Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers

By John W. Whitehead

“When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”—Richard Nixon

Who pays the price for the dissolution of the constitutional covenant that holds the government and its agents accountable to the will of the people?

We all do.

This ill-advised decision by President Trump to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances by declaring a national emergency in order to build a border wall constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.

It doesn’t matter that the legal merits of this particular national emergency will be challenged in court.

The damage has already been done.

As reporter Danny Cevallos points out, “President Donald Trump only had to say ‘national emergency’ to dramatically increase his executive and legal authority. By simply uttering those words … Trump immediately unleashed dozens of statutory powers available to a president only during a state of emergency. The power of the nation’s chief executive to declare such an emergency knows few strictures — it was designed that way.”

We have now entered into a strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

This attempt by Trump to rule by fiat merely plays into the hands of those who would distort the government’s system of checks and balances and its constitutional separation of powers beyond all recognition.

This is about unadulterated power in the hands of the Executive Branch.

This is about corporate greed disguised as a national need.

Most of all, however, this is about the rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security.

This is exactly the kind of concentrated, absolute power the founders attempted to guard against by establishing a system of checks of balances that separates and shares power between three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

“The system of checks and balances that the Framers envisioned now lacks effective checks and is no longer in balance,” concludes law professor William P. Marshall. “The implications of this are serious. The Framers designed a system of separation of powers to combat government excess and abuse and to curb incompetence. They also believed that, in the absence of an effective separation-of-powers structure, such ills would inevitably follow. Unfortunately, however, power once taken is not easily surrendered.”

The Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers: to serve as Commander in Chief of the military, grant pardons, make treaties (with the approval of Congress), appoint ambassadors and federal judges (again with Congress’ blessing), and veto legislation.

In recent years, however, American presidents have anointed themselves with the power to wage war, unilaterally kill Americans, torture prisoners, strip citizens of their rights, arrest and detain citizens indefinitely, carry out warrantless spying on Americans, and erect their own secretive, shadow government.

The powers amassed by each past president and inherited by each successive president—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.

Consider some of the presidential powers—which have been acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and can be activated by any sitting president—that have allowed past presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

The power to kill. As the New York Times concluded, “President Obama, who came to office promising transparency and adherence to the rule of law, has become the first president to claim the legal authority to order an American citizen killed without judicial involvement, real oversight or public accountability.” Obama’s kill lists—signature drone strikes handpicked by the president—have been justified by the Justice Department as lawful because they are subject to internal deliberations by the executive branch. “In other words,” writes Amy Davidson for the New Yorker, “it’s due process if the President thinks about it.”

The power to wage war. Ever since Congress granted George W. Bush the authorization to use military force in the wake of 9/11, the United States has been in a state of endless war without Congress ever having declared one. Having pledged to end Bush’s wars, Barack Obama extended them.

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The power to torture. Despite the fact that the Bush Administration’s use of waterboarding as a torture tactic was soundly criticized by Obama, the Obama Administration refused to hold anyone accountable for participating in the rendition and torture programs. In the absence of any finding of criminality, the authorization of such torture tactics remain part of the president’s domain—should he or she ever choose to revive it.

The power to spy on American citizens. In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to carry out surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. The Bush Administration claimed that the Constitution gives the president inherent powers to protect national security. The covert surveillance continued under Obama and is full force under Trump.

The power to indefinitely detain American citizens. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring that all Japanese-Americans be held in internment camps. While that order was later rescinded, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it to be constitutional. The ruling has never been overturned. Pointing out that such blatantly illegal detentions could happen again—with the blessing of the courts—Justice Scalia warned, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.” In fact, each National Defense Authorization Act enacted since 2012 has included a provision that permits the military to detain individuals—including Americans citizens—indefinitely without trial.

The power to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights. The Bush Administration claimed it could strip American citizens of their constitutional rights, imprison them indefinitely, and deny them legal representation simply by labeling them as enemy combatants. While the Obama Administration jettisoned the use of the term “enemy combatant,” it persisted in defending the president’s unilateral and global right to detain anyone suspected of supporting terrorist activities.

The power to secretly rewrite or sidestep the laws of the country. Secret courts, secret orders, and secret budgets have become standard operating procedure for presidential administrations in recent years. A good case in point is Presidential Policy Directive 20, a secret order signed by President Obama as a means of thwarting cyberattacks. Based on what little information was leaked to the press about the clandestine directive, it appears that the president essentially put the military in charge of warding off a possible cyberattack.

The power to transform the police into extensions of the military and indirectly institute martial law. What began in the 1960s as a war on drugs transitioned into an all-out campaign to transform America’s police forces into extensions of the military. Every successive president since Nixon has added to the police’s arsenal, tactics and authority. In fact, the Trump Administration has accelerated police militarization by distributing military weapons and equipment to police and incentivizing SWAT team raids and heavy-handed police tactics through the use of federal grants and asset forfeiture schemes.

The power to command the largest military and intelligence capabilities in the world and, in turn, “wag the dog.” As Professor Marshall points out:

In his roles as Commander-in-Chief and head of the Executive Branch, the President directly controls the most powerful military in the world and directs clandestine agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. That control provides the President with immensely effective, non-transparent capabilities to further his political agenda and/or diminish the political abilities of his opponents. Whether a President would cynically use such power solely for his political advantage has, of course, been the subject of political thrillers and the occasional political attack. President Clinton, for one, was accused of ordering the bombing of terrorist bases in Afghanistan to distract the nation from the Lewinsky scandal, and President Nixon purportedly used the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate his political enemies. But regardless whether such abuses actually occurred, there is no doubt that control of covert agencies provides ample opportunity for political mischief, particularly since the inherently secretive nature of these agencies means their actions often are hidden from public view. And as the capabilities of these agencies increase through technological advances in surveillance and other methods of investigation, so does the power of the President.

The power to declare a national emergency. The seeds of this present madness were sown more than a decade ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” Moreover, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president. For instance, back in 1952, President Harry S. Truman tried—and failed—to use a national emergency declaration to seize control of the country’s steel mills. He lost when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer against the presidential power grab.

