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The Supreme Court term ended Monday. The New York Times correspondent and lawyer Adam Liptak talks with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about what the decisions reveal about the nine justices.
RELATED: The Supreme Court concluded its term today with a pair of decisions widely described as “narrow”—that is, of limited application except to the parties in the lawsuits. Don’t believe it. In fact, the Court’s decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn conform to an established pattern for the Roberts Court. It’s generally a two-step process: in confronting a politically charged issue, the court first decides a case in a “narrow” way, but then uses that decision as a precedent to move in a more dramatic, conservative direction in a subsequent case. [...] The Hobby Lobby decision follows the same pattern. Again, Justice Alito’s opinion (for the same five-to-four majority) expressed its ruling in narrow terms. Alito asserted that the case concerned only a single “closely held” private company whose owners had religious objections to providing certain forms of birth control. According to the court, federal law required that those wishes be honored. But, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, there is almost no limitation on the logic of the majority’s view. Almost any closely held companies—which make up a substantial chunk of the American economy—can now claim a religious orientation, and they can now seek to excuse themselves from all sorts of obligations, including honoring certain anti-discrimination laws. And after today’s “narrow” rulings, those cases will come. MORE
Boys will be noise. Like if Nirvana circa Bleach was listening to Crypt’s Back From The Grave series instead of The Melvins. Things would have been different. They play Boot N’ Saddle July 26th with Harsh Vibes and Love Club.
Artwork by SHEPERD FAIREY
ACLU: Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. Learn more »
Your rights as a photographer:
If you are stopped or detained for taking photographs:
Special considerations when videotaping:
With regards to videotaping, there is an important legal distinction between a visual photographic record (fully protected) and the audio portion of a videotape, which some states have tried to regulate under state wiretapping laws.
Photography at the airport
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acknowledges that photography is permitted in and around airline security checkpoints as long as you’re not interfering with the screening process. The TSA does ask that its security monitors not be photographed, though it is not clear whether they have any legal basis for such a restriction when the monitors are plainly viewable by the traveling public.
The TSA also warns that local or airport regulations may impose restrictions that the TSA does not. It is difficult to determine if any localities or airport authorities actually have such rules. If you are told you cannot take photographs in an airport you should ask what the legal authority for that rule is.
The ACLU does not believe that restrictions on photography in the public areas of publicly operated airports are constitutional. MORE
Author of the bestseller Four Fish, Paul Greenberg explores why most of the fish Americans eat is imported while much of the fish Americans catch is exported and the implications of this imbalance in his new book American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood. What’s the most popular seafood in the U.S.? Shrimp. The average American eats more shrimp per capita than tuna and salmon combined. Most of that shrimp comes from Asia, and most of the salmon we eat is also imported. In fact, 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, but one-third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to other countries. Shrimp and salmon are two case studies in the unraveling of America’s seafood economy, according to Paul Greenberg, author of the new book American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood. Greenberg tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about what’s driving the changes in America’s seafood economy and why you should buy wild salmon frozen when its out of season.
On what Greenberg calls “The Great Fish Swap”
What I think we’re doing is we’re low-grading our seafood supply. In effect what we’re doing is we’re sending the really great, wild stuff that we harvest here on our shores abroad, and in exchange, we’re importing farm stuff that, frankly, is of an increasingly dubious nature. We export millions of tons of wild, mostly Alaska salmon abroad and import mostly farmed salmon from abroad. So salmon for salmon, we’re trading wild for farmed. Another great example of this fish swap is the swapping of Alaska pollack for tilapia and pangasius [catfish]. is the thing in [McDonald's] Filet-O-Fish sandwich; it’s the thing in that fake crab that you find in your California roll. We use a lot of pollack ourselves, but we send 600 million pounds of it abroad every year. And in the other direction, we get a similarly white flaky fish — tilapia or pangasius — coming to us mostly from China and Vietnam. They fill a similar fish niche, but they’re very different.
