Posting or Hosting Sex Ads Could Mean 25 Years in Federal Prison Under New Republican Proposal Reply

More creeping Stalinism.

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Reason

Looking forward to a future when federal agents monitor Tinder? We won’t be far off if some folks in Congress get their way.

Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.), anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties. This is obviously bad news for sex workers, but it would also leave digital platforms—including dating apps, social media, and classifieds sites such as Craigslist—open to serious legal liability for the things users post.

In effect, it would give government agents more incentive and authority to monitor sex-related apps, ads, forums, and sites of all sorts. And it would give digital platforms a huge incentive to track and regulate user speech more closely.

Goodlatte’s measure was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from the Missouri Republican Ann Wagner. The House Judiciary Committee will consider both bills on Tuesday.

Wagner’s legislation (H.R. 1865) would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way. So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.

The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.

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Cultural Marxism: One of Those Legitimising Ideologies that Come and Go Reply

Totalitarian humanism is only the latest manifestation of a more traditional enemy. Ultimately, our enemy is not any one ideology but the state itself, as Albert Jay Nock pointed out.

By Sean Gabb

Last month, I wrote a defence of Charlie Elphicke, my Member of Parliament. He had been suspended from the Conservative Party while the Police investigated him for an alleged sexual assault. He has still not been arrested or charged. He has still not been told the nature of the complaint against him. It may be that he is about to be unmasked as a serial sex-murderer. More likely, the sinister clowns who direct law enforcement in this country have found nothing that even they regard as an assault worth prosecuting. But, if the former of these possibilities might embarrass me, the general reflections I made on his case stand by themselves. What I wish now to do is to elaborate on these reflections.

I begin by granting that ideologies are in themselves important. They are sets of propositions about the world that are true or false in much the same way as a scientific hypothesis is true or false. They are true or false regardless of what motives people may have for adopting them. This being granted, every person is born with a set of dispositions that draws him to accepting a particular ideology. Some of us are born with a dislike of pushing others around. This will not invariably make us into free market libertarians. But it will incline us to less intrusive formulations of whatever ideology is accepted. There are liberal Catholics and liberal Moslems. There have even been liberal Marxists. Others are born with a will to dominate. These will gather round the most fashionable intolerant ideology on offer.

Last month, I used the examples of Calvinism and Cultural Marxism. These were and are legitimising ideologies. Each has different formal propositions. Each has different enemies. Each has different effects on the character. But their essential function, so far as they can be made hegemonic, is to justify the gaining and use of power by an authoritarian élite – or by “The Puritans.”

If you want to see this case made at greater length, I refer you to my earlier essay. The case briefly stated, I turn to what may follow from it.

This is to suggest that direct argument with the Puritans is of limited value. Our own Puritans are Cultural Marxists for reasons other than the truth or falsehood of Cultural Marxism. Because its surface claims about treating people as individuals, and not being rude to them, are broadly in line with public opinion, it is an ideal legitimising ideology. If our Puritans had, after about 1970, taken up traditional Calvinism, or Orthodox Marxism-Leninism, or National Socialism, they would have got nowhere. The social liberalism of the previous two decades would have rolled straight over them. Instead, there was the combination, in Britain and America, of a large cohort of those inclined to Puritanism and an ideology, or set of ideologies, that could be shaped into a powerful legitimising ideology. It may be that the universe as a whole is locked into a rigid scheme of cause and effect. In this case, what happened was inevitable. But looking only at those parts of the universe we can understand and control, I think there was an element of contingency here. We are where we are because of a largely accidental discovery by the Puritans of a legitimising ideology that worked for them.

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‘It falls woefully short’: Charlottesville residents criticize report on white supremacist rally Reply

By Ellie Silverman
Washington Post

William Fears, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi from Houston who is holding the flag, clashes with a counterprotester at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
 
Charlottesville residents criticized the review of the city’s handling of the white supremacist rally in August, saying that it focused on the technicalities of the response but failed to discuss underlying racism.

Residents and officials packed a council meeting Monday evening, where former U.S. attorney Timothy Heaphy presented the findings of the independent review, which sharply criticized the police department for lacking the proper training and preparation to respond to the violent rally. At the first meeting since the report was publicly released Friday, residents expressed their anger and frustration with city officials and police.

