Civil Rights

Fake news has always existed, but quality journalism has a history of survival

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Donald Trump’s insistence that any challenges to the actions and utterances of the president are “fake news” is particularly chilling because it resembles a tactic used by authoritarian regimes seeking ways to… Jackie Harrison The Conversation Malaysian authorities looking for new ways to criminalise critical news reporting now include fake news charges. In Egypt – dubbed “one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists” by the Committee to Protect Journalists – being accused of spreading fake news can come with ... Read More »

University of Melbourne staff to strike over academic freedom

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University of Melbourne staff have voted to go on strike to protest what they say is an attack on free speech. Henrietta Cook The Age Hundreds of academics and professional staff will walk off campus next Wednesday to oppose a proposed new workplace agreement put forward by the university. The four-hour strike follows the university ditching a definition of academic and intellectual freedom in its proposed new workplace agreement. The National Tertiary and Education Union says the changes will mean ... Read More »

Can We Save Privacy by Treating Info Like Private Property?

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Treating all personal information as private property is far from a clear and simple solution. Amitai Etzioni The National Interest Treating personal information like private property is a popular solution to the threats to privacy in the cyber age. It has only one problem; it is unworkable, at least if you care about public health, science, commerce, safety and security (among other public goods). The essence of the idea is that if someone wants to use a piece of personal ... Read More »

The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago

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Albert Einstein, along with other Jewish luminaries, including Hannah Arendt, published a letter in the New York Times on December 4, 1948. Ramzy Baroud CounterPunch That was only a few months after Israel had declared its independence and as hundreds of Palestinian villages were being actively demolished after their inhabitants were expelled. The letter denounced Israel’s newly-founded Herut party and its young leader, Menachem Begin. Herut was carved out of the Irgun terrorist gang, famous for its many massacres against ... Read More »

UK push into the Pacific to counter China

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Exclusive The United Kingdom is vowing to expand its role in the Pacific in a push for “free speech and democracy” alongside other Commonwealth nations at a time of growing concern over China’s influence in the region. David Crowe The Sydney Morning Herald The ambitions not only include new diplomatic posts and aid funding but the idea of encouraging commercial projects and possibly infrastructure funding. Britain’s Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, said the UK’s departure from ... Read More »

Indian government introduces death penalty for child rapists

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Special order from Narendra Modi’s cabinet comes amid widespread outrage over levels of sexual violence Colin Drury Independent India is to introduce the death penalty for child rapists, in a move aimed at alleviating nationwide protests over a number of brutal and high-profile cases. Those found guilty of sexually assaulting youngsters under 12 will now face execution, under a special ordinance issued by the government and set to be rubber-stamped next week. The change comes amid widespread outrage over the… ... Read More »

Legal highs: arguments for and against legalising cannabis in Australia

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Greens leader Richard Di Natale wants Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use, regulated by a federal agency. Nicole Lee Jarryd Bartle The Conversation This proposal is for legalisation of recreational use for relaxation and pleasure, not to treat a medical condition (which is already legal in Australia for some conditions). According to the proposal, the government agency would licence, monitor and regulate production and sale, and regularly review the regulations. The agency would be the sole wholesaler, buying from ... Read More »

Somaliland poet jailed for Somalia reunification poetry

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A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has sentenced a young poet to three years in jail. BBC Nacima Qorane was found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by advocating for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia. Pressure groups in Somaliland said Ms Qorane’s basic human rights have been violated. Somaliland self-declared independence in 1991, but is not recognised internationally. Ms Qorane was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited ... Read More »

Afghans register to vote in long-delayed elections amid violence

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Afghanistan at the weekend began registering voters across the war-torn country as it seeks to ensure that long-delayed legislative elections in October are seen as credible and fraud-free. KABUL – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Over the next two months authorities hope to register as many as 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centers – an ambitious goal in a country where militants control or contest much of the territory. “The main challenge is insecurity, particularly in rural areas,” Abdul ... Read More »

Lose Newspapers and You Lose Your Democracy

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Without independent journalism, Trump and other charlatans will thrive. Eric Alterman The Nation I had a different column when I woke up on deadline day, but I wrote this one, not because any major news had broken—yes, the FBI raided the office of President Trump’s personal lawyer—but because our country and our democracy are in the midst of an ongoing emergency, and our embattled media is unable or unwilling to explain it. What inspired my switch was Politico’s publication of ... Read More »

Memo from a South African: Peter Dutton is entrenching racist white privilege

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My child eyes witnessed racism daily in South Africa. I could escape because I’m white Shelley Davidow The Guardian This year marks the 70th anniversary of the implementation of the racist legislation known as apartheid in South Africa. In 1948, laws were signed into effect that forever changed the lives of South Africans, leaving a devastating legacy, which many of us across the world still live with and struggle against. I am a white former South African living in Australia, ... Read More »

Folau’s free speech under attack

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Israel Folau’s tweet that gays will go to hell “unless they repent of their sins and turn to God” is causing a storm in the Twittersphere with critics accusing the Australian rugby player of being insensitive and homophobic. Brisbane Times Kevin Donnelly Such is the adverse reaction that Rugby Australia has scheduled a meeting with Folau later today in an attempt to limit the adverse fallout. And the latest controversy follows Folau’s statement last year that marriage should only ever ... Read More »

Hungary’s war on democracy is a war on democracy everywhere

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As Hungarians vote on Sunday, Britain is shamefully courting the Orbán regime as it tries to get a favourable Brexit deal Owen Jones The Guardian Is Hungary still a democracy? It was a question I posed to Nóra Köves, an activist with the pro-democracy Eötvös Károly Institute, in the Castro Bistro café in central Budapest. “I wouldn’t say that, no. Not, I think, any more. We are heading to a kind of dictatorship, but we are not there yet. We are ... Read More »

Could America’s Big Tech Industry Create Free Speech Problems?

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The courts or Congress should clarify that the legislation amends Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act cannot be used to restrict political speech. Mark Epstein The National Interest Last week, the Senate passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The legislation amends Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which holds that online platforms cannot be responsible for their users’ content, to exclude sex trafficking. Big tech companies warned that the bill could inadvertently ... Read More »

The Risks to Freedom in Hungary

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The country’s independent media has largely been stifled. One of its remaining voices explains what it’s like to try to hold an aspiring strongman to account. The Atlantic Hungary is a NATO ally, a member nation of the European Union, a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights—and also, since 2010, an increasingly authoritarian and illiberal state. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has politicized the country’s court, central bank, and media. On April 8, Orbán and his Fidesz party face the ... Read More »

How the message of Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ got lost

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Martin Luther King Jnr cast an enormous shadow in my childhood. By Matter of Fact host Stan Grant ABC It was a presence that outlived his death — indeed his assassination added potency to his leadership of a black struggle that mirrored our own. This wasn’t the acceptable Dr King as Santa Claus — as one black scholar remarked this week — our Dr King was a man of righteous anger who spoke with moral urgency to an American nation ... Read More »