Sign this Petition from Rep. Alan Grayson, Big Brother is Watching You!

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Ale...

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Alexander. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NSA Director Keith Alexander


Hey, Bro, Whassup?

Dear Reader

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, “Big Brother” is the dictator of Oceania. No one knows whether Big Brother is a real person, or simply the personification of the dictatorship. Big Brother spies on every citizen through “telescreens.” Everyone is reminded constantly, “Big Brother is Watching You.”

Let’s compare that to the recent revelations about the Orwellian-named National Security Agency (NSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. News reports in the Guardian and the Washington Post have uncovered a secret court order dated April 23, 2013, issued to Verizon. Verizon is the largest cell phone company in America. The court order requires Verizon to give to the NSA “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls. ” “Call detail records” are records of who you called, when you called, and how long you spoke.

The court order in the news reports is classified, and it’s marked “Declassify on: April 12, 2038.”

There is no reason to think that the NSA singled out Verizon. So that implies that the NSA is collecting records of every telephone call that you and I make, even local telephone calls. In fact, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked at the NSA, told reporters that he could get the records for the calls from the President’s own personal cell phone.

The NSA has not denied that it is collecting call records on every America. On the contrary, the NSA sees nothing wrong with it.

I see three fundamental problems with this:

  1. This is worse than the proverbial “fishing expedition”; this is like putting the entire ocean through a sieve. It makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that government searches be “particular.”
  2. This assumes not only that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, but that everyone is guilty. The Fourth Amendment limits searches to cases of “probable cause,” meaning that a prudent and cautious person would reasonably believe that the search will yield evidence of a crime. Obviously, most phone records have absolutely nothing to do with the commission of any crime.
  3. Providing this information to the Department of Defense violates the fundamental principle that our military does not operate on American soil, against American citizens. That principle has been embodied in law since the 1870s. From this perspective, providing this personal call record information to DoD is no different from providing it to the CIA – another agency that is not allowed to operate on US soil.

The news reports also reprinted five pages from an NSA PowerPoint presentation about the NSA’s “Prism” program. According to that NSA presentation, the NSA collects information “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”“What information?”, you may wonder. This information, according to the NSA presentation: “E-mail, Chat-video, voice, Videos, Photos, Stored data, VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol], File transfers, Video Conferencing, Notifications of target activity – logins, etc., Online Social Networking details [and] Special Requests.”

The PowerPoint presentation in the news reports is classified, and it’s marked “Declassify On: 20360901” (Meaning Sept. 1, 2036.)

The plain meaning of this, in the context of the presentation, is that the NSA is pulling unlimited amounts of e-mails from Microsoft’s hosted Hotmail accounts, e-mails from Google’s hosted Gmail accounts, search records from Google’s search servers, private “friend” communications from Facebook’s servers, the content of telephone calls from Skype’s VoIP service, etc., etc.

Regarding the Prism program, despite what the presentation specifically states, the NSA contends that it cannot actually collect information directly from the servers of all those internet service providers. The NSA also has put out that it collects such information (e-mails, photos, call content, etc.) only for foreigners not residing in the United States. Honestly, I don’t know how the NSA could do that in any reliable manner, because Google, Microsoft, Facebook and all the others have no way of knowing your citizenship or your residence. But that’s what the NSA is saying.

The bottom line is that the NSA evidently is getting call information on virtually every phone call by virtually every American, it is definitely getting the e-mails and call content of foreigners, and it may or may not be getting the e-mails and call content of Americans.

So is Uncle Sam actually Big Brother? I won’t dwell on the convoluted intimate relations that would be necessary to make your uncle also your brother. Rather, as noted above, the essence of Big Brother was that “Big Brother is Watching You.” Uncle Sam isn’t physically observing you at all times – that much is true. But if Uncle Sam is receiving information about every phone call that you make (as the NSA concedes), and Uncle Sam has access every other electronic communication of yours, including your e-mails and web browsing and storing it all (which the NSA disputes), then yes, Big Brother is Watching You.

I think that it’s wrong, and it has to end. As do the 13,000 people in 24 hours who signed the petition supporting our legislation at www.MindYourOwnBusinessAct.com. Because we can’t protect our freedom by destroying it.

I understand that there may be some people who see no problem in the Department of Defense monitoring their communications. I also understand that there are some people who have been so traumatized, so terrorized, by terrorism that they are willing to give up all of their freedom – all of everyone’s freedom – for the promise of some safety.

