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Archive for the ‘free_speech’ tag

White House Job Requirement: Signing Trump’s NDA

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Are We Really Free
Are We Really Free?? 

I guess most of us knew that people who willingly worked for Donald Trump are idiots.

As a real estate executive and reality TV star, Donald J. Trump tightly controlled his image by insisting that everyone around him sign nondisclosure agreements threatening steep monetary penalties if they revealed anything about him or his company.

So a few months into his presidency, Mr. Trump — infuriated by leaks about everything from staff rivalries to his bathrobe-wearing, TV-viewing habits — ordered Reince Priebus, then his chief of staff, to do the same thing in the West Wing.

Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, had warned the president before that such a blanket policy could not be imposed on federal employees. But in order to placate an angry president who was convinced that the people around him had to be pressured into keeping his secrets, Mr. McGahn drew up a broad document barring White House officials from publicly disclosing what they heard and saw at work.

That nondisclosure agreement, presented by Mr. Priebus to the senior staff last April, did not specify any penalties — financial or otherwise — and was something that almost everyone around the president understood could not be enforced. But it was an early indication that Mr. Trump, who spent decades using pressure tactics and secrecy in his private life, wanted to do the same thing at the White House, breaking with tradition. He would push the obsession of many of his predecessors with damaging leaks to a new level.

But former White House lawyers and government ethics experts said the agreement raised serious legal questions and reflected Mr. Trump’s refusal to submit to the norms of public disclosure or respect the basic right of free speech.

“You can’t blanket wipe out speech, and you have to show there’s a compelling government purpose for doing so,” said Norm Eisen, the top ethics lawyer in former President Barack Obama’s White House Counsel’s Office.

(click here to continue reading White House Job Requirement: Signing a Nondisclosure Agreement – The New York Times.)

What I would love to happen is for someone who signed Resident Trump’s NDA to publicly leak info, and subsequently get sued by a raging Trump. Trump would be humiliated in court I’d assume, and this would send him in an even worse impotent rage. People who are angry tend to make mistakes.

Freedom Isn t Free
Freedom Isn’t Free

Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post reported that the initial NDA had a $10,000,000 penalty for violations. The White House has denied the number was as high, but take their denials with the normal 67 tons of salt.

 

Moreover, said the source, this confidentiality pledge would extend not only after an aide’s White House service but also beyond the Trump presidency. “It’s not meant to be constrained by the four years or eight years he’s president — or the four months or eight months somebody works there. It is meant to survive that.”

 

This is extraordinary. Every president inveighs against leakers and bemoans the kiss-and-tell books; no president, to my knowledge, has attempted to impose such a pledge. And while White House staffers have various confidentiality obligations — maintaining the secrecy of classified information or attorney-client privilege, for instance — the notion of imposing a side agreement, supposedly enforceable even after the president leaves office, is not only oppressive but constitutionally repugnant.

 

Unlike employees of private enterprises such as the Trump Organization or Trump campaign, White House aides have First Amendment rights when it comes to their employer, the federal government. If you have a leaker on your staff, the cure is firing, not suing.

 

“This is crazy,” said attorney Debra Katz, who has represented numerous government whistleblowers and negotiated nondisclosure agreements. “The idea of having some kind of economic penalty is an outrageous effort to limit and chill speech. Once again, this president believes employees owe him a personal duty of loyalty, when their duty of loyalty is to the institution.”

 

I haven’t been able to lay hands on the final agreement, but I do have a copy of a draft, and it is a doozy. It would expose violators to penalties of $10 million, payable to the federal government, for each and any unauthorized revelation of “confidential” information, defined as “all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties in the service of the United States Government on White House staff,” including “communications . . . with members of the press” and “with employees of federal, state, and local governments.” The $10 million figure, I suspect, was watered down in the final version, because the people to whom I have spoken do not remember that jaw-dropping sum

 

 

(click here to continue reading Trump had senior staff sign nondisclosure agreements. They’re supposed to last beyond his presidency. – The Washington Post.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 21st, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Devin Nunes says Stephen Colbert’s skit about him is a danger to the country

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Five U S Senators Are Space Aliens
Five U.S. Senators Are Space Aliens. 

Devin Nunes is a threat to American democracy. I suppose he’s so busy polishing Trump’s turds, that Nunes hasn’t had a chance to read the 1st Amendment yet.

