Civil Liberties

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How A New Supreme Court Could Forever Change America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/09/2020 - 4:32am in

David Sirota speaks with UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, the author of the book We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights. He has also written a series of articles for The Atlantic about corporations’ winning streak at the high court. Continue reading

The post How A New Supreme Court Could Forever Change America appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG HAS DIED

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 10:00am in

Bill Moyers sit down with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to discuss the most pressing global issues faced by present-day women leaders. Continue reading

The post JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG HAS DIED appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Assange on trial

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 11:54am in

Recently, two Australian journalists in China rushed to our embassy and then back home. No such help seems to be on offer for another Australian on the far side of the world. Pirate Party of Australia calls on the Foreign Minister, the Honourable Senator Marisa Payne to demand the free and unprejudiced release of Assange […]

Advocates Sue Trump Administration Over Mass Border Expulsions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 4:37am in

Advocacy organizations have sued the Trump administration to stop a 16-year-old boy from being summarily sent back to Honduras after he crossed into the U.S. last week to join his father. It’s the first challenge to the Trump administration’s policy of mass expulsions of border-crossers, under which nearly 45,000 migrants — including 2,000 children — have been pushed out of the U.S. Continue reading

The post Advocates Sue Trump Administration Over Mass Border Expulsions appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

We Hold This Truth to Be Self-Evident: It’s Happening Before Our Very Eyes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 4:02am in

Democracy in America has been a series of narrow escapes. We may be running out of luck, and no one is coming to save us. For that, we have only ourselves. Continue reading

The post We Hold This Truth to Be Self-Evident: It’s Happening Before Our Very Eyes appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Democrats Recently Voted to Give Trump Even MORE Police Power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/06/2020 - 3:26am in

Even as the president has overseen a nationwide wave of police brutality in response to the George Floyd protests, Democrats are voting to increase the executive branch and the national security state’s powers. Last week, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to reauthorize the questionably named USA FREEDOM Act, an updated and amended version of the 2001 PATRIOT Act. Signed into law in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the PATRIOT Act authorized sweeping new governmental powers to infringe upon civil liberties, including the indefinite detention of immigrants and those designated as “terrorists,” the ability for police to search homes and businesses without the occupant’s consent or knowledge, allow the authorities to go through telephone, email and other records without a court order, and gave police and government agencies greatly expanded powers to repress. 

The act, sponsored by prominent New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, was passed 284 to 122, despite the efforts of prominent progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez( D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who opposed it. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged her fellow Democrats to vote the legislation through, claiming that “If we don’t have a bill” then “our civil liberties are less protected.”

“Central to that defense is how we do protect and defend. It’s about our values, which are part of our strength. It’s about the health, education and well-being of our people, our children, our future, which is part of our strength. Our military might is part of our strength. And our intelligence is very much a part of our strength, in order to provide force protection for our men and women in uniform, when they go out there to protect and defend our country, force protection,” she said.

Earlier in May, the bill was passed 80-16 by the Senate, who rejected Senator Rand Paul’s amendment preventing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants being used against Americans. “The Patriot Act, in the end, is not patriotic. The Patriot Act makes an unholy and unconstitutional exchange of liberty for a false sense of security. And I, for one, will oppose its reauthorization,” Paul argued, to no avail.

Trump has responded to the protests flaring up in over 100 American cities with a heavy hand. Police have been responsible for countless attacks against protesters and press alike, with the president deploying the National Guard in 24 states. More alarmingly, he has encouraged them to shoot whomever they deem “thugs” and “looters.” “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted. He has also threatened to let the army loose across the country to ‘defend” residents. Yet a Morning Consult poll found that 54 percent of Americans support the protestors, with only 22 percent (and only 38 percent of Republicans) opposed to them. Democrats overwhelmingly support them, 69 percent to 13 percent against.

Despite this, prominent Democrats have condemned the events. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced many New Yorkers’ behavior, saying that we have to “separate the protestors from the looting.” “They demean Mr. Floyd’s murder by using it as an excuse for criminal activity,” he added, as he imposed a curfew. And even as New York City cops were plowing their vehicles through crowds of protestors and brutalizing young women, Mayor de Blasio excoriated the protestors, saying he was going to “beat” them back. “We will not tolerate violence of any kind. We will not tolerate attacks on police officers. We will not tolerate hatred being created…an attack on police officers is an attack on all of us. Pure and simple,” he added, without specifying who “us” referred to.

