He wasn’t bluffing. After threatening to sue liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America (CNBC, 11/18/23), Twitter’s principal owner Elon Musk did just that, arguing in papers filed in a Texas court that the group “manipulated” data in an effort to “destroy” the social media platform, causing major advertisers to pull back (BBC, 11/20/23). The world’s richest human was responding to an MMFA report (11/16/23) about Twitter—which Musk has rebranded as X since purchasing the once publicly traded company—and its promotion of far-right, antisemitic content. It said that while “Musk continues his descent into white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories,” the social media network has been “placing ads for major brands like Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.”
Civil rights groups in the US have warned of a “wave of McCarthyite backlash” against criticism of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza after Americans expressing support for the Palestinians have been sacked, faced threats of violence and hounded by pro-Israel groups. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has warned of the “continued criminalisation of advocacy for Palestinian rights” and described an “increasing tide of anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab attacks in the US” following the Hamas cross-border attack in which about 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 abducted.
On November 4, people from across the country will gather in Washington, DC for the 15th Annual March to the White House organized by the Black is Back Coalition. Clearing the FOG speaks with Chairman Omali Yeshitela about the theme of this year's march, building an anti-colonial free speech movement in solidarity with peoples who struggle around the world. Yeshitela is one of the Uhuru 3, who are facing 15 years in jail for their activism. Yeshitela speaks about the historic ties between the black and Palestinian liberation movements. Then, Marjorie Cohn, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, joins the program to speak about a new legal brief on the complicity of the United States with Israel in its commission of genocide and other war crimes.
San Francisco - The No to APEC Coalition demands immediate action by Mayor London Breed, the federal government, and all San Francisco elected officials to reaffirm long standing support for civil and human rights, rights to free speech, protest, and dissent during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) “Economic Leaders’ Week” and “CEO Summit,” in November 11-18, 2023. “The Department of Homeland Security has designated the APEC Summit as a ‘National Special Security Event.’ The Secret Service is creating a protest exclusion zone around the Moscone Center, where the event will take place, which threatens to prevent the public from exercising its First Amendment right to protest within sight and sound of the APEC and CEO summit delegates.
Journalist Brittany Hailer has sued a county jail in Pennsylvania for "strictly enforcing" gag rules against prisoners and the jail's employees and contractors. Hailer claims the rules allegedly violate her constitutional rights to "gather news and receive information from otherwise willing speakers." The lawsuit is believed to be a first-of-its-kind lawsuit brought by a journalist against such speech restrictions, and Hailer is represented by the Media Freedom and Information Access (MFIA) clinic at Yale Law School and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).
On March 6, 2023, a small group of protesters belonging to the University of South Florida chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, trooped across campus to the Patel Center where the university president, Rhea Law has her office. The marchers were mostly young women carrying nothing more sinister than a megaphone, a banner reading “we want increased Black enrollment” and the water bottles ubiquitous among students on Florida campuses. In addition to their demands for higher Black enrollment, they wanted President Law to speak out in opposition to proposed Florida HB999 which banned diversity initiatives, and a meeting with her.
On Tuesday 15 August, a Dutch court confirmed that the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” falls under freedom of expression and is not punishable by law. The court’s verdict represents a victory for the Palestinian movement in general, and in the Netherlands specifically. Expressions for Palestinian liberation cannot simply be labeled as anti-Semitism and thereby criminalized or subjected to persecution. The charge was filed in June 2021 by a Zionist activist against Samidoun Netherlands member Thomas Hofland. The Zionist claimed that Thomas’ statement — “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” — during a speech he gave at the annual Nakba rally one month earlier, was allegedly anti-Semitic.
The veteran former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, UN weapons inspector, geopolitical observer and Sputnik contributor has spent over a year providing incisive commentaries about the NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, challenging the Western mainstream narrative and offering his own perspective on the origins of the crisis. Google-owned video hosting giant YouTube has deleted Scott Ritter's YouTube channel. A banner reading "This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy prohibiting hate speech" greets anyone trying to navigate to Ritter's channel. The company did not provide any information about the nature of these alleged "multiple or severe violations," or how Ritter's mostly Ukrainian crisis-related commentaries and interviews constituted "hate speech."
