Showing posts with label fascism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fascism. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them .......(21)


This is a political cartoon by Rob Rodgers, who until 15 June 2018 was employed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - ciruculation 317,439 - a subsidiary of Block Communication Inc.

On that day he was apparently sacked for being critical of US President Donald J. Trump.



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The reason Peter Dutton is looking so smug lately


Peter Dutton, 4 May 2016
Photo: Stephanie Peatling

Already a sitting member in a predominately 'white bread', somewhat politically disengaged Queensland electorate with a relativley large workforce and a stable employment rate, Liberal MP for Dickson, Minister for Home Affairs & Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton is exuding confidence bordering on arrogance.

Well he might - the Liberal Party having strongly lobbied the Australian Electoral Commission in last year's redistribution thereby slightly increasing the slim margin by which he holds the seat of Dickson, with $650,000 pledged to his 2018-19 election campaign chestlegislation transferring ASIO into the Home Affairs portfolio having received royal assent on 10 May 2018, on track to gain unprecedented control over the criteriagoverning citizenship acquisition, the time it takes for a person to gaincitizenship after their application has been approved, and even the circumstances in which citizenship can be revoked and, exercising his political muscle within his own party, he looks to be firmly in the driver's seat

The people of Kurwongbah, Petrie, Strathpine, Albany Creek, Ferny Hills, Everton Hills, Murrumba Downs, parts of Kallangur, Lake Samsonvale, Lake Kurwongbah and the rest of Dickson need to take a good hard look at their sitting member and ask themselves; do they really want to be responsible for re-electing Peter Dutton who is on his way to be the next far-right, authoritarian 'Trump' to head a federal government?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

In incremental moves Trump is distorting rights and protections in the U.S.


The U.S. Dept. of Justice Manual contains a collection of basic manuals, guidelines, policy statement and procedures that govern the action of U.S. Attorneys working for the department.

The U.S. Attorneys’ Manual having recently been reviewed by the Trump Administration no longer contains this section for the instruction of its law officers – in PUBLIC SAFETY,  PUBLIC TRIALS, PUBLIC SAFETY & MEDIA RELATIONS sections 1-7.112 Need for Free Press and Public Trial.



Saturday, 21 April 2018

Quote of the Week



“There are no saviours of democracy on the horizon. Rather, around the world we see a new authoritarianism that is always anti-democratic in practice, populist in appeal, nationalist in sentiment, fascist in sympathy, criminal in disposition, tending to spew a poisonous rhetoric aimed against refugees, Muslims, and increasingly Jews, and hostile to truth and those who speak it, most particularly journalists to the point, sometimes, of murder.” [Author Richard Flanagan writing in TheGuardian, 18 April 2018]


Thursday, 1 March 2018

No need to worry about the possibility that a Liberal-Nationals Federal Government will impose censorship on the free press in Australia



The time to fret over the possibility of government censorship of the media is over because in February 2018 it ceased being a distant possibility and became fact.

This is what the Australian Press Council stated about the News Corp online article….

Australian Press Council (APC):   


The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published in news.com.au on 31 May 2017, headed “Islamic State [IS] terror guide encourages luring victims via Gumtree, eBay”.

The opening paragraph read: “ISLAMIC State has released a step-by-step guide on how to murder nonbelievers, which includes how to lure targets via fake ads on Gumtree and eBay”. The article proceeded to relay in detail how an article in “[t]he latest edition of the terror group’s English-language propaganda magazine … encourages would-be terrorists to advertise products on second-hand selling sites … to lure victims and assassinate them”. The article mostly comprised extracts from the source material describing the steps necessary to perform such acts.

The Council considered that the article did publish much of the source material from IS verbatim, with limited accompanying analysis or context, such as comments from experts and websites such as Gumtree. The Council accepted there was no intention to encourage or support terrorism, but considered that republishing content from terrorist entities in this manner can perpetuate the purpose of such propaganda and give publicity to its ideas and practices.

