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Tag Archive: Fourth of July


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Bugging Away Our Freedom: An Open Letter To President Obama

PRISM

PRISM

 

By — (July 4, 2013)

By Arshad M Khan

Mr. President,

We have watched the parades; we have enjoyed the games in village and town parks; we have watched the fireworks; we have celebrated Independence Day — the glorious July Fourth. Independence means freedom, in this case freedom from the English — sometimes it seems half the world celebrates freedom from the English, even Scotland will be trying next year to throw off London’s yoke.

The question to ask ourselves (even yourself, for in three years you, too, become a private citizen) is whether anyone who knows he is bugged can really be free. Will he subconsciously exercise censorship? And those (especially politicians) who are only now aware they too were bugged … are they susceptible to blackmail? Pure conjecture perhaps, but it helps to explain President Francois Hollande’s oddly inconsistent behavior.

First, Mr. Hollande was the only European condemning the PRISM bugging program himself directly — the others used spokesmen. Then he turned around and denied French airspace to the Bolivian President Evo Morales’ jet returning from an oil and gas conference in Moscow. Spain, Portugal and Italy followed suit. The plane, stranded, running short of fuel, was then allowed to land in Vienna where it was searched because of a rumor that Edward Snowden was aboard. He was not, and after heated negotiations over 14 hours the plane finally flew to the Canary Islands where Spain had granted landing permission to refuel. Whatever happened to diplomatic immunity, international law and the like in our new post-1984 world?

But here’s the rub: instead of just the tabloid press bugging a besotted Prince Charles’ phone calls to his then mistress (now wife), we are more likely to have young contractor employees listening in on a louche Bill Clinton, or even an ex-President’s daughters’ calls to their boyfriends. Who will put this genie back in the bottle?

It also turns out that the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Julian Assange is holed up, has been bugged by the British, and the U.S. is bugging E.U. embassies. It used to be that a walk in the park was the safe way to have a private conversation in the former Soviet Union; how the tables have turned …

And Julian Assange’s asylum has yet another twist on a Soviet era story. On November 4, 1956, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty arrived at the U.S. Embassy Chancery in Budapest and requested asylum. He went on to live there for the next 15 years using the ambassador’s office as a reception area and sleeping in an adjacent room; shameful for the Soviet system then in everyone’s eyes. If only we could see the mirror images now, blurred but barely (and not for want of trying) by context.

As someone observed recently: if we were all asked to carry a tracking device by the National Security Agency we would be appalled, yet we carry cell phones; if we were told to send a copy to the NSA every time we email, we would be shocked, but that is already the case …

Ari Fleischer (President George W. Bush’s press secretary) tweeted recently: “Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. [Guess who] is carrying out Bush’s 4th term.” Thus in Tanzania, at the conclusion of your African tour, the meeting with George and Laura Bush, far from appearing incongruous, makes eminent sense … plus ca change …

Arshad M Khan is a retired Professor. He writes occasionally for the print and electronic media, and also edits the website http://ofthisandthat.org/

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Published time: July 03, 2013 14:43

Thousands of websites will launch a July 4 online protest against the NSA surveillance programs. Reddit, WordPress, and Mozilla will take part in the ‘Restore the Fourth’ campaign online, while live protests take place in cities across the US.

‘Restore the Fourth’ is aimed at restoring the fundamentals of the Fourth Amendment – the part of the Bill of Rights which protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. Participants will display an online banner which reads, “This 4th of July, we stand by the 4th Amendment and against the U.S. government’s surveillance of internet users.”

The campaign, which was spawned on Reddit, has the support of several privacy and press freedom advocacy organizations, including Mozilla, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and ColorOfChange.org.

The rally was largely organized by Fight for the Future – another non-profit agency which fights against internet censorship. The organization’s co-founder, Tiffiniy Cheng, said in a statement that “the NSA programs that have been exposed are blatantly unconstitutional, and have a detrimental effect on free speech and freedom of press worldwide.” The rally is expected to be Fight for the Future’s largest online mobilization since its actions against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

But the protest doesn’t stop online. Organizers are planning live protests in dozens of US cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta. Doug MacArthur, a member of Restore the Fourth’s national board and moderator on Reddit’s r/news, expects between 10,000 and 20,000 people to take part in the protests in the nation’s larger cities.

MacArthur stressed the need for the protest, largely because mainstream media is failing to adequately cover the NSA leaks and what that means for everyday citizens.

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Uncelebrating the Fourth

 

by Harry Browne, Originally written July 2003

 

Unfortunately, July 4th has become a day of deceit.

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared its independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, after a difficult war to secure that independence, the new country was open for business.

It was truly unique – the first nation in all of history in which the individual was considered more important than the government, and the government was tied down by a written Constitution.

It was the one nation where you could live your life secure in the knowledge that no one would ask for your papers, where you weren’t identified by a number, and where the government wouldn’t extort a percentage of your income as the price of holding a job.

And so each year July 4th has been a commemoration of the freest country in history.

False Celebration

But the America that’s celebrated no longer exists.

The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have disappeared, even though the oratory lingers on.

What made America unique is now gone, and we are much the same as Germany, France, England, or Spain, with:

  • confiscatory taxes,
  • a Constitution and Bill of Rights that are symbolic only – merely documents used to justify governmental actions that are in fact prohibited by those documents,
  • business regulated by the state in the most minute detail,
  • no limits on what Congress or the President might decide to do.

Yes, there are some freedoms left, but nothing like the America that was and nothing that you can’t find in a few dozen other countries.

The Empire

Gone, too, is the sense of peace and security that once reigned throughout the land. America, bound by two huge oceans and two friendly neighbors – was subject to none of the never-ending wars and destruction that plagued Europe and Asia.

Now, however, everyone’s business is America’s business. Our Presidents consider themselves the rulers of the world – deciding who may govern any country on earth and sending Americans to die enforcing those decisions.

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The Denver Post 

 

Posted:   06/27/2013 05:28:05 PM MDT
Updated:   06/28/2013 12:10:45 AM MDT

By Ally Marotti
The Denver Post

 

The steeple of the Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in Westcliffe is framed in front of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. (Denver Post file)

For some, bearing arms is as patriotic as the Fourth of July.

But on the eve of Colorado’s new gun laws, the small town of Westcliffe is deeply divided over whether one political group should carry unloaded weapons in the town’s beloved Independence Day parade.

The Custer County Chamber of Commerce, the parade’s longtime sponsor, canceled this year’s mile-long march through town after the Southern Colorado Patriots Club announced it would be carrying guns.

The Tea Party group’s recruiting flier, encouraging fellow Patriots to show up “and make a statement that we still believe in our Constitution” with unloaded rifles, “especially the evil black ones,” slung over the shoulder, sparked political controversy.

A petition to stop the group from carrying guns was circulated. Arguments were had — at town board meetings, among chamber members, on street corners.

The Town of Westcliffe saved the holiday, picking up sponsorship of the parade, but the rift remains.

“It has polarized this community in a week,” said chamber president Donna Hood, who abstained from voting to cancel the parade. “I’m sure safety was an interest with everybody, but I don’t really believe that the Tea Partyers were gonna draw attention to themselves by shooting people going down our small town road.”

The Patriots Club has marched in past parades carrying weapons, although the guns were sometimes concealed, said club member and Westcliffe town trustee Joe Cascarelli .

But this year is different.

 

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