Archive for the ‘freedom of speech’ category

Just the facts, please!

July 8, 2009

Facts are pesky things.  You ignore them at your peril, especially when  they are easily, er, fact-checked.

On Friday, July 3, 2009 Sarah Palin made the surprise announcement in a hastily called news conference that she was going to resign.  Since none of the faradiddle of reasons for quitting made the slightest bit of sense, there was a rush from reality-based commentators in both the MSM and the blogosphere to try to find some kind of rationale for Palin’s abrupt mid-term departure. (more…)

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‘Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?!

July 5, 2008

Americans are often very parochial, paying scant attention to happenings across the Atlantic where parallel struggles for civil liberties and freedom from a surveillance state are taking place.  One of these events is the British by-election at Haltemprice and Howden, where Tory David Davis is pitted against recent counter-terrorism measures passed by the British Parliament.  Davis is protesting a new law that would allow British citizens to be held for up to 42 days (6 weeks) without charges being brought.  Davis argues that this is a violation of the ancient right of habeas corpus, guaranteed by the Magna Carta in 1215.

Campaigning in behalf  of David Davis in Haltemprice and Howden, Bob Geldof asks the question:

Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?! (more…)

Ashland, OR unlikely site for terror investigation

June 4, 2008

Ashland, Oregon, the small-town home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon University, would seem to be an unlikely site of a global war on terrorism (GWOT) investigation. But that is exactly the situation for Soliman Hamd Al-Buthe, a former member of Saudi Arabia’s national basketball team and a government official in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Al-Bluthe’s saga began in March 2004 when he received an urgent phone call from two lawyers in Washington D.C. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/05/19/al_haramain/index.html

Most of the call concerned a growing confrontation between the U.S. government and the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland, Ore., the U.S. branch of a global Saudi Arabian charity organization under investigation for possible links to terrorism. Al-Buthe had been an advisor to Al-Haramain from 1995 to 2002 and was a member of the Oregon foundation’s board of directors. Just weeks prior to the call, the foundation — a respected fixture in the Ashland community run for years by an Iranian-American Muslim named Pete Seda — had been raided by U.S. law enforcement agents.

What Al-Bluthe did not know at the time was that the call was wiretapped by the U.S. government. (more…)

Flags of our fathers …

November 20, 2007

The recent banning of antiwar veterans from Veterans’ Day events in Long Beach, CA and the arrest of others in Boston raises questions about the role veterans play in our society after they return home. Most never don their military uniforms again but some wear them proudly at events such as Veterans’ Day parades. Both of these options are politically acceptable in this country.

However antiwar vets face a different reaction, particularly from those blowhards who never served their country in uniform and never faced the harsh reality of combat. Chickenhawks is a well-deserved title for these guys.

Vets, no matter how valorous and decorated, who protest war and want their voices heard at public events are attacked and called “phony soliders” and “unpatriotic”.

The recent discussions in Long Beach and Boston over whether Veterans’ day events can exclude some veteran groups because of their political views made me pause and think about what Veterans’ Day is all about. It was originally created at the end of WWI as a Armistice Day to celebrate a long-awaited peace. The focus was on the cessation of bloodshed and violence amidst hope for lasting peace. People literally danced in the streets in cities around the world.

Somehow this celebration of peace has morphed into a celebration of war. It has become a triumph of militarism that has taken a 180-degree turn from its original meaning. (more…)

Message to veteran groups from parade organizers: STFU

November 11, 2007

Conventional wisdom is that the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line in combat are fighting for “our freedom” and the “American way of life”. That means that they are fighting for constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the rest of the Bill of Rights — at least in theory.

One would think that veterans, of all people, would be entitled to have their right to freedom of speech respected. But that is not the case in Long Beach,CA, for veterans who want to express their views about the Iraq war in a Veterans’ Day parade.

According to an article by Kelly Puente in the Press-Telegram three veterans groups will not be permitted to march in the 11th Annual Long Beach Veterans’ Parade this year because they are “too political” because of their opposition to the Iraq war. Many members of these groups are combat veterans and family members of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The three groups denied a place in the parade are Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. (more…)