This week’s False Flag Weekly News broke two huge stories…about efforts to shut down False Flag Weekly News!
First story: My lawyer Bruce Leichty just sent a demand letter to GoFundMe’s CEO Robert Solomon, and “VP of Customer Happiness” Greg Smith. The letter serves notice that GoFundMe must reinstate my account (including my donor database), return the more than $1000 they stole, compensate me for damages to my independent media operation, and apologize to me and my donors. GoFundMe appears to have committed breach of contract, conversion of property, civil rights violations, and “an unlawful larcenous act (within the definition of ‘grand theft’ under California penal code)” among other crimes and torts.
GoFundMe “nuked” my fundraising platform two weeks ago, apparently in response to the tremendous success of False Flag Weekly News and its new fund-raiser. They vaguely cited unexplained “terms of service violations.”
Second story: Professor Tony Hall has finally obtained what appears to be a copy of the complaint lodged against him last fall – by his own University of Lethbridge Administration, apparently led by Mike Mahon under the guidance of B’nai Brith – to the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC). In essence, the complaint argues that it is a crime in Canada to study and discuss false flag terrorism, especially in relation to Israel. The “evidence” against Tony Hall is basically a very long list of out-of-context items from False Flag Weekly News.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission unsurprisingly ruled in favor of Tony Hall. So now the unnamed complainants may be trying to purge the AHRC, insert their own people, and “appeal.” Talk about chutzpah!
Bottom line: “They” are obviously trying to kill False Flag Weekly News by destroying Tony Hall’s career and livelihood as a tenured full professor, and my career and livelihood as an alternative journalist and independent scholar.
Closer to (my) home, another attempt to silence Gilad has been stymied. The University of Wisconsin has canceled my room reservation for what was originally going to be a private “Debate Gilad Atzmon” event. Apparently the Madison, WI equivalents of Bill Weinberg heard about the event, complained to the University, and convinced them to cancel the reservation.
So now, instead of being a private event, “Debate Gilad Atzmon” will be 100% public – no RSVPs necessary! Just show up at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, in the Rathskeller of the U.W.-Madison Memorial Union. Parking is available in the State St. Campus Garage. More information HERE.
And if you can’t make it to Madison, Wisconsin, you can still listen to Gilad’s live jam with the “psychedelic chill improv ensemble” Abandon Control. It’s happening Monday, May 1, 7:30 to 11 pm at an undisclosed location, live-streaming via AbandonControl.com and the band’s Facebook page.
Truth, beauty, and the questioning of hidebound orthodoxies cannot be silenced! The more they try to shut us down, the harder we will work to get the message out.
© Photo: facebook.com/freebarrettbrown
One day after the arrest of intelligence reporter Barrett Brown for criticizing the US government, a government agency refused to state the reason for his detention.
Brown gained notoriety as a symbol for the attack on press freedom after he reported on a slew of leaks connected with hacker group Anonymous. In particular, Brown covered emails that showed Stratfor had been contracted out by private companies on the recommendation of the Justice Department to spy on activists connected with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“We can not disclose the reason(s) for a specific inmate’s transfer of location,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement released Friday.
“Therein lies the cute terminology of the BOP,” Jay Leiderman, legal counsel to Barrett Brown, told Sputnik News Friday night. In the eyes of the BOP, Brown is an inmate, but technically, he’s half an inmate, Leiderman said.
“For privacy and security reasons,” the BOP went on, “we do not disclose information on a specific inmate’s living quarters.” However, Brown had been living outside a prison, and detaining a US citizen without due process is supposed to be prevented by rights enumerated in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, Leiderman confirmed to Sputnik.
On April 27, Brown attended a routine meeting with his case manager. From there, the award-winning journalist was taken into federal custody at the Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution in Texas. The reason? He spoke with media outlets without the government’s approval.
Never mind that the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights states Congress “shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
According to Leiderman, there is a limit to how long authorities can hold Brown. But the prospect of indefinite detainment, unfortunately, cannot be entirely ruled out. It’s not outside the realm of BOP’s practice, the attorney suggested, for a prison guard to poke himself on the arm and claim an inmate had done it, which could land another five year sentence for the unlucky prisoner. While the lawyer did not seem to think this would be likely, the mere specter of it raises questions about the extent of the federal government’s powerful reach.
Leiderman called it the Barrett Brown Rule: The BOP can deploy sneaky policy tactics to effectively silence and imprison someone they personally don’t like. This has happened in a handful of previous cases, Leiderman said, but now we could be watching another major government overreach unfold before our collective eyes.
Brown’s first exclusive interview following his release from jail was on Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear. The writer has since interviewed with Vice News and was scheduled for a Friday interview with PBS before he was once again detained.
It was only during the past three days that the BOP claimed Brown needed permission to conduct interviews. This information came “out of the blue,” Brown’s legal counsel, Jay Leiderman, told Sputnik News on Thursday. Brown asked the BOP for the policy manual stating this requirement, but was rebuffed.
“There was never any mention of these rules during the past four months of his federally approved employment at D Magazine when he was working with media and involved in a range of interviews,” Brown’s mother said in a statement.
Free Barrett Brown website operator Kevin Gallagher told Reason that the conditions of Brown’s release never mentioned media restrictions. Brown is known for “being critical of the Bureau of Prisons in many different ways,” Gallagher said.
“I would call the people who did this a bunch of chicken-sh*t a**holes that are brutalizing the Constitution, Leiderman told the Intercept when Brown was taken into custody once more.
Baltimore County police – an early adopter of body cameras spending $12.5 million of taxpayer money in the name of transparency – is withholding footage in three police-involved shooting incidents.
County police shot six people in four separate incidents since January, killing two of them, according to the Baltimore Sun, which first broke the story.
Body cameras captured all of the shootings but footage has only been made available in one case. Police said the other cases are still being investigated, or the county prosecutors have told them the footage is evidence in upcoming trials.
“Release could compromise the prosecution and the defendant’s right to fair trials,” Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said in a statement to the Sun.