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What Happened in Charlottesville? Reply

A summary of the findings of the investigation conducted by a private law firm commissioned by the city of Charlottesville. Assuming this summary is accurate, the findings are fairly consistent with my own observations about Charlottesville.

By Gregory Hood

American Renaissance

Independent report makes an honest effort to find out.

The law firm of Hunton & Williams has just issued an independent, 207-page report on the Unite the Right protest that took place in Charlottesville last August. The city of Charlottesville commissioned and paid for the report, but it is no cover up. It is a slashing indictment of the way the city prepared for and handled the demonstrations. It is a thorough vindication of the perspective of the Unite the Right demonstrators.

The report makes clear that the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) and its black chief, Al Thomas, had no intention of allowing the demonstration to take place. Astonishingly, the report leaves no doubt that Chief Thomas wanted the police to let enough violence go unchecked to justify an order to declare the event an “unlawful assembly” and shut it down. The report is also unflinching in its condemnation of police and city-administration bungling that virtually guaranteed continued violence even after the event was canceled.

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Anti-Nomianism 2

Anarcho-Dictator

Instead of a Blog

I do not want the police and courts to engage in activities normally approved of by minarchists and some anarchists – such as protecting private property or prosecuting murderers. This is for several reasons:

  1. Police are not legitimate representatives of the victims. As only a victim has the right to expropriatory or retaliatory force against the criminal (though this is transferable to third parties) the police have no authority to actually detain or prosecute criminals.
  2. The force deployed against a criminal act must be the minimum needed to dissuade or redress the criminal act. Even a violent criminal, who is not actively threatening others, may not be shot out of hand. And non-violent offenders – thieves and cheats – may not have physical force used against them except under circumstances where they are actively resisting duly transferred property made as compensation. Thus, the arrest, detainment and threats that police use in all their routine duties are in fact criminal aggression. The fact that their victim has committed criminal acts in no way counters this. Only an active threat – say a serial killer, or a soldier – may be met with open violence, even if he is attempting to evade capture. The sole exception would be where a capital offense occurs, i.e. a murder, and the victim’s heirs consent to have the criminal executed. In such a situation the outlaw may be slain out of hand by anyone, including third parties.
  3. The police do not actually redress wrongdoing and instead impose further costs on the victims and uninvolved parties. Even if the first and second problem were addressed – if it were somehow determined that the police and courts were representing the interests of the victim and were acting only with appropriate force – it would still be illegitimate to impose the costs of courts and imprisonment onto the general taxpayer. No one has a ‘right’ to justice or law or security – you have to pay for it or administer it yourself, if you want it.
  4. It is undesirable to promote the reliance of the citizenry on the apparatus of the state. The citizens should feel that the state is leaving them defenseless, that it takes from them but provides nothing. People should come to rely on themselves, their personal networks and alternative institutions to provide their protection and dispute arbitration – not agents of the state.
My position seems to make minarchism to be untenable – no tax-funded agency, regardless of its conduct otherwise, could possibly perform the ‘night watchmen’ function. I would also apply all of these considerations to so-called ‘national defense’. Soldiers are not ‘defending our country’, they’re defending the oligarchic ruling class and its tax-farm.

J20 protests: All you need to know about the nearly 200 people facing 60 years in jail for protesting Trump Reply

Defending all of those who come under attack by the state must be one of the first principles of a serious anarchist movement. This includes Communists protesting Donald Trump, Alt-Rightists protesting in favor of Confederate monuments, marijuana farmers attacked by the DEA, gun nuts attacked by the BATF, transgender prostitutes attacked by vice cops, purveyors of kiddie porn subject to illegal police entrapment schemes, gang members prosecuted under dubious conspiracy and racketeering laws, homophobic Christians who refuse to bake a gay wedding cake, and anyone else whom the state attacks.

disrupt J20

On 20 January, 2017, thousands of people poured into Washington DC to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. Nearly half a million people brandished signs and shouted slogans for the Women’s March. Thousands of protesters sparked up joints for a “Trump 420” protest in Dupont Circle. And hundreds marched in an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist rally organized by Disrupt J20.

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Texas Town Fires Police Dept., Hires Private Citizens For Security — Guess What Happened to Crime? Reply

We need for anarchists to start running for mayor of cities and towns with this as part of their platform. I’m serious.

Truth Fight.

The community of Sharpstown, Texas decided that they didn’t need the police any longer. They made a controversial decision to fire the local police department and hire private citizens, granted no special rights that ordinary citizens do not have, to keep them safe.

