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Microsoft: mid-range phones for budget conscious – National

BERLIN – Microsoft will seek to draw more people to its Internet-based services with two new mid-range smartphones.

The devices unveiled Thursday are under the Lumia brand Microsoft bought from Nokia. They run the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and feature Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant available to help with directions, calendar appointments and messages. Many of those interactions will steer users to Microsoft services such as Bing search and OneDrive storage.

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Chris Weber, Microsoft’s vice-president for mobile devices sales, said consumers should feel comfortable about storing their personal pictures on OneDrive, despite recent hacks exposing celebrities’ private pictures stored on services such as Apple Inc.’s iCloud.

“I think we have to amplify the message around security regarding these cloud services,” Weber told reporters.

To this end, Microsoft is also giving users more control over the kind of information — friends, diaries, home address — that the Cortana voice assistant will have access to, he said.

Microsoft bought Nokia’s phone business in April as it seeks to boost Microsoft’s Windows Phone system, which has had little traction compared with Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Android system. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made mobile phones and Internet-based services priorities for the company as its traditional businesses — Windows and Office software installed on desktops — slow down or decline.

Microsoft’s new Lumia 730 and 830 phones won’t have all the technical advances found in Microsoft’s pricier flagship, the Lumia 930 phone, which is known as the Lumia Icon in the United States. The 730’s rear camera takes 6.7 megapixel shots, while the 830 is 10 megapixels. By contrast, the 930 phone is at 20 megapixels, one of the highest in a smartphone.

The 830 has a 5-inch screen and will cost about 330 euros ($435) before tax, compared with 440 euros for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and 515 euros for the iPhone 5.

The 4.7-inch 730 will cost 199 euros. It will have 3G connectivity and slots for two SIM cards, an important feature in emerging markets where wireless plans vary widely such that users switch services often to get the best deals. A 4G version will be known as the 735 and will cost 219 euros.

Microsoft, which bought Skype three years ago, is also throwing in three months of free international voice calls with every new purchase.

The new phones will start shipping in September, though not necessarily right away in all markets. Typically, Lumia phones make it to the U.S. under different model numbers.

Among other new releases unveiled at the show:

— Chinese firm Huawei is focusing on battery life with its Ascend Mate7 smartphone, which as 6-inch screen and a massive 4100 mAh battery.

Shao Yang, head of Huawei’s marketing department, said even heavy users would get two days’ work out of a full battery charge.

The Mate7 sports a fingerprint sensor on the back that can be used to unlock the phone. But while Samsung and Apple have already done this in their latest flagship phones, Huawei lets users associate each of up to five fingers with a different function. This can be used to show something to a friend but hide private photos, for example.

—Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC unveiled a mid-tier Desire phone.

The Desire 820 has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for the increasingly important selfie function; and a 5.5-inch screen to show off the videos recorded with the 13-megapixel back camera.

___

AP Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun reported from New York.

©2014The Canadian Press

Flight MH17: Preliminary report on Malaysia Airlines crash out next week – National

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Dutch authorities investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine say they will publish a preliminary report next Tuesday into the disaster that killed all 298 people on board.

The Dutch Safety Board said in a statement Thursday the report “will present factual information based on sources available” to its investigators.

Those sources include satellite imagery, radar details and data from the plane’s “black box” recorders. Dutch investigators have not visited the site in conflict-ravaged Ukraine where wreckage of the plane plunged to the ground on July 17.

The jet was shot down while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

Tuesday’s report will set out what investigators believe happened, but will not apportion blame.

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Experts meet in Geneva on use of experimental Ebola drugs, vaccines

TORONTO – Who should get scarce Ebola drugs and vaccines? How should they be divvied up? What paperwork and permissions are needed to allow the products to cross borders and be administered to the sick?

How much of the limited supply should be reserved for clinical studies that are needed to secure licences for these products, so they can be used in future Ebola outbreaks? How much should be saved for compassionate use, say when a health-care worker becomes infected?

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These are among the thorny questions nearly 200 experts from around the world will debate over the next two days at a meeting in Geneva organized by the World Health Organization. At least nine Canadians – scientists, public health officials and figures from the biotech community – are taking part.

The meeting follows on an earlier consultation during which the WHO asked ethicists and others if it would be ethical to use unlicensed Ebola drugs and vaccines in this unprecedented outbreak. The group, which met in early August, agreed that it was.

