Category: International

Defamation by Punctuation: Missing Apostrophe Leads to Liability in Australian Case

On this National Dictionary Day, a defamation case should remind everyone not to forget their proper punctuation with their proper spelling (particularly those of us who are recidivists). In Australia, a court found that a real estate agent committed defamation due to the lack of an apostrophe. Continue reading “Defamation by Punctuation: Missing Apostrophe Leads to Liability in Australian Case”

China Arrests Former Journalist for Criticizing Film on Korean War

There’s an old comedy skit of a haughty art expert giving a museum tour and explaining the meaning of an abstract painting. When he finishes, a woman in front says, “I don’t like it” to which the expert responds “well you’re wrong.” The skit is funny, of course, because art is in the eye of the beholder . . . unless you are in China apparently.  This week, former journalist (and businessman) Luo Changping was arrested. Unfortunately, that is not uncommon in the authoritarian state. However, his crime was saying that he did not like “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” a $200 million film about the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. In China, it is a crime to defame “political martyrs.”

This story combines two of my favorite subjects: free speech and military history. Unfortunately, neither survives unscathed.

Continue reading “China Arrests Former Journalist for Criticizing Film on Korean War”

Taliban Chancellor Bans Women From Kabul University To Create “Safe” Spaces For Education

The Taliban seems to be adopting a bizarre version of “safe space” rhetoric from Western universities. Chancellor Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat tweeted this week that women would be barred from campus until a “safe Islamic environment” can be created for their education. Notably, as this picture shows, men and women once studied together in the 1940s and 1950s. However, the Taliban banned women from going to school in their prior government in the 1990s. Continue reading “Taliban Chancellor Bans Women From Kabul University To Create “Safe” Spaces For Education”

YouTube Removes Videos of Putin Critic in Latest Act of Corporate Censorship

We have been discussing the rising support for corporate censorship among leading Democratic politicians, academics, and writers. Social media and Internet companies now actively respond to calls from government officials to silence those with opposing views. The latest such example is Google-owned YouTube removing videos of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny before Russia’s parliamentary elections.  Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. also pulled a voting app from Navalny ahead of the election. Nevertheless, CEO Susan Wojcicki bizarrely claimed in a Bloomberg interview Bloomberg Television that free speech remains a “core value” for the company. Continue reading “YouTube Removes Videos of Putin Critic in Latest Act of Corporate Censorship”

Syracuse Professor Declares the Sept. 11th Attacks a Response to “Heteropatriarchal Capitalistic Systems”

Many of us who lived through September 11th terrorist attacks have used today to share the painful memories of that day. In addition to losing a friend on one of the flights, the Pentagon plane hit just after I passed next to the impact side of the Pentagon in my car on the way to work. I ended up being cut off by another car and blowing my front tire and fixing it as the huge plume rose over the Pentagon. For others, the anniversary carries a different meaning from religious extremists murdering thousands in the name of Allah. For Syracuse University political science professor and Washington Post contributor Jenn M. Jackson,  the attacks were really about destroying the “heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems” supporting the United States and Western powers. Would that make Osama Bin Laden a champion in intersectional homotransnationalism?

Continue reading “Syracuse Professor Declares the Sept. 11th Attacks a Response to “Heteropatriarchal Capitalistic Systems””

NYT: The “ISIS-K Planner” Killed By The Administration Was A Former U.S. Aid Worker Loading Water Containers

During the debacle in the withdraw from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration claimed to have killed an “ISIS-K Planner” but curiously refused to give his name despite repeated media requests. It was odd because clearly he knew about it as did his colleagues. Ten innocent people (rather than three claimed by the Administration) appear to have also died in the attack. However, now the New York Times reports that we may have vaporized an innocent person who was loading water rather than munitions into his car. Indeed, the newspaper suggests that he is a former U.S. Aid worker. If so, the report could trigger a compensation demand. We just discussed such compensation system in my Torts class. Continue reading “NYT: The “ISIS-K Planner” Killed By The Administration Was A Former U.S. Aid Worker Loading Water Containers”

“We Bury the Ashes of Racism, Discrimination and Stereotypes”: Canadian Schools Hold Book Burning Demonstration to be a More “Inclusive Country”

We recently discussed how many on the left have discovered the allure of book burning, book banning, and blacklisting of authors. While expressing shock at ISIS and other extremist groups burning books, the practice appears acceptable based on the titles or content. Now educators in Ontario have held a “flame purification ceremony” for the local indigenous population by burning roughly 5,000 books. The notion of teachers burning books is almost as bizarre as the thought of book sellers embracing blacklisting but both are now part of the realities of our age of rage. Continue reading ““We Bury the Ashes of Racism, Discrimination and Stereotypes”: Canadian Schools Hold Book Burning Demonstration to be a More “Inclusive Country””