However, the Council accepted the public interest in alerting readers to potential risks to their safety. It considered that on balance, the public interest in alerting readers to the dangerous content of the terrorist propaganda and its instructional detail was greater than the risk to their safety posed by the effective republication of terrorist propaganda content. Given this, the Council concluded that the public interest justified publication of the article. Accordingly, the publication did not breach General Principle 6.

The Council noted that great care needs to be exercised by publications when reporting on terrorist propaganda to ensure that public safety is not compromised. In particular, effectively republishing source material comprising instructional detail in how to carry out particular terrorist acts could pose a risk to public safety, and reasonable steps should be taken to prevent such an outcome.

This is what the Turnbull Government did…….

News.com.au, 28 February 2018:

…the article titled “Islamic State terror guide encourages luring victims via Gumtree, eBay” no longer exists.

A week after it was published on May 31, 2017, the Attorney-General’s office contacted news.com.au to demand it be taken down, saying the Classification Board had ruled it should be refused classification as it “directly or indirectly” advocated terrorist acts.

It appears to be the first time section 9A of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 has been used to censor a news report, since it was first added in 2007.

The action has alarmed the publisher of news.com.au as Australian media in general were not informed the Classification Board had the power to ban news stories or that the eSafety Commissioner had the power to instigate investigations into news articles.

“The first news.com.au knew of this matter was when contacted by the Attorney-General’s Department and advised of the Classification Board decision,” news.com.au argued as part of a separate Press Council investigation into the article.
“The department, board and the eSafety Commissioner did not contact news.com.au beforehand to advise of the investigation. Consequently, news.com.au was not given the right to make submissions or a defence in regard to the article.”

News.com.au removed the article as it was facing legal penalties from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) if it refused, including fines or even civil or criminal legal action.
In justifying its decision, the Classification Board noted the article contained “detailed references and lengthy quotations from Rumiyah (Islamic State’s propaganda magazine)” with limited author text to provide context.

News.com.au asked the board why there was no opportunity for news organisations to defend the article based on public interest grounds but a response provided by a spokesman for the eSafety Commissioner did not directly address this.

The spokesman said the board did consider whether the material could “reasonably be considered to be done merely as part of public discussion or debate, or as entertainment or satire” before making its decision.

He also acknowledged this may have been the first time a news article had been censored using this section.

However, as a government which to a man fails to grasp how the Internet works their well-laid plans seldom go off without a hitch and, the article that Turnbull & Co wish to erase from memory remains on national and international news sites as I write.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

As more national governments veer towards fascism the level of danger Facebook presents rises


The Trump Regime is busy dismantling democratic checks and balances in the United States, the May Government in Britain is handing powers of arrest to certain multinational corporations and in Australia federal and state right-wing politicians slavishly ape Republican and Conservative policies.

Rabid nationalism, religious extremism, contrived xenophobia, authoritarianism, contempt for human rights and disdain for democratic processes appear to be the order of the day for too many political leaders in too many 'western' countries around the world.

Smack bang in the middle of this political miasma is a vast and powerful IT multinational which wouldn’t recognise an ethic if it fell over it.

How long before the aims of modern day fascism and Facebook Inc merge?

Public Integrity, 31 July 2017:

When Chicago resident Carlo Licata joined Facebook in 2009, he did what the 390 million other users of the world’s largest social network had already done: He posted photos of himself and friends, tagging the images with names.

But what Licata, now 34, didn’t know was that every time he was tagged, Facebook stored his digitized face in its growing database.

Angered this was done without his knowledge, Licata sued Facebook in 2015 as part of a class action lawsuit filed in Illinois state court accusing the company of violating a one-of-a-kind Illinois law that prohibits collection of biometric data without permission. The suit is ongoing.

Facebook denied the charges, arguing the law doesn’t apply to them. But behind the scenes, the social network giant is working feverishly to prevent other states from enacting a law like the one in Illinois.