Since then, much planning and research has gone into trying to prepare this group of advisers to answer questions around who should get drugs or vaccines and under what circumstances.

“It’s really about making a plan of how we can accelerate both the registration as well as the compassionate use of the most promising of these medicines and vaccines,” says Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO’s assistant director general for health systems and innovation and the point person for this work.

There has been a flurry of activity since the early August meeting. In a field – Ebola countermeasures research – where progress has been painfully slow, suddenly there is movement and momentum.

The Canadian government announced it would donate between 800 and 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to the WHO for use in the Ebola response.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority – a division of the U.S. government that funds development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools for public health emergencies – has been scoping out whether additional companies could be used to produce the antibody drug ZMapp.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended a clinical hold on the drug TKM-Ebola, made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of Burnaby, B.C., to allow the drug to be used on compassionate grounds, if countries request it.

A Phase 1 human trial of a Ebola vaccine began this week in the United States. A second, involving a vaccine developed by scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada, is set to begin its first trials in humans within the next few weeks. Kieny has said the WHO would like some safety data on this vaccine before it deploys the doses donated by Canada.

None of these steps will produce sufficient supplies of anything in the short term to extinguish this raging outbreak. But the work should eventually provide some answers about whether any or all of the experimental products work in humans, laying the ground work for future development of badly needed Ebola vaccines and drugs.

As well, they could be used to protect health-care workers, who in this and all Ebola outbreaks pay a terrible toll for their dedication to treating the sick.

“These drugs, even if they are not available – or the vaccines – to really treat the community, if they could at least treat the health-care workers, then they would be willing to go back to work without this fear of being themselves condemned to death,” Kieny says.

In at least one case, events have overtaken the planning efforts.

While the experts worked at devising ethics-based options for who should have access to limited supplies of vaccines and drugs, all available supplies of one drug – ZMapp – were snapped up.

There were fewer than a dozen treatment courses of the drug – a cocktail of antibodies devised by scientists at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg – in existence when the epidemic broke out. They had been made, at considerable expense, for research purposes. And some of these treatment courses were used in animal studies.

(A study published last week showed the antibodies saved 18 monkeys infected with what should have been a lethal dose of Ebola, even though in some cases treatment was only started at Day 5, when the animals had progressed to severe disease.)

Then in late June two infected American missionaries became the first people treated with ZMapp, initially sharing a single dose. Both survived, with one, Dr. Kent Brantly, reportedly making a surprisingly speedy recovery.

In short order Spain acquired ZMapp for an infected Spanish priest; he died after getting only a single dose of the three-dose treatment course. Britain secured the two remaining doses of that treatment course for a nurse infected in Sierra Leone; he left hospital earlier this week.

Liberia asked the U.S. government for ZMapp for three infected health-care workers; one died, but two have recovered. And that was it for ZMapp, at least until more can be made.

There are hopes, Kieny said, that if production can be ramped up that perhaps 200 doses of the drug could be available by the end of the year.

Future of Afghanistan on the agenda today at NATO summit in Wales – National

NEWPORT, Wales – NATO leaders are set to discuss what in many ways feels like yesterday’s war.

With eastern Ukraine burning and Islamic extremists rampaging across Syria and northern Iraq, western military allies will turn their attention Thursday to the final withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, slated for the end of the year.

The summit of NATO leaders gets underway in Newport, a pastoral seaside community about 22 kilometres outside of Cardiff, Wales.

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The very first item on the agenda is the over decade-long war and nation-building exercise that despite costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars seems far from over in Afghanistan.

Originally, the session on Afghanistan had the makings of a perfunctory celebration to mark the end of over a decade of involvement in the beleaguered nation and to chart a course for the future.

But that was before last spring’s Afghan presidential election turned into a bitter stand-off that threatens to plunge the country back into civil war.

“There will be unrest in the country,” said Nipa Banerjee, Canada’s former head of development in Afghanistan. “The audit process needs a reform and talks should continue in the interest of Afghan civilians.”

A U.S.-brokered deal that would have seen presidential contenders Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister, share power was on shaky ground this week.

Banerjee, who was in Kabul during the spring election and subsequent run-off vote, said the recount process to weed out fraudulent votes has been ill-defined and murky.

