Advocates, companies thank senators for PATRIOT Act filibuster, call for sunset

Media contact: Mark Stanley, 202.681.7582
Email: press@demandprogress.org

Today, Demand Progress joined 17 other advocacy groups, companies, and privacy experts in signing a letter thanking Senators Blumenthal, Cantwell, Coons, Cruz, Daines, Heinrich, Lee, Manchin, Paul, Tester, and Wyden for filibustering an extension of key PATRIOT Act provisions. The letter also calls on the senators to ensure that no legislation be approved by the Senate, no matter what form it may take, if it would extend the PATRIOT Act. The following statement can be attributed to Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal:

“Only weeks ago, a sunset of key PATRIOT Act provisions seemed impossible. But thanks to the millions of Americans who have called for real reform, and the principled stand made by the senators who blocked an extension of the law, the tide has turned. We are now in a position where true reform is more likely than ever, and in order to achieve it, Members of Congress must stand strong and not waver in their defense of Americans’ fundamental rights.

"The PATRIOT Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of a national crisis, included sunset provisions for a reason: The extraordinary new powers created by the law were to be re-examined — and allowed to expire if abusive or ineffective. Both of those criteria have been met.

"Meanwhile, the USA Freedom Act, which would offer meager reforms to the PATRIOT Act but also codify unacceptable surveillance powers — and even provide immunity to companies that facilitate illegal government spying — does not sufficiently constrain surveillance. The Senate should block it as well, let Section 215 and other provisions expire, and enact further reforms to protect Americans’ privacy rights.”

The full letter can be read here.

Signatories include:

  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • CREDO
  • Data Foundry
  • Defending Dissent Foundation
  • Demand Progress
  • Democracy for America
  • DownsizeDC.org
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Golden Frog
  • Jennifer Granick*
  • Liberty Coalition
  • Restore the Fourth
  • RootsAction.org
  • Sunlight Foundation
  • Tea Party Nation
  • X-Lab

* Director of Civil Liberties, Stanford Center for Internet and Society (affiliation purposes only)

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Another departure from pure science, but some interesting data visualization from a study published last week. Each dot is a single member of the House of Representatives (democrats = blue, republicans = red). The proximity and lines between dots indicates cooperation - voting the same way on legislation. The more they vote the same way, the thicker the connecting lines and the closer the dots.

Man Fails To Prosecute Officer Caught On Tape Killing Unarmed Man, Gets Elected To Congress

With the NYPD re-reteaching its officers how to avoid being racist, using verbal abuse, and resorting to needless physical force, a strange turn of events happened Tuesday night: the lead prosecutor who failed to secure a grand jury indictment in the Eric Garner case and a steadfast supporter of the NYPD became New York’s newest Congressman, and will represent Staten Island.

One out of every five children in America lives in poverty. In the wealthiest country in the world, nearly 16 million of our children and nearly 5 million of our elders lack food security. But congressional leaders think the first piece of business should be to ensure that those who pay little in life leave nothing of their great fortunes to the common good after they die.
Congressional Democrats are pushing for “debt-free” college.

On Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate and House introduced twin resolutions “to ensure that students have access to debt-free higher education.” The measures call for the federal government to support states in making greater investment in colleges and expanding financial aid measures so that students can eventually expect to have “no debt upon graduation from all public institutions of higher education.” This could be huge in 2016.

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“Geology is not a core science” #ThanksEarthScience

In 2009, the governor of the state of Louisiana was giving a reply to a speech by the U.S. President that in part described how there were supposedly wasteful items in a spending bill being considered by Congress when something remarkable happened. One example of the type of thing the government should not be funding given in this speech was “something called volcano monitoring”.

To a geologist, this clause was jaw-dropping. Not only did it seem like the concept that “we should monitor volcanoes as a natural hazard because they could kill people” wasn’t understood, hearing that from the governor of the state devastated a mere 3.5 years earlier by Hurricane Katrina and the associated engineering failures was particularly startling.

I couldn’t help but flash back to that moment this week as Earth Science in the United States has a target on its back once again. At the beginning of May, the Congress passed a NASA budget outline that included a huge cut in their Earth Science spending. Then this past week, a U.S. Congressperson on the budget committee argued that the slight increase in funding for the National Science Foundation should go to the 4 “core sciences” which specifically excluded Earth Science and Social Sciences.

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Congress Trying To Make It Legal For Gay People And Unmarried Women To Be Fired For Having Babies

Congress Trying To Make It Legal For Gay People And Unmarried Women To Be Fired For Having Babies

While on one hand, Republicans in Congress want to make it illegal for women to have abortions under any circumstance, on the other hand, they have been busy trying to make it a fireable offense for single women to have babies.

Even married people, and most certainly gay people, who want to have babies via in vitro fertilization would be subject to being fired in Washington D.C.:

A committee of…

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