Armacost said those releases were quick because there were no charges against a suspect.
The missing footage involves three incidents.
In March, two officers investigating a convenience store robbery in Woodlawn shot a vehicle rushing towards them killing a 20-year-old, and injuring two others.
On April 12, police shot a 27-year-old man suspected of breaking into cars in Parkville who police said reached into his waistband.
Nine days later, an officer shot a woman who was a passenger in a stolen car that was being pursued by police.
The department first deployed body cameras last July, with the promise of a gradual rollout through December 2018, after fast-tracking $12.5 million program to equip officers.
The program was accelerated after a series of shootings, including the fatal shooting of Korryn Gaines, 23, and the wounding of her 5-year old son in August 2016 during a standoff in Randallstown. The shooting was not recorded. That led to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and then-police chief Jim Johnson to speed up the program.
Currently about 550 of the county’s 1,900 officers have body cams. More than 1,400 are to have cameras by the end of this September.
Kamenetz wouldn’t comment on the lack of transparency but his spokesperson, Ellen Kobler, said he had been clear from the beginning “that footage from police body cameras has been and will continue to be released without delay as soon as it can be determined that the release of the footage will not compromise an ongoing investigation.”
The police previously released footage from a case in December when an officer shot and wounded a man who had opened the door of his apartment carrying a knife and saying “Time to die! Time to die!”
County prosecutors ruled the shooting justified.
In another incident in January, footage was released of a police officer fatally shooting a man who had threatened his family and who had raised a “powerful scoped rifle” as an officer was talking to him.
Kamenetz then replaced Police Chief Johnson with Terry Sheridan, who had previously been the chief.
Armacost said there had been no change in policy since Sheridan took over.
The ACLU of Maryland called attempts to withhold the footage “concerning.”
“Despite lip service being paid to transparency and accountability, both their policies and in their actions, what we are seeing is the opposite,” said David Rocah, an attorney with the organization. He said the footage means “we don’t simply have to take officer’s word for what happened in particular situation.”
Cole Weston, president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, said he’s not in favour of video footage being released to the public before an investigation is closed.
“I think everybody should be cautious about just looking at… one particular piece of what happened,” he told the Sun. “Body camera footage is one piece of information that is captured as it related to an entire incident.”
This coming Sunday, April 30th, at 5PM, there will be a panel discussion entitled “The Post Political Condition… Trump, Brexit, and The Middle East… What Next? at Theatre 80 located at 80 St. Marks Place on the Lower East Side (LES) of New York City.
Timely, and simple enough in its reach, this discussion will include myself and a number of intellectuals such as history professor Norton Mezvinsky, whistle blower Michael Lesher and author Gilad Atzmon. The panel will focus on the collapse of identity politics, the crises within new left thinking, and the future of liberal and progressive thought.
In particular, I will discuss “Insular View of the American Left” while Professor Mezvinsky will speak to “The Quagmire of Current Political Terminology in U.S. Society.” Mr. Lesher will explore dichotomy between “Jewish Identity and Jewish Religion” and Mr. Atzmon will address “The Tyranny of Correctness- deconstructing identity politics and understanding its origin.”
Although the panel will necessarily touch upon Zionism, Israel, and events in the Middle East, these topics will play but a small part in a much broader exploration of the political winds of today.
To some, the subject matter of the discussion is apparently of less consequence than the makeup of the panel itself. In particular, the presence of Gilad Atzmon, a onetime Israeli citizen and Jew who has since renounced both, has triggered an organized effort to bully the theatre into canceling the event or, failing that, to disrupt it.
I’ve long been accused of being a “self-hating” Jew largely because of my work as legal counsel for the political wing of Hamas and my fervent opposition to the state of Israel as one built from the marrow of ethnic cleansing.
Described as controversial because of my opposition to Zionism, and a long list of revolutionary clients and movements that have included more than a few accused of domestic or international terrorism, I’ve grown accustomed to being “shunned ” by the political opposition that rarely seeks to engage in public discussion or debate. That’s fine. For some, it’s so much easier to toss barbs from the safety of the shadows then it is to withstand open exposure for the weakness of one’s thought.
Yet, Gilad Atzmon presents another picture. Mr. Atzmon’s stinging criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity… perhaps even Judaism itself… have so enraged both Zionists and some anti-Zionists alike, that the mob seeks to silence him and thereby deny us all the benefit of his speech.
Censors of thought are not new to time or place. Throughout history, they have deigned to dictate the parameters of acceptable dialogue and, when unable to control the discourse, have sought to shut it down as if ideas are in themselves dangerous.
One need only look to recent events in Washington D.C. to understand that those who fear the market place of free ideas often seek to shutter it whether by economic intimidation or through resort to violence.
Just this past month, JDL (Jewish Defense League) imports from Canada brutally attacked, and seriously injured, a 55-year old Palestinian-American professor from North Carolina who had the temerity to pass an anti-AIPAC demonstration with his family.
The mindless brutality of the Canadian JDL members, that day, cannot be seen in a vacuum but rather must be viewed in the light of 50 plus years of terrorism carried out by its US counterpart, now formally designated as an outlawed terrorist organization.
Over these many years, the membership, indeed, leadership of the American branch of the JDL… or “associate organizations”… have unleashed an unprecedented reign of terror which has produced dozens of convictions for crimes ranging from a plot to bomb the office of Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa and the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif. to numerous bombings of foreign embassies and properties to attacks on US buildings to conspiracies of kidnap and murder to assaults on foreign nationals and US police. Countless other crimes, including murder and conspiracy to bomb, have been laid at the feet of the JDL but to date remain un-charged.
Despite this documented, nay, unprecedented history of violent attacks by zio-fascists upon free speech and association, neither the JDL of Canada nor its US counterpart will suppress this panel discussion at Theatre 80 or silence our voice. Ours is a community of free spirits and thinkers. Women and men directed by little more than the pursuit of truth and justice.