That was back in 2012, and since then, Sharpstown residents say the private security company, SEAL Security Solutions, have done a much better job than the police used to. Crimes is down 61% in only 20 months.

James Alexander, the director of operations for SEAL Security Solutions says that, “Since we’ve been in there, an independent crime study that they’ve had done [indicates] we’ve reduced the crime by 61 percent,” according to Guns.com.

All of that and they don’t have any special rights that you or I don’t have. That means they can’t arrest for misdemeanor crimes… and why should people be arrested for them anyway? It also means that they are held accountable the same way as anyone else.

The SEAL security patrolmen don’t “receive the same protection, as we are in the private sector,” Alexander said. This, he explains, leads to constant accountability and vigilance of their employees making sure they don’t do something to get fired.

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Top 10 Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System Reply

While many of these suggestions may be reasonable as far as modest reforms go, and some of these proposals are actually pretty far reaching, one thing that many “liberal” criminal justice reformers seem to have trouble figuring out is the need for fewer laws in the first place.

By Jessica Henry

Huffington Post

Vladek via Getty Images

It’s that time of year when people are making lists and checking them twice. Here is my action list about ways to fix the criminal justice system, with suggestions for steps we all can take. What would be on your list?

 

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Dissecting the American Police State 1

Related image

In recent years, there has been growing concern in some camps about matters involving police brutality, police militarization, mass incarceration, overcriminalization, electronic surveillance and related matters.

The bulk of the concerns of these kinds have come from the left end of spectrum, and raised by those who are concerned with racial disparities that can be observed within the framework of the police state. Yet there have also been some on the right end who have become concerned about the fiscal costs of mass incarceration, the social costs to families and communities, and the fact that the police state is now attacking population groups outside of traditional outgroups. When the police state primarily targeted blacks, Puerto Ricans, hookers, and the drug culture, the right-wing was all for it. However, it is now not uncommon to find middle class persons, older people, churchgoers, business people, and others outside of the traditional underclass or marginal sectors who have had run ins with the cops or the carceral state.

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How Common is Police Brutality in the United States? Reply

This is a peer reviewed article published last year by the British Medical Journal on the subject of police brutality in the United States and how frequently it occurs. The researchers summarized their findings as follows.

“US police killed or injured an estimated 55 400 people in 2012 (95% CI 47 050 to 63 740 for cases coded as police involved). Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics had higher stop/arrest rates per 10 000 population than white non-Hispanics and Asians. On average, an estimated 1 in 291 stops/arrests resulted in hospital-treated injury or death of a suspect or bystander. Ratios of admitted and fatal injury due to legal police intervention per 10 000 stops/arrests did not differ significantly between racial/ethnic groups. Ratios rose with age, and were higher for men than women.”

Read the entire article here.

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Maybe Abolishing America’s Police Forces Isn’t as Crazy as It Sounds Reply

The Underground Reporter

Are police necessary? Although this existential question often produces a knee-jerk ‘of course they are, who would protect us?’ a growing call for the abolition of police — and working examples to back it up — deserves more than scornful dismissal, particularly amid epidemic-level violence by agents of the state.

Police are under no obligation to protect the public they putatively serve — a series of state and Supreme Court decisions stretching back more than three decades indisputably establish this fact — so the lingering question, ‘who will protect us?’ is of no consequence to the case for dismantling every police department in the nation.

On the contrary, police kill, maim, intimidate, harass, and generally brutalize the citizenry with alarming frequency — and rarely face consequences beyond a paid vacation farcically termed ‘administrative leave’ for doing so.

Rather than fight and solve violent crimes, police act as little more than heavily militarized code-enforcers, or as David Graeber of the London School of Economics aptly terms, “bureaucrats with weapons” — protecting us from broken tail lights, missing front license plates, and imperfect lane changes more often than from robbery, homicide, and rape.

Give police the equipment and weapons of war under the premise of fighting terrorism, when terrorism is all but nonexistent, and predictably, they will go to war. As Abraham Maslow posited in 1966 in a concept known as the law of the instrument, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

We, the citizenry, are not nails to be forcibly and violently coerced into submission over the tiniest of nonviolent and inconsequential infractions — but, whether or not we’re inclined to admit as much, that summarizes our current situation in the eyes of an overbearing state and its criminalization of, in essence, daily life.

