Judge rules against domestic spying program
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that a National Security Agency-run domestic spying program is unconstitutional and has ordered an immediate halt.
In her Aug. 16 ruling, Taylor said the program, which involved tapping phone calls of individuals in the U.S. who frequently talk with people in the Middle East, violates free speech and privacy rights. She also said it violates the constitutional separation of powers. President Bush maintains that the program is legal.
Earlier this year, a court challenge was brought by area resident Nizah Hassan, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Subsequent to the original challenge, the plaintiffs filed a motion in early March requesting the domestic spying program be declared illegal by summary judgment. Their argument was that the NSA must get approval from a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to conduct domestic spying. Taylor held a hearing on June 12.
Justice department lawyers had wanted the case dismissed, claiming halting the program would affect national security.
For now, both sides have agreed to let the spying program, established in 2002, continue, pending a government appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
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Terrorism charges dropped against men suspected of plotting attack on Mackinac Bridge
Terrorism charges against Three Texas men arrested recently in Caro have been dropped. The men had been suspected of plotting a terrorist attack at the Mackinac Bridge, based on photographs of the five-mile bridge, and nearly 1,000 pre-paid Nokia cell phones discovered in their van by police. Cell phones can be used to detonate explosives.
The men, Adham Othman, 21, his brother Louai Othman, 23, and their cousin, Maruan Muhareb, 18, have instead been changed with two counts related to fraud in federal court in Bay City. According to reports, federal investigators believe the men may have been part of a counterfeiting operation in which altered cell phones are distributed overseas.
The men first attracted the attention of police when a suspicious Caro Wal-Mart clerk notified them after they had purchased 80 pre-paid cell phones. According to reports, the phones, which generate high profit margins, are not easy to obtain in Texas.
An attorney for the three men has said they were victims of racial profiling.
If convicted of the fraud charges, each could face up to 25 years in prison.
Federal judge to rule by Sept. 8 in anti-affirmative action case
U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow said he will issue a written ruling by Sept. 8 in the fight over the affirmative action ban.
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick filed a lawsuit citing the petitions misled voters into believing they would be helping to keep affirmative action if it is on the November ballot.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, led by Ward Connerly, aims to ban state-sponsored affirmative action programs in Michigan. In a previous ruling, state courts said the proposal should be placed before voters in November.
Partnership agreements in progress for Tindal and Cannon recreation centers
The Detroit Recreation Department is negotiating partnership agreements for Tindal Recreation Center, 10301 W. Seven Mile Road, and Cannon Recreation Center, 5103 Guilford Street. Detroit Recreation Department programming ended Aug. 18. When the agreements have been reached, the new operating organization for the facility will schedule community programs.
Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center, 637 Brewster, is currently not involved in partnership negotiations and will begin programming on Friday, August 25.
The criteria used to determine which recreation centers would be slated for closure and partnership possibilities included recreation center location, condition, capacity, age, services offered, and number of people served.
The Recreation Department will continue to operate 15 recreation centers, with at least one in each of the two Recreation Department districts open Monday through Saturday.
Popular programs, such as senior programs, peewee basketball, swimming, and boxing, will continue to be offered.
For more information, please call (313) 224-1129 or visit the Detroit Recreation Department Web site at www.detroitmi.gov/recreation.
Alert issued on imposter fire inspectors
A warning has been issued to alert the community about imposter fire inspectors. Official Detroit Fire Marshal Division Fire Prevention Inspectors do not do not solicit business, they do not accept cash for services rendered and when on-duty are in Fire Department uniforms and have picture identification.
If this occurs, call 911 or one of these Detroit Police District numbers: Central District, 4747 Woodward Ave.; (313) 596-1300; Southwestern District, 4700 W. Fort St., (313) 596-5300; Northeastern District, 5100 E. Nevada, (313) 596-1100; Western District, 1441 W. 7 Mile Rd., (313) 596-1200; Eastern District, 11184 Gratiot, (313) 596-5500; Northwestern District, 11450 Warwick, (313) 596-5600.
Health Alliance Plan announces CuraNet acquisition and geographic expansion
The Detroit-based Health Alliance Plan (HAP) has acquired Okemos-based CuraNet, LLC, a regional network of 78 hospitals and 9,100 physicians serving Michigan, northwest Ohio and northern Indiana. CuraNet’s PPO network will be available to HAP PPO customers through HAP’s two subsidiaries, Preferred Health Plan and Alliance Health and Life Insurance Company.
Fran Parker, HAP president and CEO, said the CuraNet acquisition strengthens HAP’s outstate provider network, enabling it to compete effectively for business in key Michigan markets while maintaining responsiveness to the local market. Parker also said current and future clients will gain access to high quality physicians and hospitals through this geographic expansion.
CuraNet’s sole owner and president, Harry Dalsey, said the acquisiton will enable CuraNet to better serve its existing clients. HAP will serve as the single coordination point between provider network partners and payors.
HAP markets PPO products to third-party administrators (TPAs), self-insured employers, Taft-Hartley/Union Health and Welfare Funds, other claims payors and groups.
Michigan Women’s Commission to hold public hearing on issues impacting women
The Michigan Women’s Commission (MWC) will host a public hearing on Wednesday, September 13, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., following a one hour general meeting beginning at 3 p.m. Both the meeting and public hearing will be held at Oakland Community College, 27055 Orchard Lake Road, Building J, Room 2006, in Farmington Hills.
The forum is titled, “Issues Impacting Women,” and will provide participants an opportunity to present verbal or written testimony about issues of concern to women in Oakland County. Invitations have been extended to several leaders in the community to address issues like domestic violence and women in business.
The Michigan Women’s Commission is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Michigan women. The 15 member commission and liaisons from various state departments are using the public hearings as a way to learn more about issues and problems relevant to women, and how the commission can assist in the resolution of these issues. The Women’s Commission has held previous hearings at several locations throughout the state, most recently in Saginaw this past July.
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