Friday, July 31, 2015

Morrissey alleges sexual assault by TSA


British indie rock musician Stephen Patrick Morrissey -- better known simply as Morrissey -- became well known in the 1980s with his band The Smiths. He's now 56 years old. And yesterday he filed a complaint against the TSA for sexual assault.

Welcome to the club, Morrissey. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

TSA: "Careful what you say. You don't like this? You respect this badge right here."

Well, well, well, shock of shocks, we have yet another of our fine, upstanding blue-shirted civil servants who don't know their own rules. Or who pretend not to. 

As we've pointed out, with evidence, dozens of times: yes, you are allowed to videotape, film, photograph, audio-record, or sketch the TSA in action, including while they're doing their "pat-downs." It says so on the TSA's own website:
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.
But 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another day, another passenger screwed by the TSA


Almost every day I receive emails from people telling me about their TSA experiences. They often wonder if they could have prevented the abuse meted out to them by dressing differently, talking differently, acting differently, flying out of a different airport, you name it. As I always tell them, no. You have no power over how the TSA treats you. The TSA has absolute power. Whether a TSA agent woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning or is simply being sadistic, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

"Awesome" Idiocy, or A Compendium of Synonyms for the Linguistically Challenged

Enough already with "awesome"! If I hear one more person use this goddamn word, I'm going to kill them (note to NSA/DHS goons: that statement is what's known as hyperbole; it's a perfectly respectable rhetorical device. It doesn't mean I actually want to kill anyone).

Not only millenials, who are the greatest sinners here, but even 50-somethings and 60-somethings are going around frothing at the mouth with "awesome!" I can't take it anymore. I would say I'm going to scream, but I've already been doing that, in spades. Fine people who are otherwise perfectly lovely are, apparently, so bereft of vocabulary that they can't think of any other way to describe something they like other than by saying, "Awesome!" 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

TSA snoops in passenger’s bag, finds money, calls DEA to take it




From the Washington Post comes this story of not only another instance of TSA abuse, but the TSA's bragging about said abuse.

The headline reads: "Why the TSA posted a photo of a passenger's cash-filled luggage on Twitter." And the TSA tweeter in question is none other than PR flack Lisa Farbstein, about whom we've written so many times before. From the Post: 
. . . The photo, from the Richmond airport, shows a passenger's luggage containing $75,000 in cash. Farbstein asks, "Is this how you'd transport it?" Most people would not, but there is nothing illegal about simply checking a bag containing $75,000, or carrying it with you on the plane. Passengers aren't under any obligation to report large sums of cash unless they're traveling internationally, though the TSA recommends that passengers consider asking for a private screening.

Monday, June 29, 2015

TSA Idiocy and Abuse: Too Much To Keep Track Of



Twitter is alive with testimony from people witnessing TSA idiocy and abuse. But then such tweets have been going on for years — there used to be a whole Twitter feed devoted to them, tens of thousands of them — 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Just Another Day in Police State USA!

For those of you who still don't get it (not that you ever will), here are 3 more examples of how this country has morphed into a police state. (Oops -- guess I'd better watch out -- I might be subpoenad and gag-ordered like the poeple in the first story were, especially since I write under my own name all over the blabbosphere and have written publicly, many times, that I wish I believed in Hell so I could hope certain people, such as John Pistole and Dick Cheney, would rot there.) Land of the Free my ass. For your delectation:

How the Feds Asked Me to Rat Out Commenters

Reason.com, the website I edit, was recently commanded by the feds to provide information on a few commenters and not discuss it. Here’s why we’re speaking out.
by Nick Gillespie

Is there anything more likely to make you shit your pants out of a mix of fear and anger than getting a federal subpoena out of the blue?
Well, yes, there is: getting a gag order that prohibits you from speaking publicly about that subpoena and even the gag order itself. Talk about feeling isolated and cast adrift in the home of the free. You can’t even respond honestly when someone asks, “Are you under a court order not to speak?" . . . .
AND:

