The White Flag


Rejoice Comrades, 90 More Days of Big Brother!
February 20, 2011, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Old Articles

United States

Increased surveillance; the desire of any true American PATRIOT.
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“The House voted 279-143 to add 90 days to the legal authority of three provisions, including two that were part of the USA Patriot Act enacted shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Senate approved the measure Tuesday evening.”

“At issue are law enforcement powers to set roving wiretaps to monitor multiple communication devices and to ask a special federal court for access to ‘any tangible thing’ — from business records to library checkouts — that could be relevant to a terrorist threat. The third provision, from a 2004 intelligence act, gives the FBI court-approved rights for secret surveillance of non-American ‘lone wolf’ suspects not known to be tied to specific terrorist groups.”

Let the facts speak for themselves.
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“[R]esearch at the University of Michigan, […] found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts were not curing misinformation. ‘Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.’ You can read the entire article online.”

“[W]hile ‘most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence,’ the research found that actually ‘we often base our opinions on our beliefs … and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.’ ”

“According to Charles Madigan, the editor of the Tribune’s Perspective section, 50 or 60 percent of the respondents said they ‘would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, particularly when it has sexual content or is heard as unpatriotic.’ ”

“In a Harris survey last spring, 67 percent of Republicans said Obama is a socialist; 57 percent believed him to be a Muslim; 45 percent refused to believe he was born in America; and 24 percent said he ‘may be the antichrist.’ ”

“[I]n Orwell’s novel ‘1984,’ Big Brother banishes history to the memory hole, where inconvenient facts simply disappear. Control of the present rests on obliteration of the past. The figure of O’Brien, who is the personification of Big Brother, says to the protagonist, Winston Smith: ‘We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.’ And they do. The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Truth destroy the records of the past and publish new versions. These in turn are superseded by yet more revisions. Why? Because people without memory are at the mercy of the powers that be; there is nothing against which to measure what they are told today. History is obliterated.”

“The poet Czeslaw Milosz identified another enemy of democracy when, upon accepting the Noble Prize for Literature, he said ‘Our planet that gets smaller every year, with its fantastic proliferation of mass media, is witnessing a process that escapes definition, characterized by a refusal to remember.’ Memory is crucial to democracy; historical amnesia, its nemesis.”

“Marty had learned that industry was attempting behind closed doors to dilute the findings of the American Academy of Sciences study on the effects of pesticide residues on children. Before we finished the documentary, the industry somehow purloined a copy of our draft script – we still aren’t certain how – and mounted a sophisticated and expensive campaign to discredit our program before it aired.”

President Obama said he stands for civil right, so everything he does no matter how contradictory it may seem must be in the best interest of civil liberties. Continuing the use of secret prisons in Afghanistan, indefinite detention without a trial and the like, no matter how confusing it may be, I have to keep reminding myself, President Obama is civil rights.
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“An extension of several provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which failed to pass the House last week under a procedural motion which required a two-thirds super-majority, passed on Monday night under a simple majority vote.”

“The provisions allow investigators to get “roving wiretap” court orders allowing them to follow terrorism suspects who switch phone numbers or providers; to get orders allowing them to seize ‘any tangible things’ relevant to a security investigation, like a business’s customer records; and to get national-security wiretap orders against non-citizen suspects who are not connected to any foreign power.”

Workers do not need rights, or the right to protect themselves, because bankers and other business owners need rights to treat their employees however they feel is best, that is how we do things in the United States.
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“[…] the biggest assault on worker’s rights in Wisconsin and would effectively strip collective bargaining rights from most public-sector unions. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to give all public-sector workers bargaining rights in 1959.”

“Addressing the packed and cheering room, Trumka said, ‘what you’re doing here is the seed that’s going to grow across the United States … you’ve caught America’s imagination in saying we’ve had enough.’ ”

Guns and drugs, who cares? They were on an American military plane so it was okay, and definitley not illegal.
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“Relations between the US and Argentina have deteriorated after Buenos Aires lodged a formal complaint over a US military plane that landed late last week carrying guns, drugs and satellite phones.”

