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Thursday, den 27. September 2012

Word comes from the New York Times that, a year after Iran won its first Academy Award for Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation , Iran will boycott the Academy Awards in protest of “Innocence of Muslims,” a crude film about the prophet Muhammad that may not even exist as a feature film: The boycott appears straightforward: Mohammad Hosseini, Iran’s culture minister, on Tuesday confirmed that his country would not submit a film for consideration at next year’s Oscars in protest of “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Islam YouTube video that has sparked deadly riots.

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Thursday, den 20. September 2012

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) President Obama wants to “criminalize” free speech, according to a leading GOP congressmen.

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Friday, den 14. September 2012

There could not have been a more striking week for Salman Rushdie to discuss how his life changed after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa on him for writing The Satanic Verses than this one.

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Category: Articles, author, Economy, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Science, The New Yorker, ThinkProgress, Tweets, Washington | Comments Off
Friday, den 14. September 2012

It seems like the leaking of nude photos of famous women has become a routine occurrence, a perhaps-inevitable consequence of the social media age and human error. But the publications of two sets of topless photographs of celebrities this week, a phone camera photo actress Alison Pill intended for her fiance, Jay Baruchel but accidentally tweeted publicly, and a set of paparazzi shots of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, illustrate that while we may have come to expect to see women in public life naked, we’re a long way for establishing where the zones of privacy lie—and how far we should go to enforce them.

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Wednesday, den 5. September 2012

By Rebecca Kemble, September 4, 2012 They challenge the new capitol police chief, who is initiating a crackdown. read more

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Category: author, Department of Justice, Feeds, Health, Justice, Media, Peace, Politics, Republican Party, the progressive, Video, War | Comments Off
Saturday, den 1. September 2012

Our guest blogger is Sarah Margon, Deputy Washington Director at Human Rights Watch Nabeel Rajab (Photo: Reuters) In May 2011, President Obama spoke publicly about the importance of supporting reform — and individual reformers — across the Middle East. He noted “the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator” and that the United States “supports a set of universal rights…[including] free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders.” But in Bahrain, where massive nonviolent protests against the current regime began in early 2011, critical underlying issues have yet to be resolved and the U.S.’s support for such reform has been halfhearted.

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Category: Afghanistan, Africa, author, Congress, director, Economy, Feeds, Foreign Policy, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Peace, Science, Terrorism, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, Washington | Comments Off
Friday, den 31. August 2012

Joining others in right-wing media, Fox News is using the GOP convention as an opportunity to push preferred candidates for Mitt Romney’s cabinet. For example, on the August 29 edition of Fox & Friends , Gretchen Carlson promoted the prospect of Rudolph Giuliani serving as Attorney General in a Romney administration. However, in their endorsement of Giuliani for the position of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and legal advisor, the Fox News hosts did not mention Giuliani’s patronage of convicted former Department of Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik, or Giuliani’s questionable record on the protection of civil rights and liberties as Mayor of New York City

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Tuesday, den 7. August 2012

It’s no surprise that conservatives  co-opted the Chick-fil-A situation as a matter of free speech so that they could portray themselves as the victims. Despite their eager — if not snide — willingness to support the restaurant chain because it gives millions of dollars to anti-gay hate groups and ex-gay ministries, they are now trying to disassociate from the label that they are even anti-gay.

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Tuesday, den 24. July 2012

A 20-year-old journalism student is facing up to 7 years in prison in Belarus. His crime was photographing teddy bears. More than 800 teddy bears were dropped into the country from a plane in a stunt by a Swedish advertising company, Studio Total.

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Category: author, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Health, Islamophobia, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Friday, den 22. June 2012

It’s bizarre to watch the Supreme Court’s decision in its fleeting obscenities case today get reported as some sort of victory for broadcasters. Yes, the court, in a decision written by Anthony Kennedy, voided three Federal Communications Commissions decisions against Fox and ABC, declaring that the FCC hadn’t given the networks proper prior notice that the things they broadcast—two incidences of expletives spoken, unscripted, by stars during awards broadcasts and seven seconds of female nudity from behind—could be considered obscene.