One of the nation’s exercises in democracy can be found on late-night TV. Hosts crack sharply critical jokes about the country’s politicians without fear of retribution from said politicians.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) sees that exercise very differently. He told Fox News Channel that a skit Stephen Colbert did mocking Nunes’s memo alleging FBI bias in the Russia investigation is a danger to the country.

“Devin Nunes is a REDACTED,” says a memo Colbert circulated on Capitol Hill, asking Democratic and Republican members of Congress to fill in the blank.

“I think this is the danger we have in this country,” Nunes told host Neil Cavuto on Saturday in response. “This is an example of it.”

To defend his point that Colbert’s jokes are dangerous, Nunes spun off a conspiracy theory filled with factual inaccuracies that Hollywood and Democrats are working together to make fun of him because they have failed in the public sphere to debunk him.

“The left controls the universities in this country, Hollywood and the mainstream media,” Nunes told Cavuto, “so conservatives in this country are under attack, and I think this is great example of it.”

Nunes falsely told Cavuto that his memo provides “clear proof” that the Democratic Party colluded with Russians. (Fact check: There is an independent investigation looking into potential Trump-Russia collusion, not into Democrats and Russia.)

Nunes also claimed that the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign specifically to spy on it. (Fact check: The FBI got a warrant from a secret court to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page after Page had left the campaign, and there’s no evidence that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign itself. )

(click here to continue reading Nunes echoes Trump’s authoritarian view on press, says Stephen Colbert’s skit about him is a ‘danger’ to the country – The Washington Post.)

Perhaps we should send Nunes some postcards with the following statement written on it:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

 

(click here to continue reading First Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia.)

Watch the video yourself, and decide. I’d say Colbert wins this round…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2018 at 11:23 am

Corporate Christian Taliban Attempting to Ruin America

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Sprang from Shame and Pride
Sprang from Shame and Pride

Historians of the future may very well date the decline of the American civilization to the outcome of this Supreme Court ruling. I’m actually not kidding: remember this phrase? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If the Roberts Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, they will have contradicted this amendment.

This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees — by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.

The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations.

(click here to continue reading Crying Wolf on Religious Liberty – NYTimes.com.)

How exactly will corporations practice their religion? Will this be a requirement on quarterly statements to Wall Street investors? Who decides which sect the corporation adheres to? Is it a shareholder vote? Set by the Board of Directors? By the CEO?

And what about the employees – are they automatically enrolled in whatever religion the corporation follows? What if the employee is a non-believer? Will they be fired? Burned at the stake? What about potential customers of religious-affiliated corporations? Will shoppers have to prove their loyalty to the deity-of-choice before being allowed to complete their purchase? to enter the establishment? What if a Mammon-worshipping Ohioan became president of a large news and entertainment conglomerate? Would he be able to forcibly convert his minions into evil creatures? Oh, wait, that already happened.

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

And another thing: there are all sorts of crazy commandments in the Christian Bible, can a corporation pick and choose which to follow? Maybe if they are granted this birth-control dispensation, they would also be required to follow all the rules suggested in Leviticus. Such as Leviticus 19:19

19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

or Leviticus 25:24

25:23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

Hmm, that might change Hobby Lobby’s real estate plans…

What Do You Do for Money?
What Do You Do for Money?

What about Matthew 6:1, which seems to directly contradict the Corporate Christians public gnashing of teeth:

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Getchyer Kitschhere
Getchyer Kitschhere

More from the New York Times Editorial Board:

There are several reasons why the court should find that the law does not apply, starting with the fact that secular, for-profit corporations are not “persons” capable of prayer or other religious behavior, which is a quintessentially human activity. Also, as an amicus brief filed by corporate law scholars persuasively argues, granting the religious exemption to the owners would mean allowing shareholders to pass their religious values to the corporation. The fundamental principle of corporate law is a corporation’s existence as a legal entity with rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders.

Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave that this is even being considered a question…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Christian Taliban Looking Over Your Shoulder on an Airplane

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Pip and his iPad
Pip and his iPad

If only I could report people for reading their bibles in public – there is a lot of violent, disgusting content contained in it. Just browse the Brick Testament for a moment…

Some legislators battle against public displays of pornographic content, at least on the roadways. A bill is pending in the New Jersey legislature to criminalize the playing of obscene material in cars — say, on seat-back DVD players or in party buses — that could viewed by, and distract or offend, others on the road. State Senator Anthony Bucco, who sponsored the bill, said people who view such videos in public “don’t care what anybody around them thinks.”

