Liberty Activist News Digest

News


| Commentary | Action Items |

NY: New mayor, same old story; still marijuana arrest capital

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor

"New York City has long been called the 'marijuana arrest capital of the world.' Under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the nation’s largest city has maintained that reputation, continuing its aggressive campaign against those found possessing even the most trace amounts of the drug. In fact, Mayor de Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton have even outdone the previous administration, surpassing the marijuana possession arrest totals nearly every month this year compared with last, according to a study by the Drug Policy Alliance released Monday." (10/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kfvqd7a

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Hong Kong: Tension rises with police beating of protester

Reuters

"Hong Kong authorities said on Wednesday police involved in the beating of a pro-democracy protester would be removed from their positions after footage of the overnight incident went viral, sparking outrage from some lawmakers and the public. Police said they arrested 45 protesters in the early hours, using pepper spray on those who resisted, as they cleared a main road in the Chinese-controlled city that had been barricaded by pro-democracy demonstrators with concrete slabs. Several officers appeared to beat and kick a handcuffed protester for several minutes after dragging him to a dark corner next to the protest site in footage aired by television broadcaster TVB." (10/15/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p2vgub7

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Nigeria: Malala Yousafzai pleads for abducted girls

BBC News [UK state media]

"Malala Yousafzai has called on Nigeria to intensify efforts to free 219 schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist militants six months ago. The Nobel Peace Prize winner said campaigners needed to raise their voices 'louder than ever' to demand the freedom of the girls. The Boko Haram group sparked global outrage when it seized the girls. Foreign governments, including the US and China, have sent experts to Nigeria to help track them down." (10/14/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29615162

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Judge: Ferguson police violated protesters’ rights

USA Today

"A federal judge ruled Monday that a tactic police used to control protesters in Ferguson, Mo., is unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction halting the practice. U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry in St. Louis ordered law enforcement agencies to stop enforcing a requirement that protesters keep moving rather than stand still." (10/07/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nm76njm

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CO: Supreme Court hears appeal of worker fired for using medical marijuana

Raw Story

"The Colorado Supreme court on Tuesday heard arguments over whether employees can be fired for using medical marijuana, which is legal in the state but illegal under federal law. The case was brought by Brandon Coats, a former customer service representative for Englewood, CO-based Dish Network who was fired in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana. Coats is quadriplegic as a result of a car accident and has a license to use marijuana to treat painful muscle spasms. Coats claims that his firing violated a state law that prohibits employers from firing employees for engaging in 'lawful' activities outside of work." (09/30/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lxjxupr

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Assange beamed into Nantucket as a hologram

Wikileaks Vanity Fair

"Julian Assange has figured out a way to escape his asylum in London. Sort of. Like Tupac Shakur, will.i.am, and Jem’s backing band before him, Assange, the embattled Wikileaks founder, shed his house arrest and corporeal form today, and appeared as a hologram at The Nantucket Project. ... The conference, a TED-type gathering of the intellectual elite of the Northeastern set, let Assange rub virtual elbows with the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, poet Billy Collins and journalist Eugene Jarecki, who interviewed Assange’s hologram." (09/29/14)

http://tinyurl.com/py2pl2e

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CO: Denver Post tells protesting students to STFU

Raw Story

"The Denver Post‘s editorial board doesn’t want students to practice civil disobedience while defending their right to learn about it. 'OK, Jefferson County high school students, you’ve made your point. Now you should return to your schools,' the board stated in an editorial published on Wednesday. The editorial came on the heels of walkouts by hundreds of students in schools around the county last Friday to protest a proposal by conservative members of the local school board to rework the Advanced Placement history curriculum to steer away from covering 'civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.' About 50 teachers also called in sick that day, resulting in two local high schools closing for the day." (09/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pmbbrag

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CA: Marijuana advocates to bring legalization battle to 2016 ballot

Christian Science Monitor

"On Wednesday, the nation’s largest marijuana advocacy group, the Marijuana Policy Project, filed paperwork with the state of California to put a legalization initiative on the 2016 ballot. This follows a similar move in Arizona this week, adding to the growing number of states being targeted for a 2016 vote on recreational marijuana use. Supporters in Nevada announced a 2016 ballot target back in April. Experts say this strategy is a focused effort to take advantage of higher voter turnout in presidential elections -- in particular younger voters, who tend to support marijuana legalization efforts." (09/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mpd2q2w

