Tag Archives | Civil Liberties

World should be skeptical of China’s announcement to end organ harvesting from executed prisoners by January 1, 2015

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Dafoh:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2014 — Just days before International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10th, the news that the People’s Republic of China will end its internationally-condemned practice of harvesting organs from prisoners by 1 January 2015 is hardly credible given the government’s long history of breaking similar promises, according to the global humanitarian watchdog group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting.

There is no indication that China, under the current circumstances, will be able to live up to its latest promise, which was reported Thursday in state media. The Chinese Medical Association first made this promise in 2007, a year before the Olympic Games were held in Beijing. Multiple plans to end the inhumane practice that harvests and allocates organs in secrecy—which is disproportionately aimed at political prisoners, and members of ethnic and religious minorities like the Falun Gong—have followed ever since, all of them unfulfilled.

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I Told a Grand Jury I Saw a Cop Shoot and Kill an Unarmed Man. It Didn’t Indict.

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

via Mother Jones:

Many years ago, during the 1980s, I witnessed a killing: a New York City cop shooting an unarmed homeless man near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was later called as a grand jury witness in the case. The grand jury did not indict the officer.

It was a summer evening. I was heading to play softball in Central Park. At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street, I got off my bicycle to walk toward the Great Lawn. The west side of Fifth was crowded with New Yorkers enjoying the beautiful night. People were streaming in and out of the park. Sidewalk vendors were doing brisk business. The vibe was good. And in the midst of the hubbub, I spotted a fellow wearing dirty and tattered clothing. His hair was filthy, his face worn. It was hard to determine his age.

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The Pentagon wants your advice on tech for the year 2030 time frame

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

via Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence:

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is asking for ideas from the private sector on breakthrough technologies to guide military investment for the next decade and beyond, according to an article by futurist Patrick Tucker Wednesday in Defense One newsletter.

“On Wednesday, Defense Department officials issued a request for information calling on interested parties ‘to identify current and emerging technologies … that could provide significant military advantage to the United States and its partners and allies in the 2030 time frame,’” Tucker said.

It’s part of the Pentagon’s “ambitious plan to develop technology to put the United States decades ahead of rival nations like China and Russia in short period of time.”

The problem: predicting the tech future isn’t as simple as it used to be. “New breakthroughs are copied, innovated against and rendered obsolete as quickly as the Internet spreads to new portions of the globe.

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It’s going to be hard for the DOJ to prosecute the cop who killed Eric Garner

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Protesters at the "We Will Not Go Back" march and rally called by Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to demand justice for the family of Eric Garner whose death was declared a homicide by the NYC Medical Examiner. Garner died on July 17, 2014 while being arrested by police. The ME ruled the cause of death was an illegal chokehold (applied by P.O. Daniel Pantaleo) and "chest compression" - prompting civil rights advocates to organize this very large protest (approximately 4000 demonstrators).

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Protesters at the “We Will Not Go Back” march and rally called by Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to demand justice for the family of Eric Garner whose death was declared a homicide by the NYC Medical Examiner. Garner died on July 17, 2014 while being arrested by police. The ME ruled the cause of death was an illegal chokehold (applied by P.O. Daniel Pantaleo) and “chest compression” – prompting civil rights advocates to organize this very large protest (approximately 4000 demonstrators).

via Vox:

After calls from New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a federal investigation into the death of Eric Garner.

Demanding a federal investigation is a good way for politicians like de Blasio, Schumer and Gillibrand to show their concern about police violence. Unfortunately it’s not likely to bring justice for Garner.

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Administration’s Review Of Pentagon’s 1033 Program Finds It Has No Rules, No Transparency And No Oversight

640px-US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svg

via Tech Dirt:

No sooner had I chastised the executive branch for its half-assery in all things 1033-related than it delivers its findings on the much-criticized program [pdf link]. A little over a week ago, I wrote this.

Others — including President Obama — promised to look into the program. Obama ordered the first top-level review of the Pentagon’s 1033 program in over 20 years, but weeks later, there’s been nothing reported.

The administration is now forcing me to eat my words, having responded fairly quickly to my caustic single-sentence editorial. The pithily-titled “Review: Federal Support for Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition” has been released, detailing the review’s findings and concerns about the Pentagon’s “An MRAP in every PD” program.

The opening “Background” plays up a few talking points:

Particularly in the years since September 11, 2001, Congress and the Executive Branch have steadily increased spending and support for these programs, in light of legitimate concerns about the growing threat of terrorism, shrinking local budgets, and the relative ease with which some criminals are able to obtain high-powered weapons.

