Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared, by Michael Krieger

Powerful people have good reason to be scared. They’ve screwed up a great country and people have figured it out. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

“Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”

– Bangambiki Habyarimana

Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign.  It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company’s gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.

Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

But it’s all out in the open now. Facebook isn’t even hiding the fact that it’s outsourcing much of its “fake news” analysis to the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors. As reported by Reuters:

Facebook began looking for outside help amid criticism for failing to rein in Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential elections…

With scores of its own cybersecurity professionals and $40 billion in annual revenue in 2017, Facebook might not seem in need of outside help.

It doesn’t need outside help, it needs political cover, which is the real driver behind this.

To continue reading: Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

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Close Up and Long Shot, by James Howard Kunstler

The world is whirling centrifugally apart and it can only end badly. What if they held a “climactic bloodbath” and nobody came? From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Be careful about what you see in the foreground of the news vis-à-vis what’s in the background. Sunday, the cable networks were on fire over the 30-or-so white nationalists marching across Washington DC — with much larger hordes of masked, black-clad Antifa street-fighters following them around, and an army of DC cops in fluorescent green riot vests following the Antifas and the white nationalist knuckleheads.

The event was a billed as an attempt to commemorate the clash that happened between the same contestants in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago in the uproar over Confederate statues. That fiasco ended in the death of a bystander named Heather Heyer. Not a whole lot has changed since then, except perhaps the Left has become more strident in its calls to penalize white people for their crimes of “privilege,” no doubt further inflaming the Unite-the-Right crew. (And the anti-statue campaign has dropped down the memory hole.)

There was plenty of “hate” to go around on both sides Sunday. But those who were waiting for a climactic bloodbath in Lafayette Park must have been disappointed after a long day of tension when a big blob of rain hunkered over the District at suppertime and the theatrics concluded. Both the Antifas and the Unite-the-Right marchers had to go home and get out of their wet clothes. At least they could agree on that.

The cable TV anchors had issued the usual calls for “national unity,” exhorting President Trump to emerge from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golfing bunker and “bring the country together,” a sadly fatuous proposition. There is nothing to come together within. There’s nothing left of an American common culture besides a few Disney movies and that’s not nearly enough. That’s what happens when you opt for multiculturalism as your number one political principle. It automatically negates shared values, so why even expect any agreement between groups contending for dominance?

To continue reading: Close Up and Long Shot

Fidel Narváez: “Those who think that they will break Julian Assange are mistaken”, by Monica del Pilar Uribe Marin

This article clarifies Julian Assange’s legal and political situation and dispells much of the mainstream media mythology. From Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín at theprisma.co.uk:

Defamed, persecuted, harassed, and since March of this year cut off from the outside world, in Flat 3B, Knightsbridge, London, the founder of Wikileaks waits to learn the fate of his asylum status. It is a position that current Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has put at risk, but Assange is built for battles of this size. The former Consul of Ecuador knows him well, and wanted to speak out.

Julian Assange – Free Photo: Wikipedia Flickr bit.ly/2MG1hJW

Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín

Since assuming power, Moreno has made no secret of the inconvenience caused by the ‘problem he inherited’ from his predecessor, and now seems to have made up his mind to expel Assange from the embassy. It is even said that the true purpose of his recent visit to the UK was to meet with British functionaries, agree terms for the end of the asylum, and hand Assange over to British authorities.

This comes as no surprise considering that Moreno regards Assange as, among other things, a ‘hacker’ who ‘made a mistake’ that ‘could cost him his life’, and while he has stated that Assange must be protected, Moreno is undeniably sensitive to US pressures.

He recently sanctioned Assange for ‘political interference’, denying him access to the internet or telephones, and prohibiting all visits except those from his lawyers.

Today Julian Assange – who has never left the building in Knightsbridge – finds himself in total confinement, faced with the possibility that his asylum may be withdrawn at any time. He is also suffering from various physical ailments and, as of a few days ago, dealing with the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s request that he privately testify in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

In other words, conditions in the Latin American country’s embassy in Knightsbridge are now very different to those that Assange experienced during the six years beginning  19 June  2012, when he arrived seeking political asylum. Ecuador’s government at the time, and its president Rafael Correa, openly accepted his request, believing Assange’s life to be in danger and admiring his fight to defend freedom of information and expression.

At that time the Consul of Ecuador in the UK was Fidel Narváez, who was tasked with accompanying Assange from the day he first set foot in the embassy.

To continue reading: Fidel Narváez: “Those who think that they will break Julian Assange are mistaken”

Gun Owners Should Fear the Deep State, by James Bovard

The price of gun freedom, or some semblance of it, is eternal vigilance. From James Bovard at lewrockwell.com:

Unfortunately, the deep state could increasingly focus on gun owners in the coming years. The number of Americans who are violating firearm laws and regulations is increasing by tens or hundreds of thousands almost every year. This is not the result of a violent crime wave, but because politicians are continually criminalizing the possession of items that were previously legally owned.

Five years ago, the Connecticut legislature decreed that all owners of so-called “assault weapons” (which included any semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip) must register their firearms. Perhaps as few as 15 percent of gun owners bothered to comply with the new law—meaning that Connecticut had up to 100,000 “criminals” living within its border. A 2016 Albany Times Union editorial lamented that 96 percent of roughly 1 million New Yorkers who owned so-called “assault weapons” failed to comply with registration requirements. California gun bans have been met with similar, massive non-compliance. Undeterred, local governments have begun jumping on the bandwagon. Deerfield, Ill., recently decreed a $1,000-a-day penalty on anyone who fails to surrender or disable their semi-automatic firearms with cosmetic features that frighten politicians and editorial writers.