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How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have restarted the war on drugs Reply

Trump goes predictably full Nixon/Reagan on drug policy. Expect a backlash in the future given the racial implications of drug policy and the racially controversial nature of the Trump presidency.. The next Democratic President will likely be the furthest left the US has ever had. Just like Bill Clinton seems rather conservative by today’s standards, the next Democratic President will likely make Obama seem comparatively right-wing.

By Lois Beckett

The Guardian

Shauna Barry-Scott remembers the moment she felt the American fever for mass incarceration break. It was an August morning in 2013, and she was in a federal prison in the mountains of West Virginia. She remembers crowding into the TV room with the other women in their khaki uniforms. Everyone who could get out of their work shifts was there, waiting. Good news was on the way, advocates had told them. Watch for it.

Some of her fellow inmates were cynical: it seemed like millions of rumors of reform had swept through the federal prison system to only then dissolve. Barry-Scott did not blame them, but she was more hopeful.

At age 41, she had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession with the intent to distribute 4.5 ounces of crack cocaine. “Think of a 12oz can of Coke, cut that in a third,” she explains. “And that’s what I got 20 years for.” The sentence made no sense to her. Barry-Scott’s son had been murdered in 1998, and the men charged with shooting him to death had to serve less time than she did – six and seven years each, she says.

But the amount of drugs in her possession had triggered a mandatory minimum sentence, part of a now-infamous law passed in 1986 to impose punitive sentences for certain offenses amid a rising panic over drug abuse. In 1980, some 25,000 people were incarcerated in federal prisons. By 2013 after four decades of America’s war on drugs, there were 219,000. Yet this population was just a small fraction of the estimated 2.3 million Americans locked up not only in federal prisons, but also in state facilities and local jails.

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Battlefield America Is the New Normal: We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore Reply

Once again, John Whitehead shows himself to be one of the most important commentators out there.

By John W. Whithead

The Rutherford Institute

If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers? If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier’s mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not.”— Arthur Rizer, former police officer and member of the military

America, you’ve been fooled again.

While the nation has been distracted by a media maelstrom dominated by news of white supremacists, Powerball jackpots, Hurricane Harvey, and a Mayweather v. McGregor fight, the American Police State has been carving its own path of devastation and destruction through what’s left of the Constitution.

We got sucker punched.

First, Congress overwhelmingly passed—and President Trump approved—a law allowing warrantless searches of private property for the purpose of “making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.”

For now, the scope of the law is geographically limited to property near the Washington DC Metro system, but mark my words, this is just a way of testing the waters. Under the pretext of ensuring public safety by “inspecting” property in the vicinity of anything that could be remotely classified as impacting public safety, the government could gain access to almost any private property in the country.

Then President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions and to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program.

What this means is that police agencies, only minimally deterred by the Obama administration’s cosmetic ban on certain types of military gear, can now go hog-wild.

We’re talking Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, armored vehicles, and tanks.

Clearly, we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

Or if this is Mayberry, it’s Mayberry in The Twilight Zone.

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State Censorship, Corporate Censorship: A Libertarian View Reply

Sean Gabb has a timely article on the problem of censorship being outsourced from the state to state-allied institutions in present day society. This should motivate many right-leaning libertarians to rethink the overly neat and tidy “public vs. private” dichotomy that right-libertarians frequently embrace. Instead, we need to apply the insights of elite theory and recognize that governments, corporations, universities, and the mass media are all part of the same state/ruling class/power elite apparatus.

By Sean Gabb

Every age we have so far known has been one of censorship. This is not to say that opinion has been equally constrained in all times and places. Sometimes, as in the Soviet Union, it has been oppressive and omnipresent – even extending to an imposition of orthodoxy on the natural sciences. More often, it has been focussed on perceived criticisms of the established political and religious order. Sometimes, dissent has been permitted among the intellectual classes – especially when expressed in a language unknown to the people at large, and only punished when communicated to the people at large. Sometimes, a diversity of political orders has limited any particular censorship to an area of just a few square hundreds of miles. Sometimes it has been limited by a general belief in the right of free expression. But I can think of no time or place where publication has been absolutely unconstrained.