Pentagon rewrites ‘Law of War’ declaring ‘belligerent’ journalists as legitimate targets


AND:


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

United States of Orwell

We live in an Orwellian, Kafkaesque, Atwoodian police state. Those authors have nothing on us, because you can't make this shit up:
Murder charge for woman who took abortion pill
OK, the charges were suddenly dropped today, but she still spent 3 days in jail for it. AND she still faces charges of "possession of a dangerous drug." Because, dontchya know, the morning-after pill is a "dangerous drug."

This country is so fucked up.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Re TSA, WillCAD from FlyerTalk tells it like it is

I wish I knew this person's real name to give him credit for this comment he posted at the chat forum FlyerTalk (FT). In it, he hits every nail on the head in a discussion with another FT member about the TSA. All I know is that he goes by "WillCAD" and says he hails from Charm City. Here's his FT handle: 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We Live In A Fucking Police State

We live in a fucking police state. I don't care if you don't get it, I don't care if you're too dense to see what's going on around you, I don't care if you're in denial. Your thickheadedness doesn't change the facts.

I will repeat, for the umpteenth time: A police state doesn't exist when everyone is arrested; a police state exists when everyone CAN be arrested. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baltimore, Violence, and the Wages of "Revolution"

Front page story in today's Baltimore Sun: 
A mom, a disabled son, and a home that blazed amid Baltimore's riots
It begins:
Black soot covers the two-story house like a dark shadow. The roof has collapsed, and a bright red sign proclaims the home has been condemned.
Until a few weeks ago, when the riots roiled Baltimore, this house at Hilton Street and Piedmont Avenue was home for Laporsha Lawson and her severely disabled son, Khai'Lee Sampson. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Give to TSA Watch

The fundraising drive at TSA Watch has been stuck at $6,921 for weeks. The TSA is sexually assaulting people at airports in this country every day. We and many other organizations have been documenting it for years. I don't know what else people need to know in order to care.

Oh, wait a minute -- for some people, getting robbed is more serious than getting sexually assaulted. Okay, fine. The TSA is robbing people at airports in this country every day. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Judicial Watch finally gets answers in TSA sexual assault lawsuit


Last August I wrote a post reporting that the non-profit civil liberties organization Judicial Watch was suing the TSA to gain access to documents outlining the sexual abuse of travelers at the hands of TSA workers. I said that Judicial Watch was joining a long line of of other organizations and individual people who had also tried to sue the TSA to get information, and that the TSA, predictably, had stonewalled.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chris Hedges: The Wages of Rebellion Part 2

There are so many videos on YouTube of speeches by the great Chris Hedges. You can have a field day watching them. I feel honored that I've met Hedges and broken bread with him several times. He is one of the most upstanding, virtuous people I have ever met. He is a poet, a philosopher, a visionary, a historian, a Cassandra for our age. 

His books are as infuriating as they are inspiring. And if you don't read his weekly column at Truthdig or Nation of Change or Truthout -- well, put the frigging New York Times and Washington Post aside once in a while and read somebody with integrity, somebody who doesn't suck up to power, who is unafraid to tell the unvarnished truth. If you have time to read a mainstream newspaper or watch network TV, you have time to read Hedges. The following quote comes about 3:30 into the clip:
"How do you revolt?
". . . I want people to understand when you seriously revolt what the state does to you.
". . . revolt itself is a moral imperative. That asking the question as to whether it can succeed is the wrong question. Revolt is not finally about what we achieve . . . revolt is about what we become. 
". . . I don't fight fascists because finally I believe that I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Citizens, Not Subjects, by Chelsea Manning

Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in The Guardian. Of course we have to go to a UK paper to read this, since the press in the US is too busy with baseball season, deflated footballs, and hawk Hillary.

