Swedish prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they would drop a dubious rape inquiry against Assange, as oral testimony against the publisher had “weakened,” and corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue a case. A Swedish arrest warrant was issued against assange in 2010, and a British court upheld a decision to extradite him in 2012. Threatened with what many saw as a politically motivated extradition, Assange sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.
“Today’s collapse of Sweden’s #Assange investigation was inevitable,” rapporteur Nils Melzer tweeted on Tuesday. “Given its gross arbitrariness, there must now be a full investigation, and accountability & compensation for the harm inflicted on #JulianAssange.”
Today’s collapse of Sweden’s #Assange investigation was inevitable. Given its gross arbitrariness, there must now be a full investigation, and accountability & compensation for the harm inflicted on #JulianAssange https://twitter.com/nilsmelzer/status/1193841574586781698 …Nils Melzer@NilsMelzer
#Assange: My follow-up letter of 12 Sept asking #Sweden to explain, point by point, the #HumanRights compliance of 50 perceived due process violations, to conduct a prompt & impartial investigation and reiterating my unanswered queries of 28 May. Link: http://bit.ly/2NXUAEN
Melzer had previously claimed that Assange was subjected to “psychological torture” and had his due process rights “systematically violated” by the governments of Britain and Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder is still languishing in a maximum security unit at Belmarsh prison, awaiting a hearing on extradition to the US, where he potentially faces 175 years behind bars for publishing leaked military documents.
In a document tweeted by Melzer, the envoy accuses Sweden of “actively and knowingly” contributing to Assange’s torture, and accuses prosecutors there of working in tandem with Britain’s Crown Prosecutorial Service to keep the case against Assange alive in the face of exculpatory evidence.
With the rape case against him dropped, some commentators have warned that the path to extradition to the US may now be clearer. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told supporters that their focus should now shift to the most important “threat” that Assange was “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
National and regional mastheads including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review hit newsstands on Monday with most of their front-page stories blacked out to give the impression it had been censored similar to how classified government documents are.
Advertisements have also been rolled out across the country’s television networks, asking viewers: “When the government hides the truth from you, what are they covering up?”
The protest is designed to put public pressure on the government to exempt journalists from laws restricting access to sensitive information, enact a properly functioning freedom of information system, and raise the benchmark for defamation lawsuits.
“It’s about defending the basic right of every Australian to be properly informed about the important decisions the government is making in their name,” Hugh Marks, chief executive of Nine said in a statement.
National newspaper front pages have been printed blanked out in a united protest by the media industry against government secrecy and cover-up. #righttoknow #9Newshttps://www.9news.com.au/national/your-right-to-know-media-industry-calls-for-secrecy-reforms-australia-news/69922c4a-a083-4ad5-b1fd-c5c0190628d9?ocid=Social-9News …
Why secrecy must stop
National newspaper front pages have been printed blanked out in a united protest by the media industry agai…
Australia has no constitutional safeguards for free speech. The government added a provision to protect whistleblowers when it strengthened counter-espionage laws in 2018, although media organisations say press freedoms remain restricted.
Australia’s Communications Minister Paul Fletcher was not immediately available for comment on Monday. The government has previously said press freedom was a “bedrock principle”.
News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said people “should always be suspicious of governments that want to restrict their right to know what’s going on”.
Global attention turned to media freedoms in Australia this year when a court order prevented media from reporting that the former Vatican treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, had been found guilty on child sex abuse charges.
Some Australian outlets reported that an unidentified person had been convicted but some foreign media companies identified Pell because they were outside Australia’s jurisdiction.
Prosecutors are now seeking fines and jail sentences for three dozen Australian journalists and publishers for their coverage of the trial. Pell is appealing against his convictions.
The subject came to a boil again in June when police raided the head office of the ABC in Sydney and the home of a News Corp editor on suspicion of receiving national secrets.
The raids, which involved police examination of about 9,000 computer files at the ABC and sifting through the female News Corp editor’s underwear drawer, drew international condemnation.
In the UK, the BBC called the raids “deeply troubling”.
The ABC said at the time that the raid on its office was in relation to 2017 stories about accusations of military misconduct in Afghanistan. News Corp has said the raid on its employee concerned an article about government plans to spy on Australians’ emails, text messages and bank accounts.
Under intense pressure, the government issued a directive to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in September that will require permission from Attorney General Christian Porter to approve any charges against journalists.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES
A federal court ruling last Tuesday dismissing a Democratic National Committee (DNC) civil suit against Julian Assange “with prejudice” was a devastating indictment of the US ruling elite’s campaign to destroy the WikiLeaks founder. It exposed as a fraud the entire “Russiagate” conspiracy theory peddled by the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the intelligence agencies for the past three years.
The decision, by Judge John Koeltl of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, rejected the smears that Assange “colluded” with Russia. It upheld his status as a journalist and publisher and dismissed claims that WikiLeaks’ 2016 publication of leaked emails from the DNC was “illegal.”
Despite the significance of the ruling, and its clear newsworthiness, it has been subjected to an almost complete blackout by the entire media in the US and internationally.
The universal silence on the court decision—extending from the New York Times (which buried a six-paragraph report on the ruling on page 25) and the Washington Post, to “alternative” outlets such as the Intercept, the television evening news programs and the publications of the pseudo-left—can be described only as a coordinated political conspiracy.
Its aim is to suppress any discussion of the court’s exposure of the slanders used to malign and isolate Assange, and to justify the unprecedented international pursuit of him over WikiLeaks’ exposure of US war crimes, surveillance operations and diplomatic conspiracies.
The New York Times, the Washington Post and other corporate outlets have relentlessly smeared Assange as a “Russian agent” and depicted him as the linchpin of a conspiracy hatched in Moscow to deprive Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton of the presidency in the 2016 US elections.
Now that their claims have been subjected to judicial review and exposed as a tissue of lies and fabrications, they have adopted a policy of radio silence. There is no question that if the court ruling had been in favour of the DNC, it would have been greeted with banner headlines and wall-to-wall coverage.
The response exposes these publications as state propagandists and active participants in the campaign by the Democratic Party, the Trump administration and the entire ruling elite to condemn Assange for the rest of his life to an American prison for the “crime” of publishing the truth.
The editors and senior writers at these outlets, such as New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet, are in constant contact with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Behind the scenes, they work out an editorial line that will advance the interests of the Wall Street banks and the military-intelligence apparatus. At the same time, they decide what news and information they will hide from the American and world population.
The efforts by the mainstream news outlets to bury the ruling presents a clear example of the type of media manipulation that has led millions of people to seek alternative sources of news on the internet, of which WikiLeaks is itself an example.
Judge Koeltl’s decision made plain the anti-democratic and dictatorial logic of the DNC case against Assange. He warned: “If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political, financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet.” This, he stated, would “override the First Amendment” protection to freedom of the press mandated by the US Constitution.
Koeltl’s finding was an absolute vindication of Assange and WikiLeaks’ 2016 publications exposing the attempts by the DNC to rig the Democratic Party primaries against self-declared “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders in favour of Hillary Clinton.
The judge found these releases, together with the publication of Clinton’s secret speeches to Wall Street banks, in which she pledged to be their representative, were “matters of the highest public concern.” They “allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election.”
Koeltl, moreover, found there was no evidence to justify the DNC’s assertion that WikiLeaks had colluded with the Russian state to obtain the material. Assange and WikiLeaks have always maintained that the documents were not provided to them by the Putin regime.
The ruling demonstrated the flagrant illegality of the US vendetta against Assange. The slander that he was operating as a “Russian agent” to “interfere” in US politics was used by the American government and its intelligence agencies to pressure the Ecuadorian regime to sever Assange’s internet access in 2016, and again in 2018. It served as a central pretext for its illegal termination in April of his political asylum in the embassy building.
The judgment was also an implicit exposure of the lawlessness of the attempts by the Trump administration, with the full support of the Democrats, to extradite Assange from Britain, so that he can be prosecuted on 18 US charges, including 17 espionage counts, carrying a maximum sentence of 175 years’ imprisonment.
The Trump administration and the Justice Department are claiming that it was illegal for WikiLeaks and Assange to publish US army war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and other documents exposing US war crimes and intrigues, provided by the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Koeltl’s ruling, however, reasserted the fundamental democratic principle that WikiLeaks had a right to publish the 2016 DNC documents, even if they had been obtained by the Russian government, or any other entity, illegally.
The clear implication is that even if Manning’s decision to leak US military and diplomatic documents was a violation of the law, WikiLeaks’ publication of them was not. The publication of both the 2010 and the 2016 leaks was constitutionally protected journalistic activity.
Koeltl further undermined the claims of the Trump administration, the Democrats and the media that Assange is a “hacker,” undeserving of First Amendment protections. The judge repeatedly referred to Assange as a “journalist” and WikiLeaks as a “publisher.”
In other words, the attempt to extradite Assange to the US and prosecute him is a frontal assault on the US Constitution and press freedom. In its disregard for domestic and international law, it can be described only as an extraordinary rendition operation, similar to the kidnappings and torture operations conducted by the CIA.