Indeed, long ago the community of the LES of New York City opened its arms to refugees who fled tyranny abroad and, in so doing, became a welcome host to the dissident, the politically unpopular, the revolutionary idea or person.
Today, that greeting is under attack by some who have failed to learn the history of this community that I have called home for most of my adult life. A journey down the hardscrabble, but exhilarating, road of this community of resistance can say far more than I can about the necessity of the exchange of ideas that will occur this coming Sunday evening at Theatre 80.
The History of Dissent on the Lower East Side
Long before the free speech battles of the 60’s, or the recent ones at Berkeley, there stood a proud tenement building at 208 East 13th Street in New York City. More than a hundred years ago, it echoed with the booming resonance of resistance… a declaration of who we were at the time and, more important, who we could become if only we dared to challenge political and social orthodoxy.
Today, on the façade of that old battered 19th century tenement building on the LES of Manhattan sits a cracked and stained plaque that simply says “Emma Goldman lived here.” Enough said.
The same building was home to “Mother Earth,” Goldman’s periodical that promoted anarchist views and provided a platform for “radical” artists and militant ideas of the day… until it was closed as subversive by the government in 1917.
Goldman was a fierce and tireless supporter of “controversial” revolutionary struggles such as free speech, birth control, women’s equality, union organizing, workers rights, sexual freedom and peace.
Known as “Red Emma”, she was labeled by J. Edgar Hoover as one of the “most dangerous women” in the country.” Among her closest friends and comrades were Alexander Berkman, Margaret Sanger, Roger Baldwin, Max Eastman, John Reed, Dorothy Day and Floyd Dell… a veritable who’s who of radicals who, long ago, confronted political convention not all that different from that which seeks to intimidate or to silence us today.
In 1917, Goldman was sentenced to two years in prison after founding the No-Conscription League in protest against the draft. It was one of several stints she did, beyond bars, for political beliefs that ranged from a year in prison for “inciting to riot”… for a speech she gave at a Union Square hunger demonstration where she told the poor to steal bread if they could not afford to buy it… to another one for illegally distributing information about birth control. Following her arrest during the notorious Palmer Raids that began on November 7, 1919 (the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution), she was deported to Russia along with some 250 other “subversive aliens.”
While the Palmer Raids occurred throughout the United States with more than 10,000 arrests for subversion, they, in particular, targeted hundreds of high profile “militants” who were rounded up on the LES which was then home to a powerful and vibrant community of revolutionary thinkers and activists.
In the life blood of the LES, Goldman has been anything but the exception to the rule in a community that historically has been home to the dissident… the unconventional… those who see more to life than surrender to the whims of politically correct dogma or the constraints of “patriotic” mobs.
Dorothy Day heard the call of the LES. Along with Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement which, with anarchists and communists, fought for the rights of the homeless, workers, women, immigrants and others disempowered by virtue of gender or class.
Although the Movement found its vigor in Christian charity and promoted a political strategy of total non-violence, Day was never one to shy away from direct action. Jailed for picketing the White House in support of women’s right to vote, while imprisoned for her offense, she helped organize a hunger strike at Occoquan Prison.
It is said that, over the course of a long life of civil disobedience, Day was arrested more than one hundred times. A poster memorializing her final arrest at age 76 declares “our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy rotten system.” It hangs from the wall of my office.
To Dorothy Day, peaceful resistance necessarily demanded of activists’ controversial speech that directly confronted the tyranny of the status quo… something she excelled at while working as the editor of The Masses.
Based in “Alphabet City” in the LES, Masses was a radical magazine that reported on most of the major labor struggles of its day: from the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912 in West Virginia to the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913 and the Ludlow massacre in Colorado. It strongly supported Big Bill Haywood and his IWW, the political campaigns of Eugene V. Debs and vigorously argued for birth control and women’s suffrage.
Until closed by the government in 1917 for its anti-war and “anti-government” platform, The Masses featured a chorus of militant voices including such writers as John Reed, Crystal Eastman, Hubert Harrison, Inez Milholland, Mary Heaton Vorse, Louis Untermeyer, Randolf Bourne, Arturo Giovannitti, Michael Gold, Helen Keller, William English Walling, Anna Strunsky, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair, Floyd Dell and Louise Bryant. It also featured a host of political artists including John Sloan, Robert Henri, Mary Ellen Sigsbee, Cornelia Barns, Rockwell Kent, Art Young, Boardman Robinson, Robert Minor, Lydia Gibson, K. R. Chamberlain, Hugo Gellert, George Bellows and Maurice Becker.
At other times, the radical history of the LES has been marked not just by controversial speech or passive resistance alone, but by direct action that, on occasion, has exploded into violence captivating the watch of the rest of New York City as if this one hundred square block area is very much of a different world.
Thus, on January 13, 1874, over 7,000 largely unemployed workers gathered in Tompkins Square Park, in the largest demonstration New York City had ever seen, to demand financial assistance from the City during an economic depression.
Ten and a half acres in total, the square-shaped park is bounded on the north by East 10th Street, on the east by Avenue B, on the south by East 7th Street, and on the west by Avenue A. It is abutted by St. Marks Place to the west.
Without warning, not long after the demonstration began, some 1,600 policemen charged the park and dispersed most of the crowd beating people throughout it with clubs. Others, on horseback, cleared the surrounding streets. Some of the demonstrators fought back in vain… attempting to defend the square. Hundreds were injured.
“. . . mounted police charged the crowd on Eighth Street, riding them down and attacking men, women, and children without discrimination. It was an orgy of brutality. I was caught in the crowd on the street and barely saved my head from being cracked by jumping down a cellar-way.”
Little more than a century later, on August 6, 1988, Tompkins Square Park exploded yet once again when police attacked a large group of peaceful demonstrators protesting a newly established curfew intended to clear the park of activists, homeless and so-called squatters that had made increasing use of Tompkins Square for demonstrations against the City and its misuse of local community space. Bystanders, activists, neighborhood residents and journalists were caught up in the violence.
