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 The News: U.N. Criticizes U.S. on Torture, Police Practices, Immigration Detention

Press Releasefrom: aclu.org

GENEVA – The United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a report today [11/28/14] castigating the United States’ record on a wide range of issues, including lack of accountability for torture, immigration detention, and abusive criminal justice practices such as solitary confinement and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

The “Concluding Observations” from the committee come after this month’s hearings reviewing U.S. compliance with a major human rights treaty, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the U.S. ratified in 1994. It was this first such review since 2006.

The report took the Obama administration to task about the lack of consequences for the officials responsible for torture during the Bush administration and failing to provide redress for victims. It also called for the swift release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program with minimal redactions, which the White House and senators have been fighting over. In addition, the report urged an end to unfair military commissions and indefinite detention at Guantánamo as well as a halt to the force feedings there. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, November 30 @ 19:39:43 EST (1707 reads)
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 Politics: Lawsuit Challenges Government’s ‘Suspicious Activity Report’ Program

Press ReleaseFBI Created Counterterrorism Files for Plaintiffs’ Innocuous Activities

From: aclu.org

SAN FRANCISCO – Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the legality of the federal government’s controversial Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) program. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil LibertiesUnion of California, the national ACLU, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, was brought on behalf of five Americans who had their information entered into law enforcement databases for innocent things like taking pictures, buying computers, or standing in a train station, and were then subjected to investigation.

“This domestic surveillance program wrongly targets First Amendment-protected activities, encourages racial and religious profiling, and violates federal law,” said Linda Lye, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The Justice Department’s own rules say that there should be reasonable suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government’s instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs even if there’s no valid reason to suspect a person of doing anything wrong.”

A Justice Department regulation dating to 1978 prohibits the collection and dissemination of “criminal intelligence information” unless there is “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. However, the Justice Department’s standard for SARs doesn’t require reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, only behavior that “may be indicative” of terrorism planning “or other illicit intention.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have learned that such a low bar can cover virtually anything. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, July 10 @ 21:42:43 EDT (1797 reads)
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 The News: Court Rules No Fly List Process Is Unconstitutional

Press Release and Must Be Reformed

Court Orders Government to Give Plaintiffs in ACLU Lawsuit a Chance to Clear Their Names

From: aclu.org

PORTLAND, Ore. – In a landmark ruling, a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional the government’s procedures for people on the No Fly List to challenge their inclusion. The decision came in an American Civil LibertiesUnion lawsuit brought on behalf of 13 Americans who found themselves on the list without any notice, reasons, or meaningful way to get off it.

The judge ordered the government to create a new process that remedies these shortcomings, calling the current process “wholly ineffective” and a violation of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. The ruling also granted a key request in the lawsuit, ordering the government to tell the ACLU’s clients why they are on the No Fly List and give them the opportunity to challenge their inclusion on the list before the judge.

“For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair No Fly List procedures, and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, one of the attorneys who argued the case. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, June 24 @ 17:45:49 EDT (1431 reads)
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 War News: Targeted Killings

Press Release
The CIA and the military are carrying out an illegal “targeted killing” program in which people far from any battlefield are determined to be enemies of the state and killed without charge or trial. The executive branch has, in effect, claimed the unchecked authority to put the names of citizens and others on “kill lists” on the basis of a secret determination, based on secret evidence, that a person meets a secret definition of the enemy.

From: aclu.org

The targeted killing program operates with virtually no oversight outside the executive branch, and essential details about the program remain secret, including what criteria are used to put people on CIA and military kill lists or how much evidence is required.

Outside of armed conflict zones, the Constitution and international law prohibit the use of lethal force unless it is a last resort against a concrete, specific and imminent threat of grave harm. Even in the context of an armed conflict against an armed group, the government may use lethal force only against individuals who are directly participating in hostilities against the United States. Regardless of the context, whenever the government uses lethal force, it must take all possible steps to avoid harming civilian bystanders. These are not the standards that the executive branch is using. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, October 07 @ 20:13:45 EDT (2314 reads)
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 The News: ACLU Responds to President Obama’s Announcement on Gun Control

Press Release
More police in schools could threaten students’ civil rights and liberties.

From: ACLU.org

WASHINGTON — President Obama today announced 23 executive actions and proposed legislative action stemming from Vice President Biden’s Gun Task Force. The ACLU had this reaction to the President’s announcement:

“Many of the presidential actions announced today are thoughtful, and the ACLU is assessing all of the proposals that have been put forth. We have several concerns about the administration incentivizing police departments and school districts to put more police officers in schools,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “We fear that neutral sounding safety policies, such as putting more cops in school will lead to the over-incarceration of school-age children, especially students of color and students with disabilities, who are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted for issues that would normally be handled by school administrators when law enforcement is introduced into schools.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, January 16 @ 18:26:21 EST (537 reads)
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Press Release

From: occupywallstreet.org

SEPT. 15, 16 AND 17


September 17, 2012 (#S17) marks the beginning of year two of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and four years since Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, helping catapult our global economy into a new phase of disrepair and dragging millions of ordinary people down with it. No complaints from the rich 1% - they’re still rich. They’re insatiable unless we push back. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, August 31 @ 18:57:58 EDT (637 reads)
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 Science News: Self-sculpting Sand

Press Release

New algorithms could enable heaps of ‘smart sand’ that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

Written by: Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of the model.