. . . The government argued that there was no distinction to be made between any media organizations that provided information to the public, if the government felt would “aid” the enemy: whether such information was published by a small-time blog, a controversial website like Wikileaks, a national newspaper like the Washington Post, or an international one like the Guardian, to the government, they can all be “aiding the enemy.”
After 9/11, a dedicated office of lawyers specializing in novel applications of law for national security issues, the National Security Division (NSD), was created; and now, with a small caseload and an enormous amount of resources, this division of the Department of Justice has been waging a quiet war against the media, their sources, and the right to free speech and a free press, using the growing national security and surveillance apparatus to prosecute various cases and, occasionally, target the media.
Consider the Department of Justice’s admission in May 2013 that they had secretly seized sensitive office, home, and cellular telephone records from more than 20 reporters working for the Associated Press while investigating a leak leading to a 2012 AP news story reporting on an operation foiling a terrorist plot. The president of the AP, Gary Pruitt, called the actions a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” and noted that the government’s actions were creating a profound chilling effect on sources and members of the press. The president personally defended the actions of the Department of Justice, saying: “I make no apologies.” 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Baltimore Helping Baltimore

. . . In Pigtown, where looters struck at least four businesses, an online fundraiser raised more than $1,300 in four days, and a spring cleanup last weekend — which typically has a turnout of about a dozen people — drew more than 100 volunteers, said Ben Hyman, executive director of Pigtown Main Street. The four businesses affected in his organization's domain have all reopened, he said.
"The support for me was so overwhelming I couldn't believe it," said Fennoy, who opened the restaurant in 2007. "I just wish all areas would lend helping hands like those that have lent helping hands to me."
This is what Baltimore does. This is what any city would do. Neighbors helping neighbors. I'm not surprised CVS is rebuilding here. 
Needless to say, those who advocate burning, looting, and rioting, whether in person or in hiding behind their computer screens, aren't the ones coming out to help clean up and rebuild. Gee, I'm shocked.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Baltimore: Criminal Charges Filed Against All 6 Officers

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby is bringing criminal charges against all 6 officers, including one charge of "Depraved Heart Murder" against one officer, Caesar Goodson. The other officers charged with a variety of criminal offenses are: Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, Ofc. William Porter, Offc. Garrett Miller, Ofc. Edward Nero. Charges include assault, misconduct in office, false imprisonment, and others.

Mosby took a lot of heat when she was elected Baltimore City State's Attorney, because of her youth and relative inexperience. There was a lot of carping in legal circles. Well, she certainly gave a straightforward, no-nonsense, kick-ass press conference. She also emphasized that this is an on-going investigation, and that she expects everyone to cool it (my words, not hers) and not engage in any nonsense, that the procedure requires peace and time and peace. And did I mention peace? No violence.

WBAL-TV reporter Jayne Miller, who has done such a great job (she's a very experienced reporter) during this whole time, stressed "an enormous development in this case," the fact that the arrest of Freddie Gray was illegal from the get-go. There was no probable cause to arrest Freddie Gray. 

Looters of America

It was a calm day and night in Charm City yesterday. That doesn't mean there were no protests -- there were. Good, disciplined, strong protests. But there was no repeat of this past Monday night with burnings and lootings and violence and mayhem. The National Guard is still here, and the curfew is still in effect, though many businesses, especially bars and restaurants have appealed to the city to lift the curfew. So far, that's not happening. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said that she's not averse to lifting it early if conditions warrant it. Meanwhile, there's plenty of looting going on elsewhere: 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

More Ways You Can Help Baltimore

St. Peter Claver /St. Pius V church on N. Freemont Ave. as food is gathered to be given out to people in the Sandtown community of West Baltimore. Photo by Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun.

