By Luke Savage, The Jacobin
Joe Biden used to brag that he practically wrote the Patriot Act, the Bush-era law that massively increased government surveillance powers. Now he’s hoping to pass a further “domestic terrorism” law once in office. The danger is real that the January 6 Capitol attack will be used as an excuse to severely curtail our civil liberties.
Alexandria comes through.
Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti discuss a potential new domestic terror law following the insurrection at the Capitol.
By Grace Hauck, USA TODAY
CHICAGO – Bodycam videos released by a local activist Tuesday show how a Chicago police officer drove into a woman more than a year ago, knocking her to the ground and crushing her leg beneath the SUV for more than eight minutes as she bled in the street.
The incident happened the night of Nov. 13, 2019 in the city’s South Shore neighborhood. Resident Martina Standley, 32, suffered a traumatic head injury and severe leg injury, according to her attorney, Andrew Stroth.
According to local reports at the time, witnesses said Standley had been taunting the officers, who drove toward her.
The videos begin without audio as the police SUV pulls up to a sidewalk and pauses. Standley can be seen approaching the right-hand side of the vehicle, from the sidewalk. Standley appears to touch the car, and the driver appears to start the vehicle. Standley falls down out of view, and the driver stops the car and walks around to the other side.
“Girl aint nobody hit you like that,” the driver says as he looks down at Standley, who lies motionless on the road, her leg under the front right tire and blood pooling around her head. The officer begins exclaiming in curses and yells, “Squad can I get an EMS over here.”
Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti analyze the decision by a British judge to deny WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, extradition to the US, based on potential mental health issues and risk of suicide.
I consider this to be a far more important and far-reaching outcome of the 2020 election than the ouster of Trump by the neoliberals. 2020 was the year of the lumpen proletarian uprising in the streets and a Tet Offensive against the War on Drugs in the voting booth.
By Rachel Harrison, New York University
While November’s election revealed a divided country, American voters agreed on one issue: the need to reform the nation’s drug policies. In every state where a measure to loosen restrictions on drugs was on the ballot, it won.
Four states—Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota—voted to legalize recreational cannabis, and Mississippi and South Dakota legalized its medical use. Both the District of Columbia and Oregon eased restrictions on psychedelic drugs: DC decriminalized psychedelic plants, including psilocybin—the psychedelic compound in “magic mushrooms”—and Oregon legalized the use of psilocybin in mental health treatment. (Research, including studies at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University, shows that psychedelics may be a promising treatment for anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.)
The most significant drug policy reform also came from Oregon, which became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Now, instead of facing arrest and prison time, a person found with drugs will be required to pay a $100 fine or undergo a health assessment with an addiction specialist—a policy that treats drug use as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Using funds from taxes on cannabis sales, Oregon will also increase access to drug treatment services.
By James Bovard, The American Conservative
Why did a Montgomery County, Maryland SWAT team kill 21-year-old Duncan Lemp, in a no-knock predawn raid on March 12? The county released an official report yesterday stating that a violent no-knock raid was justified “due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’ currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters.” The report also noted that “police had viewed several videos showing Lemp handling and shooting firearms.”
Distrusting the government and police and appearing in photos or videos with firearms is a catch-all that could apply to millions of Americans. But that was enough to justify a deadly assault in one of America’s most liberal jurisdictions. (I wrote about this case for TAC previously here, here, here and here).
This reads like something out of Reason Magazine. Is the old-fashioned anti-authoritarian left making a comeback?
By Miles Kampf-Laffin, The Jacobin
The aromas of freshly stewed gumbo and boiled crawfish wafted out onto the street in front of Broadview Seafood at the edge of New Orleans’s Seventh Ward. On Ash Wednesday this year, as I recovered from the revelry of Mardi Gras, I salivated as I considered my meal: Should I pick up some crab legs? A po’boy, with freshly fried shrimp enveloped in a crunchy French roll? All important questions, but my first order was the most essential — an ice cold tall boy of a hazy IPA. And since I was in one of the few bastions of legal public drinking in America, I purchased it to go.
Having received my bounty of gumbo, crawfish, and a po’boy, my beer cradled under my arm, I considered my next move. Grateful for the lax public drinking laws, I had a full range of options: Walk up the nearby iconic Esplanade Ave and sit in oak-laden Fortier Park, surrounded by stately nineteenth-century mansions and brightly decorated homes; or walk a bit further west and sit on the banks of Bayou St. John. I chose instead to bring my banquet to the pastoral City Park, joined by friends. We splayed out in the park, talking and eating and laughing — all while freely sipping alcoholic beverages in public, without fear of reprisal.
It was a joyous experience. But currently, such experiences are limited to those living in or visiting the Crescent City and a small number of other locales around the country. This is a travesty: we all should be able to drink in public.