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Scorched Earth Economics

John (CC BY-SA 2.0)

John (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Activist Post:

Could rapidly falling oil prices trigger a nightmare scenario for the commodity derivatives market?

The big Wall Street banks did not expect plunging home prices to cause a mortgage-backed securities implosion back in 2008, and their models did not anticipate a decline in the price of oil by more than 40 dollars in less than six months this time either.  If the price of oil stays at this level or goes down even more, someone out there is going to have to absorb some absolutely massive losses.  In some cases, the losses will be absorbed by oil producers, but many of the big players in the industry have already locked in high prices for their oil next year through derivatives contracts.

The companies enter into these derivatives contracts for a couple of reasons.  Number one, many lenders do not want to give them any money unless they can show that they have locked in a price for their oil that is higher than the cost of production.  Secondly, derivatives contracts protect the profits of oil producers from dramatic swings in the marketplace.

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25 People and Industries That Profit From Fear

Image: Roland/Flickr

Image: Roland/Flickr

via Business Pundit:

Are you worried about the economy tumbling into oblivion? Scared that some stranger will break into your home? Paranoid about losing your youthful good looks?

Don’t worry. You can buy your peace of mind. Whether it’s a pill, a locking system, or legislation, someone has the perfect solution. Just make sure you pay up to get it.

25. The Security Industry

24. The Beauty Industry

23. The Pet Care Industry

22. The Anti-Germ Industry

21. Stock Market Experts

20. The Weight Loss Industry

19. Banks

18. Consultants

17. Doctors

16. The Children’s Products Industry

Read More: http://www.businesspundit.com/25-people-and-industries-that-profit-from-fear/

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The Biggest Scandal in America Is Its Controlled Press

tanjila ahmed (CC BY 2.0)

tanjila ahmed (CC BY 2.0)

By Eric Zuesse via Global Research:

How many Americans know that the current regime in Ukraine was installed in a very bloody February 2014 coup d’etat, that was planned in the U.S. White House, and overseen by an Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, and run by the CIA, and carried out for the White House by one of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, whose founder and leader still controls Ukraine though not officially, even these many months after his coup, and which nazi party has been up to their elbows since then in a genocidal policy to exterminate the people in the region of Ukraine that had voted approximately 90% for the man whom Obama and those nazis overthrew in February? (Click onto that link, and to the more-detailed evidence that’s linked to there, in order to see the ultimate documentations of this entire horrific history, because it is history now, even though the American public were never informed about it while it was news — while and when it was happening, which it still is.)

And how many Americans know that one of the two main suspects in the bringing-down of the Malaysian MH17 airliner over Ukraine on July 17th has been given veto-power over the report that is to be issued from the official ‘investigation’ of the black boxes and other evidence in the case?

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The Day You’ll Prefer Robots to Humans

via The Singularity Hub:

Peter Diamandis on Dec 01, 2014

Finally, the robot revolution is arriving.

There’s a Cambrian explosion in robotics, with species of all sizes, shapes and modes of mobility crawling out of the muck of the lab and onto the terra firma of the marketplace, about to enter your home and your shopping experience.

Here’s why…

4 Converging (Enabling) Technologies

Four converging tech areas enable the revolution. I write about this in detail (both the technologies and business opportunities) in my next book BOLD (coming out February 2015). See if this makes sense…

  1. Sensors: The sensors that cost you $10 today would have been military secrets costing you tens of thousands of dollars 20 years ago. Sensors that listen, look, feel and navigate are plummeting in cost, size, weight and power consumption, thanks to the smartphone revolution.

Read More: http://singularityhub.com/2014/12/01/the-day-youll-prefer-robots-to-humans/

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American cultural imperialism has a new name: GAFA

Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

via Quartz:

In France, there’s a new word: GAFA. It’s an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

The phrase is used by newspapers, blogs, and talking heads on TV—see here and here and here (all links in French). It even appears in the local version of “The Internet for Dummies.” Le Monde’s economics editor, Alexis Delcambre, tells Quartz that GAFA first appeared in his newspaper in December 2012. “GAFA is not used very often, but when used, it is almost always on critical topics, including taxes or personal data,” he says.

In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation. In the French press, and for much of the rest of Europe, their innovation is often seen in a less positive light—the ugly Americans coming over with innovative approaches to invading personal privacy or new ways to avoid paying their fair share.

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