Be warned: none of these powers expire at the end of a president’s term. They remain on the books, just waiting to be used or abused by the next political demagogue.

All of these imperial powers amassed by Trump’s predecessors—to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects (including American citizens) indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to wage wars without congressional authorization, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which he might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to establish a standing army on American soil, to operate a shadow government, to declare national emergencies for any manipulated reason, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability—have become a permanent part of the president’s toolbox of terror.

Thus, Trump is not the first president to weaken the system of checks and balances, sidestep the rule of law, and expand the power of the president. He is just the most recent.

To our detriment, every successive occupant of the Oval Office since George Washington, who issued the first executive order, has expanded the reach and power of the presidency and made our republic that much more vulnerable to those who would abuse those powers in the future.

As Professor Marshall explains, “every extraordinary use of power by one President expands the availability of executive branch power for use by future Presidents.” Moreover, it doesn’t even matter whether other presidents have chosen not to take advantage of any particular power, because “it is a President’s action in using power, rather than forsaking its use, that has the precedential significance.”

In other words, each successive president continues to add to his office’s list of extraordinary orders and directives, granting him- or herself near dictatorial powers.

There’s no point debating which politician would be more dangerous with these powers.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the fact that any individual—or branch of government—is empowered to act like a dictator is danger enough.


ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

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John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact [email protected] to obtain reprint permission.

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How 1984 Turned Into an Instruction Manual

By Simon Black, Sovereign Man

“Sometimes [two and two are four], Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

One of the key themes from George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984 is that the Party can do and say whatever it wants.

And more importantly, you must believe it, with all your heart. No matter how absurd.

That’s doublethink. It is impossible for two plus two to equal three, four, and five simultaneously. But if the Party says it is so, it is so.

If you can’t make yourself believe two contradictory facts simultaneously, that makes you a thought criminal– an enemy of the Party.

Thoughtcrime is thinking any thought that contradicts the Party.

Facecrime is when you have the wrong expression on your face. For instance, if captured enemy soldiers are being paraded through the streets, looking sympathetic is a facecrime.

Newspeak is the language of the Party–one that has painstakingly been removed of unnecessary words, or words that might contradict the Party’s ideals.

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

During daily two minutes hatecitizens shout and curse whatever enemies the Party shows them.

And the face of the Party, Big Brother, is watching you. He helps you be a better citizen.

This isn’t just some random literature lesson. Understanding Orwell’s 1984 will help you understand 2019 America.

For instance, one California state senator is working on her own version of Newspeak.

She has banned the members of her committee from using gender pronouns, such as he, she, her, and him. Instead they must use “they and them” to respect non-binary gender choices.

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So Billy Joel’s famous song “She’s always a woman” would become “They’re always a non-binary gender. . .” Somehow that just doesn’t ring with the same sweetness.

Last month a high school student famously committed a facecrime when he stood, apparently smirking, while a Native American activist beat a drum in his face.

The 16-year-old was then subjected to “two minutes hate” by the entire nation. The Party labeled him an enemy, and Twitter obliged.

Of course when I reference the ‘Party’, I don’t mean to imply that all these Orwellian developments are coming from a single political party.

They’ve ALL done their parts to advance Orwellian dystopia and make it a reality.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders want to limit corporate stock buybacks and share payouts. But the tax code already has the accumulated profits tax, which punishes corporations for NOT engaging in stock buybacks and share payouts…

It’s like doublethink… you have to simultaneously pay and not pay out dividends.

Same goes for cops will pull you over for speeding, but also for “suspicious” textbook perfect driving.

The #MeToo movement made it a thoughtcrime to not immediately believe the accuser and condemn the accused, no evidence required.

When Matt Damon pointed out that we should not conflate a pat on the butt with rape, he was met with “two minutes hate” for expressing the wrong opinion.

On college campuses, some students are upset that white students are using multicultural spaces. Apparently “multicultural” is newspeak for “no whites allowed.”

And when a controversy over offensive Halloween costumes erupted at Yale a few years ago, it was a student free speech group which suppressed any debate on the topic.

It’s amazing how they want you to celebrate diversity… as long as its not intellectual diversity.

1984 was supposed to be a warning. Instead, it has become an instruction manual.

This article was sourced from The Daily Bell.

Image credit: Truthstream Media

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Worldwide Effort To Restrict Everyone’s Right To Travel Is Close To A Reality

By MassPrivateI

According to a recently published white paper there is a worldwide effort to restrict the right to travel of everyone. And you will not believe how the U.N. is involved.

A recent article at PapersPlease.org warns that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) wants to check every airline passenger’s background and send airlines an “Authority to Carry” before a passenger is allowed to board a plane.

credit: Papers Please

An iAPI system allows for a two-way communication in near real-time. The airlines transmit the API message on a per-person basis to the requesting authorities at the time of check-in, while law enforcement agencies have the opportunity to decide whether a certain person is allowed or not to board a plane by issuing a board/no-board message.

Think about what this means; the self-proclaimed “largest regional security organization in the world” the OSCE, wants to conduct background checks of every airline passenger in the world.

The work of the OSCE spans the globe, encompassing three continents – North America, Europe and Asia – and more than a billion people.

Giving a private organization the ability to control the right to travel of nearly 8 billion people is horrifying.

The white paper warns that the OSCE and the International Air Transport Association are working together to track every airline passenger.

Thanks to the UN and its member states, the OSCE has been collecting close to 50% of airline passengers’ personal information since 2017.

UN helped create a worldwide airline tracking program

According to the white paper, the United Nations (UN) played an important role in creating a worldwide airline tracking program.

In December 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2396. Building upon previous Resolutions 2178(2014) and 2309(2016), it calls upon Member States to collect API and PNR information. Because 2396 was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, compliance with this obligation is mandatory for all Member States.