A fierce blow was struck against the weaponized FBI and U.S. government’s targeting of Black Liberation, anti-colonial, anti-war and free speech movements on July 8 with the formation of the Hands off Uhuru! Fightback Coalition. The Coalition, made up of over 30 organizations and individuals and led by black and anti-colonial movements, coalesced around a Statement of Unity that reads, in part, “Today we are facing a watershed moment in human history when our movements for freedom, liberation and democracy can fight on to victory or be pushed back, silenced and defeated. This is the moment when we must come together to vigorously fight as one, and win.”
In early May, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, 81, was shackled in handcuffs and leg irons after reporting to the Middle District Federal Court in Tampa for his arraignment in a courtroom packed with supporters. Chairman Yeshitela faces federal charges after a lifetime of organizing dedicated to “the liberation for Africa and African people everywhere.” Penny Hess, 77, and Jesse Nevel, 33, two white people working under the leadership of the APSP also face charges after organizing for decades in the white community for solidarity and reparations to the black community. The “Uhuru 3” are charged with being unregistered “foreign agents” allegedly under the “malign influence” of the Russian government.
Roger Waters is facing pushback from Germany. City authorities have canceled his upcoming concert over claims the Pink Floyd frontman is anti-Semitic. Yet activists say his experience is not an isolated incident when it comes to support for Palestine. In February, Frankfurt’s City Council canceled Waters’s concert scheduled for May 28, stating in a press release that the musician “is considered one of the most widely spread anti-Semites in the world.” City officials cited Waters’ advocacy for a cultural boycott of Israel as one of the reasons for his alleged anti-Semitism. When reached for comment, Frankfurt City Council referred MintPress News to its aforementioned press release.
A prominent antiwar activist in Berlin has come under attack by the German government for his criticism of Germany’s role in the war in Ukraine. Heinrich Bücker is the founder and operator of Berlin’s Coop Antiwar Cafe, a popular gathering place for leftist activists in the city. He also is a member of the board of directors of the German Peace Council; the Association of Anti-Fascists; the Berlin chapter of World Beyond War; and the advisory board of the Odessa Solidarity Campaign, among many other organizations. His offense? He publicly asked why Germany is supporting neo-Nazi organizations in Ukraine.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has refused to grant a permit for a march on the 9th annual Summit of the Americas, denying the organizers and supporters of the People’s Summit their democratic right to protest, organizers announced in a press statement. The People’s Summit organizers applied for a permit as early as February 25 for their march on June 10. They say that the LAPD has stalled for months and claimed that the Secret Service and Federal Government were contributing to the delay. The right to free speech and protest is protected under the US constitution. People’s Summit organizers are still fighting for a permit, but plan to march regardless of the outcome.
In 2016, a Black Oberlin College student attempted to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol at Gibson’s Bakery, a long-standing local business in Oberlin, Ohio. Allegedly, the store employee spotted additional bottles of wine tucked into the student’s coat. The employee pursued the student into the street, where the student, employee, and several of the student’s friends got into a scuffle. Oberlin police arrived at the scene and arrested the three undergraduates involved. The next day, Oberlin College students began protesting Gibson’s Bakery, alleging that the incident took place within a longer history of racial profiling and discrimination. Gibson’s Bakery sued Oberlin College. The lawsuit alleged that Oberlin College played a role in defaming the bakery because Oberlin employees spoke at protests, gave credit to students who skipped classes to attend the demonstrations, reimbursed students for refreshments and gloves purchased for protestors, and allowed students to use university photocopiers for free. The protests were controversial, both among townspeople and Oberlin employees. But what came next is far more clear cut: the lawsuit was decided in a way that endangered student speech. Courts held Oberlin College responsible for defaming Gibson’s Bakery. Oberlin College was ordered to pay $11 million in compensatory damages, $33 million (later reduced to $25 million) in punitive damages, and $6.5 million in reimbursement for legal fees.
On April 21, 2022 former president Barack Obama gave a speech at Stanford University on the subject of social media. In typical Obamaesque fashion, he didn’t state his point plainly. He used a lot of time, more than an hour, to advocate for social media censorship. He only used that word once, in order to deny that it was in fact what he meant, but the weasel words and obfuscation couldn’t hide what Obama was talking about. In 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, the candidate she thought easiest to beat, Obama first presented his lament about “disinformation” and “fake news.” His real concern was that Trump’s victory proved that millions of people paid no attention to or even scorned, corporate media.