With a March 15 deadline looming, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would extend controversial provisions of a sweeping surveillance law for three years.

The bill, which passed 278-136, renews and makes changes to three provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that allows the federal government to conduct surveillance and access certain records when conducting intelligence investigations.

Three key provisions of the law are set to expire on March 15 and opposition from both the left and right threatened to scuttle their reauthorization before party leaders were able to strike a deal on Tuesday.

The reauthorized provisions include one that allows the government to obtain certain types of documents in intelligence investigations and others that authorize surveillance of people who do not have ties to specific foreign countries or terror groups and wiretaps that can move when a target changes devices.

Chief among the reforms in the bill is the elimination of an authorization in the records provision, known as section 215, that allows the government to collect details about phone calls and text messages, including which numbers contacted each other and how long calls lasted.

Though the program was suspended in 2019, Greg Nojeim, the director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said the reform is significant because a future administration would need to expressly ask Congress in order to revive it.

“It’s been proven to be not very useful and very privacy-invasive and we’re glad that Congress is putting the nail in the coffin on that program by repealing the statutory authorization,” Nojeim said in an interview.

The bill also requires the government to get a warrant if it would be required to do so to obtain the records it seeks in a traditional law enforcement investigation. It also mandates the government notify people who are targeted in national security investigations if their information will be used in a legal proceeding or criminal prosecution.

In addition, the bill expands the instances in which secretive intelligence courts appoint friends of the court, known as amicus curiae, to aid in their decision making.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said while the bill does not make all of the changes he would like to see to the government’s surveillance authority, it does include important reforms.

“Our job as members of Congress is to make sure that our intelligence capabilities are robust, but also to provide a critical check to claw back authorities that go too far and to press for changes that protect our civil liberties to the maximum extent possible,” Nadler said on the House floor before the vote.

The Trump administration has signaled support for the reauthorization, but it has faced bipartisan opposition from a coalition of liberal Democrats and Republicans with civil libertarian leanings. In the end, more Democrats than Republicans voted against the reauthorization legislation in the House.

“I have reviewed the House FISA bill and support its passage,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. “The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people.”

Civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill, even while acknowledging it includes some positive reforms from previous legislation.

“After weeks of huffing and puffing over FISA surveillance abuses, Congress has delivered yet another half-measure and is now trying to jam it through with little debate and no amendments,” Christopher Anders, the deputy political director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “With only minimal improvements over current law, the reforms in this backroom deal fall far short of what is needed to protect our privacy rights.”

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who was one of the lawmakers whose opposition made the bill’s future uncertain, agreed with the ACLU’s characterization of the legislation in a floor speech explaining her decision to vote against the bill.

A contentious issue at any time in Washington, the reauthorization fight comes amid renewed scrutiny of the federal government’s surveillance authority following its use during investigations into allegations of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed his campaign was spied on and that the FBI targeted the campaign out of political animus.

A December report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz quashed Trump’s allegations, finding the probes were properly initiated and not tainted with political bias.  But the report was sharply critical of how the FBI handled applications to conduct surveillance of Carter Page, who at the time was working as an adviser to the Trump campaign.

Responding to concerns from Republicans over this conduct, the legislation also creates protections for people engaged in First Amendment activities.



Harvey Weinstein was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault, a sight the disgraced Hollywood mogul’s multitude of accusers thought they would never see.

Weinstein, who has been accused of violating scores of women, was convicted last month of raping a once-aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on former TV and film production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006. He faced a maximum of 29 years in prison.

The jury found him not guilty of the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, which could have resulted in a life sentence in New York.

Both women confronting Weinstein again in court Wednesday after their testimony helped seal his conviction at the landmark #MeToo trial.

Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan courthouse for his rape trial in New York.

“It takes a very special kind of evil to exploit connections to leverage rape,” said the 2013 rape accuser.

“Rape is not just one moment of penetration. It is forever,” added the woman, who recalled a moment during the trial when she left the witness stand in tears and then could be heard screaming from an adjacent room.

“The day my screams were heard from the witness room was the day my voice came back to its full power,” she said.

Asked later about her reaction after the sentence, she wiped her eyes, raised her arm and nodded her head.

The Associated Press has a policy of not naming people who have been sexually assaulted without their consent. It is withholding the rape accuser’s name because it is not clear whether she wishes to be identified.

Weinstein, who has maintained that any sexual any sexual activity was consensual, showed no visible reaction to the sentence. Beforehand, he broke his courtroom silence with a rambling plea for mercy in which he said his “empathy has grown” since his downfall.

He told the court he felt “remorse for this situation” but said he was perplexed by the case and the #MeToo climate in which it unfolded. “Thousands of men are losing due process. I’m worried about this country,” he said, arguing that men are being accused of “things that none of us understood.”

“I’m totally confused. I think men are confused about these issues,” he said in a calm but creaking voice, adding that he had fond memories of his accusers.

Looking back during the trial at emails they exchanged, he said, he thought they had a good friendship: “I had wonderful times with these people.”

The executive behind such Oscar-winning films as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction” became Exhibit A for the #MeToo movement after years of whispers about his alleged behavior burst into public view in The New York Times and The New Yorker in 2017.