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CO: Students walk out to protest “conservative censorship” of AP history

Raw Story

"On Tuesday, hundreds of high school students in Jefferson County, Colorado, walked out of classes this week to protest conservative censorship of the national Advanced Placement U.S. history class curriculum. According to the Denver Post, students and teachers are protesting the removal of all mentions of civil disobedience from texts and classroom materials intended for the teaching of AP U.S. history. Tuesday’s protests were an extension of a Monday walkout, in which 250 students at Evergreen High School in Golden walked out of morning classes to protest at Jefferson County School District headquarters." (09/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pa7e4s2

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Hong Kong: Students kick off class boycott to demand greater democracy

euronews [EU]

"Thousands of students braved sweltering heat in Hong Kong on Monday to demand greater democracy as they launched a week-long boycott of classes, underscoring a restive younger generation’s determination to challenge the Chinese Communist Party. ... The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a high degree of autonomy, but Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city’s next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down the Central finance district as part of their pro-democracy campaign." (09/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ntktnge

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NJ: Court upholds ban on therapy to “cure” gay kids

Raw Story

"A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld New Jersey’s ban on counseling intended to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian children. By a 3-0 vote, a panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban, which Republican Governor Chris Christie signed into law in August 2013, did not violate the free speech or religious rights of people offering 'gay conversion therapy' to convert homosexual minors into heterosexuals. The panel also said the plaintiffs, who included therapists and a Christian counseling group, lacked standing to pursue claims on behalf of their minor clients." (09/11/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mbnlsdk

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Report: CIA tortured suspects to “the point of death”

Raw Story

"The CIA tortured Al-Qaeda suspects 'to the point of death' by drowning them in water-filled baths, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Monday, ahead of the publication of a US Senate report on interrogation techniques. The paper quoted one security source as saying the torture of at least two suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, went far beyond the waterboarding admitted by the Central Intelligence Agency. 'They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,' the paper quoted the source as saying, adding: 'They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far.'” (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ofbrflp

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Judicial Watch: DOJ attorneys suggest “lost” Lerner emails still exist

Fox News

"In a stunning revelation, the president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch told Fox News that Justice Department attorneys have intimated that Lois Lerner's 'lost' emails likely exist in back-up computers. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the news came during a Friday phone call with Department of Justice attorneys representing the IRS in Judicial Watch's FOIA lawsuit against the IRS. Fitton said DOJ attorneys told him the federal government backs up all computer records to ensure the continuity of government in event of a catastrophe. They told him that retrieving the emails from Lerner, a former IRS official, would be 'too onerous' -- a legal burden that can exempt an agency from complying with FOIA requests." (08/25/14)

http://tinyurl.com/q4yvtkr

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US officials rule: Monkey selfies cannot be copyrighted

Raw Story

"Bad news for the British photographer who allowed a curious monkey to take a selfie using his equipment -- or, indeed, any of us looking to allow wild animals to borrow our smartphones or cameras to take self-portraits -- US officials have issued new rules declaring that the images cannot be copyrighted. In a recent update to its regulations, the US Copyright Office has ruled that it 'will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants,' and that it 'cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings.' It even goes on to list a series of examples, the first of which specifically states that 'a photograph taken by a monkey' could not be copyrighted by the agency." (08/23/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p5vff4b

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India: Police rearrest hunger-striking activist, citing suicide risk

The Globe and Mail [Canada]

"Indian human rights activist Irom Sharmila, on hunger strike for the past 14 years in protest against alleged army atrocities, was arrested again on Friday two days after being released from hospital detention. 'Sharmila has been rearrested. It is clear that she is attempting suicide and we cannot allow her to do so,' said M.C. Singh, a police official in Imphal .... Sharmila, 42, went on hunger strike in 2000 in protest against a law originating in the British colonial era that gives security forces wide powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight. During her detention, she was force-fed by doctors through a tube going into her nose to keep her alive." (08/22/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mvje4d3

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Snowden: US cyber warfare program could hurt innocent countries

Reuters

"A developing U.S. cyber security program would not only hunt down and halt potential computer attacks but also strike back without staff oversight, according to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. In an interview with WIRED magazine made public Wednesday, Snowden said the program (MonsterMind) could hurt countries caught in the middle as hackers could disguise the origin of their attacks by routing them through computers in other nations." (08/13/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mwhdrvs

