Posted by: quiscus | August 3, 2010

August 3, 2010

1.  Good:

New York Landmarks Commission Declines to Block ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

The reason this sparked so much fury is that the site is part of the planned location of a 13 story Islamic community center, which has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by opponents even though it isn’t actually a mosque and isn’t actually at ground zero.

The latest public opponent of the construction is Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who urged the city to block the construction and “take a look at this.” He is joined by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg insists that freedom of religion still exists in the city, however, and supports the construction of the building.”

2.  “High court trims Miranda warning rights bit by bit

You have the right to remain silent, but only if you tell the police that you’re remaining silent.

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You have a right to a lawyer — before, during and after questioning, even though the police don’t have to tell you exactly when the lawyer can be with you. If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you, which, by the way, are only good for the next two weeks?

The Supreme Court made major revisions to the now familiar Miranda warnings this year. The rulings will change the ways police, lawyers and criminal suspects interact amid what experts call an attempt to pull back some of the rights that Americans have become used to over recent decades.

The high court has made clear it’s not going to eliminate the requirement that police officers give suspects a Miranda warning, so it is tinkering around the edges, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, co-chair of the amicus committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Fisher said. “For the past 20-25 years, as the court has turned more conservative on law and order issues, it has been whittling away at Miranda and doing everything it can to ease the admissibility of confessions that police wriggle out of suspects.”

3.  “Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy

Uber is the Executive Director of a highly secretive group called Project Vigilant, which, as Greenberg writes, “monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers” and “hands much of that information to federal agencies.” More on that in a minute.  Uber revealed yesterday that Lamo, the hacker who turned in Manning to the federal government for allegedly confessing to being the WikiLeaks leaker, was a “volunteer analyst” for Project Vigilant

So, while Lamo has repeatedly denied (including in his interview with me) that he ever worked with federal authorities, it turns out that he was a “volunteer analyst” for an entity which collects private Internet data in order to process it and turn it over to the Federal Government.

I want to focus on the much more important aspect of these revelations:  namely, what Project Vigilant does as well as the booming private domestic espionage industry of which they are a part.  There’s very little public information about this organization, but what they essentially are is some sort of vigilante group that collects vast amount of private data about the Internet activities of millions of citizens, processes that data into usable form, and then literally turns it over to the U.S. Government, claiming its motive is to help the Government detect Terrorists and other criminals.

It’s really beyond dispute that one has virtually no privacy from the Government.  That’s not just true in theory, but in practice, as the Government seriously escalates the various ways it maintains dossiers on citizens.  Many privacy advocates have long taken some comfort in the fact that this data is too vast for the Government to figure out how to use, but with the aid of private industry and these strangely well-funded and sophisticated groups, there are clearly efforts to make this snooping far more useful and manageable.

Above all else, that’s what a Surveillance State does:  it breeds fear of doing anything out of the ordinary by creating a class of meek citizens who know they are being constantly watched.”

4.  “Coming Home

The truth is that no one who has truly experienced war escapes its ravages unscathed. No one is ever made whole again. Like it or not, that is our reality, yours and mine. As a “grateful” nation “welcomes” you home and “thanks you” for your service, they will begrudge you your “benefits” and deny you the care you require to treat the physical, psychological, emotional, and moral injuries inevitable in war. And war’s deleterious effects are not yours alone. Family and friends won’t understand why you have changed but will try desperately to help you “get over it,” to “put the war behind you,” and to “go on with your life,” as though being affected by war is a conscious decision we make. But when it becomes apparent that the effect and impact of war is deep seated and complex and beyond their capability to remedy, they will grow discouraged by their helplessness, frustrated by the lack of assistance forthcoming from a Government bound by contract “to care for him/her who shall have borne the battle,” and dismayed by the indifference and lack of concern from a nation that mouths meaningless rhetoric of gratitude, concern, and support. All that remains is to mourn the loss of innocence of the child they sent to war. Truly, war’s devastation is far reaching.

Though war can never be forgotten nor put behind you, I have learned that by achieving an understanding of its nature and reality, by facing up to and working through personal issues regarding one’s actions in the war zone, and by rejecting the lies of the myth makers, propagandists, and war opportunists who portray wars for power, wealth, and empire as a struggle for freedom, god and country, you can come to terms with your experience and find a place for it in your being. “


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