Since the suit was filed, Facebook has stepped up its state lobbying, according to records and interviews with lawmakers. But rather than wading into policy fights itself, Facebook has turned to lower-profile trade groups such as the Internet Association, based in Washington, D.C., and the Illinois-based trade association CompTIA to head off bills that would give users more control over how their likenesses are used or whom they can be sold to. 

That effort is part of a wider agenda. Tech companies, whose business model is based on collecting data about its users and using it to sell ads, frequently oppose consumer privacy legislation. But privacy advocates say Facebook is uniquely aggressive in opposing all forms of regulation on its technology.

And the strategy has been working. Bills that would have created new consumer data protections for facial recognition were proposed in at least five states this year — Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Alaska — but all failed, except the Washington bill, which passed only after its scope was limited.

No federal law regulates how companies use biometric privacy or facial recognition, and no lawmaker has ever introduced a bill to do so. That prompted the Government Accountability Office to conclude in 2015 that the “privacy issues that have been raised by facial recognition technology serve as yet another example of the need to adapt federal privacy law to reflect new technologies.” Congress did, however, roll back privacy protections in March by allowing Internet providers to sell browser data without the consumer’s permission.

Facebook says on its website it won’t ever sell users’ data, but the company is poised to cash in on facial recognition in other ways. The market for facial recognition is forecast to grow to $9.6 billion by 2022, according to analysts at Allied Market Research, as companies look for ways to authenticate and recognize repeat customers in stores, or offer specific ads based on a customer’s gender or age.

Facebook is working on advanced recognition technology that would put names to faces even if they are obscured and identify people by their clothing and posture. Facebook has filed patents for technology allowing Facebook to tailor ads based on users’ facial expressions……

Facial recognition’s use is increasing. Retailers employ it to identify shoplifters, and bankers want to use it to secure bank accounts at ATMs. The Internet of things — connecting thousands of everyday personal objects from light bulbs to cars — may use an individual’s face to allow access to household devices. Churches already use facial recognition to track attendance at services.

Government is relying on it as well. President Donald Trump staffed the U.S. Homeland Security Department transition team with at least four executives tied to facial recognition firms. Law enforcement agencies run facial recognition programs using mug shots and driver’s license photos to identify suspects. About half of adult Americans are included in a facial recognition database maintained by law enforcement, estimates the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law School.

To tap into this booming business, companies need something only Facebook has — a massive database of faces.

Facebook now has 2 billion monthly users who upload about 350 million photos every day — a “practically infinite” amount of data that Facebook can use to train its facial recognition software, according to a 2014 presentation by an engineer working on DeepFace, Facebook’s in-house facial-recognition project.

Friday, 20 October 2017

US President Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends in October 2017



Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to attend and give a keynote speech at the annual Values Voter Summit which this year was held in Washington DC on 12-15 October.

This event included at least nine other misogynistic, anti-Muslim and/or anti LGBTI speakers -  six of whom belong to ‘hate groups’ listed by The Southern Poverty Law Centre - as well as a three-hour long  Values Voter Summit Activist Training workshop for attendees.

Trump previously spoke at this far-right ‘Christian’ summit in 2015 as a candidate and then in 2016 as the Republican presidential nominee.

Excerpt from the White House transcript of Trump’s 13 October 2017 summit speech:

We believe in strong families and safe communities.  We honor the dignity of work.  (Applause.)  We defend our Constitution.  We protect religious liberty.  (Applause.)  We treasure our freedom.  We are proud of our history.  We support the rule of law and the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We celebrate our heroes, and we salute every American who wears the uniform.  (Applause.) 

We respect our great American flag.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

And we stand united behind the customs, beliefs and traditions that define who we are as a nation and as a people…..

“When I came to speak with you last year, I made you a promise.  Well, one of the promises I made you was that I’d come back.  See?  (Applause.)  And I don't even need your vote this year, right?  That's even nicer.  (Laughter.)  