That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project at the Distributed Robotics Laboratory (DRL) at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May — the world’s premier robotics conference — DRL researchers will present a paper describing algorithms that could enable such “smart sand.” They also describe experiments in which they tested the algorithms on somewhat larger particles — cubes about 10 millimeters to an edge, with rudimentary microprocessors inside and very unusual magnets on four of their sides. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, April 05 @ 20:29:12 EDT (572 reads)
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 The News: DOE Releases New Data Exposing Harsh Discipline Used In Schools

Press Release
Obama Administration Reinstates and Expands Data Collection That Is Crucial In Exposing and Ending School-To-Prison Pipeline

From: American Civil LibertiesUnion, aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The Department of Education today released data revealing the use of overly punitive discipline measures in our nation’s public schools and certain state-run juvenile justice facilities.

The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which began in 1968, was discontinued under the Bush Administration in 2006. The ACLU and other civil rights groups successfully appealed to the Obama Administration to reinstate the data collection and to expand it to include new categories of data on the use of school discipline, which was released today.

“The CRDC’s information is crucial to exposing the unnecessarily harsh punishments children face in school, such as the use of corporal punishment, which many people don’t realize continues even in this day and age,” said Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 08 @ 18:26:16 EST (588 reads)
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 Occupy: Tuesday Dec. 6th: Occupy Our Homes

Press ReleaseFrom: occupywallst.org and occupyourhomes.org

Tuesday Dec. 6th: Occupy Our Homes

As ungrateful bailed-out banks continue to foreclose on American families, Occupy Wall Street takes fight to the ‘home front’

**Interviews with people fighting foreclosure across America available upon request**

The fight to reclaim democracy from the banks is growing from Wall Street to Main Street.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6th Occupy Wall Street will join in solidarity with a Brooklyn, NY community to liberate a foreclosed home.

This action is part of a national kick-off for a new frontier for the occupy movement: the liberation of vacant bank-owned homes for those in need, and the defense of families under threat of foreclosure and eviction. Actions will take place in more than 20 cities across the country on Tuesday. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 05 @ 18:16:36 EST (553 reads)
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 The News: Sexual Abuse of Immigration Detainees Is Widespread

Press Release
Documents Obtained by ACLU Show Abuse Is National Problem

From: American Civil LibertiesUnion, aclu.org

NEW YORK – Documents obtained by the American Civil LibertiesUnion through the Freedom of Information Act provide a first-ever window into the breadth of the national problem of sexual abuse of detainees in immigration detention facilities. The ACLU is making information from the documents public for the first time today, in concert with the filing by the ACLU of Texas of a federal class-action damages lawsuit on behalf of three immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center in Taylor, Texas along with numerous others who experienced similar trauma.

Government documents obtained by the ACLU contain nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees jailed at detention facilities across the nation since 2007 alone. The documents were obtained from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and ICE. While the information gleaned from the documents likely does not represent the full scope of the problem given that sexual abuse is notoriously underreported, the documents nonetheless make clear that the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is not an isolated problem limited to a few rogue facilities or to a handful of bad-apple government contractors who staff some of the nation’s immigration jails. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, October 19 @ 22:50:35 EDT (533 reads)
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 History/Culture: ACLU 9/11 Anniversary Report Warns of Threat to American Freedom and Security

Press Release
Posed by Counterterrorism Policies Since Attacks

From: aclu.org

Report, "A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11," Details Dangers of Establishing Permanent War Footing

NEW YORK – A decade after the September 11th attacks, the United States is at risk of enshrining a permanent state of emergency in which the nation's core values are subordinated to ever-expanding claims of national security, the American Civil LibertiesUnion warns in a new report released today.

"A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11," shows how sacrificing America's values – including justice, individual liberty and the rule of law – ultimately undermines the country's safety. "It is our fundamental values that are the very foundation of our strength and security," the report says. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, September 08 @ 17:49:54 EDT (575 reads)
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 Science News: The too-smart-for-its-own-good grid

Press Release
New technologies intended to boost reliance on renewable energy could destabilize the power grid if they’re not matched with careful pricing policies.