But today, eighty-seven years after the ratification of the 21st Amendment, we’re still living with vestiges of a Prohibition-era legal framework, where alcohol consumption is severely constrained and policed. Alongside the nationwide minimum drinking age of twenty-one, most every state has established strict regulations banning public drinking, commonly referred to as “open container” laws.
It’s time to repeal these outdated disciplinary laws and realize the unfinished work of the Prohibition repeal movement by finally legalizing public drinking across the United States.
By Yanis Iqbal, Hampton Think
USA’s President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet picks have already deflated the hopes of lesser-evilists. Filled with deep-dyed neoliberals and unswerving imperialists, Biden’s cabinet will try its hardest to competently revive the murderous American empire. Externally, it would mean the professional management of an imperialist, interventionist and hyper-militarized foreign policy in the name of “humanitarianism”. Internally, it would signify the discursive re-packaging and ideological invisibilization of an interminable domestic war against Black communities. Whereas Donald Trump politically publicized this war as part of his white chauvinist campaign, the Democrats will cleverly cloak it in the hollow language of national unity and multiculturalism.
By J.D. Tuccille, Reason
Are you looking forward to resuming something that resembles a normal life in terms of travel, concert attendance, and public gatherings? Vaccines for COVID-19 are a big step towards putting pandemic fears behind us. But if hosts aren’t satisfied with knowing vaccines are available, they may want proof that event attendees and travelers have had their shots. That’s where immunity passports come in, and they may help us move past the pandemic—or add new intrusiveness and frustration to our activities.
The idea of immunity passports originated in the spring as a recourse for those who had already suffered a bout of COVID-19. They would be “digital or physical documents that certify an individual has been infected and is purportedly immune to SARS-CoV-2,” noted a May article in The Lancet. “Individuals in possession of an immunity passport could be exempt from physical restrictions and could return to work, school, and daily life.”
By Jacob Sullum, Reason
Last year President Donald Trump bragged that “we are making progress” in reducing opioid-related deaths, noting that they fell in 2018 “for the first time since 1990.” That 1.7 percent drop was thin evidence of success at the time, and it looks even less impressive in light of the the 6.5 percent increase recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019. When you add preliminary CDC data indicating that opioid-related deaths rose dramatically this year, you have even more reason to wonder whether the government is actually winning the war on drugs.
The 49,860 deaths involving opioids that the CDC counted in 2019 set a new record that is likely to be broken when the data for 2020 are finalized. “Synthetic opioids other than methadone,” the category that includes fentanyl and its analogs, were involved in 73 percent of opioid-related deaths last year. According to the CDC’s preliminary data, “the 12-month count of synthetic opioid deaths increased 38.4% from the 12 months ending in June 2019 compared with the 12 months ending in May 2020.”
By Chun Han Wong, Wall Street Journal
HONG KONG—A Chinese court imposed a four-year prison term on a citizen journalist who documented how Covid-19 ravaged the city where the coronavirus was first detected, in a case that underscores the lengths to which Beijing has defended its official narrative of the pandemic.
Zhang Zhan, 37 years old, was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after a roughly 2½-hour trial at the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court on Monday, where prosecutors accused her of spreading falsehoods about the coronavirus pandemic through social-media posts and interviews with overseas media, her lawyers said.
The verdict came more than seven months after authorities detained Ms. Zhang in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the pandemic’s original epicenter, where she posted more than 120 YouTube videos chronicling conditions in the city and detailed what she saw as missteps in the government’s initial pandemic response.
Her detention dovetails with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s campaign to recast the coronavirus pandemic in China as a showcase of the Communist Party’s good governance, featuring extensive propaganda and censorship efforts aimed at mollifying public anger and suppressing criticism against missteps in the government’s initial response.
The ideology of the pigs.
What is the history of the Thin Blue Line flag, and what function does it serve in society today?
I’ve always thought the Chinese “social credit” system was merely a test market for what the global power elite wants to impose worldwide. Here it is.
By Rhett Jones, Gizmodo
With more services than ever collecting your data, it’s easy to start asking why anyone should care about most of it. This is why. Because people start having ideas like this.
In a new blog post for the International Monetary Fund, four researchers presented their findings from a working paper that examines the current relationship between finance and tech as well as its potential future. Gazing into their crystal ball, the researchers see the possibility of using the data from your browsing, search, and purchase history to create a more accurate mechanism for determining the credit rating of an individual or business. They believe that this approach could result in greater lending to borrowers who would potentially be denied by traditional financial institutions.
At its heart, the paper is trying to wrestle with the dawning notion that the institutional banking system is facing a serious threat from tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple. The researchers identify two key areas in which this is true: Tech companies have greater access to soft-information, and messaging platforms can take the place of the physical locations that banks rely on for meeting with customers.
Maria Theobald, TIME
Marie Sanchez, chief tribal judge on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, arrived in Geneva in 1977 with a clear message to deliver to the United Nations Convention on Indigenous Rights. American Indian women, she argued, were targets of the “modern form” of genocide—sterilization.
