Category: International

Another Useful Perspective For The Controversy Surrounding Taking a Knee At US Sporting Events

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Often we can find value in the wisdom of other cultures, especially when we have arrived at an impasse where opposing groups cannot find common ground and the same arguments tend to dominate the discussion. Often this results from the refusal or inability to find outside evidence or analysis.

I believe eventually such an impasse over the NFL kneeling controversy will become moot as the interest in such displays will eventually go away, like many other movements. People eventually move on to other controversies. Yet for those who desire to continue to debate the matter, a family member of mine suggested watching the following video produced in India that structurally presents the same type of controversy–of whether or not to stand during their national anthem at sporting events.

What I found fascinating was seeing the expression of the two sides’ positions through the lens of one of the cultures in India, and especially the contrast between an element representing the traditional thinking versus a younger generation having a different definition of fairness and inclusiveness.

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Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.

While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.

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The Washington Post Publishes the Last Column Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Before His Brutal Murder By The Saudi Government

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Journalist Jamal Khashoggi apparently wrote one last column before he was savagely murdered by agents of the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  There is mounting evidence that Khashoggi was killed by a team sent from Saudi Arabia including a forensic expert and a close security aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Turkish sources released the contents of a tape indicating that  Khashoggi was literally cut up while alive by the Saudis and may have taken seven minutes to die.  There are strong indications that the United States is desperately seeking any way not to sanction Saudi Arabia or lessen such sanctions, including the suggestion by President Donald Trump that “rogue” elements might be responsible.  While Trump initially promised severe punishment if Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate, the fear of many is that the Administration will find a way to protect Saudi Arabia in the face of the torture and dismemberment of a respected intellectual.  For some,  Khashoggi is merely a name while Saudi Arabia represents billions in contracts and thousands of jobs.  However, he was a person living in the United States and a journalist who fought for freedoms in the Middle East.  While he also praised the Saudi Crown prince for some reforms (particularly in giving women more rights), he was a danger precisely because he bravely spoke of freedoms of speech and the press in a region where such expression often results in arrest or execution.  The Crown Prince has insisted that Khashoggi was a “friend” and that he exited the building, but the Saudis can offer no proof of the exiting.

Now the Washington Post has published his last column.  As fate would have it,  Khashoggi wrote about press freedom and his dream that Middle Eastern nations could some day join the West and free and open nations.   Continue reading “The Washington Post Publishes the Last Column Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Before His Brutal Murder By The Saudi Government”

Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward

This just may be my favorite picture of the year.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle Hardy found a roasted pig ‘s head in checked luggage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  You can almost hear the dog’s inner voice saying “I find this and the ole Hardy ‘good boy’ and a squeaky toy?”  This is precisely why they cannot get cats to do this work. Continue reading “Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward”

“Baboons Are Free!”: Idaho Fish And Game Commissioner Causes Outrage After Posing With Dead Family Of Baboons

idaho-fish-game-commissionerI have previously expressed my disgust over trophy hunting game like lions and elephants — people who post accounts of the thrill of killing a giraffe or rhino with a high-powered rifle.  I simply do not understand the joy or power felt in these thrill kills.   Nothing however quite prepared most of us for Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer. Fischer shared photos of his hunting trip in Africa where he posed with a photo of a entire “family of baboons,” including a baby, that Fischer massacred with a recurve bow.  He gleefully reported that, while you are charged for killing large animals, “Baboons are free.”

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Big Brother, Little Pizza: England Moves Toward Limiting Size and Ingredients Of Pizza and Other Dishes

PizzaI have previously discussed my opposition to sugary drink bans or prohibitive taxation schemes in Chicago and New York.  While Cook County reluctantly yielded to public opinion and court decisions recently, other cities have continued to penalize the unhealthy choices of consumers. Now England is considering a measure to put a calorie count on pizza, ready meals and sandwiches to combat obesity. As you might expect, I feel the same way about this measure as a denial of individual choice despite the undeniable well-intentioned purpose of the measure.  It is the type of law only a Little Caesar would relish  . . .  other than the pizza chain of course.

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Kuwait: We Are Not Orwellian . . . We Banned Orwell

504px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Kuwait-2.svg1984-Big-BrotherKuwait has continued to remind the world that, despite its advances in the modern world, it remains a religiously orthodox government imposing medieval values on its population.  That fact was on display this week as the government banned such works as “The Little Mermaid” and Michelangelo’s David as unIslamic or indecent.  Sounds Orwellian? Perhaps but Kuwaiti’s would not know it . . .  Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” was also banned.

