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ACLU: Militarized SWAT teams treat citizens as an enemy

SWAT teamsThe increasing use of military-style tactics and weapons by police forces across the United States puts civilians at needless risk of death and injury, according to a strongly-worded ACLU report slamming the development.

The study, called “War Comes Home:The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” warns that police departments across the country have been offered incentives by the federal government to arm up, and now risk alienating communities as a result of heavy-handed raids.


Veteran Actor Eli Wallach Dies

Eli WallachEli Wallach, a gravelly voiced character actor who appeared alongside such giants as Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part III, died Tuesday, his daughter Katherine told The New York Times. He was 98.

A recognizable screen presence since the 1950s, Wallach's beginnings were anything but star-studded. He was born Dec. 7, 1915, and grew up Jewish in a mostly Italian Brooklyn neighborhood.


Supreme Court rules cell phones cannot be searched without a warrant

cell phone warrantsPolice need a warrant to search the cell phone of a person who has been arrested, absent an unusual circumstance, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The high court took two cases involving cell phone searches, one involving a smartphone and the other involving a relatively basic flip phone. In both cases, police used information on each phone to connect the plaintiffs to crimes. San Diego Police used pictures in David Leon Riley’s smartphone, and the guns they found in his trunk after pulling him over for a traffic violation, to tie him to a local faction of the Bloods street gang and an earlier shooting.


U.S. Supreme Court Pulls the Plug on Aereo's Streaming TV Service

Aereo streamingThe U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices.

Launched a year ago in New York and then extended to 10 other U.S. cities, it allows customers to watch over-the-air TV programs on a smartphone, tablet, or computer for as little as $8 a month. Selections can be viewed live or recorded for later viewing.

Shortly after the service was launched, the nation's major broadcast networks filed a lawsuit claiming that Aereo illegally retransmited their programs without paying for them. The court ruled against Aereo by a vote of 6-3.


Methodist pastor reinstated after row over son's gay marriage

Methodist ministerA Methodist pastor who was defrocked after officiating at his son's same-sex wedding ceremony will be reinstated, a church appeals panel said Tuesday.

The nine-member appeals panel of the United Methodist Church said it had reversed its decision to remove the Rev. Frank Schaefer from the pulpit of the Zion United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

The church last year suspended Schaefer, who has three gay children, for officiating at his son's 2007 wedding. The church then defrocked Schaefer in December because he would not promise never to preside over another gay ceremony.


Minors remain jailed for life despite US supreme court ban on such sentences

Minors given life terms in USTwo years after the US supreme court banned mandatory sentences of life without parole for people under 18 years old, most of the states that carry the brutal punishment have done nothing to change their ways, leaving the vast majority of the prisoners already on the sentence still facing the prospect of spending the rest of their natural life in a cell.

A report from the Washington-based justice reform body, the Sentencing Project, underlines what has become a legal paradox. In 2012, the highest judicial panel ruled in Miller v Alabama that mandatory life without parole for juveniles was a violation of the eighth amendment that forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Yet since then only 13 of the 28 states that carry the sentence have amended their laws.


Federal judge rules no-fly list process is unconstitutional

No fly listA federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the US government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision.

US District Judge Anna Brown, ruling in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.


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