Tag Archives: protecting

The government has a new strategy aimed at protecting Norway against terrorism

The Norwegian government has developed a new national strategy to prevent and counter terrorism.

“This year, it will be ten years since the terror attacks hit us on July 22. The government has placed great emphasis on the work with emergency preparedness over the years, and we have followed up on all of the July 22 Commission’s recommendations,” Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness Monica Mæland (H) noted in a press release.

The July 22 Commission concluded, among other things, that the perpetrator of the attacks could have been stopped earlier.

“Even though we have followed up the July 22 Commission’s recommendations, the work of preventing and dealing with terrorism can never stop. 

“We must continue to assess new needs and new measures to follow the ongoing developments. The government has therefore developed a new national counter-terrorism strategy,” Mæland stated.

The strategy points in particular to four priority measures:

  • Provide the PST and the Intelligence Service with a legislative framework that closes the gaps that have arisen due to technology development.
  • Provide more information to actors considered potential terrorist targets.
  • Strengthen local cooperation against terrorist incidents and strengthen reintegration into society among radicals or already convicted persons.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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This post originally posted here Norway Government & Politics News

Billie Eilish: Finneas O’Connell opens up on ‘protecting’ younger sister from ‘creeps’

Today, March 29, 2021, marks the second anniversary of Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The record sold more than 1.3 million copies in three months. Since the album’s release the 19-year-old has become one of the most famous artists in the music industry and has received a lot of attention in her career. Her brother and producer, Finneas, has now opened up on attempting to keep her safe every step of the way.
The artists appeared in an interview with The Sunday Times this weekend where they were asked about trust in the industry.

Finneas got candid and replied: “We have a team we really trust and our parents around.

“But I always think of it, because of the amount of people we meet. I’m always trying to help facilitate the safest environment for her.”

Finneas, who is four-years-older than his sister, then spoke about chaperoning Billie throughout her career.

READ MORE: Billie Eilish’s ‘reoccurring nightmares’ inspired her debut album

Finneas continued: “She’s 19 now, but over the past couple of years, she was very young.

“And so I’ve wanted to be as protective as I can. I never wasn’t in a room with her when we wrote with other people in the first couple of years.

“Part of that was the feeling: ‘I want to keep this kid safe.’ Not to be overbearing, but just a witness. Make sure that nobody is being a creep.”

The siblings’ parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, add to the protection and still work closely with them every day.

Billie’s Apple TV Plus documentary, The World’s A Little Blurry, showed the parents attending photo shoots, recording sessions and gigs well past her 18th birthday.

Last year Maggie revealed the struggles she had with Billie’s upbringing over her reaction to a Justin Bieber song, however.

She explained the young star was so “obsessed” with the Canadian singer they considered getting her professional help.

Speaking on Apple Music Podcast Me & Dad Radio, she said: “Driving to the dance studio with Billie playing this song, sobbing, and then driving back and sobbing. And the video, and Billie talking about it, and being excited it was coming out, and just crying and crying.”

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Maggie said to Billie: “I just want to say we did consider taking you to therapy for how incredibly… you were in so much pain over Justin Bieber. It was so intense, it caused you so much pain.”

Although Billie’s parents are heavily involved with her work, the artist has not sacrificed anything creatively.

Speaking about the themes and ideas behind her first album with Zane Lowe in 2019 the star said: “For me, every song in the album… there is sleep paralysis. There’s night terrors, nightmares, lucid dreams.

“Sleep and not sleep have always been a big part of my life. I’ve always had really, really bad night terrors.”

Billie, who was 17-years-old at the time of the interview, went on: “I’ve had sleep paralysis five times.

“All my dreams are lucid so I control them. And I know that I’m dreaming when I’m dreaming so… I don’t even know.

“Sometimes I’ll have dreams where the thing that was in my dream will happen the next day. It’s so weird. It’s so weird.”