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MD: Curfew kicks in for kids in Baltimore

Reuters

"After 20 years, the kids of Baltimore can no longer stay out until midnight. A new curfew law is in effect that is among the strictest in the nation. ... Children under 14 must be home by 9 p.m., 14 through 16 indoors by 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends and during summer. Kids found after those hours will be taken to recreation centers until parents or guardians can pick them up." (08/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p5ry5ml

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Facebook privacy suit attracts 25,000 users

BBC News [UK state media]

"A data privacy campaigner has signed up 25,000 people to a class action lawsuit being taken against Facebook. Max Schrems alleges that the way the social network monitors its members' activity on and off the site puts it in breach of EU laws. As part of the claim, he also alleges that the company co-operated with Prism, a US surveillance scheme. Facebook has previously denied knowing about Prism before it was mentioned in leaked US government documents." (08/06/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28677667

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DC: Residents to vote on marijuana legalization

Christian Science Monitor

"Washington, D.C., voters will get the chance to weigh in on marijuana legalization at the polls this November. The D.C. Board of Elections unanimously voted Wednesday to include legalization of recreational marijuana on November ballots. If passed, the initiative would allow individuals over 21 years old to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and would permit cultivation of up to six plants at home. The ballot question does not address the sale of marijuana; the city council is considering a separate bill that would tax and regulate marijuana." (08/06/14)

http://tinyurl.com/orn2t7q

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Spain: Barcelona’s booming cannabis clubs create “Holland of the South”

Raw Story

"Catalonia’s public health agency has proposed strict new measures to regulate cannabis clubs in the region, amid claims that Barcelona is on its way to rivalling Amsterdam as a smoker’s haven. Amsterdam has tightened restrictions on cannabis sales just as the number of clubs in Spain has proliferated from some 40 in 2010 to more than 700 today, say smokers’ groups. The Catalan capital is home to more than half of these clubs. From swanky clubs that span three floors to others with a small room and a few plastic chairs, the clubs take advantage of a provision in Spain’s drug laws that allow marijuana to be grown and consumed for private use." (08/04/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oof4twa

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Study: US law enforcement sees sovereign citizen movement as “top terrorist threat”

Raw Story

"In a new study conducted by researchers tasked with studying of the root causes and consequences of terrorism in the U.S. and abroad, the sovereign citizen movement was perceived to be the gravest terrorist threat, rivaling Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), sovereign citizens were the top concern of law enforcement, even as a belief that some domestic groups including the KKK, Christian Identity, and neo-Nazis represent less of an actual terrorist threat when compared to a previous study." [editor's note: This is fortunately NOT the POV of all LEOs - SAT] (08/03/14)

http://tinyurl.com/n6tr9jp

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TX: First grader banished to floor for weeks, punished for her artwork

Fox News

"A first-grader was reportedly forced to sit on the floor of her Texas classroom for several weeks as punishment for drawing on a desk. The girl, a student at Westwood Elementary in Houston, was scolded by her teacher after drawing a picture on her desk, according to KHOU.com. The girl's identity has not been made public at her family's request. The child's mother told the website that she received an email from her daughter's teacher about the incident, but was unaware that she'd been forced to sit on the floor." (07/31/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pfdmsjg

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CA: Sex website seizure spurs San Francisco bid to decriminalize prostitution

Reuters

"The head of San Francisco’s Erotic Service Providers Union has been a sex worker for 24 years -- and 'I hope to be doing it for another 24,' says Maxine Doogan. But she dreams of a future when she won’t be treated like a criminal and could earn a little respect in the city that launched the fight for sex worker rights 41 years ago. Calls by Bay Area sex workers for decriminalizing consensual prostitution have been spurred anew following the FBI seizure of a West Coast sex services website that prosecutors say hooked up clients with prostitutes and which sex workers saw as a vital forum to screen dangerous clients." (07/29/14)

http://tinyurl.com/l2wvoyr

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WA: State pols weigh “In God We Trust” plaque

Fox News

"Should 'In God We Trust' adorn the chambers of Washington state’s Pierce County Council? That’s the apparently controversial question facing councilmembers on Tuesday, a day after a council committee decided to bring the proposal to a vote of the full seven-member council, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Councilman Jim McCune, the Republican sponsor of the measure, said the national motto is inspiring and patriotic -- and he’s unclear why the proposal has created such controversy." (07/29/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mwcbhxc

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Russia: Pussy Riot takes Kremlin to European court

Raw Story

"Two members of the feminist group Pussy Riot are suing the Russian government in the European court of human rights (ECHR) over their imprisonment for a 2012 'punk prayer' protest at a Moscow cathedral. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were given an amnesty in December after serving 21 months in prison and pre-trial confinement, are demanding €120,000 each in compensation, plus €10,000 in court fees. They argue that the investigation and prosecution violated their rights and amounted to torture." (07/28/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oyhvpua

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Commentary


| News | Action Items |

Will California’s next top cop support legal pot?

