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Notes on Civil Liberties for August 4

Here’s today’s blog for the latest news and updates on civil liberties and digital freedom issues. If you have any news tips and would like to contact me, email

Microwave energy blasters, blinding laser beams, chemical agents and deafening sonic blasters, etc. Here’s six “creepy new weapons” the police and military are using to subdue unarmed people. These will come in handy on all those people planning to revolt against the unequal and unjust policies of austerity being forced upon the citizenry. Rania Khalek reports.

Steven Aftergood calls out Judge Leonie M. Brinkema for making the claim that receiving classified information is a felony. The judge wrote this “in passing in a July 29 memorandum opinion.” Aftergood explains espionage statutes may be “ambiguous and susceptible to multiple, conflicting interpretations, but no one has ever read them” like this before.

Open letter to Defcon hackers by  DJ Pangburn at Death and Taxes: He urges hackers to not take any deals with the NSA, who would like to remove the threat of prison and give them a steady paycheck if they agree to work for them. Appelbaum says the NSA wants them to sell out and details what they would be doing if they took a job.

A landmark sentencing took place in Guatemala with four men being sentence 6,060 year each. The men were sentenced for their involvement in the Dos Erres Massacre. And the National Security Archive has post previously classified documents related to the massacre.

Nation editor Liliana Segura (and former colleague) has piece up at ColorLines on her trip to Angola, Lousiana. She went there to see the Angola Prison Rodeo that the town holds annually. It’s got a faith-based element to it, which indicates why so many support it. Here’s her report on this sick, perverse annual event.

TechPresident notes Syria protesters are taking sim cards off those that are shot dead. This makes it possible to talk to one another without being tracked.

London Review of Books has a post on Aaron Swartz, that looks at the charges he is facing for allegedly downloading documents off of JSTOR. At the end of the post, it notes a SHIELD bill in the US is being pushed by Sen. Lieberman to make another Cablegate from WikiLeaks illegal and Richard O’Dwyer is facing extradition to the US for running the website TVShack. Just three of the few signs that the US is waging a war on on open access advocates.

Internet users’ searches are being “hijacked and redirected by some US internet service providers. New Scientist reports on patents filed by a company called Paxfire that indicates ISPs may be looking to track sites customers visit to make money.

FDL user athena1 put up a post on myFDL drawing attention to a great Al Jazeera English documentary. The “Fault Lines” documentary looks at the deepening wealth gap in America.

Federal courts are destroying millions of judicial case records, according to the Center for Public Integrity. In order to save money, cases that did not go to trial between 1970 and 1995 are being destroyed. The retention time for records is being reduced from 25 to 15 years.

Danah Boyd nicely explains how “real name” policies, which Google and Facebook employ, are wrong. She concludes,”‘Real names’ policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people.”

The Pentagon has a secret force that is undertaking operations in a most of the countries of the world. Nick Turse reports by the end of the year there will be US Special Operations forces in 120 countries. Currently, they are in at least 70.

And, today’s video, Rupert Murdoch has a drone. Here’s the report from “Countdown” last night:

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."