Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Silicon Valley Is Destroying American Democracy by Playing Political Favorites, by Robert Bridge

The New York Times is wringing its hands about the alt-right on social media, but it sounds an awful lot like sour grapes. From Robert Bridge at strategic-culture.com:

Perhaps it was expecting too much that the tech giants would check their political allegiances at the door to ensure fairness. Instead, they have let their political affinities disrupt the process every step of the way and this is leading the country down a blind alley.

June 2019 may go down in the history books as the defining moment when the American IT giants – in cahoots with the limping ‘legacy’ media – removed their masks, as well as their gloves, revealing the real threat they have become to the institution of US democracy, fragile as it already is.

The New York Times got the ball rolling when it ran a front-page story (‘The Making of a YouTube Radical’) detailing the trials and tribulations of one tortured Caleb Cain, a college dropout who was “looking for direction” in life but instead tumbled headlong into a rabbit hole of “far-right politics on YouTube” where he eventually found himself “brainwashed” and “radicalized.”

The article, quoting “critics and independent researchers,” which I suppose could mean just about anyone, says the Google-owned platform has created “a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining … a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.”

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Assange Lawyer Reveals The Pentagon Was Behind Bringing Down WikiLeaks’ Assange, by Joe Martino

The Pentagon does not like its secrets disclosed. From Joe Martino at collective-evolution.com:

IN BRIEF

  • The Facts:One of Assange’s lawyers has confirmed that it was the Pentagon who was behind the smear and aggression to bring down Julian Assange, not the Obama admin.
  • Reflect On:Why does our government’s work so hard to protect secrets related to wrongdoing that no one supports? Why do we spend more time arguing over if Assange is right or wrong when we already know the actions of our governments are dreadful?

As free and open journalism remains under attack, a lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange has confirmed that it’s the Pentagon, and not the White House or any other government agency whose secrets he has leaked, that has been pushing for years to smear and bring down Julian Assange.

Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson was granted a meeting with Obama administration insiders and had asked if they “really wanted” the publisher so they could access his whistleblowers and because he warned that “there are dangerous precedents here,” Robertson said they responded simply:

We don’t want him, but the Pentagon does, and the Pentagon may eventually get its way.

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Trump’s America and Egypt’s Dictatorship Deserve Each Other, by Danny Sjursen

Trump makes no secret of his affinity for foreign dictators of the right persuasion. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

This article originally appeared at TruthDig.

He was the first duly elected president in the Arab world and the first in Egyptian history. Now Mohammed Morsi is dead, collapsing on June 17 in his glass cage during his show trial in Cairo—a victim, it seems, of criminal negligence during a brutal six-year stint in prison. His death only highlights the distinct malevolence of a military junta that (illegally) overthrew Morsi in a coup. He languished in an Egyptian prison system that’s incarcerated thousands of others—critics of the regime, mostly—in a country that Amnesty International has described as an “open air prison.”

As for President Trump, he could care less. Egypt’s police state, perhaps the most repressive in the country’s modern history, remains a bosom buddy of The Donald’s administration. And most Americans hardly notice. Foreign policy isn’t of great interest for most of the citizenry, despite the fact that it’s the one area in which a U.S. president seems to have nearly unlimited power and influence.

Morsi’s ignominious demise demonstrates just how far the once-bright hopes for democracy in the Arab Spring have truly fallen. Hardly anyone even thinksabout the prospects of democracy in the Mideast. So tight has Washington become with a variety of Arab authoritarians, strongmen and theocrats that veritable tyranny has been normalized in the region. If Americans don’t notice, I assure you that the people of the region absolutely do. Which, to put it bluntly, makes us less safe by empowering Islamist critics of Uncle Sam.

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How Many Are Not Blowing the Whistle? by Caitlin Johnstone

What we see of government depredations is only the tip of the iceberg. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is now being slammed with $500 fines for every single day that she remains imprisoned in contempt of court for refusing to testify in a secret grand jury against Julian Assange. Next month it will increase to $1,000 a day.

Again, this is while Manning is also locked up in jail. It’s not enough to re-imprison a whistleblower who already served years of prison time, including nearly a year in solitary confinement, for taking a principled stand against an opaque and unjust grand jury system; they’re going to potentially ruin her life with crippling debt as well. The only way to make it more cruel and unusual would be to start waterboarding her or threatening her family members.

All for refusing to participate in a corrupt and unaccountable legal performance designed to imprison a publisher to whom she leaked evidence of US war crimes in 2010.

