Archive for category Civil liberties Infringement
The news stories coming out of Russia are depressing and heart-breaking.
John Aravosis at Americablog has been all over it. First, Russia adopted a draconian anti-gay law.
It is now literally illegal in Russia to say that you are gay. It is illegal to kiss your partner in public – say, after you win a gold medal. It is illegal for a gay athlete to wear the rainbow flag. Or even to acknowledge during an interview that they are gay – or for the foreign press to acknowledge it – unless they mention that gay sexual orientation in a negative way . . .
Then there’s the seemingly officially-sanctioned violence against gay, bisexual and trans people in Russia. It’s been made clear for years now that Russian government will turn a blind eye towards anti-gay violence, and many have alleged that the Russian government is actually behind such violence. Will gay Olympic athletes and gay Olympic fans be targeted for violence while in Russia? No one knows.
In recent weeks, the situation in Russia has taken a turn for the horrific. Buzzfeed published a series of photos of anti-gay violence in Russia. Then the story broke about Russian neo-nazi skinheads arranging dates with gay teens then beating, abusing, and torturing them.
Oddly enough their idea of fighting pedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date. Captured victims are bullied and often tortured while being recorded on video. These self-proclaimed “crime fighters” perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized.
In an interview with the NY Times, Harvey Fierstein said:
Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook. Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians. In May a young gay man was murdered in the city of Volgograd. He was beaten, his body violated with beer bottles, his clothing set on fire, his head crushed with a rock. This is most likely just the beginning….
The Winter Olympics will be in Russia next year. The IOC’s response has been pathetic. They claim they’ve received assurances that glbt athletes and tourists visiting the games will be safe. I’m sure the skinhead thugs are going to check who’s Russian and who’s not before they fag-bash.
Russia seems to be sliding backwards into the Dark Ages. I don’t think this is going to end well.
I love the fact that Alan Grayson was able to get back into congress along with Elizabeth Warren. NOW when I get the old, “they’re all the same” refrain, I can say, “well not exactly”.
Alan names his amendment to H.R. 1960 the, “The Mind Your Own Business Act”. When was the last time you heard somebody in congress come up with a plan that didn’t have an Orwellian name? Republicans are always so proud of people on their side who just come right out and say what they think. It’s usually crazy as hell, but they say it anyway. Alan shoots from the hip too, but it sparks something in your brain that says: this really makes sense. Also, for years, Republicans were prohibited from disagreeing with anything a Republican in the hierarchy said. Grayson can say he disagrees with Obama’s stance, because he’s a Democrat. That’s my hope.
MSNBC is supposed to be “the liberal channel”, so why is the host of this segment trying to “get something” on Grayson for insinuating the Nazi’s would have loved to have a “Total Information Awareness” type of system that is going in to full gear, very soon. Grayson answers a question with a question, but it’s a good one, which the host, basically, answers by saying, ‘I’m the one asking the questions here’.
The question Grayson asks is,
How do you feel about the fact that the Government is keeping a record of every single phone call that you make?
I’m totally perplexed at the media coverage Edward Snowden is getting at this late date. He’s not the only whistle-blower on this matter. We have known for many years the government had planned to collect, and has been collecting as much information about every one of us as they could. Now that they are close to having the ability to get EVERYTHING, we get polls that tell us Americans WANT to have all their private information collected to…
AND I’M REALLY GETTING TIRED OF HEARING THIS…
Keep us safe.
If the government is serious about keeping me safe, they’d stop spending so much money on secret surveillance, prisons and war. What I really need to keep me “safe” is single payer healthcare and “food security”.
I think Grayson’s best quote in the video is this:
Martin, you are completely missing the point. The point is that we’re taking measures that are not correlated in any sense with our safety, and even if they were it would be beneath our dignity as human beings. That’s what this is all about. All right, listen. You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. If, for instance, we lowered the speed limit to 10 miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer. If we made everybody fly on the airlines naked, people would be safer. None of those things corresponds to my sense of human dignity, and I think I’m not the only one who feels that way….
If you’d like to support congressman Grayson’s amendment, you can sign up here.
Glenn Greenwald posted an interview with Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: “That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinized most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.”
Q: What about the Obama administration’s protests about hacking by China?
A: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: “You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Thanks to this courageous man, we are now getting some official acknowledgement and confirmation of the continuous, widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans (not to mention the rest of the world) by the National Security Agency (NSA). To be continued.
UPDATE: ‘I DID ANSWER YOUR QUESTION!’ Mika Brzezinski plays dumb to defend White House talking points.
