Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

200px-Codex_Gigas_devilAn Egyptian court this week sentenced three al-Jazeera journalists to long jail terms despite international outcry over the attack on the freedom of the press. To further guarantee that nobody would mistake this for a real court, the judge further accused them of being guided by the devil in their work as reporters. Australian journalist Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted in June of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood by covering the “civil war” in Egypt. The court gave Greste and Fahmy seven-year terms and Mohamed a 10-year term. It also tried eleven defendants in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists. They were given 10-year sentences.
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Seal_of_Detroit,_Michigan_svg

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I have been watching the water crisis in Detroit for some time now and I have been amazed that it is not a bigger story.  If you haven’t heard, the new city Administrator of the City of Detroit that was appointed by the Governor and his Water Department have been turning off the water of needy citizens in Detroit when their past due bills are as little as $150.00. In a city with over 20% unemployment and countless vacant buildings, it seems like Detroit is slowly being destroyed.  (more…)

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Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Streisand Estate

Le Cap Streisand

We previously reported of an outrageous lawsuit by the owners of the Il Giardino Restaurant in Cap Ferret, France who sued a blogger critical of the dining experience, HERE. Essentially Caroline Doudet was sued by the restaurant’s owners because her allegedly disparaging blog post ranked highly on Google searches for the restaurant–fourth in a Google search return the lawsuit claimed. The title of her critique was in the English, “The place to avoid in Cap Ferret, Il Giardino” and was the cause leading to the lawsuit, according to paperwork filed.

“I was really stunned and disgusted, and of course I will worry now [whenever I] write a negative review,” Doudet said of the effect of the case in an e-mail to Wired.co.uk. “I regret the article, because it’s so much noise for nothing.”

Nevertheless a French Court handed down an emergency ruling blocking the article’s title and awarding Il Giardino €2,500 in fines and court costs.

The restaurant’s owners claimed the title defamed them, causing great damage to a business they worked fifteen years, seven days a week to build and the Google ranking was causing them increasing harm. But in what became a new definition of “Damage Award” the internet came alive and rendered a harsh judgment in its court of appeals. Fame became infâme. And the repercussions were magnifique.

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Clearly this Russian reporter never saw Sandra Bullock in Gravity before deciding to demonstrate the fire extinguisher’s capability.

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220px-AYELET_SHAKED220px-Erdogan_croppedThe situation in Israel and Palestine continues to grow worse on both sides. First you had the savage murder of three Israeli teens. Then you had the retaliation burning of a Palestinian teenager. Now protests are erupting all over Israel and the world on both sides. Some of the coverage is focusing on statements made by Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked on Facebook that day before three Israeli men went out and picked up Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, at random and burned him alive. Shaked’s post calls Palestinians “little snakes” and declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” Now comments by Israeli Knesset member Ayelet Shaked has caused an international outcry including contributing to a continuing rift with Turkey. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the remarks and denounced Israel in an analogy to the Nazi regime. The situation is clearly getting worse by the day in the region.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis morning I will be testifying as the lead witness before the House Rules Committee on the authorization of litigation by the House of Representatives to challenge the unilateral actions of President Obama. The authorization makes it clear that the House will focus on the ACA changes. The hearing will begin at 10 am in H-313 in The Capitol building. It will be aired live on C-Span 3.

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100px-Society_of_Professional_Journalists_logoPresident_Barack_ObamaWe have previously discussed the attacks by the Obama Administration on civil liberties and privacy. Obama has also been accused of attacks on press freedoms — resulting in a sharp decline in the standing of the United States on press rights. Now 38 journalism groups have denounced the Obama Administration for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news.”

