1. Klint Finley

    From a press release from the ACLU:

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, along with the Detroit music duo Insane Clown Posse (ICP), filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Juggalos, or fans of ICP, claiming that their constitutional rights to expression and association were violated when the U.S. government wrongly and arbitrarily classified the entire fan base as a “hybrid” criminal gang. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four Juggalos and the two members of ICP.

    “The Juggalos are fighting for the basic American right to freely express who they are, to gather and share their appreciation of music, and to discuss issues that are important to them without fear of being unfairly targeted and harassed by police,” said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director. “Branding hundreds of thousands of music fans as gang members based on the acts of a few individuals defies logic and violates our most cherished of constitutional rights.”

    Full Press Release ACLU, Insane Clown Posse File Lawsuit Challenging FBI Gang Designation

    Previously:

    Juggalos, media scares, and the West Memphis 3

    The Military Gang Complex

  2. Klint Finley

    Sometimes there’s good news:

    Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alekhina, 25, will be freed from prison three months before their scheduled release, according to Reuters. The two women and fellow band member Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested for performing Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away from Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on Feb. 21, 2012. Their crime: “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility.”

    Full Story: USA Today: Pussy Riot members to be freed from prison

  3. Klint Finley

    Thought Infection makes a civil libertarian case for guaranteed basic income:

    Freedom in the 21st century should mean freedom from having to engage in productive work simply to meet your basic needs for comfort and dignity.

    At one time, the ready availability of jobs amply filled the need for a basic access to a comfortable and dignified life, but precipitous technological and economic changes erode this dynamic further each day. The function of the economy has never been to provide gainful employment to people, but simply to provide material goods. As the economy manages to produce more with less human labor, we must create new mechanisms aimed specifically that maintaining and raising the minimum level of comfort and dignity to everyone in a society.

    The first step, as for any change, will be to admit that we were wrong. The establishment of a basic income will require every inch of personal and societal soul searching we went through in previous epochs of tectonic social change. Social progress has too often been retarded by our inability to deal with our own fallibility. The abolishment of slavery and the establishment of civil rights was an agonizingly slow process because those in power were unwilling to deal with their own sins.

    Similarly, even as wealthy years of technological and productivity gains have eroded the justification for the job-driven society, we remain unwilling to admit that we were wrong; it is ok that we let people starve because we have no choice, right? We maintain a facade of work ethic aimed at convincing ourselves that our draconian social constructions to compel people into productive work are necessary and morally just.

    Full Story: Thought Infection: Basic Income Means Basic Freedom

    (Thanks R.U.!)

  4. Klint Finley

    Salon reports:

    24-year-old Portland anarchist Leah-Lynn Plante was imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury. Like two other Northwest activists incarcerated earlier this year, Plante had not been charged or convicted with a crime but was nonetheless jailed for her silence.

    Plante’s support network announced Friday that she was released from federal prison a couple of days ago after spending a week in solitary confinement. The announcement says that information is scarce and that Plante, having believed she would face 18 months behind bars, is too traumatized to speak to the media.

    Salon: Grand jury resistor Leah-Lynn released from prison

    Background:

    The Stranger: Political Convictions?

    Grand Jury Investigation Targeting Pacific Northwest Anarchists Dates Back to March 2

  5. Klint Finley

    A 15 year old girl committed suicide after months of harassment following topless photos of her circulating on the internet

    A Tumblr was created to publish the identities of men who post “creepshots” to Reddit

    Reddit finally shut the Creepshots subreddit down

    Gawker unmasked Violentacrez, a Creepshots moderator who also started or moderated various other, shall we say “distasteful” subreddits.

  6. Klint Finley

    The Guardian reports:

    A Moscow appeals court has released one of the jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, but ordered two others to serve the remainder of their two-year jail term in a Russian prison colony.

    Yekaterina Samutsevich, the oldest of the three women at 30, walked free into the arms of her father, after serving six months in a pre-trial detention centre after being found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in August.

    A panel of three judges accepted the argument of Samutsevich’s new lawyer that she had not participated fully in the group’s February performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Samutsevich had been kicked out of the cathedral shortly after entering, meaning she did not engage in the “aggressive movements” that had offended Russia’s Orthodox believers, she argued.

    Full Story: The Guardian: Pussy Riot member freed after Moscow court appeal

    (via Meredith Yayanos)

  7. The AP ran a story recently on the use of drones on U.S. soil by civilians. I’m interested in the examples Republicans Rand Paul and Austin Scott give for curbing the use of drones in the U.S.:

    "I just don’t like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates," Paul said in an interview, referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

    He acknowledged that was an “extreme example,” but he added: “They might just say we’d be safer from muggings if we had constant surveillance crisscrossing the street all the time. But then the question becomes, ‘What about jaywalking? What about eating too many donuts? What about putting mayonnaise on your hamburger?’ Where does it stop?” […]

    Discussion of the issue has been colored by exaggerated drone tales spread largely by conservative media and bloggers.

