"some of these prognostications may seem a wee bit hyperbolic, a bit paranoid, maybe even a little nutty" What will American civil liberties look like in 2015? If things take a turn for the worse, they might look a little familiar. Slate also explored this terrain today, but not at such length. [more inside]
This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
Gideon Oliver spoke to me of the devastating effect this kind of surveillance has had on activists. “People fear that detectives are following them around. They panic. It’s a movement-dismantling tactic.” Most Occupy protesters are new to activism and are emotionally unprepared to deal with this kind of intimidation. Nor, so far as I have seen, are they inclined to seek the advice of older activists who were under surveillance in the 1960s and 1970s, before the protections of the original Handschu Decree, which prohibited political spying, were put in place. Those activists nevertheless found ways to continue their political work.From an article on the NYPD's Intel Division. [more inside]
FlyRights is a smartphone app designed to provide a quick and easy way to report complaints of air travel harassment, profiling, and discrimination. Within the first ten hours of its launch, FlyRights had fielded two complaints of harassment and profiling. By contrast, the DHS's report to Congress on civil rights and civil liberties listed only 11 complaints in the first six months of 2011. FlyRights was designed by the Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization.
The previously-mentioned Summums want to place their own monument in a park which contains the Ten Commandments, making the Supreme Court's heads explode in a a hilariously weird oral argument[pdf]: "Scalia: I don't know what that means. You keep saying it, and I don't know what it means. [...] Breyer: Suppose that there certain messages that private people had like "eat vitamins"—and then somebody comes along with a totally different content, "ride the roller coaster," and they say this part of the park is designed to get healthy children, not put children at risk." [more inside]
``Friendly fascism portrays two conflicting trends in the United States and other countries of the so-called "free world." The first is a slow and powerful drift toward greater concentration of power and wealth in a repressive Big Business-Big Government partnership... The other is a slower and less powerful tendency for individuals and groups to seek greater participation in decisions affecting themselves and others... These contradictory trends are woven fine into the fabric of highly industrialized capitalism.'
"And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government." Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, publicly responds to criticisms on the publication of information about clandestine surveillance of private bank records of Americans, offering a rare glimpse into the Fourth Estate's complicated negotiations with the government over issues of public interest.
Y2K Spoof Flick Goes Awry "This FBI agent called," said Zieper. "He said, 'There are a lot of people planning to vacation in New York this year, a lot of them are coming to your site and they're getting scared. I want to talk to you about how we can stop people from coming to this site.'" ... see the flick here. The FBI is full of a bunch of weirdos.