Archive for the ‘Grassroots Campaigns’ Category

Restore the Fourth works to strengthen the USA FREEDOM Act

Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 9:00 am by

Restore the Fourth’s Chicago chapter rang in July in a lively fashion. After the House of Representatives watering down the proposed USA FREEDOM Act to resemble “little more than a Trojan horse” languishing in congressional purgatory, privacy advocates reached out to US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to invite him to strengthen the bill’s incarnation in the Senate.

In an email correspondence, organizer John Bumstead said his organization has engaged both Durbin’s office and the media. The group’s efforts focus on eliminating from the proposed legislation its measure extending for an additional two years beyond its present 2015 expiration date the sunset for Section 215 powers  under the Patriot Act.

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RT4 Chicago is planning a weekly flyering/postcard campaign in support of a Patriot Act Section 215 sunset pledge, which would formally usher the controversial law out of existence by adhering to the 2015 expiration date. Bumstead says the campaign’s rationale lies in the relative ease of convincing legislators to not vote for something to continue as opposed to sticking their necks out in support of something. He adds the campaign may also switch gears as necessary to focus on other topics, such as killing the USA FREEDOM Act if his group is dissatisfied with the resulting bill.

Chicago residents moved by RT4’s work attended a public meeting on July 3 at Chicago’s CivicLab and are organizing an RT4-wide event in honor of Orwell Day on August 4.

Torture awareness month events organized across the nation

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm by

tortureIn February 1998, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared June 26 to be the International Day of Support for the Victims of Torture. Human rights advocates across the globe join together on this day each year in an effort to raise awareness about inhumane abuse and express solidarity with survivors.

In Los Angeles, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace hosted the Close Guantánamo Justice Luncheon at United University Church, welcoming attorneys Anne Richardson and Michael Rapkin, each of whom represents detainees at the world’s most notorious prison camp. The event brought together people from a variety of religious communities, exposing the realities of American-sponsored torture at home and abroad.

Numerous legal and advocacy organizations in Chicago worked together to lead a town hall meeting on torture at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies. Drawing upon the Convention Against Torture, a legally binding document ratified by the US in 1994, this town hall meeting focused on prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement practices by the Chicago Police Department. In addition to demanding an end to all torture practices throughout the nation, this event called upon the Governor of the State of Illinois to pardon all victims of torture and recognize their right to rehabilitation.

Finally, the fight to end US-sponsored torture and other human rights abuses emerged in our nation’s capital, where the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)  recognized Syracuse University Law professor David Crane with the 2014 Eclipse Award for his work to fight against impunity for torture. More recently, Crane has played a pivotal role in revealing the injustices perpetrated by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. The event also hosted David Luban, a professor at Georgetown University College of Law, and Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador at Large and Director of the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Guided by CVT Executive Director Curt Goering, these distinguished experts discussed principles to fighting impunity, and the challenges that emerge in implementing them.

For more information about how you can join the fight against torture email orgnanizing@bordc.org.

 

Cornel West supports Mothers Against Police Brutality

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm by

policeHundreds flocked to Dallas’s Friendship-West Baptist Church on June 20 as renowned intellectual Dr. Cornel West spoke at a town hall meeting sponsored by Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) . West spoke with passion and candor on the desperate reality of police overstepping their authority and encouraged those in attendance to join the fight against police brutality.

“Dr. West’s message was exhilarating, uplifting, challenging and painfully truthful. His message left seeds of hope and uprooted some deep seedlings of oppression in the Dallas communities,” said MAPB founder Collette Flanagan. “Our sense of responsibility and ownership in our families and community was awakened.” Flanagan says her organization has registered more volunteers than ever before and credited MAPB supporters for “stepping up to the plate.”

MAPB’s next event is a public hearing for families that have lost loved ones to police brutality. The group will be inviting city officials, Dallas Police Chief Brown and local and state politicians. Flanagan feels it’s important for them to see the carnage left behind when unarmed children are killed by policemen and “stolen” from their families. Planning is underway to hold the event in August.

The Emperor’s New Clothes: The naked truth about the American police state.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm by

This guest post by John Whitehead was originally published on July 8 by the Rutherford Institute. 

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself…Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”                                                                                                               —H.L. Mencken, American journalist

It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re experiencing at the hands of the government. Certainly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm have much to say about government tyranny, corruption, and control, as does Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Yet there are also older, simpler, more timeless stories—folk tales and fairy tales—that speak just as powerfully to the follies and foibles in our nature as citizens and rulers alike that give rise to tyrants and dictatorships.

