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Civil Rights / Liberties
Shahid Buttar is the executive director the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the People’s Campaign for the Constitution which works to defend civil liberties, constitutional rights, and rule of law principles threatened within the United States by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He is a constitutional lawyer, grassroots organizer, independent columnist, musician, and poet. He discusses President Obama's signing of two new pieces of legislation permitting warrantless spying and indefinite detention. He also discusses rendition, torture, and the new film "Zero Dark Thirty."
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By John Grant
Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.
-- Mark Twain
Nadine Kay Hays is back in court. Hays is the woman who was arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched, and jailed after the TSA decided she was too uppity. Hays had been escorting her ill, 93-year-old mother through security at the Burbank airport in 2009 when the TSA decided to confiscate the applesauce and yogurt the elderly woman needed to eat during the journey. In trying to retrieve her stolen items, Hays was accused by the TSA of hitting an agent. Prosecutors later charged her with battery.
Ladies and gentlemen, now we have it. On December 20, 2012, Judge William Alsup ruled against the TSA.
Read the rest at TSA News.
January 21st will be an odd day in the United States. We'll honor Martin Luther King Jr. and bestow another 4-year regime on the man who, in his Nobel peace prize acceptance speech said that Martin Luther King Jr. had been wrong -- that those who follow his example "stand idle in the face of threats."
I plan to begin the day by refusing to stand idle in the face of the threat that is President Barack Obama's military. An event honoring Dr. King and protesting drone wars will include a rally at Malcolm X Park and a parade named for a bit of Kingian rhetoric.
That evening I plan to attend the launch of a new book called We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America.
The Martin King I choose to celebrate is not the mythical man, beloved and accepted by all during his life, interested exclusively in ending racial segregation, and not attracted to activism -- since only through electoral work, as we've all been told, can one be a serious activist.
The Martin King I choose to celebrate is the man who resorted to the most powerful activist tools available, the tools of creative nonviolent resistance and noncooperation, in order to resist what he called the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.
Taking that seriously means ending right now the past five-year-long ban on protesting the president. At Obama's first inauguration we held Good Riddance to Bush rallies because pressuring Obama to mend his militaristic ways was not deemed "strategic."
It turns out that refusing to push people toward peace does something worse than offending them. It ignores them and abandons them to their fate.
But pushing is not exactly the verb we should be looking for as we strive to build an inclusive peace movement. Nor is peace exactly the adjective. What we need is a movement against racism, materialism, and militarism.
To build that, those working to reduce spending on the Pentagon's pet corporations need to also work against the prison industrial complex. And those working against police violence need to work for higher taxes on billionaires. And those working to protect Social Security and Medicare need to oppose the murdering of human beings with missiles and drones.
We need to do these things not just because they will unite a larger number of people. We would need to do them all even if nobody were already working in any of these areas. We need to do them because we are taking on a culture, not just a policy. We are taking on the mental habits that allow racism, materialism, and militarism. We cannot do so with a movement that is segregated by policy area any more than we can with a movement that is segregated by race.
The torture techniques are shared between our foreign and domestic prisons. Local police are being militarized. The latest insanity would have us arm our teachers so that when our children are shot up by failed applicants to the U.S. Marine Corps there will be, as at Fort Hood, more guns nearby. Violence at home and abroad exists through our acceptance of violence. Plutocratic greed drives both war and racism. Racism facilitates and is facilitated by war.
We Have Not Been Moved is a book with many lessons to teach. King spoke against the war on Vietnam despite being strongly advised to stick to the area of civil rights. Julian Bond did the same, losing his seat in the Georgia state legislature. African Americans marched against that war by the thousands in Harlem and elsewhere, including with posters carrying the words attributed to Mohammad Ali: "No Vietcong ever called me nigger!" So did Asian Americans and Chicanos. SNCC risked considerable support and funding by supporting the rights of Palestinians as well as Vietnamese, urging draft resistance, and stating its disbelief that the U.S. government's goals included free elections either at home or abroad.
Immigrants rights groups (to a great extent more accurately: refugee rights groups) are sometimes reluctant to challenge the war machine, despite deeper understanding than the rest of us of how U.S. war making creates the need for immigration in the first place. But, then, how many peace activists are working for immigrants' rights? Civil rights groups strive to resist rendition and torture and indefinite detention, warrentless spying and murder by drone. Unless they are brought more fully into a larger coalition that challenges military spending (at well over $1 trillion per year both before and after the "fiscal cliff") the struggle against the symptoms will continue indefinitely. Environmental groups are often reluctant to oppose the military industrial complex, its wars for oil, or its oil for wars. But this past year the threat that South Korean base construction and the U.S. Navy pose to Jeju Island brought these movements together -- a process our survival depends on our continuing.