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"Practically everyone expects Attorney General Kamala Harris to win re-election handily in November. The Democrat won 53 percent of the vote in a crowded June primary. A rising star expected to ascend someday to the governorship, or perhaps a U.S. Senate seat, Harris has won the endorsement of major newspapers. She’s such an attractive candidate that... President Obama had to apologize last year for calling her 'by far the best-looking attorney general' in the country. And yet Harris faces two unusual obstacles in the November runoff. One is Ron Gold, a never-elected Republican attorney from Los Angeles, running for office on a shoestring. The other hurdle is the fact that Gold supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while Harris has been opposed. " (10/10/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p8ggbvf

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Obama is president. Peace protests, RIP

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"Where are the peaceniks? Why aren’t they marching on Market Street to protest President Obama’s use of military force in Syria and Iraq? The Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan interviewed peace activists who told him that their ranks are numb, in part because America has been at war for more than a decade. Some even wonder if the Islamic State is so barbaric as to merit air strikes. 'People are war-weary and have already been very disappointed in President Obama for some time,' Peaceworkers Executive Director David Hartsough said. That’s right; they’re disappointed. After GOP President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq with congressional authorization in 2002, activists took to the streets, but after a Democrat ordered air strikes over Syria without explicit authorization, they’ve been subdued. ... I understand. Partisans on both sides of the aisle like to think that if they were in charge, the world would be a safer place." (09/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/magfnw4

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Artez Hurston’s Ferguson

The Intercept
by Ryan Devereaux

"Artez Hurston is curled up on a concrete bench in a Missouri jail cell, fast asleep. He snoozes peacefully, despite the fact that just a few hours ago he was staring down the barrel of a gun. His slumber wouldn’t be that noteworthy except that our cramped cell, with its bright lights and white bricks, is filled with about a dozen wired young men still buzzing over their recent arrests in a nationally televised display of explosive civil unrest. At least two of them are bleeding. One man is missing a shirt. Another’s is stained white with the residue of tear gas." (09/04/14)

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/04/rdevro-hed-tk/

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Who cares if your congressman doesn’t read your letter?

Jim Babka Downsize DC
by Jim Babka

"Does Congress read your letters? Not much and not well. It shows in the stupid canned responses they send. I write my letters for other reasons, and you should too ..." (09/04/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kr6cw9x

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Honoring Julian Heicklen: Jury Rights Day, September 5, 2014

Garry Reed Libertarian News Examiner
by Garry Reed

"Everyone who believes in true justice and not just the imposition of whatever various governments have decided they want 'The Law' to be should know when Jury Rights Day is and what it's all about. Jury Rights Day is celebrated every year on September 5. Jury rights is about jury nullification, the right of every citizen who serves on a jury to decide not only the guilt or innocence of the accused but whether the law itself is legitimate, just, and being applied correctly." (09/03/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mkapqkf

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The most wanted man in the world

Wired
by Scott Dadich

"The message arrives on my 'clean machine,' a MacBook Air loaded only with a sophisticated encryption package. 'Change in plans,' my contact says. 'Be in the lobby of the Hotel ______ by 1 pm. Bring a book and wait for ES to find you.' ES is Edward Snowden, the most wanted man in the world. For almost nine months, I have been trying to set up an interview with him --traveling to Berlin, Rio de Janeiro twice, and New York multiple times to talk with the handful of his confidants who can arrange a meeting. Among other things, I want to answer a burning question: What drove Snowden to leak hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents, revelations that have laid bare the vast scope of the government's domestic surveillance programs?" (08/14)

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/edward-snowden/

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The end of reefer madness?

