Luminous Animal's Journal
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Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 02:06 PM
Number of posts: 23,078
Current location: San Francisco
Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2003, 02:06 PM
Number of posts: 23,078
- 2015 (3)
- 2014 (13)
- 2013 (33)
- 2012 (59)
- 2011 (4)
- December (4)
- Older Archives
Posted by Luminous Animal | Thu Feb 5, 2015, 03:08 AM (0 replies)
Journalist Barrett Brown looks back in anger at the government’s trumped up charges against him as he starts a 63 month prison sentence.
Not long ago I was a mild-mannered freelance journalist, activist, and satirist, contributing to outlets like the Guardian and Vanity Fair. But last Thursday I was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in a case that Reporters Without Borders cited as a key factor in its reduction of America’s press freedom rankings from 33 to 46. As inconvenient as this is for me, the upside is that for the first time in the two and a half years since I was arrested, I am at last able to speak freely about what has been happening to me and why—and what it means for the press and the republic as a whole.
A portion of my sentence stems from an attempt I made to conceal from the government the identities of certain contacts of mine: pro-democracy activists living under Middle Eastern dictatorships such as Bahrain, with which the U.S. is known to share intelligence on such things. Another large chunk is due to an admittedly ill-conceived public threat I made—in the midst of opiate withdrawal and what court psychologists say was a manic state brought on by medication issues—to investigate and humiliate an F.B.I. agent, who had himself threatened to indict my mother in an attempt to get me to cooperate against individuals associated with the Anonymous movement (my mother was indeed charged). Though I clearly stated that my intent was not violent, the prosecution claimed that my “victim,” Dallas-based Special Agent Robert Smith, had reason to fear that I might physically harm him and even his children—in which case it is not immediately obvious why the prosecution felt the need to alter the end of the sentence in question when quoting it on the indictment. (My complete statement, (PDF) in which I make a point of noting that I was merely going to proceed along lines spelled out by the FBI-linked contractor C.E.O. Aaron Barr while he was investigating activists on behalf of his corporate clients, and that I was doing so perfunctorily, and merely in order to make a point about the F.B.I.’s traditional reluctance to investigate its allies, has been viewed on YouTube by well over 100,000 people, including the dozens of reporters who have covered the story; none of them seem to agree with the Department of Justice contention that a journalist’s threat to “look into” someone in an explicitly non-violent manner necessarily entails violence.) A separate declaration I made to the effect that I’d defend my family from any illegal armed raids by the government, while silly and bombastic, was not actually illegal under the threats statutes. To judge from similar comments made by Senator Joni Ernst, it would not even have necessarily precluded me from delivering the G.O.P.’s recent response to the State of the Union address.
But the charges that prompted the most international outrage were those alleging fraud. In late 2011, I copied and pasted a link to a publicly-available file, which chat transcripts introduced in court showed that I initially believed to contain the same leaked corporate emails I’d long been in the habit of reviewing for my Guardian articles. The file turned out to contain customer data, including credit card numbers. Although the government’s own forensics showed that I never opened the file, the D.O.J. contended (PDF) that I had thereby engaged in 11 counts of aggravated identity theft, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.
I also had to plea to an Accessory After the Fact charge for having contacted the corporate espionage outfit Stratfor after some Anonymous-affiliated hackers stole several million of the firm’s emails and vowed to publish them online; I offered to arrange with the hackers to redact any of those communications that could potentially have endangered any foreign contacts if made public. For this, I will not only serve additional prison time, but have also been ordered to pay the company over $800,000—which is to say that I will spend the rest of my life in a strange state of post-cyberpunk indentured servitude to an amoral private intelligence firm that’s perhaps best known for having spied on Bhopal activists on behalf of Dow Chemical. That the prosecution did not quite manage to articulate how I did any damage to this particular company did not seem to dissuade U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay in this matter. Likewise, His Honor did not express any visible interest in the fact that the F.B.I. itself has acknowledged having actually overseen the hack on Stratfor via its confidential informant, Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, who recently appeared in a national television interview with Charlie Rose to discuss his role in these matters.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Mon Feb 2, 2015, 03:20 PM (4 replies)
A very good read from a former employee of Charlie Hebdo. It's long and difficult to pull some snips but here goes…
To Charlie Hebdo, it’s always been good form to scoff at the “fat idiots” who like football and watching TF1 . A slippery slope. Belief in one’s own superiority, accustomed to looking down on the common herd, is the surest way to sabotage one’s own intellectual defences and to allow them to fall over in the least gust of wind. Your own, although supported by a good education, comfortable income and the pleasant team spirit of “Charlie’s gang”, collapsed at a stupefying speed. I remember a full-page article by Caroline Fourest which appeared on June 11 2008. In it, she recounted her friendly meeting with the Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot, who had gotten some grief for representing his Muslim fellow-countrymen in a particularly hilarious way. Judge for yourself: an imam dressed as Santa Claus buggering a goat, with the caption: “We have to share our traditions”. Or an Arab, slumped on a couch and lost in thought: “The Qur’an doesn’t say if you have to do anything to be on the dole for 30 years.” Or even the “monument to the slavery of white indigenous taxpayers”: a Dutch person in foot shackles, carrying a black person on his back, arms crossed and sucking on a pacifier. Foul racism? Oh come on, it’s freedom of expression! Certainly, Fourest granted, the slightly coarse humour of her friend “doesn’t always travel well”, but it must be understood “in the Dutch context which is ultra-tolerant, even angelic, towards fundamentalism.” Whose fault is it if Muslims leave themselves open to gags with export difficulties? That of Muslims themselves and their over-angelic allies, obviously. As Nekschot himself explained to Charlie Hebdo’s readers, “Muslims must understand that humour has been part of our tradition for centuries.”
