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This is well worth the read.

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If you followed my tweets from the markup session for SOPA in the House of Representatives, you know how frustrating it was to watch: you had these lawmakers blithely dismissing the security concerns of the likes of Vint Cerf, saying things like, “I’m no technology nerd, but I don’t believe it.” In other words: “I’m a perfect ignoramus, but I find it convenient to disregard the world’s foremost experts.” Another congressman from Florida kept saying things like “No one can explain to me how this bill harms political debate or academic freedom.”

I think I’ve got the perfect metaphor for the hearings: there’s a scene in the Disneyland Jungle Boat Cruise where you pass the “gorilla camp,” in which a tribe of gorillas have taken over an explorer’s camp, upending the jeep and taking deadly possession of the firearms. One gorilla is staring up the barrel of a rifle, while another is firing a pistol into a collection of floating explosive barrels in the river.

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http://boingboing.net/2011/12/17/wtf-is-happening-with-sopa-now.html

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A row of British police riot officers in front of a fire in the street

‘The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.

It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police. The developer, British-based Photonic Security Systems, hopes to offer the device to shipping companies to deter pirates. Similar devices have been used by ISAF troops in Afghanistan to protect convoys from insurgents.

The laser, resembling a rifle and known as an SMU 100, can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. It costs £25,000 and has an infrared scope to spot looters in poor visibility.’

First the LRAD now this. Lovely.

(Source: anti-propaganda, via wespeakfortheearth)

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WASHINGTON — A measure that Congress will likely pass this week allowing indefinite detentions of Americans by the U.S. military will mark a significant loss in the war on terrorism, says a former admiral who ran the Navy legal system.

The National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the Senate just over a week ago after a heated debate, includes a provision that requires the military to hold foreign-born terrorism suspects, and also lets the military grab U.S. citizens for indefinite detention.

The House and Senate are expected to release the final legislation as soon as late Monday, and in spite of a personal lobbying effort by President Obama, it is expected to include the controversial language.

To former Adm. John Hutson, who was Judge Advocate General of the Navy from 1997 to 2000 and is dean emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, the idea that the United States is chipping away at one of its fundamental principles of civilian law enforcement is a win for terrorists.

"The enemy is just laughing over this, because they will have gotten another victory," Hutson told The Huffington Post. "There’ll be one more victory. There won’t be any bloodshed or immediate bloodshed, there’s not a big explosion, except in a metaphorical sense, but it is a victory nonetheless for the enemy. And it’s a self-inflicted wound."

Proponents of the measure, including the top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), see it very differently — as a commonsense step to give the military the legal authority it needs to fight the unconventional war on terrorism without treating would-be attackers as common criminals.

"There’s a fundamental principle in that we don’t want to criminalize a national security issue," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. "Any enemy combatant is an enemy combatant," he added, specifying that it does not make a difference under the bill if the suspect is an American citizen, except that the military has the choice of releasing citizens to law enforcement.

McCain was not willing to budge on letting the armed forces imprison Americans indefinitely, although he said the conference committee working out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill would try to address FBI concerns that the bill would bar civilian authorities from investigating such cases.

"If the military has exclusive jurisdiction, then how does it work if you’ve got somebody who gets off a plane?" McCain asked. "You could say, ‘Oh no, we’ve got to wait till the military gets here.’ That’s a legitimate concern."

The White House has threatened to veto the bill over the detainee provisions, and an administration official confirmed that President Obama called lawmakers personally to lobby for changes.

It’s not clear that Obama’s concerns are the same as Hutson’s, or those of civil libertarians.

Besides Hutson’s 28 years in the military justice system, he counted himself a conservative and Republican who “didn’t vote for a Democrat for dogcatcher” until he became worried about the direction of the country and backed Obama in 2008.

He thinks Obama should be very concerned about the detainee provisions, and explained why passage of them would be a victory for terrorists, who he argued cannot beat the United States on the battlefield. Instead, he said terrorists have to focus their attacks and violence on getting the United States to beat itself. And infringing on its own liberties is a step in that direction, he said.

"In this war, the enemy doesn’t have to win," Hutson said. "They can cause us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do, such as indefinite detentions, in the name of fighting a war," he said, noting that the country has already subjected itself to invasive scrutiny that would not have been tolerated before Sept. 11, 2001.

In the case of the defense bill, the detention provisions would raise key questions about basic legal concepts that have long underpinned guarantees of freedom in America, including the habeas corpus right to contest being jailed and the Posse Comitatus Act passed after the Civil War to limit the military’s role in law enforcement.

"This is an asymmetric war. In asymmetric wars, you want to pit your greatest strength against the enemy’s greatest weakness," Hutson said. "Our great strengths are our ideals and our system of justice."

“As it turns out, our enemies’ greatest weakness is that they are bereft of ideals,” he added. “If we can maintain our ideals, our sense of justice, in the face of this, we can win. What the enemy, what the terrorists want to do — because they know they can’t beat us militarily — [is] they can try to change us. They can cause us to become more like them, and for them, that’s victory.”

The reason why, he argues, is that if the United States cannot portray itself as the holder of loftier ideals, then it is much harder to convince the rest of the world to stay on its side — and it’s harder to fight wars because even allies are less cooperative.