SOURCE

Texas George Floyd Act seeks to reform violent police behavior

Texas George Floyd Act seeks to reform violent police behavior

The Texas House’s George Floyd Act[2] is a sweeping police reform bill, named after a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer last year, that would in part ban chokeholds and require officers to intervene if their partner is using excessive force. The longtime lawmaker who wrote it presented it as a measure to end systemic racism and protect Texans from police brutality.

But at the center of debate over the bill Thursday was an existing legal shield that protects officers from lawsuits when they’re accused of violating someone’s state constitutional rights. Police officials lamented that House Bill 88[3] could remove that protection, called qualified immunity. Bill author state Rep. Senfronia Thompson[4] remained adamant that the measure is key to the legislation.

“This bill is not about punishing the good cops. There are many of them out there and we are thankful for their service,” the Houston Democrat told the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. “This bill is about preserving the sanctity of life.”

The qualified immunity measure is a piece of the bill that multiple lawmakers have pegged as a sticking point in the Republican-led Legislature, a point that was spotlighted Thursday as passions rose in support and opposition of it.

“Qualified immunity is a loophole for police officers, but victims have no loophole. This has got to stop,” said Marian Tolan, whose son, Robbie, ultimately won a drawn-out legal fight[5] against qualified immunity after being shot in front of his home by Bellaire officers in 2008.

“This bill must pass and qualified immunity needs to stay in it,” Tolan told lawmakers.

Police officials were the main opponents of removing qualified immunity, a court-established protection intended to prevent government employees from frivolous litigation. Their opposition to that measure came even while some accepted other provisions of the bill, like implementing a statewide policy on police force. Union leaders argued Thursday that removing qualified immunity would prompt police to quit in droves and put all blame on individual officers for any wrongdoing, even if officers were following policies enacted at the city level.

“I don’t see anything in here that says the mayor is going to suddenly be responsible for action,” said Charley Wilkison, the executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. “This is going to be aimed at the shift worker.”

After more than six hours of testimony from the dozens of people Thursday — the vast majority of whom supported HB 88 — lawmakers left the matter pending without voting on the bill.

Last summer, Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott[6], condemned Floyd’s death in police custody and suggested Texas pass a bill in his name, as has been filed. But Abbott and other Republicans largely stayed quiet on the state’s own problem[7] with police killing Black residents. Since last fall, Abbott has turned his attention away from policing reforms and is instead focusing on maintaining police funding[8].

A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a question about HB 88 Thursday.

Until the recently renewed nationwide criticism of American policing and its disproportionate harm against Black people, qualified immunity garnered little public attention. But its use has long been prevalent in the courts.

Last month, a conservative federal appeals court dismissed[9] a lawsuit against two Texas police officers, citing qualified immunity. That suit stemmed from a 2017 incident during which Arlington police officers responded to a mental health crisis and encountered a suicidal man who had doused himself in gasoline. The officers acknowledged that Gabriel Eduardo Olivas could be set ablaze with electricity, but they tased him anyway. Olivas was engulfed in flames and died several days later.

Olivas’ family had turned to the civil courts, arguing the officers violated his constitutional rights, as the officers faced no criminal charges and the Arlington Police Department defended them.

The U.S. Supreme Court created qualified immunity protections about 50 years ago, and it has been used in recent years to block thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold police accountable in cases where they are accused of excessive force, according to a Reuters investigation[10].

To move forward with a civil rights violation lawsuit against a police officer, courts must first decide if there is enough evidence to prove that officers used unconstitutional force against a person. If a judge rules the action was likely excessive force, the court must then find that officers should have known they were breaking clearly established law, meaning another court had already found similar police actions were illegal. The hurdles have been labeled by qualified immunity critics as a Catch-22 and nearly impossible to overcome.

“What qualified immunity is, and why everyone is outraged, is because even if your constitutional rights are violated, qualified immunity still exists” Arif Panju, the managing attorney for the Institute for Justice in Texas, told lawmakers.

With notable pushback to completely removing qualified immunity protections for officers, Panju suggested taking liability off the individual and placing it on the employer, who would then have a financial incentive to hire the best people, he said.