Full implementation of Resolution 2396 represents a massive undertaking. To date, only 48% of OSCE participating States have set up an API system, while just 31% collect PNR data.

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The UN’s involvement in creating a worldwide tracking system is made even more disturbing after a recent IRIN News article revealed that they hired Palantir to analyze their food program.

The UN’s food program contains personally identifiable data of 90 million people. Why would the UN hire Palantir and why would they help to create a worldwide airline tracking program?

Has the UN become a worldwide spy agency?

The OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department (TNTD) is a repository of secret threat ratings of airline passengers.

The TNTD is comprised of four units — Action against Terrorism, Border Security and Management, Strategic Police Matters, and Co-ordination Cell, but also deals with cross-cutting topics such as cyber/ICT security and POLIS, OSCE’s online law enforcement information system.

What does this mean to Americans?  It means the the TSA, CBP and the OSCE are secretly giving threat assessments to every airline passenger. And anyone of them could put a person on the No-Fly list for any reason.

Imagine a worldwide OSCE police force that has the power to detain and stop people from traveling anywhere. Well imagine no more because the OSCE actually has a police force that could do just that.

Below is a list of some of the things OSCE police do.

  • Building capacities of the law enforcement to address transnational threats;
  • Developing and organizing sustainable police education programmes;
  • Organizing leadership and management training for law enforcement and government officials, judges and prosecutors;
  • Strengthening investigative and analytical skills;
  • Enhancing competencies in conducting financial investigations, in addressing money laundering and in seizing criminal assets;
  • Developing community policing initiatives and police-public partnership;
  • Addressing domestic violence;
  • Assisting in strategic planning and threat assessments;
  • Supporting information exchange amongst border officials;
  • Facilitating information sharing and the exchange of best practices;
  • Analysing and assessing lessons learned to develop guidance;
  • Advising on legislation reform and institution-building;
  • Promoting intelligence-led policing;
  • Monitoring police work for compliance with international human rights standards; and
  • Supporting regional and international police co-operation.

FYI, the largest private security police force in the world could soon rival the UN’s police force.

Tracking every airline passenger in the world is close to a reality

credit: Papers Please

As the above picture illustrates, the UN, OSCE and governments are close to creating a worldwide airline tracking program.

Combine this with a global effort to track everyone’s license plates and you do not have to be a rocket scientist to see how EVERYONE’S right to travel freely is in jeopardy.

Top image credit: Lifehacker

You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.

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Government by Emergency

By corbettreport

Welcome back to #NewWorldNextWeek – the video series from Corbett Report and Media Monarchy that covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news. This week:

Story #1:

New Jersey Wants To Tax The Rain https://bit.ly/2N3FWed

Story #2:

Scientist Cures HPV With Non-Invasive Method https://bit.ly/2RYcpmZ

StartPage: Photodynamic Therapy https://bit.ly/2SuZ4rA

Students Paid to Catch Diseases for the Republic of Scientism https://bit.ly/2E8engV

They Actually ADMITTED There’s No Money in Curing People https://bit.ly/2GH65OJ

Story #3:

Disney News Knows Dozens of ‘National Emergencies’ In Effect for Decades https://abcn.ws/2DG5GZJ

Interview 067 – Dan Hamburg on Continuity of Government (Feb. 28, 2009) https://bit.ly/2SKs4Ll

You can help support our independent and non-commercial work by visiting http://CorbettReport.com/Support & http://MediaMonarchy.com/Support. Thank You.

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The Top 10 Survival Posts of 2018

By Daisy Luther

As we wind up 2018, I thought you might be interested in seeing the things that people were the most interested in reading over the previous year. The topics run the gamut but the prevailing theme is that we want to be self-reliant and independent. People are concerned about the uptick in unrest and about the threat of war and they aim to be ready.

The articles below are the ones that got the most hits during the previous year. If you missed them the first time around, be sure to check them out. 🙂

#1) The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents (And Brands to Avoid)

Looking for laundry detergent with a good rating from the Environmental Working Group? Want to see how your own detergent measures up? Check out The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents (And Brands to Avoid).  And for something to look forward to in 2019? We’re going to be expanding this series throughout your entire home by popular demand!

#2) Who Survives and Who Dies When the SHTF?

Did you ever wonder about the differences in how people behave in a crisis? Why some people survive and some people die? Are there characteristics that we can nurture now in good times that could help see us through bad times?

In this interview, Selco: Who Survives and Who Dies When the SHTF?, I talked to Selco about who can withstand the stress of an SHTF event and who crumbles based on his experiences during the Balkan War.

#3) Florida’s Teacher of the Year Bluntly Writes WHY School Violence Is Out of Control

Kelly Guthrie Raley has been teaching for 20 years and currently educates kids at Eustis Middle School in Lake County, Florida. Just last month she was named the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year.

The day after the horrific shooting that took place at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, she posted a rant on Facebook that has since gone viral. In the post, she talked about parental responsibility, compassion, and respect…and more than 823,000 people have “liked” the post and agreed with it, while more than 649,000 have shared it with others. Check out Florida’s Teacher of the Year Bluntly Writes WHY School Violence Is Out of Control.

#4) Now It’s Against the Law in California to Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day

Governor Jerry Brown is retiring but not before he passes a few draconian laws as parting gifts for California. Two bills were signed into law on Thursday of last week to “help California be better prepared for future droughts and the effects of climate change.”

The mandatory water conservation standards will be permanent, according to their wording, and not just for use in times of crisis. To make a long story short, now that these bills are law, it’s effectively illegal to take a shower and do a load of laundry in the same day because you’ll exceed your “ration.” Despite my notated explanation of where I drew this conclusion, I got “debunked” by both Snopes and Politifact, who said I was a big fat liar. (Here’s my article on debunking those debunkers.)

See why I said Now It’s Against the Law in California to Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day and let me know whether you agree or not with my conclusion.

#5) Why (And How) EVERYONE Should Make a Survival Shelter Plan

The false alarm in Hawaii last January should be an enormous wake-up call. It should inspire everyone, everywhere to make a survival shelter plan. Hardly anyone had a plan for where they would take shelter.