But I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected, and defended like you have never seen before.  That's what’s happening.  That's what’s happening.  You see it every day.  You're reading it.

So this morning I am honored and thrilled to return as the first sitting President to address this incredible gathering of friends -- so many friends.  (Applause.)  So many friends.  And I'll ask Tony and all our people that do such a great job in putting this event together -- can I take next year off or not?  (Laughter.)  Or do I have to be back?  I don't know…..

So I'm here to thank you for your support and to share with you how we are delivering on that promise, defending our shared values, and in so doing, how we are renewing the America we love.

In the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another.  (Applause.)  I didn't have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.  (Applause.) 

Some of those promises are to support and defend the Constitution.  I appointed and confirmed a Supreme Court Justice in the mold of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, the newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.  (Applause.) 

To protect the unborn, I have reinstated a policy first put in place by President Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy.  (Applause.)  To protect religious liberty, including protecting groups like this one, I signed a new executive action in a beautiful ceremony at the White House on our National Day of Prayer -- (applause) -- which day we made official.  (Applause.) 

Among many historic steps, the executive order followed through on one of my most important campaign promises to so many of you: to prevent the horrendous Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis.  These are the people we want to hear from, and they're not going to be silenced any longer.  (Applause.) 

Just last week, based on this executive action, the Department of Justice issued a new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure that no religious group is ever targeted under my administration.  It won't happen.  (Applause.) ….

We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.  (Applause.)…

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face……

For too long, politicians have tried to centralize the authority among the hands of a small few in our nation’s capital.  Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith, and tell you how to live, what to say, and how to pray.  But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.  (Applause.)  

We know that faith and prayer, not federal regulation -- and, by the way, we are cutting regulations at a clip that nobody has ever seen before.  Nobody.  (Applause.)  In nine months, we have cut more regulation than any President has cut during their term in office.  So we are doing the job.  (Applause.)  And that is one of the major reasons, in addition to the enthusiasm for manufacturing and business and jobs -- and the jobs are coming back.  

That's one of the major reasons -- regulation, what we've done -- that the stock market has just hit an all-time historic high.  (Applause.)  That just on the public markets we've made, since Election Day, $5.2 trillion in value.  Think of that:  $5.2 trillion.  (Applause.)  And as you've seen, the level of enthusiasm is the highest it's ever been, and we have a 17-year low in unemployment.  So we're doing, really, some work.  (Applause.) 

We know that it's the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities.  (Applause.)  And above all else, we know this:  In America, we don't worship government -- we worship God.  (Applause.)  Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.”

In this administration, we will call evil by its name.  (Applause.)  We stand with our friends and allies, we forge new partnerships in pursuit of peace, and we take decisive action against those who would threaten our people with harm.  (Applause.)  And we will be decisive -- because we know that the first duty of government is to serve its citizens.  We are defending our borders, protecting our workers, and enforcing our laws.  You see it every single day like you haven't seen it in many, many years -- if you've seen it at all.  (Applause.)  

Please note that statements made by Trump in this speech need to be fact checked for accuracy.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

SEIN KAMPF: how many in Germany see Donald John Trump post-Charlottesville


“HIS STRUGGLE
Neonazis, Klu-Klux-Klan,
Racism:
How Donald Trump fuelled hatred in America”
[Stern news magazine, 23 August 2017]

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Charlottesville incidents to which US President Donald J. Trump gives tacit support - WARNING: violent and disturbing images




The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2017:

He [President Trump] argued that both sides had been guilty of violence, he noted that the white supremacists indeed had a permit to protest, but the "other group" did not. He insisted that both sides had "bad people" and "very fine people" and he drew an equivalency between George Washington, who help create the United States after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783, and General Robert E. Lee, who led the secessionist armies that killed more American troops than any other foe in the defence of slavery nearly a century later.