The hostile response to Koeltl’s ruling on the part of the entire political and media establishment, in the US and internationally, demonstrates that this conspiracy will not be defeated by plaintive appeals to the governments, political parties and media corporations that have spearheaded the assault on Assange’s legal and democratic rights.
All of them are using the persecution of Assange as a test case for the imposition of ever-more authoritarian measures, aimed at suppressing mounting popular hostility to war, social inequality and an assault on democratic rights.
What is required is the development of a mass movement from below, to mobilise the immense social and political power of the working class internationally to secure Assange’s liberty and to defend all democratic rights.
To take forward this critical struggle, the WSWS and the International Committee of the Fourth International last month called for the formation of a Global Defence Committee to free Assange and the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning. All workers, young people and supporters of democratic rights should contact the WSWS today to take up the fight to free Assange and Manning!
Muslim US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution that seeks to protect the right to engage in boycotts against Israel, despite efforts by federal, state and locals officials to pass various anti-boycott measures.
Omar, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, proposed the resolution earlier this week in a bid to push back against US laws banning the Israel boycotts.
The text of the measure affirms the right of Americans to organize boycotts of foreign countries. While the resolution doesn’t explicitly name Israel or the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, she told media outlets that the resolution concerns Israel.
“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor.
Resolution 496 was introduced with two cosponsors, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia.
Omar’s decision to introduce the measure shows she is not intimidated by President Donald Trump’s recent racist attacks on her and other women of color lawmakers, including his accusations that they are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.
“It affirms the right of all activists and people of conscience to advocate for human rights through boycotts against systems of oppression,” Hind Awwad, spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee said.
The BDS boycott campaign against Israel began in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations, which calls for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
Omar’s pro-boycott resolution was introduced at the same time that Congress was advancing a nonbinding bipartisan resolution to condemn BDS.
The move is the latest in a series of measures in US state and federal legislatures to sideline or criminalize the anti-racist BDS campaign.
On Wednesday, during a debate on the bipartisan anti-BDS resolution, Omar challenged the measure, saying lawmakers “cannot condemn nonviolent means,” adding that Israel’s occupation must end.
Speaking outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Friday following the decision to open a new, full US extradition hearing in February 2020, Pilger insisted that the motivation of the American authorities in pursuing Assange was clear to see.
… [It] is quite clear that on a wider level this is an attempt to shut down WikiLeaks and put Assange away, but it’s also about shutting down dissent. It’s mainly about shutting down investigative journalism.
The Australian journalist suggested that other reporters in the UK and around the world were reluctant to show solidarity with Assange due to a “certain anxiety” that they may also be targeted for their investigative journalism.
Pilger, who was in court to witness the condition of Assange as the journalist appeared via video link, said that his compatriot looked “shaky” and in “a fragile state.” He believes the action taken against Assange amounts to “war on journalism.”
It’s a psychological war on this individual, an attack on him as a human being, but also an attack on journalism, on basic rights.
The US Justice Department has filed 18 charges against the 47-year-old Australian journalist, including one count of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, to gain access to the US Pentagon network.
Assange is currently serving a 50-week prison sentence in the UK for jumping bail in 2012. He was too ill to appear at the last hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court regarding the US request in May.
Never mind the slow but steady dismantling in the fabled West of the “welfare state”, that temporary horror the elites grudgingly used to tolerate. But that was only as a means of pacifying their subjects and winning over-credulous hearts and minds in the competing socialist camp, while it still existed. To be fair, concern for public wellbeing never was an ideological item in the Western “value” system to begin with. It was dissimulated for a while merely as a tactical measure to confuse the masses. But one assumes that at least the various personal “freedoms” that Western countries used to be famous for indeed were an integral element of their political institutions, values deeply ingrained in their culture.
Canada is the latest champion of Western, trans-Atlantic values that is sending a clear message to the world that such assumptions are poppycock.
A major scrupulously legal assault on freedom of speech and conscience as well as scholarly research (and we are not talking here about the rampaging of informal terror squads such as Antifa) is in the works in Canada. A Srebrenica genocide denial law is coming up soon for a parliamentary vote in Ottawa. It is being sponsored by MP Brian Masse (email@example.com). The pending bill is the result of a petition filed by a Bosniak lobby group in Canada, “Institute for genocide research.” The “institute” is not known to have published a single serious and academically viable book or scholarly paper on any subject whatsoever, including Srebrenica. It is a comically misnamed ethnic pressure group financed, as usual, by mysterious patrons. But given the manufactured climate of opinion, unless this bill is strongly and competently opposed, there is little doubt about the outcome.
Here is some basic information about this parliamentary project, now known as Petition No. 421-03975, presented to the House of Commons on May 29, 2019.
And here is the maudlin nonsense the measure’s sponsor, Brian Masse, spouted in Canada’s House of Commons as he put the matter before his colleagues:
“Madam Speaker … the House unanimously declared April as ‘Genocide Remembrance, Condemnation and Awareness Month’ and named genocides, which have been recognized by Canada’s House of Commons, including the Srebrenica genocide.
“It is time for the government to extend resources to commemorate the victims and survivors of genocide, educate the public and to take specific action to counteract genocide denial, a pernicious form of hate which reopens wounds and reinvigorates division. Truth is justice; honesty is the path to reconciliation and peace.”
Just so that no one is taken in by this fine rhetoric, the geopolitical significance of Srebrenica (forget about truth, justice, reconciliation, and peace) should briefly be recalled. The alleged failure in July of 1995 of the collective West to come to the rescue of 8,000 “men and boys” in Srebrenica was transfigured into the pretext for the “Right to protect” (R2P) doctrine. That fraudulent rationale was used for subsequent “humanitarian interventions” which wrecked and plundered at least half a dozen countries and cost about two million mostly Muslim lives.
But contrary to interventionist propaganda and the simplistic cant of politicians, always campaigning to attract a few more ethnic votes and to impress the political correctness brigade with their loyalty to the right causes, in the real world there exist complex issues not given to simplistic reductionism. Srebrenica is one of them. (Also here, here, and here.) To paraphrase Polonius, there are indeed “more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of by politicians,” eager to please special interests.
One of the major pertinent issues here, of course, is the factual question of what actually happened in Srebrenica. A staggering amount of research has been done on that subject that one supposes busy politicians, long out of school, may be excusably ignorant of. Canadian politicians, in particular, may be generously excused for not keeping up with Srebrenica developments because their hands are presumably full sorting out genocides closer to home.
A fundamental issue that comes to mind straight away, and voters anxious to protect their liberties might want to bring it to the attention of their parliamentary deputies, has to do with freedom of speech and conscience, not whether or not genocide occurred in Srebrenica. Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms rather unambiguously guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” as fundamental rights. May the supreme law of the land be taken at face value? Or is it a flexible document, like the Stalin Constitution of 1936? How do MP Masse and colleagues who are contemplating to vote for his “genocide denial” bill propose to reconcile its language with the liberties which are constitutionally guaranteed to all citizens of Canada (and presumably also to foreign nationals on Canadian territory)? Or with the fact that Canada is also party to international agreements which guarantee freedom of conscience and expression, such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Articles 18 and 19 of the Declaration, which deal with freedoms of thought, opinion, and expression should, in particular, be pondered by Canada’s lawmakers.
The ghastly thing about this is that the Srebrenica genocide denial law would not even change anybody’s mind about Srebrenica. But it would suppress (have a “chilling effect,” as they aptly put it in neighboring America) public discourse on the subject and would therefore constitute a serious infringement of Canadian citizens’ human rights. That is the issue of principle. All but zealous Balkan combatants should manage easily to agree on this much, and it ought to be gently stressed to befuddled Canadian legislators. A member of parliament is free to think whatever he or she wants about Srebrenica, with or without adequate information on the subject, including that it was genocide. But for Canadian citizens of all stripes and backgrounds, including those who happen to be legislators, their fellow-citizens’ freedom of expression should take absolute priority over the agenda of a Balkan lobby. A legislator who sincerely thinks that Srebrenica was genocide can and should still vote against Petition no. 421-03975 on freedom of speech and conscience grounds alone. Assuming that those values matter in countries that boastfully claim to have copyrighted them.
It so happens that the aforementioned bogus “Institute for genocide research” has a record of attempts at free speech suppression, targeting those who think differently about its pet projects. In 2011 the “institute” made an unsuccessful attempt to steer a Srebrenica genocide denial law through the Canadian parliament. “Institute” scholars then took their revenge on American-Serbian professor Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, preventing his entry into Canada to deliver a lecture in Vancouver by falsely alleging to immigration authorities that he was a dangerous hatemonger, or something to that effect. The incident at the time was amply covered by Global Research. Prof. Trifkovic fought the spurious allegation against him energetically in Canadian courts and won. The upshot of it was that Canadian taxpayers lost considerable treasure in a wasteful judicial confrontation instigated by agenda-driven lobbyists.
