Natasha Lennard

Why We're Fascinated With the Disappearance of Flight 370

Three days and counting since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and no definitive trace of the jet has emerged. As with missing vessels in the past, this is a story thick with mystery, soaked with potential horror and reflective of a particular brand of social anxiety exacerbated by an age of total surveillance.

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Cops Who Beat Homeless Man to Death Walk Free

Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, died in hospital in 2011. He had beaten, tasered and kicked to death by cops from the Fullerton, CA Police Department while begging for mercy. The sickening incident of police brutality was caught by a surveillance camera.

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Chomsky: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Lower Wages And Increase Insecurity

Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement — a purported free trade deal between 11 countries, including the U.S., Canada and Japan, which has been in negotiations for some years — have noted that the deal has little to do with free trade. Rather, the TPP is about limiting regulation, helping corporate interests and imposes fiercer standards of intellectual property (to, again, largely benefit corporate interests).

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Half of Young Black Men in U.S. Have Been Arrested

new report looking at lifetime prevalence of arrests in U.S. citizens found that 50 percent of black males under 23 years old have been arrested at least once. Meanwhile, 40 percent of white males under 23 have been arrested.

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Noam Chomsky: The Richest Countries Are Racing Us Towards Disaster While 'Primitive' Societies Are Trying to Stop It

In his 85th year, political theorist and linguist Noam Chomsky remains a fiercely busy polymath and dedicated activist. Indeed, his schedule is so demanding, our interview had to be booked a good number of weeks in advance and my time on the phone with the MIT professor was sandwiched between another press interview and another one of his many commitments.

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Police Say Teen Shot Self in Head - While Hands Cuffed Behind Back

A strange phenomenon has been occurring in police custody around the U.S., which seems to defy both the laws of physics and the limits of human physiology. Young people of color, handcuffed with their hands bound behind their backs, are able to shoot themselves in the head. For the critical observer, belief is beggared.

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California Cops Shoot and Kill 13-Year-Old Carrying Toy Rifle

Officers in Sonoma County, Calif., shot dead 13-year-old Andy Lopez Tuesday as he walked home from school carrying a toy rifle.

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Dallas Police Shoot Mentally Ill Man Standing in the Street

Another day, another story of police trigger-happines; another mentally ill person struck by police gunfire.

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Victory Against in the Fight to Keep Police from Tracking Our Location at All Times

The California State Assembly Appropriations committee has put a halt to plans to fit state drivers’ licenses with RFID chips. The chips are already mandatorily embedded in licenses in New York, Michigan Vermont and Washington and are increasingly used in school ID’sand all recently issued passports. As Wired reports:

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The Creepy Spy Program That Lets the Drug Enforcement Administration Look at Your Phone Records

The New York Times revealed Monday that the Drug Enforcement Administration has access to the entirety of telecom giant AT&T’s phone records.

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Intelligence “Black Budget” Reveals Vast CIA Funding for Surveillance, Collection

While the government annually reveals its overall intelligence budget, which has skyrocketed since the 9/11 attacks (over $500 billion in those years), details of how the budget is broken up remain top secret.

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Be Careful What You Google: Music Writer Says SWAT Team Raided House Based on Harmless On-Line Browsing

Music writer Michele Catalano wrote Thursday about a personal experience that may show, to bizarre but chilling effect, the government’s online surveillance in action. Catalano writes that her home was visited and searched by members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force —  a fact she attributes to having searched online for pressure cookers, while her husband searched for backpacks.

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Surprise, Surprise! All Occupiers Phones Were Logged

In light of news that everyday the entire of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that attendees of Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cell phones were logged should hardly come as a shock. It nonetheless bears noting that cell phone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment protected activity.

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IRS Also Targeted Marijuana Establishments

Ariel Shearer of the Huffington Post highlighted Wednesday that for years, the IRS has been relying on a tax rule originally intended to target illegal drug traffickers in order to systematically target medical marijuana establishments, deemed legal in 18 states.

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Obama Admin's Fox News Spying Scandal Is a Dangerous Step Toward Criminalizing Journalism

Addressing reporters Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “If you are asking me whether the president believes that journalists should be prosecuted for doing their jobs, the answer is no.” The comment came in light of revelations that in 2010 an FBI agent had described Fox News correspondent James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a crime for the journalistic act of obtaining leaked information from a State Department source.

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Police Beat Man to Death With Batons, Confiscate Witness Video

Following the death of father of four, David Sal Silva last week, his family’s attorneys are calling for police to release bystander video evidence that reportedly shows California Highway Patrol officers brutally beating the 33-year-old. A video from a surveillance camera (which does not show the scene close up) has been released and shows the man repeatedly struck with a baton. Local press have also reported on details from a 911 call made, in which witness Sulina Quair, 34, said “There is a man laying on the floor and your police officers beat the (expletive) out of him and killed him. I have it all on video camera. We videotaped the whole thing.” Officers say they were responding to a call about an intoxicated man and the Silva had fought them.