"Who’s going to surrender to the United Sates if they think they’re going to be detained indefinitely without a trial? Is anybody going to give up?" he asked. "Who’s going to say, ‘You know, maybe the United States isn’t as bad as we think it is, and maybe it’s al Qaeda and the Taliban who are the bad guys, and I’m going to side with the good guys?’"

In the nearer term, there’s a large practical hurdle to military policing of America, Hutson notes — that it makes the military focus on legal issues instead of fighting the war.

"It takes the eye of the military off the ball, off it’s primary mission, to ask it to investigate, detain and prosecute terrorists," said Hutson, who now works with the group Human Rights First.

“We’ve had over 400 terrorism prosecutions since 9/11, and essentially, you’re asking the military to do those prosecutions,” he said. “That requires a great deal of resource, a great deal of experience and expertise, neither of which the military has.”

Some argue that giving the military the lead helps save lives and make the country safer because the armed forces can act quickly without having to worry about the same level of criminal legal standards as police and prosecutors.

"Even if that argument is true in the short run, it’s certainly not true in the long run," he said.

"I was dean in New Hampshire, where the motto is live free or die. The rest of that phrase, live free or die, is because there are things worse than death," Hutson said. "This kind of dramatic change to who we are as a nation, who we are as people, is not something that you can just sort of rhetorically say, ‘Well, it’s going to save lives’…

"It’s going to cost lives." he said, "it’s going to cost a way of life."

MIchael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post.

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womenoccupy:

Over the last week or so, we’ve seen an effort to forcibly evict occupy protests around the country. These efforts reached their peak when NYC Mayor Bloomberg ordered police to forcibly evict the original occupiers at Zuccotti Park in NYC early this morning.

I feel saddened by the destruction of an incredible community. I feel disgusted by the police brutality demonstrated in these evictions (from Portland to Oakland to NYC). I feel enraged by further proof that the state, and by extension, the police, have the best interest of the wealthy and powerful in mind, rather than the majority of people.

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greenchestnuts:

TW police brutality

“For legal reasons, I’ve been advised not to discuss the details of my own arrest, but I feel compelled to report at least this: I saw the police deliberately and strategically escalate peaceful protests into violent confrontations. Standing in line outside Police H.Q. on Friday morning, waiting with the others to reclaim our confiscated possessions, I met a young Hispanic man with missing teeth, bloody eyes, and bruises all over his face. Inside Police H.Q., I watched a young woman finally retrieve her handbag from the police storeroom, only to find all the money missing from inside. This is the price Americans pay for engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

At the outset of the march, I gave the police the benefit of the doubt. While other protesters chanted, “This is what a police state looks like,” I preferred the cheer of solidarity, “Police are the 99 percent.” I was operating under the assumption that the police are fundamentally keepers of the peace; that if I did everything the police told me to do, I was in no danger of being arrested; that as long as I remained non-violent, the police would protect my rights as an American citizen to protest peacefully in a public space. It turns out that America is not that kind of country. I grieve now for the America I thought I lived in.”

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First-person video of a protester who was assaulted by an undercover policeman wearing a hoodie and backpack (Ever wonder about some of those stories about how the camps were becoming ‘violent’ started? Now you know.) - but the disturbing part of this video is when the protester is following his assailant past a line of policemen and women, asking them to stop him: “That man assaulted me. Please detain him. He assaulted me. I would like to press charges. Stop him.”

The police ignored the citizen’s repeated requests for help.

Their motto, “to serve and protect” becomes ever more hypocritical as day after day of this footage emerges.

When you contrast this with their willingness to beat citizens, and the images of them massed in front of the banks and ATMs … this is what a police state looks like.

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Hats off to the #occupy protester who handed this note to the President.
But if Obama still hasn’t spoken out publicly to condemn the violence against the protesters, against the students, then he’s sent us a clear message: he will be of no help to us. If we want to fix this mess, we need to do it ourselves.
washingtonpoststyle:

Someone handed this note to President Obama today in New Hampshire.
Photo by Charlie Dharapak (AP) via the AP’s J. David Ake

Hats off to the #occupy protester who handed this note to the President.

But if Obama still hasn’t spoken out publicly to condemn the violence against the protesters, against the students, then he’s sent us a clear message: he will be of no help to us. If we want to fix this mess, we need to do it ourselves.

washingtonpoststyle:

Someone handed this note to President Obama today in New Hampshire.

Photo by Charlie Dharapak (AP) via the AP’s J. David Ake

(via 8intrepid8)

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(Source: occupytwitter)

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Photo:   A protester in Egypt, wearing a gas mask, bravely removes a tear gas canister during clashes with police and military in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Just as in the United States, the police are firing tear gas and sub-lethal projectiles at the protesters in an effort to disperse them. 
Credit: Mohamed Omar / EPA
latimes:

Frustrated Egyptians come out in force: The toll of dead and injured in clashes grows. Anger has been building over the unrealized promise of a revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak but has yet to steer the country toward democracy.

Photo: A protester in Egypt, wearing a gas mask, bravely removes a tear gas canister during clashes with police and military in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Just as in the United States, the police are firing tear gas and sub-lethal projectiles at the protesters in an effort to disperse them.

Credit: Mohamed Omar / EPA

latimes:

Frustrated Egyptians come out in force: The toll of dead and injured in clashes grows. Anger has been building over the unrealized promise of a revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak but has yet to steer the country toward democracy.


(Source: Los Angeles Times, via randomactsofchaos)