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Human Rights & Civil Liberties

UN Anti-torture Panel Grills US Officials

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(US officials)  faced a barrage of questions from the 10-member UN Committee on Torture on how the (US) was dealing with rectifying and providing redress for acknowledged abuses during the "war on terror."

John Heilprin, Newsmax

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Betty Culver.

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18/1284856024_4238/300h.jpgWednesday, 12 Nov 2014 | The United States said Wednesday it did not condone torture under any circumstances, but acknowledged to a UN anti-torture watchdog panel it had "crossed the line" following the September 11 attacks.

"The U.S. is proud of its record as a leader in respecting, promoting and defending human rights and the rule of law, both at home and around the world," acting U.S. Legal Advisor Mary McLeod told the 10-member UN Committee on Torture.

"But in the wake of 9/11 attacks, we regrettably did not always live up to our own values," she said.

John Heilprin is chief correspondent for The Associated Press in Switzerland and has reported from 15 nations in Europe, Asia and Africa, including five trips with the U.N. Secretary-General and the U.N. Security Council. 

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Civil Rights Pioneer: America's Discriminatory Election Landscape Worst in 50 Years

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  • The targets are Americans who have struggled the most for the right to vote.
  • The Latest Affirmative Action Decision Isn't Just About Race

Wade Henderson, AlterNet

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Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/Wade4Justice

(AlterNet Editor's note: The following remarks were made at a Washington, D.C. press conference on Tuesday by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs a national election protection hotline and legal aid service.)

November 4, 2014  | Today, and for the past several weeks during early voting, we have been witnessing the most unfair, confusing and discriminatory election landscape in almost 50 years. And it’s a disgrace to our citizens, to our nation, and to our standing in the world as a beacon of democracy. Moreover, it comes as no surprise—no surprise whatsoever.

This is the predictable outcome in the first major election since the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder last year, when a bare majority chose to gut critical pieces of the Voting Rights Act. This rendered inoperable the pre-clearance system [of the Justice Department approving or blocking changes in state laws] that had worked for half a century to protect voters from discrimination before it could take effect.

Wade Henderson is president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

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Related:

The Latest Affirmative Action Decision Isn't Just About Race, Patricia J. Williams, The Nation

The Supreme Court's decision sweeps away decades of equal protection precedent.

Tomgram | Alfred McCoy: It's About Blackmail, Not National Security

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  • To update Henry Stimson: in the age of the Internet, gentlemen don't just read each other’s mail, they watch each other’s porn. Even if we think we have nothing to hide, all of us, whether world leaders or ordinary citizens, have good reason to be concerned.
  • Obama and the CIA

Alfred McCoy, TomDispatch

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one-nation-under-surveillance.jpgJanuary 19, 2014 | Spying has a history almost as ancient as humanity itself, but every now and then the rules of the game change.  This post-9/11 moment of surveillance is one of those game-changers and the National Security Agency (NSA) has been the deal-breaker and rule-maker.  The new rules it brought into existence are simple enough: you -- whoever you are and wherever you live on Planet Earth -- are a potential target.  Get used to it.  The most basic ground rule of the new system: no one is exempt from surveillance.

But then there’s human nature to take into account.  There’s the feeling of invulnerability that the powerful often have.  If you need an example, look no further than what key officials around New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were willing to commit to emails, even in this day and age, when it came to their scheme to tie up traffic on the George Washington Bridge.  Something similar has been true of the system NSA officials set up.  Its rules of the road were that no one was to be exempt from surveillance. (Call me Angela Merkel.)  They then plunged their creation into the deepest secrecy, in part because they couldn’t imagine a world without at least one categorical exemption: themselves.

Alfred McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, which is the source for much of the material in this essay.

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Related:

Obama and the CIA, Melvin A. Goodman, Counterpunch

  • The CIA goes its own way, seemingly oblivious to what presidents or anybody else has to say, even if Obama is disingenuous in his public statements.
  • Lack of Intelligence
  • Chomsky: Obama ‘Determined To Demolish The Foundations Of Our Civil Liberties’ 

 

This Is Wrong: On Race and Class and Unassailable Privilege

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  • “Just because he’s black, it doesn’t mean he’s here to rob a house,” bristles Westby. "This is wrong. Now please leave our neighborhood."
  • For Black Men in America, There Is No Break From Racism

Abby Zimet, Common Dreams

 

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race2.jpg?itok=07-e_9xuJody Westby / YouTube

 

Friday, October 10, 2014 | For everything you need to know about the justice (sic) system in America, a brief impromptu video wherein Jody Westby, a take-no-prisoners white attorney, comes to the aid of Dennis Stucky, an older, disabled, black handyman who gets stopped by cops for walking while black in an uber-fancy D.C. neighborhood. Check out Westby's imperious don't-give-me-this-crap tone when she sternly tells the cops to back off - and then imagine the bloody scenario if she was a black male - a group, says a new study, 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than their white counterparts. 

 

“Just because he’s black, it doesn’t mean he’s here to rob a house,” bristles Westby. "This is wrong. Now please leave our neighborhood."

 

Abby Zimet, staff writer, Common Dreams

 

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Related:

 

For Black Men in America, There Is No Break From Racism, Sonali Kolhatkar, Truthdig

  • The events of this summer in Ferguson, Mo., highlighted an ugly truth to mainstream Americans: Black men in this country are viewed as so suspicious by law enforcement that they are often shot first and questioned later. 
  • Fox News’ divisive race strategy: How O’Reilly, Hannity, and Coulter intentionally tore America apart
  • 'Dear White Racists' is One of the Best Explanations of White Privilege You Will Likely Ever Read

 

You don’t “have nothing to hide”: How privacy breaches are quietly controlling you.

