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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

A Progressive’s Style Guide

Toward Harnessing Language in Support of Intersectionality and Cross-sector Power Building Language is a key ingredient in a winning theory of change. Language can build bridges  and change minds. By acknowledging the ability of language to shape and reflect reality, progressive campaigns can become more powerful vehicles for social change, inclusion, and justice. In fact, understanding and applying the authentic language of the individuals and communities with whom we work can be a revolutionary act in itself. Historically, extensive, issue-based language guidelines have remained siloed or proprietary. Some information has trickled up (with some questionable success) to be centralized in the establishment grammar and usage style guides, but this information is far from comprehensive and lacks the voice of the groups being discussed. At the same time, transparent conversations about the power of word choice and phrasing have remained disconnected and difficult to access. In 2015, SumOfUs staff, led by Hanna Thomas, began the compilation of a new kind of guide – one that sparks a conversation about language among progressives. With the help of Anna Hirsch, an independent editor, A Progressive’s Style Guide was born. We invite drivers of progressive change – community members, grassroots leaders, activists, and progressive funders–to peruse the vital movement frameworks, decolonizing usage, and up-to-date word choice and phrasing for current theory of change directions and momentum across groups and issue areas presented in this guide. A Progressive’s Style Guide is explicitly multi-voiced and is created with the following commitments. 1) We combat discriminatory language. 2) We seek advice or more information when we’re unsure. 3) When writing, speaking, or using images, we aim to use examples that reflect a broad range of identities and perspectives. We understand that there may be negative blowback to this work and that we won’t be the first to experience it. We affirm that we are aligned with free speech, and at the same time are promoting thoughtfulness and openness about how language is and isn’t used, has been used, and could be used for people and for our planet collectively. Because language is dynamic, changes with our struggles, and is shaped by criticism and the collective construction of social justice, we are compelled to keep building a collective language that liberates us all. As we continue to think about ways to organize this information that are accessible, user-friendly, clear, and aligned with progressives’ beliefs and strategies, we know that in some instances we still fall short – and so, we also invite feedback. We are committed to this work and to remaining in dialogue…”

The Nonhuman Rights Project

“The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working to achieve actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own. Our mission is to change the legal status of appropriate nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” whoContinue Reading

GAO Reports – Disaster Recovery, DoD Financial Management, Human Trafficking, Immigration Detention, Imported Food Safety, Rail Grant Oversight

Disaster Recovery: FEMA Needs to Assess Its Effectiveness in Implementing the National Disaster Recovery Framework, GAO-16-476: Published: May 26, 2016. Publicly Released: May 26, 2016. DOD Financial Management: Greater Visibility Needed to Better Assess Audit Readiness for Property, Plant, and Equipment, GAO-16-383: Published: May 26, 2016. Publicly Released: May 26, 2016. Human Trafficking: Actions TakenContinue Reading

LexisNexis Introduces New, Interactive Rule of Law Awareness Tool

“LexisNexis Legal & Professional today launches an interactive online tool that shows how the rule of law is measured and why it’s important. This first-of-its-kind data tool, the LexisNexis Rule of Law Impact Tracker, quantifies the relationship between rule of law and social and economic development. According to the United Nations, approximately 4 billion peopleContinue Reading

Reining in the Big Promise of Big Data: Transparency, Inequality, and New Regulatory Frontiers

Hacker, Philipp and Petkova, Bilyana, Reining in the Big Promise of Big Data: Transparency, Inequality, and New Regulatory Frontiers (May 2, 2016). Available for download at SSRN: “The growing differentiation of services based on Big Data harbors the potential for both greater societal inequality and for greater equality. Anti-discrimination law and transparency alone, however,Continue Reading

The Guardian – How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers

Mark Hertsgaard – The Guardian – “By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did. He leaked top-secret documents revealing that the National Security Agency was spying on hundreds of millions of people across the world, collecting the phone calls and emails of virtually everyone on Earth who used a mobile phone or the internet.Continue Reading

GAO Report – Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: U.S. Assistance to Combat This Harmful Practice Abroad Is Limited

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: U.S. Assistance to Combat This Harmful Practice Abroad Is Limited, GAO-16-485: Published: Apr 27, 2016. Publicly Released: May 19, 2016. “U.S. and United Nations (UN) studies since 2010 have identified a variety of factors contributing to the persistence of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). In many communities where FGM/C is prevalent, FGM/C isContinue Reading

Study identifies metadata mining of telephone data by NSA

“Privacy protections against government surveillance are often scoped to communications content and exclude communications metadata. In the United States, the National Security Agency operated a particularly controversial program, collecting bulk telephone metadata nationwide. We investigate the privacy properties of telephone metadata to assess the impact of policies that distinguish between content and metadata. We findContinue Reading

Texas Immigration Court Leads US in Issuing Removal Orders

“Immigration Court judges have issued 44,204 removal orders during the first seven months of fiscal year 2016, according to the latest available court data. Texas leads the nation with 10,102 removal orders issued so far this fiscal year, over one fifth (22.9%) of the total. Next is California with 7,056 followed by Georgia with 3,698Continue Reading

CIA allegedly destroyed sole copy of Senate torture report

The Independent: “The CIA inspector general’s office has said it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a comprehensive Senate torture report, despite lawyers for the Justice Department assuring a federal judge that copies of the documents were being preserved. The erasure of the document by the spy agency’s internal watchdog was deemed an “inadvertent” foul-upContinue Reading

CBO Report – H.R. 3713, Sentencing Reform Act of 2015

“H.R. 3713 would amend federal law to change the prison sentences associated with certain offenses. Based on information provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC), CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would reduce the cost of incarcerating offenders and would lead to a reduction in discretionary costs to DOJContinue Reading

CRS – Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. May 13, 2016. “Libya’s political transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. After an armed uprising ended the 40- plus year rule of Muammar al Qadhafi in late 2011, interim authoritiesContinue Reading