegations never brought to trial? The ultimate question here is whether the Fourth and Sixth Amendments are still viable and we should all be concerned about how the court answers.

We completely agree: this is about liberty and digital rights, and limiting government overreach.

Ulbricht is also appealing the obscene length of his sentence at the Supreme Court:

Second, the Second Circuit affirmed the sentencing court’s determination of facts never submitted to the jury, which significantly altered the Guidelines range and ultimately led the court to impose a life sentence—a sentence the Second Circuit admitted “condemn[s] a young man to die in prison.” Several justices have previously questioned whether this kind of judicial factfinding violates the Sixth Amendment. For both these reasons, this case warrants Supreme Court review.

To end with a quote: “This case is the birth of law as applied to our digital future. Watch it as a spectator at your peril.” – Scott H. Greenfield, attorney.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post, where this article first appeared. Support us at Patreon. Follow them on FacebookTwitterSteemit, and BitChute

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Blames ‘Enemies’ for Deadly Protests

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Supreme Court hears why baker refused to make wedding cake for gay couple

The U.S. Supreme Court is debating where to draw the line when it comes to freedom of expression in a case where a Denver bakery denied service to a same-sex couple citing religious beliefs.

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Supreme Court Rules Trump Travel Ban to Go Into Full Effect

Home » Breaking News, Immigration, Justice, North America, Politics » Supreme Court Rules Trump Travel Ban to Go Into Full Effect


In a massive victory for President Trump, the Supreme Court has ruled that the White House’s travel ban on individuals from terror linked countries will go into full effect.

“The court, with two of the nine justices dissenting, granted his administration’s request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban, which is the third version of a contentious policy that Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January,” reports Reuters.

The decision overrules lower courts, who many have accused of playing politics by blocking the ban.

People seeking to enter the United States from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad will now be barred from doing do.

It remains to be seen whether more countries will be added to the list.

This represents a huge boost for Trump. Tax cuts on the way. Economy booming. He’s going into the new year on a roll.



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Many Colors Of The Homo Rainbow Rally Outside The Supreme Court Of The United States

If just a handful of our 600,000 monthly readers donated one dollar, I could easily crush my modest yearly fundraising goal of $10,000. If you value the information on this site and have the means, please consider making a donation below. Your support will help us expand, keep ads off the site and buy out any remaining advertising contracts we have with vendors. No contribution is too small and will undoubtedly go towards the many expenses this site incurs. Thank you for your continued support, Thomas @ Gov’t Slaves

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Supreme Court wedding cake case asks whether baking is protected speech

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case Tuesday that asks whether a baker in Colorado can legally ignore his state’s nondiscrimination law by refusing, on religious grounds, to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The high court’s decision, expected by late June, could send shockwaves through the wedding vendor and gay communities by either boosting or shutting down the claims of several other florists, photographers, bakers, and wedding venue providers who say they should be able to turn away gay customers due to their personal religious beliefs. Just 21 states, including Colorado, prohibit businesses from discriminating against gay people — in all other states, it’s legal to do so.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, marks the first time the Supreme Court will consider a person’s religious objections to same-sex marriage since the court found in 2015 that a right to marriage extended to gay people. That decision struck down bans on gay marriage in 13 states.

“This case is not really about a cake,” starts one amicus brief by a gay rights advocacy group siding with the same-sex couple.

That might be the only thing on which both sides agree.

Attorneys for the baker, Jack Phillips — as well as the U.S. government and conservative religious groups — argue that Phillips’s cake is much more than food: It’s art and thus protected free speech the government may not infringe upon.

A cake is “not an ordinary baked good; its function is more communicative and artistic than utilitarian,” the Justice Department writes in its brief in the case. The baker himself argues that his case is about the “expressive freedom of all who create art or other speech for a living.”

A brief by a group of nearly 100 Republican U.S. lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, referenced the reality TV show “Cake Wrecks” and described Prince William and Kate Middleton’s elaborate 2012 wedding cake to argue that “asking an artist to especially design a cake to capture the appropriate emotions of a wedding day is more than a request for a food with flour, eggs, and sugar.” Instead, the cake is a “message” of endorsement for a same-sex union, something Phillips says he cannot do in good conscience because of his Christian religion.

Meanwhile, gay rights groups, the ACLU, and attorneys for the couple Phillips turned away, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, say the baker’s refusal to make them a cake is tantamount to hanging a “heterosexuals only” sign outside his shop.

“The fact that you might have to take down a sign that says “whites only” doesn’t mean it’s a case about speech,” argues Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU. Melling compared Phillips’s objections to those made by business owners in the 1960s after civil rights laws were passed. They said their religious objections to serving black people superseded the government’s interest in preventing discrimination. They were found wrong then and will be found wrong now, she argues.