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Feds Threaten Medical Pot Dispensaries with 40-Year Sentences

In the latest act in the ongoing drama pitting federal drug laws against state legislation permitting the sale of marijuana, a U.S. Attorney is threatening the landlords housing medical marijuana dispensaries with 40 years in federal prison. After ballot measures legalizing the sale and possession of recreational use pot passed in Colorado and Washington state, we wondered whether Obama’s second term would see the beginning of the end of the federal war on drugs.

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Meet the GOPer Who Worked With Monsanto to Sneak the "Monsanto Protection Act" into Law

Anger at the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” — a biotech rider which protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks — has been directed at numerous parties in Congress and the White House for allowing the provision to be voted and signed into law. But the party responsible for anonymously introducing the rider into the broad, unrelated spending bill had not been identified until now.

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What Is the "Monsanto Protection Act," and How Did It Sneak Into Law?

Updated, March 28: A number of readers have requested to know exactly where in the HR 933 they might find the provision dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act.” It is Section 735 in the bill, the full text of which can be read here.

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Judge Orders End to FBI Data Demands

A federal judge late last week ordered the government to stop issuing “national security letters” (NSLs) – demands for data that contain gag clauses, preventing recipients from disclosing their existence or contents. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled that the the secretive demands for customer data violate the First Amendment.

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Over 100 Guantanamo Detainees on Hunger Strike

Over 100 detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison camp have reportedly gone on hunger strike following the alleged desecration by guards of personal affects including copies of the Koran. According to reports from detainees’ attorneys, the strike is into its third week.

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Creepy "Ratters" Spying on Women Through Their Webcams and Stealing Sexy Photos

Ars Technica reported this weekend on how hackers have been spying on women through their webcams using RATs (remote administration tools). It’s an unsettling read, revealing how “RAT operators have nearly complete control over the computers they infect; they can (and do) browse people’s private pictures in search of erotic images to share with each other online. They even have strategies for watching where women store the photos most likely to be compromising.”

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Banks Wrongfully Foreclosed on 700 Military Members

As part of a multibillion-dollar settlement deal over foreclosure abuses during the housing crisis, it has been discovered that over 700 members of the military were wrongfully evicted from their homes by major banks.

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Student Debt Tripled in Eight Years

A new report from the New York Federal Reserve further confirms what many commentators have been long saying — student debt is the bubble that just keeps expanding. Total student debt has nearly tripled in the past three years.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Trayvon Martin on the Anniversary of his Death

Had Trayvon Martin not been shot dead on this day last year, he would have turned 18 this month. In the initial weeks following Martin’s death, national anger fomented as his killer George Zimmerman had walked free, without any charges, claiming self defense when he shot the unarmed teen. Across the country, thousands gathered for solidarity marches calling for justice and and end to the structural racism apparently characterizing the case.

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Matt Taibbi: How One of the World's Largest Banks Got Away with Murder

In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi takes the Justice Department to task over settling with HSBC late last year in the “largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever.”

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Report: Unpaid Rent Can Lead to Arrest in Arkansas

report published this week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) explores a unique, punitive law in Arkansas that burns hundreds of beleaguered renters in the state every year. According to the 44-page report, “Pay the Rent or Face Arrest: Abusive Impacts of Arkansas’s Criminal Evictions Law,” Arkansas tenants have been “dragged into criminal court for transgressions that would not be a crime in any other U.S. state” under the failure-to-vacate law, which allows criminal charges to be brought against individuals late on rent payments who fail to vacate the rented property. Via HRW:

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Obama on Track to Deport a Record 2 Million People by 2014

At current rates, deportations enforced under the Obama presidency are set to hit 2 million by 2014 according to a new report from the University of California-Merced. Findings highlight that, if current deportation rates continue, nearly as many people will have been deported under this administration than during the entirety of years between 1892 and 1997. These are striking statistics to consider while Congress debates the president’s commitment to immigration enforcement.

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NYPD Handcuff, Interrogate 7-Year-Old Over $5

Bronx police arrested a seven-year-old boy, put him in handcuffs and held him in custody for ten hours after a playground fight over $5, according to a $250 million claim brought by the child’s family against the city and the NYPD. Officers allegedly arrived at the Bronx public school on Dec. 4 in the morning and handcuffed and held Wilson Reyes in a room there for four hours before taking him to the station house for another six hours of interrogation and verbal abuse, the suit alleges.

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Anonymous Hacks DoJ in Tribute to Aaron Swartz

Continuing tributes to the late Aaron Swartz, Anonymous hacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission twice over the weekend. The hacker collective first commandeered the Justice Department site Friday night, replacing the homepage with a video, in typical Anons style, which decried the government’s treatment of Swartz, a brilliant young technologist who committed suicide facing felony charges for downloading over 4 million JSTOR articles.

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LAPD Using Controversial Spy Tool to Listen to Cellphone Conversations of "Non-Suspects"

The LAPD used a cell phone monitoring device designed for counterterror purposes in routine criminal investigations 21 times in just four months last year, LA Weekly reported.

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