Written by: Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In the last few years, electrical utilities have begun equipping their customers’ homes with new meters that have Internet connections and increased computational capacity. One envisioned application of these “smart meters” is to give customers real-time information about fluctuations in the price of electricity, which might encourage them to defer some energy-intensive tasks until supply is high or demand is low. Less of the energy produced from erratic renewable sources such as wind and solar would thus be wasted, and utilities would less frequently fire up backup generators, which are not only more expensive to operate but tend to be more polluting, too.

Recent work by researchers in MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, however, shows that this policy could backfire. If too many people set appliances to turn on, or devices to recharge, when the price of electricity crosses the same threshold, it could cause a huge spike in demand; in the worst case, that could bring down the power grid. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, August 05 @ 21:13:43 EDT (648 reads)
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 International: Israeli Rabbis Ban Home Sales and Rentals to Non-Jews

Press ReleaseFrom: Amnesty International

Amnesty International today condemned a religious ruling signed by dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis that bans the renting or sale of homes to non-Jews.

“This ruling issued by religious leaders employed by the state of Israel, whose salaries are paid by public funds, clearly targets the Palestinian citizens who make up 20 per cent of Israel’s population, and highlights the continuing discrimination they face in housing and other areas,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

While the ruling is not official government policy, the rabbis issuing it include the influential Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, and his counterparts in a number of other Israeli cities and municipalities, all of whom are essentially government employees.

In October, Rabbi Eliyahu had written a letter urging Jews not to sell or rent apartments to non-Jews, apparently in response to Arab students seeking accommodation in order to attend a local college. It was signed by 18 other rabbis. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, December 08 @ 16:32:53 EST (866 reads)
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 The News: Prosecuting WikiLeaks Raises Serious Constitutional Concerns

Press Release
Prosecuting WikiLeaks For Publishing Documents Would Raise Serious Constitutional Concerns, Says ACLU

From: American Civili Liberties Union(aclu.org)

NEW YORK – According to news reports, the government is looking into whether it could prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing classified government documents he obtained from a third party. WikiLeaks, along with multiple news outlets, published thousands of pages of U.S. diplomatic cables on Sunday. The American Civil LibertiesUnion said that prosecuting WikiLeaks would have serious First Amendment implications.

The following can be attributed to Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“We’re deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional, or a good idea. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, December 02 @ 20:49:11 EST (758 reads)
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 The News: ACLU Submits Testimony For Hearing On Cell Phone Privacy

Press ReleaseFrom ACLU. org

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties today submitted written testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for a hearing on updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the need for reform in the use of location tracking information. ECPA became law in 1986 and has not been properly updated to reflect the vast technological advances that have occurred since its passage, including the use of cell phone information by law enforcement to track Americans' movements. The ACLU is asking Congress to require government officials to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before allowing access to any of those electronic records, just as they have always had to do for similarly sensitive personal information.

"Tracking our citizens' locations and movements without warrants or probable cause constitutes a massive privacy violation," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The overwhelming majority of Americans carry cell phones and inadvertently transmit their location information every minute of every day. Whether they visit a therapist, liquor store, church or gun range, these movements are often available to law enforcement in real time or even months later. Clearly, these kinds of sensitive records should be fiercely protected and law enforcement should be required to obtain a warrant before getting near them." ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, June 24 @ 20:18:33 EDT (656 reads)
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     Old Articles
Monday, November 16
· Spies for Hire: New Online Database of U.S. Intelligence Contractors
Thursday, September 10
· “Surveillance Society” Poses Threat To Privacy & Individual Liberties
Friday, June 19
· ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Secret Creation Of Isolated Housing Units
Tuesday, May 19
· High School Student Takes On Anti-Gay Harassment—And Wins
Saturday, June 14
· ACLU Opposes Expansion of Federal DNA Program to Arrestee Testing
Monday, June 09
· Free Speech Radio News In Crisis
Thursday, May 01
· ACLU Takes On High School Principal For Discriminating Against Male Couple
Monday, March 17
· East Coast’s Largest Undeveloped Island Slated For Cargo Port
Thursday, August 23
· National Homeownership Month
Thursday, July 19
· Gang Suppression Tactics Fail to Reduce Crime, Can Worsen Problem
Monday, January 22
· National Peace March to Flood DC Streets
Monday, October 23
· A Southern Vermont Premiere: Al Franken: God Spoke - WOOL.fm. Benefit
Sunday, September 10
· Windsor County Courthouse News (#91006)
Tuesday, July 11
· Not in Our Name: The Voters' Pledge
Sunday, July 02
· Judge Boardman Announces Candidacy For Fifth Term
· AstroMill - Astrology from Andrew Miller released on SPOXTalk.com
Sunday, December 04
· Public Play Reading Challenges Audience --
Wednesday, November 16
· Wildlife Is Unjustified Scapegoat for Livestock Losses
Wednesday, October 26
· Ilona Hegedus' book, Unearthly Companion Now Available at Lulu.com
Friday, September 30
· Ilona Hegedus' Book of Genre Poetry Soon Hits The Streets

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