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A Walk Across New Hampshire For Aaron

By: themomcat Saturday January 11, 2014 3:52 pm

Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, the computer coder and Internet freedom activist, who committed suicide while facing prosecution on federal hacking charges. So, today, in Aaron’s memory and for the causes he believed in, Harvard University Professor Lawrence Lessig is walking across New Hampshire

Aaron Swartz photo imagesqtbnANd9GcSri_QsacSc5jhQFcunN_zps1a2d5300.jpg He is trying to build a coalition called New Hampshire Rebellion to fight the corrupting influence of money in politics ahead of the crucial 2016 presidential primary in the state. [..]

Lessig said it was a conversation with Swartz that propelled him to shift the focus of his work from Internet freedom to political corruption in 2007.

“He said to me, ‘Why are you wasting your time working on these Internet issues or these copyright issues, when you know that none of the ideas you’re pushing would ever be addressed because of the political system?’” Lessig recalled.

Lessig is asking supporters to join him as he walks across New Hampshire in segments — 10 miles on Saturday, 20 miles on Sunday, more down the road — to reach out to voters. His walk also will honor the work of Doris Haddock, more commonly known as Granny D, the New Hampshire political activist who advocated campaign finance reform until her death in 2010 at age 100.

Aaron’s Walk: The New Hampshire Rebellion
By Lawrence Lessig, Huffington Post

A year ago tomorrow, Aaron Swartz left. He had wound us all up, pointed us in a million directions, we were all working as hard as we could, moving things forward. And then he was gone. [..]

I wanted to find a way to mark this day. I wanted to feel it, as physically painful as it was emotionally painful one year ago, and every moment since. So I am marking it with the cause that he convinced me to take up seven years ago and which I am certain he wanted to make his legacy too.

On Saturday, we begin a walk across the state of New Hampshire, to launch a campaign to bring about an end to the system of corruption that we believe infects DC. This is the New Hampshire Rebellion .

Fifteen years after New Hampshire’s Doris Haddock (aka, “Granny D”), at 88, began her famous walk from LA to DC with the sign “CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM” on her chest, a dozen or so of us will start to walk in Dixville Notch, NH, the place the first 2016 presidential ballots will be cast. For two weeks, with more than 100 joining us along the way, we will walk south across New Hampshire, ending up in Nashua, NH, on the day Granny D was born.

Along the way, we will recruit everyone we can to do one thing: We want them to ask every presidential candidate at every event between now and January 2016, this one question: “How will YOU end the system of corruption in DC?” [..]

You can help. Please help. You can still join the walk. You can spread the word of the walk (tweet #NHRWalk linked to nhrebellion.org). You can sign a petition from wherever you are to push the candidates to answer this one question. Or, with just a few clicks, you can send support that will help this movement grow.

For Aaron

 

Happy Birthday, Willie

By: themomcat Monday April 29, 2013 4:16 pm

Singer, song writer, poet, author and activist Willie Nelson is 80 today, or maybe tomorrow

The singer whose birthday is Monday or Tuesday – Nelson says April 29, the state of Texas claims April 30 – occupies a unique space in America’s cultural memory. A walking bag of contradictions, he wears his hair long in braids and has a penchant for pot smoking, yet remains arguably conservative country music’s greatest songwriter. He’s accepted by left and right, black and white and is instantly recognizable to a majority of Americans.Like few other music stars, his image has grown to represent more than the notes he’s played or the lyrics he’s written. Like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or Frank Sinatra, he’s become a figurehead for a uniquely American way of thinking. He represents the outlaw and the maverick. If Elvis was all about the pelvis and the sexual revolution, Nelson is American independence: the raised middle finger tossed with a twinkle in the eye.

Willie’s activism has brought attention to such causes as small farmers, organizing Farm Aid in 1985 along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp that still raises money for small family farmers.

He is also the co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board that supports its legalization, regulation and taxation.

