Science fiction author Michael Swanwick sez, "In my adopted hometown of Philadelphia there's a move afoot to put up a plaque where Isaac Asimov lived while he was working (and writing seminal Foundation and Robot stories) at the Naval Yard during WWII. Asimov hated Philadelphia while he lived here but came back for the conventions year after year. He gave back. Now it's time to Philadelphia to give back to him. The Change.com petition seems to have stalled at 364, 136 short of its goal. This despite the fact that you don't have to be a citizen of Pennsylvania to sign it. I don't want to be a part of a genre that can't give Isaac five hundred signatures. I'm betting the author of 'I, Rowboat,' agrees with me."
Sai has "a neurological disorder that causes episodic muteness and muscle spasms" -- basically, he sometimes becomes mute and gets bad shakes. His doctor has advised him to have juice continuously available, and this helps control his condition. TSA rules allow him to bring any amount of juice through a checkpoint. Unfortunately, the TSA doesn't read its own rules. Instead, Sai is detained at checkpoints for endless, illegal questioning and searches of his personal papers, confidential business documents, etc. When he loses the ability to speak, he uses pen and paper to communicate, but the TSA takes the pen and paper away as soon as he cites language from a landmark legal case limiting their power to search him.
He's videoed one of these encounters, with the TSA and its private contractors at SFO, and he's filed grievances with various agencies over that incident and another at Boston Logan. The TSA is illegally refusing to follow its own administrative procedures, so he's getting ready to sue them (he needs an ADA and/or FOIA-specialized lawyer qualified for the bar in MA and/or CA and/or federally -- any takers?). He's also trying to force them to disclose their secret procedures.
The edited, subtitled video of his run-in at SFO is fantastically infuriating. The TSA and its private contractors are vindictive, lawless, brutal. But Sai is an inspiring example of calm under fire, a guy who knows his rights back and forwards, and doesn't let the fact that his physical condition is deteriorating -- you can see his tremors -- make him lose his cool (here's the unedited version, which runs to about an hour).
Sai's site has plenty of ways you can help with this, including a petition to Congress and a questionnaire to help him with his Freedom of Information suit. And by helping him, you help everyone who has to fly -- and everyone who cares about freedom in America.
On March 1, 2013, San Francisco TSA refused to allow me to travel with medical liquids. My liquids had been been tested clean by xray & explosive trace detection, and the official on scene specifically acknowledged reading the TSA's Special Needs Memo (including that juice is a medical liquid and that there's no volume restriction on medical liquids). This directly involved the most senior TSA officials at the airport, who detained me for about 50 minutes total.
This is only the most recent in a long string of personal incidents of harassment, denial, or direct refusal to obey TSA's medical liquids policy. This time, though, I got it all on video.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is one of the key figures in the political wrangle over whether undocumented immigrants in the USA will be legalized or deported. He's also the recipient of over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the private prison industry, whose profits would skyrocket if his push for prison for all those people is successful.
Chuck Schumer is the lead Senate Democrat working on immigration reform--he gets to decide whether millions of undocumented immigrants will be imprisoned or legalized. Yet he’s also taken over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the private prison industry. Is it any surprise he’s pushing for billions more dollars spent on increased enforcement and detention of immigrants?
We can’t trust Sen. Schumer to push for fair legislation when he’s accepting money from private prison companies that have a strong interest in jailing as many immigrants as possible. How much of an interest? The two corporations from which Sen. Schumer took money, GEO Group and CCA, made $296.9 million in profits from the jailing of immigrants last year.
Tell Sen. Schumer to return this money immediately.
If 15,000 people sign, we'll personally deliver your petitions to Sen. Schumer and demand a response.
Marc from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sez, "The Electronic Privacy Information Center has published a petition to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, demanding the suspension of the drone program pending the development of privacy regulations for the use of drones in US airspace. Documents recently obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the drones are equipped with technology for signals interception and human identification. The agency currently operates ten Predator B drones along the border region, an area that encompasses more than two-thirds of the U.S. population. EPIC is urging individuals and organizations to Sign the Petition before March 18. Under federal law, the agency is required to respond to public petitions."
"Last year the Librarian of Congress made it illegal to unlock your cell
changing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). This can lead to
exorbitant costs to consumers traveling internationally and, perhaps more
importantly, it is restricting our freedom in unfair ways. It also has odd
implications like forcing the blind to file for exemption every three years
in order to use third-party screen readers.
After 100,000 people signed a petition on this
the White House responded in support of making these laws more fair. Sina
Khanifar, who created that petition with support from
Reddit, Mozilla Foundation,
Frontier Foundation and more has launched a website to
educate the public on the issue and give them the tools to notify their
representatives directly with their thoughts on the issue."
Eric sez, "The Library of Congress recently withdrew the cell phone unlocking exception to the DMCA. In response, a 'We the People' petition was created to ask the White House to weigh in and push to overturn the LoC's decision.
Less than two weeks after the petition period closed, White House advisor R. David Edelman has now issued an official response pledging support for the freedom to unlock not only mobile phones, but also tablets.
White House advisor R. David Edelman has now issued an official response pledging support for the freedom to unlock not only mobile phones, but also tablets."
Jim Dezazzo sez, John Holdren, Obama's science advisor, issued a directive on Friday to all research funding agencies to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months of publication. It also requires that scientists receiving taxpayer dollars to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data. This is huge! By my rough calculation, that means that approximately 20 US agencies will now make the science they fund available to the public. This is all in response to a We The People petition I signed over the summer (along with 65k other people)."
The Huffington Post claims that this petitions.whitehouse.gov petition, calling for the classification of the Westboro Baptist Church as a "hate group," is now the most popular White House petition of all time. To be honest, I'm less interested in this petition than I am in a pair (1, 2) of similar petitions calling for the revocation of tax-exempt status for the Westboro kooks. Being classed as a hate group will make life a little less convenient for them, but losing tax-exempt status would be a serious blow in the nads and the wallet for 'em.
Mckenna Pope of Garfield, NJ has started a petition -- with just over 23,000 signatures at time of writing (including mine) -- to Hasbro, asking them to produce a gender-neutral version of the Easy-Bake Oven, so that her cooking-crazed little brother won't feel excluded from his passions:
My little brother has always loved cooking. Being in the kitchen is his favorite out of school activity, and he yearns to have the opportunity to cook on his own, or at least with limited help.
Imagine my surprise when I walked into his room to find him "cooking" tortillas by placing them on top of his lamp's light bulb! Obviously, this is not a very safe way for him to be a chef, so when he asked Santa for his very own Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, produced by the Hasbro company, for me to help him be the cook he's always wanted to be, my parents and I were immediately convinced it was the truly perfect present.
However, we soon found it quite appalling that boys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials for Easy Bake Ovens -- this toy my brother's always dreamed about. And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink.
I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work.