The Nation
by Katrina vanden Heuvel

"Dropping 'a bomb on our country’s disastrous war on marijuana with unprecedented force,' The New York Times launched last month High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization, a seven-parter that puts the paper squarely—I believe—on the right side of history on this issue. (Happily, with the exception of its title, 'High Time' is refreshingly free of bad puns and Cheetos jokes.) Citing 'vast social costs,' 'racist results' and 'overwhelming evidence that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems,' the Times editorial board advocated a repeal of the nation’s cannabis prohibition. Last November, of course, The Nation went all-in on marijuana-law reform with our 'Dope and Change' issue ..." (08/04/14)

http://www.thenation.com/blog/180874/end-reefer-madness

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A new phase in the marijuana legalization debate

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"On Sunday, the New York Times editorialized for the first time in favor of a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, and did so in dramatic fashion, with a statement on the front page of the Sunday Review section and two more pieces going into greater detail. It wasn't particularly surprising, given the generally liberal bent of the Times editorial page and the fact that support for legalization has moved firmly into the mainstream. But it's still important, because the Times remains the most influential news outlet in the country, and they have an unrivaled ability to set the agenda for the rest of the media. There is a shift going on in this debate, and it isn't just that mainstream politicians and newspapers can now support legalization." (07/28/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m22xm6k

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Jose Antonio Vargas: Reporter without a visa at the border

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"The star of a CNN film, Documented, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas went to Texas to bring attention to the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally since October. On Tuesday, authorities detained Vargas at McAllen-Miller International Airport because his Philippine passport lacks a U.S. visa. Within hours, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released him. Upon release, Vargas issued a statement in which he noted that he had come to the border to shine a light on the children and the fear they must endure in the course of simple acts, like boarding a plane. The problem here is: Vargas is living proof that U.S. immigration enforcement is toothless." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lbpmtuw

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Stop the CISPA zombie

Jim Babka Downsize DC
by Jim Babka

"The Zombie is back. YOU helped defeat a fake cybersecurity bill last year. It was called CISPA. It's undead. Now it's called CISA. I sent a letter demanding Congress to defeat it using DownsizeDC.org's Hands Off the Internet campaign. Please do the same. You may borrow from or copy this letter..." (07/16/14)

https://secure.downsizedc.org/blog/stop-the-cispa-zombie

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Time to revive the peace movement

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Matt Reichel

"It has been 10 years of dormancy for the peace movement: a full decade since the thriving demonstrations of the early Bush years gave way to liberal demands that the focus shift to defeating the president at the ballot box. This fixation remained through the two ensuing presidential elections, which have demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, the futility of this approach to altering American foreign policy." (07/17/14)

http://tinyurl.com/omyyn3x

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Waiting for dark

Wired
by Andy Greenberg

"Amir Taaki and Cody Wilson are cruising north through Texas on Interstate 35 in the 4:30 am predawn darkness. One of the headlights on the aging BMW Wilson’s driving is burned out, and he’s wearing sunglasses. 'They’re prescription,' he says drily. It’s May Day, every anarchist’s favorite holiday, and the two 26-year-olds have marked the occasion by releasing a piece of software that represents their best attempt so far to undermine every government in the world. A call from a lawyer friend has reminded them that creative US prosecutors might hit them with conspiracy or other charges. So they’ve decided to skip town." (07/11/14)

http://www.wired.com/2014/07/inside-dark-wallet/

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What the Supreme Court doesn’t see

In These Times
by Lauren Rankin

"This Saturday was like most Saturdays for me. While others were heading for a run, for brunch, or even were still asleep, I was on a sidewalk, wearing a neon-yellow vest, waiting for patients at an abortion clinic. I took a piece of bright orange chalk and carefully marked the eight-foot radius around the building’s entrances. My clinic has a buffer zone. On Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ 35-foot buffer zone. In a blow to patients in Massachusetts and perhaps nationwide, the Court ruled that the state’s 35-foot buffer zone at abortion clinics violates the First Amendment rights of anti-choice protesters. ... If only the Supreme Court could see what I see every weekend." (07/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m4skp69

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“Complete control”: Notorious surveillance contractor tech uncovered

Reason
by Zenon Evans

"Hacking Team, a company which has been described as an 'enemy of the Internet,' provides law enforcement and intelligence agencies with legal 'offensive technology' to infiltrate and remotely control people's phones and other digital devices. The extent of this company's capabilities remain murky, but two groups of Internet security experts say they have just exposed some of their surveillance firepower and the fact that Hacking Team has more servers spitting out malware based in the U.S. than any other country." (06/26/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kr6y7ba

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Nine stages of activism

Cagle Post
by Andy Singer

Cartoon. (06/21/14)

http://www.cagle.com/2014/06/nine-stages-of-activism/

No Comments »

The “progressive” (aka, liberal) antiwar movement: RIP?

