What You Need to Know About Deadly Force in the United States

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Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown are among the countless lives that have been lost at the hands of law enforcement officers across the country. The reports of unnecessary or excessive force by police continue to mount, captured by body cameras, dashboard cameras, cell phones and eyewitnesses. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“Torture is Not Just Something that Happens to Mel Gibson”: 4 Things You Need to Know about John Oliver’s Takedown of CIA Torture

JohnOliverCIATortureOn Sunday, John Oliver made me laugh about CIA torture—and want to do everything in my power to stop the U.S. from returning to it.

His show, Last Week Tonight, ran a pointed critique of the U.S. government’s torture program: not just that it happened and that it was horrific, but that too many people in the United States continue to believe that it was excusable or even justifiable.

As Oliver explains, six months ago the Senate released a summary of its report on the CIA torture program, know as the Senate Torture Report. It contains disturbing allegations of forced rectal feeding, sexual abuse and extensive use of waterboarding.

Here’s what you missed – and what more you need to know:

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URGENT: This is a Must-Win Vote Against Torture. Call Congress Now!

The U.S. Senate is considering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would take critical steps to prevent a return to U.S. torture. Amnesty International USA activists are calling on Senators to do the right thing to end this American Torture Story.

This is our first shot in years to codify protections against torture into law. We need to act fast to make sure Senators know how important their vote is on this landmark legislation.

Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein have just introduced legislation to help ensure the American Torture Story is never repeated. The legislation – introduced as an amendment to a defense authorization bill – would require interrogations of all U.S. detainees to adhere to a common rulebook, which bans “techniques” like waterboarding and forced nudity.

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7 ways the world has changed thanks to Edward Snowden

On June 5, 2013, The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first revelations from Edward Snowden about mass government surveillance. (c) Private

On 5 June 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the first shocking evidence of global mass surveillance programs.

We’ve since learned that the USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been monitoring the internet and phone activity of hundreds of millions of people across the world.

Two years on, we take a look at seven ways the landscape has changed thanks to the documents Snowden released:

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5 Things You Need to Know: The CIA’s Horrific Torture of Majid Khan

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By Kimie Matsuo and Zak Newman

We learned earlier this week of even more shocking, horrific details in the case of one detainee who fell victim to the CIA’s torture program. Majid Khan, who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for almost nine years, is one of the 119 men whose case is mentioned in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture. But this week’s news, coming from declassified statements from Khan himself, includes revelations of grotesque and abhorrent treatment never publicly reported by the Senate committee.

Here’s what you need to know: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Edward Snowden: “Two Years On, The Difference Is Profound”

By Edward Snowden, director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and former Central Intelligence Agency officer and National Security Agency contractor

TWO years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

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Why We’re #WearingOrange on June 2nd

Gun violence is a national issue that impacts tens of thousands of Americans each year. Each day 88 people lose their lives to firearms in the United States, and countless other lives are permanently and irrevocably altered. The causes of this epidemic of violence are complex, but there are organizations working around the clock to bring it to an end.

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VICTORY: Nebraska Becomes the 19th US State to Abolish the Death Penalty!


By Christy Hargesheimer, Nebraska resident and Nebraska State Death Penalty Action Coordinator for Amnesty International USA

Wow, who would have thought it possible? Red-state Nebraska (with a few purple splotches) actually has repealed the death penalty by voting to override the Governor’s veto! And who were the people responsible for finally pushing this through? A strong coalition of abolitionists, plus some unlikely suspects, that’s who.

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Nebraska, Tsarnaev, and the United States’ dwindling use of the death penalty

 In a stunning move this morning, Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in their state. And although the Governor has promised to veto, with 32 votes in favor the legislature stands poised to override the governor and make the bill law. Doing so would make Nebraska the 19th state to repeal the death penalty, the 7th since 2007.

Meanwhile, the nation is still reacting to the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death last week for the Boston Marathon bombings.

At first blush, the two news stories may seem at odds – while capital punishment looks to be on the way out in Nebraska, it looks alive and well in one Boston federal courthouse. But appearances can be deceiving, and the nation’s reaction to the Tsarnaev sentence shows a deep conflict, even discomfort, over the death penalty.

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