Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

For Next Weapon in Anti-Protest Arsenal, US Military Building Plasma Gun Capable of Vaporizing Human Flesh

At its highest setting, the new laser weapon would painfully vaporize the outer layer of skin from 100 meters away. Also, this so-called “non-lethal” weapon can kill people.

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-18-2018

Beyond NoDAPL March on Washington, DC. Photo: Rob87438 [CC-BY-SA-4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

From wood batons to stun batons to water cannons to sound cannons to. . .  frickin’ plasma lasers that can “vaporize” your skin?

Recent reporting out of the Pentagon reveals that the U.S. military is working on perfecting what they called a Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser System (SCUPLS)—or plasma gun, for short—intended for mounting on a truck or a tank.

Billed as the military’s latest “crowd control” technology, what this has typically meant is a new “non-lethal” weapon designed for use by militaries or police forces against unruly demonstrators or those standing against powerful state actors or corporate forces. Continue reading

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Accusing Trump of Crossing Constitutional Line, PEN America Sues Over Threats and Reprisals Against Free Press

“When President Trump crosses the line and threatens to use his authority to punish the media, or actually does so, it is vital for the courts to step in and affirm that such threats and reprisals are unconstitutional.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for  Common Dreams. Published 10-16-2018

The lawsuit filed by PEN America and its partners seeks “to stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.” (Image: PEN America)

Arguing that President Donald Trump has crossed the line from “verbal attacks on the press” that are protected under the his First Amendment rights into using his authority to punish journalists and media outlets he dislikes with threats of intimidation or reprisal, the literary rights group PEN America has announced a lawsuit against the president in order to bring an end to such attacks.

The lawsuit (pdf) brought in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday—with PEN joined by the nonpartisan nonprofit Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic—states that while Trump has constitutionally-protected rights and “is free to criticize the press vehemently,” the president “is not free to use the  power and authority of the United States government to punish and stifle it.”   Continue reading

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Facebook Accused of ‘Full-Frontal Suppression of Dissent’ After Independent Media Swept Up in Mass Purge

The massive shutdown affected many progressive sites devoted to covering war, police brutality, and other issues neglected by the corporate media

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-12-2018

“Those who demanded Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants censor political content—something they didn’t actually want to do—are finding that content that they themselves support and like end up being repressed,” noted The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald in response to Facebook’s announcement. “That’s what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.” (Photo: Legal Loop)

After Facebook announced on Thursday that it shut down and removed hundreds of pages and accounts that it vaguely accused of spreading “spam” and engaging in “inauthentic behavior,” some of the individuals and organizations caught up in the social media behemoth’s dragnet disputed accusations that they were violating the platform’s rules and raised alarm that Facebook is using its enormous power to silence independent political perspectives that run counter to the corporate media’s dominant narratives.

While it is reasonable to assume that some of the more than 800 total pages and accounts shut down by Facebook were engaged in overtly fraudulent behavior—such as the use of fake accounts and bots to generate ad revenue—numerous independent media outlets that cover a wide array of issues say they were swept up in the massive purge despite never using such tactics. Continue reading

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Could Killing of Washington Post Writer by Saudi ‘Murder Team’ Finally Put Crack in US Support of ‘Criminal Regime’?

“If this is true – that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him – it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” declared Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in response.

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-7-2018

Saudi Consulate officials claimed Khashoggi left the Consulate building shortly after his arrival, but his fiancee waiting outside states he never came out after going inside. While many initially believed he was being held by the Saudis inside against his will, Turkish officials have now said they believe the writer was tortured and then murdered by a Saudi hit team. Jamal Khashoggi a Saudi writer critical of the Kingdom and a contributor to the Washington Post was living in self -imposed exile in the U.S. Photo: Media Menagerie/Twitter

Spurring fresh outrage among those who criticize the cozy relationship between the U.S. government and the Saudi monarchy—with emphasis on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS)—political dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabia national living in self-imposed exile abroad, was tortured and killed last week by a Saudi  government ‘murder team,’ according to Turkish sources, while inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, Turkey. Continue reading

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Warning of Propaganda ‘Loudspeakers’ in Every American’s Pocket, Lawsuit Aims to Stop Trump’s Unblockable Text Messages

The suit argues the presidential alert system violates “Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from government-compelled listening.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-2-2018

Photo: Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

With President Donald Trump set to send out the first unblockable “presidential alert” to every single U.S. resident with a cellphone on Wednesday, three New Yorkers are attemping to stop the intrusive text messages with a lawsuit arguing that the new emergency alert system “is tantamount to hijacking private property for the purpose of planting a government-controlled loudspeaker in the home and on the person of every American.”

Filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan by three New York activists—J.B. Nicholas, Kristine Rakowsky and Liane Nikitovich—the suit (pdf) claims the presidential alert system violates “Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from government-compelled listening, as well as warrantless, non-consensual trespass into and seizure of their cellular devices.”

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Palestinians Mourn and Demand Justice After Israeli Snipers Murder Two Young Children in Gaza

“Israel’s use of deadly force against unarmed protesters on Friday is characteristic of its actions throughout the Great March of Return, during which more than 150 Palestinians have been killed.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-29-2018

Nasser Musabah’s classmates mourn him. Photo: @Mohammed pal/Twitter

After Israeli snipers massacred seven Palestinians—including two young children—and injured over 500 during protests against Israel’s brutal occupation on Friday, thousands of Gazans on Saturday attended funerals for those who were killed and demanded justice from the international community.

Among those killed by Israeli forces on Friday were 11-year-old Naser Azmi Musbeh and 14-year-old Mohammed Naif al-Houm. Continue reading

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5 Stories Nobody Is Talking About as the Brett Kavanaugh Hearing Unfolds

By Carey Wedler. Published 9-27-2018 by The AntiMedia

Then-President George W. Bush looks on as Justice Anthony Kennedy swears in Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on June 1, 2006. (Photo: Eric Draper/White House)

 

The media, Congress, and the American people continue to fix to their attention on Brett Kavanaugh and today’s hearings regarding allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him. While these are serious issues and should not be taken lightly, there are numerous other developments that are falling by the wayside as the national conversation remains preoccupied with the Supreme Court nominee. Continue reading

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Israeli Gov’t Argues It Can Annex Any Land, Defy Any International Law It Chooses

With its government openly admitting Israel’s rogue-state status and its intention to act without regard to international norms or basic human decency, Israel has indicated that it is hell-bent on ethnically cleansing Palestine and eliminating the “demographic threat” once and for all.

By Whitney Webb. Published 9-21-2018 by MintPress News

Beit Hanoun region of Gaza, August 2014, after Israeli bombardments. Photo: btselem [CC BY 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

During an ongoing court case regarding the legality of Israel’s controversial Settlement Regularization Law, the Israeli government has argued that the Israeli Knesset can “legislate anywhere in the world” and is “allowed to ignore the directive of international law in any field it desires.” The statements, delivered to Israel’s Supreme Court last month, show clear proof that the Israeli government is openly defying international law with the full approval of its top officials in its bid to annex occupied Palestine and wipe out any hope of a future Palestinian state.

Following the passage of the Settlement Regularization Law last year, several Palestinian rights groups led by Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel — filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court arguing that the Knesset is not legally permitted to enact or impose laws on territory occupied by the State of Israel that is not officially Israeli territory. As a consequence, according to the petition, the Knesset cannot pass laws that annex the West Bank or violate the rights of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank. Continue reading

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How Does Trump ‘Even Sleep at Night’? Cuts to Cancer Research, Head Start, and Women’s Shelters Among $226 Million Diverted to Pay for Child Detention

“If you wrote this plot into a movie, I would have said it was over-the top.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2018

Photo: US Customs and Border Control

Along with tens of thousands of children and families, cancer patients, Americans with substance abuse disorders, and victims of domestic violence are among the casualties of President Donald Trump’s detention of young immigrants—according to government documents outlining the administration’s plan to divert millions of dollars away from programs serving those populations.

Yahoo News reported that in order to continue detaining more than 13,000 children currently in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is proposing that up to $266 million be taken from other government health programs. Continue reading

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Corporate Tech Giants Invited, But Consumer Advocacy Groups Shut Out of Senate Hearing on Data Privacy

“The absence of consumer representatives all but ensures a narrow discussion, focused on policy alternatives favored by business groups.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2018

More than two dozen consumer groups are urging the Senate Commerce Committee to reconsider its witness list—which only includes industry representatives—for an upcoming hearing on data privacy policy. (Photo: Blogtrepreneur/flickr/cc)

While representatives for Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Charter Communications, Google, and Twitter are all slated to testify at a Sept. 26 Senate hearing about safeguarding consumer data privacy, the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups weren’t invited—and they’re not happy about it.

In a letter (pdf) to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on Wednesday, 28 groups expressed their “surprise and concern that not a single consumer representative was invited to testify” and called on committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to reconsider the witness list. Continue reading

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