Police are Still Weaponizing Copyright to Prevent Transparency

YouTube and other social media websites have strict rules on playing copyrighted content. Police have been using that to prevent embarrassing videos from being posted on the platforms.

Residents in Santa Ana, California were woken up by blasting music around 11pm on April 4, a Monday. But the music was not a bass bumping rap song or a heavy metal piece with screaming vocals, it was “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” from the animated Disney film “Encanto.” And it was not being played by a teenage house party or an inconsiderate driver with a loud sound system, but a police vehicle.

Police responded to a stolen vehicle call in the neighborhood when an observer who runs the YouTube channel Santa Ana Audits started recording the activity. That’s when officers started blasting the Disney owned track, in an apparent attempt to prevent the video from being posted on YouTube and Instagram. Thanks to those platform’s algorithmic copyright enforcement, any video that includes a copyrighted song is susceptible to being removed. Its channel owners are also subject to warnings and even getting banned from the platform.

Unfortunately for Santa Ana Police, they happened to be in the neighborhood of city councilman David Penaloza who, like many of his neighbors, was awakened by the ruckus caused by the city’s police department.

Penaloza came outside and confronted the officer, who admitted that what he was doing was intended to prevent the video captured by Santa Ana Audits making its way onto YouTube.

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BLM Co-Founder Says She Gets ‘Triggered’ by Charity Transparency Laws

Patrisse Cullors, the Black Lives Matter co-founder who cashed out and got millions of dollars in media contracts, says that the recent scrutiny of BLM’s “charitable” finances upsets her.

Black Lives Matter is embroiled in several scandals involving the $90 million they raised in 2020 to end police brutality and racism. The most recent eyebrow-raiser was the revelation that the group purchased a $6 million mansion in California that has rarely been used for the purposes they say.

There’s also the matter of the $60 million in funds that no one at BLM Global appears to be in charge of.

Cullors says she gets “triggered” when anyone mentions the IRS form 990 — the form charities must complete that reveals donors and sources of money.

Washington Examiner:

“I actually did not know what 990s were before all of this happened,” Cullors said, an apparent reference to the Washington Examiner’s reporting in January about BLM’s lack of financial and leadership transparency that led multiple states, including California, to order the charity to cease raising funds until it discloses what it did with the $90 million it raised in 2020.

Cullors said activists suffer trauma and that their lives are put at risk when charities under their control are required to disclose publicly what they did with their tax-deductible donations.

“This doesn’t seem safe for us, this 990 structure — this nonprofit system structure,” Cullors said. “This is, like, deeply unsafe. This is being literally weaponized against us, against the people we work with.”

The system that was designed to prevent fraudsters like Cullors from fleecing people is “deeply unsafe”? Isn’t that sort of like a bank robber complaining that it’s too difficult to open the safe and questioning why the cash can’t just be laid out in the open so it can be easily grabbed?

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Hospitals Make $120 Billion While Skirting Federal Transparency Law

Three of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the U.S. made a combined $120 billion in 2021, while violating federal transparency laws, according to an investigation by Patient Rights Advocate.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Affordable Care Act required hospitals to be transparent about what they charge patients.

The Hospital Price Transparency Rule requires providers to post prices for their medical services online in a “machine-readable standard charges list for all items and services for all payers and plans” as well as a “standard charges list or price estimator tool for the 300 most common shoppable services,” according to the report.

The idea was to promote competition between hospitals, thereby lowering prices.

The Patient Rights Advocate report found that only 14 percent of the 1,000 hospitals reviewed were compliant with these regulations, and only 0.5 percent of hospitals owned by the three largest U.S. hospital systems – HCA Healthcare, CommonSpirit Health, and Ascension – were compliant.

None of the HCA Healthcare system’s 118 hospitals were compliant, the report found, and those three large systems made a combined $120 billion (page 3).

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CDC, Other Health Agencies Won’t Provide Employee Vaccination Data From 2022

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and three other top federal health agencies are refusing to provide employee COVID-19 vaccination data for 2022.

The CDC and the other agencies, including the one that is forcing virtually all health care workers to get a vaccine, say their most current employee vaccination data is from Dec. 3, 2021.

The Epoch Times asked the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through media requests and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, to provide vaccination data current through March 2022, including the number of unvaccinated workers and the number of workers who received an exemption to President Joe Biden’s federal worker mandate, which is blocked by courts as of January.

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for virtually all Americans 5 and older. Its guidance has been used to justify mandates across the country, including on the federal level.

An official at the agency, which has 12,045 employees, pointed to the December 2021 figures. At that time, 96.4 percent of the CDC’s employees had gotten vaccinated and another 3.2 percent were in compliance with the mandate, or had pending or approved exemption requests.

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Pelosi Congress Claims Sovereign Immunity in Federal Court to Keep Secret January 6 Videos and Emails

“The Pelosi Congress (and its police department) is telling a federal court it is immune from all transparency under law and is trying to hide every second of its January 6 videos and countless emails,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The hypocrisy is rich, as this is the same Congress that is trying to jail witnesses who, citing privileges, object to providing documents to the Pelosi rump January 6 committee.”