The proposed law, be it mentioned in passing, is also manifestly discriminatory in relation to the Canadian-Serbian community. Considering the cultural role of spitefulness (inat is the native word) in the region that the lobbyists come from, that may well be its true and ultimate inspiration. Is there a single Canadian Serb who thinks that what occurred in Srebrenica was genocide? The proposed law would nevertheless have a discriminatory effect on the ability of members of the Canadian Serbian community, as such, to enjoy the freedom of expression guaranteed to them and to all Canadians by Canada’s constitution. As Canadian Serbs, they would be obliged to either maintain public silence about an issue they regard as being of vital interest to their nation and community or, were they to speak up in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, to face criminal prosecution. So much for all the “Atlantic Charters” and their associated “freedoms.”
Canadian legislators should ponder the fact that Canada does not have a Holocaust denial law protecting the dignity of six million victims, yet its parliament is contemplating a massive curtailment of its citizens’ civil rights in a matter involving 8,000 unverified deaths. That is a degradation and in-the-face mockery of the pain of the Jewish community. But it gets even worse, or tragicomic if one prefers. In its Tolimir judgment in 2012, the vaunted Hague Tribunal ruled that the killing of three individuals in the nearby enclave of Zepa (which is part of the same conceptual package with Srebrenica) constituted genocide (Trial Judgment, Par. 1147 – 1154). That was allegedly because those individuals were endowed with such extraordinary importance within the community of Zepa that, as a result of their demise, the community was rendered unviable, hence subjected to genocide. The point is that denying this absurd and tortuously reasoned finding of the Hague Tribunal concerning Zepa (a place that assuredly no member of the Canadian parliament had ever even heard of) by operation of the projected genocide denial law would also subject the careless speaker who took his rights seriously to criminal liability. That is the absurd level to which the “genocide denial” rhetoric has degenerated.
As an American citizen, this writer is quite prepared to stand in any public square in Canada and to proclaim that Srebrenica was not genocide. It would in fact be a pleasure to be detained by Her Majesty’s authorities in order to accomplish a lofty civic purpose that should benefit all Canadians. The resulting proceedings would ultimately enhance Canada’s judicial culture by testing the constitutionality of this legal travesty before the Canadian supreme court.
In the immortal words of Diana Johnstone, the “denial” of Srebrenica “genocide” is sufficiently justified by the fact that it is not true. The Srebrenica lobby and its eager acolytes in Canada’s Federal Parliament in Ottawa should grow up and accept that.
The so-called “ Christchurch Call ” summit in Paris on Wednesday, led by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron, marked a significant escalation of the drive by governments throughout the world to censor the Internet.
Ardern and her Labour Party-led government, along with the Australian and French governments, are taking a leading role in exploiting the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attacks by Australian fascist Brenton Tarrant to justify sweeping attacks on freedom of expression. Tarrant live-streamed a video of the shootings, which killed 51 people, on Facebook.
The “summit” issued a statement signed by 17 governments, including the UK, France, Australia, India, Indonesia, Canada and Germany, along with Facebook, Twitter, Google and other tech giants. The statement agreed to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content” on social media platforms and other websites, and to steer people toward officially-sanctioned “positive” alternatives or “counter-narratives.” The US government did not sign, but a White House statement expressed agreement with the statement’s “overarching message.”
No one should be fooled by worthless assurances that these governments and corporate giants will protect “freedom of expression.” What constitutes “terrorist” or “extremist” material will be decided by the state agencies.
For the past two years, corporations such as Google and Facebook have collaborated with the US and other governments to severely restrict access to left-wing, socialist and anti-war websites, particularly to the WSWS. Their algorithms have been modified to reduce traffic to these sources, while promoting supposedly “authoritative” websites, i.e., the corporate media, in search results and news feeds. These measures, justified with lies about combating “fake news” and Russian and Chinese “interference,” are now being escalated under the guise of fighting “extremism.”
The New Zealand prime minister, having been glorified in the media internationally for showing “kindness” and “compassion” following the Christchurch shootings, has become one of the chief propagandists for censorship internationally.
An article by Ardern in the May 11 New York Times, with the misleading headline “How to Stop the Next Christchurch Massacre,” blamed the attack on social media and lax gun controls, while covering up its political roots. She made no mention of the fascist, anti-immigrant and white supremacist ideology that motivated the gunman, apart from a hypocritical sentence about the need to “tackle racism and discrimination.”
Far from opposing racism, Ardern’s Labour Party-led coalition government includes the racist and xenophobic New Zealand First Party, whose leader Winston Peters has made numerous anti-Muslim statements. Labour and Ardern herself have vowed to cut immigration. They have echoed NZ First’s nationalist demagogy and adopted many of its anti-immigrant policies. After the 2017 election, Ardern made Peters foreign minister and deputy prime minister, giving his right-wing nationalist party significant power in the government, despite the fact that it received just over 7 percent of the votes.
Ardern wrote that the Paris agreement “is not about undermining or limiting freedom of speech.” In her “Christchurch Call” speech, she again rejected concerns “that this action plan we are endorsing today is about curbing freedom of expression.”
Such assurances are belied by the actions of the Labour government since the Christchurch attacks. It has worked with the corporate media to suppress public discussion about the causes of the atrocity. Tarrant’s manifesto, which reveals the similarity of his anti-immigrant, nationalist views to those of NZ First, US President Donald Trump and other political parties in Australia and across Europe, has been banned. Anyone caught with the document could face a lengthy prison sentence.
Likewise, media organisations have agreed to self-censor their coverage of Tarrant’s upcoming trial, so as not to report on his fascistic statements, precisely in order to obscure the connection to the foul right-wing politics of all the establishment parties.
This unprecedented censorship is also aimed at preventing discussion about Tarrant’s sympathy for the military and police, and why the intelligence agencies and police failed to prevent the Christchurch attack, despite repeated warnings. A royal commission of inquiry, which began this week ostensibly to look into these questions, is so far being held in secret.
More sweeping and permanent censorship mechanisms are being planned. A foundation established by former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark has recommended a new regulatory body specifically to police social media. It would have the power to take websites like Facebook completely offline, as happened in Sri Lanka following the terrorist attacks in April. The Helen Clark Foundation’s report, “Anti-Social Media: Reducing the spread of harmful content on social networks,” also calls for restrictions on the ability to live-stream videos.
Already, the Australian government has seized on the Christchurch attacks to rush legislation through parliament that will impose severe fines and prison sentences on social media executives who fail to remove material that the government deems “abhorrent” and “violent.” This could include videos, photos and articles that expose police brutality, war crimes and fascistic assaults on immigrants.
Such laws have nothing to do with fighting racism, terrorism or “fake news.” They will be used against the working class and its ability to organise against war and social inequality. It is no accident that the “Christchurch Call” was hosted by Macron. His right-wing government and the French media have slandered the anti-austerity “yellow vest” protests, involving hundreds of thousands of workers, as violent and anti-Semitic, in order to justify brutal police crackdowns and the arrest of protesters.
New Zealand’s ruling class has also been shaken by protests and strikes over the past year, including by teachers and healthcare workers. The corporatist trade union bureaucracy has expressed hostility and nervousness over workers organising independently and sharing information on social media.
The contempt for freedom of speech shared by all the governments that signed the “Christchurch Call” is most starkly revealed in their support for the persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. They face lengthy imprisonment or even the death penalty for exposing US-led war crimes and other government-corporate abuses. The New Zealand parliament last year refused to even discuss a petition presented by Assange’s supporters calling for Ardern to offer him asylum.
As the crisis of capitalism deepens, with escalating social inequality, trade war and US threats of war against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, China and Russia, the ruling elites are returning to the methods of the 1930s and 1940s. Governments are whipping up racism and xenophobia to divide workers, while desperately seeking to censor information, in order to prevent the emergence of a mass anti-war and anti-capitalist movement.
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[8 May 2019]
[8 May 2019]
What’s wrong? The US mainstream media always seems to do the bidding of the US government. That is why they rushed to confirm Washington’s claim that the Assange indictment was not in any way about journalism. It was only about hacking government computers!
As the New York Times said in an editorial, sounding like a mouthpiece of the US government, Julian Assange committed “an indisputable crime.” But was it? As actual journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote last week, what Julian Assange did in 2010, for which he is facing extradition to the US, is no different from what New York Times and other journalists do every day! He attempted to help Chelsea Manning shield his identity as he blew the whistle on US government crimes to a publisher. The information in question included a video showing US military personnel participating in and cheering the murder of Iraqi civilians. Why is it criminal for us to know this?
The difference is that what Assange and Manning did embarrassed the US government, which was lying to us that it was “liberating” Iraq and Afghanistan when it was actually doing the opposite. Mainstream journalists publish “leaks” that help bolster the neocon or other vested narratives of the different factions of the US government. That’s why the US media wants to see Assange in prison, or worse: he upset their apple cart.
The lesson is clear: when you bolster the government’s narrative you are a “brave journalist.” When you expose corruption in government you are a criminal. Do we really want to live in a country where it is illegal to learn that our government is engaged in criminal acts? I thought we had an obligation as an engaged citizenry to hold our government accountable!