On why the U.S. exports the best-quality fish
We only eat about 15 pounds of seafood per year per capita. That’s half of the global average, so there’s that. The other thing is that other countries really are hip to seafood. The Chinese love seafood; the Japanese, the Koreans — they love seafood. They’re willing to pay top dollar for it. We just aren’t willing to do so. We want our food cheap and easy. All of this fast-food commodification of seafood protein — because that’s kind of what it is at this point — adds to that general preference for cheap stuff. Kind of in tandem and in league with that is the American tendency to avoid taste. … Foodies [talk] about flavor and texture and the food movement and that kind of thing, and that’s true of about 5 percent of Americans, but 95 percent of Americans really are not so into flavor. … If we don’t like the flavorsome fish — like bluefish, mackerel, things like oysters, things that really taste of the sea — if we don’t like that, then we’re going to go for these generic, homogenized, industrialized products.
On sending American salmon to China and back for cheap labor
A certain amount of Alaska salmon gets caught by Americans in Alaska, sent to China, defrosted, filleted, boned, refrozen and sent back to us. How’s that for food miles? We don’t want to pay the labor involved in boning fish and more and more of that fish that used to go make that round trip is actually staying in China because the Chinese are realizing how good it is, much to our detriment. … The labor is so much cheaper that it makes the shipping cost-effective. When you ship things via freighter, frozen, the cost per mile is relatively low compared to, say, air freighting or train travel or truck freighting. [...]
On slave labor and the Thai shrimp industry
The largest shrimp producer for us right now is Thailand. … It turns out, a certain amount of the shrimp that come to us from Thailand seems to be coming to us in part as the result of slave labor. Shrimp are fed wild fish ground up and turned into meal — trash fish, they’re called, just random fish that are trolled up in the South China Sea. It turns out, a large amount of that fish is being caught by boats in which the labor onboard are slaves and that fish gets ground up and sold to Thai shrimp farms. MORE
Illustration by DONKEY HOTEY
PHAWKER: Why give away the NSA’s secrets for free when you can make Wall Street pay through the nose for them?
WIRED: Cybersecurity firms and snake-oil salesmen promising protection from online threats are ubiquitous these days, and it’s hard to stand out in such a crowded field—unless you’re the former leader of the world’s best hacking outfit. In that case, the promises you sell carry more weight—and a higher price tag. Which may well explain why Gen. Keith Alexander, the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, has launched the consulting firm IronNet Cybersecurity.
BLOOMBERG: As the four-star general in charge of U.S. digital defenses, Keith Alexander warned repeatedly that the financial industry was among the likely targets of a major attack. Now he’s selling the message directly to the banks. Joining a crowded field of cyber-consultants, the former National Security Agency chief is pitching his services for as much as $1 million a month. The audience is receptive: Under pressure from regulators, lawmakers and their customers, financial firms are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into barriers against digital assaults. MORE
VICE NEWS: “Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony. I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods,” Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson wrote one of the business groups, the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which holds it down for Wall Street in Washington. “Without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.” In an interview Monday, Grayson was even more strident in his criticism. “Frankly, what the general is doing is beginning to resemble an extortion racket,” he told me. “This is a man who basically lied for a living, and he continues to do that.” MORE
THE GUARDIAN: But a perhaps even more disturbing and revealing vignette into the spy chief’s mind comes from a new Foreign Policy article describing what the journal calls his “all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine”. The article describes how even his NSA peers see him as a “cowboy” willing to play fast and loose with legal limits in order to construct a system of ubiquitous surveillance. But the personality driving all of this – not just Alexander’s but much of Washington’s – is perhaps best captured by this one passage, highlighted by PBS’ News Hour in a post entitled: “NSA director modeled war room after Star Trek’s Enterprise”. The room was christened as part of the “Information Dominance Center”:
“When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather ‘captain’s chair’ in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.
“‘Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,’ says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.”
