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Justice Alito Caught on Tape Discussing How Battle for America ‘Can’t Be Compromised’

"Justice Samuel Alito spoke candidly about the ideological battle between the left and the right — discussing the difficulty of living “peacefully” with ideological opponents in the face of “fundamental” differences that “can’t be compromised.” He endorsed what his interlocutor described as a necessary fight to “return our country to a place of godliness.” And Alito offered a blunt assessment of how America’s polarization will ultimately be resolved: “One side or the other is going to win.”"

If what's at stake in the upcoming election wasn't previously clear, this makes it so. This is a Supreme Court justice, talking openly, on tape, about undermining the rights of people in favor of a Biblical worldview.

It's easy to see this sort of rhetoric as the dying gasps of the 20th century trying to claw back regressive values that we've mostly moved away from. But to do so is to discount it; we have to take this seriously.

It's a little bit heartening to hear that Justice Roberts - also a big-C Conservative - felt differently and held a commitment to the Constitution and the working of the Court. But in the light of a far-right majority comprised of Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, it's not heartening enough.

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ORG publishes digital rights priorities for next government

"Open Rights Group has published its six priorities for digital rights that the next UK government should focus on."

These are things every government should provide. I'm particularly interested in point number 3:

"Predictive policing systems that use artificial intelligence (AI) to ‘predict’ criminal behaviour undermine our right to be presumed innocent and exacerbate discrimination and inequality in our criminal justice system. The next government should ban dangerous uses of AI in policing."

It's such a science fiction idea, so obviously flawed that Philip K Dick wrote a novel and there's a famous movie about how bad it is, and yet, police forces around the world are trying it.

I'd hope for beyond an Open Rights Group recommendation: it should be banned, everywhere, as an obvious human rights violation.

The other things on the list are table stakes. Without those guarantees, real democratic freedom is impossible.

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How to recognize a psyop in three easy steps

"So, how do you distinguish between a psyop – a weaponized story – from other kinds of communication? Walk with me through these three simple steps."

This is a great introduction - I can't wait to read the full book.

It reminds me a little of some of the techniques described in The Century of the Self, the Adam Curtis documentary that explores the history of psychoanalysis, its influence on propaganda, and how it gave birth to the modern PR industry. If you've never seen it, the whole thing is on YouTube and is absolutely worth your time.

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I Am a Jewish Student at Columbia. Don’t Believe What You’re Being Told About ‘Campus Antisemitism’

"Here’s what you’re not being told: The most pressing threats to our safety as Jewish students do not come from tents on campus. Instead, they come from the Columbia administration inviting police onto campus, certain faculty members, and third-party organizations that dox undergraduates."

A useful first-hand perspective on what the protests on campus are actually like. Seders and peaceful sit-ins don't scream antisemitism - but external actors, provocateurs, and police make them markedly less safe. Protest is a key democratic right, and this is fundamentally a movement about freeing an oppressed people. It's heartening to see so many people taking a stand for human rights.

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A Message from the Chancellor on the Recent Student Protest

"The University administration respects all student protests, just not this one. Students have fought for many important causes over the years, and their right to protest is sacrosanct. In this case, however, we must arrest and slander them."

Just completely spot on.

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The Thing That's Coming

An interesting opinion piece about the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the aftermath thereof, and how it all relates to the election.

"But even if we had performed adequate maintenance, the bridge was probably doomed. Dali is the size and mass of a skyscraper (far larger than container ships used to be permitted to be, but larger ships lower prices in supply chains, and lower prices in supply chains help profits, and profits are important)."

And:

"DEI is just diversity, equity, and inclusion, by the way. That's all it is. It's become the new word that racists say when they want to say a slur but they realize they're in mixed company. It's a handy watchword for people who have decided that every problem is the result of the proximal existence of Black people and other marginalized people groups, because what they actually intend is to end the existence of such people, as soon as they can, with as much violence as possible."

And:

"Things are already very very bad for a great number of people in this country; institutional supremacy sees to that, and this supremacy is mostly accommodated by power—not only by openly fascist power like the cabal of creepy Christian weirdos who want to control everyone's bodies, but by run-of-the mill power, because run-of-the-mill power is interested in keeping things as they are, and mostly recognizes supremacy as what it is, which is the way things are."

