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thinkahol *

Cell Phone Censorship in San Francisco? » Blog of Rights: Official Blog of th... - 0 views

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    Pop quiz: where did a government agency shut down cell service yesterday to disrupt a political protest? Syria? London? Nope. San Francisco.

    The answer may seem surprising, but that's exactly what happened yesterday evening. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) asked wireless providers to halt service in four stations in San Francisco to prevent protestors from communicating with each other. The action came after BART notified riders that there might be demonstrations in the city.

    All over the world people are using mobile devices to organize protests against repressive regimes, and we rightly criticize governments that respond by shutting down cell service, calling their actions anti-democratic and a violation of the rights to free expression and assembly. Are we really willing to tolerate the same silencing of protest here in the United States?

    BART's actions were glaringly small-minded as technology and the ability to be connected have many uses. Imagine if someone had a heart attack on the train when the phones were blocked and no one could call 911.

    And where do we draw the line? These protestors were using public transportation to get to the demonstration - should the government be able to shut that down too?

    Shutting down access to mobile phones is the wrong response to political protests, whether it's halfway around the world or right here at home. The First Amendment protects everybody's right to free expression, and when the government responds to people protesting against it by silencing them, it's dangerous to democracy.
thinkahol *

GRITtv » Blog Archive » Michelle Alexander: End The Drug War: Face the New Ji... - 0 views

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    The NAACP has just passed a historic resolution demanding an end to the War on Drugs.  The resolution comes as young Black male unemployment hovers near 50 percent and the wealth gap's become a veritable gulf. So why is the forty-year-old "War on Drugs" public enemy number one for the nation's oldest civil rights organization? Well here's why:  it's not extraneous - it's central: the war on drugs is the engine of 21st century discrimination - an engine that has brought Jim Crow into the age of Barack Obama.     Author Michelle Alexander lays out the statistics -- and the stories --  of 21st Century Jim Crow in her ought-to-blow-your-socks off book: "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness." I had a chance to sit down with Alexander earlier this summer. We'll be posting the full interview in two parts.     "We have managed decades after the civil rights movement to create something like a caste system in the United States," says Alexander in part one here  "In major urban areas, the majority of African American men are either behind bars, under correctional control or saddled with criminal record and once branded as criminal or a felon, they're trapped for life in 2nd class status."     It's not just about people having a hard time getting ahead and climbing the ladder of success. It's about a rigged system. Sound familiar?  Like the Pew Research Center report on household wealth and the Great Recession -- the NAACP resolution story was a one-day news-blip - despite the fact that it pierces the by-your-bootstraps myth that is at the heart of - you pick it - the deficit, the stimulus, the tax code - every contemporary US economic debate.     White America just maybe ought to pay attention. With more and more Americans falling out of jobs and into debt, criminal records are a whole lot easier to come by than life-sustaining employment.  Contrary to the conventional media version, the "Drug War" story is not a people with problems
thinkahol *

GRITtv » Blog Archive » Chris Hedges: The World As it Is - 0 views

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    "You can't sustain a democracy in an oligarchic state. The writers on Athenian democracy understood that 2000 years ago," says Chris Hedges, whose new book The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress explores the problems of a crumbling empire, inside and out.
    Chris joins Laura in studio for a conversation about the death of Bin Laden and the continuing concern over terrorism, the end of empathy in the U.S., and what avenues are left for progressives to fight back.  "The elites are not going to help us," he warns, "We're going to have to help ourselves."
thinkahol *

VICTORY! Court Says Plaintiffs Can Challenge Bush Wiretapping Law » Blog of R... - 0 views

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    In a huge victory for privacy and the rule of law, a federal appeals court today reinstated our landmark lawsuit challenging the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a statute that gives the executive branch virtually unchecked power to collect Americans' international e-mails and telephone calls.
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