American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone

When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

“It just felt like a gross violation of our rights,” said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.

Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.

“One of the officers calls out to me and says, ‘Hey, give me your phone,'” recalled Shibly. “And I said, ‘No, because I already went through this.'”

The officer asked a second time.

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Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend’s face turn red as the officer’s chokehold tightened.

Then they asked McCormick for her phone.

“I was not about to get tackled,” she said. She handed it over.

American citizens Akram Shibly, left, and Kelly McCormick had their phones searched as they reentered the U.S. at Niagara Falls, New York on two separate trips in January 2017. They say Shibly was put in a chokehold when he refused to hand over his phone on the second crossing. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Shibly and McCormick’s experience is not unique. In 25 cases examined by NBC News, American citizens said that CBP officers at airports and border crossings demanded that they hand over their phones and their passwords, or unlock them.

The travelers came from across the nation, naturalized citizens and people born and raised on American soil. They traveled by plane and by car at different times through different states. Businessmen, couples, senior citizens, and families with young kids, questioned, searched, and detained for hours when they tried to enter or leave the U.S. None were on terror watchlists. One had a speeding ticket. Some were asked about their religion and their ethnic origins, and had the validity of their U.S. citizenship questioned

What most of them have in common — 23 of the 25 — is that they are Muslim, like Shibly, whose parents are from Syria.

Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.

According to DHS officials, 2017 will be a blockbuster year. Five-thousand devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.

“That’s shocking,” said Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security. She wrote the rules and restrictions on how CBP should conduct electronic searches back in 2009. “That [increase] was clearly a conscious strategy, that’s not happenstance.”

“This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people,” said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. “Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet.”

“This is just going to grow and grow and grow,” said Senator Wyden. “There’s tremendous potential for abuse here.”

What Changed?

What CBP agents call “detaining” cellphones didn’t start after Donald Trump’s election. The practice began a decade ago, late in the George W. Bush administration, but was highly focused on specific individuals.

The more aggressive tactics of the past two years, two senior intelligence officials told NBC News, were sparked by a string of domestic incidents in 2015 and 2016 in which the watch list system and the FBI failed to stop American citizens from conducting attacks. The searches also reflect new abilities to extract contact lists, travel patterns and other data from phones very quickly.

DHS has published 24 reports detailing its extensive technological capability to forensically extract data from mobile devices, regardless of password protection on most Apple and Android phones. The reports document its proven ability to access deleted call logs, videos, photos, and emails to name a few, in addition to the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apps.

But the officials caution that rhetoric about a Muslim registry and ban during the presidential campaign also seems to have emboldened federal agents to act more forcefully.

“The shackles are off,” said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “We see individual officers and perhaps supervisors as well pushing those limits, exceeding their authority and violating people’s rights.”

And multiple sources told NBC News that law enforcement and the Intelligence Community are exploiting a loophole to collect intelligence.

Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement needs at least reasonable suspicion if they want to search people or their possessions within the United States. But not at border crossings, and not at airport terminals.

“The Fourth Amendment, even for U.S. citizens, doesn’t apply at the border,” said Callahan. “That’s under case law that goes back 150 years.”

Customs and Border officers can search travelers without any level of suspicion. They have the legal authority to go through any object crossing the border within 100 miles, including smartphones and laptops. They have the right to take devices away from travelers for five days without providing justification. In the absence of probable cause, however, they have to give the devices back.

CBP also searches people on behalf of other federal law enforcement agencies, sending its findings back to partners in the DEA, FBI, Treasury and the National Counterterrorism Center, among others.

Callahan thinks that CBP’s spike in searches means it is exploiting the loophole “in order to get information they otherwise might hot have been able to.”

On January 31, an engineer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was pulled into additional screening upon his return to the U.S. after a two-week vacation in Chile. Despite being cleared by the Global Entry program, Sidd Bikkannavar received an “X” on his customs form. He is not Muslim, and he is not from any of the seven countries named in President Trump’s original “travel ban” executive order. Half his family comes from India but he was born and raised in California.

Bikkannavar was brought into a closed room and told to hand over his phone and passcode. He paid particular notice to the form CBP handed him which explained it had the right to copy the contents of the phone, and that the penalty for refusal was “detention.”

“I didn’t know if that meant detention of the phone or me and I didn’t want to find out,” said Bikkannavar. He tried to refuse but the officer repeatedly demanded the PIN. Eventually he acquiesced.