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For 38 minutes, hysteria reigned supreme across the island state after Hawaiians awoke to this message on their cell phones. “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Nobody knew what to do. People were shoving their children into storm drains. Mercifully this was a false alarm but it should be the impetus for everyone to make a plan for where they’d shelter if the situation was legit.

Here’s Why (And How) EVERYONE Should Make a Survival Shelter Plan (+ Printable Checklist) – do you have your own survival shelter plan?

#6) What to Eat When the Power Goes Out

Power outages are becoming a more common fact of life here in America. In California, the electric company is turning off the power on high-risk fire days. After hurricanes, recovery – and the restoration of power – can take weeks. We’ve seen dozens of lengthy blackouts in the past year. That’s probably why the article, What to Eat When the Power Goes Out was so popular.  Use it to create your own power outage food supply.

#7) What to Do If Unwanted People Show Up at Your Door When the SHTF

If you’re looking for a good response to that age-old comment every prepper has heard dozens of times, “If the SHTF, I’m coming to your house” Selco has you covered. In this article, What to Do If Unwanted People Show Up at Your Door When the SHTF, he discusses the conundrum of how to handle those folks you just know will be trouble.  No, he doesn’t want you to shoot them. He has some pretty great ideas for dealing with unwanted visitors.

#8) How to Survive the Civil Unrest That’s Coming to America

We have to face it: tensions have been HIGH in the United States ever since the last election and this year was no different. There were some skirmishes across the country, some heated riots and protests, and near-constant simmering anger between people of differing political philosophies.

So it’s no surprise that people are wondering How to Survive the Civil Unrest That’s Coming to America. Many people were wondering, how do you keep your family safe during widespread unrest? It’s not about being fearful. It’s about being prepared. This article is apolitical (to the best of my ability, anyway) and focuses strictly on what you need to know to survive should the unrest come to your neighborhood.

#9) Why Some Cops WILL Go Rogue When the SHTF (And How to Survive When You Encounter Them)

Jose from Venezuela has been a wealth of information for those of us who are trying to learn from the economic collapse of his beloved country. In this article, he talks about a subject that many of us have been concerned about should we face our own collapse: how will the police officers behave? Will they help us or harm us?

Of course, it all depends on the officer. In this article, he shares some specifics from his own experiences about Why Some Cops WILL Go Rogue When the SHTF (And How to Survive When You Encounter Them).

#10) These Are the Signs the SHTF Is Happening for Real

And Selco’s in again at #10, sharing his experience to help us determine whether or not the SHTF is happening for real.  This is very important because you have to know when it’s time to get out of Dodge or to hunker down, depending on your plan.

Would you know the signs? Can you tell the difference between some minor unrest or the beginning of all hell breaking loose? Be sure to review this article, SELCO: These Are the Signs the SHTF Is Happening for Real to help you decide when it’s time to lock the gates.

And here are the all-time top articles on The Organic Prepper

Here are the most popular articles of all time on this site. Happy reading!

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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What’s Really Going Down in Paris?

By Truthstream Media

Aaron and Melissa Dykes report from Paris, France where ongoing protests and riots have brought the city to a halt. They explore the on-the ground realities as well as some of the familiar background patterns emerging as legitimate protest combines with those who seek to take advantage of the civil unrest.

But are thereother hidden elements that bring into question the timing of this strife?

Aaron & Melissa Dykes are the founders of TruthstreamMedia.com, Subscribe to them on YouTube, like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, support on Patreon.

Watch their mini-documentary Obsolete here and their full-length documentary THE MINDS OF MEN here.

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Expression on the Corporate Web: 2018 Year in Review

By Jillian C. York

If 2017 was the year that corporate platforms were finally forced to recognize their outsized role on the Web, then 2018 should be remembered as the year that many such platforms began to reckon with it.

From Facebook finally instituting an appeals process to Tumblr banning adult content, here are some of the ways that corporate platforms tried to take responsibility…with mixed results for freedom of expression.

Facebook improves on accountability

For years, advocates called on Facebook to implement a mechanism to appeal content takedowns…and in May, the company finally took its first steps toward doing so, announcing that appeals would first be rolled out for photos, videos, and posts in two categories. Also in May, the social media giant, offering greater detail on how content decisions are made, and published its first Community Standards enforcement report.

Later in the year—following a letter from more than 70 civil society groups from around the world and across the US led by several groups, including EFF—the company further expanded its appeals process to include other categories of content.

Sex takes a hit at Tumblr, Facebook, and YouTube

The passing of SESTA/FOSTA in early 2018 ushered in a new threat to free expression online, and pushed companies to take sweeping action against certain speech. Although not every instance of policy changes can be directly attributed to the law, it’s hard not to see its influence. From Tumblr’s early December to Facebook’s blunt new policy on sexual solicitation, it’s clear that we’re seeing a chilling effect.

Additionally, measures presumably intended to minimize takedowns—such as demonetization on YouTube—are appearing to have an outsized impact on users whose work deals with sex, such as sexual health educators and LGBTQ+ YouTubers. All in all, the window for sexual expression on the corporate Web narrowed in 2018e.

Twitter offers more transparency in time for the holidays

In mid-December, Twitter proffered a holiday gift to users in the form of an expanded transparency report that includes a section on the company’s Rules enforcement. The report shows the number of accounts upon which various enforcement actions were taken across six categories of speech, a solid step in the right direction for transparency. Unfortunately, the company’s transparency report also showed an 80% increase in global legal demands for content takedowns, impacting more than twice as many accounts as the previous reporting period.

What’s yet to come…

2018 marked the inaugural year of our Who Has Your Back? Censorship Edition, in which we rated sixteen platforms across five categories. We look forward to seeing companies take more steps toward accountability and transparency in the new year!

This article is part of our Year in Review series. Read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2018.


This article was sourced from EFF.org

You can support EFF by donating HERE.