Even in Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s joint speech against Trump’s handling of the situation, much of the criticism leveled at the president was for his bad optics, rather than for the 9,000 arrests, 13 deaths, and countless hospitalizations. “At a time when our country cries out for unification, this President is ripping it apart. Tear-gassing peaceful protestors without provocation just so that the president could pose for photos outside a church dishonors every value that faith teaches us,” they wrote. Meanwhile, the extent of criticism presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had for the police was to advise them to shoot protesters in the leg, rather than in the torso.

The tactic of rhetorically opposing Trump’s actions while, in practice, bolstering them fits a years-long pattern of behavior for many top Democrats. Despite labeling him a dangerous fascist who would be an erratic and irresponsible commander-in-chief, Democrats rubber-stamped his increases in the military budget and his judicial appointments, rather than oppose them. And on Venezuela, they gave Trump’s handpicked Venezuela mouthpiece Juan Guaidó a standing ovation at the State of the Union Address in February.

David Sirota, speechwriter, and advisor to insurgent presidential challenger Bernie Sanders laid out a checklist of ten concrete actions Democrats could take now to actually limit Trump’s authoritarianism. These included opposing his Pentagon spending bill, calling his bluff, and using his federal budget bill to defund the police, restrict the National Guard, and cease taking contributions from police associations. However, if history is any judge, the party establishment will side with their supposed adversaries in the Republican party over the American people.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump walks past police in Lafayette Park after he visited outside St. John’s Church across from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. Patrick Semansky | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Democrats Recently Voted to Give Trump Even MORE Police Power appeared first on MintPress News.

What Happens When Our President Declares He Needs to Dominate the Battle Space?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 2:00am in

Yesterday Trump told American state governors: "You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.” He told the governors, “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.” Continue reading

The post What Happens When Our President Declares He Needs to Dominate the Battle Space? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Contact Tracing, Immunity Cards and Mass Testing: Are We on The Fast Track to a National ID?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/05/2020 - 12:31am in

CHARLOTTESVILLE (Rutherford–– No one is safe. No one is immune. No one gets spared the anguish, fear and heartache of living under the shadow of an authoritarian police state.

That’s the message being broadcast 24/7 with every new piece of government propaganda, every new law that criminalizes otherwise lawful activity, every new policeman on the beat, every new surveillance camera casting a watchful eye, every sensationalist news story that titillates and distracts, every new prison or detention center built to house troublemakers and other undesirables, every new court ruling that gives government agents a green light to strip and steal and rape and ravage the citizenry, every school that opts to indoctrinate rather than educate, and every new justification for why Americans should comply with the government’s attempts to trample the Constitution underfoot.

Yes, COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the nation emotionally, physically, and economically, but there are still greater dangers on the horizon.

As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, things will get worse, not better.

It’s already worse.

Now there’s talk of mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies, screening checkpoints, contact tracing, immunity passports to allow those who have recovered from the virus to move around more freely, and snitch tip lines for reporting “rule breakers” to the authorities.

If you can’t read the writing on the wall, you need to pay better attention.

These may seem like small, necessary steps in the war against the COVID-19 virus, but they’re only necessary to the police state in its efforts to further undermine the Constitution, extend its control over the populace, and feed its insatiable appetite for ever-greater powers.

Nothing is ever as simple as the government claims it is.

Whatever dangerous practices you allow the government to carry out now—whether it’s in the name of national security or protecting America’s borders or making America healthy again—rest assured, these same practices can and will be used against you when the government decides to set its sights on you.

The war on drugs turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with SWAT teams and militarized police.

The war on terror turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention.

The war on immigration turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with roving government agents demanding “papers, please.”

This war on COVID-19 will be yet another war on the American people, waged with all of the surveillance weaponry at the government’s disposal: thermal imaging cameras, drones, contact tracing, biometric databases, etc.

So you see, when you talk about empowering government agents to screen the populace in order to control and prevent spread of this virus, what you’re really talking about is creating a society in which ID cards, round ups, checkpoints and detention centers become routine weapons used by the government to control and suppress the populace, no matter the threat.

This is also how you pave the way for a national identification system of epic proportions.