“The necessary measures for transparency were never taken,” said Banerjee, who now teaches at the University of Ottawa.

The election – billed as the first peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan’s history – was supposed to be a crowning achievement for NATO, the event it had been fighting for since committing to expand President Hamid Karzai’s writ beyond Kabul.

Karzai, who remains as president for the moment, has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the U.S., which was expected to pave the way to keep a residual force in the country.

While NATO has helped train a large security force, including troops and police, the Afghans lack critical support systems, such as helicopters, surveillance drones and close air support.

Banerjee said she is worried the alliance will not follow through on its pledge – made at the last summit in Chicago – to properly fund those security forces.

Cash-strapped western nations, facing new missions in the Middle East and eastern Europe, will be hard-pressed to raise the minimum $4.1-billion required to pay and equip the Afghans, she said.

Afghanistan’s defence minister will attend the NATO meeting, not Karzai.

The Afghan president, whose relationship with the west has grown distant and bitter, was in Kandahar this week to dedicate a mosque originally started by Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The building sat half completed for over a decade until Karzai’s government recently poured US $5 million into its completion.

Canadians continue borrowing spree, but are paying debts down – National

TORONTO – Credit monitoring agency Equifax says Canadians racked up more debt in the latest quarter, driven by mortgages and higher installment loans.

Data compiled for the second quarter shows that overall consumer debt, which includes mortgages, grew 7.2 per cent to $1.45 trillion from $1.35 trillion a year ago.

Debt also grew 1.8 per cent from the first quarter.

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MORE: Are Canadians taking on too much consumer debt?

However, the rate of delinquencies fell to its lowest level since the recession began to unfold five years ago.

The national delinquency rate, which tracks bills overdue by 90 days or more, fell by 2.8 per cent, while consumer bankruptcies dropped by five per cent compared with the same time last year.

On average, Equifax says Canadians held $20,759 in debt without factoring in mortgages.

Take Our PollAlbertans are the leaders for new credit demands, the report says, with requests rising for five consecutive quarters.

Equifax says installment loans — or scheduled payments — increased 10.8 per cent while mortgages grew 9.2 per cent. The credit card sector was up 4.4 per cent over the same time last year.

“Demand for new credit is up, but has slowed significantly versus the first quarter when we saw a spike in credit card activity,” says Regina Malina, senior director of decision insights for Equifax Canada.

“Credit card balances of new cardholders continue to increase, while credit limits and new card issuance have slowed.”

During the first quarter, the credit monitoring agency noted that more new credit cards were being issued, but with consumers carrying smaller balances.

Malina says the slower increase of demand may be an indication that credit card issuers are starting to wrap up recent promotions to sign new cardholders.

Fast food protests expected in push for higher pay – National

WATCH: Fast food workers across the US strike for higher pay

NEW YORK – Hundreds of workers from McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and other fast-food chains are expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, according to labour organizers of the latest national protest to push the companies to pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

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This time organizers said they plan to engage in civil disobedience, which could lead to arrests, and draw more attention to the cause. They also said home-care workers will join the protests, which are expected to take place at fast-food restaurants in 150 cities nationwide.

READ MORE: In largest protests yet, fast-food workers seeking higher wages walk off job across US

The “Fight for $15” campaign, which is backed financially by the Service Employees International Union and others, has gained national attention at a time when the wage gap between the poor and the rich has become a hot political issue.

Taliban attack government compound in east Afghanistan, killing 12 – National

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban struck a government compound in eastern Afghanistan early on Thursday in an attack that included two suicide truck bombings and left at least 12 people dead, including eight off duty policemen asleep in their quarters nearby, officials said.

The assault triggered a gunbattle with the policemen and security forces at the compound and officials said all 13 assailants were msubsequently killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to the media.

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The attack comes as Afghanistan remains embroiled in a political crisis with the country’s April presidential election still without a clear winner. Two candidates vying to succeed President Hamed Karzai pulled their observers out of a ballot audit meant to determine the winner of a June runoff.

The attack also came as a NATO summit was to begin in Wales, where alliance leaders are to discuss the final stages of the 13-year Afghan war.

READ MORE: US commander: Taliban will test the Afghans in 2015

In a statement issued on the eve of the NATO summit, the Taliban needled the international community over Afghanistan’s election crisis.

