Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism

    Source: The Washington Post. Nicholas Young is the first police officer in the country to be arrested on terrorism charges, and the rare terrorism defendant to challenge those charges rather than plead guilty. He hopes to also be the first person since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to win at trial by arguing he was entrapped by law enforcement. Defense attorney Linda Moreno argued that there was no crime except one invented by the FBI and pushed on Young during a two-year-long sting operation that followed four years of surveillance. In private exchanges, Moreno said in her opening statement, agents wrote they “hit the case with a defibrillator,” saying “let’s hope he goes one step further” and breaks the law.

  • Anti-Muslim online surges driven by fake accounts

    Source: The Guardian. A global network of anti-Muslim activists is using Twitter bots, fake news and the manipulation of images to influence political discourse, new analysis reveals. Many have recorded significant growth in their social media followings over the past year, co-ordinating to push the message that Islam is an “imminent threat” to western society. Researchers from the anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate found that the impact of tweets from one controversial US activist, Pamela Geller, who is banned from the UK, is magnified by 102 bots, automated or semi-automated accounts that automatically tweet or retweet their content. Geller, described by critics as a figurehead for Islamophobic organisations, produces the Geller Report, which doubled its viewers to more than two million people each month between July and October.

  • A ‘sea of black masks’: prosecutors open felony trial of inauguration protesters

    Source: Huffington Post. 234 people were arrested en masse during protests on Jan. 20, commonly referred to as the J20 protests. Among them were six defendents, the first group to go to trial, and their case could determine whether prosecutors continue pursuing felony rioting charges against the nearly 200 people who have trials spread out over the course of the next year. In a dramatic opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff repeatedly referred to a “sea of black masks” that roamed the city causing chaos, violence and destruction. Several attorneys for the six defendants, on the other hand, told the jury there was not evidence that their clients participated in any destruction. But they were indiscriminately treated by police, with defendants’ attorneys alleging that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department ― which is facing a lawsuit for its tactics that day ― violated its own policies by “kettling” a large group of people. It’s much easier to treat everyone the same, call the protest a riot, and lock everyone up, rather than comply with the First Amendment, one lawyer argued.

  • RT was forced to register as a foreign agent

    Source: The Nation. On Monday, the Russian state-funded television network RT America met a Justice Department deadline to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). RT rejects the designation and has vowed a court challenge, but says the possibility of asset freezes and arrests forced it to comply. The demand is unusual. Although hundreds of foreign entities are registered under FARA, international media outlets are almost entirely exempt, and none have registered in over a decade. RT America is headquartered in Washington, DC, and RT has bureaus in several other cities. Its operational structure closely resembles US-based, state-owned counterparts like BBC America, Al Jazeera English, and China’s CCTV, yet RT stands alone in being compelled to register under a law established in 1938 to counter Nazi propaganda.

  • I want ‘Allahu Akbar’ back

    Source: The New York Times. Allahu akbar. It’s Arabic for “God is greatest.” Muslims, an eccentric tribe with over a billion members, say it several times in our five daily prayers. The phrase is also a convenient way to express just the right kind of gratitude in any situation. I say “Allahu akbar” out loud more than 100 times a day. I, like an overwhelming majority of Muslims, have never uttered “Allahu akbar” before or after committing a violent act.

  • Report: Facebook, Google helped group run anti-Islam ads

    Source: The Hill. A group called Secure America Now spent millions of dollars on ads during the election cycle that linked Democratic candidates to terrorism or warned about the spread of Islamic Sharia law, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s sources said that Google representatives met with the group on June 16, 2016, to discuss ways to improve the ad campaign. And Facebook used the group’s video ads to test out new video formats.

  • Why we ended long-term solitary confinement in Colorado

    Source: The New York Times. These reforms are unique to Colorado. It’s estimated that, around the country, more than 80,000 prisoners at any given time are held in isolated confinement. Long-term solitary was supposed to be rehabilitative, but it did not have that effect. Studies have found that inmates who have spent time in solitary confinement are more likely to reoffend than those who have not. Data shows that prisoners in solitary account for about half of all prison suicides; self-harm is also more common in solitary units than in less-restrictive ones. In addition, solitary confinement was intended to be a last resort for those who were too violent to be in a prison’s general population. But then we gradually included inmates who disrupted the efficient running of an institution. In other words, inmates could be placed in solitary for almost any reason, and they were.

  • Homeland Security want to collect immigrants’ social media information, but privacy groups are fighting back

    Civil Freedoms Under Threat September 27, 2017 at 0 comments

    Source: Newsweek. Privacy and freedom of expression groups have slammed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to monitor and collect social media information on all immigrants to the United States. The new requirement is due to take effect on October 18—the same day that immigration restrictions pronounced on Sunday by President Donald Trump on citizens of eight countries come into force. As well as immigrants to the United States, the new requirement would also affect permanent residents and naturalized citizens. By extension, it would also impact anyone who communicates with immigrants via social media, as their conversations could be reviewed by immigration officials.

  • Issue No. 549 – September 8, 2017

    IN THIS ISSUE-The Unlikely Jihadi-Man arrested in Villa Park, charged with fundraising for ISIS fighters-Woman who sought to join Islamic State group gets 8 years-The Trials of a Muslim Cop-ACLU Says South Florida Private Prison Giant Is Torturing Immigration Detainees-How Muslim Americans are fighting Islamophobia and securing their civil rights-A Secret Weapon In The Fight Against Islamophobia-Ann Arbor could join Supreme Court fight against Trump’s travel ban-The End of DACA Is the Latest Nightmare for Undocumented Muslims

  • Backed by police unions, legislators stand by laws to protect drivers who kill protesters

    Source: The Intercept. In the aftermath of the murder of activist Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, state legislators who had previously pushed to shield drivers who killed protesters with a moving vehicle are largely standing by their various efforts, arguing that their legislation would not have applied in this weekend’s attack. None of the proposed motorist immunity bills — debated in half a dozen states and backed by far-right personalities and law enforcement interests — have been made into law. Rather than backing away from the policy in light of the events in Charlottesville, legislators are doubling down.