Imagine it: a national classification system that not only categorizes you according to your health status but also allows the government to sort you in a hundred other ways: by gender, orientation, wealth, medical condition, religious beliefs, political viewpoint, legal status, etc.

Are you starting to get the bigger picture yet?

This is just another wolf in sheep’s clothing, a “show me your papers” scheme disguised as a means of fighting a virus.

Don’t fall for it.

The ramifications of such a “show me your papers” society in which government officials are empowered to stop individuals, demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless screenings, searches, and interrogations are beyond chilling.

By allowing government agents to establish a litmus test for individuals to be able to exit a state of lockdown and engage in commerce, movement and any other right that corresponds to life in a supposedly free society, it lays the groundwork for a society in which you are required to identify yourself at any time to any government worker who demands it for any reason.

Such tactics quickly lead one down a slippery slope that ends with government agents empowered to force anyone and everyone to prove they are in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books.

It used to be that unless police had a reasonable suspicion that a person was guilty of wrongdoing, they had no legal authority to stop the person and require identification. In other words, “we the people” had the right to come and go as we please without the fear of being questioned by police or forced to identify ourselves.

Unfortunately, in this age of COVID-19, that unrestricted right to move about freely is being pitted against the government’s power to lock down communities at a moment’s notice. And in this tug-of-war between individual freedoms and government power, “we the people” have been on the losing end of the deal.

Curiously enough, these COVID-19 restrictions dovetail conveniently with a national timeline for states to comply with the Real ID Act, which imposes federal standards on identity documents such as state drivers’ licenses, a prelude to this national identification system.

Talk about a perfect storm for bringing about a national ID card, the ultimate human tracking device.

Granted, in the absence of a national ID card, which would make the police state’s task of monitoring, tracking and singling out individual suspects far simpler, “we the people” are already tracked in a myriad of ways: through our state driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, purchases and electronic transactions; by way of our correspondence and communication devices—email, phone calls and mobile phones; through chips implanted in our vehicles, identification documents, even our clothing.

Add to this the fact that businesses, schools and other facilities are relying more and more on fingerprints and facial recognition to identify us. All the while, data companies such as Acxiom are capturing vast caches of personal information to help airports, retailers, police and other government authorities instantly determine whether someone is the person he or she claims to be.

This informational glut—used to great advantage by both the government and corporate sectors—has converged into a mandate for “an internal passport,” a.k.a., a national ID card that would store information as basic as a person’s name, birth date and place of birth, as well as private information, including a Social Security number, fingerprint, retinal scan and personal, criminal and financial records.

A federalized, computerized, cross-referenced, databased system of identification policed by government agents would be the final nail in the coffin for privacy (not to mention a logistical security nightmare that would leave Americans even more vulnerable to every hacker in the cybersphere).

Americans have always resisted adopting a national ID card for good reason: it gives the government and its agents the ultimate power to target, track and terrorize the populace according to the government’s own nefarious purposes.

National ID card systems have been used before, by other oppressive governments, in the name of national security, invariably with horrifying results.

For instance, in Germany, the Nazis required all Jews to carry special stamped ID cards for travel within the country. A prelude to the yellow Star of David badges, these stamped cards were instrumental in identifying Jews for deportation to death camps in Poland.

Author Raul Hilberg summarizes the impact that such a system had on the Jews:

The whole identification system, with its personal documents, specially assigned names, and conspicuous tagging in public, was a powerful weapon in the hands of the police. First, the system was an auxiliary device that facilitated the enforcement of residence and movement restrictions. Second, it was an independent control measure in that it enabled the police to pick up any Jew, anywhere, anytime. Third, and perhaps most important, identification had a paralyzing effect on its victims.”

In South Africa during apartheid, pass books were used to regulate the movement of black citizens and segregate the population. The Pass Laws Act of 1952 stipulated where, when and for how long a black African could remain in certain areas. Any government employee could strike out entries, which canceled the permission to remain in an area. A pass book that did not have a valid entry resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of the bearer.

Identity cards played a crucial role in the genocide of the Tutsis in the central African country of Rwanda. The assault, carried out by extremist Hutu militia groups, lasted around 100 days and resulted in close to a million deaths. While the ID cards were not a precondition to the genocide, they were a facilitating factor. Once the genocide began, the production of an identity card with the designation “Tutsi” spelled a death sentence at any roadblock.