“Those elections that the foreigners considered the fruition of their 13-year-old occupation is now seen as a historical shame,” the group said. “It was planned that Afghanistan’s next leader would participate in the Wales Summit. Now their plans have come to naught.”

The truck bombs in Ghazni blew out many windows across the city, and left about 80 people hurt, mostly from flying glass, said Gov. Musa Khan Akbarzada. He said one truck carved a 10-meter (yard) hole into the ground.

According to Asadullha Ensafi, the deputy police chief, the attack apparently targeted the local office of domestic intelligence, which is part of the compound.

One of the truck bombs killed eight off-duty police officers who were asleep in their housing unit near the site, said Khan Pacha Shirzad, a police commander. Three security forces and one civilian were also killed, said Zia Gul Esfandi, the director of the public health department.

In other developments, the U.S.-led international military coalition said one of its service members was killed in an attack Thursday in eastern Afghanistan.

NATO spokesman Maj. Paul Greenberg said he could not specify where the service member died but he said he did not believe there were any coalition troops at the Ghazni government compound during the Taliban assault.

Hospital staff lacking protections in Liberia often exposed to Ebola – National

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The hospital in Liberia where three American aid workers got sick with Ebola has been overwhelmed by a surge in patients and doesn’t have enough hazard suits and other supplies to keep doctors and nurses safe, a missionary couple told The Associated Press.

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The latest infection – of Dr. Rick Sacra, an obstetrician who wasn’t even working in the hospital’s Ebola unit – shows just how critical protective gear is to containing the deadly epidemic, and how charities alone can’t handle the response, they said Wednesday.

Nancy Writebol and her husband David called for reinforcements during the AP interview, which followed her first news conference since recovering from Ebola disease. They work for North Carolina-based SIM, the charity that runs the ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

“We don’t have enough personal protective safety equipment to adequately be able to safely diagnose if a patient has Ebola. So they are putting themselves at risk,” David Writebol said.

WATCH: U.S. missionary who recovered from Ebola makes first public comments

Sacra, a Boston-area obstetrician and veteran of many tours in Africa, felt compelled to return to Liberia about a month ago despite these challenges. As soon as he heard that Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were sick, Sacra called and said “I’m ready to go,” SIM President Bruce Johnson said.

Sacra’s job was to deliver babies at the hospital and take care of patients who were not infected with Ebola. He followed all the protocols to protect himself, said Will Elthick, the group’s operations director in Liberia.

But Sacra got infected nonetheless by the virus that has killed more than 1,900 people and sickened 3,500 in five West African nations.

Health care workers at other West African hospitals have gone on strike demanding more protections, the Writebols said.

“They are saying, ‘I can’t go to work safely until there is personal protective equipment available – the right gear, the right procedures in place. And then, if they don’t go to work, are they going to get paid?” David Writebol said.

READ MORE: Calls for military help in West Africa for Ebola outbreak shows its severity

The Writebols are veteran missionaries in Africa; David helped with the hospital’s technology while Nancy helped dress and disinfect people entering and leaving the Ebola unit. They say the challenges are far bigger than what any one hospital can handle alone.

Liberians were already struggling to survive before Ebola, and now it’s even more chaotic, they said. The numbers of patients are surging, and finding food and supplies is more costly and difficult since airlines stopped serving the country.

Ebola has “overwhelmed the supply chain,” David Writebol said. “They can’t get equipment in because there aren’t any regular flights coming in. Same thing with aid workers from the international community. There are only a limited number of seats available to come into Liberia. … That’s one of the biggest problems – getting medicine, protective gear and supplies for health care workers who are there.”

Sacra immediately got tested for Ebola after coming down with a temperature, his brother Doug Sacra told the AP. Like his colleagues he also went into isolation to avoid spreading the virus.

Some other doctors haven’t been so rigorous.

The WHO announced today that a doctor in southern Nigeria was exposed by a man who evaded surveillance efforts, and then in turn exposed dozens of others by continuing to treat patients after he became ill. Then he died, and his family and church members followed their funeral traditions by laying their hands on his body.

Now his widow and sister are sick and about 60 others in the city of Port Harcourt are under surveillance.

Sacra, who left behind his wife and three grown children for this latest trip to Africa, was in good spirits Wednesday and able to send emails, Elthick said, which could mean that he’s physically well enough to be evacuated.