Over the six-year period that had followed the passage of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, physicians sterilized perhaps 25% of Native American women of childbearing age, and there is evidence suggesting that the numbers were actually even higher. Some of these procedures were performed under pressure or duress, or without the women’s knowledge or understanding. The law subsidized sterilizations for patients who received their health care through the Indian Health Service and for Medicaid patients, and black and Latina women were also targets of coercive sterilization in these years.
By Alice Speri, The Intercept
The police killing of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in Kentucky in March when plainclothes officers barged into her apartment in the middle of the night, has set off a series of state and local efforts to ban “no-knock” raids — the police practice of breaking into someone’s home unannounced to execute a search warrant. A bill introduced by New York state legislators on Thursday goes further than most of those efforts, seeking to not only ban the vast majority of no-knock raids, but also strictly limit other avenues for forcible entry by police.
The New York bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Brian Benjamin and James Sanders Jr. and Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell, seeks to limit the use of unannounced, no-knock raids to the most severe circumstances, like the pursuit of a murder suspect or incidents involving active shooters, hostage-taking, terrorism, or human trafficking. It would ban the issuance of no-knock warrants aimed exclusively at searching for drugs, currently the most common use of these heavily militarized raids. But unlike other current and draft state and local legislation, as well as three federal proposals, the New York bill would also impose a host of restrictions on what are known as “knock-and-announce” search warrants, a more common type of forcible entry that has led to dozens of deadly encounters in recent years.
If we must have presidents, it should have been Tulsi. Although, interestingly, she’s too conservative for liberals, too liberal for conservatives, too moderate for radicals, and too radical for moderates.
By C.J. Ciaramella, Reason
Chicago police burst into the apartment of an innocent woman based on a faulty tip and handcuffed her while she was naked, forcing her to stand in full view of male officers as they searched her home, newly revealed body camera footage shows.
Local news outlet CBS 2, which has been investigating wrong-door raids by Chicago police for the past several years, first aired the footage of the 2019 incident last night, despite an attempt by the city of Chicago to block the TV station from running it.
“I feel like they didn’t want us to have this video because they knew how bad it was,” the woman in the footage, Anjanette Young, told CBS 2. “They knew they had done something wrong. They knew that the way they treated me was not right.”
The body camera footage is part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Young, who alleges the February 21, 2019 police raid traumatized her and violated her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The psychiatric imprisonment of dissidents. Sounds very Soviet.
By Jeanne Smits, Lifesite News
December 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Early on December 10, Jean-Bernard Fourtillan, a French retired university professor known for his strong opposition to COVID-19 vaccines such as those presently being distributed in the U.K., was taken from his temporary home in the south of France by a team of “gendarmes” — French law enforcement officers under military command — and forcibly placed in solitary confinement at the psychiatric hospital of Uzès. His mobile phones were taken from him, and at the time of writing, he had not been allowed to communicate with the outside world. The order for his internment appears to have been issued by the local “préfet,” the official representative of the French executive.
The systematic use of psychiatric hospitals in order to silence or punish political opponents became widespread under communism, having started shortly after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917. The method developed under Stalin and then expanded as opposition to the “socialist paradise” came to be considered a sign of mental illness. Under the 1966 penal code of the USSR, repression of dissidents openly targeted those who “spread false propaganda defaming the Soviet State and its social system.”
Surprise, surprise, surprise…
By Kate Hodal, The Guardian
The state of civil liberties around the world is bleak, according to a new study which found that 87% of the global population were living in nations deemed “closed”, “repressed” or “obstructed”.
The figure is a 4% increase on last year’s, as civil rights were found to have deteriorated in almost every country in the world during Covid-19. A number of governments have used the pandemic as an excuse to curtail rights such as free speech, peaceful assembly and freedom of association, according to Civicus Monitor, an alliance of civil society groups which assessed 196 countries.
By using methods such as detention of protesters, excessive use of force, censorship, attacks on journalists, and harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, many governments have used Covid-19 to “introduce or implement additional restrictions on civic freedoms”, the report said.
The police state meets the therapeutic state.
By Jeffrey Schweers, Tallahassee.Com
State police brandishing firearms Monday raided the Tallahassee home of Rebekah Jones, the former Department of Health data scientist who built the state’s much-praised COVID-19 dashboard before being fired over what she said was refusing to “manipulate data.”
“They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids,” Jones tweeted shortly before 5 p.m.
Jones — who launched her own COVID-19 dashboard after she was fired, and used crowdsourcing to raise money to support it — said the agents knocked on her door around 8:30 a.m. that morning, took all her “hardware and tech” after showing her a warrant based on a complaint filed by the Florida Department of Health.
A video accompanying the post shows Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in vests at the front door with guns drawn, asking who else was in the house. She said her husband and two children were inside as they escorted her out of the house.