“Héctor Timerman, the Argentine foreign minister, said he had spoken with the US assistant secretary of state, Arturo Valenzuela, who ‘refused to explain why they tried to pass this material’. ”

Harsh economic times require the same remedy as terrorist attacks, a slimming of freedoms, for, freedom is our freedom’s biggest enemy. That is why I am applauding the GOP in Ohio and Wisconsin for finding the cure to society’s woes.
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“With an $8 billion state budget gap forecast this year, cutbacks and hardship must be shared by Ohio’s union workers, according to Kasich.”

“But spokesmen for the state’s largest unions say public workers already gave up $100 million in health benefits and $250 million in pay to help balance the current budget, passed in July 2009 when Ted Strickland was governor.”

“ ‘This bill is a partisan assault on working families and does nothing but punish workers and hurt the middle class, plain and simple,’ Burga said.”

“In Idaho and Indiana, Republican leaders are proposing bills that would limit collective bargaining for wages and benefits, according to the national publication. Newly introduced legislation in Tennessee would eliminate teachers’ rights to bargain altogether, Education Week reported.”

Internet freedom is a great thing, but we just have so many freedoms as it is in America that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton cannot see any reason for protecting Internet freedoms here in the United States.
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“According to Clinton, the program will provide $25 million in new grants to support ‘technologists and activists working at the cutting edge of the fight against Internet repression.”

“In a speech seen as a follow-up to her 2010 address on the issue, Clinton reasserted the administration’s belief in our universal ‘freedom to connect,’ something the Secretary of State and the White House see as a natural extension of our longstanding rights to free speech, assembly and association.”

“The Obama administration’s recent failure to stand up for a strong Net Neutrality rules, its slow-footed response to the export of invasive snooping technologies, and apparent reluctance to abandon the idea of an Internet ‘kill switch’ all suggest a double standard in what the administration seeks for foreign governments and what it will accept in the United States.”

Guantanamo remains open as a symbol to the rest of the world that American will always stand for freedom and justice.
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“ ‘I think we’re in the position, frankly, that the prospects for closing Guantanamo, as best I can tell, are very, very low, given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress,’ Gates said.”

World

Protests continue in other areas of the middle east following Tunisia and Egypt, including Iran.
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“News reports put the crowds at tens of thousands, the largest since December 2009, when Iranian authorities crushed protests. Press TV, the state-run English-language satellite television channel, said that small groups of protesters ‘disrupted order in the Iranian capital Tehran,’ provoking counter-protests by government supporters.”

“In Bahrain, a Manhattan-sized emirate with a population of 738,000, security forces attacked peaceful protesters to prevent them from massing in Manama, the emirate’s capital, according to news reports and Internet posts.”

“[…] dozens of people protesting peacefully at a traffic circle, some waving red and white Bahraini flags. Suddenly, scores of blue-suited police charge from the opposite side of the circle as tear gas grenades explode close to the protesters.”

Civil Liberties

It should not matter if the government wastes time and money cataloging a plethora of information about innocent American citizens, the fact of the matter is, so long as I am not breaking the law I have nothing to be afraid of. That is unless I become one of the unlucky few who is accused of a crime I did not commit based on circumstantial evidence and false confessions.
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“The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would prohibit local law enforcement agencies from collecting and storing information about an individual’s political, religious or other First Amendment-protected views unless ‘there is reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct or activity.’ ”

“Michael German, the ACLU’s policy counsel in Washington, D.C., and a former FBI agent, said unjustified law enforcement investigations of political activity protected by the First Amendment have a chilling effect on such speech and are ‘damaging to democracy.’”

“The documents showed that the Sheriff’s Office had collected and stored names, photos, addresses and, in one case, a Social Security number of an anti-war activist.”

Only the best and brightest among us have a opportunity to become a public servant to put forth truly civil, reasonable, and progressive legislation like House Bill 1171.
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“A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions.”

“Since 1993, eight doctors have been assassinated at the hands of anti-abortion extremists, and another 17 have been the victims of murder attempts. Some of the perpetrators of those crimes have tried to use the justifiable homicide defense at their trials.”

“South Dakota already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and one of the lowest abortion rates. Since 1994, there have been no providers in the state. Planned Parenthood flies a doctor in from out-of-state once a week to see patients at a Sioux Falls clinic. Women from the more remote parts of the large, rural state drive up to six hours to reach this lone clinic. And under state law women are then required to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.”

