civil liberties

Things are hotting up in this modern climate of terrorism and security fears — and politicians are penning laws that are likely to directly affect our freedoms.

United States President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are trying to ram through a coup, writes Barry Sheppard. Running roughshod over multiple allegations of sexual assault and insulting the women involved, they seek to solidify a far-right majority of five out of nine members on the Supreme Court for the next several decades.

Canada’s historic vote in June to legalise cannabis is yet another nail in the coffin of the so-called War on Drugs, conceived in the 1970s by then US-president Richard Nixon, writes Natalie Sharples.

“So called” because it was deliberately conceived to obscure what it really was: not a war on substances at all, but on Black people and the anti-war left.

More than 1 million people marched in Barcelona on September 11 in support of Catalonia’s struggle for independence from the Spanish state. The day is marked each year as Catalonia’s national day, commemorating Barcelona's capture by Bourbon forces in 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession.

This year’s march also demanded the release of pro-independence political prisoners, who have been jailed for their role in last year’s independence referendum.

Former US intelligence analyst turned whistle-blower and activist Chelsea Manning will speak via satellite from Auckland to audiences in Melbourne and Brisbane, following the Australian government's refusal to issue her with a visa on character grounds.

Prisoners across the United States launched a prison strike for August 21-September 9, which has since spread into Canada.

More than 100 people attended a rally in solidarity with former spy Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery outside the Treasury Buildings in Melbourne on July 25. The rally demanded that the current Attorney General, Christian Porter, cease the prosecution of the two.

The federal government, supported by the Labor Party, successfully amended the Criminal Code Act 1995 by passing the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 on June 28 to introduce new espionage offences. Green Left Weekly’s Pip Hinman asked NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon about the laws’ possible impact on those struggling for a better world.

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Will the changes make it more difficult to protest? Do they criminalise dissent?

Another fundamental liberty of the people of New South Wales took a hit on July 1.

On that day a new regulation under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 took effect, granting the NSW government wide powers to disperse or ban protests, rallies and virtually any public gathering across about half of all land across the state.

The powers apply on any Crown Land — land owned by the state government, including town squares, parks, roads, beaches, community halls and more.

In what Amnesty International described as “another way to punish parents and children for seeking protection,” United States President Donald Trump retreated in the face of huge outcry over his administration’s policy of ripping apart families at the US-Mexico border — signing an executive order on June 20 that will instead lead to families seeking safety being jailed together.

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