The political and media response afterwards was immediate and shocked. Again Republican leaders were forced to come out to rebuke and distance themselves from their ostensible leader. In a long Twitter statement Marco Rubio declared, "Mr President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suspect that the reaction to "Unite The Right Rally" marches in Charlottesville is not what Neo-Nazi, Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups were expecting

From 11 to 12 August 2017 extreme right wing groups gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia USA to participate in a two-day rally. Counter protesters also gathered over that same time period.

By the evening of 12 August two police officers and one counter protester were dead and at least twenty counter protesters were wounded.

Unite The Right march participant……

"We are stepping off the Internet in a big way. For instance last night at the Torch Log there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realised they are not atomised individuals, they are part of a larger whole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organising on the Internet and now they are coming out and now as you can see today we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth and at some point we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level – you ain't seen nothin yet." [Robert "Azzmador" Ray, feature writer at The Daily Stormer, video, 12 August 2017]

Reaction to the white supremacist violence……
Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast..

As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller —  a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before. 

GoDaddy – the internet domain registrar and web hosting service – and Google cancelled the Daily Stormer's domain name registration on Sunday, saying they prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence. The Daily Stormer helped organise the violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday at which a civil rights activist died.

On Twitter, the Daily Stormer's feed is no longer visible; instead, the page on Wednesday afternoon reflects its account has been "suspended." A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies."

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We've stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again.

US companies are blocking hate groups from key services such as payments, cyber security defences and social media sites after the violence in Charlottesville, despite questions over the consequences for freedom of speech. Leading payment and credit card groups MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial Services and Visa have joined Silicon Valley companies Twitter and Cloudflare to become the latest corporations to try to block neo-Nazis' access to funds and the internet. Several of the payments companies added they did not ban the use of their services because the customers expressed offensive views — but because they violated their terms of service or incited violence.

Most leaders on the councils thought Trump's statement on Monday, in which he condemned the hate groups by name, was sufficient. But they were furious and disgusted with Trump's follow-up remarks on Tuesday, according to the offices of two CEOs.
By Tuesday night, at least nine members decided to drop out individually, and reached out to Schwarzman, who then proposed dismantling the council entirely.
A dozen members of that strategy and policy council participated in a conference call Wednesday, during which they all agreed to dissolve the group, the people close to the decision said. Schwarzman then notified the White House. And after that, Trump tweeted that he was "ending both" advisory councils. The business leaders had expected that Trump would portray the developments as his own decision, the sources said

#BREAKING: #Cville car suspect, #UniteTheRight rally organizer, & alt-right leaders face $3M lawsuit from 2 ppl injured in car attack

RELATED POST


Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture. Part Two


The Time

The 203rd to 206th day of the Trump Regime

The Place

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The Events

White supremacists rallies with unarmed counter protesters on the sidelines

The Images




Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

Note: All images found on Twitter

Friday, 7 July 2017

The fight continues in US Court of Appeal against Trump's 'Muslim Travel Ban'


Business Insider, 29 June 2017:

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The state of Hawaii asked a federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday to clarify a US Supreme Court ruling that reinstated parts of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, arguing that the Trump administration had interpreted the court's decision too narrowly.

In a court filing, Hawaii said the US government intended to violate the Supreme Court's instructions by improperly excluding from the United States people who actually have a close family relationship to US persons.

The 90-day ban took effect at 8 p.m. ET along with a 120-day ban on all refugees.

On Monday, the Supreme Court revived parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that had blocked parts of a March 6 executive order and allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties to the United States.

The court agreed to hear arguments during its next term starting in October to decide finally whether the ban is lawful.

The Supreme Court exempted from the ban travelers and refugees with a "bona fide relationship" with a person or entity in the United States. As an example, the court said those with a "close familial relationship" with someone in the United States would be covered.

The Trump administration decided on the basis of its interpretation of the court's language that grandparents, grandchildren and fiancés traveling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in place.

In its court filing, Hawaii echoed criticism from immigrant and refugee groups that the Trump administration had defined too narrowly who should be exempted.