Area of effect of the War on Terror and how the innocent can get scooped up into our ‘terror watch,’ and thrown into our intricate network of secret prisons.
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“A German student of Afghan origin was arbitrarily held in the notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan for 20 days. It was only due to a campaign to inform the public, resolutely waged by his family and fellow students at Frankfurt University, that he was released in late January.”

“He wears his hair short and is a practising Muslim. That was apparently enough to ensure he was targeted by the German police as a suspected supporter of Islamic terrorism.”

“In late November he flew with a friend to Dubai, where his brother lives. From there, he took another flight on December 17 to visit his father, a Kabul businessman, in Afghanistan.”

“Three days later, on January 8, Haddid was arrested in Kabul by US soldiers who ransacked and devastated his father’s house. The son disappeared without a trace.”

“On January 29, Haddid was released and taken to the German embassy, where he was able to get in touch with his family. A statement from the federal chancellery claimed the whole business had arisen merely from ‘a misunderstanding.’ ”

“Haddid’s experience is not unique. Ahmad S., a Muslim from Hamburg, has been in the Bagram prison since July 2010. Furthermore, a rocket from an American drone aircraft struck and killed three people on the Afghan-Pakistani border in October 2010. Among these was the German youth Bünyamin E. The German authorities also suspected him of ‘terrorism’, without supplying any proof or convicting him on any charge.”

Assault on political activism and free speech.
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“On Sept. 24, 2010, the FBI raided seven homes in Minneapolis and Chicago, taking boxes of activists’ personal belongings, computers, cell phones and passports. The FBI delivered subpoenas to fourteen activists that month, including two people in Michigan. Then in December, under orders for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office in Chicago, nine more Palestine solidarity activists were subpoenaed for Jan. 25.”

“Staiger states, ‘This is an attack on free speech and it is undemocratic. It is starting to remind me of the 1950s and the McCarthy era.’ ”

“Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, has urged everyone in the progressive community to exercise their legal right to not answer questions put to them by FBI agents. ‘This is a witch hunt against anyone who is standing up against war and injustice. Tell FBI agents you have nothing to say. Period.’ says Kelly.”

People are suggesting that former army general Jerry Boykin contradicts himself by claiming America is a Christian Nation then praising separation of church and state because he is convinced Muslims are trying to take over the United States. I think Boykin is consistent, consistently contradicting himself.
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“Longtime readers of this blog might remember William ‘Jerry’ Boykin, an Army general who in 2003 sparked controversy for giving speeches to fundamentalist Christian audiences during which he asserted, among other things, that Muslims worship idols and that the real enemy of America is not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein but Satan.”

“In another speech, Boykin recalled how he captured an Islamic warlord in Somalia because ‘I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.’ “

“What really irks me about Boykin is that he had the nerve to invoke the separation of church and state in his latest anti-Islam tirade. He complained that Muslims don’t recognize that principle.”

“Boykin for years ranted and raved about how our great Christian nation was going to launch a new crusade against the Muslim hordes. That suggests he isn’t really interested in church-state separation.”

“The lesson of history is crystal clear: Looking for new enemies to demonize isn’t the answer. So what is the answer? Let’s try this: Instead of trashing our Constitution and proposing that the rights in it shouldn’t apply to certain Americans, let’s cling to its values all the tighter – and make certain that all Americans are under its protection.”

Progress

Fighting Veteran homelessness.
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“Veterans, particularly poor and minority veterans, are 50 percent more likely to become homeless compared to other Americans, according to a report released last week by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) departments. The report also stated that almost 76,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in 2009, and approximately 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter. Approximately 44,000 to 66,000 are chronically homeless.”

The house has already passed the budget cuts to Planned Parenthood, tell your senators not to do the same. Planned Parenthood helps low income families plan their birth, this is very useful in cases of rape, or health complications, i.e. mother or baby dieing during birth.
Take Action

Oppose cutting funding to a program that saves women’s lives.
Take Action

Tell President Obama to end targeted killings off the battlefield.
Take Action

Congress is putting together the new budget. Help them out by telling them to cut funding from the Drug War.
Take Action

Demand oversight for the Federal Reserve.
Take Action

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