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by John V. Walsh

"Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) will not do the job of challenging Hillary. From Norman Solomon to Medea Benjamin they are notorious by now for putting Party over principle. Other progressives operating outside the Dem Party, and few in number, are well defended, claiming that elections are for naught. But history argues against this." (06/16/14)

http://tinyurl.com/jw57pec

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Blocking social media: The new model for controlling “public unrest”

Heartland Institute Heartland Institute
by John Engle

"Governments almost always like to expand their powers over speech, particularly when that speech is damaging to the governments’ credibility. The freedom of speech is a critical right in all free societies precisely because it is the ultimate means ordinary citizens have to challenge the powers that be, to express dissent, and to organize with like-minded people dissatisfied with the way government is running. The internet has been the most powerful and valuable tool in the expansion of individuals’ power over their governments. The state quakes at the raw people-power that services like Twitter provides." (06/11/14)

http://tinyurl.com/phsr6ud

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Bowe Bergdahl & the honorable history of war deserters

The Nation
by Richard Kreitner

"'Myths abound about deserters....' So begins an essay in the April 16, 1973, issue of The Nation. Those who propagate such myths, the essay argued, 'rely on World War II clichés and stereotypes of the bad guy slinking away from his buddies under fire.' Amid a debate about whether to offer amnesty to those who had dodged the Vietnam draft and, more controversially, to those who abandoned the military once in its ranks, the Nixon administration and its allies launched what the Nation article called 'a carefully orchestrated media campaign' to disparage the patriotism and integrity (and, not always implicitly, the manhood) of the latter." (06/05/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ngzu45z

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The worst idea since Prohibition

Fox News Forum
by Jenny Beth Martin

"When then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama sat down for a 2001 interview with WBEZ radio in Chicago, he spoke of the Constitution as 'a charter of negative liberties; says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you,' as if protecting Americans from their government was somehow problematic. Today, we’re seeing the Democratic Party President Obama leads take action to amend the Constitution so that the government can do something to you: restrict free speech. Senate Democrats are seeking to re-write the First Amendment to the Constitution to restrict speech in politics via Senate Joint Resolution 19 (S.J. Res. 19)." (06/03/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mphfwu5

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Since when does free speech require students to stay quiet?

The Nation
by Sam Warren

"Since former University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau declined to receive an honorary degree from my very own Haverford College, commentators have decried the intolerance of the protesters who criticized his invitation to commencement. Student speech obstructed Birgeneau’s right to free speech, they say -- as if its legitimate exercise requires the conferral of an honorary degree and a perch on a podium. Haverford President Daniel Weiss echoed such sentiments, if more diplomatically, in a May 20 editorial for The Philadelphia Inquirer: 'When an individual is invited to speak at an institution that holds freedom of expression as a core value, and then for whatever reason does not attend, the cause of free speech has inevitably suffered.' That 'for whatever reason' bothers me." (06/02/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o73tppy

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The FCC’s Net Neutrality proposal explained

The Nation
by Leticia Miranda

"On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission voted to move forward with their proposed rules for net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. The proposal, which will now be open for public comment for four months, would dramatically change the Internet. The new rules would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon or AT&T to charge websites like Facebook and Twitter for faster service. This has a whole range of consequences for you, the avid Internet user. We’ve put together this explainer to help you understand what the proposal means and how you can tell the FCC what you think about the proposed rules." (05/21/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oupbrlo

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Trigger-happy trigger warnings

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"Academia is hell. In the latest higher education fad, students now want 'trigger warnings,' according to the New York Times. It appears that some students are so fragile that they want university staff to protect them from big bad ideas. Students around the country say they want 'explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.' An Oberlin College draft -- now 'under revision' -- for trigger warnings suggested faculty 'be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism and other issues of privilege and oppression.'" (05/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qdezvtv

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Occupy activist Cecily McMillan sentenced

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Dave Lindorff

"Occupy activist Cecily McMillan, convicted on May 5 of second-degree felony assault of a New York cop whom she and witnesses claimed had grabbed her breast from behind, bruising it, stood her ground before her sentence was rendered, refusing the judge’s insistence that she should 'take responsibility for her conduct.' Risking the possibility that Judge Ronald Zwiebel might sentence her to the maximum seven years for the charge she was convicted of, McMillan would only apologize for what she termed 'the accident' of involuntarily throwing back her elbow when grabbed by behind from someone she could not even see." (05/20/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nnd7ohn

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How tolerant should we be of intolerance?