And some academics are skeptical of Phillips’s claim that what he does is protected speech.

“I question whether baking a cake is really expressive activity,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school. “I bake all the time, but I don’t think I’m engaging in speech when I do it. If baking a cake is expressive activity then so is virtually any work.”

Several legal experts have argued that if the Supreme Court finds that baking a cake is expression and is thus protected from Colorado’s anti-discrimination statute, then nearly every person involved in the wedding industry — or any industry — could argue they have a right to refuse to serve gay people.

Conservative religious groups are hoping for exactly that kind of broad ruling that would allow any wedding vendor to opt out of a gay wedding in states with anti-discrimination statutes.

“If the court rules for Jack Phillips, well he’s a baker so does that mean a photographer is protected, or a florist?” asked Travis Weber, the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, which advocates for religious business owners’ right to refuse to serve gay couples. “We have significant cases involving those. There really needs to be clarity here — freedom for these individuals.”

But the federal government, in a brief siding with the baker, explicitly contrasted cake making with renting out a venue or limousine to a same-sex couple, which it said did not count as an endorsement of their union and thus would not violate vendors’ religious beliefs. The government may be hoping the court will issue a narrow ruling specifically dealing with bakers without needing to provide a broad loophole for anyone who doesn’t want to serve gay people.

Melling of the ACLU said she did not believe the government’s narrow reading of the case would persuade the justices. If baking a cake is expression, so is virtually anything else in the wedding industry.

“Think of all the different kinds of services that have a fundamentally expressive aspect,” she said. “The interior decorator who provides the lighting and mood, the caterer who chooses how the food will be plated or displayed on the buffet. Not to mention the florist, the wedding invitation makers.”

“The government’s brief reads like this is only for wedding cakes. But that’s not a neutral principle,” she said.

Court watchers will keep a close eye on Justice Anthony Kennedy during Tuesday’s oral argument, as he could end up being the deciding vote. Kennedy, a conservative justice, has been a swing vote in major cases, including the 2015 decision that struck down gay marriage bans. He also wrote a landmark opinion in 2003 that prevented states from criminalizing sex among gay people.

“I think the key is Justice Kennedy,” Chemerinksy said. “He’s the justice that’s written every court opinion in history advancing rights for gays and lesbians.”

But Kennedy has also been drawn to arguments about the need to protect free speech and religious freedom. He joined the majority in Citizens United, arguing that government restrictions on corporations’ election spending and communications violated their free speech.

“If there’s one area where [the conservative Supreme Court justices have been strongest on and most notable for, it has been the First Amendment, and that’s something that in particular Justice Kennedy is interested in,” says Carrie Severino, policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative legal organization. “It will be interesting to see where he comes out.”

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Spanish Supreme Court to decide fate of jailed Catalans on Monday

Spain’s Supreme Court will decide on Monday whether to release jailed Catalan cabinet members, according to judicial sources. The officials were accused of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. Eight former Catalan cabinet members have requested their release ahead of a regional election on December 21 in the wake of an illegal independence vote in October. Pro-independence parties claim the election is a de facto vote on whether the region should continue to push for secession from Spain, Reuters said.

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How The Supreme Court Could Keep Police From Using Your Cellphone to Spy on You

The cellphones we carry with us constantly are the most perfect surveillance device ever invented, and our laws haven’t caught up to that reality. That might change soon.

This week, the Supreme Court will hear a case with profound implications on your security and privacy in the coming years. The Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unlawful search and seizure is a vital right that protects us all from police overreach, and the way the courts interpret it is increasingly nonsensical in our computerized and networked world. The Supreme Court can either update current law to reflect the world, or it can further solidify an unnecessary and dangerous police power.

The case centers on cellphone location data and whether the police need a warrant to get it, or if they can use a simple subpoena, which is easier to obtain. Current Fourth Amendment doctrine holds that you lose all privacy protections over any data you willingly share with a third party. Your cellular provider, under this interpretation, is a third party with whom you’ve willingly shared your movements, 24 hours a day, going back months — even though you don’t really have any choice about whether to share with them. So police can request records of where you’ve been from cell carriers without any judicial oversight. The case before the court, Carpenter v. United States, could change that.

Traditionally, information that was most precious to us was physically close to us. It was on our bodies, in our homes and offices, in our cars. Because of that, the courts gave that information extra protections. Information that we stored far away from us, or gave to other people, afforded fewer protections. Police searches have been governed by the “third-party doctrine,” which explicitly says that information we share with others is not considered private.

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