Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dawn Porter, 'Gideon's Army' Filmmaker

Dawn Porter, a filmmaker, discusses her new HBO documentary "Gideon's Army" with Bloomberg Law's Spencer Mazyckwhich.

The film follows a group of passionate young public defenders in the Deep South who contend with long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads to represent low-income individuals. Hopefully the film will soon become available to PBS.

They Did The Wild Life Boogie

A little social ditty about the new age robber barons and their political lap dogs.

Mickey Carroll - They Did The Wild and

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Day the Cold War Came Home

Political fear mongering. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here's the story of Gordon Kahn, as told by his son, Tony. Gordon Kahn was an American author and screenwriter who, during the McCarthy era, was investigated by House Committee on Un-American Activities and was blacklisted, faced imprisonment, and was persecuted for years simply for having "the wrong political ideas".

Monday, June 10, 2013

Collecting DNA Against Our Will

While everyone in the country is focusing on NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden's report that the Government, along with the help of a private corporation, is snooping into our privacy and collecting our communications, something potentially more important is almost totally being ignored.

Just like their 2010 decision to grant corporations the same rights as people, the Supreme Court has once again dropped the ball in defending it's citizenry.

In another landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled the police can collect DNA samples from people they arrest even before they are convicted of a crime, and based solely upon the concept of "probable cause". Police only have to "think" that we've committed a crime.

So now, not only will the Government have this big database containing our fingerprints, our financial transactions, our employment history, probably most of our medical history, anything they've watched us do on public and private street cameras, drone surveillance, and any information they've secretly collected from our telephone and online conversations, they're now going to have a giant collection of our individual DNA.

So, while I'm sympathetic towards victims of crimes and fully support most law enforcement efforts to catch violent criminals, there comes a point where the ends DO NOT justify the means.

We've reached that point.

Proponents for loose laws for DNA collection say that DNA is just like fingerprint collection and that there's no potential for abuse. But, that's far from the truth.

First of all, allowing the police to simply collect our DNA without first being convicted of a crime in a court of law is fraught with potential for abuse. Consider this recent news report alleging police abuse in Arizona as an example. Police officers abusing their powers occurs every day throughout America. Giving them the power to collect our DNA solely based upon probable cause is a serious mistake.

Secondly, there are all sorts of avenues for corporate DNA abuse. As history has shown, corporations control all branches of our Government. Their main goals are to privatize operations, and then get our Government leaders to support their profit-driven agenda. And they've been extremely successful.

So, while Government leaders "say" that our DNA is safe from abuse, how can they guarantee what the private corporations they've contracted with to perform any collection, evaluation, and storage, do with our DNA? Trust them to be honest and self-regulate?

Who's going to enforce the rules that keep those private contractors from selling our DNA to others like the pharmaceutical industry, the biomedical industry, private medical researchers, or any other enterprise that discovers new technologies that can exploit DNA for profit? The same politicians who supported privatization and whom also control the regulatory agencies? Get real.

And it's not like similar type abuses haven't happened before. Unlike simple fingerprints, our DNA, our genetic material, can be used for molecular cloning purposes, and who knows what else?, without our knowledge or approval.

To help us understand the seriousness of this decision, Democracy Now! hosted a debate between Michael Risher of the American Civil Liberties Union and Mai Fernandez of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Mr. Fisher makes a great argument, and one that I agree with.