Willie’s activism doesn’t end there. He has support and invested in biodiesal, the better treatment for horses and the LGBT movement calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In 2008, Willie was interviewed by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!. Here is an excerpt from that hour long interview

“One person carrying a message can change the world.”

Happy Birthday, Willie, and many more.

In Memoriam: Richie Havens 1941 – 2013

By: themomcat Monday April 22, 2013 8:05 pm

Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens passed away Monday morning from a sudden heart attack . He was 72.

Havens, widely admired for his briskly rhythmic guitar style and richly textured voice, became a part of history for serving as the opening performer at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

Havens transfixed the crowd at the start of that storied weekend. In a way, he had to. He was asked by the organizers to extend his set to nearly three hours to kill time since most of the other performers hadn’t yet reached the site, due to the choking crowds. Havens’ subsequent improvisation on the spiritual “Motherless Child” – threaded with his own inspired vamp of “Freedom” – become one of the festival’s signature sounds.

Havens’ reputation as a live performer earned him widespread notice. His Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours (in part because he was told to perform a lengthy set because many artists were delayed in reaching the festival location), and was called back for several encores. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child” that became “Freedom”. The subsequent Woodstock movie release helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in late August 1969. [..]

Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization Richie describes as “a way of helping kids learn that they can have a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes from something as simple as planting a garden in an abandoned lot.

Richie passed away on Earth Day.

May the Goddess guide him on his journey to the Summerlands. May his family and and friends and all the world find Peace.

Freedom at Woodstock 1969

Blessed Be. The Wheel Turns.

Health Alert:: Meningitis Outbreak in NYC Among Gay Men

By: themomcat Sunday March 24, 2013 1:25 am

 photo 0c241d24-e917-4bad-ae36-d0af60a76f71_zps6fb99f85.jpg A health alert has been issued by the New York City Health Department warning of an outbreak of deadly new strain of bacterial meningitis among gay men. They are recommending all gay men, regardless of HIV status get a vaccination.

Health Department Issues New Vaccination Recommendations for Men at Greatest Risk for Contracting Meningitis

Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported in 2013. Three of the last five cases have been fatal.

March 6, 2013 – The Health Department issued new recommendations today for vaccinating against invasive meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis – after an increase in cases. Vaccinations are now advised for men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application (“App”), or at a bar or party.

Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported since the beginning of January, bringing the total to 17 cases since 2012. There have been 22 reported cases – including seven fatal cases – since 2010.

“Meningitis symptoms usually come on quickly, and the disease can be fatal if not treated right away,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Vaccination is the best defense. I urge all men who meet these criteria – regardless of whether they identify as gay – to get vaccinated now and protect themselves from this disease before it is too late.” [..]

Vaccination prevents, but does not treat, current infection. Common symptoms of meningitis are: high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash that develop rapidly upon onset. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days. Meningitis can be fatal if not treated promptly. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

People should first ask their health care providers if they have the vaccine. For those who cannot obtain the vaccine from their health care providers, Health Department clinics can administer the vaccine. Locations are listed at the Health Department’s [Site Locator https://a816-healthpsi.nyc.gov/DispensingSiteLocator/mainView.do].

The recent meningitis cases have affected men throughout the five boroughs. Elected officials throughout the City are encouraging people to get vaccinated.

This strain of bacterial meningitis is very different. The symptoms of this variant go from a headache and fever to a rash and death within hours of onset. So fast that many of its victims never make to a doctor or a hospital. It has killed one third of all its victims. Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported in 2013. Three of the last five cases have been fatal.

The meningitis vaccine is available at many health clinics, hospitals and private doctors’ offices, and is effective against the new strain. To find out where you can be vaccinated in NYC call 311.

In Aaron’s Name, Change This Law

By: themomcat Tuesday January 15, 2013 7:39 pm

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

SOPA Reddit WarriorComputer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer, and Internet activist, but most of all son, brother and friend, Aaron Swartz tragically took his own life last week]. One of the many achievements of Aaron’s too short life was to win a battle in the war for Internet Freedom, he helped lead the fight to Stop SOPA. SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act bill that sought to monitor the Internet for copyright violations and would have made it easier for the U.S. government to shut down websites accused of violating copyright.

