RSSCategory: Civil Rights

New organization–Freedom of the Press Foundation–protects meaningful freedom of the press

December 20, 2012 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald is a member of the Board of the Directors of a new organization called Freedom of the Press Foundation. Here’s how Greenwald describes the mission:

The primary impetus for the formation of this group was to block the US government from ever again being able to attack and suffocate an independent journalistic enterprise the way it did with WikiLeaks. Government pressure and the eager compliance of large financial corporations (such as Visa, Master Card, Bank of America, etc.) has – by design – made it extremely difficult for anyone to donate to WikiLeaks, while many people are simply afraid to directly support the group (for reasons I explained here).

We intend to raise funds ourselves and then distribute it to the beneficiaries we name. The first group of beneficiaries includes WikiLeaks. We can circumvent those extra-legal, totally inappropriate blocks that have been imposed on the group. We can enable people to support WikiLeaks without donating directly to it by donating to this new organization that will then support a group of deserving independent journalism outlets, one of which is WikiLeaks. In sum, we will render impotent the government’s efforts to use its coercive pressure over corporations to suffocate not only WikiLeaks but any other group it may similarly target in the future.

. . . I’m very excited to have participated in its formation and will serve as an unpaid member of the Board of Directors, along with the heroic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, 2012 McArthur-fellowship-receipient and Oscar-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation John Perry Barlow, the actor and civil liberties advocate John Cusack, BoingBoing co-founder Xeni Jardin, and several other passionate free press and transparency activists.

David Carr of the New York Times recently wrote an article titled: “Group Aims to Be a Conduit for WikiLeaks Donations”:

A group advocating a more transparent government has formed a nonprofit organization called the Freedom of the Press Foundation to serve as a conduit for donations to organizations like WikiLeaks. The goal is to insulate those groups’ fund-raising efforts from political and business pressures.

In December 2010, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced that they would no longer accept transactions for WikiLeaks, the online leak group that released thousands of secret documents from the American government. The move to cut off donations, which came after vocal protests against the organization’s activities from members of Congress, eliminated the vast majority of financing for WikiLeaks.

Michael Calderon of Huffpo is recently posted on FPF:

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Timm said the idea for the foundation grew out of conversations with fellow co-founders, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower behind the Pentagon Papers, and John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a former Grateful Dead lyricist.

The foundation plans to direct tax deductible donations to WikiLeaks for as long as payment processors block the organization, while protecting other outlets if they are similarly targeted.

“WikiLeaks was the inspiration for it, but we wanted to make the mission much broader than WikiLeaks,” Timm said.

For that reason, the group is also raising money for three other entities: MuckRock News, an open government organization; National Security Archive, an archive of declassified government documents; and The UpTake, a citizen-journalism news site.

Here is more on the four beneficiary organizations.

FDL’s Kevin Gosztola writes:

[T]he idea had come from something that had been discussed for months. There was a “real sense that the blockade on WikiLeaks was censorship of not just of WikiLeaks but actually of the people who wanted to express their opinions by making donations.” It was a suppression of “their rights to free speech,” as well.

FPF decided to do something that would empower people to do something that could keep WikiLeaks operational while also inspiring a new generation of WikiLeaks-like organizations that would be resistant to government and corporate pressures.

Here’s an excerpt from the About Page of Freedom of the Press Foundation:

The Freedom of the Press Foundation is dedicated to helping promote and fund aggressive, public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government. We accept tax-deductible donations to a variety of journalism organizations dedicated to government transparency and accountability.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation is built on the recognition that this kind of transparency journalism — from publishing the Pentagon Papers and exposing Watergate, to uncovering the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program and CIA secret prisons — doesn’t just happen. It requires dogged work by journalists, and often, the courage of whistleblowers and others who work to ensure that the public actually learns what it has a right to know.

But in a changing economic and technological age, media organizations are increasingly susceptible to corporate or government pressure. This can lead to watered-down or compromised coverage, or worse: censorship.

Increasingly, non-profit media and transparency organizations are emerging as a critical component of the journalism landscape. Leveraging the power of the Internet, these organizations are helping to reinvent and reimagine independent watchdog reporting.

Right now, too many of those organizations are struggling for funding, relying on a few large foundations or competing for donors. Our goal is to broaden the financial base of these types of institutions—both start-ups and established non-profit organizations — by crowd-sourcing funding and making it easy for people to support the best journalism from an array of organizations all in one place.

Using the same networked, collaborative approach, the Freedom of the Press Foundation will also provide support for organizations and individuals that have been unjustly censored or cut off from funding for doing their job as journalists. Given the variety of corporate and government pressures on journalism outlets around the world, the need has never been greater.

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Politicians trash the 5th Amendment

December 20, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

This is the opening paragraph from “Scandal Alert: Congress Is Quietly Abandoning the 5th Amendment, published by The Atlantic:

What everyone must understand is that American politics doesn’t work the way you’d think it would. Most people presume that government officials would never willfully withhold penicillin from men with syphilis just to see what would happen if the disease went untreated. It seems unlikely that officers would coerce enlisted men into exposing themselves to debilitating nerve gas. Few expected that President Obama would preside over the persecution of an NSA whistle-blower, or presume the guilt of all military-aged males killed by U.S. drone strikes. But it all happened.

