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american civil liberties union
It is still early doors in Trump’s mind-boggling presidency, but I’d say we have reason to fear. He has already tried to implement a ‘Muslin ban’, which failed, so he is now trying again. He has tried to protect working class Americans by appointing billionaires to his administration. He has tried to limit the rights and access of the free press. He has made DeVos responsible for the education of our children. He has hit out at ‘fake-news’ while perpetually spreading fake news, such as his latest unsubstantiated and unsupported claim of a wire-tapping organised by Obama. He has denied speaking to the Russians despite having spoken to the Russians. And he has consistently used Twitter to vent his rage without consulting with his advisors about the very topic in which he is venting his rage.
Unfortunately, he seems to be every inch the president we feared he would be, a danger to society, to equality, to the environment and to the balance of the world (oh we wish we were being dramatic, but we’re not).
As such, we have come up with a few pieces of advice that we hope will help protect you, the people you love and the society around you from whatever harm his presidency may bring. Think of this as a sort of survival guide.
Know Your Rights
Way before Trump ever announced he was going to run for president he has come out with controversial comments; controversial comments that only got worse as he announced his decision to run, and comments that have become a real threat since he took office. There is the wall, there is the bigotry, the Muslim ban and the abolition of Obamacare. All of these things suggest you need to know your rights and protect yourself with a complete understanding of the law. Depending on your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religion, you focus may change, but use every and any source you can to protect yourself. It could be you need to learn about asylum law, or what rights a refugee has. It could be you need to know about your rights as a homosexual and whether they are under threat. As such, a great place to start is to head to the American Civil Liberties Union and educate yourself on the different rights that affect you and your loved ones. These tights may be subject to change, so stay up to date with the news, read what you can and speak to lawyers. You may not need to worry, but it could be better to be safe than sorry.
Be Medically Responsible
Trump promised to repeal Obamacare in his campaign, and he wasted no time in doing so once he took to the office. In fact, the Republicans dismantled Obamacare without even having a replacement lined up. What’s more, our President has now brazenly said that the issue of medical care is more complex that he thought. Duh. However, before Trump dismantles the current health care law anymore, now is a great time for you to speak to your doctor and discuss any long-term medical needs you may have. This should be focussed on your specific needs. So if you are a veteran of the armed services, find out what your rights are. If you are a young woman, get clarity on things like birth control and hormones. If you have a long-standing diagnosis, then talk to your doctor about medications for your chronic illness. No one knows what rules and laws will change, but think about the future, say about 4-years into the future.
Time To Rally At A Local Level
The major cities have already shown constant protests taking place, especially in Washington with more people turning out for the Women’s March than for Trump’s inauguration (which is amazing for society and totally embarrassing for Trump). However, the chances are that the rules will change to prevent protests gaining traction on a national scale. But that is okay because it could be more effective to protest and join hands at a local level. So identify a cause you care deeply about and see if there is a local organisation working on that issue and if there is any way you can be of assistance and lend your voice. It could be you do this in your school or through the local government or just looking online, but the more you make noise the more your representatives will have to listen. Four years may feel like a long time to have Trump in The White House, but there will be votes on the houses before then, and that is where you can really hurt Trump’s progress.
Protect Those With More To Fear
There are a lot of people who are fearing for the civil liberties and their human rights, and you may be one of those. But you must not forget that there are others who are in more immediate danger of certain laws being given the go ahead, laws that could completely change their lives. It could be that you are white, able-bodied and straight and therefore have nothing to fear. But have a little compassion for those who aren’t. Have some empathy for those that face a rather uncertain future because of Trump’s right-wing policies. As such, it could be that you uphold a civil duty to protect those less fortunate than yourself. That is what society is all about. It is strength in numbers and protecting one another from harm.
Your Data May Be Unsafe
Chances are, given what Trump has insinuated in the past, there will be an increased focus placed on surveillance activity and a new focus placed on monitoring the online activities of civilians. As such, you may want to invest in certain data protection software, such as Tor and Signal, which will offer you that extra safeguarding. What’s more, it could be worth sharing this piece of advice with friends and family to ensure they are protected from big brother as well.
In June of 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, everybody knew the ruling would make waves in other realms of the law. One such area is child custody.
In 2014, Charlene Ramey separated from her same sex partner, Kimberly Sutton, and filed for parental rights and custody of their son. Shortly after Ramey submitted her petition, Sutton asked district Judge Howard Haralson to dismiss the case. Haralson granted the dismissal but Ramey was persistent and brought her case all the way to the state Supreme Court.
This is the court’s decision: Ramey’s relationship with the child was more than that of a nanny, friend or even a family member like an aunt or cousin. “On the contrary” wrote Justice Joseph Watt, “Ramey has been intimately involved in the conception, birth and parenting of their child, at the request and invitation of Sutton.”
He added: “Ramey has stood in the most sacred role as parent to their child and always has been referred to as ‘mom’ by their child. The community, school, medical providers and extended family have all known Ramey as ‘the other parent’ all with the knowledge and mutual agreement of Sutton.”
