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06 Feb 2012 10:33


Tech, World: Google, Facebook forced to block content by Indian high court

  • last month Facing legal complaints that their sites “create enmity, hatred, and communal violence” and “will corrupt minds,” Facebook and Google told an Indian court that they could not block content, and that it would be difficult to pre-screen. The complaint was filed by a journalist, Vinay Rai, who has been on a crusade over this issue.
  • this month Facing an order from the Delhi High Court to block said content from their services, Google and Facebook say they’ve already removed objectionable content, and Facebook has submitted a compliance report to the court on Monday, but not without joining Yahoo and Microsoft in having misgivings on the case. source

06 Feb 2012 10:16


U.S.: Georgia court strikes down assisted suicide law on free-speech grounds

  • The State has failed to provide any explanation or evidence as to why a public advertisement or offer to assist in an otherwise legal activity is sufficiently problematic to justify an intrusion on protected speech rights.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court • In a unanimous ruling on a 1994 assisted suicide law that said two things — one, it didn’t fully make assisted suicides illegal, and two, it blocked legal forms of free speech, meaning that the law ran smack-first into the First Amendment. As a result of the incident, members of the Final Exit Network, who were facing charges over allegedly helping a cancer-stricken man die, won’t face trial for the incident. The 1994 law, passed in the wake of Jack Kevorkian, made it a felony for anyone who “publicly advertises, offers or holds himself or herself out as offering that he or she will intentionally and actively assist another person in the commission of suicide and commits any overt act to further that purpose.” source

27 Dec 2011 23:54


World: “Horrible things were happening before my eyes”

  • Police brutality that’s not “Occupy”-related: It’s been ignored by most Western media, but a police crackdown on a labor strike in Kazakhstan earlier this month resulted in 16 deaths (officially reported; protesters say the number is much higher), one truly disturbing video of protesters getting shot and beaten as they run away, and now, charges of a torture basement beneath a Kazakh police station. Here’s what’s being reported.
  • DETAINED FOR NO REASON Asem Kenzhebaeva says that on the day of the protests, police detained her, for no reason, while she was searching the streets of Zhanaozen for her father, who had gone missing earlier that day. “That day, police were arresting anyone they saw in the street,” Kenzhebaeva said.
  • TORTURE BASEMENTPolice brought her to a dark, dirty basement under the station, filled with other detainees. According to Kenzhebaeva, women were being stripped naked, dragged by the hair, and beaten by “people in masks.” Kenzhabaeva was beaten and strangled–but ultimately released by the police.
  • WHAT TORTURE? When she returned to the scene with government officials later that week, the basement had been completely cleaned up, and looked “white like a hospital.” Her father, meanwhile, turned up two days later, having been severely beaten by police. He died of his wounds the day before Christmas (Photo: AFP)source

01 Nov 2011 22:34


Politics: Democrats seek to overturn Citizens United via constitutional amendment

  • Fighting back against “Citizens United:” Senate Democrats, led by Tom Udall, have introduced a constitutional amendment meant to blunt the effects of Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for unlimited, undisclosed campaign contributions by corporations. The amendment wouldn’t directly overturn CU, but rather give congresses–both federal and state–the authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures. Like most proposed constitutional amendments, it probably won’t get anywhere close to ratification, but hey, it rallies the base, right? source

25 Jul 2011 23:33


World: Iran to pull the plug on the Internet in two years’ time

  • 2 years until Iranians get their Internet revoked source
  • » Although only 11% of Iran’s citizens use the Internet, Iranian officials have nonetheless decided that within the next two years, all Internet access in the country will be restricted to a state-controlled intranet. Which is to say there will be no Internet access in Iran. (Note from editor: This story is a little old. So as not to be giving you completely outdated information, we’ll point out that officials plan to roll out tests of their “National Internet” starting next month.)

13 Jul 2011 22:18


World: How heavily does the Chinese government censor the Internet?

  • 1.3 million websites shut down by the Chinese gov’t last year source
  • » This means there were 41% fewer websites accessible to China’s residents at the end of last year, compared to a year earlier. And the statistic comes directly from the Chinese government itself (well, a government-run think tank, at least), so it’s probably not an overstatement.

07 Jun 2011 14:01


U.S.: Women’s rights debate moves to a billboard controversy

  • This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!
  • A billboard purchased by Greg Fultz • Expressing his frustration with what he says was his ex-girlfriend’s choice to abort her pregnancy, denying him a chance to become a father. What’s problematic is that the woman’s friends say it wasn’t an abortion at all, but a miscarriage. A court has recommended these billboards be taken down, but Fultz’s lawyer says that violates his client’s free speech rights, citing the Supreme Court case dealing with Westboro Baptist Church earlier this year. Seems like one big mess to us. source

18 Apr 2011 23:07


U.S.: Artist paints anti-gay church leader in compromising position with Satan

  • Well, this is awesome: The delightful Westboro Baptist Church, best known for protesting the funerals of soldiers and screaming “God Hates Fags” at anyone who will listen, just got a taste of its own medicine. The man pictured above is New York artist Scott LoBaido. LoBaido traveled to the church’s headquarters in Topeka, Kansas last weekend, set up shop across the street, and proceded to paint the above work of art. In case you can’t tell, it’s an image of WBC founder Fred Phelps, wearing nothing but a pair of purple underwear, lovingly embracing the Devil, as his daughter (the equally-charming Shirley Phelps-Roper) gazes on in anticipation. The police tried to stop LoBaido, but as his creation clearly qualifies as art, the anti-picketing laws afforded to the church didn’t apply. LoBaido is a traveling artist who paints patriotic imagery around the United States. He blasted Lady Gaga while making this masterpiece (which he plans to auction off for charity on eBay), earning him a police citation for violating anti-noise laws. We think it was well-worth it. source

05 Mar 2011 15:36


U.S.: How does the Westboro Baptist Church stay tax-exempt?

  • what Despite their status as being particularly offensive and their strong advocacy of various political issues, the Westboro Baptist Church has managed to stay tax-exempt, despite their 501(c)(3)/nonprofit status preventing certain kinds of advocacy.
  • whyThey know the law really well – note that the church never advocates specifically against legislation, but against groups and people it doesn’t like. So while they may not fight Prop 8’s repeal, the Phelps family advocates against homosexuality in general. source

02 Mar 2011 10:31


U.S.: Free speech wins: Supreme Court favors Westboro in funeral case

  • 8-1 the vote in favor of Westboro’s free speech rights source
  • » Sad, not surprising, but understandable: The fact of the matter is, while we would’ve loved to see Westboro blocked from picketing funerals as a political message, the First Amendment is pretty set in stone and, as much as we dislike the ramifications of this decision, it certainly was the right one. (By the way, the lone dissenter? Samuel Alito.)