As long as Julian Assange is in prison, we are all in prison. When the government has the power to tell us what we we allowed to see, hear, and know, we no longer live in a free society. Julian Assange will be extradited to the US and he will have dozens of charges piled on. They want him to disappear so that the next Assange will think twice before informing us of our government’s crimes. Are we going to let them steal our freedom?
The dramatic arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues to elicit a range of responses from observers, politicians, journalists and activists from around the world and across the political spectrum.
Assange, 47, had been living at the Embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012, when then-President Rafael Correa granted political asylum to the Australian amid the British government’s attempts to detain him.
In the United States, both right- and left-wing commentators celebrated the arrest of the journalist–either on the basis of past sexual assault allegations, a perception that the libertarian journalist assisted the Trump campaign in 2016, or the belief Assange was an asset of Russian intelligence agencies.
In Latin America, however, Assange has been seen as a symbol of Latin American defiance to the United States, a man whom late Cuban leader Fidel Castro once hailed as having brought the U.S. empire “to its knees” through Wikileaks’ daring release of scandalous material, including leaked information that implicated the U.S. military in potential war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since 2017, however, with the rise to power of Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, Assange’s relationship with his Ecuadorean hosts sharply deteriorated, especially after Wikileaks’ recent release of documents known as the “INA Papers” that implicated the president in alleged corruption, including money-laundering, offshore bank accounts and shell companies based in Panama, and lurid images showing from the president’s personal cell phone that reveal his opulent lifestyle.
In a press release following Assange’s arrest, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said:
“I thank Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno for taking this crucial step. Former President Rafael Correa’s initial decision to grant Mr. Assange safe harbor created this irritant in our relationship with Ecuador. I look forward to working closely with President Moreno to further deepen US-Ecuador relations.”
Across Ecuadorian social media and news outlets, the country’s left has seethed over the handover of Assange to British authorities.
Former President Correa minced no words in his criticism of Moreno, denouncing him in an English-language tweet as “the greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history … Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget.”
The greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history, Lenin Moreno, allowed the British police to enter our embassy in London to arrest Assange.
Moreno is a corrupt man, but what he has done is a crime that humanity will never forget.Barnaby Nerberka@barnabynerberka
BREAK: Full @Ruptly video of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest by British police this morning
In a separate tweet responding to Moreno’s announcement of the handover, Correa further tore into what he called “one of the most atrocious acts [and the] fruit of servility, villainy and revenge.”
“From now on worldwide, the scoundrel and betrayal can be summarized in two words: Lenin Moreno,” the popular former president added.
On Facebook, former Foreign Minister Guillaume Long likewise denounced the handover and manner in which British police entered the diplomatic property as “a national shame and historical error that will leave a deep mark on Ecuador for a long time.” The former top diplomat also listed off the ways in which the handover violated Assange’s rights under relevant case law in international courts, noting that it represented the “the ethical degradation of political power in [Ecuador].”
Beyond former officials, voices from grassroots social movements were even less kind toward the president’s controversial move to appease Washington, which they saw as connected to the country’s recent bailout by the IMF to the tune of $4.2 billion.
Ecuador’s Popular Press Network (Red de Prensa Popular Ecuador RPP-E) was blistering in its assessment of the government’s move, posting to Facebook:
“Moreno and his government lend themselves to the interests of major global corporations. Today he delivered Julian Assange to the clutches of American imperialism.”
Similar sentiments were evident across Spanish-language social media feeds. The New York Times en Español’s Facebook post about the arrest was inundated by messages from netizens across Latin America denouncing the Ecuadorean government’s move, with such comments as:
In the meantime, however, figures aligned with the government as well as the conservative and center-right former opposition in Ecuador hailed the handover and what they saw as the government’s move to stop paying exorbitant amounts of money for housing Assange at the embassy in London.
While the U.S. left and right are largely united in their hatred of Assange, often for diametrically-opposed reasons–his support for Trump, his exposure of U.S. war crimes, his alleged collaboration with foreign intelligence services–the reaction in Latin America has been the polar opposite.
The reactions from the Global South show that the Wikileaks founder, for all of his perceived faults, is seen by many as nothing less than a heroic figure who stared down Washington and its junior partners like Lenin Moreno until the bitter end in a bid to cast light on the dark secrets, scandals and crimes of the international order.
47 years ago in American Pie, Don McLean talked about The Day The Music Died. Or of course the music didn’t really die, but at the same time it did. “The three mean (sic) I admired most, the father, son and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died.”
Back then you could still have claimed the country merely lost its innocence. And you could have said the same in 1861 or 1914 or 1941. Today, not to take anything away from music, or the song, something much bigger died. America itself died, not just its music or innocence. America didn’t just lose its innocence, it pled guilty.
No doubt most of you would proclaim that’s a gross exaggeration, and an insane hyperbole, but you would all be wrong, sorry. There’s no way back this time.
America, the United States, with all its initial prejudice and lethal screw-ups, was founded as a place where people could direct their own lives without having to fear any other party, let alone a government, that would stand in their way while they did it. And a big part of not having to fear one’s government is not having to fear that government purposely lying to its citizens. The Founding Fathers, for all their faults, got that right. And today erases all of that in one fell swoop.
That is what died today.
Or, you know, it may have died much earlier, and a thousand times before as well, but with the arrest in London of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen wanted by the US Deep State, a myriad of strands connecting, and connected to a bloated dying corpse came together. And now we know there is no salvation possible. Today made it all terminal. America is no more. Or it is no longer what they tell you it stands for, whichever comes first.
You will find more infographics at Statista
And it’s not just America, mind you. ‘The UK is a serious country’, PM Theresa May said today when addressing Brexit. No it’s not, Theresa, it’s a banana republic hopelessly stuck in a spaghetti western and it no longer knows the rule of law. It sells people to the highest bidder in a meat market, be they Windrush, refugees from her Majesty’s wars in Libya, or just white and poor English, or Julian Assange.
The UK is a parody on a country, it’s a sordid piece of third rate slapstick. It kills people while trying to maintain the image of being a serious country. You know, whatever that is?! The British judge Assange faced today was bleeding mocking him, the arguably greatest journalist of this century and millennium. A serious country?
Julian Assange has been branded a “narcissist” by a judge as he faces both a UK prison sentence and being extradited to the US. The Metropolitan Police said the Australian hacker was initially detained at the Ecuadorian embassy for failing to surrender to court. He had been summoned in 2012 over an alleged rape in Sweden, where authorities are now considering reopening their investigation into those allegations.After arriving at a London police station on Thursday morning, the 47-year-old was additionally arrested on behalf of the US under an extradition warrant.
Mr Assange was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court and found guilty of breaching bail hours later. He faces a jail sentence of up to a year. He denied the offence, with lawyers arguing that he had a “reasonable excuse” could not expect a fair trial in the UK as its purpose was to “secure his delivery” to the US. District Judge Michael Snow described the defence as “laughable”, adding: “Mr Assange’s behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests. He hasn’t come close to establishing ‘reasonable excuse’.” He remanded Mr Assange in custody ahead of a future sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court.
And where was opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when this all went on? Haven’t seen him, other then in the afternoon when he was ‘discussing’ Brexit details with May in Parliament on day 1021 since the Brexit referendum, while he should have been out in the street denouncing May and protecting Assange at the loudest voice there is.
Screw you, Jeremy, you’re a pathetic loser. No matter what else you do, there are times when you have to stand up and be counted. You were nowhere to be seen, you coward. Screw you again. And all of your family. A curse on y’all. You had a chance to be counted, and you whimped out so enormously only an elephant could whimp out more. Today was your day, and you were a no-show, again.
But don‘t you mind me, I’m not British and I’m not one of those ass-hat followers of you. I’m just someone calling you a coward. So, you know, your campaign team can keep polling and intervene as soon as they see too many ass-hats become concerned about Assange. Until then, who cares, it’s all in the numbers. It’s not as if you have any principles anyway. If you can screw up Brexit there’s no reason why you couldn’t screw up Assange’s situation as well.
As for the Donald, man, it’s just 6 days ago that I issued a well-meant warning to you, to tell you that those who are after Assange are the same people who are after you.
And now you’ve given those very people a huge stage to execute their anti-Assange and thereby their anti-Trump messages from. Mr. Trump, you’re helping Brennan and Clapper and Comey and their ilk persecute the only person who could ever stand up to them. And who did that better than you ever did. Because he’s so much smarter.
And where are all the media? Where are all the other governments? Where is the European Union? Where is Australia? Yes, Ecuador took away Assange’s citizenship too today, like that’s a piece of candy or something. Asylum, citizenship, they can be bought and sold whenever a bell tolls.
Why do we have international law anyway if nobody abides by any of it? You can’t just grant someone asylum, and then a citizenship, and then rescind it when you like on a rainy morning when your medication runs out or they’re on to you for blatant fraud, Lenin Moreno. Do that and all international law becomes null and void. Hereby.
Pardon me, I’ve just been, like hopefully many people are, so sad and angry and despondent today, all day. The entire world watched the music die today, and never realized it, and a man much smarter and braver and real than any of us is out there paying for our sins, and we have no media left to tell us an honest story about it, and George Orwell is laughing somewhere out there.
And I am still stupid enough to think that we can do better.
The controversial copyright law facing a final vote in the EU parliament is less about copyright than it is about hammering a final nail in the coffin of the freedoms the internet once promised. Yes, Article 13 is that bad.
26 Mar, 2019
Most laws address themselves toward tangible, human-sized problems. Article 13, the sweeping European copyright legislation that proposes to filter all content on its way to the web to ensure no rights are being violated, isn’t interested in such prosaic stuff. It seeks to defy the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Physics? In my internet? The web operates according to the laws of entropy. It trends toward decentralization – of ideas, of social groups, but most importantly of power. Authority looks at this delightful disorder and sees only malevolent chaos that needs to be reined in. Legislators and the corporations that run their countries have spent a lot of time brainstorming on how to put the cat back in the bag, and Article 13 is the result.
This is not just a European problem. Like a catastrophic nuclear meltdown, there is no containing the fallout from this kind of measure, designed to effectively destroy the internet as we know it. Companies and platforms may start by leaving Europe, or refusing to serve European customers, but the internet has no borders, and the big platforms will embrace whatever filters are required to maintain their hold on their users – no matter what country they inhabit. One need only witness the absurdity when Canadian, American and Australian Twitter users are sanctioned for violating Pakistani blasphemy laws to understand the willingness of these platforms to cater to the most oppressive common denominator.
It’s almost surprising that the EU isn’t trying to sell this law as the killer weapon in the ongoing War on Fake News, given its member countries’ use of that trendy adversary to justify increasingly draconian speech restrictions – from the proposed end of anonymity in France to criminal charges for platforms that don’t take down “problematic” speech quickly enough in the UK. But then, EU leaders aren’t actually elected, so they don’t have to sell the people anything. Like the monopolies Article 13 enables, the EU gives its users no choice – accept this degraded, deliberately-hobbled, entropically-eviscerated parody of the internet, or stay offline (by the time they’re done with it, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference, anyway).
Google spent $100 million to develop a filter capable of screening uploaded content in real time in order to prevent wrong-think from seeping into YouTube livestreams. There are few feelings as unsettling as livestreaming to an audience only to find one’s mic cut after broaching a topic that has been declared off-limits. For now, those who would resist the jackbooted march of “progress” can join another platform, but under Article 13’s restrictions, will that other platform be able to afford a $100 million content filter of its own?
Algorithms are dumb – dumber than even the most clueless human forum moderator – and automated filters cannot tell the difference between fair use, parody, and straight-up rip-offs any more than they can tell the difference between real and fake news. Collateral censorship will tear a hole in casual communication – forget memes and similar forms of humor. AI doesn’t laugh.
To their credit, many of the early architects of the internet see this legislation for the threat that it is and have spoken passionately against it. They understand the threat posed to innovation and the free exchange of ideas, but they naively believe those who wrote the legislation do not. “Indeed, if Article 13 had been in place when the Internet’s core protocols and applications were developed, it is unlikely that it would exist today as we know it,” warned a letter signed by 70 web pioneers in opposition to the law.
The way the web developed the first time was not ideal for centralized power structures. Only a nuclear option like Article 13 could ever hope to rein in the human potential unleashed by the web and give them a second chance to get it right.
Article 13, the internet’s founding fathers warn, means the “transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.” That’s a feature, not a bug. Keeping out small platforms that could challenge the monopolies that have shown they’re willing to work with governments certainly makes life easier for those governments. The internet once held the promise to liberate humanity. The European Parliament believes that’s too big a risk to take.
By Eve Fisher
Feb 22, 2019
Media outlets won’t touch this piece. One major group said there wasn’t enough room to run it … online! Another said it was “too polemic”. I’ll take that thanks very much…
The day Australian freedom died
Ask yourself this simple question. It needs just a yay or nay, with no middle ground. Do you believe in freedom of speech? No shades of grey. You either believe in it. Or you don’t. No picking and choosing about who gets to employ it, and who doesn’t. One in, all in. Unless you’re in China of course.
And, so it would seem, Australia.
Freedom of speech is fundamental to … well, our freedom. Funny isn’t it. We take it for granted in these days of over-sharing until we say something inflammatory. Some keyboard warriors give us a lashing and send us to our corner. But we don’t have our tongues cut out.
We take it for granted that we can say what we like, as long as we are not encouraging people to hurt others, or, indeed, themselves. Inciting violence is not the same as enjoying freedom of speech. Being hateful is also not inciting violence; it’s being nasty.
There’s a difference and knowing this difference is the defining line between those who believe in the fundamental tenets of freedom of speech and those who believe in it as long as it suits their politically correct, pandering agenda.
This week, Immigration Minister David Coleman couldn’t have played a more honest hand if he tried. I’ll give him that. His cancellation of leading conspiracy researcher David Icke’s visa just hours before he was due to fly to Australia was as swift as it was malicious. There was no warning – despite the speaking-tour visa being approved in September – and its timing was obviously designed to cause maximum disruption to Icke.
Coleman’s letter was clear. “Open source” (i.e. the media) information detailing Icke’s views on Zionism, vaccinations and global warming meant he was no longer a suitable candidate to be espousing his views on our fair shores.
I don’t remember giving the government permission to decide what views I’m permitted to hear.
Icke has spent 30 years detailing through myriad books his views on everything from mass population microchipping to Big Pharma. His contemporary dot-connector videos provide weekly headlines showing how his predictions during the years have become reality.
He sounds like a good candidate for the government-funded Festival of Dangerous Ideas doesn’t he?
I couldn’t care less if Icke was trying to enter this country to say the sky was green and the grass blue, but I have every right – as an allegedly free citizen – to hear what I want to hear.
And even if he is a holocaust denier, which he isn’t, why isn’t he allowed to argue his point? So what if he says vaccinations are dangerous or that climate change is caused by government weather modification. It’s his view, and he’s entitled to it.
If people think he’s such a nutter then they can avoid his shows and bitch about him on Facebook.
But banning him because the government doesn’t like his views – as detailed plainly in the Minister’s letter – is a direct and unmitigated assault on my freedom.
I did not immigrate to this country from South Africa – so I know a thing or two about government censorship and oppression – to be told by a bunch of self-serving, corrupt and ignorant politicians to whom I can listen and who I can’t. It’s worth noting that Labor supported the ban. I’d be curious to know what the Greens think about this apparent guilty verdict of thoughtcrime.
Contrary to popular belief, Icke is neither a holocaust denier nor a Jew-hater. If ANY of the journalists doing little more than copying each other’s ideas actually took the time to read his books they’d understand Icke takes issue with Zionism as a political organisation, not Jews. Since when are people not allowed to diss politics?
I’m a Jew. And I know what’s happening to Palestinians is a crime. But you can’t say that for fear of being anti-semitic. Incidentally, the term semite is actually defined as “a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs”. So being an “anti-semite” would be akin to saying a person is anti-languages of the middle-east.
You can’t even criticise a Jew without being called racist. I lost family in the holocaust and claims of holocaust denial levelled against Icke, who repeatedly says he sees all people as equal, are completely unfounded.
Not that journalists would know this, because they never read his stuff. They’re too busy rehashing his reptilian theories. So while 2.2 billion Christians are allowed to have their healer who walked on water, rose from the dead, and their saints who could perform miracles, Icke can’t have his otherworldly beliefs. The hypocrisy never ceases to astound. People kill for their religious beliefs. Icke just wants to talk about how our governments are controlling us.
I’m seeing a pattern here.
Icke coins it the totalitarian tiptoe: the slow erosion of our freedom in the name of so-called progressive protectionism that ultimately indulges the few at the expense of the many. One radio journalist actually said freedom of speech was important as long as the speaker was being sensible. Seriously? Let’s call Conditional Freedom of Speech then. Is that more like it?
Call it what you like but when a bunch of Zionists (I won’t even afford them the label of Jews because they sure as hell don’t represent me) think they can speak on behalf of the 99.6% of the Australian population who aren’t Jewish I call it fascism.
When some Melbourne Zionists can lobby a half-wit Labor candidate and find success because he knows it will help him secure votes in his Jewish electorate you know we’re screwed.
Josh Burns doesn’t gives a toss about our freedom, he just wants votes like so many other repugnant men and women who call themselves politicians in this nanny state of ours.
If you don’t like Icke’s views then ignore him. He’s been here 10 times before and never once has he preached hate or violence, nor has there been any incidents at, or in relation to, any of his events. He sees all people as equal and his only agenda is freedom from oppression. For everyone.
He said to me this week:
“Australians now have a choice between two parties who have utter contempt for the freedom of the people. If we’re going to sort this world out we need to put labels aside and treat everyone as an individual. I would challenge anyone to provide a clip of a politician in parliament standing up and saying the answer is for everyone to love each other. ”
Obviously that has never happened, but we can only wait.
In the meantime I keep hoping to wake up from this Orwellian nightmare.
By Eve Fisher — Writer, editor and producer, having worked in the media for more than 20 years, including eight years at Fairfax for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. English and journalism teacher with experience at both high school and university level. Former Surf Coast Shire Greens councillor and current member of Deakin University Masters of Politics and Policy Advisory Board.
Excellent documentary made especially for those who think they have nothing to hide. It shows how metadata is used to create surveillance profiles on individuals. It also offers some tentative solutions on how to hide from this Machiavellian surveillance apparatus.
Israel is approaching a position once the preserve of South Africa. It is vulnerable to grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Source | Off-Guardian
The map below shows the spread across the USA of laws against support for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. It was compiled by Palestine Legal, an organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Americans who speak out for Palestinian freedom.
One state with anti-BDS legislation on its books is Texas. Says The Intercept:
The bill’s language is so sweeping that some victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Southwest Texas in late 2017, were told they could only receive state disaster relief if they first signed a pledge never to boycott Israel. That demand was deeply confusing to those hurricane victims in desperate need of help but who could not understand what their views of Israel and Palestine had to do with their ability to receive assistance from their state government.
The evangelical author of the Israel bill, Republican Texas state Rep. Phil King, said at the time that its application to hurricane relief was a “misunderstanding,” but nonetheless emphasized that the bill’s purpose was indeed to ensure that no public funds ever go to anyone who supports a boycott of Israel.
Here’s what Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, had to say as he signed King’s bill into law on May 2, 2017:
Now meet Bahia Amawi, a speech therapist in the lone star state. Having lost her job for refusing to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel, she’s suing the state of Texas in a bid to repeal the law which compelled an Austin school district to fire her for so refusing.
Says the Times of Israel:
Amawi worked with the local Arabic-speaking community at the Pflugerville Independent School District since 2009, on a contract basis. She told the news site that the district renewed her contract each year without incident, but when she received the documents for the 2018-19 school year in August, Amawi said it included a new clause requiring that she “not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel, or in an Israel-controlled territory.”
Washington Post has Pflugerville District, which alongside State Attorney General Ken Paxton is in the firing line of Amawi’s lawsuit, saying:
This language is required by the State of Texas for all school districts in Texas, along with other governmental entities. Unfortunately … all Texas school districts are at the mercy of the state and the regulations printed into law, and in situations such as this, we are forced to spend time on state political issues and not on our core mission — educating students.”
Nor is Bahia Amawi the only one suffering here. The Intercept tells us that:
Because Amawi, to her knowledge, is the only certified Arabic-speaking child’s speech pathologist in the district, it is quite possible that the refusal to renew her contract will leave dozens of young children with speech pathologies without any competent expert to evaluate their conditions and treatment needs.
The Intercept goes on to quote Amawi directly:
If I [signed the pledge] I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.
… the point of boycotting any products that support Israel is to put pressure on Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people”
Three comments. One is that though the hard left was in the main always opposed to the Israeli State, or at any rate its policies on the Palestinians, the liberal left tended, mindful of recent European history, not only to support it but give it a blank cheque on whatever it deemed had to be done. That began to change after the Shatila and Sabra camp massacres in Lebanon, 1982. Since then its acts have seen the weight of liberal and center-left opinion steadily tilting away from Israel, to the point where the Jewish State is approaching a position once the preserve of South Africa. Israel is vulnerable, despite the support of Western ruling elites, to grassroots boycott. Recognition that, for all its hasbara, Israel is losing the propaganda war is the context in which anti-BDS legislation within its ally and primary underwriter should be seen.
Another is that this shift is analogous to that much wider change which has seen mainstream Western media slowly losing their grip on our hearts and minds. Thanks to the rise of the internet – with its triple whammy of vastly extended choice of news sources, many-to-many social media and, related but distinct, a threat to revenues for corporate media’s two-hundred-year-old business model – a ruling class monopoly on opinion formation and manufactured consent is weakened. This poses problems for a status quo loaded massively in favor of the few against the many. (All the more so when, as now, war drums are beating.) Like those anti-BDS laws, the war on fake news is best understood as early skirmish within conflicts greater, more fraught and ultimately more far-reaching in significance.
But one of capitalism’s many dialectics is that for all its terrifying instability, it is extraordinarily adaptive in its Borg-like ability to accommodate all – or at any rate most – opposition. Not to mention its own crimes. Which brings me back to the issue at hand. Given more confidence in the survival of our species – and liberal democracy – I’d offer generous odds on Bahia Amawi being granted, half a century from now, Rosa Parks status.
Philip Roddis has been a scribbler for some sixty years, and for fifteen a photographer too. Roddis began blogging in the early nineties by inflicting film reviews on an unsuspecting public. Soon he was doing the same with illustrated writings on wanderings in Asia and Africa. He writes “to help me think, and because I like to be read”, and finds photography’s problem-solving aspects “a break from those of writing, as well as an aid to writing and to reflective travel.” He blogs at Steel City Scribblings.
AUSTIN, TEXAS — A Texas speech pathologist has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas after she was reportedly fired for refusing to sign an oath that she would not boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
A U.S. citizen born in Austria and of Palestinian descent, Bahia Amawi is a speech specialist in western Texas who works with autistic and developmentally disabled people. The educator charges that the district refused to renew her contract in August after she declined to sign paperwork pledging that she “does not” and “will not” participate in any kind of boycott or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” against the Israeli state.
Speaking to Democracy Now!, Amawi explained her firsthand struggle with oppression and the reasoning behind her refusal to sign the oath:
I sent an email immediately, and I stopped even reading the additional codes [referring to the additional paperwork she was asked to sign in regards to Israel]. And I sent the email to my speech coordinator telling her, ‘Listen, I cannot sign this. This is against my principles, against my constitutional rights. And it’s also against my moral and ethical values, considering that I am a Palestinian American and I have family that actually live in the Occupied Territories, so it affects me personally, as well.’ So, it affects me in both ways — as an American citizen and as a Palestinian American, too.”
A lawsuit was filed in federal court on Amawi’s behalf this week alleging that the district’s refusal to renew her contract is a direct violation of her First Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen. Amawi, who worked for the Pflugerville Independent School District as a contractor for nearly 10 years, says her renewal contract contained a special document in August asking her to take an oath that she would not boycott or inflict economic harm against Israel in any fashion.
This may constitute the first direct challenge to new legislation aimed at curbing support for the growing Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States, which ultimately aims to end apartheid in Palestinian and Israeli territories.
Texas became the 20th state of what are now 26 to pass anti-BDS legislation that infringes upon free speech by banning U.S. citizens from participating in boycotts against the Israeli apartheid state in various ways, such as refusing to renew a teacher’s contract. Thirteen additional states have similar legislation pending.
The language in the oath Amawi was asked to sign would prohibit her from refusing to purchase goods from both Israel and the occupied West Bank. Furthermore, it could even ban her from expressing support for boycotts against Israel, if her speech or actions are construed to inflict financial harm on the apartheid state. Amawi explained:
The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people. Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”
Amawi refused to sign the oath because her family does not purchase goods made in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank nor in the occupying entity of Israel itself. Amawi was the only Arabic-speaking speech specialist of her kind in the district, which boasts a growing Arab population.
Israel continues to construct illegal settlements in the West Bank and Palestinian territory despite international legislation barring it from doing so. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying entity to transfer its people into the occupied territory.
Furthermore, Israel has recently carried out a brutal repression against unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip, protests that have taken place every Friday since March after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Washington would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds. Since the protests began, 204 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces and more than 18,000 have sustained injuries.
Dubbed the Great Return March, Palestinians seek to return to their homeland in accordance with UN Resolution 194, which states that refugees have the right to return to their homes at the earliest practical date.
Watch | Democracy Now! meets the Texas Speech Pathologist Who Lost School Job for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS Oath
Top Photo | Bahia Amawi, a former contractor in the Pflugerville Independent School District, is suing over a state law that says government contractors can’t boycott Israel. Bob Daemmrich | The Texas Tribune
Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.
It’s good to share. But the European Parliament clearly doesn’t think so. Its new copyright legislation, passed last week, clamps down quite severely on sharing things online. The dynamism of the internet is at threat. When Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, warns us of the dangers the new law poses, we should all sit up straight and pay attention.
For a start, the legislation shifts the responsibility for the uploading of copyright material to the internet platforms themselves. Beforehand it was the job of the companies who thought their copyright was infringed to do this. Many don’t bother, and are happy to see their material uploaded to sites like YouTube as they know it promotes an artist’s work and boosts sales. But all that is likely to change.
Under Article 13, platforms would have to install “upload filters”. YouTube could be shorn of much of its content. Big sites would probably survive but, as ZDNet warns here, smaller sites could easily be put out of business by “copyright trolls”.