I am not one of those people.

Click here for freedom: http://MindYourOwnBusinessAct.com/

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“Ain’t the pictures enough, why do you go through so much,
To get the story you need, so you can bury me.
You’ve got the people confused. You tell the stories you choose.
You try to get me to lose the man I really am.

Michael Jackson, “Privacy” (2001).

P.S. I’ll say it again — Please, please, please forward this to your friends, and urge them to sign the petition. Twitter, Facebook, everywhere.

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Seal of the United States National Security Ag...

Seal of the United States National Security Agency, used between 1963 and 1966 before being replaced by the current seal. The NSA was formed in 1955, but did not have its own seal for several years. This seal was first used in February 1963, before being replaced in September 1966 with the seal used today. The NSA has no information on the origin or design of this seal. For more information, see here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

big brother

big brother (Photo credit: Vince_Lamb)

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Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin, 2008. Do we live in a Democracy?

Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin 2008  Video I

Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin 2008  Video II

***

Wikipedia:

Wolin’s work addresses participatory democracy with primary focus on the United States.

He makes a distinction between democracy as system of governance

and any of the formal political institutions of the state.

In other words,

he decouples democracy from governance

and towards a political system based on democratic principles.

***

Sheldon Wolin

Sheldon Wolin

Sheldon S. Wolin (born August 4, 1922) is an American political philosopher and writer

on contemporary politics.

He is currently Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

His most famous work is Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought.

In 1950, Wolin received his Harvard University doctorate for a dissertation titled Conservatism and Constitutionalism:

A Study in English Constitutional Ideas, 1760–1785. After teaching briefly at Oberlin College,

Wolin taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1954 to 1970.

In a political science department that was largely composed of empirical studies of micro-political issues,

Wolin was a political theorist who managed to build that component of the program by bringing

Norman Jacobson, John Schaar, and Hanna Pitkin into the department.

He was a major supporter and interpreter to the rest of the world

of the theory behind the Free Speech Movement,

and he became a mentor to one of the FSM’s more prominent activists,

 Michael Lerner on whose Ph.D. committee he served.

He also published frequently for The New York Review of Books during the 1970s.

From 1973 through 1987, Wolin was Professor of Politics at Princeton University

where he mentored a large number of students

who have subsequently become leading figures in contemporary political theory,

including most notably: at Berkeley, Hanna Pitkin (Emeritus, Berkeley),

J. Peter Euben (Duke University) and Harlan Wilson (Oberlin), and at Princeton, Uday Mehta (Amherst College),

Wendy Brown(Berkeley), Frederick M. Dolan (Emeritus, Berkeley and California College of the Arts),

Dana Villa (Notre Dame), Nicholas Xenos (Massachusetts), Kirstie McClure (UCLA)

and Cornel West (Princeton).

At Princeton, Wolin led a successful faculty effort to pass a resolution urging university trustees

to divest from endowment investment in firms that supported South African apartheid.

Aside from Oberlin, UC Berkeley and Princeton,

Wolin has also taught at UC Santa Cruz, UC Los Angeles, International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan),

Cornell University, and Oxford University.

US President Lyndon Johnson (right) meets with...

US President Lyndon Johnson (right) meets with special assistant Bill Moyers in the Oval Office, White House, Washington, DC, 29 November, 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seed of Light Award Nomination, Thank you MisBehaved Woman!

Seed Of Light

Thank you MisBehaved Woman!

seed-of-light-award

You only need one to start a forest!

Planting is easy: if you receive this award, simply pass it on to another blogger who inspires you through the beauty of their words/images as well as any blog which brings joyful awareness to nature and our connection to each other.

I happily pass this lovely little seed along to:

SUNSET DAILY: http://sunsetdaily.wordpress.com/ 

I am a girl: Poisoned in Afghanistan: Education Today!

100612 PP 2 (Medium)

125 girls, 3 teachers poisoned at Afghan school

Posted on: 11:03 am, May 23, 2012, by updated on: 08:53pm, May 23, 2012

 
Girls poisoned in Afghanistan
***
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Some 125 girls and three teachers
 were admitted to an Afghanistan hospital on Wednesday, May 23rd,
after being poisoned in their classes with a type of spray, a Takhar provincial official said.

The incident occurred in the provincial capital of Talokhan,

in the Bibi Hajera girls school, said Dr. Hafizullah Safi,

the province’s director of public health.

***

Forty of the girls were still hospitalized, he said, with symptoms including

dizziness, vomiting, headaches and loss of consciousness.