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  • Government data collection is scary for many reasons. But least understood: what it does to our personal creativity.
  • The Senate is about to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act?

Falguni A. Smith, Salon

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surveillance_worries.jpg(Credit: Denys Prykhodov, Twin Design via Shutter-stock//magnez2 via iStock/Salon)

Sunday, Sep 28, 2014 | Edward Snowden’s leaks reminded us about the extent to which the notion of privacy is no longer our own. The last few years have brought home the fact that between the telecommunication companies, street surveillance cameras, tollbooth cameras and EZ-pass, and corporations such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, virtually no aspect of our lives is immune from the intrusive watch of some agency of the state.

The usual response to this information is: “I have nothing to hide. It doesn’t matter if the state has my information.” Critics like Glenn Greenwald point out one response, along the lines of “OK, hand over your passwords to your email and bank accounts and credit card information.” This is certainly right. This kind of information is crucial to the protection of your money, your private messages to others. Yet, it doesn’t exhaust the other reasons why data collection and invasion of privacy is a problem about which many of us should be disturbed.

Falguni A. Smith, a professor of philosophy and political theory at Hampshire College, writes about politics, race, and feminism at translationexercises.wordpress.com.

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Related:

The Senate is about to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act? Becky Bond, CREDO Action

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Take%20Action%20Today%20button.jpgThe petition to the Senate reads: "The current Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act effectively reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act for an additional 2.5 years, legalizes currently illegal surveillance activities, and grants immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights. Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act in its current form."

 

The Senate is about to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act?

NSA-protest-e1390432884924-972x453.jpg

The petition to the Senate reads: "The current Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act effectively reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act for an additional 2.5 years, legalizes currently illegal surveillance activities, and grants immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights. Oppose the USA FREEDOM Act in its current form."

Becky Bond, CREDO Action

Starbuck%27s%20Cafe%20Latte%20with%2010%20yr%20banner.jpg If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

nsa_spying_180.gifSeptember 19, 2014 | It’s been over a year since Edward Snowden brought public attention to the breathtaking scope of President Obama’s indiscriminate spying on American citizens who aren't suspected of any wrongdoing. And now there’s a bill in the Senate that could effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act without fixing the worst constitutional abuses by the NSA.

We can’t let Congress effectively reauthorize the PATRIOT Act for an additional 2.5 years, legalize currently illegal surveillance activities, and grant immunity to corporations that collaborate to violate privacy rights.

But that’s exactly what a bill now being considered in the Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act, would do.

sign-btn.pngTell the Senate: Oppose the USA Freedom Act in its current form. Click here to sign the petition. 

CREDO Action, powered by CREDO Mobile phone customers, is a social change organization that supports activism and funds progressive nonprofits.

Full story … 

Special Project | The Fight for American Rights and Liberties: Week Ending September 14, 2014

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  • Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin
  • 8 New items including:
    • A Defiant Ecuador Seeks Solutions in Assange Case
    • Aviva Chomsky | What's at Stake in the Border Debate
    • CIA shouldn’t get away with redacting torture report
    • The Snowden Effect: This Is Still Not America,
    • The 25th Hour
    • Cecily McMillan didn't get off easy. Her case is a threat to the future of protest
    • The Post-Constitutional Era
    • The Latest Affirmative Action Decision Isn't Just About Race

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

http://media.cagle.com/89/2014/09/08/153350_600.jpg David FitzsimmonsDavid Fitzsimmons

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A Defiant Ecuador Seeks Solutions in Assange Case, Eva Golinger, CounterPunch

The Assange case goes beyond just simple political asylum and issues of sovereignty. It is matter of principle in a time in which information and secrecy have become ever more the tools of the most powerful. Justice must be done for those who have sacrificed their liberties to warn us of these dangers.

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Aviva Chomsky | What's at Stake in the Border Debate, Aviva Chomsky, Tom Dispatch

  • America’s Continuing Border Crisis
  • The Real Story Behind the “Invasion” of the Children
  • Washington’s persecution of immigrant children

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CIA shouldn’t get away with redacting torture report, Dana Milbank, Washington (DC) Post

Obama’s overall failure to deliver on his promise to create a more transparent government has been one of the greatest disappointments of his leadership. 

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The Snowden Effect: This Is Still Not America, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

Uncertainty is born of everything we don't know, and the people who don't want us to know what they're doing in our name are its midwives. They know what they're doing. They are cultivating it quite deliberately, and for their own purposes. Very little of what they do is accidental. An uncertain people is a people easily led. That's the way it works now. That's the way it has always worked.

http://media.cagle.com/118/2014/08/18/152436_600.jpg Bill DayBill Day

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The 25th Hour, Rebecca Gordon, Tom Dispatch 

  • Still Living With Jack Bauer in a Terrified New American World 
  • A nation of cowards
  • Chomsky: Obama ‘Determined To Demolish The Foundations Of Our Civil Liberties

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Cecily McMillan didn't get off easy. Her case is a threat to the future of protest. Allison Kilkenny, The Guardian (UK)

  • Three months in jail might seem like a light sentence. But the Occupy movement was suppressed by the heavy hand of police brutality – and a legal system that discouraged and ultimately dissolved dissent.
  • The U.K. 'Can't Tell Its Terrorists from Its Journalists'

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The Post-Constitutional Era, Chris Hedges, Truthdig

The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear our challenge to the law that lets the military indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens is another example of the transformation of the judiciary into an enemy of the Constitution. 

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The Latest Affirmative Action Decision Isn't Just About Race, Patricia J. Williams, The Nation

The Supreme Court's decision sweeps away decades of equal protection precedent.

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