Andrew J. Stephenson, a child custody lawyer, had this to say on the subject: “With this landmark US Supreme court ruling, the lower courts must take issues regarding same sex parenting more seriously and really focus on what’s best for the child. I believe the Oklahoma Supreme Court definitely made the correct decision, one that no doubt set a precedent for future cases.”
In the majority opinion, Watt continues: “In a separate, concurring opinion Justices James Winchester and Steven Taylor said the agreement between Ramey and Sutton to conceive and care for a child must also be considered. The court must first determine standing based on [an] agreement of the parties. Then and only then is best interest considered to determine custody or visitation.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned the district court’s decision to dismiss Ramey’s case. She now has legal standing to continue to play a role in parenting her son.
The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had worked on the case with Ramey’s lawyer, Rhonda Telford Naidu, as they appealed the lower court’s rejection up through the state’s higher courts.
“I’m really proud of the Oklahoma Supreme Court for giving this case its day in court,” says Troy Stevenson, the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBT rights organization. “The worst thing I can imagine is for a child to be ripped away from its mother.”
As for Ramey, well, she just seems happy to be able to call her son hers. “Today is an overwhelming day of emotion and joy,” she said hours after the ruling. “Today is relief. Today, our great state [of Oklahoma] recognized that I have been nothing but true as a mom to my son and our relationship. Today starts another chapter of hope. I love you, son.”
The controversial CISPA (Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act) has been passed by the US House of Representatives.
CISPA is designed to help combat cyberthreats by making it easier for law enforcers to get at web data.
This is the second time CISPA has been passed by the House. Senators threw out the first draft, saying it did not do enough to protect privacy.
CISPA could fail again in the Senate after threats from President Obama to veto it over privacy concerns.
A substantial majority of politicians in the House backed the bill.
The controversial CISPA has been passed by the US House of Representatives
The law is passing through the US legislative system as American federal agencies warn that malicious hackers, motivated by money or acting on behalf of foreign governments, such as China, are one of the biggest threats facing the nation.
“If you want to take a shot across China’s bow, this is the answer,” said Mike Rogers, the Republican politician who co-wrote CISPA and chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
CISPA has also secured the backing of several technology firms, including the CTIA wireless industry group, as well as the TechNet computer industry lobby group, which has Google, Apple and Yahoo as members. By contrast, the social news website Reddit has been vocal in its opposition to the bill. In March, Facebook said it no longer supported CISPA.
The bill could fail again in the Senate after the Obama administration’s threat to use its veto unless changes were made. The White House wants amendments so more is done to ensure the minimum amount of data is handed over in investigations.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also opposed CISPA, saying the bill was “fatally flawed”. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders and the American Library Association have all voiced similar worries.
CISPA’s authors say existing amendments have addressed many of the criticisms and more oversight was being given to data before it was handed over.
Twitter is objecting at a New York state court order to hand over the message history of Malcolm Harris, one of its users who is an Occupy protester.
The court has called on Twitter to release tweets written by an activist who took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests last year.
The micro-blogging service disputes a judge’s ruling that messages are owned by Twitter rather than its users.
The American Civil Liberties Union commended the company for defending free speech rights.
Twitter’s lawyer, Ben Lee, said: “Twitter’s terms of service make absolutely clear that its users <<own>> their own content. Our filing with the court reaffirms our steadfast commitment to defending those rights for our users.”
The case centres around Malcolm Harris, managing editor of the New Inquiry website.
Malcolm Harris was arrested on 1 October along with hundreds of other campaigners during a march across Brooklyn Bridge.
Malcolm Harris was arrested on 1 October along with hundreds of other campaigners during a march across Brooklyn Bridge
Prosecutors claim tweets by Malcolm Harris would reveal that he was “well aware of police instructions” ordering protesters not to block traffic.
Malcolm Harris’s lawyer had tried to block access to the postings, but a judge ruled that once the messages had been sent they became the property of Twitter, meaning the defendant was not protected by Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.
Twitter’s lawyers argued that the judge had misunderstood how the service worked, noting that the Stored Communications Act gave its members the right to challenge requests for information on their user history.
“This is a big deal,” said the American Civil Liberties Union in a blog post.
“Law enforcement agencies… are becoming increasingly aggressive in their attempts to obtain information about what people are doing on the internet.
“If internet users cannot protect their own constitutional rights, the only hope is that internet companies do so.”
One media analyst said Twitter’s action also reflected its wider desire to avoid becoming caught up in litigation.
“Twitter, like any internet service provider, wants people who upload material to be responsible – it doesn’t want to be in a position where it has to review all of the tweets,” said Benedict Evans from Enders Analysis.
“It sees itself as being like an email provider and doesn’t want to have to worry about issues of copyright (and) libel about other matters relating to what people post.
“That said, it can’t totally avoid the issue. We have seen cases of US courts forcing email providers to hand over evidence, and Twitter has access to the data.”