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225px-Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop220px-Labor-Pearce-Highsmith-detail-1We have been following the bizarre struggle of Hillary Clinton to claim that she and Bill were “dead broke” after leaving the White House. Independent reviewers like Politifact have shredded the claim and the Clintons have become the fodder for commentators and comedians over the controversy. The Clintons made over $12 million in the first year after leaving the White House and they have made over $100 million from speaking fees and different events. CNN documented that Clinton earned $106 million by making speeches from the end of his presidency through January 2013. Hillary Clinton has pulled in $200,000 a speech and was criticized for receiving $500,000 in one week from Goldman Sachs . Yet, the Clintons have been doubling down on the claim like a bad gambler. Bill Clinton was brought out to vouch for Hillary that the statement is “factually true.” That resulted in a new round of mockery. We have discussed the controversy in terms of the interesting dynamic of American politics where exceptionally wealthy candidates struggle to identify with Americans struggling financially. The Clintons however will not accept that the pitch is simply not working. This week Hillary is again claiming to have been impoverished in a new interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel – a claim that even Germans find just as hard to swallow.

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President_Barack_Obama220px-Water_droplet_blue_bg05Below is my column today in USA Today on the Obama Administration’s decision to cut off water to legal marijuana growers. Notably, the business concern today for the rollout of legal pot sales in Washington is greater demand than supply. I previously wrote about how a little known board had effectively moved to end the debate over the Redskins name, an example of agencies increasingly intervening in social and political disputes. This move by the Bureau of Reclamation is a prime example of such intervention into political disputes and a troubling precedent for the future.

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article-0-1F75612F00000578-313_634x427ESPN, the Yankees, Major League Baseball, and announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk are being sued by Andrew Rector, 26, who says that he was defamed after the network showed him asleep at the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game and joked about his being “oblivious” to the game. While Rector says that the commentators called him “stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid,” those insults are not heard on the videotape below from the telecast. Rector is suing for $10 million.

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Waleed_Abu_AlkhairSaudi Arabia’s medieval legal system has added a new outrage to its record: On Sunday, Saudi lawyer and reform advocate Waleed Abulkhair was sentenced on Sunday to 15 years in prison and a 15-year travel ban (to start after his release). He was also ordered to pay 200,000 Saudi riyals ($53,000). His offense? “inciting public opinion against the government” and “insulting the country’s leaders and judiciary.” The sentence once again raises the question over our level of support for Saudi Arabia and its distinction from our distinction with other countries viewed as extreme and inimical to the rule of law. Abulkhair is the head of the “Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia” organization and was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of Top 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter.

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President_Barack_ObamaBelow is my column yesterday in the Sunday New York Daily News on the unfolding controversy over President Obama’s unilateral actions to circumvent Congress. The pledge of the President to “go it alone” has already resulted in court losses for the Administration and a growing separation of powers crisis. I testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. I ran another column recently listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority. I happen to believe that the President is right in many of these areas but that does not excuse the means that he is using to achieve these goals.

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220px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesWe have long discussed the erosion of civil liberties in the United States, including the attacks on privacy and other rights by the Obama Administration. It appears that we are not alone in those concerns. A new Gallup poll shows a record drop in the satisfaction of Americans over their freedoms. The massive drop is matched in such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, and Venezuela.

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article-2670885-1F276DD100000578-976_634x648In Michigan, religious radio host John Balyo has been arrested for allegedly raping a child and paying a third party to arrange sexual encounters with children. Police say that a bondage kit was found in a storage locker maintained by Balyo.

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Supreme CourtBelow is my column today in the Los Angeles Times on a little discussed case that presents a far greater threat to Obamacare than did Hobby Lobby. The Hobby Lobby case is a huge blow for the Administration in terms of one of the most prominent provisions of the Act and recognizing religious rights for corporations. However, it is more of a fender bender for the ACA. Halbig could be a train wreck of a case if it goes against the Administration. We are expecting a ruling any day and the panel is interesting: Judges Harry T. Edwards (a Carter appointee), Thomas B. Griffith (a George W. Bush appointee), and A. Raymond Randolph (a George H.W. Bush appointee). In oral argument, Edwards was reportedly highly supportive of the Administration’s argument while Randolph was very skeptical. That leaves Griffith. It could go 2-1 either way, though in my view the interpretive edge goes to the challengers for the reasons discussed below. This case however is largely a statutory interpretation case, though it has the same separation of powers allegations of executive overreach that we have seen in other recent cases.

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