***

Blood samples have been sent to Kabul in an effort to determine the substance used, he said.

“A number of girls from 15 to 18 were brought from a school to hospital today,”

said Dr. Habibullah Rostaqi, hospital director.

“Generally they are not in a critical condition.

We are looking after them, but let’s see what happens later.

We understand so far from the situation, they are more traumatized.”

“The Afghan people know that the terrorists and the Taliban

are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them from going to school,”

said Khalilullah Aseer, spokesman for Takhar police.

“That’s something we and the people believe.

Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated,

but the government’s enemies don’t want this.”

***

There have been several instances of girls being poisoned in schools in recent years.

***

In April, also in Takhar province, more than 170 women and girls were hospitalized

with suspected poisoning after drinking apparently poisoned well water at a school.

Local health officials blamed the acts on extremists opposed to women’s education.

While nearly all the incidents involve girls,

earlier this month nearly 400 boys at a school in Khost province fell ill

after drinking water from a well that a health official said may have been poisoned.

I will punish the student,” Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak told

a press conference on Tuesday.

***

0

***

ReBlogged from PRESS INSIDE :http://saccsivdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/80-school-girls-poisoned-in-faryab-province-of-afghanistan/

logo6

80 school girls poisoned in Faryab province of Afghanistan

By SAYED JAWAD – 21 May 2013, 9:36 pm

school girls poisoned in Faryab

According to local authorities in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan,

at least 80 school girls were poisoned in Sherin Tagab district on Tuesday.

District chief for Sherin Tagab, Syed Luqman confirming the report said

the school girls belonged to Islam Qala girls school.

Mr. Luqman further added the incident took place after an unknown individual

attacked the compound of the school with toxicant gas,

leaving at least three girls unconscious.

***

He said the number of school girls later increased

to 80 after inhaling the poisonous gas.

This comes as several girls were poisoned in north-eastern Takhar province of Afghanistan last month.

However, education ministry officials denied militants involvement

behind the poisoning of school girls and

called it a psychological issue.

***

Education officials also warned to try

those school girls who ‘claims’ of being poisoned in the future.

Follow Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook. Stay updated via RSS

***

Yahoo! News Singapore

70225864-dbcf-4a00-827c-9fe9a930576b_RVB_AFP_20CMAFP News – Wed, May 8, 2013

Afghan minister vows punishment for fainting girls

th 

I will punish the student,” Education Minister Ghulam Farooq Wardak told

a press conference on Tuesday.

“From now on, if I find anyone saying ‘I’m poisoned’

and the poisoning is not proved by the hospital,

***

“I will punish the teacher, I will punish the head teacher and

I will punish the school director,” he added.

***

Afghanistan’s education minister

has threatened to punish schoolgirls who

claim to suffer from alleged “poisonings” that many officials

believe are actually temporary psychological illnesses.

***

Scores of girls’ schools over recent years have seen mysterious mass faintings,

nausea and similar symptoms that are often blamed by police and the local media

on poisoning by Taliban insurgents or toxic gas leaks.

But no laboratory evidence of poison or other toxins has ever been found at schools

and no deaths have occurred,

with the girls often released from hospital after only a few hours.

***

In the latest case, 200 girls were reported to have been “poisoned”

at a school in Kabul on May 1,

causing an outbreak of screaming, stomach aches and vomiting.

***

The education department said the government was determined to

crack down on the causes of outbreaks of

‘psychological illnesses among young girls’.

“When one student faints,

it spreads around and everyone might think it’s poisoning,”

Mohammad Kabir Haqmal, spokesman for the ministry, told AFP.

***

“If tests prove it is mass hysteria or any other natural cause,

of course no one will be punished”.

***

What the minister said was that we will pursue those who disrupt the classes.”

***

Wazhma Frouqh, a female education activist,

criticised the minister’s stance and said

that previous cases of “poisonings” had dissuaded families

from sending their daughters to school.

“The minister should not have said that he will punish schoolgirls,”

she told AFP.

“His job is to find out what has happened and protect schools.”

***

Girls were banned from going to school under the Taliban,

but numbers have risen since the extremist regime was ousted in 2001

and the government says 40 percent of pupils are now female.

***

70225864-dbcf-4a00-827c-9fe9a930576b_RVB_AFP_20CMAFP News – Wed, Apr 18, 2012

photo_1334684798378-1-0

‘Poison’ scare at Afghan girls’ school

More than 100 Afghan schoolgirls were taken to hospital Tuesday after

drinking water believed to have been poisoned by opponents

of education for girls, an official said.