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UK’s Highest Court Rules In Favor Of Bakery That Refused To Make Cake Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

England flagLast year, we experienced a national debate over the right of  Colorado cake shop owner Jack Phillips can refuse to make a special cake for a same-sex marriage due to religious objections in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. I supported the position on Phillips as a matter of free speech as opposed to free exercise.  Now Ireland has had its own challenge which  is remarkably similar to Masterpiece Cakeshop including lower court rulings against the owners at the Ashers bakery, Daniel and Amy McArthur, in Northern Ireland by lower courts. Continue reading “UK’s Highest Court Rules In Favor Of Bakery That Refused To Make Cake Supporting Same-Sex Marriage”

Israel’s Denies Entry and Jails American Student on Suspicion Of Supporting The BDS Movement

660px-flag_of_israelsvgI have previously criticized U.S. laws barring public contracts or employment with people who support the boycott or boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.  Those laws raise troubling questions under the First Amendment and various courts have pushed back on the constitutionality of such laws.  Now Israel is holding an American university student for a week because she supported the BDS movement.   Lara Alqasem, 22, was held depending appeal at Ben-Gurion Airport.  She has Palestinian grandparents and was told that she could be released if she apologizes and disavows any boycotting of Israel.  Continue reading “Israel’s Denies Entry and Jails American Student on Suspicion Of Supporting The BDS Movement”

Iowa Rally Chants “Lock Her Up” After Trump Taunts Diane Feinstein

225px-dianne_feinstein_official_senate_photoI have been critical of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on social media and the campaign trail.  The attacks are often personal and, in my view, often unsettling.  That was the case yesterday at an Iowa rally where the crowd chanted “Lock her up, lock her up” after Trump taunted ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) over the leaking of a letter from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  It is a chilling development in a mass rally to have supporters calling for the jailing of Trump’s political opponents.  That is not what this country represents and should be condemned by Democratic and Republican leaders alike. Continue reading “Iowa Rally Chants “Lock Her Up” After Trump Taunts Diane Feinstein”

New Law Bans Mapmakers From Putting Shetland In A Box

1771-zannoni-map-of-the-british-isles-england-scotland-ireland-KCDGWMThere is a bizarre new rule in Scotland’s Islands Bill that bars mapmakers from showing the island of Shetland in a box. That is a standard approach to allow a large map of Scotland by not having to show the expanse of water between Scotland and Shetland.  That made Shetland feel . . . well . . . boxed and isolated.  So now the legislature is ordering mapmakers how to make maps — a ridiculous overreach of legislative authority in my view.

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UK Commission Bans Commercial Joking About Avocados As “Disparaging Good Dietary Practice”

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and hereand here and here  and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. Of course, once you start to criminalize and regulate speech, the appetite for more speech controls becomes increasingly insatiable and ultimately absurd.  The latest example in the United Kingdom is a ban ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)  to prevent Costa Coffee from airing a humorous commercial poking fun at avocados.

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Maldives Destroys Famed Art Piece As UnIslamic

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(Maldives Police)

The intolerance of art and free expression in many Islamic countries was particularly and painfully evident in the Maldives last week.  A beautiful and powerful underwater sculpture by British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor was ordered destroyed by the government after objections by Islamic leaders for its depiction of human forms.  Ironically, the art highlighted the dire risk of rising sea levels for the Maldives. Instead, its demise will forever symbolize the risk of rising intolerance of religious orthodoxy.  For some tourists who flock to the Maldives, this outrageous attack on art just might be a deterrent to future vacation plans.

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Le Pen Ordered Into Psychiatric Evaluation For Tweets In France

libertyFar right political leader, Marine Le Pen, has been ordered into psychiatric evaluations after she posted graphic images of bodies of people executed by the Islamic State.  She was accused under the French laws criminalization different forms of speech — laws that I have long criticized as part of a European rollback on core free speech rights.  Posting the pictures was charged as circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity” and that can be viewed by a minor.

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Venezuela’s Maduro Orders 3,500 Percent Increase in Minimum Wage … 40 Percent of Businesses Close

250px-Flag_of_Venezuela.svgWe have previously discussed the meltdown in Venezuela and how the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro has done everything possible to ruin the economy, including a one million inflation rate.  The latest moronic move was to increase the minimum salary by nearly 3,500 percent when businesses are struggling to exist. The result? Nearly 40 percent of all Venezuelan stores have closed so now there are no wages. In the meantime, the Maduro government (and its Cuban intelligence forces) are doing what they do best: arresting anyone critical of the government including a couple firefighters are joking about Maduro.

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks