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Free Speech

Obama Wants Censorship

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.

Grandmother Arrested At Drone Base While Distributing Leaflets With Photos Of Children Killed In Attack

Marysville, CA - A small group of anti-drone activists, with Codepink, Ban Killer Drones and Veterans For Peace held demonstrations at 2 gates Monday at Beale Air Force Base, a drone base in Marysville, during am and pm commute. Flyers and banners were used to educate military personnel about two critical issues: 1) The August 29th U.S. drone attack that killed 10 members of the Afghan Ahmadi family, all civilians, at their Kabul home, and 2) The U.S. Military’s critical role in the global climate crisis, that leaves a gigantic carbon footprint annually, due to the 800+ foreign bases worldwide, and the ongoing state of “endless wars.” One banner read: "Creechers Say: END WAR, 4 the CLIMATE,” with activists dressed up as and holding puppets of animal creatures, in response to the recent COP 26 global climate conference that excluded the U.S. military’s major role in green house gas emissions in the global solution agreements.

The War Against Us

As some readers may have noticed, Antony Blinken has the State Department festooning its embassies around the world with “BLM” banners and the rainbow flag of the sexual identity movement known commonly as LGBTQI+. As our virtuous secretary of state explained in April, when he authorized these advertisements for America’s splendidly raised consciousness, the BLM pennant commemorates the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year; the familiar LGBTQI+ colors will fly on our flagpoles in foreign capitals “for the duration of the 2021 Pride season.” So our guitar-strumming chief diplomat put it when announcing this… this policy, I suppose we are to call it. Taking the very serious cause for equal rights and turning it into cover for an extremely aggressive foreign policy, it makes for a pretty weird sight, if you have seen any of the pictures. Then again, so does our Tony as he flits around the world on the wings of an angel.

Insulting Police Would Be A Crime Under Kentucky Bill

A committee within the Kentucky State Senate has advanced a bill that would make insulting a police officer a misdemeanor crime. The proposal, which is part of a larger bill that includes a number of other provisions related to criminalizing activists’ behavior during uprisings and protest events, comes in the same week as the one-year anniversary of the police-perpetrated killing of Breonna Taylor, which, along with other unjust killings of Black Americans by police, prompted a number of uprisings over the course of the past year. The portion of the bill that would criminalize statements made to police officers would amend the state statute on “disorderly conduct” in public spaces. Any person who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response” in public would be guilty of disorderly conduct in the second degree, if the bill becomes law.

Enforcing Orthodoxy

YouTube’s decision to remove a Consortium News CN Live! segment on Feb. 24 formidably takes its place among many such incidents involving numerous social media carriers and the enterprises that use them to disseminate information. The video-sharing platform, which has been a Google property since 2006, subsequently rejected an appeal lodged by Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News. Lauria has since published extensively on these events, and his commentaries are readily available. The webcast in question is not: Silicon Valley technicians of no discernible qualifications in such matters still prevent you from seeing it. There is a lot of this around, and by all indications there is a lot more coming. It is time, then, to sit up and look squarely at the grave threats with which a creeping, apple-pie authoritarianism now faces us.

Students At Fordham University Fight For Their Right To Support Palestine

Veer Shetty wants what hundreds of other college students have: a school club that speaks out for Palestine on campus.  Shetty grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a close Palestinian friend who told him horror stories about the Israeli occupation. So when he started school at New York’s Fordham University, he was determined to get active in the struggle for Palestinian rights. For the past year and a half, the college senior has had the chance to do so. As vice-president of Fordham’s Students for Justice in Palestine club, Shetty has helped to organize various Palestine-related cultural and political events for his fellow students. “Having a budget and being a sanctioned club, we did what we wanted to do: showing movies and having awesome speakers come in and further the discourse on the Israel-Palestine issue on campus,” Shetty told +972.

The Real Threat To Free Speech? Florida’s Courts

Gov. Ron DeSantis and some other Florida Republicans are worked up over a perceived threat to the freedom of speech of politicians, but they’re ignoring a more significant threat to the public’s right to speak. They’re upset that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have begun to suppress posts they deem flagrantly false or socially offensive, particularly those from their favorite ex-president. But that isn’t a First Amendment issue. Those are private corporations, not government entities. The legitimate First Amendment threat they are ignoring is the misuse of Florida’s courts to suppress and punish attempts by citizens to influence government agencies on issues involving public versus private interests.

Julian Assange Deserves A Nobel Peace Prize

Julian Assange has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. We think he deserves to win. There is an incredibly long list of actions that Julian has taken toward a more peaceful world. As Julian has said, “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.” More than one individual can nominate Assange; he’s already been nominated this year by people including former Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Maguire and four other Peace Prize winners wrote a letter to then-President Trump recounting Assange’s contributions toward peace.

Letter: Groups Oppose Repeal Of Overbroad Changes To Section230

In the wake of this latest act of white supremacist violence directed at the U.S. Capitol, it’s more urgent than ever that lawmakers take steps to address systemic racism and injustice, and to hold Big Tech companies accountable for their role in undermining democracy and amplifying harmful content. However, repeal of or injudicious changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would only make the situation worse.  Gutting Section 230 would make it more difficult for web platforms to combat the type of dangerous rhetoric that led to the attack on the Capitol. And certain carve outs to the law could threaten human rights and silence movements for social and racial justice that are needed now more than ever. 

Germany’s Anti-BDS Resolution Violates The Right To Free Expression

German cultural institutions have criticized the German parliament’s anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions resolution for creating a legal gray area and undermining the right to free expression. The 2019 resolution urges German institutions and public authorities to deny funding and facilities to civil society groups that support the BDS movement. But in December, major German art and academic institutions denounced the resolution as “detrimental to the democratic public sphere” and warned of its negative impact on the free exchange of ideas. That prompted an investigation, also in December, by the Bundestag’s scientific service department – an advisory body to the federal parliament – which reached a similar conclusion that the anti-BDS resolution...

Draft Bill Would Eliminate Fair Use On The Internet

Today, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) released a discussion draft of a bill that would “update” the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The language in this draft, if enacted, would radically overhaul the current copyright system for online content by centralizing unprecedented control of both content and digital platforms in the hands of the executive branch. The current draft text would significantly curtail online speech, subjecting every upload to mandatory content filtering while effectively eliminating fair use on the internet. The following can be attributed to Meredith Rose, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

Assange Hearing Outcome Could Set An “Alarming Precedent” For Free Speech

Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, is remaining resolute despite his extradition hearing decision being less than a month away and him being held in a prison that has recently had a Covid-19 outbreak. Speaking over the phone to Index, Moris discusses the hearing’s details and what it could mean for the future of freedom of expression. And she talks about the deep implications it has had for her and her young family. “Obviously it is very difficult. I speak to Julian on a daily basis unless there is a problem. [But] he is in prison. Soon to be for two years. He has been there for longer than many violent prisoners who are serving sentences. All in all, he has been deprived of his liberty for ten years now,” she told Index.

Biden State Media Appointee Advocated ‘Rethinking’ First Amendment

Richard Stengel, the top state media appointee for US President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, has enthusiastically defended the use of propaganda against Americans. “My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist,” Stengel said in 2018. “I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.” Richard “Rick” Stengel was the longest serving under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in US history.

Free Speech Is More Complicated Than You Think

The truth is – words are dangerous. Words are the catalysts of all action – good or evil. To start with a cliché but solid example: words inspired millions of Germans to direct their ire towards Jews, Romani, LGBTQ and other state-labeled “degenerates.” Words inspired the Manson family to murder innocent people. Words inspired the murder of entire villages of Vietnamese, Afghan, and Iraqi civilians. Words convinced thousands of colonizers that this land was their land and that the native people were nothing but mere savages to be removed by force in the name of a pearly white Manifest Destiny.

Update: Abby Martin’s Lawsuit Over Israel Loyalty Oath Mandate In US

New developments in Abby Martin's major lawsuit challenging unconstitutional pro-Israel, anti-BDS law in the state of Georgia. Abby Martin: "In February of this year, I was supposed to give a keynote speech at Georgia Southern University. Before the event, I refused to sign a state-mandated pledge to not boycott Israel in order to speak. My invitation was rescinded and the conference canceled as a result. I decided to sue the state of Georgia because signing an anti-BDS clause in order to work in the state is a direct violation of my rights to Constitutional free speech and to participate in political boycotts."
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