Ferguson's "free speech zone" is a padlocked no-man's-land

Man arrested for briefly failing to keep moving #Ferguson/Jon Swaine/@jonswaine

The ACLU was denied an emergency injunction against Ferguson's cops' illegal "no standing on the sidewalk" rule because Ferguson promised to erect a "free speech zone," but the only thing on that site is a fenced-off, locked-up pen that no one is allowed to use. Read the rest

Deadspin is crowdsourcing a database of police shootings in America

A police officer raises his weapon at a car speeding in his general direction as a more vocal and confrontational group of demonstrators stands on the sidewalk during further protests in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown near Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday, after days of unrest sparked by the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Gawker blog Deadspin is asking for reader help gathering data on officer-involved shootings in America. Read the rest

The apology letter Google SHOULD have used to announce the end of G+ "Real Names"

The sudden reversal of Google's years-long insistence on "real names" for G+ users came after a long fight about the biases inherent in such a policy. Read the rest

US official backs Marines' request to classify photos of forces urinating on Taliban corpses

A still from a 2011 video posted online that showed Marines urinating on dead bodies. [Reuters]

"In an apparent expansion of the government’s secrecy powers, the top official in charge of the classification system has decided that it was legitimate for the Marines to classify photographs that showed American forces posing with corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan," reports the NYT's Charlie Savage. Read the rest

The English Method: UK taught modern torture to Brazil's dictators

Brazil's 21-year military dictatorship was a torturing, brutal regime -- among their victims was the current president, Dilma Rousseff. At first, the generals tortured by flogging and shocks, but British officials taught them to torture without leaving marks, helping the regime to rehabilitate its international human rights image. The techniques the UK taught to Brazil's torturers were developed for Malay rebels and perfected on Northern Irish Republicans, and these techniques came to be known as "The English Method."

Other governments -- Germany, France, Panama, and, of course, the USA -- also trained Brazil's torturers, but the UK methods were the best. British agents travelled to Brazil to train the torturers personally. More details of the British "foreign aid" program are coming to light as the UK government finally succumbs to the rule of law and releases files from the National Archives at Kew, a move that has been steadfastly refused for obvious reasons.

One document that's come to light is a letter from then-British Ambassador, David Hunt, called "Torture in Brazil," which praises the Brazilian regime for cleaning up its appearance of brutality by "taking a leaf out of the British book." Read the rest

Egyptian teen science whiz defects to US after science fair

Photo: Christopher Reeve for madamasr.com.

A teenager from Egypt accused of illegally protesting the Egyptian government defected to the US after participating in an international high school science fair held in Los Angeles.

Read the rest

A map of the worst countries in the world in which to be a worker


The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a trade group alliance that works to improve laborers' rights around the globe, released its Global Rights Index this week. Countries are ranked from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) on a scale of how well they guard workers' rights. Cambodia, Qatar, and Guatemala were among the worst offenders. Read the rest

Obama administration proves why we need someone to leak CIA Torture Report

image: Reuters

It’s now been over a month since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to force the Obama administration to declassify parts of the Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, and the public still has not seen a word of the 6,000 page investigation. Read the rest

Where are the stolen girls of Nigeria? And why don't we care more?

Maybe if the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school weeks ago were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, or were white, the world would pay more attention. Xeni Jardin on why it took so long for America to notice an intractable tragedy unfolding abroad.

Marshall Islands sues 9 nuclear powers, including US and Russia, over failure to disarm nuclear stockpiles

The Castle Bravo nuclear test on Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. A 15-megaton device equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima blasts was detonated in 1954. Photograph: US Air Force - digital version

The Marshall Islands is suing the nine known nations with nuclear weapons at the international court of justice at The Hague, over charges they have violated their legal obligation to disarm under the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). From the Guardian:

In the unprecedented legal action, comprising nine separate cases brought before the ICJ on Thursday, the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a "flagrant denial of human justice". It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race. The Pacific chain of islands, including Bikini Atoll and Enewetak, was the site of 67 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958, including the "Bravo shot", a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. The Marshallese islanders say they have been suffering serious health and environmental effects ever since.
Named in the lawsuit are the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, an undeclared nuclear weapons state. Read the rest

Interview with James Mitchell, psychologist credited with designing CIA torture program

James ("Jim") Mitchell, frame grab from ABC video (4/2009). ABC News, via New York Times.

Journalist Jason Leopold tells us,

Recently, I conducted a wide-ranging, two hour interview with retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who is credited with being the architect of the CIA's torture program. Mitchell and his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen, are featured prominently in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. This is the first time Mitchell has spoken at length about interrogation since he was linked to the program by Jane Mayer in 2005.
Read the rest

NSA spies on human rights groups, including those in the USA

During video testimony to the Council of Europe, whistleblower Edward Snowden reiterated that the NSA targets human rights groups, including those in the USA, for surveillance. It uses its Xkeyscore technology to "fingerprint" communications from these groups and targets them for deep surveillance. Groups that have been targeted in this way include UNICEF and many others. Read the rest

“I F*cking Hate @RuPaul”

Filmmaker, writer, and trans activist Andrea James on the current state of post-disruption journalism and its unhealthy addiction to Twitter, and LGBT brain drain.

Ethiopia: the first "off-the-shelf" surveillance state

"They Know Everything We Do", a new, exhaustive report from Human Rights Watch, details the way the young state of modern Ethiopia has become a kind of pilot program for the abuse of "off-the-shelf" surveillance, availing itself of commercial products from the US, the UK, France, Italy and China in order to establish an abusive surveillance regime that violates human rights and suppresses legitimate political opposition under the guise of a anti-terrorism law that's so broadly interpreted as to be meaningless.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing a victim of Ethiopian state surveillance: Mr. Kidane had his computer hacked by Ethiopian spies while he was in the USA, and they planted spyware that gave them access to his Skype and Google traffic. Read the rest

Phoenix cops arrest prostitutes, detain them without trial in churches, pressure them to take deals without access to lawyers

Molly Crabapple sez, "I wrote this piece about a program in Phoenix called Project ROSE arrests sex workers in massive raids and brings them to a church, where they are held extra-judicially and offered alternative sentences without lawyers, judges, or due process." Read the rest

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