Hawaii called the refusal to recognize grandparents, fiancés, and other relatives as an acceptable family relationship " a plain violation of the Supreme Court's command."

The State of Hawaii’s  latest motion is Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-00050- DKW-KSC EMERGENCY MOTION TO CLARIFY SCOPE OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION



Around the same time this motion was filed, the Trump administration announced on the US State Department website that it was removing “fiancé” from the list of relationships not considered bona fide:

Upon further review, fiances are now included as close family members.

UPDATE

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is reported in The Guardian to have ruled on 7 July 2017 that it did not have jurisdiction to weigh in on this particular aspect of the matter:

In a statement, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas S. Chin said the ruling “makes clear that Judge Watson does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order placing effective limitations on the scope of the district court’s preliminary injunction.”

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Trump's America reaches dangerous toxicity levels


The United States of America is becoming a nation to fear.

If the checks and balances within its political structure continue to fracture and the propaganda narrative that those who oppose the Trump Regime are 'evil' grows in volume and intensity, then a destabilised, disintegrating America gone rogue lurching across the international stage is likely to injure us all.

US President Donald J. Trump at a Washington faith rally on Saturday, 1 July 2017

National Rifle Association of America call to arms against citizens who oppose Trump

Somehow this scenario doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore:


Business Insider, 3 May 2017:

TIMOTHY SNYDER: So, it’s really important, I think, to accept the logic of our constitutional structure. The logic of our constitutional structure is not that Americans are great. The logic of our constitutional structure is that Americans are people and people have weaknesses.

When the framers of the Constitution were setting up our system, they weren’t thinking about how wonderful we were gonna turn out to be, which is a good thing because we’re not always so wonderful. They were thinking about the structures that would be needed to preserve a Democratic Republic overtime. So the right mood is always scepticism. The framers of the Constitution were worried that someone might come along at some point who could be elected president. This was precisely their worry, who didn’t have concern about the rule of law or about democracy. We are now in that situation.

Up until now, there is nothing in Mr. Trump’s words or in his actions which would convince us or which would even suggest that he cares even a little bit about democracy or about the rule of law. On the contrary, there are plenty of things he said like referring to judges as “so-called” judges, referring to journalists as enemies of the people, talking about “America First” and indulging other kinds of nostalgia for the 1930’s, which suggests he doesn’t like democracy at all. His admiration tends to be limited to foreign tyrants.

So we need to be sceptical about ourselves and we need more than sceptical about him. What I would say is that our institutions were set up for a moment just like this one but they will only protect us if we enliven them and if we support them.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Trump's bully boys went after Twitter, then turned tail and ran


US President Donald Trump's bully boys issued a summons on 14 March 2017:



This is an action to prevent the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and the individual Defendants from unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter's social media platform, and specifically a Twitter account named @ALT_USCIS, to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration. The rights of free speech afforded Twitter's users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech. In these circumstances, Defendants may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed, that unmasking the users' identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense, that the demand for this information is not motivated by a desire to suppress free speech, and that the interests of pursuing that investigation outweigh the important First Amendment rights of Twitter and its users. But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings. And even if Defendants could otherwise demonstrate an appropriate basis for impairing the First Amendment interests of Twitter and its users, they certainly may not do so using the particular investigatory tool employed here—which Congress authorized solely to ensure compliance with federal laws concerning imported merchandise—because it is apparent that whatever investigation Defendants are conducting here does not pertain to imported merchandise.

@ALT_uscis weighs in:

The American Civil Liberties Union joins the fray:
On 8 April it was announced that the Trump Adminstration had withdrawn the summons.

Reuters, 8 April 2017:


The abrupt end to the dispute may indicate that Justice Department lawyers did not like their chances of succeeding in a fight about speech rights, said Jamie Lee Williams, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital rights.

"It seemed like a blatant attempt to censor or chill the people behind this account, or to retaliate against people who are speaking out against this administration," Williams said.

"This could have been a huge loss for the administration in court," she added.