Our movement must be inclusive and international. The movement to close the School of the Americas has not closed it, but has persuaded several nations to stop sending any would-be torturers or assassins to train there. The movement to shut down U.S. military bases abroad has not shut them down en masse through Congress, but has shut them down in particular places through the work of the people protesting in their countries. Where do we find media coverage that sympathizes with domestic struggles for justice within the United States? In foreign media, of course, in the media of Iran and Russia and Qatar. Those governments have their own motives, but support for justice corresponds with the sentiments of their people and all people.
Our movement should not oppose attacking Iran purely as outsiders, but working with Iranians. We should not oppose attacking Iran because all of our own problems have been solved, or because the dollars that will be spent attacking Iran could fund U.S. schools and green energy, or because attacking Iran could lead to attacks on the United States. We should oppose attacking Iran because we oppose militarism and materialism and racism everywhere.
We sometimes worry about having too many issues on our plate. How, we wonder, can new people be attracted to our rally against another war if we unreasonably also oppose murderous sanctions? How can we welcome new activists who doubt the wisdom of the next war if we unrealistically oppose all militarism? How can we not turn people off if our speeches demand rights for women and immigrants and workers? Do people who've never heard of Mumia need to hear about his imprisonment? Don't we want homophobes to feel they can join our campaign without loving those people?
I think this is the wrong worry. I think we need more issues, not fewer. I think that's the genius of Occupy. The issues are all connected. They are issues of greed, racism, and war. We can work with Libertarians on things we agree on. We need be hostile to no one. But we need to prioritize building a holistic movement for fundamental change. Taxing the rich to pay for more wars is not the answer. Opposing all cuts to public spending, even though more than half of it goes to the war machine is not the answer. Insisting that banks stop discriminating, while drone pilots do is not the answer.
This is going to take work, huge amounts of work, great reservoirs of patience and humility, tremendous efforts at inclusion, understanding, and willingness to see changed what it is people become included in. But we can afford to turn off racists. We can afford to not appear welcoming to bigots. We are many. They are few.
The war machine has set its sights on Africa. Its new name is AFRICOM, and it means business, the business of exploitation and cruelty. We can better understand 9-11 and everything that has followed from it if we understand the long history of terrorism on U.S. soil. We need the wisdom of Native Americans, Japanese Americans, Muslim Americans, and everybody else here and abroad who has been paying attention. We need to move from making war to making reparations, at home and abroad. We will have less reparations to make the sooner we stop making war.
We Have Not Been Moved includes a never before published speech by Bayard Rustin in which Rustin quotes Ossie Davis saying to the President: "If you want us to be nonviolent in Selma, why can't you be nonviolent in Saigon?"
"All the weapons of military power," says Rustin, "chemical and biological warfare, cannot prevail against the desire of the people. We know the Wagner Act, which gave labor the right to organize and bargain collectively was empty until workers went into the streets. The unions got off the ground because of sit-down strikes and social dislocation. When women wanted to vote, Congress ignored them until they went into the streets and into the White House, and created disorder of a nonviolent nature. I assure you that those women did things that, if the Negro movement had done them, they would have been sent back to Africa! The civil rights movement begged and begged for change, but finally learned this lesson -- going into the streets. The time is so late, the danger so great, that I call upon all the forces which believe in peace to take a lesson from the labor movement, the women's movement, and the civil rights movement and stop staying indoors. Go into these streets until we get peace!"
Congress Extends Warrantless Spying
by Stephen Lendman
America's political process is lawless, corrupt and dysfunctional. Fiscal cliff hype, noise and theater continue. Destroying fundamental civil society social protections aren't mentioned.
Rushed through legislation targeted Iran's growing Latin American influence. On December 28, Obama signed the Countering Iran in Western Hemisphere Act.
A South Korean woman visiting this country and, of course, having no idea that she was required to undergo physical assault as a condition of getting on a plane, was arrested at Orlando International Airport.
Read the rest at TSA News.
FBI Ignored Deadly Threat to Occupiers: US Intelligence Machine Instead Plotted with Bankers to Attack Protest Movement
By Dave Lindorff
New documents obtained from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security by the Partnership for Civil Justice and released this past week show that the FBI and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies began a campaign of monitoring, spying and disrupting the Occupy Movement at least two months before the first occupation actions began in late September 2011.
