Tag Archives | Civil Liberties

When The Language Of Freedom Dies

When The Language Of Freedom Dies, Freedom Dies With It

Freedom is in peril stencil
Image by Leo Reynolds

Back in March (2015) a UK parliamentary select committee published a report [1] which expounded, amongst other things, its views on the police uploading arrest photographs, including those of people not subsequently convicted, into a facial recognition database. The police started doing this on the quiet, without any public announcement or public debate on their reasons for doing it or its impact on individual freedoms.

Here is what the Select Committee had to say:

“We fully appreciate the positive impact that facial recognition software could have on the detection and prevention of crime. However, it is troubling that the governance arrangements were not fully considered and implemented prior to the software being `switched on’. This appears to be a further example of a lack of oversight by the Government where biometrics is concerned; a situation that could have been avoided had a comprehensive biometrics strategy been developed and published.”

[‘Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies’ report, House of Commons Science and Technology select committee, 2015]

Oh boy, strong words, they must have been pretty annoyed – oh no, hang on a minute – “fully appreciate the positive impact”, “governance arrangements were not fully considered”, “lack of oversight”… There must have been a mistake at the printers, they appear to have accidentally printed a sermon on the merits of doing nothing other than producing yet more administrative red tape.… Read the rest

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

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Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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1984 Action Day, 8th June – Orwell as Relevant as Ever

On 8th June 1949 George Orwell published his novel ‘1984’. It was a warning of the society that would emerge if the totalitarian thinking he believed had taken root in the minds of intellectuals and policymakers everywhere was left unchecked.

Sixty-six years later we find that Orwell’s novel resonates as strongly as ever.

Democratic governments around the world are enacting laws that enable greater and greater monitoring of the people, curtail freedom of speech and undermine protections once enshrined in our legal systems.

Bill C-51 in Canada, a new pro surveillance law in France, the Counter-Terrorism Legislative Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014 in Australia, a 1.6M euros system to track social media in Spain… And In the UK the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, a proposed new Counter-Extremism Bill and plans to re-introduce the “snoopers charter” to spy on all communications. To name but a few!

All this removal of freedoms is being done under the guise of protecting those very freedoms using a skewed human rights agenda that justifies anything in the name of “national security”, for example the UK’s so-called ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’.… Read the rest

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NSA’s Big Defenders Cash Big NSA Checks

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

via Lee Fang at The Intercept:

The debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest.

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Artists In Residence Inc.

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A.I.R. Gallery’s new residence at 155 Plymouth Street DUMBO Brooklyn

A.I.R. Gallery, also known as Artists in Residence, Inc., first opened to the public in 1972.  Since then, the gallery has established itself as one of the unsung and under acknowledged cultural gems of New York City.

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Frustrated by the dearth of opportunities for women artists, and the wealth of quality work by their peers, 20 women artists established the first gallery for women artists in the United States at 97 Wooster Street in Soho, New York.

After forty-three years, A.I.R. Gallery remains a dynamic presence in the art world. As DUMBO has changed, with more galleries and arts organizations moving to (and leaving) Brooklyn, A.I.R.’s programming has grown to provide a wide range of exhibition opportunities, as well as career building, networking, and professional support for emerging and mid-career women artists.

The gallery’s new location, 155 Plymouth Street, will provide interior galleries and will showcase diverse artistic visions and artistic practices, a hallmark of A.I.R.’s artist-run model.… Read the rest

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Ann Lewis GILF activist artist’s SHATTERING catharsis

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Ann Lewis (gilf) “They don’t realize we are seeds”, Mixed Media

Joseph Gross Gallery is pleased to present SHATTERING, a solo exhibition of new work by Ann Lewis, also known as gilf!,

Opening Reception:
Thursday, May 7th | 6-9 PM
in Chelsea at 548 W 28th Street, suite 232.

Exhibition Dates: May 7-May 30, 2015 April 16, 2015 (New York, NY)

Based in Brooklyn, Ann Lewis (gilf!) is one of NYC’s most recognized and provocative female street and activist artists. She creates bold public work and gallery work that inspire thoughtfulness, while simultaneously motivating progressive change within communities. Earlier this year, the artist garnered national media attention when she installed a colossal banner resembling police caution tape that read ‘GENTRIFICATION IN PROGRESS’  at the former graffiti mecca 5 Pointz in Queens, New York. Since receiving her bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin Madison, her work has been reviewed in Blouin Art Info, New York Magazine, New York Daily News, Brooklyn Street Art, Gothamist, and Wooster Collective.

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Chicago Police Department Faces Lawsuit Over Stop And Frisk

Photo: Josh Koonce

Photo: Josh Koonce

In the wake of a study by the ACLU showing that Chicago police stop and frisk more people, particularly African American men, than any other city, six men have filed suit against the department.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Six African American men from the South and West sides have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department over its “stop and frisk” procedures. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the men by the law firm Romanucci & Blandi against the City, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 unnamed officers, alleges CPD’s practices have violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and calls for a class-wide judgement declaring it unconstitutional. The firm is also calling for others who believe their rights have been violated to come forward.

The suit comes after a March ACLU report revealed that Chicago Police lead the nation in stop and frisk procedures, four times that of New York City, which recently saw rulings to curb the practice.… Read the rest

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Chicago Poised To Become First City To Pay Reparations For Police Violence

Michael Pereckas (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Pereckas (CC BY 2.0)

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Victims of police torture by Jon Burge and his notorious “midnight crew” are one step closer to reparations today, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to a package deal for survivors which includes a $5.5 million dollar fund. Survivors of Burge and his men say they were subjected to a variety of abhorrent and brutal torture procedures when being questioned— most often for crimes they knew nothing about— including electro-shock, Russian roulette, mock executions, beatings and more. Burge and the midnight crew tortured suspects to extract false confessions, which landed several men on death row.

According to the deal, a now amended ordinance brokered by the People’s Law Office, Amnesty International, Project NIA, Chicago Torture Memorials and several other groups, some 118 victims of the former Area 2 Commander and their families will be eligible for financial compensation and other benefits.… Read the rest

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