His wife, Debbie, said in a statement that she’s focusing on her husband, but she said “Rick would want me to urge you to remember that there are many people in Liberia who are suffering in this epidemic and others who are not receiving standard health care because clinics and hospitals have been forced to close.

“West Africa is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, and the world needs to respond compassionately and generously,” she said.

Associated Press Writers Mike Stobbe in New York, Denise Lavoie in Boston and Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report

US law doesn’t require websites to block nude photos stolen from stars – National

SAN FRANCISCO – Imagine what the Internet would be like if most major websites had imposed controls preventing the naked photos stolen from Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities from being posted online.

The Internet would be less sleazy, but pre-screening more content might also mute its role as a megaphone for exposing abuses in government, big companies and other powerful institutions.

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To preserve the Internet as a free-wheeling forum, the U.S. Congress included a key provision in a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that governs the online distribution of photos, video and text.

A “safe harbour” clause absolves websites of any legal liability for virtually all content posted on their services. The law, known as the DMCA, requires websites and other Internet service providers to remove a piece of content believed to be infringing on a copyright after being notified of a violation by the copyright owner.

READ MORE: Apple denies iCloud security flaw to blame for celebrity photo hack

Websites have been busily pulling the naked photos of Lawrence and other victims of the high-tech theft presumably because they are being notified of copyright violations or because the images violate the sites’ terms of service. The copyright infringements are fairly blatant: The photos were likely taken by either the celebrities themselves or by someone else besides the thieves who hacked into their online accounts to heist copies stored on computers for online backup services such as Apple Inc.’s iCloud.

But the stolen photos weren’t removed quickly enough to prevent an unknown number of people from making their own copies on their smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Although the intrusion into the privacy of Lawrence and other stars probably would have been less rampant if websites weren’t protected by the DMCA, most legal experts question whether requiring Internet companies to review content more vigilantly before it’s posted would be worth setting precedents that could stifle free expression.

“If there is anything the American public dislikes more than an invasion of privacy, it’s censorship,” says Bruce Sunstein, a Boston attorney specializing in intellectual property rights.

How did the DMCA come about?

As more people began to surf the Web in the mid-1990s, it became increasingly apparent that the Internet was making it easier for people to acquire and post all kinds of content. This made copyright violations more widespread, but music labels, movie studios and book publishers had to go to court to obtain orders to remove each piece of illegal content.

The DMCA represented Congress’ attempt to address the copyright challenges posed by the Internet. Among other things, the legislation gave copyright holders a way to request their content to be removed simply by sending an email. Lawmakers also included the safe harbour provision to protect websites from lawsuits alleging that they should never have allowed the content to be posted in the first place.

Some of the safe-harbour protections have faced legal challenges, including a high-profile lawsuit that entertainment conglomerate Viacom Inc. filed against YouTube after the video site was sold to Google for $1.76 billion in 2006. Viacom alleged that YouTube management allowed copyrighted video to be brazenly uploaded to their site because they knew the material would attract more viewers and drive up the value of their company. Google and YouTube ultimately prevailed in the bitter dispute, largely because of the DMCA’s safe harbour.

Why was a ‘safe harbor’ needed?

If websites could be held liable for copyright violations, they would be thrust into the position of making judgment calls on a piece of content before it’s posted online. That would be a daunting task, given the volume of material that Web surfers share on the Internet today. About 144,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone each day, while 桑拿会所 processes more than 500 million tweets per day and Facebook’s 1.3 billion users share billions of photos.

“The platforms that host that content can’t readily police all of it the way that a newspaper can carefully select what should go in as a letter to the editor,” says Harvard University Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain, who is also co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Some pre-screening of content is still done. YouTube prevents some video from being posted through a copyright-screening tool that was created after Google took over.

READ MORE: How to protect your data in the cloud

Not all copyright violations are caught, so Google is still inundated with takedown requests. In the past month alone, Google says it received requests to remove more than 31 million links in its search engine index directing traffic to content cited as copyright violations. That number doesn’t include content posted on YouTube or its blogging service. Google says it complies with the overwhelming majority of the takedown requests.

It’s probably a good thing that websites aren’t asked to decide what’s legal and what’s not, says Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group focused on digital rights. She worries big companies would likely to err on the side of caution and block more content than necessary because they wouldn’t want to risk being held liable for something that could dent their earnings and stock price. Small startups, meanwhile, would also likely be prone to block a lot more content because they can’t afford anything that could drain their finances.