Not that there’s anything wrong of course, with sensible protection of copyright. As a prolific five-articles-a-week writer and author I can’t tell you how frustrated and angry I feel when I see my work “pirated” by a commercial website which hasn’t even asked my permission to reprint it, let alone offer me payment. Copyright law needs reform for the digital age. There needs to be an easy way for creators of content to receive payment from those who have stolen their work. The trouble is, the EU has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Look at the way the ability to link to, and quote from, other work without payment, is threatened by the directive.
Sites like RT’s ‘Op-ed’ section, which you are reading now, would be adversely affected and may be even put out of action. One of the advantages of writing an article for an online site over print is that links to articles mentioned can easily be inserted. This enables the reader to see for him/herself the original source. But Article 11 of the Directive raises fears that payment may, in certain circumstances, have to be paid to sites which are linked to. Being able to quote freely from other articles, so long as they are credited, is surely a good thing. It’s essential for instance when you are writing a piece dissecting another. But under the new legislation all but the very briefest quotes may have to be paid for. Think how much that would restrict quality journalism and hinder the free exchange of knowledge.
Then there’s the threat to memes, one of the most entertaining aspects of online life. It’s true that memes are often based on material which technically is copyrighted. But isn’t legislating against them taking it all too far? Article 13 states that “online content sharing service providers and right holders shall cooperate in good faith in order to ensure that unauthorised protected works or other subject matter are not available on their services.” That could mean you tweeting a GIF of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho showing great disinterest in a topic could fall ‘foul’ of the law.
So to get over this, you might think of going to a football match yourself, taking a photo of the player, manager, team, or the stadium, and then tweeting that. Be careful, you could be “red-carded” under Article 12a, as Wired in their ‘Explainer’ piece points out here (do we have to pay them for the link, Ed?).
The overall impact of the legislation, if it becomes law in member states, will be stultifying. We’ll all be turned into nervous wrecks, worried that we have infringed the new laws in one way or another. Don’t we have enough stress already in our lives without the European Parliament adding to it? What’s made the Internet so fandabidozi (will we have to pay The Krankies copyright to use that term?!), is that it has, up to now, been free to grow organically. Blogs that attract readers thrive, those that don’t go to the wall. But the very fact that it’s been a relatively free space, alarms the control freaks and brain-washers.
The EU legislation, bad as it is in its own right, must be seen as part of a wider attempt to clamp down on free expression and the free exchange of ideas in the West at a time when fewer people than ever before believe establishment narratives. This month a British MP by the name of Lucy Powell, launched a bill in Parliament entitled the ‘Online Forums Bill’ to ban private Facebook groups which promote “hate”, “racism” and “fake news”. But who defines what these terms actually mean?
The authorities, that’s who, and they will use their powers selectively and hypocritically to silence anyone who poses a threat to those living very comfortable lives inside the castle. Just look at how the ‘fake news’ debate has been framed in such a way to equate ‘fake news’ with ‘Russian news’, ignoring the promulgation of ‘fake news’ by non-Russian media about Iraqi WMDs which led to a war which killed over 1m people.
Powell’s bill comes on top of the enormous pressure that companies like Facebook have been placed under to toe the line and flag up content from non-approved providers. We were told that in July, Twitter had purged of about 70 million accounts. Censorship is coming back under the guise of “fighting extremism”,“countering fake news”, or “countering the scourge of anti-Semitism.” If they want to censor it they’ll find a noble sounding, virtue-signaling excuse. We need to resist this, and resist it strongly.
In free societies it should be up to internet users themselves to decide what articles and outlets they read, what Facebook groups they join (closed or otherwise), and what Twitter accounts they follow, and not Big Brother or any other kind of politically correct thought police. And the EU should be concerning itself not with trying to control the internet, through manufactured ‘concerns’ over copyright, but in solving the pressing problems affecting Europe’s economies. Youth unemployment stood at around 43 percent in Greece, 33 percent in Spain and 32 percent in Italy, the last time I looked. What help will the Copyright Directive be to the young jobless?
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
The interview was provided to RT by organizers of the World Ethical Data Forum in Barcelona. Assange, who is currently stranded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with no outside communication except with his legal team, has a pretty grim outlook on where humanity is going. He says it will soon be impossible for any human being to not be included into global databases collected by governments and state-like entities.
This generation being born now… is the last free generation. You are born and either immediately or within say a year you are known globally. Your identity in one form or another –coming as a result of your idiotic parents plastering your name and photos all over Facebook or as a result of insurance applications or passport applications– is known to all major world powers.
“A small child now in some sense has to negotiate its relationship with all the major world powers… It puts us in a very different position. Very few technically capable people are able to live apart, to choose to live apart, to choose to go their own way,” he added. “It smells a bit like totalitarianism – in some way.”
The capacity to collect and process information about people has been growing exponentially and will continue to grow fast, he stated. With advancements in applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to big data, the next logical step is coming.
“Look at what Google and Baidu and Tencent and Amazon and Facebook are doing. They are basically open-cut harvesting the knowledge of humankind as we express it, when we communicate with each other… This classical model, which people in academia call ‘surveillance capitalism’… has changed now.
It’s a really very important and severe economic change. Which is to take the surveillance capitalism model and transform it instead into a model that does not yet have a name, an ‘AI model’. Which is to use this vast reservoir to train Artificial Intelligences of different kinds. This would replace not only intermediary sectors –most things you do on the internet is in a sense more efficient intermediation– but to take over the transport sector, or create whole new sectors.
Assange also predicted that the scale of hostile activities through cyberspace will see a breakout point as soon as AI is trained to sufficiently automate hacking attacks.
“There is no border [online]. It’s 220 milliseconds from New York to Nairobi. Why would there ever be peace in such a scenario?” he said. “[Entities online] are creating their own borders using cryptography. But the size of the attack surface for any decent-sized organization, the number of people, different types of software and hardware it has to pull inside itself means that it is very hard to establish.
I don’t think it’s really possible to come up with borders that are predictable enough and stable enough to eliminate conflict. Therefore, there will be more conflict.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW:
With permission from
September 11, 2018
“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.
We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.
We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state.
Osama Bin Laden right warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”
These past 17 years have proven Bin Laden right in his prediction.
What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.
The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.
This is not freedom.
This is a jail cell.
Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.
Our losses are mounting with every passing day.
Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people, a war that has grown more pronounced since 9/11.
Since the towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.
In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, underwear bombers and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the true enemy to freedom was lurking among us all the while.
The U.S. government now poses a greater threat to our freedoms than any terrorist, extremist or foreign entity ever could.
While nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and its agents have easily killed at least ten times that number of civilians in the U.S. and abroad since 9/11 through its police shootings, SWAT team raids, drone strikes and profit-driven efforts to police the globe, sell weapons to foreign nations, and foment civil unrest in order to keep the military industrial complex gainfully employed.
No, the U.S. government is not the citizenry’s friend, nor is it our protector, and life in the United States of America post-9/11 is no picnic.
In the interest of full disclosure, here are some of the things I don’t like about life in a post-9/11 America:
I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds.
I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data.
I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.
I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives incapable of andunwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.
I don’t like being bullied by government bureaucrats, vigilantes masquerading as cops, or faceless technicians.
I don’t like being railroaded into financing government programs whose only purpose is to increase the power and wealth of the corporate elite.
I don’t like being forced to pay for wars abroad that serve no other purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.
I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA.
I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.
I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.
I don’t like being treated like an underling by government agents who are supposed to be working for me. I don’t like being threatened, intimidated, bribed, beaten and robbed by individuals entrusted with safeguarding my rights. I don’t like being silenced, censored and marginalized. I don’t like my movements being tracked, my conversations being recorded, and my transactions being catalogued.
I don’t like free speech zones, roving bubble zones and trespass laws that restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights.
I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely.
I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.
I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country.
I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens.
I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.
I don’t like the fact that police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.”
I don’t like America’s infatuation with locking people up for life for non-violent crimes. There are thousands of people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes, including theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check.
I don’t like paying roughly $29,000 a year per inmate just to keep these nonviolent offenders in prison.
I don’t like having my hard-earned taxpayer dollars used against me.
I don’t like the partisan nature of politics today, which has so polarized Americans that they are incapable of standing in unity against the government’s abuses.
I don’t like the entertainment drivel that passes for news coverage today.
I don’t like the fact that those within a 25-mile range of the border are getting a front row seat to the American police state, as Border Patrol agents are now allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant.
I don’t like public schools that treat students as if they were prison inmates. I don’t like zero tolerance laws that criminalize childish behavior. I don’t like a public educational system that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.
I don’t like police precincts whose primary purpose—whether through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, or red light cameras—is making a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect. I don’t like militarized police and their onerous SWAT team raids.
I don’t like Department of Defense and DHS programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police. I don’t like local police dressing and acting as if they were the military while viewing me as an enemy combatant.
I don’t like government programs that reward cops for raiding homes and terrorizing homeowners.
I don’t like being treated as if I have no rights.
I don’t like cash-strapped states cutting deals with private corporations to run the prisons in exchange for maintaining 90% occupancy rates for at least 20 years. I don’t like the fact that American prisons have become the source of cheap labor for Corporate America.
I don’t like answering to an imperial president who operates above the law.