“Once they had that, they had everything,” Bikkannavar said. That access allowed CBP officers to review the backend of his social media accounts, work emails, call and text history, photos and other apps. He had expected security might physically search any travelers for potential weapons but accessing his digital data felt different. “Your whole digital life is on your phone.”

The officers disappeared with his phone and PIN. They returned 30 minutes later and let him go home.Sidd Bikkannavar poses for a portrait in 2014. Takashi Akaishi

CBP also regularly searches people leaving the country.

On February 9, Haisam Elsharkawi was stopped by security while trying to board his flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. He said that six Customs officers told him he was randomly selected. They demanded access to his phone and when he refused, Elsharkawi said they handcuffed him, locked him in the airport’s lower level and asked questions including how he became a citizen. Elsharkawi thought he knew his rights and demanded access to legal counsel.

“They said if I need a lawyer, then I must be guilty of something,” said Elsharkawi, and Egyptian-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen. After four hours of questioning in detention, he unlocked his smartphone and, after a search, was eventually released. Elsharkawi said he intends to sue the Department of Homeland Security.

The current policy has not been updated since 2009. Jayson Ahern, who served in CBP under both Bush and Obama, signed off on the current policy. He said the electronic searches are supposed to be based on specific, articulable facts that raise security concerns. They are not meant to be random or routine or applied liberally to border crossers. “That’s reckless and that’s how you would lose the authority, never mind the policy.”

The Customs & Border Patrol policy manual says that electronic devices fall under the same extended search doctrine that allows them to scan bags in the typical security line.

“As the threat landscape changes, so does CBP,” a spokesperson told NBC News.

Since the policy was written in 2009, legal advocates argue, several court cases have set new precedents that could make some CBP electronic searches illegal.

Several former DHS officials pointed to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Riley v California that determined law enforcement needed a warrant to search electronic devices when a person is being arrested. The court ruled unanimously, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life,'” wrote Roberts. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.”

Because that case happened outside of the border context, however, CBP lawyers have repeatedly asserted in court that the ruling does not apply to border searches.

For now a Department of Justice internal bulletin has instructed that, unless border officers have a search warrant, they need to take protective measures to limit intrusions, and make sure their searches do not access travelers’ digital cloud data. The ‘cloud’ is all content not directly stored on a device, which includes anything requiring internet to access, like email and social media.

Former DHS officials who helped design and implement the search policy said they agreed with that guidance.

Wyden Pushes to Change the Policy

On February 20, Sen. Wyden wrote to DHS Secretary John Kelly demanding details on electronic search-practices used on U.S. citizens, and referred to the extent of electronic searches as government “overreach”. As of publication, he had yet to receive an answer.

Now Sen. Wyden says that as early as next week he plans to propose a bill that would require CBP to at least obtain a warrant to search electronics of U.S. citizens, and explicitly prevent officers from demanding passwords.

“The old rules … seem to be on the way to being tossed in the garbage can,” said Senator Wyden. “I think it is time to update the law.”

Akram Shibly at home in Buffalo, Sunday March, 12, 2017. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Asked about the Shibly case, a CBP spokesperson declined to comment, but said the Homeland Security Inspector General is investigating. The spokesperson said the agency can’t comment on open investigations or particular travelers, but that it “firmly denies any accusations of racially profiling travelers based on nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs.”

Explaining the sharp increase in electronic searches, a department spokesperson told NBC News: “CBP has adapted and adjusted to align with current threat information, which is based on intelligence.” A spokesman also noted that searches of citizens leaving the U.S. protect against the theft of American industrial and national security secrets.

After repeated communications, the Department of Homeland Security never responded to NBC News’ requests for comments. Nonetheless, the Homeland Security Inspector General is currently auditing CBP’s electronic search practices.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also has filed two dozen complaints against CBP this year for issues profiling Muslim Americans. CAIR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are considering legal action against the government for what they consider to be unconstitutional searches at the border.

Trump: New Rules Put Most Undocumented Immigrants At Risk Of Deportation!!!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Sweeping New Trump Administration Rules Put Most Undocumented Immigrants at Risk of Deportation

11:32 AM Eastern

A sweeping set of memos released Tuesday make clear that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States are at risk of deportation.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly unveiled a set of memos directed at each of the department’s agencies which instruct agents to detain and deport every undocumented immigrant they come across, with few exceptions.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement “will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement,” notes a DHS fact sheet. “All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

The memos are essentially instruction manuals for the sweeping executive orders issued by President Trump in late January. The orders themselves call for the hiring of more immigration enforcement officials, empowering local officers to act as immigration enforcement and expediting the deportation of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

An early draft of the memos reported by the Associated Press called for the mobilization of up to 100,000 National Guard troops for immigration enforcement, though that was not included in these memos.

But the memos do make clear that the Department considers any and every undocumented immigrant that crosses paths with enforcement officials to be eligible for removal, a vast shift from Obama Administration policy, which prioritized the removal of criminals and threats to national security. Homeland Security will also expand the list of immigrants who are subject to speedy removal from the U.S. when caught crossing the border illegally. The memos also allow agents to send people who cross from Mexico and Canada back to either nation, regardless of their home country.

While the Trump Administration has made clear it will be tough on immigrants caught in the U.S., it has yet to take action against the class of migrants known as “dreamers” or those who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. The memos do not apply to children who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, under the Obama Administration.

Quebec legislature adopts sharia blasphemy motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA’S WEBSITE)

Quebec legislature adopts sharia blasphemy motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’

quebecistanSource: Quebec legislature adopts motion condemning ‘Islamophobia’ – The Globe and Mail

Quebec’s legislature unanimously adopted a motion Thursday condemning “Islamophobia” — particularly toward Syrian refugees — in response to what some politicians say is a growing anti-Muslim climate in the province.

About 100 members of the legislature voted in favour of the motion tabled by Francoise David, whose Quebec solidaire has three members in the 125-seat national assembly.

David said she was concerned by what she called the increasing number of attacks against Muslims in Quebec, notably online.

The motion condemned Islamophobia and incitement of hatred and violence toward Muslim Quebecers, in particular Syrian refugees.

The governing Liberals and the two other opposition parties in the legislature attempted to amend the motion in order for it to condemn racism more generally as well as other forms of intolerance.

But David told reporters she insisted the word “Islamophobia” be included in the text and that the motion focus on Muslims.

“The incidents that have been multiplying over the past few weeks particularly affect Quebec’s Muslims,” she said. “We need to call a spade a spade.”

Except when Muslims are attacking, killing or inciting violence against non-Muslims in Canada. Then the spade must be buried, hidden and hushed. Perhaps, now, even punished.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil told reporters the motion “is a gesture of responsibility and it’s a gesture to reassure people, reassure Quebecers and newcomers and people who perhaps came a few generations ago.”

Absent in the motion was any mention of the niqab, the face veil worn by some Muslim women that has become a major issue in the federal election campaign, particularly in Quebec.

Political parties are split over whether people should be allowed to wear the veil during citizenship ceremonies.

David pleaded with her federal counterparts to stop talking about it and to focus on other topics.

“We debate enough around that,” she said. “We have many other things to debate. We have two weeks more (in the campaign), please debate on the environment, on social justice, on refugees.”


In other words, they are busy debating distractions and nothing of importance to long-standing citizens of Quebec.

Can any Canadian reader let us know what legal standing a “motion” holds in Quebec?

Police Say Pilot on Canadian Airline Found Passed Out Drunk

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

CALGARY, Alberta — Canadian police have charged a pilot for Sunwing Airlines with impairment after he was allegedly found passed out over his seat before takeoff early Saturday.

Police said the pilot boarded the Boeing 737 with 99 passengers and six crew members in Calgary, Alberta for a flight that was scheduled to make stops in Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.

But before it took off, police said the gate crew as well as crewmembers on the aircraft indicated he was behaving strangely.

Police allege the co-pilot found the pilot passed out in the cockpit.

“They found him slumped over in the seat. He was the captain,” Calgary Sgt. Paul Stacey told a news conference.

The pilot was escorted from the plane and has been charged with having care and control of an aircraft while being impaired, as well as having a blood-alcohol level exceeding .08 while in care and control of an aircraft.

Stacey said police allege the suspect had three times the legal amount of alcohol in his system.

“Because he has as much alcohol in his system as he does, they’re going to wait for him to sober up somewhat before he goes before a justice of the peace,” Stacey said.

Police said the pilot’s name will be released after he has appeared in court.

Sunwing spokeswoman Janine Massey praised the rest of the crew for handling what she called a “very unfortunate matter.”

“We can confirm that shortly before 7 a.m. local time, the gate agents, first officer and crew of Sunwing flight 595, departing from Calgary and destined for Cancun, determined that the captain was unfit to fly and reported this accordingly,” Massey stated.

Sunwing, a low cost Canadian carrier, said the plane took off a short time later with another captain.

“We are very apologetic for any upset that this has caused and would like to assure our customers that safety remains our utmost priority,” Massey said.

Stacey said Transport Canada has been contacted and he expected the suspect could face additional charges.

“It had all the potential for a disaster but I’ll tell you this much — the likelihood of a pilot on a major airline like this actually being able to take off when they’re impaired like that is pretty slim, because there’s a lot of checks and balances. There’s the other flight crew and there’s gate crew and they’re all about safety,” Stacey said.

“So, I’m not surprised that he got caught before (the plane) left the terminal.”

Transport Canada spokesman Dan Dugas said in an email that it is a criminal offence in Canada for a flight crew to work within eight hours of consuming alcohol or while under the influence.

Dugas said Transport Canada is reviewing the pilot’s records and Sunwing Airlines’ procedures and protocols.

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)

Canada to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030 to reduce carbon emission

    • AFP, Ottawa

|Updated: Nov 22, 2016 01:09 IST

Canada phase out its coal-fired power plants by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emission. (Reuters/Representational image)

Canada will shutter its coal-fired power plants by 2030 as part of its strategy to cut greenhouse gas emission under the Paris climate accord, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced Monday.

The plants, located in four provinces, produce about 10 percent of Canada’s total CO2 emissions, and closing them will remove the equivalent in emissions of 1.3 million cars from roads, or five megatons of greenhouse gas emissions, she told a press conference.

“As part of our government’s vision for a clean growth economy, we will be accelerating the transition from traditional coal power to clean energy by 2030,” she said.

With an abundance of hydroelectric power, as well as nuclear, solar and wind power, 80 percent of Canada’s electricity production emits no air pollution.

McKenna said she aims to ramp that up to 90 percent by 2030. Citing National Energy Board figures, she noted that wind power-generating capacity increased twenty-fold in the past decade while solar capacity rose 125 percent.

The minister, however, added that carbon capture would be an acceptable substitute to closing a plant if Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Saskatchewan province wished to continue burning coal.

Saskatchewan has resisted strong climate action, which it says would harm its vast agricultural and burgeoning oil sectors.

It is testing the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage, built into a SaskPower coal-fired plant in the Canadian prairies.

Ottawa economics professor and energy policy expert Jean-Thomas Bernard, however, said efforts to capture and store coal have proven to be costly — Can $1.4 billion for the SaskPower Boundary Dam pilot project to produce 115 megawatts of electricity.

“We’ve been talking about clean coal for 20 years and it’s not yet realized commercially so there must be major difficulties with the technology,” he opined.

“Coal is a relatively small part” of Canada’s energy mix, he added.

Most of the coal plants in Canada are “quite old” and could be replaced with clean alternatives at “very reasonable costs,” he told AFP.

Hastening to clean economy

McKenna also set a new more ambitious goal of reducing total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

Environmental activists and opposition parties had until now criticized the Liberal government for having kept the previous administration’s GHG emissions reduction target of 30 percent by 2030.

The move to accelerate weaning Canada off coal comes as Austria, Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands do the same.

It could, however, put Canada on a divergent path from the United States, its neighbor and largest trading partner.

Last year’s Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Countries including the United States have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to “cancel” the pact and boost oil, gas and coal, dismissing climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is due to announce in the coming weeks whether it will greenlight the construction of two new pipelines to bring oil and gas to tidewater in order to ship Canada’s abundant energy resources to new overseas markets.

Most of Canada’s energy exports currently go to the United States.

Critics questioned the government’s paradoxical support for the construction of new pipelines while championing climate action.

“It is our hope that Canada’s climate action plan will include corresponding measures to address emissions from oil and gas,” Citizens for Public Justice policy analyst Karri Munn-Venn said in a statement.

Trudeau has already spoken out publicly against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline for crossing the world’s largest coastal temperate rain forest in British Columbia.

Observers, however, believe the cabinet will support building a second pipeline alongside the existing Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver, as it looks to balance economic and environmental interests.

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