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Opinion: Don’t give U.S. power over Canadians on our own soil
by Micheline Steele | The Sarnia Journal
Posted March 7, 2017
What would you say if I told you the Canadian government is preparing to give a foreign government the legal authority to detain you and even compel you to undergo a strip search while on Canadian soil?
Bill C-23 (The Preclearance Act) gives increased powers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers performing “pre-clearance duties” at eight Canadian airports, as well as some train stations and ferry routes.
Until now, I have regarded the preclearance process as a convenience. It lets travellers to the U.S. complete the Customs and Immigration process before entering that country. Once my plane lands, it’s just a matter of locating my luggage and I’m happily on my way. It streamlines travel and allows the U.S. to vet travellers before they reach U.S. soil. A win-win situation.
What has me, and many others concerned, is the new legislation would give the U.S. government increased powers over Canadians in our own country. Currently, while undergoing a preclearance examination by a U.S. Officer you have the option to withdraw. You can, for any reason, end the conversation and simply walk away.
It’s one thing for a Border Officer — U.S. or Canadian — to question, detain and take enforcement action against a traveller arriving at a Port of Entry. I understand and fully support this. But it’s an entirely different matter for a foreign government to have that authority outside its borders.
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China gives Trump preliminary approval for 38 new trademarks
By Brooke Seipel - The Hill
China has granted preliminary approval to 38 new Trump-related trademarks as President Trump's family works to develop a series of branded products in the country, including hotel chains, escort services and insurance.
Trump's lawyers in China applied for the trademarks in April of last year, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The new trademarks are considered by some to be a conflict of interest, especially as three of the trademarks were specifically made under the president's name.
The approval is preliminary and will be formally registered in 90 days, if no one objects to the trademarks.
Hong Kong intellectual-property officials told the AP the trademarks were approved unusually quickly.
The Trump-branded businesses planned in China include spas, massage parlors, escort services, hotels, finance and real-estate companies, retail shops, restaurants and bars.
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Trump pitches tsunami of cuts to NOAA
Cuts to earth sciences agency could hit Sea Grant program, tsunami prep
BY JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
Published 4:03 pm, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The Trump administration is planning a tsunami of budget cuts to the federal government's chief climate science agency, gutting Northwest programs from Pacific Coast salmon recovery to ocean weather buoys, to preparation for tsunamis.
A six-page listing of proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first obtained by The Washington Post, shows elimination of such programs as Sea Grant, a major research and outreach effort that works in fields ranging from oil spill prevention to teacher training.
The University of Washington receives about $35 million in program funding from NOAA each year. But cuts would be felt in such programs as Coastal Resiliency Grants, important to Native American tribes.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who worked to close a gap in coastal weather forecasting, said on Tuesday:
"Now is not the time to cut ocean science, when we need it most. If these programs are eliminated, it could have devastating impacts on the progress we have made toward a healthy Puget Sound, and will hurt our coastal economies.
"I am extremely concerned about the proposed elimination of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, the Ocean Acidification Program, the NOAA estuary research program, the tsunami preparedness grant funding, the Sea Grant program, and other severe cuts."
The Trump administration document speaks of 17 percent reductions in NOAA funding, but cuts on a much bigger scale in climate research, weather forecasting, and partnerships with universities.
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Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed Across the Government
We have obtained a list of more than 400 Trump administration hires, including dozens of lobbyists and some from far-right media.
by Justin Elliott, Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw
ProPublica, March 8, 2017, 2:44 p.m.
[I should probably stress that all administrations bring in bunches of people like this. It's the nature of the people brought in which is at topic.]
A Trump campaign aide who argues that Democrats committed “ethnic cleansing” in a plot to “liquidate” the white working class. A former reality show contestant whose study of societal collapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-survivalist multi-tool. A pair of healthcare industry lobbyists. A lobbyist for defense contractors. An “evangelist” and lobbyist for Palantir, the Silicon Valley company with close ties to intelligence agencies. And a New Hampshire Trump supporter who has only recently graduated from high school.
These are some of the people the Trump administration has hired for positions across the federal government, according to documents received by ProPublica through public-records requests.
While President Trump has not moved to fill many jobs that require Senate confirmation, he has quietly installed hundreds of officials to serve as his eyes and ears at every major federal agency, from the Pentagon to the Department of Interior.
Unlike appointees exposed to the scrutiny of the Senate, members of these so-called “beachhead teams” have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities.
While some names have previously dribbled out in the press, we are publishing a list of more than 400 hires, providing the most complete accounting so far of who Trump has brought into the federal government.
The list we obtained includes obscure campaign staffers, contributors to Breitbart and others who have embraced conspiracy theories, as well as dozens of Washington insiders who could be reasonably characterized as part of the “swamp” Trump pledged to drain.
The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains: We found at least 36, spanning industries from health insurance and pharmaceuticals to construction, energy and finance. Many of them lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they have now joined.
That figure is almost certainly an undercount since we only included those who formally registered as lobbyists, a process increasingly avoided by many in Washington.
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Supreme Court Won't Hear Case, But Justice Thomas Questions Constitutionality Of Asset Forfeiture
by Mike Masnick | TechDirt
Tue, Mar 7th 2017
We've been writing about the sheer insanity of asset forfeiture for many, many years. If you happen to have missed it, civil asset forfeiture is the process by which the government can just take your stuff by arguing that it must have been the proceeds of criminal activity. They literally file a lawsuit against your stuff, not you. And, here's the real kicker: in most places, they never have to file any lawsuits about the actual crime, let alone get a conviction. They just get to take your stuff, say that it must have been the proceeds of a crime, and unless you go through the insanely expensive and burdensome process of demanding it back, they effectively get to walk off with your stuff. Law enforcement has literally referred to the process as going shopping. Most people who understand what's going on recognize that it's just state-sponsored theft.
I'm constantly amazed to find people who simply don't believe civil asset forfeiture could possibly work the way it does. The whole process is so crazy and so lacking in basic due process, that many people literally find it unbelievable. And while some states have moved towards requiring a criminal conviction to keep the stuff, many don't have that, and our President and Attorney General are huge fans of civil asset forfeiture -- so it's unlikely to change any time soon.
That is, unless the courts get involved. While the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal on yet another egregious case of civil asset forfeiture, Justice Clarence Thomas issued an accompanying statement suggesting that he's having trouble understanding how civil asset forfeiture could possibly be legal in its current form. The case in question is egregious, but not all that unlike many other cases we've written about. People travelling with a large sum of cash (for a perfectly legit reason) are stripped of the cash by law enforcement who doesn't believe their reasons -- and then never files any criminal charges or anything, but just takes off with the cash: