Tag Archives: gay

Snowden-Manning Changed Debate

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When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave his first public interview in Hong Kong, he said is greatest fear was that his revelations of huge US government spy programs might fall on deaf ears.

If that had happened, then his great personal sacrifice would have been for naught.

WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Snowden have paid a steep price for revealing US war crimes and the US government’s huge violations of the Bill of Rights and global spying program.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in a military stockade for exposing the truth. Snowden has been forced into exile, hunted down by the criminal administration in Washington.

But their sacrifice has not been in vain. Manning and Snowden have met their aim of initiating a serious discussion of these matters nationally and internationally.

Snowden’s revelations, coming after those of Manning, changed the context of Manning’s courts-martial. The exposure of the secret NSA programs caused many to begin to question Washington’s real intentions in prosecuting the soldier.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said Manning’s sentence was a partial victory, in that it was much less than what the administration wanted. The prosecutors argued strongly for a life sentence without the possibility of parole for “aiding the enemy” — in essence, treason.

The atmosphere created by Snowden’s revelations made that impossible. Their final demand was a sentence of 60 years, a virtual life sentence.

Manning’s lawyers say she will be eligible for parole in about seven years, having been given credit for the over three years he has already been held in prison, which included months of torture.

Her defense now moves into a new phase. After she was sentenced, Manning issued a strong open appeal to President Barack Obama for a pardon. That will be pursued legally.

Then Manning publicly stated she would now live her life as a woman, and changed her name to Chelsea. She said she would seek medical treatments to change her physical body accordingly.

The army immediately responded that it would allow no such treatments. Now Chelsea is challenging that in the courts. This is part of the fight for her to receive fair and good treatment in prison in general.

These campaigns will help keep her case in the public eye, and prepare, if necessary, to fight for her early release at the first opportunity for parole.

The New York Times editorialised that Manning’s sentence was “excessive”. But it said she deserved some punishment because she broke the law by revealing classified documents.

Manning should not have been charged at all for revealing serious crimes by the US government and military. But the NYT’s position reflects a division in the ruling class over the Manning-Snowden revelations.

Another indication was a close vote in the House of Representatives against defunding NSA’s program of monitoring every phone call in the US. Obama has also noted the unease in the country over the NSA’s spying.

Another aspect causing unease is the issue of freedom of the press. The Justice Department is seeking to force NUT reporter James Risen to testify in its case against former CIA officer Jeffry Sterling.

The Justice Department alleges Sterling leaked classified information to Risen for his coverage of the CIA. So far, Risen has resisted testifying, but he might face contempt of court charges.

The administration would like to move against the NYT and other papers for printing some of Manning’s and Snowden’s revelations. They are afraid of creating a backlash, however.

Now some US officials are seeking to put groups like WikiLeaks in a new category of “non-legitimate” journalism, and therefore not protected by the Constitutional guarantees of press freedom.

Such a move would raise its own problems for the ruling class, for example for reporting by social media. Would a teenager who posted Snowden’s documents be fair game for the spooks?

It is likely Assange is already under secret indictment, for publishing Manning’s material, as well as for aiding Snowden.

A section of the ruling class does not want to go that far in tearing up the Bill of Rights.

Another cause for concern in ruling class circles has been the wide international repercussions of Manning’s release of State Department cables embarrassing to the government, and the wide international net of the NSA’s spying.

A recent release of documents leaked by Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald, reported in Der Spiegel, revealed new information on US spying on Germans. The revelations created consternation.

Even conservative German Chancellor Merkel has raised the need for a mutual pact with the US against spying on each other’s government, citizens, and businesses — a suggestion that Obama has not even deigned to reply to.

Another new revelation reveals the NSA has broken into the encrypted discussions in United Nations delegations, in violation of UN rules.

The ham-fisted way that US and British authorities have targetted Snowden has raised international concern. Washington’s bid to capture Snowden, going so far as to force down an official plane carrying Bolivia’s president, has created an international uproar.

Further outrage was generated when Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained at London’s Heathrow airport for nine hours.

Miranda was on his way back to Brazil from a meeting in Berlin with journalist Laura Poitras, who is working with Greenwald on further Snowden releases.

The British political police claimed they were acting under a law to ferret out information about terrorism.

But the spooks didn’t even raise anything about terrorism when they grilled Miranda. Greenwald said: “The only thing they were interested in was NSA documents and what I was doing with Laura Poitras.”

British authorities confiscated all Miranda’s electronic documents and equipment. A court later ruled that his computers and records would have to be returned, but gave the police seven days to copy them.

