On the Confirmation of Loretta Lynch

…for Attorney General to replace Eric Holder.

During confirmation hearings which started yesterday [emphasis added],

Her biggest challenge could be explaining her support and participation in civil forfeitures, a legal process in which law enforcement agencies can seize money and other assets without charging or convicting the owners….

And so

After nearly three years of legal battles, the federal government last week dropped its case against the Hirschs, who own a distribution company that serves convenience stores on Long Island. The government agreed to return more than $446,000 in assets and cash seized by the Internal Revenue Service in 2012 under federal civil asset forfeiture laws, even though the Hirsch family was never charged with a crime.

Because We’re Not Being Spied on Enough

The Justice Department has acknowledged constructing a database to track the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S. in real time.

And

A Justice Department spokesman told Fox News that the tracking program is compliant with federal [law]… claiming it “includes protocols that limit who can access the database and all of the license plate information is deleted after 90 days.”

Privacy Misbehavior

Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post has a warning.

Recall that ‘way last November, Verizon was exposed as using a supercookie that they’d developed for the purpose: it sits on your cell phone and tracks, ostensibly for their own use, your cell usage (supposedly limited to your use on the Internet). And you can’t delete it.

It turns out that Turn, an online advertising company that works with Google and Facebook,

uses [the Verizon supercookie] to collect data that makes it easier for advertisers to place targeted online ads, according to the researchers.

Gun Control

Here’s some, via The Daily Caller.

A Tulsa convenience store clerk took on four masked men during an attempted robbery earlier this week, shooting and killing two and helping bring an end to a serial robbery ring.

I wonder how that would have worked out had the clerk not been armed.

Trust

First we have the NSA collecting personal telephone call data. Now we find out about this shadowy program, which was uncovered only because DEA had to give up its existence pursuant to a criminal case involving a man accused of planning the export of technology to Iran:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has formally acknowledged that it maintained a sweeping database of phone calls made from the United States to multiple foreign countries.

And

…the program relied on administrative subpoenas to collect records of calls….

Wrong People Punished?

A Southern California high school basketball coach has been suspended and faces accusations of mercilessly running up the score after his team won a game 161-2, one of the most lopsided scores in state history.

Based on what misbehavior, exactly?

The coach, Michael Anderson of Arroyo Valley High School’s girls’ basketball team had some comments.

I didn’t play any starters in the second half. I didn’t expect them to be that bad.

And on any do-over, perhaps

I wouldn’t play the game at all.

But what would that teach his girls? What would such an insult teach the opposing team’s girls?

An Intolerance from Anti-Discrimination

Atlanta Fire Department Chief Kelvin Cochran has been fired from the Department altogether by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Cochran’s reprehensible crime? He wrote a book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, about morality from the Bible’s perspective. He also wrote about his views of homosexuality as informed by the Bible.

Reed suspended Cochran for a month over that book, and then on the day Cochran was to return to duty, Reed fired him. Reed said he did it because

I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.

Free Speech, Images of Muhammed, and the American Press

In the wake of the Islamic terrorist attack, sponsored, if not directed by the al Qaeda network, Charlie Hebdo (their site is down or overwhelmed as I write this) printed their next issue with an image of Muhammed on its cover.CharlieHebdoCover

Even as they cover the news of this story, though, as Howard Kurtz pointed out in his recent column, American “news” outlets refuse to print the image that is the center of this news story: Charlie Hebdo‘s cover. CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and the New York Times are among those refusing to complete their news stories by showing what it is they claim to be talking about. Kurtz wrote this about that decision:

Defending Freedom of Speech, Al Jazeera Style

A leaked email from Al Jazeera English Editor and Executive Producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr, obtained by Fox News, had this remark, among others, in it:

Was this really an attack on “free speech?” Who is attacking free speech here exactly?

Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile.

Khadr also suggested that the slogan “I am Charlie” is

an alienating slogan—with us or against us type of statement—one can be anti-CH’s racism and ALSO against murdering people.

Syria and the Bomb

In 2007, an Israeli air strike blew up Syria’s nuclear reactor facility (the reactor itself wasn’t yet completed) and with it Syria’s nuclear weapons program.

Or so we thought at the time. If Spiegel Online International‘s reporting can be taken as even a bit accurate, al Assad is still working on a bomb at a couple of different facilities.

According to IAEA research, Syria possesses up to 50 tons of natural uranium, enough material for three to five bombs once the enrichment procedure is completed.