“The Internet, as we know it, would not exist if it were not for the DMCA’s safe harbour,” McSherry says. “If we are ever in a position where Internet service providers have to monitor their sites, I think Internet users will lose.”

Don’t websites already block or remove material that doesn’t involve copyright violations?

Yes, but those decisions typically involve violations of a websites own rules.

For instance, YouTube and Facebook try to block pornographic images from appearing on their services. Both of those sites, along with 桑拿会所, also forbid graphic violence, such as the recent beheadings of U.S. journalists videotaped by the Islamic State militants that killed them. In many instances, though, the websites still rely on their own users to identify posted content that violates the terms of service.

“The lasting test here is of the ethical moment that users face when they choose to seek out or repost photos they know weren’t meant to be public,” Zittrain says.

But image sharing forum 4chan, which is notorious for ignoring copyright laws, said it will now enact the DMCA policy and allow content owners to have their materials removed. Many of the nude celebrity photos were initially shared on 4chan’s /b/ discussion board.

The move represents a significant change in policy for the site, especially since images seem to vanish from the site frequently, mostly due to the speed of which users post new content to /b/ board.

– With files from Global News

©2014The Canadian Press

Obama’s argument on deportations has some rock ‘n’ roll roots – National

WASHINGTON – The argument over President Barack Obama’s legal authority to defer deportations began 42 years ago with a bit of hashish, a dogged lawyer and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

President Richard Nixon was seeking re-election and Lennon was in New York facing deportation from a Nixon administration eager to
disrupt the famous ex-Beatle’s planned concert tour and voter registration drive. The case hinged on Lennon’s 1968 conviction for possession of “cannabis resin” in London.

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Lennon was eager to at least delay his deportation so Ono could fight for custody of her 9-year-old daughter by a previous husband.Lennon and Ono approached Leon Wildes, a young lawyer who knew his immigration law.

In time, the effort to extend Lennon’s stay in the United States would become an integral part of the legal foundation the Obama administration relied on in 2012 to set up a program that has deferred the deportation of more than 580,000 immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

“All I can say is, John Lennon is smiling in his grave,” Wildes said in an interview. “He helped accomplish that.”

The extent of Obama’s legal authority is now central to the White House deliberations over what else Obama can do – and when – without congressional action to reduce deportations and give many of the 11 million immigrants illegally in the United States the ability to stay and work without fear of being removed.

Until the Lennon case, the Immigration and Naturalization Service had not acknowledged it used its own discretion in deciding whom to deport. But through the Freedom of Information Act, Wildes discovered 1,843 instances in which the INS had invoked such prosecutorial discretion as part of a secret program for “non-priority” cases.

Once the program was revealed, the INS had no choice but to concede its existence and issued official guidance on how it would be applied.

“The remarkable work of Leon Wildes really led to the old agency of INS making its policy about prosecutorial discretion and non-priority status public for the first time,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, a law professor at The Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law who has written extensively about executive powers in immigration law.

Immigration lawyers and many legal scholars like Wadhia argue Obama draws his authority to act from a broad range of sources, from the Constitution to immigration laws to government regulations.

Critics like John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, both of whom worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during President George W. Bush’s administration, argue that the president doesn’t have such broad latitude and that prosecutorial discretion can only be applied narrowly.

For Wildes, now 81 years old and still at work on immigration cases, the years spent with Lennon and Ono were a defining time. (The “hold” music on his office phone plays Lennon’s “Imagine.”)

Like a good lawyer, he tried a variety of ways to lengthen Lennon’s stay.

He even attempted a novel approach. The law said convictions for possession of “narcotic drugs or marijuana” were grounds for deportation. Wildes asked Lennon whether cannabis resin, also known as hashish, was marijuana. “Oh, no,” Wildes recalled Lennon replying. “Much better than marijuana.” Wildes presented expert testimony that hashish was not marijuana and thus was not covered by the law. “While this argument has some technical appeal,” the Board of Immigration Appeals concluded, “We are not persuaded.”

In the end, Lennon won by obtaining a “non-priority” classification.

“That discretion exists,” Wildes said. “Any agency which is so huge has to be concerned how they spend their money and what they concentrate on and they shouldn’t be deporting people who are here for 25 years and never did anything really wrong.