People see this. People watch this and learn from this, as sure as people watched and learned from the public town square executions of those who spoke ill of their medieval lords. And just like those medieval executions, many of the onlookers have been trained to cheer and celebrate at the fate of the accused; have a look at the power-worshipping, government-bootlicking comments under my recent tweet about Manning’s persecution for a perfect example of this. People have been taught what happens to those who blow the whistle on the powerful, and they have been taught to become quite comfortable with it.

And, of course, that is the whole idea.

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Democrats Vow To Close Dangerous Gun-Buying Loophole Known As ‘The Second Amendment’, from the Babylon Bee

U.S.—Democrats have made vows to place extreme restrictions on guns, but they keep running into a problem: Many of their ideas can’t go into effect because of an early addendum to the Constitution. They’re now calling this the “Second Amendment loophole.”

“We just want to get guns off the streets,” Cory Booker, one of 583 presidential candidates, told the press, “but this Second Amendment loophole makes it so we can’t do that. We need to close that loophole.”

The way many gun control advocates would like things to work is, if they read in the New York Times about a particular gun model they think is scary–like an AR-15 or a semi-automatic or a glue gun–they could then just go ahead and ban it and start taking it from people. Normally things would work this way with anything else, but thanks to the Second Amendment loophole, they can’t just ban guns because they feel like it.

Closing the Second Amendment loophole won’t be easy, though, as it will take two-thirds of the states to sign on, a nearly impossible task. This sort of thing has also blocked many other politicians’ brilliant plans, something they refer to as the “Federalism loophole.”

https://babylonbee.com/news/democrats-vow-to-close-second-amendment-loophole

 

China: The Perfect High-Tech Totalitarian State, by Judith Bergman

You can be sure all sorts of US politicians and bureaucrats are going to school on the Chinese. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • In China, censorship, now largely automated, has reached “unprecedented levels of accuracy, aided by machine learning and voice and image recognition.” — Cate Cadell, Reuters, May 26, 2019.
  • As in other Communist regimes, such as that of the former Soviet Union, the Communist ideology does not tolerate any competing narratives. “Religion is a source of authority, and an object of fidelity, that is greater than the state… This characteristic of religion has always been anathema to history’s totalitarian despots…” — Thomas F. Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, in testimony before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, November 28, 2018.
  • In 2018, China had an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras, with plans for 626 million surveillance cameras by 2020. China’s aim is apparently an “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” which will integrate and coordinate data from surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology, citizen ID card numbers, biometric data, license plate numbers and information about vehicle ownership, health, family planning, banking, and legal records, “unusual activity”, and any other relevant data that can be gathered about citizens, such as religious practice, travels abroad, and so on, according to reports of local officials and police.
  • At the moment, China is in the process of fulfilling what Stalin, Hitler and Mao could only dream about: The flawless totalitarian state, powered by digital technology, where the individual has nowhere to flee from the all-seeing eye of the Communist state.

The 30th anniversary on June 4 of the Chinese regime’s 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square served to highlight the extreme censorship in China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and President Xi Jinping.

The Tiananmen anniversary is referred to euphemistically in mainland China, as ‘the June Fourth Incident’. The regime there evidently fears that any talk, let alone public commemoration, of that historical event will stir up anti-regime unrest, which could endanger the Chinese Communist Party’s absolute power.

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Can Government Punish Twice for the Same Crime?, by Andrew J. Napolitano

What’s the difference between a crime and an offense? A single offense can be two crimes—one state and one federal—and both the state and federal government can try, convict, and punish you. That, according to the Supreme Court, does not run afoul of the Constitution’s prohibition of double jeopardy. From Andrew J. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

“…nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”
–Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The government in America is out of control.

Last week, this column discussed the unconstitutional efforts of federal prosecutors in Chicago to punish an American citizen for crimes that had not yet been committed. This week, I address the wish of federal prosecutors in Alabama to charge and to punish a man for a crime for which he had already been convicted and punished.

There is no happy ending here. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the same criminal event can trigger two prosecutions, one by the feds and one by the state; and it can also trigger two punishments.

Here is the backstory.

Terance Gamble, who had once been convicted of robbery in Alabama, was stopped by a Mobile, Alabama, policeman who claimed Gamble was driving a car with a damaged headlight. He then claimed Gamble gave him consent to search his car. Neither of these police claims is credible, but that is not the point of this argument. When the search revealed a loaded handgun, Gamble was arrested and his constitutional odyssey began.

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