I don’t like the injustice that passes for justice in the courts.
I don’t like prosecutors so hell bent on winning that they allow innocent people to suffer for crimes they didn’t commit.
I don’t like the double standards that allow government officials to break laws with immunity, while average Americans get the book thrown at them.
I don’t like cops who shoot first and ask questions later.
I don’t like police dogs being treated with more respect and afforded more rights than American citizens.
I don’t like living in a suspect society.
I don’t like Americans being assumed guilty until they prove their innocence.
I don’t like technology being used as a double-edged sword against us.
Most of all, I don’t like feeling as if there’s no hope for turning things around.
Now there are those who would suggest that if I don’t like things about this country, I should leave and go elsewhere. Certainly, there are those among my fellow citizens who are leaving for friendlier shores.
However, I’m not giving up on this country without a fight.
I plan to keep fighting, writing, speaking up, speaking out, shouting if necessary, filing lawsuits, challenging the status quo, writing letters to the editor, holding my representatives accountable, thinking nationally but acting locally, and generally raising a ruckus anytime the government attempts to undermine the Constitution and ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry.
Our country may be in deep trouble, but all is not yet lost.
The first step begins with you.
Get educated. Know your rights. Take time to read the Constitution. Study and understand history because the tales of those who seek power and those who resist them is an age-old one. The Declaration of Independence is a testament to this struggle and the revolutionary spirit that overcame tyranny. Understand the vital issues of the day so that you can be cognizant of the threats to freedom. Stay informed about current events and legislation.
Get involved. Become actively involved in local community affairs, politics and legal battles. As the adage goes, “Think nationally, act locally.” America was meant to be primarily a system of local governments, which is a far cry from the colossal federal bureaucracy we have today. Yet if our freedoms are to be restored, understanding what is transpiring practically in your own backyard—in one’s home, neighborhood, school district, town council—and taking action at that local level must be the starting point. Responding to unmet local needs and reacting to injustices is what grassroots activism is all about. Getting involved in local politics is one way to bring about change.
Get organized. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and tap into your resources. Play to your strengths and assets. Conduct strategy sessions to develop both the methods and ways to attack the problem. Prioritize your issues and battles. Don’t limit yourself to protests and paper petitions. Think outside the box. Time is short, and resources are limited, so use your resources in the way they count the most.
Be creative. Be bold and imaginative, for this is guerilla warfare—not to be fought with tanks and guns but through creative methods of dissent and resistance. Creatively responding to circumstances will often be one of your few resources if you are to be an effective agent of change. Every creative effort, no matter how small, is significant.
Use the media. Effective use of the media is essential. Attracting media coverage not only enhances and magnifies your efforts, it is also a valuable education tool. It publicizes your message to a much wider audience.
Start brushfires for freedom.Take heart that you are not alone. You come from a long, historic line of individuals who have put their beliefs and lives on the line to keep freedom alive. Engage those around you in discussions about issues of importance. Challenge them to be part of a national dialogue. As I have often said, one person at a city planning meeting with a protest sign is an irritant. Three individuals at the same meeting with the same sign are a movement. You will find that those in power fear and respect numbers. This is not to say that lone crusaders are not important. There are times when you will find yourself totally alone in the stand you take. However, there is power in numbers. Politicians understand this. So get out there and start drumming up support for your cause.
Take action.Be prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re located or what resources are at your disposal. What matters is that you recognize the problems and care enough to do something about them. Whether you’re 8, 28 or 88 years old, you have something unique to contribute. You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to show up and be ready to take action.
Be forward-looking.Beware of being so “in the moment” that you neglect to think of the bigger picture. Develop a vision for the future. Is what you’re hoping to achieve enduring? Have you developed a plan to continue to educate others about the problems you’re hoping to tackle and ensure that others will continue in your stead? Take the time to impart the value of freedom to younger generations, for they will be at the vanguard of these battles someday.
Develop fortitude. What is it that led to the successful protest movements of the past headed by people such as Martin Luther King Jr.? Resolve. King refused to be put off. And when the time came, he was willing to take to the streets for what he believed and even go to jail if necessary. King risked having an arrest record by committing acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. A caveat is appropriate here. Before resorting to nonviolent civil disobedience, all reasonable alternatives should be exhausted. If there is an opportunity to alter the course of events through normal channels (for example, negotiation, legal action or legislation), they should be attempted.
Be selfless and sacrificial.Freedom is not free—there is always a price to be paid and a sacrifice to be made. If any movement is to be truly successful, it must be manned by individuals who seek a greater good and do not waver from their purposes. It will take boldness, courage and great sacrifice. Rarely will fame, power and riches be found at the end of this particular road. Those who travel it inevitably find the way marked by hardship, persecution and strife. Yet there is no easy way.
Remain optimistic and keep hope alive. Although our rights are increasingly coming under attack, we still have certain freedoms. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we can still fight back. We have the right to dissent, to protest and even to vigorously criticize or oppose the government and its laws. The Constitution guarantees us these rights. In a country such as the United States, a citizen armed with a knowledge of the Bill of Rights and the fortitude to stand and fight can still be a force to be reckoned with, but it will mean speaking out when others are silent.
Practice persistence, along with perseverance, and the possibilities are endless. You can be the voice of reason. Use your voice to encourage others. Much can be accomplished by merely speaking out. Oftentimes, all it takes is one lone voice to get things started. So if you really care and you’re serious and want to help change things for the better, dust off your First Amendment tools and take a stand—even if it means being ostracized by those who would otherwise support you.
It won’t be easy, but take heart. And don’t give up.
In early America many cities had ‘town squares’ in which citizens could stand on soapboxes and shout out various messages. Our First Amendment protects such speech.
The Internet is today’s town square. The soapboxes are social media.
The Deep State and the left are intertwined with Silicon Valley. The CIA helped Google and Facebook get started. Why? To make it easier to spy on people. Over time, millions gravitated toward Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Conservative and Libertarian voices became very strong and that alarmed the Deep State. So they began demonetizing conservatives. Then they shadow-banned them. Now they are deleting them outright.
For many years, Alex Jones reached millions with his journalism and rants. His tirades helped wake people up. He yelled at us about the Deep State, including the corrupt security agencies, the Bohemian Grove, the CFR, the Bilderbergs, fluoride in our water, the lies about 9-11, and yes, even Sandy Hook. The latter had many anomalies that should be questioned. Alex brought all of this up and more before anyone else had a inkling about what was really going on with such matters. He was routinely dismissed as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ by the establishment. However, much of what he has been saying over the years is now acknowledged as self-evident. The legacy media, the Deep State, and Silicon Valley could not stomach the fact that he was informing and influencing minds and elections. They all got together and confiscated his soapbox. Their lame excuse? They claimed he was a purveyor of ‘hate speech.’
Having previously endured years of hate speech aimed toward me, I know what it is and what it isn’t. To me, it’s libel, defamation and death threats. Alex Jones has never engaged in hate speech. Questioning climate change is not hate speech. Jones is not a racist, a bigot or any of the other ‘phobic’ names the left enjoy pinning on ideological opponents. ‘Hate speech’ sounds alarming and terrible, but it’s also vague. Who gets to decide what it is?
The Supreme Court ruled it was legal speech, but apparently the Silicon Valley and Deep State commissars want to overrule that decision. They own their social media game and they’ve rigged it in their favor. They have all the money in the world, so they can afford to lose revenue from the millions of conservatives and libertarians they’re forcing out of the game. They can’t win the argument, so they’re resorting to censorship.
Censorship is what China does, and companies like Facebook and Apple are eager to please the communist oligarchs. The Deep State wants what President Xi enjoys – a rigged Internet that does not allow dissent or criticism of the political elite. Right now, even Winnie the Pooh is being banned in China. Why? Because Xi opponents in China were using the cartoon bear as a ‘meme’ to criticize their leader. Remember, conservatives greatly out-memed the left during the last presidential election. Hillary is no doubt very angry that we have the ability to meme and ridicule her pomposity. She once said herself that the Internet needs an ‘editor.’ She would welcome a Chinese-style, well-censored Internet that she and her ilk would control.
The leftist media have dominated American minds for decades. The lies they told were readily accepted as facts. That kind of mind control is no longer working for them, thanks to the Internet. We know their ‘Russia collusion’ narrative is bunk. We’re not going along, so now they want to force us to go along and if we don’t, we get banned as ‘haters.’
It will get worse. PayPal is already banning users who are being smeared as ‘haters.’ The left will make that tactic seem fashionable, so it’s a matter of time before banks get in on the act. Maybe even the Bezos-owned Amazon?
What can we do? Many think conservatives should develop their own social media. That is no easy task and we will receive no generous funding from the Deep State to do it. What we should NOT do is ask government to ‘regulate’ social media. That would only add bureaucracy and regulations on free speech and if the left regains political control, they will use it to their advantage. Just like they used the IRS to harass conservatives.
The only thing we can do now is keep our cool and let the leftist oligarchs play their game and reveal themselves for who they are – tyrants who want control over our minds via their game of monopoly.