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Tuesday, den 22. May 2012

On last year’s Day of Silence, Ohio high school student Maverick Couch wore a t-shirt to school that said “Jesus Is Not A Homophobe,” but Waynesville High School Principal Randy Gebhardt ordered him to turn the shirt inside out. When Maverick asked to wear the shirt again this past fall, Gebhardt threatened him with suspension. Lambda Legal sued on Maverick’s behalf, and has officially won the case, including $20,000 for damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees. Though Maverick is set to graduate this weekend, he ensures the freedom of expression is preserved for all students in Wayne Local Schools. Maverick with family and friends.

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Category: Africa, author, Congress, Economy, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Marriage Equality, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets | Comments Off
Tuesday, den 22. May 2012

A coalition of national groups, led by the American Jewish Committee and Religious Freedom Education Project, have released new “guidelines” for public schools that attempt to walk the line between combating bullying and protecting religious speech.  The guidelines themselves are not particularly specific, but they seem to suggest that religious rhetoric should not be curtailed in anyway, regardless of how damaging or disruptive it might be to those who “disagree” with it: With respect to sexual orientation and behavior, one student’s call for legalization of same-sex marriage may be perceived by another student as a challenge to his or her deeply held religious beliefs. Conversely, one  student’s expression of his or her religious convictions concerning what he or she  regards as sinful sexual behavior will be perceived by another student as suggesting that gay and lesbian students have no place in the school. A student may wear a T-shirt proclaiming “Straight Pride” to counter another student’s “Gay Pride” T-shirt, or vice versa. When confronting one student’s claim that another student’s speech conveying an idea is harassment and bullying, school officials should consider, time and circumstances permitting, explaining on an age appropriate basis, that disagreement about an idea is not necessarily a personal attack; that some students’ faiths may require them to express their views publicly ; that students have a right to disagree with the view of other students or the school and to express that disagreement; and that the most effective response to an idea one disagrees with is often to express a contrary idea, not censorship. Suppression of speech should be the last, not first, resort. The rhetoric in this document is troubling, because it ignores the current context for how prevalent anti-gay bullying currently is in schools, and how particularly damaging research has shown it to be. Rather, these guidelines suggest that “disagreements” are a two-way street — that a religious condemnation of homosexuality is equivalent in effect to a student’s opposing position defending gay people. This is absurd and completely ignores how vulnerable young people in the throws of coming out can be to such anti-gay viewpoints. As documented in The Good News Club , conservative Christians are proactively encouraging anti-gay evangelism within schools. It’s unsurprising that among the endorsers of these guidelines are Christian Educators Association International, the Christian Legal Society, and the National Association of Evangelicals. Noticeably absent was GLSEN or any group that advocates for the LGBT community. These organizations are within their right to defend religious expression, but to minimize the impact of anti-gay bullying by conflating “condemnation” with “disagreement” is dangerously disingenuous. The key to reducing anti-gay bullying is training about LGBT issues, not openly humoring religious reproach while ignoring the harm it causes.

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Thursday, den 17. May 2012

Next week, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes will return to his alma mater, Ohio University, and give a featured lecture. According to a campus flyer , Ailes’ talk will be entitled, “FOX News: Past, Present, Future,” and will be given as part of the school’s George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics & Institutions. The director of the Forum told the Ohio University student newspaper that Ailes’ address would spark a good debate about “free speech and the media” and stressed Ailes is “perhaps the most influential newsman in America today.”  (Ailes has donated generously to the school.) Ailes has also lectured at the United States Military Academy at West Point. And last month, he was invited by the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication to give the Roy H. Park Distinguished Lecture. Other notables who have given lectures at UNC’s communications school this year include the editors-in-chief of ProPublica and Bloomberg News, as well as The New York Times’ White House correspondent. But does Roger Ailes really belong in that esteemed group? And more importantly, why do respected universities help perpetuate the myth that Ailes runs a news organization and that he occupies as an esteemed position within the journalism industry?   It’s obvious that Fox News long ago cut the cord with anything resembling traditional journalism, and instead has transformed itself into a partisan attack machine. (i.e. The ” voice of the opposition .”) It’s an irresponsible attack machine that, in a nation of 300 million people, consistently draws three millions viewers, which in the niche world of cable news means it’s a success. And you know what, Fox has every right to be in the partisan attack business. But for prestigious universities to usher Roger Ailes into their lectures halls under the guise of him being a news executive and letting him spin fantastic tales about how Fox is a fair and balanced news organization is a joke. It’s a joke because places of higher learning shouldn’t help perpetuate the Fox myth while turning a blind eye to the lasting damage Ailes’ enterprise is doing to journalism and to our national discourse . ( Flashback : Obama is a “racist” with a “deep seeded hatred for white people.”)