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Insanity and Rights

December 16, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More
Insanity and Rights

Doubtless whatever I say, someone will find fault, take offense, withdraw into positions, place guard dogs at the gates and lookouts in the towers. We are a people enamored of the idea of violence.  We like the idea that when it gets down to the proverbial nitty gritty we can and will kick ass and take names.  Americans are tough, not to be messed with, ready to exact justice by knuckles or 9.mm. . . .

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Electronic Frontier Foundation explains how the government looks at private email

November 15, 2012 | By | Reply More

Using the example of General Petraeus, the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains how the federal government looks at private email. What can be done about these abuses?

[The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA (1986)] is hopelessly out of date, and fails to provide the protections we need in a modern era. Your email privacy should be simple: it should receive the same protection the Fourth Amendment provides for your home. So why hasn’t Congress done anything to update the law? They’ve tried a few times but the bills haven’t gone anywhere. That’s why [Electronic Frontier Foundation] members across the country are joining with other advocacy groups in calling for reform. This week, we’re proud to launch a new campaign page to advocate for ECPA reform.

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Looking Forward?

November 7, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Looking Forward?

As usual, Florida is still undecided, a mess. According to NPR, though, it is leaning heavily toward Obama, despite the shenanigans of the state GOP in suppressing the vote.

I didn’t watch last night. Couldn’t. We went to bed early.

But then Donna got up around midnight and woke me by a whoop of joy that I briefly mistook for anguish.

To my small surprise and relief, Obama won.

I will not miss the constant electioneering, the radio ads, the tv spots, the slick mailers. I will not miss keeping still in mixed groups about my politics (something I am not good at, but this election cycle it feels more like holy war than an election). I will not miss wincing every time some politician opens his or her mouth and nonsense spills out. (This is, of course, normal, but during presidential years it feels much, much worse.) I will not miss…

Anyway, the election came out partially the way I expected, in those moments when I felt calm enough to think rationally. Rationality seemed in short supply this year and mine was sorely tasked. So now, I sit here sorting through my reactions, trying to come up with something cogent to say.

I am disappointed the House is still Republican, but it seems a number of the Tea Party robots from 2010 lost their seats, so maybe the temperature in chambers will drop a degree or two and some business may get done.

Gary Johnson, running as a Libertarian, pulled 350,000 votes as of nine last night. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, got around 100,000. (Randall Terry received 8700 votes, a fact that both reassures me and gives me shivers—there are people who will actually vote for him?)

Combined, the independent candidates made virtually no difference nationally. Which is a shame, really. I’ve read both Stein’s and Johnson’s platforms and both of them are willing to address the problems in the system. Johnson is the least realistic of the two and I like a lot of the Green Party platform.

More . . .

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Ways in which the Bible outlaws homosexualty, with a twist

October 19, 2012 | By | 5 Replies More

The scene is the Springfield Missouri City Council, where the Council debated whether to pass a new rule adding LGBT people to those people protected from discrimination. the following video features an impassioned speech against homosexuals with a twist toward the end:

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Plain Broun Wrapper (or, What’s Really In That Bag?)

October 8, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

I thought I might write about something other than politics this morning, but some things are just too there to ignore.  But perhaps this isn’t strictly about politics.

Representative Paul Broun of Georgia recently said the following.  I’m pulling the quote from news sources so I don’t get it wrong.

“God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

[More . . . ]

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Paul Ryan’s Unsuspected Latent Darwinism

September 27, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Paul Ryan’s Unsuspected Latent Darwinism

Paul Ryan, in a little-noticed interview, said the other day—talking about abortion—that rape is simply another “method of conception.” This is very much in line with Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark, although it contradicts Akin’s point—which was, somehow, that the reproductive system of a woman being raped (really raped, not sort of raped or falsely […]

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Media reluctance to expose and criticize Barack Obama’s many constitutional violations

September 2, 2012 | By | Reply More

Obama Administration’s is waging a war on the Constitution, but you’ll barely hear anything about it in the mass media. At Truthout, John Cusack of Truthout recently interviewed law professor Jonathan Turley. It’s an extended interview that raises many serious points. They explore at depth the moral quandary many voters SHOULD feel, but won’t, when enter the voting booth. In a related matter, they suggest that many Obama supporters are followers of a personality cult. And repeatedly, the mass media is going Obama license to do more of the same, despite the lies, despite the trashing of the U.S. Constitution. Here are two excerpts from the long interview:

CUSACK: I hate to speak too much to motivation, but why do you think MSNBC and other so-called centrist or left outlets won’t bring up any of these things? These issues were broadcast and reported on nightly when John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez and Bush were in office.
TURLEY: Well, there is no question that some at MSNBC have backed away from these issues, although occasionally you’ll see people talk about –

CUSACK: I think that’s being kind, don’t you? More like “abandoned.”

TURLEY: Yeah. The civil liberties perspective is rarely given more than a passing reference while national security concerns are explored in depth. Fox is viewed as protective of Bush while MSNBC is viewed as protective of Obama. But both presidents are guilty of the same violations. There are relatively few journalists willing to pursue these questions aggressively and objectively, particularly on television. And so the result is that the public is hearing a script written by the government that downplays these principles. They don’t hear the word “torture.”

They hear “enhanced interrogation.” They don’t hear much about the treaties. They don’t hear about the international condemnation of the United States. Most Americans are unaware of how far we have moved away from Nuremberg and core principles of international law.

[More . . . ]

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