No-one in your office up and quit after this insufficiently-noticed page, which after all did no more than sanctify a process which had begun six or seven years earlier. Birds of a tolerant feather flock together. But when I read this in your Le Monde article: “We are almost ashamed to remind you that anti-racism and passion for equality of all human beings are and will remain the founding principles of Charlie Hebdo”, the only information I got from it is that your team are not completely immune to shame. Really?
After Val and Fourest left in 2009, called to higher things - one as head of a public radio network, the other to the podiums of official anti-racism - we might have wondered if you would continue to follow their lead in their absence. The least we can say is that you have remained faithful to their line. You’ve absorbed it down to the core, it seems.
Today, those flies which Tignous never fails to add buzzing round the heads of his “beards” are more than ever attracted to your imagination, as soon as you “laugh at” Muslims. In a video posted on the Charlie Hebdo website at the end of 2011, we saw you, Charb, imitate the Islamic call to prayer, to the rapt giggles of your little buddies. What a hilarious new version of the Qur’anic recitation for your magazine’s deadline; Michel Leeb could not have done better. What collective poison would you have had to stew in to get to this point? From what psychological depths did you drag up the nerve to “laugh” at a cartoon representing veiled women baring their buttocks as they bow in prayer towards “Mecca-relle” ? This pathetic stream of crap isn’t even shameful; its stupidity embarrasses you, even before it reveals your state of mind, your vision of the world.
(Edited the title… I meant to point out that this was originally written in 2013)
Posted by Luminous Animal | Tue Jan 13, 2015, 12:15 PM (8 replies)
The ACLU defended Hale's efforts to obtain a law license in IL.
Aclu Sides With Supremacist On Right To Obtain Law License
White supremacist Matthew Hale's bid to practice law in Illinois has received a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which has filed a legal brief in support of Hale's petition to obtain a law license.
In a legal motion accepted Monday by the state Supreme Court, the ACLU argues that denying Hale a law license on the basis of racist beliefs is a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Fri Dec 19, 2014, 05:46 PM (1 replies)
A Cook County Circuit Court judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by Illinois Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan against white supremacist Matt Hale and his World Church of the Creator.
Ryan filed the suit in July, alleging that Hale's group is an unregistered charity. The civil suit contended that Hale's organization was subject to the state's Solicitation for Charity Act.
But today, Judge Julia M. Nowicki released a written ruling stating that the act is vague and unconstitutional, violating the defendants' 1st and 14th Amendment rights -- freedom of speech and due process, respectively.
Hale's attorney, Glenn Greenwald, said Hale is very happy with the decision, "but also very surprised that the judge was courageous enough to signify that all citizens, including Matt Hale, have the right to the same constitutional protections." Neither Hale nor his attorney, who practices in New York, was present at today's hearing at the Richard J. Daley Cente
The IL AG appealed to the IL Supreme Court. Greenwald defended Hale on Constitutional grounds in that venue, as well.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois attorney general's office and a white supremacist group clashed Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court on whether the group is a charity that must register with the state.
The World Church of the Creator, headed by Matt Hale of East Peoria, contended that the state's Solicitation for Charity Act was unconstitutionally vague--a position already upheld by a Cook County judge--and questioned whether Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan selectively enforced the law to quash the group's activities.
Hale's attorney, Glenn Greenwald of New York, argued that provisions in the law that call for patriotic, philanthropic and benevolent organizations to register as charities are ill defined. Greenwald contended that potential penalties for failing to abide by the law--such as a permanent ban on raising funds--are too severe if a group guesses wrong about how the law applies to it.