More than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman, eventually came forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The takedown energized the #MeToo campaign of speaking up about sexual assault and holding perpetrators accountable.

Weinstein faces a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 29 years in prison for raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006. A second criminal case is pending in California. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Donna Rotunno, told the court he faced an uphill fight from the start of the trial, with media coverage of his allegations and the #MeToo movement making it impossible for him to get a truly fair shake.

“How can we deny the fact that what happened before we walked in here had an impact?” Rotunno asked.

Weinstein’s lawyers pleaded for leniency because of his age and frail health, and prosecutors, who said the man once celebrated as a titan of Hollywood deserved a harsh sentence that would account for allegations of wrongdoing dating back decades.

Attorney Gloria Allred arrives at court for the sentencing of Harvey Weinstein in his rape trial, in New York

Weinstein was sentenced a week shy of his 68th birthday, and his lawyers argued that a lengthy prison term would, in effect, be a life sentence. They had sought a five-year sentence.

Weinstein used a walker throughout the trial and arrived at the courthouse Wednesday in wheelchair because of back problems from a car crash last summer. He has a condition that requires shots in his eyes and last week had a stent placed to unblock an artery.

. Weinstein faces a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 29 years in prison for raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006. A second criminal case is pending in California. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The agency that runs New York’s state prisons said every inmate is evaluated to determine which facility meets his or her security, medical, mental health and other needs.

The New York case was the first criminal matter to arise from accusations of more than 90 women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek and Uma Thurman.

The Associated Press has a policy of not naming people who have been sexually assaulted without their consent. It is withholding the rape accuser’s name because it is not clear whether she wishes to be identified.

Weinstein was convicted on two counts: criminal sex act for the 2006 assault on the production assistant and rape in the third degree for a 2013 attack on another woman.

He was acquitted of the more serious charges against him of first-degree rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.

Now that Weinstein has been sentenced, his lawyers can move forward with a promised appeal.

His legal team was upset with Burke’s handling of the case, from his inclusion of a juror who’d written a novel involving predatory older men to his rulings on evidence, witnesses and objections.

Just as jury selection was about to get under way in January, Weinstein was charged in California with raping a woman at a Los Angeles hotel on Feb. 18, 2013, after pushing his way inside her room, and sexually assaulting a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel suite the next night.

Weinstein could get up to 28 years in prison on charges of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery in the California case. Authorities have not said when he would go there to face those charges.

Three more sexual assault cases under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and Beverly Hills’ police could mean that he’ll face additional charges. No details have been provided on these cases.


p style=”text-align: center”>DAWG SAYS: DON’T DROP THE SOAP HARVEY!!!


If you’re looking for a cozy little cabin in the mountains with a long and illustrious history, we’ve found just the spot.

Originally built in 1801, this cedar cabin in the Wrightwood Mountains of Southern California has been the home of forest rangers, cattle ranchers, and philosophers for over two centuries. It can now be purchased by a nature lover with $635,000 and an extreme desire to get away from it all.

The cabin’s build date also means the property boasts the title of oldest structure currently for sale in the entire Golden State.

The original log cabin was the area’s first ranger station, built at an elevation of 5,900 feet above the Mojave Desert. The property, with views of the Blue Ridge Trail, encompasses two parcels of wooded land and measures nearly 3 acres.

Over the decades, the cabin was nicknamed “Green Gate.” In 1910, cattle rancher Sumner Wright (for whom the neighboring town of Wrightwood is named) took up residence on the property.

In 1945, the Rajagopal family acquired the property and turned it into a sort of intellectual salon. Visitors included Aldous and Maria Huxley, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Igor Stravinsky, and Greta Garbo.

Descendants of the Rajagopal family still own the property to this day.

The cabin has two bedrooms and one bath, a flagstone courtyard, a living room with rock fireplace, and a large porch covered by a wood lattice.

There are wood floors and extensive wood paneling, cabinets, and other built-ins throughout.

Although it seems remote, the cabin is conveniently close to the Pacific Crest Trail, a small ski resort, and the village of Wrightwood, which has a mix of quaint shops and restaurants.

The cabin is rustic by today’s standards, but its historical significance is undeniable. All it needs is a buyer to make the trek up the mountain and purchase this piece of California history.



A Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputy will not be charged the Nye County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday afternoon.


Deputy James Ramos, 47, was arrested and booked into the Nye County Detention Center after he fired one bullet toward an unarmed suspect who was fleeing arrest near a Walmart in Pahrump, the Sheriff’s Office has said. Police said nobody was injured.

The deputy faced charges of assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a weapon where someone might be injured. The agency added that he violated internal policy by firing at the unarmed suspect.

But Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said Ramos lacked criminal intent when he shot toward the person. Arabia said Ramos was doing his job and serving the community late at night when the shooting occurred.

“It all boils down to intent in this case, and I just don’t see any malicious or corrupt intent, so I don’t think prosecuting Deputy Ramos would be the right thing to do,” Arabia said in a statement. “Regardless of whether or not he made a mistake with respect to police procedures, I don’t think it’s something that rises to the level of a crime.”

Ramos was placed on administrative leave after the shooting. Reached by phone Tuesday, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said the deputy remained on leave. She said her agency is still conducting an internal investigation.