WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency programs that collect huge volumes of Internet data within the United States pass constitutional muster and employ “reasonable” safeguards designed to protect the rights of Americans, an independent privacy and civil liberties board says.
In a report released Tuesday night, the bipartisan, five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, appointed by President Barack Obama, largely endorsed a set of NSA surveillance programs that have provoked worldwide controversy since they were disclosed last year by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden. However, they urged new internal intelligence agency safeguards to further guard against misuse.
The board, including a Democratic federal judge, two privacy experts and two former Republican Justice Department officials, found that the NSA monitoring was legal and reasonable and that the NSA and other agencies take steps to prevent misuse of Americans’ data.
Judge strikes down gay marriage ban
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage Tuesday, though the ruling was put on hold pending appeal.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville concluded that the state’s prohibition on same-sex couples being wed violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating gay couples differently than straight couples. .
Heyburn previously struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states and countries, but he put the implementation of that ruling on hold. That decision did not deal with whether Kentucky would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Instead, Tuesday’s ruling dealt directly with that question.
Jury rejects lawsuit in station shooting
SAN FRANCISCO – A jury rejected a civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday filed by the father of an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a transit officer at a Bay Area train station.
The jury awarded no damages to Oscar Grant’s father in his suit against the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency and former officer Johannes Mehserle.
The jury unanimously found there were no deep family ties between Oscar Grant III and his father, Oscar Grant Jr., who was in prison at the time of the shooting and remains behind bars for murder.
The shooting on New Year’s Day 2009 at the Fruitvale station in Oakland sparked tension because Mehserle is white and Grant was black.
Mehserle quit BART after the shooting. He was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served about half of his two-year sentence.
More heavy rains worsen flooding
ST. LOUIS – More torrential rain worsened flooding in the Midwest, spawning high water that swept away an Iowa teenager, and caused a traffic nightmare near one of the nation’s busiest airports.
More than 3 inches of rain fell over much of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois Monday night and Tuesday morning, and some areas got up to 5 inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said, capping a week of downpours in the region.
Six Midwest states – North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri – were dealing with significant flooding. By the weekend, the Mississippi River will be at major flood stage along many Iowa, Illinois and Missouri communities, forecasters said.
In Iowa, rescue crews on Tuesday afternoon recovered the body of 17-year-old Logan Blake, of Cedar Rapids, who was swept away in a storm drain Monday night,in a lake a mile away.
The rain overwhelmed the Kennedy Expressway, a major thoroughfare that runs to O’Hare International Airport. All but a single lane heading to the airport was closed for several hours Tuesday because of standing water.
Arthur becomes first named storm
SAVANNAH, Ga. – With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season’s first named storm plodded off Florida’s coast Tuesday night, though Arthur wasn’t yet spooking too many in the storm’s potential path.
“I think everybody’s keeping one eye on the weather and one eye on the events this weekend,” said Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah, the city’s tourism bureau.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted Arthur would become a hurricane by Thursday.