“If I get hit by a UPS driver, I’m not suing the driver, I’m suing UPS,” he said.

Last year, Floyd’s death prompted national protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Since then, multiple state legislatures and the U.S. Congress have pushed for police reforms in Floyd’s name. A congressional bill, which has passed the House but appears stalled in the Senate[11], would also change federal qualified immunity and make it easier to prosecute officers accused of wrongdoing.

Kevin Lawrence, who leads the Texas Municipal Police Association, said the Washington D.C., legislation has already prompted officers to leave the law enforcement profession.

“It’s really hard to imagine that our difficulties recruiting and retaining officers could get any worse than it could now,” he said. “Getting rid of qualified immunity would make it exponentially worse.”

But Thompson, the Houston Democrat, held firm on her bill’s language, telling reporters Thursday evening that police officials will always find something on police reforms to oppose.

“Qualified immunity is a problem, we need to keep it in the bill,” she said.

References

  1. ^ Sign up for The Brief (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ Texas House’s George Floyd Act (www.texastribune.org)
  3. ^ House Bill 88 (capitol.texas.gov)
  4. ^ Senfronia Thompson (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ won a drawn-out legal fight (www.houstonchronicle.com)
  6. ^ Greg Abbott (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ largely stayed quiet on the state’s own problem (www.texastribune.org)
  8. ^ instead focusing on maintaining police funding (www.texastribune.org)
  9. ^ conservative federal appeals court dismissed (www.forbes.com)
  10. ^ a Reuters investigation (www.reuters.com)
  11. ^ has passed the House but appears stalled in the Senate (www.nytimes.com)

Jolie McCullough

After Atlanta and Colorado mass shootings, Texas GOP leaders double down on protecting gun owners

Texas’ Republican leaders are responding to the recent back-to-back mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado with commitments to protect gun ownership in the state.

They’re doubling down against President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats who are pushing for stronger gun laws, including an assault weapons ban, after eight people were killed in Atlanta last week and 10 more in Boulder this week.

“They are gonna come to get your guns,” said Gov. Greg Abbott[1], speaking at a Texas Young Republicans dinner in the Austin area on Tuesday evening, just a day after a gunman went on a rampage in a Colorado grocery store.

The renewed commitment from GOP leaders to protect gun owners comes as the first Texas legislative session is underway since 2019’s mass shootings[2] in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, where a total of 30 people were killed and 50 more were injured. After the 2019 massacres, Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick[3] struck a softer tone regarding gun control legislation[4], hinting at potential common ground with Democrats as they raised concerns about state laws allowing private gun sales between strangers without background checks.

At the dinner, Abbott said there is an even greater urgency this legislative session to pass laws expanding gun rights because of Biden’s presidency.

“Yes, what Beto said turned out to be true,” Abbott said, in a reference to the former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s comment during his bid for president that, “Hell, yes,”[5] he wanted to take away people’s AR-15s and AK-47s.

“All I’ve gotta say to Beto is, ‘Hell no, Beto, you’re not gonna come get our guns in the Lone Star State,'” Abbott said.

The political winds have completely shifted since the Texas shootings, and Democrats now control Congress and the Oval Office. Biden, a longtime supporter of gun control laws, reinvigorated the decadeslong battle surrounding federal gun laws this week when he called for an assault weapons ban and stronger background checks for gun purchases.

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue,” Biden said Tuesday. “We have to act.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz[6] was quick to push back on Democrats.

“Every time there is a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. His comments quickly drew criticism from prominent gun control advocates.

“After sixteen people were killed in a hot air balloon in Lockhart, Texas, Ted Cruz authored and passed federal legislation improving safety rules,” tweeted Shannon Watts[7], founder of Moms Demand Action. “I guess that’s not because laws don’t work, but because there’s no hot air balloon lobby funding his Senate seat.”

Cruz’s spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday, “It is clear from their rhetoric Democrats aren’t interested in actual solutions. They just want to take guns away from law abiding citizens while making Americans less safe.”

