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Independence Hall.  July, 2012.  Photo by: joanneleon.



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Just as I was making all kinds of excuses about why I really can't go to Philadelphia today for the #Restorethe4th protest, I read this piece by Amy Goodman.

This Independence Day, Thank a Protester

More than 160 years ago, the greatest abolitionist in U.S. history, the escaped slave Frederick Douglass, addressed the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass asked those gathered, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” His words bear repeating this Independence Day, as the United States asserts unprecedented authority to wage war globally, to spy on everyone, everywhere. Independence Day should serve not as a blind celebration of the government, but as a moment to reflect on the central place in our history of grass-roots democracy movements, which have preserved and expanded the rights proclaimed in the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Douglass answered his question about the Fourth of July, to those gathered abolitionists: “To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”


U.S. Border Agency Allows Others to Use Its Drones

As Congress considers a new immigration law that would expand the fleet of unmanned drones along the border, the agency in charge of border protection is increasingly offering the military-grade drones it already owns to domestic law enforcement agencies and has considered equipping them with “nonlethal weapons,” according to documents recently made public.
[...]
Three years ago, the drones were used by other agencies 30 times; in 2012, that jumped to 250 times. How the agency stores and shares that data with other government agencies remains unclear.

Additionally, the agency, in a 2010 report to Congress included in the documents, raised the possibility of eventually equipping its drones with “nonlethal weapons” to “immobilize” people and vehicles trying to cross the border illegally. In a statement on Wednesday, the agency said it had “no plans to arm its unmanned aircraft systems with nonlethal weapons or weapons of any kind.”

US intel chief James Clapper: I didn't lie about spying program, just gave "erroneous" answer

Lost in the plane-chasing, Moscow-airport-limbo-ing dramatic Snowden headlines today is a bombshell revelation: America's most senior intelligence official lied to a Senate intelligence committee.

Not that James Clapper is admitting he committed perjury by intentionally misleading our elected representatives.

He claims instead that he gave an 'erroneous' answer because he forgot about the Patriot Act. And you know he'll get away with it.

Quote Gallery: Europe Reacts to NSA Spying
"I was always sure that dictatorships, some authoritarian systems, tried to listen ... but that measures like that are now practiced by an ally, by a friend, that is shocking, in the case that it is true."
"If media reports are correct, then it is reminiscent of methods used by enemies during the Cold War. It defies belief that our friends in the US see the Europeans as their enemies. There has to finally be an immediate and comprehensive explanation from the US as to whether media reports about completely unacceptable surveillance measures of the US in the EU are true or not. Comprehensive spying on Europeans by Americans cannot be allowed."
"If these reports are true, then it is abhorrent. It would seem that the secret services have gotten out of control. The US should monitor their own secret services rather than their allies."
"The US justifies everything as being part of the fight against terrorism. But the EU and its diplomats are not terrorists. We need a guarantee from the very highest level that it stops immediately."
"I am deeply jarred by the surveillance efforts of the United States. Clearly US surveillance has gotten completely out of control."
Obama: Like Nixon, But Worse

Obama, however, may have learned from his predecessor's mistakes. While Nixon broke the law to attack dissenting voices, Obama has distorted it to the same effect.

And he's taken his powers much, much further -- misinterpreting outdated or poorly written laws to claim his administration's authority to spy on almost anyone who uses modern technology to communicate.

Without a fix to this legislation, the potential to abuse our most basic privacy and free speech rights is far greater under Obama's administration than under any that came before it.

America's founders would be horrified at this United States of Surveillance
How did we become so fearful and timid that we've given away essential liberties? Some are even afraid to speak up

The American media have played an essential role. For decades, newspaper editors and television programmers, especially local ones, have chased readers and ratings by spewing panic-inducing "journalism" and entertainment that helped foster support for anti-liberty policies. Ignorance, sometimes willful, has long been part of the media equation. Journalists have consistently highlighted the sensational. They've ignored statistical realities to hype anecdotal – and extremely rare – events that invite us to worry about vanishingly tiny risks and while shrugging off vastly more likely ones. And then, confronted with evidence of a war on journalism by the people running our government, powerful journalists suggest that their peers – no, their betters – who had the guts to expose government crimes are criminals. Do they have a clue why the First Amendment is all about? Do they fathom the meaning of liberty?

The founders, for all their dramatic flaws, knew what liberty meant. They created a system of power-sharing and competition, knowing that investing too much authority in any institution was an invitation to despotism. Above all, they knew that liberty doesn't just imply taking risks; it absolutely requires taking risks. Among other protections, the Bill of Rights enshrined an unruly but vital free press and guaranteed that some criminals would escape punishment in order to protect the rest of us from too much government power. How many of those first 10 amendments would be approved by Congress and the states today? Depressingly few, one suspects. We're afraid.

Independence Day Greetings to Edward Snowden

Every year on the Fourth of July I sit down and read the Declaration of Independence. It's a habit I got into some years ago, but I take a peculiar pleasure in reading through the founding principles of the American Revolution, archaic language and all. In these days of creeping executive power, supine journalism, and reflexive threat-inflation, it's a valuable reminder that governments exist to serve the people -- and not the other way around.

On this Independence Day, I am wondering what the Founding Fathers would have made of Edward Snowden. The question is obviously a bit absurd, as they could hardly have imagined something like the Internet, or even the telephone, back in 1776. But they would have understood the ability of a government to seize the mail and to investigate and harass those suspected of disloyalty. And they surely would have understood the concept of risking one's future for the sake of one's ideals.

Kevin Drum.
Obama Lets Loose on Evo Morales

Did we really, seriously, strong-arm the governments of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to deny the president of Bolivia permission to fly over their airspace? All because some moron in one of our intelligence services that supposedly tracks every communication on the planet decided that Evo Morales was serious when he joked about taking Edward Snowden home with him from Moscow?

Egypt’s “Revocouption” and the Future of Democracy on the Nile

The argument over whether what happened in Egypt on Wednesday, July 3, was a coup or a revolution is really an argument over the legitimacy of the actions taken. If it was a revolution, it was perhaps a manifestation of the popular will, and so would have a sort of Rousseauan legitimacy. If it was merely a military coup against an elected president, then it lacks that legitimacy.

In fact, there certainly was a popular revolutionary element to the events, with literally millions of protesters coming out on Sunday and after, in the biggest demonstrations in Egyptian history. You can’t dismiss that as merely a coup d’etat from on top by a handful of officers.
[...]
The interim president is Adly Mansour, the acting chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Freedom of the press will be guaranteed, he said, and a mechanism established to allow the youth to be partners in making policy decisions.

Evo Morales finally arrived in Bolivia late last night to a large and welcoming crowd.  The heads of state in South America seem very unified in their protest to the disrespect, and worse.  They've filed a complaint with the UN. They are holding meetings. This is not going to just go away, though France has apologized and the State Dept. admits that they had contact with some countries who might be flown over if Snowden was to leave Russia.  They won't confirm or deny anything more than that, but it's rather obvious.


Action




Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Massive Spying Program Exposed
Demand Answers Now (EFF petition)


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