"Is it constitutional to have a law in which you don't know you have fallen afoul of it until you've been sued, and even then you have severe questions? I don't think so," Hale said after the hearing.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Fri Dec 19, 2014, 05:39 PM (1 replies)
Unfortunately, I cannot "see" the original copyright infringement lawsuit that was decided in January of 2002. What I can see is the are the appeals. The all cite attorney Todd Reardon as the attorney for Hale's church in regards to that matter.
Here is the link to the first and second appeals and also the link for the case which Hale sought to have Lefkow removed when she enforced the appeals court's decision AGAINST Hale:
All list Todd Reardon as Hale's attorney.
It cites the case that Judge Lefkow decided FOR Hale (below is the citation)
TE-TA-MA Truth Foundation — Family of URI, Inc. v. World Church of the Creator, 2002 WL 126103, 2002 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 1478 (N.D.Ill. Jan. 31, 2002)
The case and the decision will not come up in any search.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Fri Dec 19, 2014, 05:32 PM (2 replies)
It is a for profit T-shirt company, by the way. And though they state in their FAQs that they sometimes use premium apparel companies for their products, the T-shirts that they are selling in this video are going for $5 bucks, to cheap to be premium and thus, cheaply purchased from companies where women and girls grossly exploited.
During my search, I also found this and mostly I agree.
Sadly, despite what major corporations and indie brands alike would have us believe, empowerment can neither be bottled nor sold. Commodification of feminism is not empowerment, and FCKH8 is not empowering girls or women through this video. Instead, they’re using girls as a means to a commercial end: to raise awareness of sexism to sell their t-shirts.
How ironic that a company that positions itself as feminist has no problem commodifying children in this way. Where is their sense of corporate responsibility? The ends don’t justify the means, and they never should have produced this ad.
I would feel differently if a video along these lines had been produced by girls as a way to find an audience for their authentic voices. If a group of young girls were passionate about combatting sexism in the U.S. and had decided to produce a video to raise awareness on the matter, and realized they could get their message out by swearing up a storm, more power to them—I’d applaud them for their creativity and media savvy.
But that’s not the case here. This video was scripted and slickly produced by a t-shirt company that evidently has no qualms about exploiting girls who are too young to understand the implications of the script they’re bringing to life.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Wed Oct 22, 2014, 09:10 PM (1 replies)
From The Intercept.
The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.
Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can  gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”
Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”
In concluding that mass surveillance impinges core privacy rights, the report was primarily focused on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the General Assembly in 1966, to which all of the members of the “Five Eyes” alliance are signatories. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, albeit with various reservations that allowed for the continuation of the death penalty and which rendered its domestic law supreme. With the exception of the U.S.’s Persian Gulf allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar), virtually every major country has signed the treaty.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 01:08 PM (1 replies)
A review of Poitras' documentary about Snowden, "Citizenfour" (can't wait to see it)...
Which reveals that Snowden's girlfriend has been living with him in Russia since July.
Citizenfour must have been a maddening documentary to film. Its subject is pervasive global surveillance, an enveloping digital act that spreads without visibility, so its scenes unfold in courtrooms, hearing chambers and hotels. Yet the virtuosity of Laura Poitras, its director and architect, makes its 114 minutes crackle with the nervous energy of revelation.
Poitras, the first journalist contacted by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, mirrors her topic. She rarely appears on news programs or chat shows. She is a mysterious character in her own movie, heard more than she is seen.
But surreptitiously, Poitras has been a commander of a stream of disclosures for 16 months that have forced the NSA into a new and infamous era. Citizenfour demonstrates to the public the prowess that those of us who have worked with her on the NSA stories encountered. Her movie, the culmination of a post-9/11 trilogy that spans a dark horizon from Iraq to Guantánamo, is a triumph of journalism and a triumph for journalism.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Sun Oct 12, 2014, 03:26 AM (14 replies)
"And I think Obama, sadly, has been, you know, he's done many many good things.."
And from Michael's Facebook page posted on the same day as the interview.
We were all overjoyed with President Obama's election. He's had to endure so much crap since. In spite of that he's done many good things. BUT there are still two yrs left -- and there are big disappointments amongst all of us. What would my fellow Obama voters like to see happen in his final two years? To be remembered a hundred years from now as the first African American president -- that's great, but it's not enough. And I know Mr. Obama agrees with that.
Posted by Luminous Animal | Thu Sep 11, 2014, 10:20 PM (171 replies)