One such tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, is a perfect paradigm of life today in the fiefdom that is the American police state, only instead of an imperial president spending money wantonly on lavish vacations, entertainment, and questionable government programs aimed at amassing greater power, Andersen presents us with a vain and thoughtless emperor, concerned only with satisfying his own needs at the expense of his people, even when it means taxing them unmercifully, bankrupting his kingdom, and harshly punishing his people for daring to challenge his edicts. (more…)

Newly released memo on drone killings based on faulty assumptions and secret law.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm by

droneThe US government may assassinate its own citizens.  We saw this in 2011 when the US killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen of Yemeni descent.  But under what conditions may the US government assassinate one of its own citizens?  This question was partially answered with the June 23 release of a legal memo authored in 2010 by former White House counsel, now federal appeals judge, David Barron.

The memo explains the legal reasoning justifying the 2011 drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. It was released by order of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in response to a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times. It is a follow up to a white paper released in 2013 by the Obama administration stating the legal opinion that a US citizen could be killed if he was a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an “associated force” posing an “imminent threat.” That memo specifically stated that assessing a target as an “imminent threat” need not require knowledge of a specific planned attack against the US. (more…)

Greenwald names names.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm by

public-figures-nobody-is-safeFive American targets of our government’s surveillance have been named.  This is the first time that American targets—people who have never been arrested or even suspected of terrorist activity—have been identified.

After a few months of journalist Glenn Greenwald  promising to “name names” of the identities of these Americans, he, along with Murtaza Hussain, posted these names to The Intercept today. (more…)

Snowden did his part. Now do yours.

Friday, July 4, 2014 at 8:00 am by

flagOver a year ago, the Guardian ran the very first story about Edward Snowden, who revealed proof of secret mass domestic surveillance. Much has changed since then.  Too much has not.

Despite our government’s lack of action, voices have called for constitutional restrictions on the powers of US intelligence agencies.  The diversity of this cry for action has been overwhelming.  It has come from around the country.  It has come from across party lines.  And it has come from you.  Your voice matters.

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Government spying on the peace movement (Part I)

Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm by

The fight against government repression of free speech suffered a setback in Washington State this month, as a judicial ruling in the Panagacos vs. Towery case turned a blind eye to government infiltration of peaceful activist groups. The decision reflects not only the latest failure by the federal judiciary to do its job, but also a disturbing history dating back decades, and over five years in this particular case of constitutional abuses by intelligence and police agencies, as well as the US military.

In July 2009, activists in Olympia, WA went public with the shocking revelation that an intelligence contractor hired by the U.S. Army named John Towery had infiltrated the antiwar group Olympia Port Militarization resistance.

For almost two years, Towery — known to activists by a false name, “John Jacob” — had administered the group’s email listserv, attended meetings and demonstrations and unsuccessfully attempted to coerce young college students to commit acts of violence. Towery’s true identity was discovered by several members of the group after cop-watcher Drew Hendricks combed through thousands of pages of public records using a technique known as “cataloging”.

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The Surveillance State and the state of surveillance: What activism has to learn from art

Friday, May 30, 2014 at 10:12 am by

The “Surveillance State” is a term civil libertarians often invoke, and when they do they mean it literally. The Surveillance State is a reference to the actual surveillance activities of a formally organized governmental state. But the Surveillance State is more than a product of policies and protocols crafted by bureaucrats in shadowy rooms. The resulting condition of surveillance has given rise to new forms of artistic expression that can help political activists learn new ways to talk about civil liberties and find new communities to engage with.

For example, this June 5th will be the first anniversary of Edward Snowden’s historic revelations about the extent of NSA dragnet surveillance and the occasion is being celebrated with the Reset The Net online event. Reset The Net is the product of frequent BORDC collaborator Fight For The Future and it is a fantastic time to think creatively about resistance to the surveillance state beyond business-as-usual political organizing. June 5th is not just an opportunity for action, it is also an occasion to reflect on why this work must be done and how we are all personally affected.

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June 5th is Coming: Actions on the Anniversary of the First Snowden Release

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 10:57 am by

This post was originally published by Danny O’Brien at EFF’s Deeplinks blog on May 22, 2014 and is shared with permission.

June 5, 2013 was when the world heard from Snowden. This year, it’s your turn to speak out.

On June 5, 2013 the Guardian newspaper published the first of Edward Snowden’s astounding revelations. The secret court order that conclusively showed that the US government was collecting the phone records of millions of innocent Verizon customers. It was the first of a continuous stream of stories that pointed out what we’ve suspected for a long time: that the world’s digital communications are being continuously spied upon by nation states with precious little oversight.

A year later, we’re still learning about operations conducted globally by the United States and its closest allies in defiance of billions of people’s fundamental freedoms. We’ve discovered that the US government has confidential systems in place to scoop up data from American Internet companies. We’ve learned that the British equivalent, GCHQ, has taken millions of snapshots of Webcam images as they eavesdrop on the Internet backbone. We’ve seen encryption standards undermined, an entire country’s  telephone conversations recorded, and five billion records of phone locations globally recorded per day.

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