State Rep. César Blanco[8], D-El Paso, who has advocated for stronger gun laws in the state after the massacre at a Walmart in his city, fired back at Cruz.

“I quite frankly don’t need to hear anything from Sen. Cruz. He has said enough. I think his actions or inaction speak louder than words,” Blanco said in an interview. “He chalked it up to theater when people are looking for real solutions to save lives. I think that hurts people.”

Texas Republican lawmakers have been key opponents of attempts to revive a federal ban on assault weapons that was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Cruz led the fight against an effort to reintroduce an assault weapons ban in 2012 following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Critics point to studies that say the original ban had little effect on overall criminal activity and firearm homicides. However, gun control advocates say there is evidence that suggests the legislation was successful at decreasing the number of mass shootings in the nation.[9][10]

Now Abbott and GOP state lawmakers are laying a groundwork to block Texas from federal gun regulation through legislation that could make Texas a “Second Amendment sanctuary state,” prohibiting state agencies and local governments from enforcing new federal gun laws or rules.

“We need to erect a complete barrier against any government official anywhere from treading on gun rights in Texas,” Abbott said during his annual State of the State address in February.

Abbott did not respond to a request for comment.

Dozens of gun measures[11] have been filed on both sides of the aisle this year, including a slate of bills by El Paso’s statehouse delegation aimed at preventing future mass shootings by restricting assault weapons and keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them, among other changes.

As of Wednesday, none of the at least seven “Second Amendment sanctuary state” bills had been scheduled for a committee hearing.

Other proposals would make it easier for Texans to carry guns. On Thursday in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, lawmakers will consider a group of controversial bills that would allow Texans to carry handguns — openly or concealed — without a permit.

Despite growing support in recent years from both Republican and Democrat voters for stricter gun control measures, state and federal lawmakers remain split along party lines.

In the February 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll[12], 61% of Texans strongly supported background checks on all gun purchases, while only 15% either somewhat or strongly opposed such a measure. Texas Democrats were the most supportive, with 91% of those polled saying they strongly or somewhat supported the measures, along with 68% of Republicans.

That Texas would consider loosening gun laws in light of the recent shootings is “disturbing,” “insensitive and operates in its own reality,” said Ed Scruggs, spokesperson and board member for Texas Gun Sense, a group that advocates for gun control.

“But then again, I’m not really surprised, because that seems to be what our Legislature does in times of gun violence,” Scruggs said.

Meanwhile, gun rights groups are applauding Abbott’s efforts to defend Texas from what they see as federal attacks on gun ownership and possession.

“The Biden administration has declared war on the entire law-abiding shooting community,” said Andi Turner, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association. “I am very proud of our governor and the steps he is taking to protect law-abiding gun owners.”

Blanco said he’s optimistic this session that lawmakers can pass stricter gun rules, especially with support from federal leaders and growing bipartisan support from voters.

“It’s important for our community to let folks know that communities like El Paso and Boulder and others that we’ve not forgotten about these tragedies and that we’re actively working towards solutions,” he said.

For state lawmakers from El Paso, Blanco said the shootings hit close to home.

“Every time I see another mass shooting my heart breaks, and I can’t help recall all the feelings of the deep sadness and the frustration and the confusion that I felt and my fellow El Pasoans felt,” Blanco said. “Atlanta and Boulder are feeling the same thing.”

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.

References

  1. ^ Greg Abbott (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ 2019’s mass shootings (apps.texastribune.org)
  3. ^ Dan Patrick (www.texastribune.org)
  4. ^ struck a softer tone regarding gun control legislation (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ “Hell, yes,” (www.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ Ted Cruz (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ tweeted Shannon Watts (twitter.com)
  8. ^ César Blanco (www.texastribune.org)
  9. ^ had little effect on overall criminal activity and firearm homicides (jamanetwork.com)
  10. ^ successful at decreasing the number of mass shootings in the nation. (journals.lww.com)
  11. ^ Dozens of gun measures (www.texastribune.org)
  12. ^ February 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll (www.texastribune.org)

Sami Sparber and Reese Oxner