Barry Sheppard

A new whistleblower has come forward with a chilling new revelation concerning Washington’s surveillance of its citizens. But he is not allowed to blow his whistle under threat of jail.

All the whistleblower could do was report his act of resistance and that there was a threat. He did so on the United States' progressive TV show Democracy Now! on August 13.

Ladar Levison is the owner of Lavabit, an email provider that offers users a secure service the government cannot easily get into. It employs sophisticated encryption -- putting user's messages in hard-to-crack code.

One year after a huge explosion and fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California, there was a demonstration of thousands of people directed against the oil giant on August 3.

Richmond is part of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area, where I live.

A significant aspect of the action was that it brought together environmentalists from the Bay Area and nationally, and activists from the Richmond community.

The mainstream press has focused on the decision of the judge in the military courts-martial of Bradley Manning to find him not guilty of “aiding the enemy”.

However, judge Denise Lind's conviction of of the whistleblower who exposed war crimes for 20 other charges amounts to a full-scale assault on democratic rights.

The courts-martial now enters the sentencing phase. Manning faces a maximum of 136 years behind bars.

Whatever the final sentence is, it is widely believed it will be decades in the military stockade.

When the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin was announced late July 13, spontaneous demonstrations of protest were held in cities and towns across the country. Protests have continued in the days since.

The day after the verdict, thousands marched in New York. Here are some of the voices on that march:

Marlene Duperley said: “I have a son. It’s difficult because he sees it, and he’s already had dreams about it. And he’s already had dreams about the man following Trayvon.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has offered asylum to Edward Snowden, the courageous whistle-blower who has exposed the vast NSA spying on every US citizen who uses a phone or the Internet, as well as people throughout the world.

Bolivian president Evo Morales and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega followed suit.

These three countries broke the diplomatic iron ring Washington sought to place around Snowden, who has been protected but in a sort of limbo in the transit area of Moscow’s international airport.

Attack on Morales

A recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court represents a big step forward, while another represents a leap backward. Both passed by a five-to-four vote.

First the good news. The Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a right of only heterosexual couples. DOMA was passed by Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Edward Snowden remained in the transit area of the Moscow airport as of June 26, as Washington stepped up its threats against China and Russia for not turning the NSA whistleblower over to the US.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that China’s decision to allow Snowden to leave Hong Kong would “without question” affect US-China relations and “have consequences”.

See also: Ecuador offers US 'human rights' aid, cancels trade deal

The exposure of the huge surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) of all phone calls in the United States, as well as the vast data mining of all electronic communications through computer servers and search engines worldwide, is one of the most important whistle-blowing events of our times.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the surveillence Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, says these exposures by Edward Snowden, who worked for a private contractor used by the NSA, said Snowden’s exposures were even more important than the Vietnam War revelations.

The court-martial of US Private Bradley Manning opened on June 3, and is expected to last 12 weeks.

The courageous US soldier leaked a large trove of classified material documenting US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, diplomatic cables exposing Washington’s machinations in the Middle East and elsewhere, and other material.

At a previous hearing, Manning admitted he was the source of these leaks. As a result, he opened himself to a potential sentence of up to 20 years in military prison.

Lynne Stewart, a movement attorney who was jailed for the “crime” of being the defense lawyer for alleged terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, is dying in prison of stage-four cancer.

Her family and supporters, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking that she be granted compassionate release so she can live out her final days outside prison walls.

The warden of Stewart's prison has approved her compassionate release, however the Department of Prisons has so far refused to grant it.

Pages

Subscribe to Barry Sheppard