In November 2021, Judicial Watch revealed multiple audiovisual and photo records from the DC Metropolitan Police Department about the shooting death of Ashli Babbitt on January 6, 2021, in the U.S. Capitol Building.  The records include a cell phone video of the shooting and an audio of a brief police interview of the shooter, Lt. Michael Byrd. In October, Judicial Watch released records, showing that multiple officers claimed they didn’t see a weapon in Babbitt’s hand before Byrd shot her, and that Byrd was visibly distraught afterward. One officer attested that he didn’t hear any verbal commands before Byrd shot Babbitt.

Also in November, Judicial Watch filed a response in opposition to the Department of Justice’s effort to block Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit asking for records of communication between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and several financial institutions about the reported transfer of financial transaction records of people in DC, Maryland and Virginia on January 5 and January 6, 2021. Judicial Watch argues that Justice Department should not be allowed to shield “improper activity.”

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The Foilies 2022

Each year during Sunshine Week (March 13-19), The Foilies serve up tongue-in-cheek “awards” for government agencies and assorted institutions that stand in the way of access to information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock combine forces to collect horror stories about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state-level public records requests from journalists and transparency advocates across the United States and beyond. Our goal is to identify the most surreal document redactions, the most aggravating copy fees, the most outrageous retaliation attempts, and all the other ridicule-worthy attacks on the public’s right to know.

And every year since 2015, as we’re about to crown these dubious winners, something new comes to light that makes us consider stopping the presses.

As we were writing up this year’s faux awards, news broke that officials from the National Archives and Records Administration had to lug away boxes upon boxes of Trump administration records from Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private resort. At best, it was an inappropriate move; at worst, a potential violation of laws governing the retention of presidential records and the handling of classified materials. And while Politico had reported that when Trump was still in the White House, he liked to tear up documents, we also just learned from journalist Maggie Haberman’s new book that staff claimed to find toilets clogged up with paper scraps, which were potentially torn-up government records. Trump has dismissed the allegations, of course. 

This was all too deliciously ironic considering how much Trump had raged about his opponent (and 2016 Foilies winner) Hillary Clinton’s practice of storing State Department communications on a private server. Is storing potentially classified correspondence on a personal email system any worse than hoarding top secret documents at a golf club? Is “acid washing” records, as Trump accused Clinton, any less farcical than flushing them down the john? 

Ultimately, we decided not to give Trump his seventh Foilie. Technically, he isn’t eligible: his presidential records won’t be subject to FOIA until he’s been out of office for five years (releasing classified records could take years, or decades, if ever).

Instead, we’re sticking with our original 16 winners, from federal agencies to small-town police departments to a couple of corporations, who are all shameworthy in their own rights and, at least metaphorically, have no problem tossing government transparency in the crapper.

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How government over-classification may hide UFO videos and harm our security

Remember those videos taken by U.S. military pilots showing unidentified objects flying at incredible speeds and executing impossible maneuvers? They’ve appeared widely in various media since 2017, but soon — if DOD gets its way — you may not be able to watch them, thanks to a move to classify all such videos and other materials relating to UFOs, officially known as unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). 

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines recently acknowledged that excessive government classification undermines U.S. national security. As she wrote in January in a letter to U.S. senators, “It is my view that deficiencies in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as critical democratic objectives, by impeding our ability to share information in a timely manner.”

She also acknowledged that excessive classification damages the public’s faith in government and “reduces the Intelligence Community’s capacity to effectively support senior policymaker decision-making.”

The DNI’s testimony followed that of senior military officers who have complained to Congress regarding excessive classification.

This is, in fact, a problem familiar to anyone who has worked extensively with classified U.S. government information. 

The DNI’s concerns are particularly timely and important. As I used to remind my security and counterintelligence colleagues in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, we did not win the Cold War because we were better at protecting information; we won the Cold War because we were much better at moving and sharing information, especially in the private marketplace, where the resulting efficiencies and innovation enabled us to consistently outpace and outperform the Soviet Union.

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British Medical Journal Demands Immediate Release of All COVID-19 Vaccine, Treatment Data

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has demanded the full and immediate release of all data related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, saying it is in the public’s interest to do so.

BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical trade journal published by the trade union the British Medical Association, called for the release of the data in an editorial published on Wednesday.

“Today, despite the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the anonymized participant-level data underlying the trials for these new products remain inaccessible to doctors, researchers, and the public—and are likely to remain that way for years to come,” BMJ said.

“This is morally indefensible for all trials, but especially for those involving major public health interventions.”

BMJ also accused pharmaceutical companies of “reaping vast profits without adequate independent scrutiny of their scientific claims,” pointing to Pfizer, whose COVID vaccine trial was “funded by the company and designed, run, analyzed, and authored by Pfizer employees.”

New York-headquartered Pfizer still holds that trial data and has indicated that it won’t begin considering requests for such data until May 2025—24 months after the primary study completion date of May 15, 2023, which is listed on ClinicalTrials.gov.

Meanwhile, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had asked a judge to give it 75 years to produce all the data concerning the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

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US National Archives Releases Additional 1,491 Documents on John F. Kennedy Assassination

The US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) said on Wednesday it released an additional 1,491 declassified records related to the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.

The US government over the next year will continue to review 14,000 previously withheld records to determine if any additional records should be made available to the public, however, certain records will be withheld if there is a strong reason to do so, according to the release.

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