First of all, another shout-out to the reporters and photographers of the Baltimore Sun, who have been doing such an impressive job of covering the protests and riots (two different things, by the way). Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was going to send you a bouquet of flowers but decided a better use of that money is for some of the worthy groups/causes outlined in these two articles -- I hope other people will be encouraged to donate as well:

How to help: donation and volunteer opportunities in the aftermath of riots

Heaps of donations for first responders, residents affected by riots

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

You Can Help Baltimore Neighborhoods


The state's Department of Human Resources set up a hotline for people in Baltimore needing help with food, emergency assistance, or concerns for children or the elderly. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dancing, Singing, Chanting, Drumming PEACEFUL Protests in Baltimore Now


(Photo by Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun) 

I'm writing this on Tuesday, April 28th, at 7:45 pm (and yes, I know the night is young, and things could still change). There are several huge, celebratory, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-age, peaceful protests going on in Baltimore now. Singing, dancing, chanting, drumming, chess-playing, roller-skating, voter registration, and those great, vibrant, colorful, gotta-see-em-to-believe-em proud black marching bands. And signs with Freddie Gray's face, and chants of "Black Lives Matter! White Lives Matter! Brown Lives Matter! All Lives Matter!"

From the Baltimore Sun's excellent, indispensable Livefeed -- thank you, Sun reporters! -- check it out: 

Quit Telling Us To Burn Down Baltimore

Large group of volunteers cleaning up burnt CVS in Baltimore, Photo by J Jouvenal, Baltimore Sun (click to enlarge)

I live in Baltimore. I was one block away from Mondawmin Mall at 3:30 yesterday. I live three blocks from the mayhem that ensued on Greenmount Avenue last night. I know what political activism is. I applaud the peaceful, non-violent protesters and demonstrators in this city, who have been extraordinarily disciplined while still being active. They were active Saturday night. They personally stopped attempted destruction Saturday night. 


The rioters yesterday are not "protesters" or "demonstrators." They are opportunistic jerks who are brutalizing the very neighborhoods that are already routinely brutalized by the police. They are burning and looting the very stores where their parents and neighbors work, and on which they depend for everyday needs. They are handing the racist, authoritarian power structure in this country a gift on a silver platter. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

But rioting and opportunistic fuckery ARE going on today

Riots are, however, going on today. I was, by happenstance, one block from one of the worst hotspots. I made it home fine.

It should be needless to say that I don't excuse or condone any of this stupid, brutal, counterproductive, opportunistic violence by a bunch of wankers who are only hurting themselves and their own communities. Just as I don't excuse or condone police brutality. 

Hello?? There were no riots in Baltimore on Saturday night!

OK, I have to write this, since so many people from elsewhere in the country have gotten in touch with me to ask if I'm all right.

Dear god, yes. Yes!

The media has blown this completely out of proportion. Repeat after me: THERE WERE NO RIOTS IN BALTIMORE ON SATURDAY NIGHT! (Saturday, April 25, 2015)

Friday, April 24, 2015

STOP FAST TRACK -- the TPP Is A Disaster

Obama, as usual, is selling us out. When will people wake the fuck up and realize he's no better than Bush?? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a global disaster, and he's trying to shove it down our throats -- with the full support of Republicans and plenty of Democrats, for those of you Dems who still don't get it. And one of the worst provisions, essentially outlawing the BDS movement, was written by Maryland's own Sen. Ben Cardin. Call, email, write, and call, call, call your Congressional reps. Click StopFastTrack.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Shoshana Hebshi settles lawsuit against TSA, Frontier Airlines


Shoshana Hebshi, the Ohio woman who was handcuffed, hauled off a plane at gunpoint, and strip-searched in a jail cell -- all without probable cause -- has settled her lawsuit against the TSA, Frontier Airlines, and other government agencies. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TSA rigged system to grope men’s genitals

From KCNC, the CBS affiliate in Denver, comes this completely unsurprising "news": TSA clerks at Denver International Airport deliberately messed with the strip-search scanners to alarm on attractive male passengers so one of the blue-shirted goons could grope them.

No, Virginia, say it ain't so!