While such laws were made by elected officials, it is unelected bureaucrats who are largely left in charge of enforcement, and that can cause big problems for gun owners. Just before press time for this issue, it was reported that a California farmer who was simply trying to meet the state’s ever-changing restrictive gun laws by registering his rifle is being charged with 12 felonies after the state DOJ determined his AR-15 to be “illegally modified.” That determination served as grounds for the agency to raid the man’s home and confiscate 12 firearms, 230 rounds of ammunition and two suppressors. He was later released on $150,000 bond, and at press time the case was still pending.

To continue reading: Gun Owners Should Fear the Deep State

 

Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture, by Ray McGovern

Why should Gina Haspel’s record running a torture site disqualify her from running the CIA? Torture is, after all, a CIA speciality. From Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

Newly released declassified documents prove once and for all that CIA Director Gina Haspel oversaw torture in Thailand, which the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee knew all along, as Ray McGovern explains.

Newly released official documents obtained by the National Security Archive showing that CIA Director Gina Haspel directly supervised waterboarding at the first CIA “Black Site” simply confirm what Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) already knew as he orchestrated the charade that was Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  Burr allowed her to “classify” her own direct role in waterboarding and other torture techniques so that it could be kept from the public and secure her confirmation—-further proof that this Senate oversight committee has instead become an overlook committee.

That Haspel supervised the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the first CIA “black site” for interrogation was already clear to those who had followed Haspel’s career, but she was able to do a song and dance when Sen. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked her about it.  Haspel declined to reply on grounds that the information was classified. It was of course because Haspel herself had classified it. All the senators knew that only too well. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) had strongly objected to this bizarre practice only minutes before.

Witnessing this charade from the audience prompted me to stand up, excuse myself for interrupting, and suggest that the committee members were entitled to an honest answer since this was a public hearing with thousands watching on TV.  The American people were also entitled to know whether or not Haspel was directly involved in torture. As I was calmly pointing out that any Senate Intelligence Committee member who prepared for the hearing already knew the answer, I was “escorted out,” manhandled and charged with disrupting Congress and resisting arrest.

McGovern after he made a comment at Haspel’s confirmation hearing.

Jeremy Scahill later did a good job on Democracy Now! in putting needed context around the free pass and encouragement CIA torturers continue to enjoy at the hands of co-conspirators like Sen. Burr.

I have now had time to read through the documents obtained by the National Security Archive via Freedom of Information Act requests.  Suffice it to say they are so sad and sickening that I had to stop reading.

To continue reading: Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture

UK: Boris Johnson Sparks ‘Burka-Gate’, by Soeren Kern

Boris Johnson defended the right of women to wear burkas, but he evidently did it in a politically incorrect way. From Soeren Kern at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • “I believe that the public will see this for what it is — an internal Conservative party witch hunt instigated by Number Ten against Boris Johnson, who they see as a huge threat.” — Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.
  • “Taken to its logical conclusion, the anti-Johnson brigade’s stance would mean that nobody is allowed to offer their view on any matter in case it causes offence. Is that really the kind of country we want to live in? … We live in a country that used to believe passionately in free speech. As we all know, even when exercised with care and responsibility, free speech can and does offend some people. But timid politicians who take the easy option and prefer not to tell people what they really think about things like the burka are killing this vital right.” — Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
  • “Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth…. [female facial masking is] a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam…. The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain…” — Taj Hargey, imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation.

Former foreign secretary (and possible future prime minister) Boris Johnson sparked a political firestorm after making politically incorrect comments about the burka and the niqab, the face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women.

The ensuing debate over Islamophobia has revealed the extent to which political correctness is stifling free speech in Britain. It has also exposed deep fissures within the Conservative Party over its future direction and leadership.

Pictured: Boris Johnson (the Foreign Secretary) leaves 10 Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on June 12, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

To continue reading: UK: Boris Johnson Sparks ‘Burka-Gate’

Sarah Jeong Better Drive Carefully, by Ann Coulter

The whole idea of “hate” crimes is intellectually flawed and riddled with conceptual holes. Ann Coulter picks up on one of its loonier applications. From Coulter at anncoulter.com:

If you’re worried about the social media monopolies censoring speech, just be happy they can’t put you in prison.

Federal prosecutors are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” rally — isn’t this the “paper” anniversary? — by indicting James Fields for “hate.”

Fields has already been charged with murder in state court. (I would think that “hate” would be subsumed by a murder charge.)

But the federal “hate crimes” statute allows the feds to skirt the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy — at least for certain kinds of “hate.”

— The stabbing of Yankel Rosenbaum by assailants yelling “Get the Jew!”: NOT a federal hate crime.

— The brutal kidnapping and murder of a young white couple in Knoxville, Tennessee, by black youths: NOT a federal hate crime.

— The torture of a mentally disabled kid in Chicago, by assailants saying “F— white people!” and “F— Trump!”: NOT a federal hate crime. (Curiously, none of the attackers was Sarah Jeong.)

— A white man killing a white woman by driving into a crowd of left-wing protesters: THAT’S a federal hate crime.

To make their case, prosecutors did a deep dive into Fields’ social media postings to prove that, yes, while he might have killed a white woman in this particular case, he’s still a racist.

The second paragraph of the indictment states:

“Prior to August 12, 2017, Defendant JAMES ALEX FIELDS
JR. obtained multiple social media accounts, which he used to express his beliefs regarding race, national origin, religion and other topics. On these accounts, FIELDS expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples; expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white. FIELDS also expressed these views directly in interactions with individuals known to him.”

GUILTY!

Wait — what? Again, Fields is a white man charged with murdering a white woman.

This is a prosecution of Fields for Bad Thought, utterly oblivious to not only the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause, but the free speech clause and also simple common sense. It’s like a parody of what serious people feared about criminalizing “hate.”

To continue reading: Sarah Jeong Better Drive Carefully