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Illinois judge rules state eavesdropping law unconstitutional

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The Occupiers who are planning to descend on Chicago in May to protest the G8 and NATO meetings can breathe a sign of relief today. The Illinois law which made it a felony to make audio recordings of police officers without their permission has been found unconstitutional by a state judge, who ruled that it could have the effect of criminalizing “wholly innocent conduct.”

As explained by the Chicago Tribune’s Megan Crepeau, “The whole thing hinges on the idea that police officers have an expectation of privacy as they perform a public, taxpayer-funded duty. This law, in effect, punishes the public for holding its officials accountable to a public standard. The original intent — to protect private conversations from being recorded — has nothing to do with that.”

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The decision came in the case of an artist named Christopher Drew, who was arrested in December 2009 for selling art without a permit. According to Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake, “Drew, who has a history of challenging the city’s restrictions on the selling of art, was peddling silk-screened patches for $1 in an act of civil disobedience. A First Amendment lawyer and a team of photographers filmed his arrest. The police let the filming go, and Drew was arrested. When it was time for Drew to face his charges, he found out he had been given a Class 1 felony charge for violating the Illinois Eavesdropping Act and filming his arrest. This meant he faced a possible sentence of fifteen years in prison.”

Gosztola notes that Chicago police have traditionally viewed the eavesdropping law as a convenient way to avoid lawsuits for police misconduct. “Police are known to enforce the law themselves,” he comments. “In the final days of January, Occupy Chicago was out protesting in the city when a police officer took a camera from someone who was live streaming the action and deleted the video. He told the live streamer, Keilah, that she could have been charged with a felony.”

Gostola concludes that police may still attempt to arrest protesters under the law but that “any such chargtes are unlikely to stick.”

One of the first to tweet news of the judge’s decision was noted livestreamer Tim Pool, who was born in Chicago and lived there until he set off for Zuccotti Park last fall. The judge’s decision may prove to be more significant for Pool and his fellow citizen journalists more than for anyone else.

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Photo by Michael Kappel from Flickr

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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WATCH: Larry Kudlow wilts under barrage of questions about Trump’s conflicting trade war comments

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Larry Kudlow, who appeared to have been drinking before his FOX News appearance last Sunday, probably wished he was drinking this Sunday after his stammering performance on CNN where he faced a barrage of questions from "State of the Union" fill-in host Brianna Keilar.

Speaking from France where he is attending the G7 conference with Donald Trump, Kudlow was put on the spot over the president's comments where he seemed to express regret over launching a trade war with China.

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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