The Brazilian government strongly objected. There is no doubt London acted in collaboration with Washington.

The British political police also threatened to shut down The Guardian, its editor Alan Rusbridger revealed. This was in retaliation for the paper’s publishing material from WikiLeaks and Greenwald.

The police said they would shut down the paper unless it turned over its hard drives containing the leaked material, or destroyed the hard drives. Rusbridger decided to destroy them under the watchful eyes of three police thugs.

The act was ridiculous since the material on the hard drives exists elsewhere. The intent was clearly to intimidate.

The credibility of the US administration has been damaged, both the revelations (and there are more to come), and the authoritarian response.

That this has caused consternation at the top presents new opportunities to expose the truth about Washington’s crimes. When thieves fall out, we should take advantage.

Source: Barry Sheppard was a long-time leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and the Fourth International. He recounts his experience in the SWP in a two-volume book, The Party — the Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, available from Resistance Books.

Hollaback

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Christine Quinn took a stand against street harassment Monday as a New York-based advocacy organization launched a tool to digitally report offenses to the city council.

Are you a New York victim of street harassment? There’s an app for that.

The Democratic mayoral candidate and current city council speaker held a press conference in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood to help launch an improved app by Hollaback, which will allow victims of street harassment to report incidents via smartphone. The city, which helped fund the app, hopes to work with Hollaback to create a database of incidents and identify problematic areas.

“We’re here today to let New Yorkers – and particularly women and girls – know that people who violate women either by their actions or words won’t be able to hide anymore,” Quinn said. “We will know who they are, what they do, where they do it, and we will put it to an end.”

The Hollaback smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android devices, can allow a victim to anonymously report an incident with just a few clicks. Though reporting an incident to Hollaback does not constitute a police report – that will have to be made separately – the app does record details about incidents, including where they took place and what was said by the harasser. But information from the app can be sent to the New York City council, and specifically to the council member from the district where the harassment took place. New York’s city council allocated $20,000 last year towards creating an expanded version of the app.

MDC says, all of our community activists approaches are being utilized and it all began with harassment and a dog being beat while in a whistleblower arms by the Parks Department.

Source: guardian and ms.epstein

Gay Marriage

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MyDailyComplaint supports THE UNION of equal rights for ALL !

Thousands of same-sex couples have been married in New York since gay marriage was legalized in the Empire State in July 2011. Now an online petition is pushing to have one more twosome join the line at City Hall – Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

That’s right – the muppets.
Chicago resident Lair Scott started an online petition at Change.org to pressure the Sesame Street Workshop to “Let Bert & Ernie get married on Sesame Street.” The petition reads, “We are not asking Sesame Street to do anything crude or disrespectful…. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.”

But are Bert and Ernie even gay, never mind ready for the ultimate commitment? Scott clearly thinks so. In an interview with ABC News.com, Scott said, “A lot of people have wondered about Bert and Ernie…. Living in the same bedroom and the same home would make anyone question their sexuality.” His aim, he added, is to get 20,000 petitioners to encourage the Sesame Workshop to either marry Bert and Ernie or introduce a gay or lesbian character.

Today Sesame Workshop responded in a statement:
“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.” And despite what Scott or anyone else thinks, the statement goes on to say, Bert and Ernie aren’t gay.

“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell wrote, “They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets…they do not exist below the waist.”

The Supreme Court wrapped up a second day of arguments on gay marriage, as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and the court’s liberal justices appeared headed toward striking down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to legally married gay couples.

Kennedy repeatedly said the states, not the federal government, have the primary role in deciding who is married. The question is “whether the federal government has the authority to regulate marriage,” he said. “That authority undermines the states’ role in the federal system.”

Justice Kennedy, who could be the swing vote in the two gay marriage cases being argued this week, raised concerns that the law could be a violation of peoples’ equal protection rights and also of states’ rights and federalism.

Meanwhile, the court’s four liberal justices said the 1996 law is flawed and discriminatory because it treats married same-sex couples differently than other married couples.

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BOY SCOUTS ARE GAY

 

SouthPark Carmen says, YOUR GAY for not allowing GAYS to be in the boy scouts. The US military finally bent over and ACCOMMODATED, and MDC says eventually so will the Boy Scouts.

After a confidential two-year review the other week, the Boy Scouts of America emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, angering critics who hoped that relentless protest campaigns might lead to change.

The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.

The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy” for the 102-year-old organization.

Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion , preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.