Despite a brief lull in the fighting, the mêlée continued until 6 a.m. the next day. Numerous injuries resulted with over 100 complaints of police brutality lodged following the riot. One headline in the New York Times summed up the events: “Yes, a Police Riot.”
St. Marks Place
If Tompkins Square Park is the heart of the East Village, St. Marks Place is its soul. James Fenimore Cooper lived at 6 St. Marks from 1834-1836. While there, he published his epic “A letter To My Countrymen.” It proved to be his most scathing work of social criticism in which he denounces the “slavery of party affiliations.”
In 1854 The Nursery for the Children of Poor Women… the first of its kind… was set up in a rundown house on St. Marks.
In 1917, Leon Trotsky arrived on St. Marks Place where he wrote for the Novy Mir (“New World”), then based at 77 St. Marks, while living with his family across the street in an apartment at 80 St. Marks. Just a few years earlier, Berkman and Goldman opened the progressive Modern School at No. 16 St. Marks. Among its teachers were famed muckrakers Jack London and Upton Sinclair.
In the 1940’s, W.H. Auden resided on St. Marks. In the 60’s, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin co-founded the Youth International Party (“Yippies”) at No. 30 St. Marks and Lenny Bruce lived for a while, on the famed street, at No. 13. In 1966, Andy Warhol housed his Exploding Plastic Inevitable collective above the Electric Circus nightclub at 19-25 St. Marks… installing the Velvet Underground as the house band. During the same period, Debbie Harry lived at 13 St. Marks. Often were the occasions when a vibrant sweep down St. Marks Place would mean a chance encounter with Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg… a longtime area resident.
Elsewhere on the Lower East Side, throughout the 60’s, political activists, movements and artists alike continued its well established tradition of serving as a safe haven for cultural diversity, political dissidents and controversial speech.
For example, just up the block from what had been the home of Charlie Parker, stands the Christodora House. Located on Avenue B, directly across the street from Tompkins Square Park, the Young Lords and Black Panther Party maintained their respective headquarters during this period.
The Young Lords, in particular, played an important role in what was, and remains, a heavily Latino neighborhood… creating community projects similar to those of the Black Panthers but with a Latino flavor. Such projects included a free breakfast program for children, the Emeterio Betances free health clinic, community testing for tuberculosis and lead-poisoning, free clothing drives, cultural events and Puerto Rican history classes. The female leadership in New York pushed the Young Lords to fight for women’s rights.
80 St. Marks Place
The venue for Sunday’s panel discussion has a storied history itself in the LES. Beginning as a nightclub during Prohibition, 80 Saint Marks Place was home to performers that included such Jazz greats as Thelonious Monk, Harry “Sweets” Edison, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra.
After Theatre 80 was established in the former nightclub, its tradition of diversity in the arts continued as it launched the careers of famous performers including the likes of Gary Burghoff, Bob Balaban and Billy Crystal, who once worked there as an usher.
Richard “Lord” Buckley, described by Bob Dylan in his book “Chronicles” as “the hipster bebop preacher who defied all labels”, had his final performance at Theatre 80 when his cabaret card was seized by police from the vice squad and his show closed. Outraged, Buckley went to the local precinct to demand his card’s return. Not long thereafter he ended up dead in St. Vincent’s Hospital of an apparent stroke. That brought about a movement which eventually ended the Cabaret Card system in New York City.
Not many years later, the legendary play “Hair” was cast at Theatre 80. During the 1970s and 80s it also served as a revival house where one could see vintage films. Among those who attended, often to see their own body of work was Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell.
More recently Theatre 80 presented a play by noted poet, playwright, author and racial equality activist, Sonya Sanchez. Fred Hampton Jr. was often seen at the theatre to attend events for famed radical defense attorney, Lynne Stewart, who recently died having been politically persecuted and imprisoned for her life’s work.
Actively involved in a wide range of community issues, the theatre, not long ago, along with Patti Smith, sponsored a concert to raise money for the victims of the Second Avenue gas explosion which caused two deaths, injured at least nineteen people… four critically… and completely destroyed four buildings between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place. It has held a number of so-called “truther” forums that explored the events of 9-11… an issue of burning interest to the local community.
Come this Sunday, the panel discussion will proceed in the ideal venue in the perfect community. To be sure, at times, its participants will surely say things that may offend the sensibilities of some in the audience. On occasion, panel members will disagree with one another as the market place of ideas is not a group-speak but rather a challenge to explore diverse and often competing thoughts in the pursuit of truth.
Ideas may sting, they may hurt, and they may challenge us to explore issues that can cause great personal discomfort. That’s precisely what they are intended to do. There is no question that while the clash of ideas causes pain; the suppression of ideas causes greater harm… and sometimes pain is the stretch of growing.
Thanks to the refusal of Lorcan Otway, owner of Theatre 80, to surrender to howls of a few, join us this Sunday, April 30 at 5PM in the heart of the ongoing American evolution at Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Place in the Lower East Side of New York City.
Stanley L. Cohen is lawyer and activist in New York City.
A new study claims that medical marijuana use directly correlates with a decline in prescription drug use, which could save the US taxpayer up to $1.1 billion a year on Medicaid prescriptions.
The research follows up on another study carried out last year by Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford which found that taxpayers would save half a billion dollars each year through the provision of medical marijuana.
“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the father-daughter team wrote in their latest findings, published online this week in the Health Affairs publication. Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and in Washington DC.
“Using quarterly data on all fee-for-service Medicaid prescriptions in the period 2007–14, we tested the association between those laws and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries,” the researchers wrote.
The revised estimates in the latest study are even more optimistic, and predict that if medical marijuana was made available nationwide it would lead to: an 11 percent drop in prescriptions for pain medication, including opioids; a 17 percent drop in prescriptions for nausea medications; a 13 percent drop in depression medication prescriptions, and a 12 percent decrease in both anti-seizure and anti-psychotic medications.
All of which would amount to a total savings of up to $1.1 billion to the US taxpayer.