A former New Jersey cop who, colleagues said, routinely disparaged blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Indians, and women found a hearty embrace by the TSA at his local airport.
Former Edison, NJ police sergeant Alex Glinsky retired last year on the taxpayers’ dime ($84,000 a year) after having spent a career abusing John and Jane Citizen. Then he looked for a second career — with the TSA.
By Charles M. Young
A 21st century psychotherapist steps into a time machine and comes out in Atlanta in 1855. Having no other marketable skills, he hangs out a shingle and promises new remedies for mental illness. A well-dressed gentleman knocks on the door and inquires if the psychotherapist might come to his plantation to examine the slaves.
On December 3, 2012, the Committee on the Rights of the Child received written replies from the USA to the list of issues concerning the second report of the United States of America regarding the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Issue #6 dealt with the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in the nation's public schools. The Committee has asked for our reaction to the American response.
See below for UN Issue #6, the US response, and our reaction:
A Merry Christmas to our readers, writers, and lovers of civil liberties everywhere! Thanks to you, TSA News is growing and gaining new readers daily. Thanks to you, more people are learning about the behavior of this criminal agency and how they can fight it. Thanks to you, we’re in a long line of crusaders in this country for social justice. So here’s hoping you have a happy day during this festive season, a season of light.
Read the rest at TSA News.
TSA can find the genitals in your pants just fine (it’s the gun they’ll have trouble locating), by Amy Alkon
Matthew Mosk, Angela Hill, and Timothy Fleming write for ABC about gaping holes in airline “security,” thanks to the hamburger clerks working “security” at the airports, with test bombs and guns being missed by screeners 20 out of 22 times at Newark.
By Linn Washington Jr.
Listening to NRA chief Wayne LaPierre lash out at any notion of gun control during that staunch gun advocate’s first public appearance in the wake of the horrific Connecticut school shooting triggered flashbacks to defiance I once heard from 1960s-era segregationist George Wallace.
Wallace rode a racist declaration from his 1963 governorship inauguration in Alabama to campaigns for the U.S. presidency years later: “Segregation now…Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever!”
In a recent interview, TSA Administrator John Pistole acknowledged that his agency has been less than embraced by the public, and he again promised, as he has for two years now, to focus on improving passengers’ experience with TSA screening. In that interview Pistole said that it has become an adversarial relationship, “so what we’re trying to do through all these initiatives is change that paradigm and make this a partnership.”
Read the rest at TSA News.
Maybe someday during holiday season and throughout the year they'll be just cause to celebrate.
It's possible and hopefully likely if enough people work for it. Sustained commitment makes change possible. It won't come any other way. My passion is working every day for it. I urge others to do the same thing.
My very best to all.
While lawsuits continue to be filed against the TSA on a variety of fronts, generally the TSA has been successful in foiling any and all efforts to make it accountable or to even reveal its statistics. Also, generally, the TSA does this by sheer obfuscation and technicality. I must admit, that is a strategy. However, without the antagonist tiring and simply going away, that strategy usually eventually fails.
The TSA has once again been forced to respond to an instance of abuse because a video went viral. Not apologize, mind you, just respond.
Read the rest at TSA News.
Berkeley's Free Speech Movement
by Stephen Lendman
Free expression in all forms are fundamental in democratic societies.
All other freedoms are risked without free speech, a free press, freedom of thought, culture, intellectual inquiry, and right to challenge government authority peacefully.
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Qatari poet Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami’s crime consisted of reciting a poem extolling the courage and values of the popular uprisings in Tunisia. For that he's been sentenced to life in prison.
We have the opportunity to join with a remarkable list of prominent poets from around the world in urging the court in Qatar to reconsider.
Rather than making itself an instrument for cracking down on dissent, we believe that the Court should uphold Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami’s right to free speech. The poem he recited called for an end to intolerable conditions, a demand that for the past two years has been aired by millions throughout North Africa and the Arab world.
In this spirit, we poets and non-poets who perceive the need for worldwide change at the social, political and ecological level, call on the Court to review the appeal, stop siding with repression and lend its ear to the movements that have sprung up all over the world for dignity, social justice and freedom, virtues that poets all over the world are endeavoring to voice and deliver using the beauty and power of poetry.
Please sign the petition and share it with like-minded friends.
Michael Rothenberg, Terri Carrion cofounders 100 Thousand Poets for Change
Michael McClure, Poet/ Playwright, USA
Sam Hamill, Poets Against War, USA
Sarah Browning, Split This Rock, USA
PEN American Center
Abraham Entin-Move To Amend Sonoma County, founder
Susan Lamont-Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, coordinator
Philip Levine, United States Poet Laureate (2011-2012)
Ron Silliman, Poet/Silliman's Blog
Alice Walker, USA
Pina Piccolo, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna
Roberto Malini, Genoa, Italy
Naomi Shihab Nye, USA
Sergio Rotino, Italy
Adam Vaccaro, Milanocosa, Italy
Steed Gamero, Peru/Italy
Rebeca Covaciu, Italy
Alessandro Brusa, Italy
Shailja Patel, USA/Kenya
El Habib Louai, Morocco
Natalia Molebatsi, Azania
raphael d’abdon, Azania/Italy
Jack Hirschman, San Francisco, USA
Agneta Falk-Hirschman, San Francisco, USA
Gabor Gyukics, Budapest, Hungary
Karam Youssef, Cairo, Egypt
Kristaq Shabani, President of the I.A.P.W.A "Pegasi" Albania
Robert Priest, Toronto, Canada
Eliot Katz, Hoboken, New York, USA
Lance Henson, Cheyenne/USA
Ipat Ciuraro, Italy
Fabio Petronelli, Italy
Alexéi Tellerías Díaz, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Betty Esperanza, Montreal, Canada
Alfredo Gonzalez-Baranquilla, Colombia
Nana Nestoros,Volos, Greece
Mariposa de la Rocio, Montevideo, Uruguay
Chapal Saha-Bogra, Bangladesh
Bart Plantenga, The Netherlands
Elliis Ebakor, Nigeria
Pilar Rodríguez Aranda, Mexico City, Mexico
Dean Johnson, Birkenhead, United Kingdom Songwriter/Playwright
Karim Metref, Italy
Antar Mohamed Marincola, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Mohamed Malih, Italy
Gassid Babilonia, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Paul Polansky, Serbia
Ed Warner-Poesia, Italy
Marina Mazzolani, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Patricia Quezada, 100 Thousand Poets for Change- Bologna, Italy
Andrea Garbin, poesiadalsottosuolo, Italy
Chris Abani, USA
Martín Espada, USA
Teresa Mei Chuc, USA
Marcia Lynx Qualey, Cairo, Egypt
Khaled Mattawa, poet USA/Libya
Fady Joudah, USA
Glenys Robinson, UK/Italy
Mitko Gogov, Strumica, Macedonia
Dennis Formento, New Orleans, LA, USA
Carolyn Forché, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA
Patricia Smith, USA
This blogger has worked for the TSA for many years. So he has the inside scoop.
He’s decided to share his insider knowledge with the general public at his blog called Taking Sense Away.
Nothing will wipe a grin off your face faster than a squad of Navy SEALs rappelling into your anonymous compound from a Black Hawk. But while Osama Bin Laden is dead and gone, and unable to mock America’s clumsy efforts to protect its planes from our Homeland-fueled fantasies, his disciples are more than capable of laughing at us.
And laugh they do.
Gun Violence in America
by Stephen Lendman
US civilian gun ownership is the highest worldwide. Yemen ranks second. America doubles the Yemeni level.
Gun related violence follows. In America it's endemic. In Chicago alone, gun-related deaths exceed one a day. More Chicagoans are shot and killed than US forces in Afghanistan by any means.
By Harvey Wasserman
The Second Amendment does NOT guarantee the right of any and all citizens to own any and all kinds of guns.
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn. PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave. Bldg. 417
JBN-HH VA 22211
As we’ve reported many times, the TSA’s so-called explosive detection devices routinely alarm on ordinary, everyday things. Have you been working in your garden? Oops. You might have specks of fertilizer on you. Do you use hand or body lotions? Oops. There’s glycerin in them thar things. All those can get you hauled aside as a potential terrorist. Because fertilizer and glycerin show up as “bomb-making residue.”
Read the rest at TSA News.
As we’ve written at TSA News before, when your property is confiscated at TSA checkpoints, that property ends up being sold at state-run surplus stores.
But it bears repeating, because so many people still don’t know about it. At a more recent story about this practice on CNN.com, commenter Dev said:
By Dave Lindorff
Let me see if I’ve got this right.