Friday, September 14, 2007
  Lots of Good News!
Muslims for Progressive Values is now officially incorporated in California. Yay! One step closer to our non-profit status.

I'm one of many converts featured on a video in YouTube:

But best of all, this just came in my inbox from the ACLU. Perhaps sanity and traditional American freedoms will reign after all!

Courts Rebuke Bush Administration on Spying Laws

Two federal courts handed down stunning victories for civil liberties last week, starkly rejecting White House abuses of power through the Patriot Act and broad use of secrecy claims to dodge public accountability.

In the only legal challenge ever brought regarding the National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the amended Patriot Act, a New York federal court struck down the current rules. The NSL statute has permitted the FBI to issue secret demands for personal records without court approval. It also empowers the government to gag recipients from even discussing these NSLs.

Not only did District Court Judge Victor Marrero rule that this gag power violates the First Amendment and the fundamental separation of powers, he also found that, because the gag provisions could not be separated from the entire amended statute, the Patriot NSL statute must be struck down in its entirety. This is an historic affirmation of principle that extends beyond even the requests made in the ACLU’s legal brief!

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. rejected broad claims of government secrecy in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over documents related to the Bush NSA wiretapping program. This ruling strikes another blow to the administration's sweeping and often unfounded secrecy claims and compels the Department of Justice, the FBI and the NSA to provide additional explanations for their withholding of many documents about the program, and the legal justifications for the program in particular.

Learn more about the NSA and NSLs on the ACLU website.

The Fight to Shut Down an Unlawful Passenger-Tracking System

The ACLU is demanding the shut-down of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) illegal Automated Targeting System (ATS) program. The ATS program violates a congressional mandate barring DHS from assigning risk levels to ordinary Americans through secret criteria and computer algorithms intended to calculate whether ordinary Americans are “security risks.”

The program “violates every American’s right to privacy," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. "The judgments about Americans calculated by ATS will be stored for years, and we have no idea how they may be used in the future. The benefit to the government is extremely questionable, but the consequences for Americans are simply dangerous."

In multiple recent appropriations votes, lawmakers have forbidden DHS from developing or testing any program that uses algorithms to calculate the security risks of ordinary Americans whose names are not already on a watch list. ATS ranks citizens using unknown but inevitably imprecise algorithms and draws from databases with known errors. In addition, security officials have said they cannot determine who will be a threat from the characteristics ATS uses.

The program was approved without public or congressional consideration. The government tracked cargo using a similar system, but Congress has repeatedly banned the use of such tracking techniques for human beings.

Learn more about the ATS program.

What a great start to Ramadan!

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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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