A study published on April 1 in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence also found that states which have legalized medical marijuana have seen an overall reduction in opioid-related hospitalizations per capita compared with those where the drug is still illegal, even for medicinal purposes.
The researchers did concede that a uniform replacement of FDA-approved treatments with medical marijuana across the board would be harmful.
However, they also disputed the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule 1 classification of the drug which is reserved for drugs that have no “currently accepted medical use[s].”
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a noted critic of marijuana legalization, claiming that “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” in a meeting with reporters in February, as cited by CBS. He has also expressed surprise that the American people do not support his anti-marijuana stance.
International policy statements sometimes attract attention because they deal with serious matters, such as human rights, concerning which an important speech was made to the UN Security Council on April 18 by US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Ambassador Haley declared that «When a state begins to systematically violate human rights, it is a sign, it is a red flag, it’s a blaring siren – one of the clearest possible indicators that instability and violence may follow and spill across borders». She singled out Burma, Cuba, Burundi, Iran, North Korea and Syria for censure and urged the nations of the world to adopt a policy of «standing for human rights before the absence of human rights forces us to react».
So it seems that the United States wishes to lead the world in penalizing countries judged guilty of violating human rights, which is a principled and admirable stance.
It is appalling that so many countries have no «respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion» as laid down in the UN Charter and quoted poignantly by Ambassador Haley. And one most effective action that human rights-abiding governments could take to ensure that offending countries would cease their hideous abuses against their citizens would be to end all cooperation with them because, as she observed, «It’s past time that we dedicate ourselves to promoting peace, security, and human rights».
We must agree with Ambassador Haley, because it is indeed «past time» that the United States dedicated itself to promoting peace. Perhaps it has been recognised that the United States failed to do that by invading Iraq, blitzing Libya, and engaging in its longest-ever war, still being waged in Afghanistan. In addition to killing many thousands of innocent people these conflicts created millions of refugees, while radicalizing citizens of all strata and resulting in expansion of Islamic State terrorism.
Then Ambassador Haley rightly warned that «if this Council fails to take human rights violations and abuses seriously, they can escalate into real threats to international peace and security», and we must hope that this message struck home around the world.
Many countries are guilty of human rights violations, as documented in the US State Department’s Human Rights Report of March 3, but it was intriguing that, contrary to long-established custom, the Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson, did not present the report in person in spite of Ambassador Haley’s emphasis on the importance of «standing for human rights» and his declaration that «our values are our interests when it comes to human rights».
But when the Report is examined in detail it is obvious why Secretary Tillerson was reluctant to enthuse about his Department’s findings, because some of them don’t fit in with public pronouncements concerning the essentiality of human rights in all countries.
One inconsistency concerns Turkey whose President Erdogan recently won a referendum granting him almost total power. The first head of state to congratulate him was President Trump «shortly after international monitors delivered a harsh verdict on the referendum on constitutional changes. They found that the opposition campaign had been restricted and media coverage was imbalanced, and that the electoral authority had unfairly changed the rules after polls had opened». Further, Mr Trump’s State Department reported that «multiple articles in the penal code directly restrict press freedom and free speech» while «the government continued to prosecute at least one judge and four prosecutors involved in pursuing charges in connection with a major corruption scandal in 2013 that involved then prime minister Erdogan, his children, and close political advisors and business associates».
Other than Mr Trump, not many heads of state congratulated Erdogan, but one who did was King Salman of Saudi Arabia where violations of human rights include «citizens’ lack of the ability and legal means to choose their government; restrictions on universal rights, such as freedom of expression, including on the internet, and the freedoms of assembly, association, movement, and religion; and pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affected most aspects of women’s lives». This oppressive dictatorship is valued by Washington for «playing an important leadership role in working toward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region», while being «the United States’ largest foreign military sales customer, with nearly $100 billion in active cases».
Saudi Arabia enjoys «close friendship and cooperation» with the United States although it is recorded by the State Department that «civil law does not protect human rights, including freedom of speech and the press», and Ambassador Haley declares that «When a state begins to systematically violate human rights, it is a sign, it is a red flag, it’s a blaring siren…»
Then there is another valued ally of the United States, Bahrain, whose king is also an autocrat with «the power to amend the constitution and to propose, ratify, and promulgate laws». His penal code specifies penalties of «no less than one year and no more than seven years in prison, plus a fine, for anyone who ‘offends the monarch of the Kingdom of Bahrain’». His country «plays a key role in regional security architecture and is a vital US partner in defence initiatives» as the base for the US Navy’s nuclear-armed Fifth Fleet which demonstrates US military power in the Persian Gulf.
The State Department records reports of «torture, abuse, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment» in Bahrain, while «societal discrimination continued against the Shia population, as did other forms of discrimination based on gender, religion, and nationality». These are exactly the sort of tyrannical human rights’ abuses denounced so vehemently by Ambassador Haley who described the United States as «the moral conscience of the world».
There are complications, however, in ordering Bahrain’s ruler to cease torture and other inhuman punishment because, as Bloomberg reported, there were two related developments on March 29. First, the commander US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, told a Congressional Committee that «foreign arms sales to allies shouldn’t be burdened with preconditions tied to human rights because they could damage military-to-military ties» and singled out Bahrain as an example. Then «the State Department told Congress it backs the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to Bahrain [for $2.7 billion] without preconditions on improved human rights previously demanded by the Obama administration».
And suddenly the country with «the moral conscience of the world» looks a trifle off-balance, because you (as an individual, a nation or an international organisation) can’t have it both ways. Either you condemn human rights abuses totally and unconditionally, or you accept them in like manner. It is a moral travesty to accept a little bit of torture or a morsel of gender discrimination. For example, how much torture is permissible? One shriek or two?
It should be heart-warming to hear the ambassador of the United States to the United Nations delivering ethical lectures in the Security Council about how other countries should behave in regard to human rights. But it isn’t much good preaching about human rights and then embracing a policy conveying the message that if a country has «strong military ties» with the United States then it is of no consequence if it persists in «torture, abuse, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment» of its citizens. It is bizarre that that any such country can continue to enjoy «close friendship and cooperation» with the United States.