The Nation
by Cathy Gere

"Earlier this year, the Arizona State Legislature passed a bill that would have allowed business owners, as long as they were asserting their religious beliefs, to deny service to lesbian and gay customers. Under pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, the state’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed the legislation, but it was a close call. As far as its supporters were concerned, the bill was a victory for the civil rights of people of faith; for its opponents, it was just as clearly an assault on the rights of non-heterosexual minorities. This impasse highlights one of the most ticklish questions of liberal philosophy: How tolerant should tolerance be of intolerance?" [editor's note: At last, an intelligent look at the issue, worth a read for both the "thick" and the "thin" among us? - SAT] (05/19/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kwvhde3

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Today’s college motto: Shut up already

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"First the censorious left went after Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born critic of Islam's treatment of women, after Brandeis University had invited her to receive an honorary degree. Bowing to political correctness, Brandeis rescinded the invitation. ... On Tuesday, former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau became the latest public figure to wave the white flag. Haverford College had invited him to speak at commencement and receive an honorary degree. A group of students and professors protested on the grounds that Birgeneau had allowed UC police to use 'force' to break up a disruptive Occupy demonstration in 2011. ... Who needs censorship when protest alone can silence speakers who in any way deviate from the left's radical agenda?" (05/15/14)

https://tinyurl.com/lgdjtam

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America’s runaway surveillance state

The Nation
by Edward Snowden & Laura Poitras

"On April 30, in a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, the Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation awarded their annual Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and filmmaker Laura Poitras. The bestselling author and journalist James Bamford, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the US intelligence community, presented the award to Snowden and Poitras, who were present by live video link. Here are excerpts from their remarks." (05/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/k74ohpy

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Supreme Court: Tear down this wall!

The American Prospect
by Scott Lemieux

"The town of Greece, New York has been kicking off its town board meetings with an invocation by a religious leader since 1999. These prayers have generally been sectarian Christian ones. Two residents of the town sued, arguing that this practice constituted a state endorsement of religion inconsistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that sectarian prayers are constitutional. The decision is an affront to religious equality, but it reflects the poisoned fruit of a bad precedent." (05/07/14)

http://prospect.org/article/supreme-court-tear-down-wall

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Freed prisoner of the drug war

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"'That situation didn't define who I was,' Clarence Aaron, 45, told a group gathered for a weekend celebration at the Mobile [AL] high school he attended more than two decades ago. When at age 24 he found himself in federal prison in 1993 -- after he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense -- he felt what he called the 'stigma.' But the former LeFlore High varsity football star refused to give in to the bitterness of receiving a life sentence while career drug dealers received decades' less time. He had a plan: Follow the rules. Work hard. Even in maximum security, 'be the best person I can be.'" (05/02/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ocslvgu

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Will the Fourth Amendment go mobile?

The American Prospect
by Scott Lemieux

"On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases whose outcomes will have major ramifications for Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. Both cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, involve convictions based, in part, on evidence uncovered from a mobile phone searched without a warrant after the suspect was arrested. ... Warrantless searches are, in general, presumptively not 'reasonable' and are therefore forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. There are, however, allowable deviations from this general rule." (04/30/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qcjxwzn

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Donald Sterling, Cliven Bundy & the truth about racism

Fox News Forum
by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

"When you picture a racist, what images spring to mind? ... I would quickly picture someone in the kind of Nazi or KKK uniforms favored by F. Glenn Miller, who is accused in the murder of 3 people on the campuses of the Kansas City Jewish community. And without equating their words to his murderous deeds, I now add the image of these two men, Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. I want to repeat, no moral equivalence can be drawn between murder and ugly words, but there are lessons to be learned about racial hate, and maybe even learned better, when they come from less obvious offenders." (04/28/14)

http://tinyurl.com/lanzckq

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Is journalist Barrett Brown a political prisoner?