“I think some radical elements who oppose girls going to school are behind this act,”

said district governor Mohammad Hussain, adding that police were looking into the incident.

***

The schoolgirls fell ill after drinking water from a tank at their high school

in the small town of Rustaq

in the northeastern province of Takhar, Hussain said.

Education ministry spokesman Abdul Saboor,

however, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the cause of the incident.

“According to our reports a number of these schoolgirls

were panicked and taken to hospital

and they were then quickly dismissed.

“But some others are still there.

We think it is a small incident,

but we are continuing our investigations.”

***

Afghan girls were banned from going to school or working in offices by the hardline Islamist Taliban

regime until it was overthrown by a US-led invasion in late 2001 for sheltering Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban have since waged an insurgency against the Western-backed government of

President Hamid Karzai and some 130,000 NATO troops in the country.

Millions of girls now go to school,

but they and their teachers are occasionally attacked.

***

Provincial health director Hafizullah Safi said 140 schoolgirls had

been admitted to local health facilities

but most were released after recovering from symptoms which included headache and nausea.

“Most of the schoolgirls who were brought to the hospital after falling ill have been dismissed,

the other girls in the hospital are in stable condition,” he said.

In similar cases last year hundreds of girl students were taken to hospitals across the country

after falling ill from suspected gas attacks or water poisoning.

Authorities at the time mostly blamed the Taliban,

though some suggested that the cause might have been mass hysteria,

‘a phenomenon recorded around the world, often among young girls’.

***

Also printed in the New Zealand Herald : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10799685

***

ReBlogged from Morning Cup O’ Joehttp://morningcupojoe.com/2010/06/29/afghanistan-school-for-girls/

In Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008, there were 461 attacks on schools for girls,

and in 2008,

15 girls were attacked with battery acid on their way to school.

***

Afghan Schoolchildren in Kabul

Afghan Schoolchildren in Kabul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Afghanistan34P-Takhar

Afghanistan34P-Takhar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Join Congresswoman Jackie Speier, in support of the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act) to end military rape.

English: Jackie Speier (D-CA), Member of the U...

Below is an email from Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Courage Campaign. Congresswoman Speier started a petition on the MoveOn website, where anyone can start their own online petition.


Congress: Support the STOP Act to end military rape. 
Sign the Petition!

Dear MoveOn member,

Sexual violence in the U.S. military is a crisis.The Pentagon estimates that sexual assaults increased from 19,000 in 2011 to 26,000 in 2012. That’s 71 sexual assaults EVERY DAY, and in roughly 56% of cases, the victims are men.

Making matters worse, each branch of the armed forces has its own judicial system, and it’s currently legal for base commanders to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict, as happened at Aviano Air Force Base in February 2013.

The STOP (Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention) Act takes the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the normal military chain of command—which has proven grossly ineffective—and places jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office.

That’s why I started a petition to the United States Congress, which says:

I stand with Congresswoman Jackie Speier in support of the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act) to end military rape.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks!

–Congresswoman Jackie Speier

This petition was created by the Courage Campaign on on MoveOn Petitions Political Action Edition, which is licensed to and paid for by MoveOn.org Political Action. We are not responsible for the contents of this or other petitions posted on the site. The Courage Campaign didn’t pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.

Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.


Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Challenges New Shell Tar Sands Mines .

Epidemic rape in the US Military! Ask Congress to take action!

FACT: A woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than killed in enemy combat.

A new report from the Pentagon itself shows that sexual assaults in the military increased by more than 30% last year.2 Worse? Less than 5% of military sexual assaults are ever prosecuted.

These women put their lives on the line for our country. The least we can do is make sure they get the justice that they deserve.

And now we have a big opportunity to make that happen: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand just introduced legislation today that would help make sure military rapes are prosecuted and justice is served.

Can you sign the petition asking Congress to get to work on legislation that would ensure accountability and justice to end the epidemic of rape in the US Military? From Sen. Gillibrand to Representative Jackie Speier, there is no shortage of good proposals on how to fix the problem–just a lack of political will to make it happen. We can change that if we speak out.

Service women risk their lives to protect us, and it’s shameful that nothing has been done to stop the epidemic of rape in the military. It’s time for Congress to do something about it. Can you sign the petition?

click hereClick Here

English: Kirsten Gillibrand, New York's junior...

English: Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior United States Senator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)