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Wednesday, den 16. May 2012

During the past week, progressive organizations involved in a shareholder effort to force more transparency in health insurer WellPoint’s political contributions have responded to The Wall Street Journal ‘s recent editorial demonizing shareholder activism as “intimidation.” In the editorial, the Journal singled out Change to Win (CtW), a coalition of some of the nation’s leading labor unions, and its WellPoint shareholder outreach and organizing efforts, claiming CtW was campaigning “to intimidate companies from exercising their free-speech rights.” Last week, CtW’s investment group responded to the Journal ‘s attacks, writing that “the Journal is sending a chilling message: renounce principles of good corporate governance or face baseless and misleading attacks from the supposed voice of business.”

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Thursday, den 26. April 2012

Today, Fox News’ America’s Newsroom hosted a segment highlighting Rush Limbaugh’s latest attack on Sandra Fluke. The theory behind the attack was so hard to believe that two of the three panelists, including a former spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, called it “ridiculous” and “utterly absurd.”  On Tuesday’s edition of his radio show, Limbaugh returned to attacking Fluke, the Georgetown law student whom he infamously described as a “slut” and “prostitute,” this time for supposedly “coordinating” with President Obama to scare students about their student loans.  Fluke responded to Limbaugh’s attack later that night on MSNBC’s The Last Word , pointing out the importance of affordable student loans and contradicting the notion that she is coordinating with Obama on the issue of student loans.  During a panel discussion of Limbaugh’s attack on America’s Newsroom today, panelists Gretchen Hamel and Judy Miller agreed that Limbaugh’s theory that Fluke and Obama are coordinating is completely bogus. Hamel, a former spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, said that Fluke’s tweet “was a message being tweeted out by a number of people.” Hamel also said: “I think this is just a coincidence. It’s the White House having a simple message that is resonating.” Miller, a Fox News contributor, called Limbaugh’s theory “ridiculous” and said that “all it does is call attention to his previous faux pas.” 

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Thursday, den 26. April 2012

Last month, the Breitbart team tried — and failed — to gin up outrage over a 1991 video showing then-law student Barack Obama embracing the late Harvard professor Derrick Bell. Breitbart editor-in-chief Joel Pollak went to great pains to cast Bell and the critical race theory that he espoused as radical, even pushing his spin in an appearance on CNN (where host Soledad O’Brien took apart his argument). In an April 25 post, Pollak returned to the Bell non-controversy, announcing in a post on Big Government that Breitbart News has obtained “exclusive” “handwritten notes” that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan sent to Bell back in 1985. At the time, Kagan was the editor of the Harvard Law Review , to which Bell had submitted an article. And just what did the Breitbart team find? Apparently nothing good, because the only thing the post proves is that Kagan questioned one of Bell’s ideas. Pollak apparently found images of the notes themselves unworthy of inclusion in his post, save a single image of a few sentence fragments. Looking on for at least a transcription of the notes — the headline refers to “handwritten notes” “on critical race theory” — the reader has to wade through a few paragraphs of Pollak building tension. He seems to have found significance, for example, in Kagan’s choice of paper: “Unlike then- Harvard Law Review  president Carol Steiker, who corresponded with Bell via typed letter (apparently on a 1980s-vintage dot matrix printer), Kagan chose to write to Bell exclusively on yellow notepad paper. She did not explain her choice to write by hand, save to suggest in one note on Aug. 30, 1985 that she was pressed for time.”