Numerous commentators remarked yesterday on the meaning of all that (note, too, how “Total Information Awareness” was a major scandal in the Bush years, but “Information Dominance Center” – along with things like “Boundless Informant” – are treated as benign or even noble programs in the age of Obama). But now, on the website of DBI Architects, Inc. of Washington and Reston, Virginia, there are what purports to be photographs of the actual Star-Trek-like headquarters commissioned by Gen. Alexander that so impressed his Congressional overseers. It’s a 10,740 square foot labyrinth in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The brochure touts how “the prominently positioned chair provides the commanding officer an uninterrupted field of vision to a 22′-0″ wide projection screen”: MORE
RELATED: You can see photos of the Star Trek-like command center of the NSA’s Information Dominance Center HERE
This looks promising. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are twin siblings navigating an awkward reunion after a 10-year estrangement. Wiig is quirky and conflicted — big stretch, right? — and Hader is gay and bitchy-but-funny, sorta like Stefon when he goes home to Long Island for Christmas and has to put the flaming party monster persona on ice for a few days. Co-starring Luke Wilson as Wiig’s ever-patient bo-hunk love interest. Some bad ’80s dreck lip-synching required. In the hands of any other actors this premise would be insufferable. It comes out September 19th. Can’t wait to see it.
Hunter of Invisible Game – a short film by Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen – will premiere at 12pm ET on July 9 at brucespringsteen.net.
RELATED: The Greatest Bruce Springsteen Song Of All Time Is This One
NEW YORK TIMES: The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision on Monday that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom. The decision, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to challenges from other corporations to many laws that may be said to violate their religious liberty. The coverage requirement was challenged by two corporations whose owners say they try to run their businesses on religious principles: Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. The health care law and related regulations require many employers to provide female workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for a variety of methods of contraception. The companies objected to some of the methods, saying they are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb. Providing insurance coverage for those forms of contraception would, the companies said, make them complicit in the practice. [...] The administration argued that requiring insurance plans to include comprehensive coverage for contraception promotes public health and ensures that “women have equal access to health care services.” The government’s briefs added that doctors, rather than employers, should decide which form of contraception is best. A supporting brief from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group, said that many women cannot afford the most effective means of birth control and that the law will reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. MORE
RELATED: While it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit. Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k). Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have stock holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices. These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell. MORE
PHAWKER: Dear SCOTUS, what if antibiotics, mammograms and HIV tests are against Hobby Lobby’s religion? What if any kind of medical attention at all is against Hobby Lobby’s religion and they think we should just pray over the sick until they become well?
NEW YORK TIMES: Bobby Womack, who spanned the American soul music era, touring as a gospel singer in the 1950s, playing guitar in Sam Cooke’s backup band in the early ’60s, writing hit songs recorded by Wilson Pickett and the Rolling Stones and composing music that broke onto the pop charts, has died, a spokeswoman for his record label said on Friday night. He was 70. Mr. Womack, nicknamed the Preacher for his authoritative, church-trained voice and the way he introduced songs with long discourses on life, never had the million-record success of contemporaries like Pickett, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Otis Redding. His sandpaper vocal style made him more popular in England, where audiences revere what they consider authentic traditional American music, than in the United States. But the pop stars of his time considered Mr. Womack royalty. His admirers included Keith Richards, Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder, all of whom acknowledged their debt with guest performances on albums he made in his later years. Mr. Womack’s 2012 album, “The Bravest Man in the Universe,” is an avant-garde collaboration with a new generation of musicians. It combines old and new material by Mr. Womack, which the British producer Richard Russell and the alternative rock songwriter Damon Albarn mixed with programmed beats, old gospel recordings, samplings of Cooke and other sounds, some played backward or sped up. The album earned favorable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Rolling Stone ranked it No. 36 on its list of the 50 best albums of the year. “I don’t understand a lot of the things they were doing,” Mr. Womack said of his collaborators in an interview with The Guardian. “I would never have dreamed of doing stuff like that, but I wanted to relate to the people today.” MORE
THE TELEGRAPH: The Top 10 Bobby Womack Songs
RELATED: Holy Soul Tumblr
UWISHUNU: This weekend, the Delaware River Waterfront will transform from an urban riverside into a lush oasis with the grand opening of Spruce Street Harbor Park, the new pop-up park at Spruce Street and Columbus Boulevard. From Friday, June 27 through Sunday, August 31, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation — the folks that brought us this past winter’s Waterfront Winterfest at the Blue Cross RiverRink — turns the Penn’s Landing Marina at Columbus Boulevard and Spruce Street into a pop-up summertime village. Considerably upgrading the perennial good times of summer on Penn’s Landing, Spruce Street Harbor Park provides a charming new public space that’s free to check out and open to the public daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. MORE
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