Identity cards have also helped oppressive regimes carry out eliminationist policies such as mass expulsion, forced relocation and group denationalization. Through the use of identity cards, Ethiopian authorities were able to identify people with Eritrean affiliation during the mass expulsion of 1998. The Vietnamese government was able to locate ethnic Chinese more easily during their 1978-79 expulsion. The USSR used identity cards to force the relocation of ethnic Koreans (1937), Volga Germans (1941), Kamyks and Karachai (1943), Crimean Tartars, Meshkhetian Turks, Chechens, Ingush and Balkars (1944) and ethnic Greeks (1949). And ethnic Vietnamese were identified for group denationalization through identity cards in Cambodia in 1993, as were the Kurds in Syria in 1962.

And in the United States, post-9/11, more than 750 Muslim men were rounded up on the basis of their religion and ethnicity and detained for up to eight months. Their experiences echo those of 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were similarly detained 75 years ago following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Despite a belated apology and monetary issuance by the U.S. government, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to declare such a practice illegal. Moreover, laws such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) empower the government to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone they “suspect” of being an enemy of the state.

You see, you may be innocent of wrongdoing now, but when the standard for innocence is set by the government, no one is safe.

Everyone is a suspect.

And anyone can be a criminal when it’s the government determining what is a crime.

It’s no longer a matter of if, but when.

Remember, the police state does not discriminate.

At some point, it will not matter whether your skin is black or yellow or brown or white. It will not matter whether you’re an immigrant or a citizen. It will not matter whether you’re rich or poor. It won’t even matter whether you’re driving, flying or walking.

After all, government-issued bullets will kill you just as easily whether you’re a law-abiding citizen or a hardened criminal. Government jails will hold you just as easily whether you’ve obeyed every law or broken a dozen. And whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, government agents will treat you like a suspect simply because they have been trained to view and treat everyone like potential criminals.

Eventually, when the police state has turned that final screw and slammed that final door, all that will matter is whether some government agent—poorly trained, utterly ignorant and dismissive of the Constitution, way too hyped up on the power of their badges, and authorized to detain, search, interrogate, threaten and generally harass anyone they see fit—chooses to single you out for special treatment.

We’ve been having this same debate about the perils of government overreach for the past 50-plus years, and still we don’t seem to learn, or if we learn, we learn too late.

All of the excessive, abusive tactics employed by the government today—warrantless surveillance, stop and frisk searches, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture schemes, private prisons, indefinite detention, militarized police, etc.—started out as a seemingly well-meaning plan to address some problem in society that needed a little extra help.

Be careful what you wish for: you will get more than you bargained for, especially when the government’s involved.

In the case of a national identification system, it might start off as a means of tracking COVID-19 cases in order to “safely” re-open the nation, but it will end up as a means of controlling the American people.

For those tempted to justify these draconian measures for whatever reason—for the sake of their health, the economy, or national security—remember, you can’t have it both ways.

You can’t live in a constitutional republic if you allow the government to act like a police state.

You can’t claim to value freedom if you allow the government to operate like a dictatorship.

You can’t expect to have your rights respected if you allow the government to treat whomever it pleases with disrespect and an utter disregard for the rule of law.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you’re inclined to advance this double standard because you believe you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, beware: there’s always a boomerang effect.

Feature photo | Wisconsin National Guard members administer COVID-19 tests in a parking lot, May 11, 2020, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash | AP

John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

The post Contact Tracing, Immunity Cards and Mass Testing: Are We on The Fast Track to a National ID? appeared first on MintPress News.

Fifty Years Later, the Gunfire at Kent State Still Echoes Through America

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/05/2020 - 12:08am in

In 2025, assuming the world is still around, we’ll be noting the fifth anniversary of COVID-19 in America, mourning the dead and recalling how so many of us pulled together in the face of adversity. This week, in the midst of a still burning pandemic and shrill demands for a return to normalcy, we mark the 50th anniversary of the killings at Kent State University in Ohio. Continue reading

The post Fifty Years Later, the Gunfire at Kent State Still Echoes Through America appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

COVIDSafe: It’s a matter of trust

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/04/2020 - 12:47am in

Several days ago, the Australian Government’s ‘COVIDSafe’ contact-tracing app was released. Two main questions arise: will it work, and is it trustworthy? The Government has stated that at least 40% of the population will need to use it for it to be effective, and Oxford experts suggest that number is 60% [1], so these questions […]

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