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Category: Africa, author, Barack Obama, Breaking News, CNN, Feeds, Justice, Media, Media Matters, Peace, Video, War, Washington | Comments Off
Tuesday, den 24. January 2012

By Amitabh Pal, January 23, 2012 By yet again showing its disdain for free speech, the Indian government has done itself a big dishonor. read more

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Wednesday, den 18. January 2012

The temporary shuttering of several of the internet’s most popular websites in protest of SOPA and PIPA has (finally) succeeded in getting cable and broadcast news networks to pay attention to the controversy surrounding the two anti-digital piracy bills. Even Fox News is covering the SOPA protests, albeit in their own uniquely horrible way. This morning on America’s Newsroom , Claudia Cowan filed this report on the SOPA blackouts: First, let’s note what they left out of the report. Fox News’ parent company, News Corp., is one of the many media conglomerates supporting SOPA . A disclosure to that effect should have been included, but wasn’t. And that leads us to what they did include. At one point in the report, Cowan says of Google’s participation in the anti-SOPA protests: “Some call this ironic, since Google’s business is to link users to various sites, essentially, critics contend, stealing other people’s content every day.” The “some say” construction is a favorite of Fox News’, and in this case we actually know who the “some” are that are saying these things about Google: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is a strong proponent of SOPA and very much dislikes Google, which he argues is the internet’s “piracy leader” because links to websites that offer pirated content show up in Google search results . This argument, it should be noted, makes absolutely no sense and demonstrates the profound technical ignorance of a man with huge influence over tech policy. But it makes enough sense for Fox News, which reported the absurd spin from its parent company on SOPA without noting their parent company’s support for the bill. 

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Wednesday, den 23. November 2011

In a piece for the Ideas section of Time.com, former Newsweek managing editor and current Random House executive editor Jon Meacham took a stab at explaining American exceptionalism — a phrase conservatives have repeatedly invoked to attack President Obama. “Are Americans really exceptional?” Meacham asked. He wrote: In rough political terms, the Republican presidential field argues that America is a place set apart, a nation with a divinely ordained mission to lead the world. A corollary to the case as it is being put in the 2012 cycle is that President Obama does not believe this. George H.W. Bush leveled the same charge against Michael Dukakis in 1988, claiming that Dukakis thought of the United States as just another country on the roll of the United Nations. The argument is well-suited to reassure voters who are pessimistic about the life of the nation and about the place of America in the world. We are going to be hearing more about this notion of exceptionalism, possibly far beyond Iowa and New Hampshire and into the general election. So let’s be clear about the history — and the uses and abuses — of the vision of America as an instrument of God’s will on earth. This sense that we are the new Israel, a chosen people, is among the most ancient and most potent of American ideas. It has informed our finest hours and some of our worst. It has given us the confidence to project our power in defense of the weak and of the innocent and the persecuted. It has sometimes fed a sense of hubris and moral self-certainty. Meacham goes on to claim that “[w]e are exceptional not because of who we are but because of what we do and how we put the ideals of human dignity, individual freedom, and liberty under law into action. Those ideas are rooted in part in our religious traditions; it is ahistorical to deny that faith played a critical role in the development of American freedom.” Since Obama’s 2009 remarks addressing whether he subscribed to the “school of ‘American exceptionalism’ that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world,” conservatives have mischaracterized his comments to push the argument that he has “a lack of faith in American exceptionalism.” While Meacham noted that this is indeed a Republican construct we will “be hearing more about” during the 2012 election, he made no effort to explore what Obama himself has said about America’s role in the world — only writing that the rhetoric of exceptionalism “reassures” those “voters who are pessimistic about the life of the nation and about the place of America in the world.”

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Saturday, den 19. November 2011

By Matthew Rothschild, November 18, 2011 “The case should be called ‘The State of Wisconsin versus The People of Wisconsin.’ ” read more

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Friday, den 4. November 2011

Eighteen activists were arrested on Tuesday for using cameras in the gallery of the Wisconsin General Assembly. The arrests were part of a “ Concealed Camera Day ” event, planned to coincidence with the implementation of a new law that allows Wisconsinites to a concealed firearm, including inside the Assembly building . The Assembly does not allow cameras in the gallery, which the protesters — including the editor of a local progressive magazine — say is a violation of the First Amendment and of Wisconsin’s open meeting laws.

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