Thanks to our partisan right-wing Supreme Court, Arizona’s un-American “Papers Please” law is now going to take effect despite being ruled unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton signed the formal order this afternoon dissolving the injunction she issued more than two years ago blocking the state from enforcing key provisions of the 2010 law.
Police can now demand to see proof of citizenship or legal residence. You will be arrested and taken to jail if your “papers” are not in order. If you visit Arizona, bring a passport. Or better yet, don’t visit Arizona!
The Family Research Council (a group the SPLC identified as a hate group for its ongoing use of lies, distortions and untruths about glbt persons) and Liberty Institute, another right wing organization, recently released a study which they claim documents more than 600 instances of hostility toward religious liberty:
Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield tells OneNewsNow what his group hopes to accomplish with the study’s findings.
“We want to raise awareness of the issue. A lot of people think that hostility because of people’s religious beliefs and attacks on religious liberty are things that happen elsewhere in the world, not in the United States,” he notes. “We just want to show that it actually happens with increasing and alarming regularity here in the United States.”
Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford and FRC President Tony Perkins are presenting the study before the Republican Party Convention platform committee to raise that awareness.
I’ve been very skeptical about claims made by the religious right concerning discrimination against and bigotry towards Christians. However, this report is based on an audacious claim – 600+ incidents of hostility towards religion? Documented and published? As a matter of due diligence I figured I owed it to myself to check out the report. I downloaded the report. It’s 135 breezy pages long consisting of short summaries of instances the authors identify as hostility to religion and citations (either the case information or links to online news reports). The report is helpfully broken down in sections based on what type of hostility the authors deemed to have occurred (i.e. public expressions of faith, in schools, workplaces, about monuments and public displays, etc.)
I picked a few cases at random. Read the rest of this entry »
Fun news for the voter fraud teams tomorrow:
Tomorrow, Judge Robert Simpson will hear the case the ACLU has brought on behalf of Viviette Applewhite and others against the state of Pennsylvania for its new voter ID law. That case should be significantly bolstered by the admission from the state itself that there is no history of in-person voter fraud in the state. Essentially it’s a law in search of a problem.
Wait, why would anyone push for a law that solves a problem that doesn’t exist?
“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
—Conservative leader Paul Weyrich
Nope, that can’t be it. Despite the way various parts of the GOP are fined every election cycle for interfering with votes, and the near constant stories such as “GOP phone bank calls registered Dems and reminds them to vote… The day after the election” I am sure it is only because they love justice, America, and apple pie that these laws are drafted.
This morning, the partisan right-wing U.S. Supreme Court went against all precedent and upheld the constitutionality of part of the Arizona “papers, please” law (SB 1070). [It may be an exaggeration to say the law was upheld, see comments and update below]. I assume this law will now go into effect in Arizona. The only thing I can do about it will be to stay the hell out of Arizona as long as they have this racist policy in place. I wrote an e-mail to the Arizona Office of Tourism this morning.
It remains to be seen if copycat laws in Utah, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina will be allowed to go into effect. Every person in Arizona and states that pass S.B. 1070-like legislation will be required to carry proof of their legal status at all times or face the possibility of being detained. In practice it will be people of color that bear the brunt of these policies.
The encouraging news is that the first year after passing S.B. 1070, Arizona saw an estimated $141 million in losses from conference cancellations. The impact on the tourist industry from this first year alone totaled more than $250 million in economic output and close to 3,000 lost jobs. Ongoing economic impacts on Arizona tourism might encourage them to rejoin the Land of the Free.
UPDATE: David Dayen on FDL:
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer put on a brave face and described the ruling as a “victory,” because it did not quite invalidate the entire law. However, it left wide open an overturning of the one key provision that remains. That’s the “show your papers” part of the law. If actual Arizona implementation violates federal statutes or results in unconstitutional equal protection violations, it can be challenged again. In Arizona, the home of Joe Arpaio, that is almost certain to happen; this law can and will be revisited at a later date. Having most of the law thrown out before implementation isn’t anything that could conceivably be described as a “victory.”
Fox News reacted to news that the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, by citing arguments that the one provision that was not immediately thrown out is “the heart of the entire bill,” while Fox Nation claimed the decision was a “defeat for Obama.” Fox’s attempt to find a silver lining is unsurprising, as it has long been a staunch supporter of the statute. But the court’s decision was overwhelmingly against the bill and the remaining provision could eventually be overturned.