Sunday, June 29, 2014
The People's Drone
Crowdfunding has reached new, weird, possibly inevitable levels with Ukraine nationalists now raising money from online supporters to fund the country's "first people's infantry battalion," starting with a "People's Drone" to patrol the Russian border and moving on to include bulletproof vests, painkillers, a sniper unit and anything else "the boys needed." The site has raised 71% of its goal to arm the sniper unit and over its goal for the drone, which could be good or bad news, depending on your perspective.
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Friday, June 27, 2014
Trolling the NSA
Privacy advocates kicked off a new anti-surveillance campaign in style by floating an airship reading "Illegal Spying Below" - complete with helpful arrow - over the NSA's massive data center in Utah. Dubbed "the maiden patrol of the first anti-surveillance activist air force," the flight marked the launch of Stand Against Spying , a project by Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace, the Tenth Amendment Center and 20 more groups that seeks to outlaw mass surveilance, reform the FISA court, prohibit the NSA from undermining encryption technologies, and grade members of Congress on how much they do or don't help those efforts.
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It's the Right To Bear Arms, Not the Right To Be A Dumbass
A droll new ad - dildos! - from Evolve, a self-described "third voice” in the gun debate that seeks to promote gun safety without playing into partisan divide; its tagline is, “Because safety is not a side.” Incorporating gun owners and non-gun owners and "consciously apolitical" - though already dubbed "an anti-gun front group" by the ever-nuanced right - the group stresses the need to "establish gun responsibility as the social norm" through peer pressure, mass media campaigns and kitchen-table conversations that "should be as common as discussing responsible drinking." Their first ad showed the Founding Fathers regrettably striking "dumbassery" from the 2nd Amendment. The new one...well, watch.
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Thursday, June 26, 2014
Not Counseling: Enabling the Screamers and Haters and Devout Plastic Fetus Throwers
Today's SCOTUS ruling against Massachusetts' buffer zones around abortion clinics - issued from within SCOTUS' own legally protected buffer zone - has met with swift outrage from pro-choice forces appalled that the court took seriously the "pro-life" argument their "gentle...sidewalk counselors" merely seek to "engage in personal, caring, consensual conver­sations with women." Under the quickly created Twitter hashtags #NotCounseling and #ClinicEscort, angry pro-choice women told the real story of the abuses they've suffered and witnessed at the hands of those ungentle bullies.
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Moroccan Women Say No Thanks To Being God's Sacred Stay-At-Home Lanterns
Waving frying pans, Moroccan women protested outside Parliament this week demanding the resignation of Islamist premier Abdelilah Benkirane after he urged women to stay home and respect the “sacred status God gave” mothers, asking, “Don’t you realize that when women went to work outside, the light went out of their homes?" After the protest came a Twitter campaign: #AnaMachiTria - I Am Not A Chandelier.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Gerry Conlon RIP: The Bravest of Fighters, For Himself and Others
Gerry Conlon, one of the most infamous victims of a miscarriage of justice who spent 15 years in a British prison after being wrongly convicted of an IRA bombing, has died of cancer at 60. One of the Guildford Four, Conlon had to watch his father Giuseppe die in prison, wrongly convicted as an alleged accomplice for trying to help his son. Until shortly before his death, Conlon continued fighting for justice for others - the wrongly imprisoned, Gitmo detainees, Chelsea Manning. Conlon's lawyer said his battle for freedom, and after his 1989 release, for peace, "should haunt us forever."
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Most cringeworthy moment of a too-often cringeworthy Congress, ever: The pallid churlish leaders of the House and Senate forced by circumstance - a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King - to hold hands and join in an excruciating, swaying, bumbling rendition of "We Shall Overcome." Mitch McConnell wins the Deer In Headlights Award, by a graceless hair. Maybe one day we'll overcome these people. Here's Pete Seeger, doing it right.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Secrecy Inc: Activists Sue CIA Over Spying On Classified Report On Covert Torture Program
Because no one has yet been held accountable for U.S. torture practices widely deemed "sadistic and terrifying," two open-government and FOIA activists are suing the CIA for its continued secrecy about its alleged secret surveillance of Senate lawmakers secretly investigating secret Bush-era torture. Welcome to the most transparent - and Kafkaesque - administration in history.
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Playing Obscene War: On SWAT Teams and Baby Bou Bou
Last month, 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavahn - aka Baby Bou Bou - was asleep in his crib in Atlanta when a SWAT team armed with assault rifles burst in and threw a flash bang grenade into his crib, critically burning him and blowing a hole in his chest so deep it exposed his ribs. Police found no drugs, guns or suspects. They later arrested the nephew of Bou's father for allegedly buying $50 worth of drugs. A new ACLU report War Comes Home finds Bou Bou's story is only slightly more awful than many other awful stories from a failed "War on Drugs" that's often more about race and class. Bou Bou remains in a medically induced coma, with a 50-50 chance of surviving. Warning: graphic photo of what we've wrought.
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Climate Hawks Vote
Arguing we shouldn't tolerate pols taking money from fossil fuel companies "whose business plan is to cook the planet," a new Super PAC is working to elect only those politicians who show leadership on climate change. Climate Change Hawks has compiled a score card for House Democrats, made its first endorsement, and begun raising money for "climate hawk leaders - those who prioritize and speak on the climate crisis."
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