Jillian C. York is EFF’s Director for International Freedom of Expression and is based in Berlin, Germany. Her work examines state and corporate censorship and its impact on culture and human rights. At EFF, she leads Onlinecensorship.org and works on platform censorship and accountability; state censorship; and digital security. Jillian writes regularly for the New Internationalist and her work has also been featured in Motherboard, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, Quartz, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, among others. She is also a regular speaker at global events.

 

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What Self-Ownership Means and Why It Matters

By Jeffrey A. Tucker

I’ve been thinking about this idea of self-ownership, a concept almost universally assumed to be a foundation for human rights and the civilized life. At the same, this idea is constantly threatened by political ideologies that presume it not to be true.

Here is what got me thinking.

In the final episode of season two of The Americans, Elizabeth Jennings, a Soviet spy in America during the Cold War, is given a message from her Moscow-based handlers. The KGB expects that her teenage daughter Paige — who believes that her mother is a humble travel agent — will also become a spy. This is her destiny.

The mother profoundly objects. Elizabeth explains that she chose this life based on her commitment to communist ideals. Her daughter ought also be permitted to exercise such a choice. It strikes Mom, even though she is a committed communist, that denying her daughter volition over her life destiny would be inhumane and even ghastly.

Her Moscow handler disagrees. Her message: “We don’t belong to ourselves; we belong to the world.” Of course the “world” needs an institution to mediate the meaning of such audacious belongingness. That is the Communist Party. The vanguard of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the party elite, who are chosen by the workers and peasants to lead the way in ushering in a new world without capitalism.

All of which is to say that her daughter, now only 15 years old, has no choice about it. She will be trained to be a Soviet agent in America, just like her mother. It is up to Elizabeth to facilitate the transition as the child gets older. That is to say, Paige must be convinced to make the right “choice.” Doing the convincing is a test of loyalty and ideological commitment. You must be willing to give up your own child, because there is a sense in which nothing is yours. Everything belongs to the world, which is to say the Soviets.

The Core Moral Issue

The Americans is a seemingly endless show with fully six seasons — a total of nearly 75 hours of watching! In what I’ve seen so far — the brutal assassinations, the betrayals, the struggles over loyalty, the political machinations — the drama over the fate of the daughter is the most emotionally gripping. She is being denied the essential idea of self-ownership, which is to say that she is born a slave to the communist cause and the state that embodies that cause.

It’s deeply painful. It gives rise to profound reflection on how much we take self-ownership for granted. Communism in practice has to deny it. Many other political ideologies share that view. Racial nationalism demands that your biology determines your tribal loyalties. Religious nationalism insists that the belief structure in which you are born determines your life destiny. Geographic nationalism says your first loyalties are bound up with citizenship.

At the same time, in the modern age, we’ve come to believe a different idea. The French historian Ernst Renan explained the contrary position in 1882: “No one has the right to go through the world fingering people’s skulls, and taking them by the throat saying: ‘You are of our blood; you belong to us!’”

So too for familial loyalty. An essential component of the liberal idea is that as a child matures, he or she gains the capacity for making choices over life destiny. The job of a parent, as the custodian and caretaker of the child, is to prepare that child to make grown-up choices when the time comes. They must be real choices: over marriage, job, living arrangements, religion, and so on. Parents can and do influence, but with maturity comes this essential human right even when it takes place in defiance of familial and community expectations.

John Locke

I would say that most of us assume self-ownership to be self-evident. As a concept, however, it seems very much tied to the liberal tradition. This is for a reason. It was denied in the ancient world, where one’s birth and social standing were fixed. Only with the birth of modernity and the rise of social mobility in the late Middles Ages did we gain social consciousness of the notion that each of us should be able to choose our life path, that we are owners of our own bodies as much as our minds and hearts.

John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government makes an elaborate argument concerning private property, and you can agree or disagree with his analysis here. What matters is that this argument begins with a statement he finds self-evident. “Every man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right to but himself.”

When does this happen? It is an embedded part of human life, and one begins to exercise it upon maturity. Children’s “parents have a sort of rule and jurisdiction over them, when they come into the world, and for some time after,” writes Locke. “But it is but a temporary one. The bonds of this subjection are like the swaddling clothes they are wrapt up in, and supported by, in the weakness of their infancy: age and reason as they grow up, loosen them, till at length they drop quite off, and leave a man at his own free disposal.”

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You don’t have to rely on Locke to believe it. Marcus Aurelius presumes it when he implores man to preserve that “spirit which is within him, from all manner of contumelies and injuries” and “wholly to depend from himself and his own proper actions.” Jesus presumes it when he implores his followers to leave their parents and communities and follow him. The Declaration of Independence postulates that every person has a right to life and liberty. And so on. There is a sense in which every philosophical outlook that focuses on what a person should believe and do presumes that the juridical center of control is located with the individual.

Do We Believe It Really?

Obviously the communist overlord in The Americans disagrees with this theory, and the result is the most morally alarming part of the show. And yet, think about many features of regular life today. Think of times when it suddenly struck you that you are not really being treated as if you own yourself.

I feel it when I’m stopped by the police for some traffic violation. Even if the policeman is nice, even if there was a good reason to stop me, I’m profoundly aware of my lack of choice when he or she is standing outside the driver’s side window and demanding documentation. I must have my papers in order. I must answer with the right words. I must not make any sudden or strange movements. If I do the wrong thing, I could be arrested and caged or even shot. In the blink of an eye, I’m no longer a self-owner; the police officer owns me.

I’ve also been feeling this recently when traveling internationally. There have been big changes in how one is treated at the border. It’s been normal for at least 100 years that you can’t just walk into another country without a checkpoint; I get that. But more recently, it’s become more difficult even to leave one’s own country. I’ve three times faced an exit facial scan when leaving the U.S., with the implied threat that if I don’t pass, I would become a prisoner in my own nation-state.