This isn’t just hypocrisy. It is a most regrettable example of the arrogance of power.
A new study published by JAMA Surgery found that from 2006 to 2012, there were approximately 51,000 emergency department visits per year for patients injured by law enforcement in the United States, with this number stable over this time period.
From the press release:
During this time period, there were 355,677 ED visits for injuries by law enforcement, and frequencies did not increase over time. Of these visits, 0.3 percent (n = 1,202) resulted in death. More than 80 percent of patients were men, and the average age of patients was 32 years. Most lived in zip codes with median household income less than the national average, and 81 percent lived in urban areas. Injuries by law enforcement were more common in the South and West and less common in the Northeast and Midwest. Most injuries by law enforcement resulted from being struck, with gunshot and stab wounds accounting for fewer than seven percent. Most injuries were minor. Medically identified substance abuse was common in patients injured by police, as was mental illness.
The most common cause of injury was “being struck by or against” which accounted for approximately 77 percent of the ER visits.
Lead study author Dr. Elinore Kaufman, a surgical resident at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, told Live Science that mental illness was common, affecting 20 percent of people injured. She added that the study’s estimate of 51,000 emergency room visits per year does not include deaths that occur at crime scenes or people who are injured but do not seek medical attention.
Of the findings, the study authors wrote,
While public attention has surged in recent years, we found these frequencies [approximately 51,000 ED visits per year] to be stable over 7 years, indicating that this has been a longer-term phenomenon.
While it is impossible to classify how many of these injuries are avoidable, these data can serve as a baseline to evaluate the outcomes of national and regional efforts to reduce law enforcement-related injury.
According to The Counted, a database maintained by The Guardian, 1,146 people were killed by police in the US in 2015, and 1,092 lost their lives to law enforcement in 2016.
The Washington Post maintains a database called Fatal Force that tracks police shootings. So far in 2017, according to the database, 295 people have been fatally shot by police in the US.
A website called Killed By Police lists people who have been killed by police by all means, including gunshot, taser, restraint/physical force, chemical, vehicle, and “other.” The site is updated regularly, and as of the time of this writing, 343 deaths by law enforcement are documented.
There’s a season for it–the thinkpieces, the brave suggestions, the crawling out to the edge of the limb and saying, yes, I have the answer, we should force America’s youth to come together and serve in some collective cause.
In spite of the right’s fondness for military service and such pageantry, it’s usually the left or the more accurately, the muddy, authoritarian center that suggest this kind of thing. Progressives worry over wars, but they don’t worry enough over the civilian casualties in other countries, or the blowback in America. Sometimes they become overly concerned, instead about how poor people join the military, and rich, privileged people don’t. Sometimes they even pull up an extra deep argument, dust the dirt off of it, and say, gee, maybe the draft can stop wars! Charlie Rangel spent decades in congress trying to bring back conscription for that very reason.
And then the thought leaders–the columnists who have to waste space in the New York Times or various blogs each week–they need to get in on this brainstorming. America is broken. America is fractured and overly politicised, and we could be on the brink of a God damned civil war. This is dangerous. Also dangerous is the fact that young people aged, say, 18-25, just keep on choosing their own paths in life. Sometimes they get married or do important things that contribute to society’s togetherness. But sometimes they just eat exotic food and become polyamorists or or Instagrammers. We have to do something.
Why not bring back the draft? What was once the weight on the back of every young man–the fear that he would have to kill or be killed for a broadly-defined goal of patriotism, nationalism, service, whether he wanted to or not–is now gone. Youths are not grinding themselves down under nationalist knapsacks nearly as much as they did before, in the days that were good.
Sometimes a writer, politician, thinker, considers bringing back a draft without any kind of spit shine on it. Just, make those damn kids join the military the ways their pappies did, so they stop playing video games! Plus, after 58,000 of those kids died in Vietnam–along with about two million Vietnamese–we stopped the war! The draft works!
Most advocates for this tepidly-argued collectivism, however, take a different tact. They want it to be “national service” instead of mean old conscription. They are happy to offer options and choices, provided that engaging in this service is a necessary part of graduation from high school or college. At best they are the movie theaters who said you were free to defy the Hays Code if you had your own theater, and weren’t run out of town by moralists, and didn’t want to hire any known American actors, etc. At worse, they are mini dictators who, even if they don’t realize it, are simply deeply offended by the fact that American young people are making their own choices and living their own lives. They are central planners not of cities, but of human action and motivation.
Bloomberg View’s Noah Smith is one person who has no self-awareness about how many stock writers from Thomas Friedman to David Brooks, to this guy who wrote a letter, and who used to be a columnist, have already suggested national service as a cure for the nation’s ills, both real and imagined. Yes, as Smith notes, people in South Korea and Israel and other places are made to join the army. There is also what amounts to mandatory reserves training in places like Switzerland. Though all of those coercive policies are bad, certainly it’s a little more of a moral quandary to serve in Israel and be a real, fighting soldier, than it is to be made to do basic training in Switzerland, then come home and go back to your normal life (unless and until Germany invades).
In America, the draft was put to rest in 1973. Men are still made to register with the Selective Service, however. Though the changes of the US bringing back a military draft are not high, thanks to the potential outcry, as well as the technical skills needed for most army recruits in 2017, that registration still hangs over the heads of every young male citizen. Your choices are on loan from the military, it says. You can have your life for now, but if we need it, you will know.
Smith and his ilk are terrified of a polarized nation. At its worst point, yes, screaming cable news divides could transform into real wars. But as scared as we all are of fighting with relatives on Facebook, or being trolled by Twitter Nazis, that kind of unpleasantness is as far from a real conflict as you can get, until it actually isn’t (and it currently is).