If I look at modern England, I cannot say that censorship is as oppressive and omnipresent as it was in the Soviet Union. I cannot think of any opinion that cannot somehow be expressed. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not wish to do any of these things. However, if I want to deny the holocaust, I can. If I want to argue for sex with children, I can. If I want to claim that the coloured races are intellectually or morally inferior, I can. If I want to say that homosexuality is a dreadful sin that will be punished by everlasting torments, I can. If I want to argue – in the abstract – for the rightness of shooting politicians, I can. The law punishes what are regarded as inflammatory expressions of such belief. It punishes expressions of such belief when they are regarded as affecting known individuals. But I am not aware of a law that makes it a crime to publish sober and abstract expressions of any opinion.

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Trump: Let Our Police Armor Up Like Soldiers Reply

Trump is not Hitler or Mussolini, but he is Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller, and that’s bad enough.

Apparently believing it will bolster his pro-police image, the Trump Administration has announced that it is reversing President Obama’s 2015 restrictions on the provision of certain U.S. military equipment to local American police forces.

Announcing the move on Monday to the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Nashville, Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused the former president of putting “superficial concerns above public safety” and cheered Trump’s decision, telling police that allowing cops to have military gear will send a message that “we will not allow criminal activity, violence, and lawlessness to become the new normal.”

Far from superficial, the concerns surrounding local police forces being given weapons of war had longstanding and serious implications for American society. This was true particularly after the Global War on Terror fueled an increase in military spending that left even more surplus military goods to be doled out to the police.

Providing local police with bayonets and amphibious tanks has concerned civil rights groups since the program began back in 1997. This is primarily because to the extent police were ever asked to justify these acquisitions at all, they tended to present them as riot control gear to contend with civil unrest. With America in a state of constant warfare since 2001, this was not some idle excuse, but rather reflective of a broad change in mentality.

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The Real Joe Arpaio: A Career Scumbag Reply

By Nathan J. Robinson

Current Affairs

If you are a Trump supporter, the president has just pardoned “America’s toughest sheriff,” a man who was willing to fight illegal immigration using any means at his disposal. If you are a liberal, Trump has pardoned a despicable racist, a man who spent decades casually violating the civil liberties of Latinos. And if you are a balanced and neutral news organization, Trump has pardoned a “controversial” sheriff who faced “accusations of abuse” and “defied a court order.” These are the terms on which the debate about Arpaio is had: is he a vindictive bigot who neglected his prisoners or a steely lawman who dared to enforce immigration policy when the Feds wouldn’t? (Perhaps we’ll just call him “polarizing.”)

But none of these perspectives actually capture the full truth about Joe Arpaio. And I am worried that even those who detest Trump and are appalled by this pardon do not entirely appreciate the depth of Arpaio’s evil, or understand quite how indefensible what Donald Trump just has done is. Frankly I think even Trump may not fully realize the extent of the wrongdoing that he has just signaled his approval of. And I think it’s very important to be clear: the things Joe Arpaio is nationally infamous for, the immigration crackdown and the tent city, these are only the beginning.

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How Will the State Respond to Growing Antifa/Alt-Right Violence? 2

By Keith Preston

The State exists for the purpose of maintaining a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a particular geographical territory in order to more effectively control resources, exploit subjects, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, and expand its own power both internally and externally. The State does this while maintaining a self-legitimating ideological superstructure, and buying the loyalty of the middle class by suppressing the lower/underclass. The State is what you would get if the Mafia managed to eliminate all of its competitors, including the State itself, and consequently become a state of its own.

At times, the State will seek to maintain total control over every aspect of social life (e.g. the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, present day North Korea or Islamist regimes like ISIS, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia, or Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories). However, most modern states allow for a fairly robust civil society to exist that may actually have the effect of affording the average person a fair amount of comfort. States of these kinds, so-called “liberal democracies,” may even encourage intense political debate within certain narrow parameters (or even fairly broad parameters). Some states will allow or even encourage a fair amount crime and disorder in order to legitimize the expansion of state power to an even greater degree (what the late paleconservative writer Samuel Francis called “anarcho-tyranny’‘). For example, isn’t it interesting that in spite of the massive police and prison systems that now exist in the United States, one third of all murders go unsolved?

However, no state can allow disorder to spiral too far out of control, or it will lose its legitimacy in the process. A state of this kind is a protection racket that continues to engage in extortion and exploitation, but can no longer offer actual protection. Hence, states tend to be very sensitive to perceived threats to their own legitimacy. At present, the violence that is taking place between the Antifa, Alt-Right, and their various allies certainly poses no threat to the state. America in 2017 is light years away from Weimar Germany in 1932. But the important question involves the issue of to what degree the State will continue allow such violence to persist, if indeed it does persist, which it may not. That remains to be seen.