This was Aaron’s address at F2C:Freedom to Connect 2012, Washington DC on May 21 2012.

Now we have a battle to fight in Aaron’s name to reform the law that overzealous federal prosecutors used against him, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Marcia Hoffman, senior staff attorney for Electronic Freedom Foundation, lays out the case for fixing this draconian law:

Problem 1: Hacking laws are too broad, and too vague

Among other things, the CFAA makes it illegal to gain access to protected computers “without authorization” or in a manner that “exceeds authorized access.” Unfortunately, the law doesn’t clearly explain what a lack of “authorization” actually means. Creative prosecutors have taken advantage of this confusion to craft criminal charges that aren’t really about hacking a computer but instead target other behavior the prosecutors don’t like. [..]

Problem 2: Hacking laws have far too heavy-handed penalties

The penalty scheme for CFAA violations is harsh and disproportionate to the magnitude of offenses. Even first-time offenses for accessing a protected computer “without authorization” can be punishable by up to five years in prison each (ten years for repeat offenses) plus fines. It’s worth nothing that five years is a relatively light maximum penalty by CFAA standards; violations of other parts of that law are punishable by up to ten years, 20 years, and even life in prison. [..]

The Upshot

The CFAA’s vague language, broad reach, and harsh punishments combine to create a powerful weapon for overeager prosecutors to unleash on people they don’t like. Aaron was facing the possibility of decades in prison for accessing the MIT network and downloading academic papers as part of his activism work for open access to knowledge. No prosecutor should have tools to threaten to end someone’s freedom for such actions, but the CFAA helped to make that fate a realistic fear for Aaron.

In Aaron’s name please call on Congress and the White House to change this law.

Click here to send your message to your congressional representatives.

Please sign the Petition to President Barack Obama to Reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to reflect the realities of computing and networks in 2013.

Do this not just in Aaron’s name but mine, yours and everyone who uses the internet.

Obama Invoking “State Secrets” to Assassinate an American

By: themomcat Saturday September 25, 2010 11:19 am

Covering Up War Crimes

Late last night under cover of Friday darkness, the Obama DOJ filed a brief requesting that U.S. District Judge Robert Bates dismiss a law suit over its targeting of an American citizen for assassination in another country. The government claims that the case would reveal "states secrets".

Government lawyers called the state-secrets argument a last resort to toss out the case, and it seems likely to revive a debate over the reach of a president’s powers in the global war against al-Qaeda.

Civil liberties groups sued the U.S. government on behalf of Aulaqi’s father, arguing that the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command’s placement of Aulaqi on a capture-or-kill list of suspected terrorists – outside a war zone and absent an imminent threat – amounted to an extrajudicial execution order against a U.S. citizen. They asked a U.S. district court in Washington to block the targeting.

In response, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the groups are asking "a court to take the unprecedented step of intervening in an ongoing military action to direct the President how to manage that action – all on behalf of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization."

Miller added, "If al-Aulaqi wishes to access our legal system, he should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions."

Now if that isn’t a "Catch 22". . .

"The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy," the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights said.

"In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check," they said.

Is this is the higher bar for keeping "state secrets" that that President Obama had Attorney General Eric Holder set just last year?

Bush and Cheney must be proud of Obama.

Up Date: From Marcy at emptywheel

Obama Doesn’t Know Why the Fuck He’s Entitled to Kill Al-Awlaki, He Just Is, Damnit

The most striking aspect of the government’s motion to dismiss the ACLU/CCR lawsuit challenging the use of targeted killing is that the government does not commit to the basis for its authority to kill an American citizen like Anwar al-Awlaki with no review.

(my emphasis)

From Glen Greenwald at Salon:

Obama argues his assassination program is a "state secret"

But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is "state secrets": in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate its legality.

h/t lambert @ Corrente

See also Stopping Obama’s Targeted Assassinations

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette