This Week in Liberty News, the weekly a collection of stories I run across that affect your liberty in Oklahoma, Texas, and on the national scene.
We don’t need no stinking badges? Yes, yes, we do.
Distirct Attorney Jason Hicks has suspended a practice of using the private company Desert Snow to assist in roadside drug stops in Caddo County. Prosecuters have also dropped all criminal cases arising from those stops. The problem is that the private company is doing the job of law enforcement, including pulling citizens over and seizing property and money, even in some cases when no drugs were found.
A Caddo County Special Judge David A. Stephens was shocked to learn a private company was performing the stops, and indicated he hopes this will stop.
Taxes vs. credits vs. breaks vs. cuts…
We’re pretty proud of our natural gas and oil production in Oklahoma, and now that the industry is strong and a vital part of our local economy, it may not be in our recent memory that oil companies have received and still do huge tax breaks from the state government. Last year alone $321 million was given to oil and gas companies, sparking interest in the Finance Secretary’s office to reconsider what place these tax advantages have in our government.
Credits and rebates each account for about half of the total break, meaning that the State of Oklahoma is both reducing the amount companies are paying in the first place, as well as chopping off the bottom line.
Texas is now outpumping some OPEC nations, at levels that would put it in the top 15 countries in the world in terms of oil production.
Around the U.S.
NSA Story Continues
This National Security Agency scandal has gone global. Invading the privacy of ordinary citizens is not just getting Americans upset, our friends across the Atlantic Ocean have begun to show their discontent with US data-gathering operations, and in some cases are firing back by threatening to cut their ties with America. The Guardian (America’s new New York Times) reported this week that European firms could cut ties with US internet providers because of the NSA scandal, and that the vice-president of the European commission warns “American cloud services providers could suffer loss of business.”
“If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?” she said.
Back home, Yahoo! has won a significant battle in the fight for transparency. In June, Yahoo! Inc. requested the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court make documents available that would make public information about the requests it made in 2008. This week, the FISA Court granted their request. Although Yahoo! complied with the customer info requests, it is fighting back, and in the words of Gizmodo, they are blazing the trail to transparency in the post-prism world.”
Freedom of the Press
Meanwhile, the extent of freedom of the press is also spending some time in the spotlight. The 4th Circuit Virginia US Court of Appeals ruled New York Times reporter James Risen to testify in a case against a former CIA official who is now charged with providing him information. Risen has responded by saying he would go to prison rather than testify, and promised to carry this case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Don’t Drone the Drones, Bro
And the FAA is now warning against the practice drone hunting and, believe it or not, drone bounty hunting. Believe it or not, a town of 550 residents in Colorado has passed an ordinance that creates drone hunting licenses. Deer Trail, CO charges only $25 for a drone hunting license, and there is a $100 bounty on destroyed unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. This has prompted a response from the FAA threatening to prosecute and/or fine anyone shooting at a UAV.SHARE