    Scott said he was prompted to introduce his bill in part by news reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has been using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska. The agency has indeed been searching for illegal dumping of waste into streams, but it is doing it with piloted planes.

    Full Story: AP (via NPR): Drones At Home Raise Fear Of Surveillance Society

    On the one hand, maybe I should welcome whatever it takes to get conservatives concerned about civil liberties. But I worry about this sort of nanny state fear mongering, especially since it seems to obscure some of the more serious issues regarding policing and invasion of privacy by private corporations - not to mention the questionable use of weaponized drones by the military in the first place.

    See also:

    Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

    Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

    John Metta: Our soldiers should die in war

  8. For the last two years, ProPublica and PBS “Frontline,” in concert with other news organizations, have looked in-depth at death investigation in America, finding a pervasive lack of national standards that begins in the autopsy room and ends in court.

    Expert witnesses routinely sway trial verdicts with testimony about fingerprints, ballistics, hair and fiber analysis and more, but there are no national standards to measure their competency or ensure that what they say is valid. A landmark 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences called this lack of standards one of the most pressing problems facing the criminal justice system.

    Over the last two decades, ACFEI has emerged as one of the largest forensic credentialing organizations in the country.

    Among its members are top names in science and law, from Henry Lee, the renowned criminalist, to John Douglas, the former FBI profiler and bestselling author. Dr. Cyril Wecht, a prominent forensic pathologist and frequent TV commentator on high-profile crimes, chairs the group’s executive advisory board.

    But ACFEI also has given its stamp of approval to far less celebrated characters. It welcomed Seymour Schlager, whose credentials were mailed to the prison where he was incarcerated for attempted murder. Zoe D. Katz – the name of a house cat enrolled by her owner in 2002 to show how easy it was to become certified by ACFEI — was issued credentials, too. More recently, Dr. Steven Hayne, a Mississippi pathologist whose testimony helped to convict two innocent men of murder, has used his ACFEI credential to bolster his status as an expert witness.

    ProPublica: No Forensic Background? No Problem

    Remember as you read this that people are being put to death, or put in prison for decades, because of the testimony of forensic experts.

    See also:

    This post rounds up a lot of past coverage of Hayne and the situation in Mississippi.

    Combine bad forensics with the psychology of false confessions and what do you get? A recipe for sending innocent people to prison.

  9. Good interview with The Net Delusion author Evgeny Morozov:

    You once tweeted that ‘the term censorship has become meaningless’. Why? And what does it mean exactly?

    I have? Half of my tweets are not meant to be serious. But, sure, I do find that a lot of debates about censorship – and especially Internet censorship – operate in very binary terms – i.e. people just look at whether a given site is blocked or not. This may have worked ten years ago but now we have much more sophisticated methods of control, ranging from cyber-attacks (which knock out a site for a short period – but the timing might be crucial) to self-policing by Internet companies to massive trolling. We need to find ways to conceptually allow for those new methods of control as well. […]

    Did the ‘Arab Spring’ and Occupy movements lower your skepticism about ‘hashtag activism’?

    I’ve never used the term “hashtag activism” but the short answer is “no”. Furthermore, I’m not sure that my position here adds up to “skepticism”; as I state in the book and in the afterword, I have no problem acknowledging that Twitter and Facebook can be great for spreading information and mobilizing people. My concerns – and these are purely normative concerns – are that these tools may also be giving some budding social movements false hopes of being able to transcend the ugliness of political life and simply fight the man from within their Facebook profiles. The less it happens, the better – I’m not arguing that this is an inherent feature of all campaigns that take place online, only that this is one possible outcome and that participants (and especially policymakers who may be thinking of how to invest their money and attention) need to be aware of this possible outcome.

    Journalism Festival: @evgenymorozov: openness always good, control always bad? crazy!

    (via Justin)

    See also:

    Morozov’s TED talk How the Net aids dictatorships

    Birthers and the democratization of media

  10. "A woman has been jailed in Malaysia for joining a "tea-pot worshipping" cult. Kamariah Ali, a 57 year old former teacher, was arrested in 2005 when the government of the Muslim majority country demolished the two storey high sacred tea pot of the Sky Kingdom cult.

    For the sect, which emphasised ecumenical dialogue between religions, the tea pot symbolized the purity of water and “love pouring from heaven”. But in Malaysia, despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship, born Muslims such as Mrs Ali are forbidden from converting to other religions.”

    (via Ananova)

    Update: The post is gone, but Here’s a very similar article on the same story

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