A new play lets formerly incarcerated people tell their stories. Meanwhile, prisons are still banning books.

In January of 2018, I was hired by the Civic Ensemble of Ithaca, New York to take part in a fascinating playwriting opportunity. The company had started a ReEntry Theatre program in 2015, teaming with state social services to implement a theatre education curriculum to help people dealing with incarceration and substance abuse rehabilitation to transition back into society. In the past, the program participants had written their own monologues and brief scenes, along with learning some improv exercises. But they brought me in to work with those program participants, and all the raw material they'd produce, and turn that into a full-length play—a singular, cohesive vision that was lightly fictionalized but drawn directly from the participants' real experiences dealing with prison and addiction.

The result, Streets Like This, had its world premiere in May of 2018. But now the company is re-mounting it at the Cherry Artspace (also in Ithaca) from March 12-22, 2020.

Working on this play was a very cool experience. The program participants were all people who had seen a lot of shit, but also had some incredibly deep empathy but for what they and others like them had gone through. Many of them possessed an intuitive understanding of the complex systemic issues that drove them into the desperation — the violence, drugs, sex work, and petty crime — that landed them in prison in the first place. And having been through prison — sometimes more than once — they also had a better understanding of the ways that the system is set up to fail people just like them. Read the rest

National Archive to let ICE destroy documents

We may never know the truth about the border crisis, writes Matthew Connelly, because the National Archives is letting millions of documents be destroyed.

President Trump has long made it a practice to tear up his papers and throw them away. It is a clear violation of the Presidential Records Act, which is supposed to prevent another Watergate-style cover-up. When the National Archives sent staff members to tape these records together, the White House fired them.

In 2017, a normally routine document released by the archives, a records retention schedule, revealed that archivists had agreed that officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could delete or destroy documents detailing the sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants. Tens of thousands of people posted critical comments, and dozens of senators and representatives objected. The National Archives made some changes to the plan, but last month it announced that ICE could go ahead and start destroying records from Mr. Trump’s first year, including detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care.

These documents include reports of detainee deaths and sexual abuse.

"Wherever books burn, human beings will also burn." – Heinrich Heine Read the rest

Russian comedian who dissed Putin flees country

"I didn't plan to be persecuted simply for joking," he said.

Brazil's authoritarians charge Glenn Greenwald with cybercrime for publishing leaks that revealed corruption at the highest levels

Last June Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept published and reported on a massive trove of explosive leaks that revealed that top prosecutors and the judge who eventually became the justice minister of Brazil conspired to rig the corruption trial of the beloved and incredibly popular leader Lula, sending him to prison as part of their plan to put the murderous, homophobic authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro in his place. Read the rest

Bill from Missouri's Rep Ben Baker threatens librarians with prison sentences for allowing minors to read books banned by town committees

Under Missouri House Bill 2044 -- the "Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act" -- each town will elect a committee of five local people (librarians are not permitted to serve) who will take local submission for books to ban. If they choose to ban a book, any librarian who allows a minor to check out or read that book will face up to a year in prison, and their libraries will be de-funded. Read the rest

Wikipedia ban lifted by Turkey after court rules 2-year block 'violates freedom of expression'

Turkey's ban on Wikipedia has been lifted, after today's official publication of a Constitutional Court ruling that the more than two-year block is a violation of freedom of expression. Read the rest

Youtube copyright trolls Adrev claim to own a homemade MIDI rendition of 1899's Flight of the Bumblebee

Chris Knight recorded a video of the bees in his backyard and wanted to accompany it with a rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 1899 composition "The Flight of the Bumblebee." Read the rest

The lawyer who caught UNC giving $2.5m to white nationalists orders the white nationalists to create a $2.5m fund for Black students or face a lawsuit

T Greg Doucette is the lawyer who put the pieces together on the University of North Carolina's $2.5m handout to the white nationalist group the Sons of Confederate Veterans, then found and published a smoking gun in the form of a "victory letter" written by the SOCV's "commander" Kevin Stone, which Stone and the SOCV used a fraudulent DMCA notice to censor. Read the rest

UK's oldest ISP blames DoS attack on attempt to suppress human rights report about West Papua (read it now!)

Greennet (previously) is the oldest ISP in the UK, tracing its origins back to Fidonet, where it was a hub for radical progressive political movements, which has attracted retaliations (in the form of DDoS attacks by repressive states) and surveillance (Greennet was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against GCHQ over surveillance activities that ended with the spy agency "admitting clandestine hacking activities"). Read the rest

Online freedom of expression hits a ten-year low

Pam Cowburn from Article 19 writes, "Our new report shows that digital freedom of expression – defined as our ability to speak freely online – is at a ten year low. The report states that this decline is due to a rise in digital authoritarianism with governments taking control of internet infrastructure, increasing online surveillance and controlling content." Read the rest

Opendemocracy: the Libdems tried to censor our article about their sale of voter data, then used a forged email to intimidate us

There's not really any dispute that the UK Liberal Democrats party sold voter data for £100,000 to the Remain campaign in 2016, though the Information Commissioner's Office tried to suppress that revelation until after the coming election; the Libdems say they did nothing wrong, but when Opendemocracy's Jim Cusick approached the party for a statement ahead of an article, he got no reply. Read the rest

White nationalists who got a $2.5m payout from UNC abuse the DMCA to censor lawyer's trove of documents about it

T. Greg Doucette is the North Carolina litigator who sleuthed out the incredible, bizarre details of the decision of the University of North Carolina's Republican-appointed governors to hand a group of white nationalists $2.5m to build a Confederacy museum. Read the rest

Genetic Evasion: using genetic algorithms to beat state-level internet censorship

Geneva ("Genetic Evasion") is a project from the University of Maryland's Breakerspace ("a lab dedicated to scaling-up undergraduate research in computer and network security"); in a paper presented today at the ACM's Conference on Computer and Communications Security, a trio of Maryland researchers and a UC Berkeley colleague present their work on evolutionary algorithms as a means of defeating state-level network censorship. Read the rest

BBC launches a Tor hidden service mirror to help people evade their countries' censoring firewalls

If you're in China, Iran or some other country whose national firewall blocks BBC News, you can still access it over the Tor network at bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion, which mirrors the main BBC News site as well as BBC Mundo and BBC Arabic. Read the rest

Disgraced ex-cop's bullshit libel case has nearly destroyed the newspaper that outed him for sexual predation of teen girls

In 2017, Carroll, Iowa police officer Jacob Smith resigned from the force after a disciplinary investigation regarding sexual encounters between Smith and teenaged girls. Read the rest

Podcast: False Flag

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Green European Journal short story about the terrible European Copyright Directive which passed last March, False Flag. Published in December 2018, the story highlights the ways in which this badly considered law creates unlimited opportunities for abuse, especially censorship by corporations who've been embarassed by whistleblowers and activists.

The crew couldn’t even supply their videos to friendly journalists to rebut the claims from the big corporate papers. Just *linking* to a major newspaper required a paid license, and while the newspapers licensed to one another so they could reference articles in rival publications, the kinds of dissident, independent news outlets that had once provided commentary and analysis of what went into the news and what didn’t had all disappeared once the news corporations had refused to license the right to link to them.

Agata spoke with a lawyer she knew, obliquely, in guarded hypotheticals, and the lawyer confirmed what she’d already intuited.

“Your imaginary friend has no hope. They’d have to out themselves in order to file a counterclaim, tell everyone their true identity and reveal that they were behind the video. Even so, it would take six months to get the platforms to hear their case, and by then the whole story would have faded from the public eye. And if they *did* miraculously get people to pay attention again? Well, the fakers would just get the video taken offline again. It takes an instant for a bot to file a fake copyright claim.

Read the rest

Apple told TV Plus showrunners to avoid plots that might upset Chinese officials

In early 2018, Apple SVP of internet software and services Eddy Cue and SVP of internet software and services Morgan Wandell instructed TV creators it had commissioned to produce content for Apple TV Plus to avoid plots and scenarios that held China and the Chinese state up in a critical light. Read the rest

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