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A ProPublica Lawsuit Over Military Court Access Moves Forward

From my colleagues: "ProPublica has “plausibly alleged that the issued guidelines are clearly inconsistent with Congress’ mandate.” This is most apparent, the judge said, in the allegation that the Navy denies the public access to all records in cases that end in acquittals."

ProPublica continues to do great work not just in its reporting, but in setting the groundwork for open reporting in the public interest.

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FBI sent several informants to Standing Rock protests, court documents show

"Up to 10 informants managed by the FBI were embedded in anti-pipeline resistance camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation at the height of mass protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016."

This seems obvious: there are informants in any major protest movement, and have been since there were protest movements. It's not great, and it's a fundamentally undemocratic way to conduct yourself, but it doesn't represent a change from the status quo.

This article talks about surveillance, but of course, there may have been situations where informants and plants actually set out to undermine the protest. This, too, would not have been a change.

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A Seattle Airfield Offers a Rare View of ICE Deportation Flights

"The observation room at Boeing Field offers what is arguably America’s best real-time window into our vast network of privately run deportation flights, a system that has generated troubling reports of passenger mistreatment and in-flight emergencies."

Important work from some pretty brave activists that sheds light on what's being done in our name. Sunlight will hopefully help improve the conditions these immigrants are forced to endure. Ideally the flights would stop completely.

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Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies

"In one of the most viral moments from this year’s conference, conservative personality Jack Posobiec called for the end of democracy and a more explicitly Christian-focused government. While Posobiec later said his statements were partly satire, many CPAC attendees embraced his and others’ invocations of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection." Believe them.

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Opinion: I'm an American doctor who went to Gaza. I saw annihilation, not war

"On one occasion, a handful of children, all about ages 5 to 8, were carried to the emergency room by their parents. All had single sniper shots to the head. These families were returning to their homes in Khan Yunis, about 2.5 miles away from the hospital, after Israeli tanks had withdrawn. But the snipers apparently stayed behind. None of these children survived."

There is no justification for this horror. This is not a solution; this is not an acceptable response. It has to stop.

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Hidden prison labor web linked to foods from Target, Walmart

"Intricate, invisible webs, just like this one, link some of the world’s largest food companies and most popular brands to jobs performed by U.S. prisoners nationwide, according to a sweeping two-year AP investigation into prison labor that tied hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of agricultural products to goods sold on the open market."

It's very on the nose that a former Southern slave plantation is now the country's largest maximum-security prison and a hub for this kind of forced labor.

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Poll Shows 74 Percent of Republicans Like Donald Trump’s Dictator Plan

"Only 44 percent of adults completely rebelled at the notion of giving the former president — who is currently facing 91 felony charges — dictatorial authority, calling it “definitely bad” for America."

In case anyone was still wondering what the stakes are this election season.

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My grandpa was a Nazi

"His definition of strength was power, influence, money and his network of important people. [...] I wondered for many years, how all of this could have happened. How people like my grandpa turned into monsters and people around him watched or turned into monsters with him. The last years made this very clear."

Powerful piece. We're at an inflection point, and this is a good reminder that we shouldn't trivialize the very real dangers we face.

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A Time to Break Silence (Declaration Against the Vietnam War)

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

[...] A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just."

My friend Roxann Stafford introduced me to the importance of this speech by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, a few years ago, and it's very much worth revisiting.

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Supreme Connections

"Every year, the Supreme Court’s nine justices fill out a form that discloses their financial connections to companies and people. Using our new database, you can now search for organizations and people that have paid the justices, reimbursed them for travel, given them gifts and more."

Journalism doesn't need to be an article or a finite piece of content. It can be a searchable database or an interactive application that puts a new spin on public information, set out to be usable in the public interest.

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Holocaust survivors were spied on as a "danger to democracy"

"Dutch Jews who survived the death camps and returned to the Netherlands were for years monitored by the Dutch secret service because they were considered to be extremists and a danger to democracy." There's no context that can possibly make this acceptable.