Reason Reason
by Zach Weissmueller

"Barrett Brown is a journalist and online activist who sometimes spoke on behalf of the 'hacktivist' collective known as Anonymous. He ran into trouble with the federal government in 2012 after posting a link to leaked material obtained from a hack of private intelligence agenices Stratfor and HBGary. Although Brown did not perpetrate the hack, the FBI raided his home and seized several of his laptops and and hard drives without charging him. What really incensed Brown, however, was when the government threatened his mother with an obstruction of justice charge for allegedly hiding one of Brown's laptops from FBI agents. Brown began posting a series of videos to YouTube, which are still publicly available. Because of these videos and some of Brown's online writings, the FBI raided Brown again and arrested and charged him with threatening federal agents in addition to several hacking charges related to posting the link. All told, Brown faced up to 105 years in prison." (04/28/14)

http://tinyurl.com/m8qqk4o

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Can’t we share the love?

Debra J. Saunders San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"If ever there was a city built on the bedrock belief that the government should stay out of the bedroom, it is San Francisco -- unless you own the bedroom. Then you are not free to do whatever you want with the bedroom, because people who are not owners control what you can do with your own property. Ergo, if you want to rent out a spare bedroom in your flat, or, Goddess forbid, a stand-alone unit to tourists via Airbnb, VRBO.com or a similar platform, you might run into the long arm of the law."

http://tinyurl.com/kz7u797

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Pardon me, Mr. President?

The American Prospect
by Abby Rapoport

"This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the start of a new initiative on clemency, encouraging thousands of inmates to send in petitions to have their sentences commuted. ... In his more than five years in office, Obama has been the stingiest president in history when it comes to granting pardons; the new program could make him one of the most generous. But the biggest news for criminal-justice reformers has been the administration’s appointment of a new pardon attorney to oversee the program: Deborah Leff, who spent her years at DOJ working on the Access to Justice Initiative, an agency meant to help low-income defendants get a fair hearing in court." (04/25/14)

http://prospect.org/article/pardon-me-mr-president

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Obama right to grant drug offenders clemency

Fox News Forum
by Dr. Keith Ablow

"Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that the Obama administration will welcome applications for clemency from non-violent drug offenders -- users or, perhaps, distributors -- who have served at least 10 years in jail and who were convicted under laws that have since changed. ... In my opinion, this Obama clemency initiative is very wise and should be just the beginning of re-examining the horrors visited upon many thousands of defendants and their families when rigid, draconian sentences were handed out to them like candy -- often without much, if any, regard for mitigating circumstances like drug dependency or severe psychiatric symptoms." [editor's note: Well, he's at least got it half-right, though his method would be "treatment" for their "transgressions" - SAT] (04/24/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ltlxeve

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Liberty movement rising

Alt-Market
by Brandon Smyth

"The label of 'fringe' is a common one used by statists, bureaucrats and paid shills in order to marginalize those who would stand against government corruption. The primary assertion being sold is that the 'majority' joyously supports the establishment; and the majority, of course, is always right." (04/17/14)

http://www.alt-market.com/articles/2097-liberty-movement-rising

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Action Items


| News | Commentary |

August 4: Rally against unconstitutional surveillance

1984 Day

"This Sunday – 8/4 – Rally Against Unconstitutional Surveillance
Join thousands of participants in 1984 Day rallies around the country."

http://1984day.com/

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Occupy Wall Street: Strike The Root! Video Contest

Cop Block

"Can you make a video that communicates the ideas of complete liberty to those at the Occupy Wall Street protests? $400 (as of Sat. Oct 1st). Deadline: 11:55PM EST on Sunday, Oct. 16th" [Sponsors: Strike the Root, Cop Block, Freedom's Phoenix, Liberty on Tour] (10/05/11)

http://www.copblock.org/occupy-wall-street-strike-the-root/

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Lemonade Freedom Day Aug. 20

Lemonade Freedom Day

"Please join us on August 20, 2011 and set up your own lemonade stand. We need to send a message to everyone who is listening. They can not shut down the kids lemonade stands. If you do not have kids or do not want to set up your own lemonade stand, please support a local kid's lemonade stand. Selling lemonade is not a crime!" (07/26/11)

http://www.lemonadefreedom.com/

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Rethinking a bug-out

Living Freedom

"Like most of you, I’ve always had a bug-out bag — a grab-and-go kit — around the house. But I realized as I worked yesterday that I never took those kits completely seriously. Thing is, I didn’t believe I’d need to bug out. Until now, I’ve mostly lived in the sort of places other people would bug out to." (03/21/11)

http://tinyurl.com/49qmqh4

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