Human Rights

Here's Looking at You, Kids

Few cell phone users know that mobile phone companies like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint can track the locations of cell phones in real time, thanks to small global positioning sensors (GPS) placed inside phones. They can also analyze how a call is routed through towers, to pinpoint a phone's location to an area the size of a city block.


Cindy McCain Poses for Pro-Gay Marriage Ad Campaign

Cindy McCain's photo for the NOH8 CampaignAfter California voters passed Proposition 8 -- the law that amended the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage -- in November, 2008, celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley created the "NOH8 Campaign," a photo project and silent protest that began with Bouska taking photos of everyday Californians who supported marriage equality.


"Love IS Worth Fighting For" -- Lt. Dan Choi

"Love is worth fighting for." That's how Lt. Dan Choi ended his remarks this weekend about his journey from West Point to Iraq to discharge under the continuing Pentagon policy of "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). It really made me think about this deeply flawed policy I have opposed privately over the years. Because, as Lt. Choi distilled it so well, love is worth fighting for.

He is one of only eight people in his graduating class at West Point who majored in Arabic, and so his story also brought home to me the gap between the rhetoric about the "global war on terror" (GWOT) and the reality, in a particular way. Since I left the government over four years ago, I have been speaking out about misplaced priorities involving terrorism, civil liberties, and human rights.

Exposing How the Government Lied about National Security Letters and the Patriot Act

Last week, I was honored to be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Patriot Act, a new endeavor for the Center for Media and Democracy, even though CMD has covered national security-related issues in its books and on SourceWatch.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to be able to join CMD is because in Washington, DC, I saw first-hand how propaganda and selective disclosures were used to influence and distort public opinion. In my testimony, I highlighted examples from the Patriot Act debate in 2005 where key information was hidden while the bill for reauthorization was being publicly debated, and did not come out until after the bill had passed. With parts of the Patriot Act up for renewal and reform this fall, I wanted to make sure the public record included the story of how the previous Bush administration misled the American people. I also wanted to share my views about why these extraordinary powers need to be fixed to better protect civil liberties and human rights.

CMD's Lisa Graves Testifies Before U.S. Senate on Patriot Act

Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, was the only public interest group advocate invited to testify in Washington on Wednesday, September 23, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in its hearing on the Patriot Act and national security surveillance issues.

The complete hearing, including her testimony, is viewable online. In her written testimony, Lisa dissected U.S. government propaganda and spin from the previous Patriot Act debate of 2004 and 2005, calling for policy improvements to better protect human rights and civil liberties.

She was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! program on September 22, where she explained the issues at stake in the current debate over Patriot Act renewal advocated by the Obama Administration.

PR: War by Other Means

"The PR race is not that different from the arms race," writes John Feffer. "Russia, for instance, recently paid nearly $3 million to Ketchum for a six-month media blitz to promote the country's leaders and policies. Georgia has retained Public Strategies, Inc. at $50,000 a month.


President Obama and Congress: If You Missed Wise County, Join Me in L.A.

The insurance industry, its business allies and its shills in Congress are doing their best once again to scare us away from real health care reform, just as they did 15 years ago. Using the same tactics and language they did then, insurers and their cronies are warning us that America will be sliding down a slippery slope toward socialism if the federal government creates a public insurance option to compete with the cartel of huge for-profit companies that now dominate the health insurance industry.

One of the false images they try to create in our minds is of long waits for needed care if our reformed health care system resembles in any way the systems of other developed countries in the world--systems that don't deny a single citizen access to affordable care, much less 50 million of them.

Here is a real image, and a very scary one, that I wish those overpaid insurance executives and members of Congress could have witnessed before dawn a few days ago: a thousand men, women and children standing for hours, in the dark, in a line that seemed to be endless, waiting patiently for a chance -- a chance because the need is so great many are turned away -- to get much-needed care from a volunteer doctor.

Speaking of Monsters...

Retired U.S. Col. Ralph Peters has written an essay calling for military attacks on journalists. Writing for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Peters calls the media "a hostile third party in the fight ... killers without guns," and writes, "future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. ... The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters.


U.S. Turns to Body Counts in Afghanistan

"In recent months, the U.S. command in Afghanistan has begun publicizing every single enemy fighter killed in combat, the most detailed body counts the military has released since the practice fell into disrepute during the Vietnam War," reports the Wall Street Journal. The change comes in response to concerns "that at home, the common perception is this war is being lost," explained a military spokeswoman. Enemy body counts are only released for U.S.



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