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Charlottesville, Occupy Wall St And The Neoliberal Police State Reply

I am currently of the view that the alt-right has lost whatever potential it ever had to be a genuine radical force in domestic US politics. While the alt-right started out with a certain amount of promise seven or eight years ago, over time it has degenerated into reactionary 1920s style white nationalism, idiotic slogans and memes, support for Donald Trump, and apparently more recently, full-blown neo-Nazism. Sorry, folks, but that’s a serious dead end. However, this analysis of the “neoliberal police state” by an alt-rightist who is a veteran of other movements is actually quite accurate, irrespective of what one thinks of the ideological content of this piece.

By Ahad

AltRight.Com

The truth about Charlottesville is finally starting to come out, but there are still far too many in America who don’t yet seem to be aware of it, or of the magnitude of its implications.

The first violation of our basic civil rights occurred the week before, when our totally lawful permit to hold a rally protesting the planned removal of the Robert E. Lee statue, located Emancipation Park in the downtown, was unconstitutionally moved to another park located nearly two miles outside of town and out of sight of the Lee statue.

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Which will it be: Unequivocal support for Israel or our First Amendment rights? Reply

If this legislation is enacted, it will be one of the most severe curtailments of political freedom in the United States’ history. And yet our right-wing “anti-Zionists” and our left-wing “anti-imperialists” are wasting time fighting over statues.

By Justine McCabe, CT Viewpoints

An alarming paradox has taken shape in legislation before Congress:  Our representatives would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights in order to protect the State of Israel.

This draconian legislation is H.R. 1697/S. 720, the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” is a proposed law that could harshly penalize the free speech of Americans who support the international Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

By amending existing laws (Export Administration act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945), this bill would prohibit Americans from supporting BDS against Israel, as an ally of the U.S.  This would include barring an American from promoting boycotts of Israel’s illegal settlements and their products, as well as even requesting information about BDS.  Beyond muzzling our constitutional right to speak freely, express political opinions, the punishments themselves are extreme: minimal civil penalty of $250,000 and maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

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This piece of pro-Israel legislation is a serious threat to free speech Reply

I can’t think of any time since the conspiracy trials of the late 1960s and early 1970s that there has been an effort to attack political freedom on this magnitude and in such a direct manner.

By David Cole and Faiz Shakir

Washington Post

David Cole is national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Faiz Shakir is national political director of the ACLU.

The right to boycott has a long history in the United States, from the American Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Montgomery bus boycott to the campaign for divestment from businesses serving apartheid South Africa. Nowadays we celebrate those efforts. But precisely because boycotts are such a powerful form of expression, governments have long sought to interfere with them — from King George III to the police in Alabama, and now to the U.S. Congress.

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Private Prison Demands Small Town Give It 300 More Prisoners or It Will Close Down Reply

Where are the Shining Path when you need them?

Anti-Media

New Mexico — A small community in New Mexico is learning firsthand the consequences of relying on corporate industry to fuel your economy. In the case of Torrance County, it’s the private prison industry. From a July 25 article by the Santa Fe New Mexican:

“The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials.”

The closure of the prison would mean a loss of about $700,000 in annual taxes and utility payments for the town of Estancia, which has a population of 1,500. Surrounding Torrance County would see a loss of around $300,000. Incidentally, the county has no jail of its own, meaning the sheriff’s department would have to find new housing for the 50 to 75 people it arrests each month.

“This is a big issue for us,” county manager Belinda Garland told the Santa Fe New Mexican“It’s going to affect Torrance County in a big way.”

The corporate entity that operates the facility, CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — is the second-largest private prison company in the nation. CoreCivic spokesman Jonathan Burns said this of the closing:

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Oregon bill decriminalizes possession of heroin, cocaine and other drugs Reply

Oregon: Soon to be a Pan-Anarchist homeland for druggies?

This bill isn’t as radical as it sounds but it’s a start.

By Nicole Lewis

Washington Post

An Oregon bill that passed last week makes possession of small amounts of drugs such as cocaine, shown here, a misdemeanor instead of a felony. (istock photo)

First-time offenders caught with small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs will face less jail time and smaller fines under a new bill approved by the Oregon legislature that aims to curb mass incarceration.

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