I faced a strange situation when recently leaving Bermuda to return to the U.S. After you go through security, you enter into U.S. territory, controlled entirely by U.S. border police and the Transportation Security Administration. I was going through the passport check and they took my passport. You cannot object. I was put in a holding room and not allowed to leave or ask questions. After 45 minutes, they called my name, gave me back my passport, and I was waved on.

You might say that this is no big deal, but it was actually very alarming. There were mediators standing between me and my ability to get home — that is, to use a ticket for a plane for which I had paid. My right to travel hung in the balance. I never found out why they had detained me. They are under no legal obligation to say. Protesting that I own myself would only end badly, I presume. In fact, in that situation, I had no rights.

Act on What We Believe

The notion of self-ownership is bound up with modernity’s understanding of what liberty is all about. The idea of slavery, which for thousands of years was believed to be essential to social order, we now rightly find morally disgusting. No person can presume without consent to possess the right to control the body and choices of another person, thus denying him or her the volition that lies at the core of what makes us human.

And yet we are terrible practitioners of the idea of self-ownership. We have built huge states in almost every country that exist and grow based on denying it. They necessarily must. Any ideology that proposes to support and expand the state implicitly denies it too. That is true whether the ideology is communism, socialism, nationalism, or any other ism that proposes to submerge individual rights to the higher claims of the political community.

They try to inspire us to give up what is ours, in the name of living according to higher ideals, being part of something larger than ourselves, submitting to the demands of the community. Some people want to do that. It should be their choice to do so. It should also be their choice to decline.

It’s not that we as a humane culture reject the idea of self-ownership. It’s that we don’t take it very seriously in our politics. Everyone believes it; no political system practices it. We should. But if we do, prepare for dramatic structural changes in the composition of our political communities. You will have to get used to the idea of being free.

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Jeffrey A. Tucker is Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research. He is the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and eight books in 5 languages. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture. He is available for speaking and interviews via his emailTw | FB | LinkedIn

This article was sourced from AIER.org

Image taken from Backwordz, Self-Ownership.

Also see the powerful book Self-Ownership by Vin Armani HERE.

 

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The Corrupt Vote Harvest in Orange County

Unlike Stacey Abrams, the Democrat sore loser in Georgia; Bill Nelson, the Democrat sore loser in Florida; Hillary Clinton and her Year 2016 Democrat sore losers; and Al Gore and his Year 2000 Democrat sore losers, I accept that the Democrats have obtained the House seats they flipped in Orange County and elsewhere in California after tons of come-from-behind votes were tallied many days after Election Day. This article therefore looks ahead to infinity and beyond. In particular, all fifty states rapidly must act to ban ballot harvesting.

  1. Sifting Through the Mystery of a Blue House Wave in a Still-Republican Blood-Orange County

I live in Orange County. It is so conservative-red here that I call it Blood-Orange County. I have been persuaded that the number count is accurate. (For this I acknowledge the input of several including those whom I will identify as DJB, Adam P, Steven Greenhut, and Stuart P.) But I also know that this Orange County, with the exception of one predominantly Latino community in Santa Ana, continues to be conservative red and Blood-Orange County, notwithstanding the Democrats’ House flips.

Yes, “the O.C.” is not as broadly conservative as it was half a century ago. And as someone acutely aware of the echo… echo… echo chambers in which leftists cocoon themselves on America’s campuses, in Hollywood, on Broadway, in pseudo-“journalism,” and in other such venues, I am self-aware enough to ask myself: “Is it perhaps only within my own circles here that conservatism flourishes?” Yet I am satisfied to answer that my impressionistic perceptions are validated by my surroundings, daily encounters, and by public political activity here. It is in the people whom I encounter randomly and daily, but otherwise would not know: at the supermarket and drug store, at the coffee house, the people I randomly encounter while walking to synagogue on the Sabbath Day. I recognize it in Peter who frames art work beautifully for my home, in John who has been my handyman for fifteen years and who purchases my congregation’s chametz every Passover, in the man who is my electrician, in my plumber, in the guy who zaps the spiders and ants. Nick comes to paint, and we discuss Reagan politics. Most of my doctors. They all are conservative Republicans. I meet their customers and patrons at their stores — primarily conservative. I do not pick them for their politics; they just all happen to be Republicans because that is the local demographic here in Blood-Orange County.

Of course there are many liberals here, too. This is not the Soviet Union, Venezuela, or any Arab Muslim country, where 98% of the voters cast their ballots one way, and the other 2% are sentenced to thirty years hard labor. Of course there is a dichotomy, with perhaps 40% or 45% of the locals being more Democrat and liberal oriented. Indeed, my recognizing that phenomenon and those people reflects that I am not viewing the current here monolithically through a tunneled vision. It is just that this region is politically conservative. It just still is.

Some liberal judge tried to force a homeless encampment here. No one needed Rasmussen or Gallup to survey local attitudes. The local leftists tried an “Occupy Irvine” thing here. It was pathetic, with maybe fifteen or twenty people, mostly out-of-town students from the local University of California outpost here, youths who visit the O.C. for four to six years, depending on how long they need to grow up and get finished with college and a bachelor’s degree majoring in Identity Studies and minoring in boycotting Israel and harassing Jewish students.

So what happened in November that turned the House seats blue? A few things.

  1. Money, Money, Money — and Shifting Realities

First of all, out-of-towners Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and others of their ilk pumped millions of dollars into the region’s House races just before the elections. They bought millions in ads, campaign workers, phone-bank volunteers, and mailers for the Democrats. The hapless California GOP was blind-sided while the national Republican Congressional effort was caught flat-footed. Republicans need to understand that politics is cyclical, and realities flip.

