The NSA Spying Program
NSA program Since PRISM was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, all eyes have been on the NSA. There have been many who have defended the government agency’s invasive spying practices, assuring that they are in place for the good of the American people. Then there have been those who have vehemently opposed the actions taken by the NSA, claiming that the bulk surveillance of citizens without due process is a violation of constitutional rights set down in the fourth amendment.
The Aftermath of Snowden
When Edward Snowden leaked huge swathes of NSA classified documents, there was a lot of scrambling to assess the damage. With Snowden fleeing the country from fear of unfair trial, attempts were made to smear his name – accusations of working with Russia and, more recently, accusations that his leaks were cracked to reveal government operatives’ locations, putting them in danger. But by that point, the gig was up. The NSA’s actions had been brought to the attention of the American public, who reacted in a variety of ways.
What has Happened Since?
Most recently, after a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in May, the US Court of Appeals concurred that the NSA had misinterpreted a section of law (entitled Section 215) to allow themselves the freedom to collect domestic phone records en masse. Congress was locked on the decision, but then brought themselves to draft the USA Freedom Act, which would allow the NSA six months to cease its spying, but continue to collect data during that time. Despite contest from several civil liberties groups citing the Court decision, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the NSA could indeed continue its surveillance for at least another five months.
What Does This Mean?
In essence, this demonstrates a variety of problematic entities that exist to protect such things as the NSA’s spying programs, which, in spite of due process including the courts and Civil Liberty groups, can effectively supersede interpretations of the law which might harm their programs. This type of backroom litigation makes it very difficult to trust entities such as the NSA, which in the eyes of some have begun to make a farce of the American legal system.
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Belgium Passes Law to Cap ‘Vulture Funds’
a divorce lawyer Belgium has recently passed a new law which administers a cap to limit the amount that so-called ‘vulture funds’ can recover from governmental debt purchased a low prices from wavering economies of countries in severe financial trouble. The law met overwhelming approval from lawmakers and politicians alike, comes on the back of Belgium’s recent decade-long battle with US hedge funds by organizations such as NML Capital Management over their defaulted debt of nearly $1.3 billion.
What are ‘Vulture Funds’?
‘Vulture funds’, known more official as ‘distressed securities funds’ is the name given to investments made by financial investors into debts incurred by a country’s or business’ financial collapse. These debts are bought at low prices on secondary markets, and when the debtor fails to pay back the debt, the investor sues the debtor for a value greater than that which they paid for the debt. In the case of Belgium, these debts were picked up by large US hedge funds who proceeded to sue the country for large sums of money, putting them in further financial strife.
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What Will This Law do?
new law vulture fundsWhile Belgium cannot ban these vulture funds outright, this law will enact a limit on the amount that can be paid out by a debtor in the case of distressed securities. Additionally, the law would allow Belgian judges to refuse legal decisions made by other countries’ courts. This would prevent organizations from being able to freeze assets and accounts in Belgium, which could harm companies such as Euroclear – a clearing house which deals with a huge number of financial transactions from across the globe. This stipulation comes after a US judge ordered Euroclear in March to block payments which concerned Argentinian bonds and make to notify the hedge funds which were praying on the debt. Under the new law, US judges will be unable to interfere with Belgium’s financial workings. Belgian lawmakers have hailed the new law as a spectacular victory against financial predators, and have stated that the law has been passed despite strong opposition from lobbyists and vested interests, which were defending the interests of US hedge funds.
Proposed Ukraine Law Could Limit Country’s Possible NATO Entry
A law being proposed in Ukraine’s parliament could disrupt and limit the country’s ability to later hold a referendum regarding membership with NATO or the European Union. Having indicated interest and set out a timeline for Ukraine’s involvement in these unions, President Petro Poroshenko has noted that a referendum would be a necessary step in meeting these ends. However, a draft law submitted to parliament could limit the circumstances under which the country could perform a nationwide referendum.
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What is This Law?
The law in question is an amendment to a law introduced in 2012, criminal attorney Denver Brian Musell says it allows for amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, changes to Ukraine’s territories and the cancellation or alteration of existing laws. However, the draft fails to make mention of treaties on joining NATO or the EU, which could lead to problems down the road should Ukraine wish to hold referenda on joining these international bodies. The draft law’s language narrows the range of situations in which a nationwide referendum can take place, and these omissions are likely to stand in the way of referenda on NATO and the EU.
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What is Ukraine’s Position on Joining These Organizations?
ukraine lawUkraine has expressed deep interest in joining NATO in order to protect themselves against further military expansion by Russia. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and their alleged provision of arms and support to rebels in Ukraine, countries in Eastern Europe have been seeking membership to NATO in order to protect themselves. This draft law, however, could cause Ukraine to fail to meet NATO’s entry requirements. A 1997 US State Department memo notes that nations applying to NATO must comply with a certain threshold of democracy, decree civilian oversight over military forces and must show a commitment to diplomacy and peace. Without the ability to hold nationwide referenda on such matters, Ukraine would fail to meet these stipulations and would be ineligible for membership in such international bodies. President Poroshenko has admitted that Ukraine will need several years to meet NATO’s requirements and has made clear that their entry will only follow a successful nationwide referendum to test their population’s support on the matter.
India Called Upon By Amnesty International to Revoke Kashmir Law
The international rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has appealed to the Indian government to repeal a Draconian law granting immunity to security forces who have been accused of violating human rights in Kashmir. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was first brought about in 1990 to protect security forces against prosecution during the Kashmir conflict.
What is AFSPA?
AFSPA was introduced after the start of militant uprising in the Indian-controlled Kashmir in the 1980s. Since several security forces are deployed there to keep insurgency down, AFSPA was passed granting troops the power to shoot and kill any suspected militants, or arrest them without a warrant. This has, in turn, led to several human rights violations in the region which have gone unchecked due to the questionable law, Amnesty International argues. The watchdog has called for an independent and impartial inquiry in the historic cases of human rights abuses by these security groups under protection of AFSPA.
What Has This Meant?
afspa lawSince the law’s introduction in 1990, not a single service person in the armed forces has been tried for human rights violations and criminal law cases, states the report by Amnesty International. In addition to this being a failure of the legal system and the government to uphold human rights in courts, Amnesty International has expressed concerns that not trying service people for their part in human rights violations has failed the Indian constitution, leading to alienation amongst the general population. In addition, they argue that the lack of accountability on behalf of these security personnel has paved the way for other abuses of human rights in India and elsewhere. They argue that India has failed its own people and constitution as well as its international obligations, which could cause serious problems for the country later on down the road. The report details the violations and excesses carried out by these security forces since the start of the Kashmir conflict in the 1980s, stating that the government has failed to deliver proper justice in response to these excesses. The government has yet to make an official response to the report and its accusations.
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