Friday, January 30, 2015

News Quiz

Greetings. Are you keeping up?  Here's a quiz for you. Ready, set go:

1.  What agency had plans to track driving patterns of Americans on a large scale?

2.  Who this week said that the NSA surveillance was "constitutional and effective?"

3.  What state declined to stop honoring Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee on the same day?

4.  The family of what teen killed by an NYPD officer reached a settlement with the city?

5. What judge is skeptical of the constitutionality and all of no-fly lists?

6.  Who called a group of protesters "low-life scum?"

7.  Who had their 1961 convictions vacated?

For answers, click on "Read more..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Project Unchained

Greetings, all.

Here's a new poem, sparked by a discussion over at The Intercept (shout out to Kitt) , and remembering the words of Jesus in John 8:32  (there are some other sparks, too, including a certain Ancient Greek philosopher...).  But enough of that, here's the poem:

Project Unchained

If I unchain you
And you unchain me
        Together we could both be free

If he speaks truth
And she speaks plain
        Then sanity might once more reign

If we stand up
And they do the same
        Then our true power we proclaim

                    Let our minds be opened wide
                    To question, explore
                     Seek where truth might hide

                     Let our hearts be free to feel
                     To sometimes bleed
                      Then finally to heal

So if pinpricks of light
Make us more brightness crave
        It's time we follow to outside the cave     

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We Must Reclaim our Humanity

Hello all - if anyone is reading.

I saw that these excerpts were appearing at The Guardian.  I hadn't so far read any.  Today, however, the excerpt's headline grabbed me and I had to read it.  It's from Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, edited by Larry Siems.  This excerpt should be enough to bleed one's heart:  well-trained torture squad

Mr. Slahi wrote the diary while confined at Guantanamo, where he still remains.  Here, the editor discusses the case and the fight to get the diary published.

There's also a related story at The Intercept.  John Kiriakou who was jailed for whistle-blowing on waterboarding has given an interview.   It's worthwhile to read what this courageous man and true patriot has to say.

We must all take some responsibility for these despicable acts. How can we have allowed torture to go on in our names?  Let us remember the victims, and keep pushing for justice for all victims of torture.

UPDATE:  See this article from The Guardian.  I'm hoping that the full "torture report" doesn't get lost in obscurity and tucked away from FOIA requests.  We need this information to be on the public record.  As many have suggested (been discussed at TI for example) - why doesn't a Senator or Rep. read this into the record (it can even be done without reading all the thousands of pages...) Or maybe a staffer or someone could leak it.  It needs to get out.  We need to expose the criminals who tortured, those who authorized it, and those who developed such programs.  We need to expose them and to bring them to justice.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be Vigilant...

We've got to all be vigilant.  In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, we must not only be vigilant against terror attacks but also against attacks on our civil liberties.  

I don't hold the U.K. prime minister in very high regard.  And look at what he's been saying after the attacks.  He also wants the U. S. and U. S. based tech companies to cooperate with governments more!  As if they're really uncooperative now, with all the NSA back doors, secret FISA Court orders, etc.

Our Pres. is proposing more data sharing with homeland security and law enforcement.  Ah, gee, and the telcos having immunity already isn't enough?  The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) legislative analyst mentioned in that Guardian article was also quoted by The Washington Post.  Read what he had to say on this page which also has a link to the WP article.

There will also be some 'countering extremism' conference here in the U. S. on Feb. 18.  We should let our voices be heard that the way to do this is NOT to sacrifice civil liberties and privacy.  

There will be those who will say, 'but we need to do this to keep us safe.'  Really?  If all the snooping didn't prevent the Charlie Hebdo attack, and the Boston Bombing before that, isn't it past time to question if all this mass surveillance is even effective?  We need to question if we're just getting too big of a haystack of data for analysts to handle, whether the agencies are at all competent, or maybe even whether the reason for all the snooping isn't really to catch terrorists at all.

As usual, Trevor Timm has a very on-point article. It should be required reading.

We need to keep fighting for privacy rights.  Let's remember how Edward Snowden so eloquently defended privacy and how much he has sacrificed.  Let's stand with those who are seeking legal solutions.  Let's continue to call for better technical solutions.  And let's stand against fear-mongering and the idea we must sacrifice civil liberties and privacy for safety. 

P. S. Speaking of Edward Snowden, here's an extra goodie, an article by his father. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Introducing the Button to Your Right!

Greetings -

There are so many events and so much to be concerned about that it can be overwhelming.  Still we must try to make sure critical issues don't just fade away.

The msm has basically dropped covering torture and that Senate Committee Torture Report. We must not let this fade from memory.  We must continue to press for prosecutions of torturers and the authors and architects of these depraved acts.

Therefore, I am adding the button on the right - "Justice for Torture Victims".  It is my hope that this will remind us to keep up our concerns.  Clicking on it will lead to a resource page at the Center for Constitutional Rights' site.  On that page is a link to sign their letter to the Dep't of Justice calling for torturers to be prosecuted.  The page also has a summary of their efforts and links to many informational and media resources.

It is important that those responsible for torture be held accountable.  Without prosecution, there is little to stop such abuses from happening in the future.  Even the New York Times has called for prosecutions.  I've also found another couple of articles that are worth reading.  Here is one is by Dr. Jo-Marie Burt, whose vita includes being a Professor at George Mason Univeristy and Sr. Fellow at the Washington office on Latin America.  Here is another by Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

We must remember.  We must not let them stand alone.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

What can be said in the wake the horrific attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine staff in Paris?  There is a pretty clear sentiment that we must stand united against any threat to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. And that we should keep the victims and their families in our prayers.

Je Suis Charlie.
Nous Sommes Tous Charlie.
I am Charlie.
We are all Charlie.

P. S. 
Let's not forget those who perished aboard the AirAsia Flight and their families - or the Malaysian Air flight - or the flight that crashed in the Ukraine - or victims of torture.  They all still need our prayers as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Close to Home...

With all the attention to police shootings in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, John Crawford III and all, one would hope that there might be some progress. However, right in my own "backyard" just the other day: 

police shooting after traffic stop

and also see this:  widow speaks

Now at this point, we can't be certain of all the details of the shooting of Mr. Reid.  But I think we can make some observations.  First, they wasted very little time in reporting his past problems with the law.  His wife did acknowledge these.  But is digging this stuff up really necessary and is it really of import here? Maybe, maybe not.  Second, note in the comments section below the second article that the moderator closed comments for incivility - things like casting aspersions on family members and even celebrating the fact that a person had been killed. I just don't understand that kind of mentality.  Even, even if someone is killed in a clear case of self-defense, I just don't see it as cause for celebration.  Third, we really need to look at what is making police so quick to pull the trigger.  This mindset needs to change; there needs to be a shift toward de-escalating the situation if at all possible.  

So in light of protests that have sprung up recently, actions and calls for change must not stop.  We must all advocate for a better justice system.