It used to be that White ethnic Catholic blue collar immigrants were a lock for Democrats. As one example, the 1855 Louisville Riots saw at least 22 and perhaps hundreds of Irish- and German-American immigrants murdered on “Bloody Monday” by locals who were stirred up to stop those new immigrants from voting for Democrats. West Virginia once was solidly Democrat. It used to be, until the 1970s, that the Democrats had a century-long lock on the entire Deep South. But time heals, and those locks have flipped. Even among Jews, the Orthodox Jewish community, the fastest-growing American Jewish demographic and slated to be the Jewish majority in the coming decades, now is overwhelmingly pro-Trump Republican conservative — even as Jews now have shifted overwhelmingly throughout the world to affiliate with conservatives from England to Israel. On the other hand, Virginia, the seat of the Confederacy after it moved its capital from Montgomery, now is becoming Democrat as D.C. left-oriented political activists move to nearby suburbs, and the California that gave us Nixon and Reagan is lost to the GOP for the next generation as a result of the porous southern border that the Republicans never firmed.

In the same cyclical way, the Democrats now have shifted into the party of Big Money: Wall Street money, Silicon Valley money. That money now is Democrat. Other than Sheldon Adelson and a few others, Big Money no longer is the provenance of the GOP. Rather, the Republicans now have become the party of the Middle Class, the union workers (though not their bosses), and pensioner seniors who were campus radicals in the late Sixties. The GOP must confront this new reality: the Democrats buried them in campaign spending on House races. That played a role in the House flips.

  1. D.C. Republicans Wasted Two Years, Proved Unable to Govern, and Forgot to Address Health Care and Immigration

Washington Republicans promised for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, and they lied. It was insufficient merely to end Obama’s “individual mandate.” Beyond repealing Obamacare, the need still existed to solve the health insurance crisis and adequately to cover pre-existing conditions. In past decades, Republicans were the party of the rich white-shoe country-club set, the Romneys and Bushes and billionaire Koch Brothers types. Those Republicans kowtowed to the corporate sorts who have no problem importing Illegals and overrunning our southern border with cheap undocumented labor in order to maximize their profits while choking off the wages of low-income American citizens, including hard-working People of Color. In that past, such social economic issues as health care and social security retirement income were concerns of the Democrats, the party of White union workers and seniors, while RINO Republicans utterly did not care.

But Ronald Reagan and then Donald Trump have transformed the GOP into the party of the working stiffs and the Middle Class, the union workers, the ethnic Catholic and blue-collar laborers who work forty-hour weeks for a living and pass it on down the line, and seniors. Those hard workers pay the taxes that sustain this economy. They have earned the right to expect results on health care reform. They are entitled to care about retirement and Social Security because they worked hard and paid into it all their lives. Although “Welfare” is not an “entitlement” and “Food stamps” are not  an “entitlement” — no matter what Obama called it — a secure Social Security pension is an entitlement because the recipients paid for it.

The white-shoe Republicans in Washington forgot about those voters and their imperative for health-care reform. Remember how proud Republicans were when companies started announcing $1,000 and $2,000 bonuses after the Trump tax cuts passed? Remember how Republicans rightly mocked Nancy Pelosi when she dismissed that money as “crumbs”? So what about a health care system where a responsible person does not wait until he or she is sick to buy insurance but responsibly buys coverage proactively when young and maintains it responsibly for decades, buying a good plan that covers 80 percent of all physician, medical, and pharmaceutical costs, with the patient paying only 20 percent? Good, right? And then what happens when someone in the family tragically is stricken with a severe disease later — heart disease, organ failure, cancer — and suddenly finds that even that excellent plan leaves the insured household with an out-of-pocket add-on cost of $5,000-$10,000 per year? Republicans in Washington forgot to address this financial reality: Just as it is not “crumbs” to get a $1,000 or $2,000 pay bonus as part of a tax cut, it also is not insignificant when a hard-working responsible taxpayer gets hit annually with an out-of-pocket $5,000-$10,000 add-on health cost each year, beyond the premiums for good insurance. The D.C. Republicans never addressed fixing health care after repealing the obscene Obamacare mandate. They forgot the critical third word of “Repeal and Replace.” How will those stricken randomly, through no fault of their own, with outlier high-cost diseases be protected by the same social net that rightly protects others victimized randomly by “acts of God”?

Likewise, Washington Republicans never solved the border crisis. They did not resolve DACA — whether to legalize all of them, deport all of them, or something in between. They did not allocate the needed Wall funding. They did not tighten the border securely enough to keep out the scourges of opioids, human trafficking, MS-13 animals, and outright terrorists. They dropped the ball all over the place as though it were New Year’s Eve at Times Square. They did not govern. If it were not for President Trump achieving so much unilaterally — driving through fabulous judicial nominations, deregulating the economy by executive authority, conducting a muscular foreign policy, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there, staring down the priggish Europeans over their NATO cheap penny-pinching and staring down ISIS and others, the past two years would have been a complete waste.

So that explains more of the votes that Republican House candidates lost locally to Democrats.

In addition, California Republicans knew there would be a political price exacted when Congress decided to pay for the Trump tax cuts in part by reducing the amount of property taxes and mortgage-interest that Californians hereinafter can deduct on their 1040 filings. That financial consideration, too, cost local Republican candidates votes among Independents, even though Republican-aligned voters accepted the “hit” not only as a sacrifice for the common good but also as an investment from which they ultimately would benefit under a revived and booming post-Obama economy they knew would ensue.

  1. Harvesting Ballots: The Democrats Control Everything in California, So Cheated by Corrupting the Election Rules

The big “kicker” — the freeway robbery — emerges as the “harvesting of ballots.” Now that ballot-harvesting is on the national radarit must be stopped elsewhere. Here is what outgoing Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown — once known as Governor Moonbeam — approved in a polity that exploited the porous southern border so that Democrats control all statewide offices and control both legislative houses with super-majorities, therefore can implement absolutely anything they want unless stopped by the United States Supreme Court:

On Election Day in California you can go vote in person; alternatively, you can mail in your ballot. Your mailer ballot consists of pages with pre-printed names, with little circles (“bubbles”) printed alongside them. With dark ink, you fill in your selected bubbles, sign your name and date your ballot. You put it into an envelope, seal the envelope, and sign and date that, too. You then have to bring it into a voting facility by no later than Election Day, or you may affix a postage stamp and mail the envelope. The envelopes will be counted as long as they arrive no later than three days after Election Day, as long as postmarked by Election Day.

