Category Archives: National Security vs Police State

‘A Harrowing Warning’ to All as Hungary Hands Far-Right Leader Dictatorial Powers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-30-2020

Viktor Orban. Photo: European Parliament/flickr/CC

Human rights groups and activists issued dire warnings about the state of democracy in Hungary—and the rest of the world—after the nation’s parliament on Monday approved a sweeping emergency law handing far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán dictatorial powers as the European country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The new law indefinitely suspends elections and parliament, imposes up to five years in prison for anyone who intentionally spreads what the government classifies as misinformation, and gives Orbán the authority to suspend laws by decree as he works to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The law easily passed Hungary’s parliament, which is dominated by Orbán’s far-right Fidesz party, by a vote of 137 to 53. Continue reading

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“Nice Try, FBI”: Stay Fit While Quarantined With The Government’s Home Fitness App

Looking to stay fit? The FBI has an app for that.

By Emma Fiala, Published 3-26-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

All across the United States people are spending a lot more time in their homes and will be there for the foreseeable future.

As such, many people are looking for new activities to occupy their time, including ways of staying fit. Thankfully the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an app for that.

Those of us who simply can’t do sit-ups and push-ups on our own and are somehow unable to download one of the numerous fitness apps out there that aren’t associated with the U.S. government finally have an option. Continue reading

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ICE Detainee Says Migrants Are Going on a Hunger Strike For Soap

In audio obtained by ProPublica, an ICE detainee described harrowing conditions as fears over coronavirus spread. The ICE detention center in New Jersey gives detainees one bar of soap per week. If they want more, they have to buy it.

By Dara Lind Published 3-23-2020 by ProPublica

 

In an audio recording obtained by ProPublica, an immigrant held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention in New Jersey complains that he and other detainees are on a hunger strike to try to obtain soap and toilet paper in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic — and that guards reportedly have told detainees, “Well, you’re going to have to die of something.”

The audio was recorded when Ronal Umaña, a 30-year-old immigrant from El Salvador currently being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey, placed a personal call to an advocate on Sunday. The advocate provided the audio to ProPublica. Continue reading

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Because of the Threat of Coronavirus Turning ICE Detention Into ‘Death Camps,’ Groups Rallying to Free Families Held Around Country

“ICE is making the pandemic more dangerous for everyone.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-22-2020

US – Canada border crossing. Photo: bbmcshane/flickr/cc

As legal advocates filed an emergency suit on behalf of families and children detained by ICE, activists around the U.S. demonstrated against the continuing detention of immigrants by the federal agency as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the nation.

The agency’s detention centers are known for their danger in spreading deadly disease to prisoners and it’s a matter of when—not if—the disease arrives at a facility and infects hundreds or thousands of people. Continue reading

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‘Oh Hell No’: DOJ Using Coronavirus Crisis to Push for Expansive Emergency Powers

“This is abhorrent (also: predictable).”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-21-2020

Department of Justice Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/CC

The Department of Justice is using the coronavirus outbreak to ask Congress for sweeping emergency powers including suspending habeas corpus during an emergency, a power grab that was denounced by civil liberties advocates.

“Oh hell no,” tweeted Fletcher School professor Daniel Drezner. Continue reading

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With Nation Focused on Coronavirus, Rights Groups Warn Senate Against Handing Trump ‘Terrifying’ Spy Powers

“It’s unthinkable to extend these spying powers to the same agencies that have so often sidestepped safeguards and ignored Americans’ fundamental privacy rights.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-16-2020

Protesters carried signs at a march against mass surveillance on Oct. 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: EFF/Flickr/cc)

Ahead of a vote that could take place in the Senate as soon as Monday evening, civil liberties groups and federal lawmakers critical of mass surveillance spoke out against House-approved legislation that would reauthorize “abusive” and “dangerous” U.S. government spying powers that expired Sunday.

The Democrat-held House was widely criticized last week for passing the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6172), a bipartisan compromise negotiated by leaders in the lower chamber that includes the reauthorization of Section 215 powers that Congress established under the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, which federal agencies have used to justify the collection of Americans’ phone records. Continue reading

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From border security to climate change, national emergency declarations raise hard questions about presidential power

Global Climate Strike NYC in New York, Sept. 20, 2019. Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch /IPX via AP Photo

Daniel Farber, University of California, Berkeley

As wildfires, storms and other climate-driven disasters grow larger and more damaging, climate change is a major concern for many Democratic voters, who are in the midst of a primary fight that has come down to two major candidates: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. Both candidates say climate change would be one of their top priorities as president – but there’s an important difference between their approaches.

Sanders has pledged to declare climate change a national emergency and use executive power to lead “a ten-year, nationwide mobilization” to remake the U.S. economy. Continue reading

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If You’re Close to the Scene of a Crime, Police Can Demand Google Hand Over Your Data

Google reverse location search warrants have privacy and civil liberties advocates concerned.

By Aaron Kesel. Published 3-6-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

The Gainesville Police Department suspected an innocent man was involved in a burglary so naturally they requested that Google give them all of his location data.

Google’s legal investigations support team wrote to Zachary McCoy telling him that local police were demanding information related to his Google account. Google replied and said it would release the data unless McCoy went to court and tried to block the request, NBC reported. Continue reading

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“People Are Being Hunted Down” – ICE Launches Rights-Busting Onslaught Against Sanctuary Cities

Rights are routinely being violated as hundreds of ICE agents storm New York City and other sanctuary cities in a fresh attempt to round up undocumented immigrants.

By Alan Macleod. Published 3-6-2020 by MintPress News

An armed ICE agent through the peephole of an apartment . Photo: Annie Correal/Twitter

Operation Palladium has begun. Hundreds of agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have entered New York and other sanctuary cities in a fresh attempt to round up undocumented immigrants. The directive, according to officials, is simple: arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible and “flood the streets” with officers. Beginning a 24/7 surveillance and detention program, ICE leadership has requested over 500 special agents who normally work fighting trafficking and organized crime to bolster the agency’s numbers. This follows an earlier decision to deploy immigration SWAT teams to round up undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities.

“I have gotten frantic texts from people that they are spotting ICE in their New York City buildings knocking on doors. They are terrified. This is happening TODAY. RIGHT NOW. People [are] being hunted down,” said journalist Maria Hinojosa. Continue reading

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‘Inhumane’ and ‘Reckless’: Amnesty International Condemns Greece’s Measures to Block Migrants at Turkish Border

“People seeking asylum are once again being used as bargaining chips in a callous political game.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-2-2020

Photo: Gizli Muhafiz/Twitter

Amnesty International on Monday condemned “inhumane” measures that Greek authorities have taken toward migrants since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last week that Turkey would no longer stop refugees and asylum-seekers—many of whom have fled the ongoing war in Syria—from crossing by land and sea into Greece.

Turkey eased restrictions at the western border it shares with Greece in response to thousands of migrants from Syria who have poured into Turkey in recent days amid a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive into Syria’s Idlib province and escalating violence between Syrian and Turkish forces. Continue reading

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