Furthermore, Smith happily suggests that his plan would lead to “national unity.” He gives a startlingly shallow nod to the libertarian argument against coercive national service by saying, uh, people could get out of it if they wanted to become high school drop-outs. He doesn’t actually counter the Milton Friedman quote he mentions, which dubs drafted soldiers “slaves.” Smith simply says, well, libertarians might object to this grand scheme, but they are wrong. Best of all, he pays not even a whisper of lip service to the fact that all of human history teaches us that “national unity” can have some deadly side effects.
More paragraphs could be devoted to flipping Smith’s logic over, and then prodding its insides. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have enough to bother with. He has the fact that the country is, it seems, at odds. Occasionally, being at odds leads to violence and even wars. And also young people don’t work that much, and Smith has a chart to prove that. Ergo, national service it is.
This is a bad piece. It’s a weak, lazy spasm towards collectivism to solve the nation’s problems (real, imagined, and exaggerated). The draft and national service are blessedly unpopular. Rangel retired from congress without his pet project of bringing it back ever coming close to fruition.
And yet, Smith’s piece deserves a response if only because it encapsulates a dangerous, monstrously huge idea–that the individual belongs to the state. More particularly, the young individual of a certain age belongs to the state. With all of our concern over being bogged down in wars, or filling our prisons coming into the public sphere, this notion that we have to suffer or struggle in order to grow up remains. Millennials are the worst, right? They’re lazy, and they’re entitled. And yet, they’re rarely the ones demanding that the younger generation be pressed into servitude.
This attitude has killed. It has killed thousands and thousands of people. It is Teddy Roosevelt worrying about a soft nation that had tamed the West. It is the fear that American manhood would atrophy without natives to shoot, so let’s go to the Philippines, to Cuba, anywhere where our young men can grow strong on righteous suffering and contrived acts of bravery. We mustn’t let them turn feminine and soft.
Political polarization is a concern. At its peak, it can destroy a country. But forcible national unity destroys individuals, and has hacked its way across the world in conquest and conflicts for centuries. Placing youth into the mouth of the nation for sacrifice is swapping the potential problem of polarization for the definite one of unification–and that’s a problem much more likely to lead to tyranny and war.
It’s no surprise that Americans were unhappy to lose online privacy protections earlier this month. Across party lines, voters overwhelmingly oppose the measure to repeal the FCC’s privacy rules for Internet providers that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law.
But it should come as a surprise that Republicans—including the Republican leaders of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission—are ardently defending the move and dismissing the tens of thousands who spoke up and told policymakers that they want protections against privacy invasions by their Internet providers.
Since the measure was signed into law, Internet providers and the Republicans who helped them accomplish this lobbying feat have decried the “hysteria,” “hyperbole,” and “hyperventilating” of constituents who want to be protected from the likes of Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Instead they’ve claimed that the repeal doesn’t change the online privacy landscape and that we should feel confident that Internet providers remain committed to protecting their customers’ privacy because they told us they would despite the law.
We’ve repeatedly debunked the tired talking points of the cable and telephone lobby: There is a unique, intimate relationship and power imbalance between Internet providers and their customers. The FTC likely cannot currently police Internet providers (unless Congress steps in, which the White House said it isn’t pushing for at this time). Congress’ repeal of the FCC’s privacy rules does throw the FCC’s authority over Internet providers into doubt. The now-repealed rules—which were set to go into effect later this year—were a valuable expansion and necessary codification of existing privacy rights granted under the law. Internet providers have already shown us the creepy things they’re willing to do to increase their profits.
The massive backlash shows that consumers saw through those industry talking points, even if Republicans in Congress and the White House fell for them.
Now that policymakers have effectively handed off online privacy enforcement to the Internet providers themselves, advocates for the repeal are pointing to the Internet providers’ privacy policies.
“Internet service providers have never planned to sell your individual browsing history to third parties,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen wrote in a recent op-ed. “That’s simply not how online advertising works. And doing so would violate ISPs’ privacy promises.”
Aside from pushing back on oversimplification of the problem at hand, we should be asking: What exactly are the “privacy promises” that ISPs are making to their customers?
In blog posts and public statements since the rules were repealed, the major Internet providers and the trade groups that represent them have all pledged to continue protecting customers’ sensitive data and not to sell customers’ individual Internet browsing records. But how they go about defining those terms and utilizing our private information is still going to leave people upset. These statements should also be read with the understanding that existing law already allows the collection of individual browsing history.
Comcast said it won’t sell individual browsing histories and it won’t share customers’ “sensitive information (such as banking, children’s, and health information), unless we first obtain their affirmative, opt-in consent.” It also said it will offer an opt-out “if a customer does not want us to use other, non-sensitive data to send them targeted ads.” We think leaving browsing history out of the list of information Comcast considers sensitive was no accident. In other words, we don’t think Comcast considers your browsing history sensitive, and will only offer you an opt-out of using your browsing history to send you targeted ads. There’s no mention of any opt-out of any other sharing of your browsing history, such as on an aggregated basis with third parties. While we applaud Comcast’s clever use of language to make it seem like they’re protecting their customers’ privacy, reading between the lines shows that Comcast is giving itself leeway to do the opposite.
Verizon similarly pledged not to sell customers’ “personal web browsing history” (emphasis ours) and described its advertising programs that give advertisers access to customers based on aggregated and de-identified information about what customers do online. By our reading, this means Verizon still plans to collect your browsing history and store it—they just won’t sell it individually.
AT&T pointed to its privacy policies, which carve out specific protections for “personal information … such as your name, address, phone number and e-mail address” but explicitly state that it does deliver ads “based on the websites visited by people who are not personally identified.” So just like Verizon, we think this means AT&T is collecting your browsing history and storing it—they’re just not attaching your name to it and selling it to third parties on an individualized basis.
In a filing to the FCC earlier this year, CTIA—which represents the major wireless ISPs—argued that “web browsing and app usage history are not ‘sensitive information’” and said that ISPs should be able to share those records by default, unless a customer asks them not to.