That means you fathom who is running and for what office, and you also ferret through numerous statewide and local ballot “propositions.” There also are numerous Unknowns running for judgeships and county school boards and water boards and local committees. For many in the electorate, the ballot is so overwhelming that they do not vote. (Indeed, I urged those overwhelmed just to vote for the Governor, the House, and the state legislature seats — and to skip the rest of the ballot.) Ultimately, you have to (i) fill in the bubbles, (ii) sign the ballot, (iii) date it, (iv) seal it in the envelope, (v) get a postage stamp, (vi) sign the envelope, (vii) date the envelope, and (viii) get the sealed envelope mailed or hand-delivered. It does not sound hard, but it is a real mega pain. This explains partly why so many do not vote. The propositions are near-impossible to decipher. They are deliberately written to say the opposite of what they mean because proponents want to emphasize the short-term benefits while hiding how much each proposition ultimately will cost or what it really aims to change. Despite all that, responsible voters get their ballots done, find the stamps, and somehow get to the post office before the deadline.

But here is where large-scale cheating comes in on this Moonbeam HarvestThey now allow ballot harvesting here. That means, on first blush, that a volunteer can offer to take a sealed, signed, and dated envelope and mail it or drop it off for the trusting voter. But the reality actually penetrates deeper: The volunteer may even offer to provide the postage stamp. (Is that a bribe? Who will know?) And who will be any the wiser if the Moonbeam Harvester even offers by-the-by to fill in the bubbles for the voter? Who will know? The ballot, after all, does not entail handwriting the choices, just filling in circles. So if the voter is a relative newcomer — let’s even assume legally, which is an assumption here — but let’s assume reasonably that the voter is not so adept in English, does not speak it or read it. Well, now you have this Moonbeam Harvester in the voter’s home, offering not only to advance the postage stamp and to take the envelope and drop it off or mail it — but even to fill in the bubbles for the voter who does not know English or otherwise has no time to ferret.

Welcome to Moonbeam harvesting:

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing votes stuffed inside our sleeves.

By and by the harvest, and the neighbor friended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing votes stuffed inside our sleeves.

  1. In Conclusion: How Blood-Orange Temporarily Shaded Blue

So what color is the dress — white and gold, or blue and black? In November, Blood-Orange County seemed to turn blue, but the denizens still are blood-orange. Alas, Republicans were caught flat-footed on campaign financing. The GOP dropped the ball on health care, on pre-existing conditions, and on out-of-pocket add-on health costs that are not “crumbs.” They blew it on immigration, DACA, and the Wall. They fell on a sword for reducing Form 1040 deductions for property taxes and home-mortgage interest. And the same hapless state GOP, which missed the ball when California changed its primary balloting system to the “Jungle Primary,” again went AWOL when the Democrats of California changed balloting rules so that votes could be delivered by Harvest Moonbeam volunteers, opening the door to other forms of election fraud. Harvesting ballots must be banned.

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Author: Dov Fischer

Amazon Shareholders Call On Jeff Bezos To Stop Selling Facial “Rekognition” Software To Police

By Aaron Kesel

An astounding 20 groups of Amazon shareholders sent its CEO, Jeff Bezos, a letter urging him to stop selling the company’s face recognition software to law enforcement, CNN reported.

The software, called Rekognition, came under greater scrutiny last month when the ACLU published revealing internal documents related to its use by police. Numerous civil rights organizations co-signed a letter demanding Amazon stop assisting government surveillance, and several members of Congress have expressed concerns about the partnerships.

“We are concerned the technology would be used to unfairly and disproportionately target and surveil people of color, immigrants, and civil society organizations,” the shareholders, which reportedly include Social Equity Group and Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, wrote. “We are concerned sales may be expanded to foreign governments, including authoritarian regimes.”

Amazon’s Rekognition software can analyze images from all types of sources—images or videos from any police surveillance tool—including CCTV, body cameras, and drones all matched against databases.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon was caught working with law enforcement. Amazon’s fifth transparency report revealed earlier this year that the company provided more customer data to U.S. law enforcement in the first half of last year than in its history with a shocking 1,936 different requests between January and June 2017, ZDNet reported.

Of those 1,936 requests, Amazon complied and replied to 1,200 subpoena requests, 189 search warrants and 76 other court orders – for a whopping 1,465 requests they responded to. That’s 42 percent of all subpoenas, 44 percent of search warrants and 52 percent of other court orders.

That’s an incredible rise from the year prior where Amazon received:

  • 1,618 subpoenas, which the company fully complied with 679 cases.
  • 229 search warrants, which the company fully complied with 100 cases.
  • 89 other court orders, which the company fully complied with 46 cases.

Amazon didn’t state why there was a spike in U.S. government requests during the first half of the year, but for a company that openly has a partnership with the CIA for $600 million for cloud servers, this information should be troubling. The oddest part of this data is the fact that Amazon stated they received no content removal orders, which begs the question what merit were the cases based on if not illegal content?

Amazon has publicly promoted how police have used its face recognition software to identify people of interest to law enforcement. On Amazon’s website, a systems analyst with Oregon’s Washington County explained how Rekognition was fed a database of 300,000 arrest photos to match against faces seen in surveillance images. It’s significant to note that when a person is arrested typically they are put into a database, whether they are convicted of a crime or not.

In May, the ACLU released troubling internal documents, including an email from a Washington County official telling Amazon they were using Rekognition to identify “unconscious or deceased individuals” as well as “possible witnesses.”

The privacy concerns are obvious and growing as the U.S. deploys face recognition in airports and at borders, and even schools are installing cameras which soon could be equipped with facial recognition. Increasingly our rights are decreasing with the help of big corporations like Amazon. Recently, Google saw its employees stop a military contract in a petition after the company was revealed to be involved with helping Project Maven (an artificial intelligence drone initiative.) It’s up to everyone to take a stand wherever and whenever they see injustice taking hold.

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Steemit, and BitChute. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.