The Netherlands is still struggling to come to terms with the way it treated Jews who returned home - and hasn't really reckoned with how enthusiastically many Dutch people supported the incoming regime during the war. It's tremendously sad that it's still trying to make excuses for this behavior today.

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Trump quotes Putin to call Biden ‘threat to democracy,’ reiterates anti-immigrant rhetoric at New Hampshire rally

"Immigrants are poisoning the blood of the country" is something a real Presidential candidate said in 2023. You know which one. Here's a clue: he's by far the frontrunner for Republican candidate, and has a fair chance of being elected for a second term next year.

Nice people made the best Nazis. The people who want to stay out of it, who don't want to offend people by taking a stand, who just want to follow the rules and get by for themselves, even as great harms are being committed upon other people. I think it's up to all of us to let our friends, family, and neighbors know that this kind of rhetoric is wildly unacceptable. It's not possible to support Donald Trump and not be a racist. It's not possible to support Donald Trump and not be, at some level, a fascist. And I think it's important to be loud about it.

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How Police Have Undermined the Promise of Body Cameras

Police body cams have turned out to be a sort of trust whitewashing: a way to demonstrate openness without the accompanying requirement to be open at all. In practice, they're a sham.

"Hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars have been spent on what was sold as a revolution in transparency and accountability. Instead, police departments routinely refuse to release footage — even when officers kill."

This is a characteristically deeply-reported piece from ProPublica which is both disappointing and unsurprising to hear. We need real police reform - we've always needed real police reform. Cameras were never going to cut it alone.

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Britons support rejoining the single market, even if it means free movement

Well, of course. Brexit was a massive own goal at the hands of regressive nationalism.

As a European citizen who grew up in the UK, I took the Brexit vote very personally. Not being able to legally live in the place you used to call home is very hard (although I'm fully aware that many people around the world have experienced a much harsher version of this story). I would very strongly welcome a reversal.

Britain's current Labour Party is next to useless, unfortunately, choosing centrist politics over offering a real alternative. I don't know that they'd be bold enough to make this correction under their current leadership. But maybe?

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Secretive White House Surveillance Program Gives Cops Access to Trillions of US Phone Records

"A surveillance program now known as Data Analytical Services (DAS) has for more than a decade allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to mine the details of Americans’ calls, analyzing the phone records of countless people who are not suspected of any crime, including victims."

No surprise that this is run in conjunction with AT&T, which previously was found to have built onramps to the NSA.

Obama halted funding; Trump reinstated it; Biden removed it again. But it didn't matter: it could operate privately because individual law enforcement agencies could contract directly with AT&T.

Ban it all.

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Last Chance to fix eIDAS

This kind of legislation is fundamentally against the public interest and, I believe, should always be opposed:

"These changes radically expand the capability of EU governments to surveil their citizens by ensuring cryptographic keys under government control can be used to intercept encrypted web traffic across the EU. Any EU member state has the ability to designate cryptographic keys for distribution in web browsers and browsers are forbidden from revoking trust in these keys without government permission."

If this passes, the government of any EU member will have the power to silently intercept and read encrypted web traffic. It undermines the right to privacy and creates a chilling effect for activists and other targeted, vulnerable groups.

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What Palestinians Really Think of Hamas

Palestinians in Gaza are, by and large, not fans of Hamas, and are not aligned with eliminating Israel.

"By and large, Gazans do not share Hamas’s goal of eliminating the state of Israel. When presented with three possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (as well as an option to choose “other”), the majority of survey respondents (54 percent) favored the two-state solution outlined in the 1993 Oslo accords."

Of course, they likely also don't favor being bombed to oblivion.

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Peter Thiel Was an FBI Informant

This came out of left-field for me: not only Peter Thiel but also Charles Johnson are FBI informants. The former fed information about foreign influence in Silicon Valley; the latter about January 6th and related movements.

There seems to be an angle of retribution here from Johnson, who made a statement revealing the ties, and is resentful that Thiel didn't invest in his portfolio. It's notable also, for obvious reasons, that Thiel founded Palantir, which counts the FBI as a customer.

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