The common thread here is that Internet providers don’t consider records about what you do online to be worthy of the heightened privacy protections they afford to things like your social security number. Internet providers think that our web browsing histories are theirs to profit off of—not ours to protect as we see fit. And because Congress changed the law, they are now free to change their minds about the promises they make without the same legal ramifications.
These “privacy promises” are in no way a replacement for robust privacy protections enforced by a federal agency. If Internet providers want to get serious about proving their commitment to their customers’ privacy in the absence of federal rules, they should pledge not to collect or sell or share or otherwise use information about the websites we visit and the apps we use, except for what they need to collect and share in order to provide the service their customers are actually paying for: Internet access.
That would be a real privacy promise.
The Student Senate at the taxpayer-funded University of California, Davis, has decided to drop the requirement that they display the American flag at their meetings, because “the concept of United States of America and patriotism is different for every individual.”
Senate Bill 76, introduced by Student Senator Jose Meneses, states that “it shall not be compulsory for the flag of the United State of America to be displayed at ASUCD Senate meetings.”
“It should be at the discretion of the Senate whether presenting the flag is presently necessary,” the bill continues. “Considering that the flag is seldom present at Senate meetings, it should not be mandated by the Bylaws as a codified practice.”
Now, Senate members will have the option of petitioning for the flag to be displayed at individual meetings, 24 hours prior to its start.
The UC-Davis College Republicans are outraged by the bill, and have called it a “slap in the face” to American military members.
“The University of California has long been a public university dedicated to the education of its students. The flag of the United States of America stands for the educational opportunity provided by America, as well as the sacrifice of our military soldiers and veterans to provide us with this freedom,” Deborah Porter, political director of the UC-Davis College Republicans, told Campus Reform.
“Restricting the flag to be displayed at the mercy of the President pro-tempore is a slap in the face to our military members, and their sacrifice, even to the death, for our freedoms. I hold our military members in high respect, and thus vehemently oppose Senate Bill 76.”
The change has also sparked outrage from alumni, who have been emailing the student Senate saying that they will no longer be donating to the university, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“When I introduced the bill, I didn’t know it would be controversial,” Meneses told the Sacramento Bee.
Meneses claims that he was simply trying to make the Student Senate in compliance with federal law, which says that an organization cannot mandate displaying the flag.
“The opinion in that case is that you can’t force people to pledge your allegiance, by (the flag) being there; by extension, you are pledging your allegiance to a symbol that you don’t relate to or that you don’t equate yourself with,” Meneses said, citing a 1943 US Supreme Court decision that West Virginia couldn’t force students to pledge allegiance to the flag.
School-issued computer devices – provided to one-third of school children across the US – collect excessive amounts of highly sensitive personal data on the students without parental consent or even prior notice, a new study finds.
Electronic devices distributed in US schools collect unprecedented amounts of personal data on children as young as five years old, according to a new report by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), dubbed ‘Spying on Students’ – the result of a two-year study.
The surveillance comes under the guise of “personalized education.” Roughly one-third of primary and secondary education (K-12) students have received various electronic devices. Many tech companies provide electronic devices for free or a steeply reduced fee, as they seek their share in the $8 billion education technology (ed-tech) market.
Ed-tech, however, can be described as “the world’s most data-mineable industry by far,” according to the report, as the devices use apps and software which collect highly sensitive personal information, including names, dates of birth, browsing history and location data of children. Providers of ed-tech services, however, often fail to protect sensitive data.
The researchers “investigated the 152 ed tech services reported as in use in classrooms, and found troubling trends in their privacy policies regarding lack of encryption, opaque data retention practices, and inadequate data aggregation and de-identification.” Only 118 of them had published privacy policies, while some sort of encryption was mentioned in only 46 of them, and de-identification or aggregation of user data was mentioned in 51. De-identification – the prevention of linking a person’s identity with information – was almost exclusively mentioned in connection with providing information to third parties about their services, according to the report.
The potentially dangerous devices are also often distributed without parental consent or notice. Parents sometimes do not receive any information about ed-tech until after the technology is implemented, according to the study.
“We were given no information about our first-grader receiving a device – a tablet – this year. And when we ask questions, there is little information given at every level,” the report quoted parents from Maryland as saying.
Teachers and school officials are also obliged to use the school-issued devices, often without their consent as well.
“Staff and student details – that is, full names and school email addresses – were passed to Google to create individual logins without consent from staff. I’m not sure about consent from parents,” a teacher wrote on social media, according to the report.
Parents who expressed privacy concerns were often not able to opt out of the programs, as the authorities for some reasons protected interests of ed-tech providers instead of users. For example, when a California teacher allowed a schoolgirl to use her own device instead of a school-issued device after her parents voiced concerns over her privacy, district officials intervened and prohibited such exceptions, according to the report.
“While schools are eagerly embracing digital devices and services in the classroom – and ed tech vendors are racing to meet the demand – student privacy is not receiving the attention it deserves,” the study concluded. “Meaningful improvements in student data protection will require changes in state and federal law, in school and district priorities, and in ed tech company policies and practices.”
Anxious jobseekers could have another reason to sweat over interviews and reference checks. Google’s latest creation aimed at the recruitment market could give bosses the ability to do full, uncensored background checks.
Google Hire, the Internet giant’s new recruitment tool that allows employers to manage job applications, has sparked fears that recruiters could access applicants’ entire browsing history.
Touted as a recruitment tool, like Linkedin, Google Hire would allow employers to place job ads and manage applications through the product.
The product’s sign-in page has an option to connect through a personal Google account, which has prompted fears that employers could be able to access your search history and Youtube subscriptions.
Google, however, hasn’t given much away about the new venture, so it is unclear exactly what employers will be able to search for when looking for potential hires.
The ‘Applicant-Tracking System’ (ATS) that Google uses to manage the tracking for its own job applicants has now been repurposed to create a new revenue stream for the company.
At the moment, the website can only be accessed by those who have been invited to sign up. Crunchbase reports several tech companies appear to be testing the product, including Poynt, SingleHop and CoreOS.