Australia High Court Delivers Major Blow to Free Speech In Defamation Ruling

Free speech has always held a precarious position in Australia which does not have an equivalent to the First Amendment in guaranteeing free speech as a constitutional right. Despite this history, a new decision out of the High Court is still shocking in its implications for further attacks on free speech. The court ruled that newspapers and television stations that post articles on social media sites like Facebook are liable for other third party comments on those posts. The ruling, if replicated in other countries, could accelerate the censorship of viewpoints on the Internet. Continue reading “Australia High Court Delivers Major Blow to Free Speech In Defamation Ruling”

Australian Court Overturns Dismissal Of Anti-Israeli Professor

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There is an important ruling on academic freedom out of Australia where one of the most controversial academic figures in the country secured a ruling from a federal court to overturn his dismissal by Sidney University. Professor Tim Anderson was fired after inserting a swastika in the middle of an Israeli flag and posting a picture of a lunch in which one of the guests wore badges that said “Death to Israel” and “Curse the Jews” written in Arabic.  The lower court found that the academic freedom promised Anderson upon his hiring was unenforceable and largely aspirational. The ruling (below) found an enforceable standard, though this does not end the long controversy over Anderson’s status. Continue reading “Australian Court Overturns Dismissal Of Anti-Israeli Professor”

Brazilian Researchers Find Possible Covid Treatment In Viper Venom

We have previously discussed how people often do not consider the real costs of pollution or the loss of rainforest in our debates over environmental protection. The destruction of these rainforests will contribute to global warming and accelerate the loss of species. Those species will not only reduce diversity in this world but many likely hold medical and scientific breakthroughs. We have found key treatments for diseases and illnesses in such rare species. We have another reminder of that potential this week after Brazilian researchers found that a molecule in the venom the jararacussu pit viper may combat COVID-19. The point is not that the viper is going extinct but it is another reminder that much of our “miracle” drugs still come from rare species.  It is still not clear that this is a treatment as claimed. Many such earlier research does not pan out. However, if proven, this would not be the first such discovery of a beneficial drug for humans in the animal kingdom.

Continue reading “Brazilian Researchers Find Possible Covid Treatment In Viper Venom”

The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer

Roughly 50 years ago, Don McLean released his son song, “American Pie” with its famous line about “The Day the Music Died.” It was a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson died along with pilot Roger Peterson in an airplane crash. For Afghans, the day the music died coincided with the Taliban takeover of their country. Nothing drove home that fact than the horrific killing of Afghan folk singer Fawad Andarabi, who was executed by the Taliban for playing music. Continue reading “The Day the Music Died: Taliban Ban Music and Then Execute Leading Afghan Folk Singer”

Australian Council Was Concerned Over People Getting Covid When Visiting Dog Shelter . . . So They Killed The Dogs

As many of you know, I am a fanatical dog lover so this story sent me into a high orbit. In Australia, the Bourke Shire Council in the northwestern part of the state of New South Wales was concerned that people might get or spread Covid when visiting an animal center for dogs.  Various solutions would seem to come to mind from virtual viewings to proof of Covid tests.  Instead, the council killed the dogs and declared the problem solved.

Continue reading “Australian Council Was Concerned Over People Getting Covid When Visiting Dog Shelter . . . So They Killed The Dogs”

“It Was F***ing Crazy Sh**”: Videotape Shows Hunter Biden Purportedly Admitting Russians Have Blackmail Material on Him

The media blackout on Hunter Biden’s laptop remains in force this week despite a major new development with the release of a videotape that purportedly shows Biden claiming that one of his laptops was stolen by Russians for blackmail purposes. He allegedly recorded the statement after filming having sex with an alleged prostitute in a Las Vegas hotel. This is major news from any standpoint. Either the President’s son admitted that Russians have blackmail material on him or the media (or others) have created a fake videotape and falsely framed Biden. One would expect, if it is the latter, that the Biden team will be announcing a lawsuit today.  However, like the coverage in most major news outlets, there are only the familiar sound of crickets. Continue reading ““It Was F***ing Crazy Sh**”: Videotape Shows Hunter Biden Purportedly Admitting Russians Have Blackmail Material on Him”

Eight-Year-Old Child Charged With Blasphemy In Pakistan

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I have long been an intense critic of blasphemy laws in nations like Pakistan as the ultimate rejection of free speech and religious freedoms. However, despite the chronicling of outrageous cases, these countries continue to shock the world in their religious fanaticism. This week in Pakistan, Muslims are demanding the execution of an eight-year-old boy who urinated on a carpet in the library of a madrassa or religious school. The boy and much of the Hindu community is in hiding after attacks on Hindus as well as a Hindu temple. Continue reading “Eight-Year-Old Child Charged With Blasphemy In Pakistan”

YouTube Fined By Germany For Removing Pandemic Protest Video

Perhaps the most chilling aspect of the rising censorship in the United States is that countries like Germany (with histories of antagonism toward free speech) have criticized the trend as dangerous and wrong. While Democratic leaders and media figures have supported censorship, figures like Angela Merkel (long criticized for her attacks on free speech) have criticized moves like Twitter banning Trump. Now, Germany has fined YouTube for something that many on the left in the United States have supported: the removal of a video contesting Covid-19 limits. Continue reading “YouTube Fined By Germany For Removing Pandemic Protest Video”