Similar laws have passed in the last decade in Tennessee, Louisiana and Virginia, and one failed last year in Pennsylvania, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

An antipornography group, Morality in Media, has in recent months launched a “no porn on the plane” campaign, and has contacted most major airlines to argue that they should commit to policing what people watch.

The group took up the cause after its executive director, Dawn Hawkins, was on a flight in January and noticed a man in the row in front of her looking at images on his iPad of naked women whipping each other.

She complained to the flight attendant, who told her he was powerless to force the man to stop, she recalled. The man eventually turned off the images, but Ms. Hawkins continued to press him on why he was looking at those images in public.

She said a woman then came up to her and said, “Be quiet, nobody cares.”

(click here to continue reading Pornography in Public Causes Some to Gasp, Others to Shrug – NYTimes.com.)

So these assholes won’t be content until America turns into a Christian Taliban nation. How about you don’t look at someone else’s iPad? How’s that for a solution? These jerk-stores don’t even want you to be able to watch Pulp Fiction or Apocalypse Now while flying.

One reason the issue is so thorny is that not everyone agrees on what might be considered offensive. That is the case even within Morality in Media, where Ms. Hawkins said people should also be careful with public viewings of violent content.

 I’ll say it again, free speech is a civil liberty enshrined in the laws of our civil, secular society; if these zealots want to destroy our country’s traditions, perhaps a better solution would be to start their own country. Maybe get Alabama to secede, and take Texas with it? Or buy an island somewhere? Anywhere but my country.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2012 at 10:40 am

Spinoza and The First Amendment

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Motley Tongues of Forgotten Speech
Motley Tongues of Forgotten Speech

Interesting essay by Steven Nadler, arguing that freedom of expression, without restraint, benefits the state as well as its citizens

Baruch Spinoza, the 17th-century Dutch thinker, may be among the more enigmatic (and mythologized) philosophers in Western thought, but he also remains one of the most relevant, to his time and to ours. He was an eloquent proponent of a secular, democratic society, and was the strongest advocate for freedom and tolerance in the early modern period. The ultimate goal of his “Theological-Political Treatise” — published anonymously to great alarm in 1670, when it was called by one of its many critics “a book forged in hell by the devil himself”— is enshrined both in the book’s subtitle and in the argument of its final chapter: to show that the “freedom of philosophizing” not only can be granted “without detriment to public peace, to piety, and to the right of the sovereign, but also that it must be granted if these are to be preserved.”

Spinoza was incited to write the “Treatise” when he recognized that the Dutch Republic, and his own province of Holland in particular, was wavering from its uncommonly liberal and relatively tolerant traditions. He feared that with the rising political influence in the 1660s of the more orthodox and narrow-minded elements in the Dutch Reformed Church, and the willingness of civil authorities to placate the preachers by acting against works they deemed “irreligious,” “licentious” and “subversive,” the nearly two decades-long period of the “True Freedom” was coming to an end. The “Treatise” is both a personally angry book — a friend of Spinoza’s, the author of a radical treatise, had recently been thrown in prison, where he soon died — and a very public plea to the Dutch republic not to betray the political, legal and religious principles that made its flourishing possible.

…Well before John Stuart Mill, Spinoza had the acuity to recognize that the unfettered freedom of expression is in the state’s own best interest. In this post-9/11 world, there is a temptation to believe that “homeland security” is better secured by the suppression of certain liberties than their free exercise. This includes a tendency by justices to interpret existing laws in restrictive ways and efforts by lawmakers to create new limitations, as well as a willingness among the populace, “for the sake of peace and security,” to acquiesce in this. We seem ready not only to engage in a higher degree of self-censorship, but also to accept a loosening of legal protections against prior restraint (whether in print publications or the dissemination of information via the Internet), unwarranted surveillance, unreasonable search and seizure, and other intrusive measures. [2] Spinoza, long ago, recognized the danger in such thinking, both for individuals and for the polity at large. He saw that there was no need to make a trade-off between political and social well-being and the freedom of expression; on the contrary, the former depends on the latter.

(click here to continue reading Spinoza and The First Amendment – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

Illinois’ eavesdropping law under attack

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Continuous Video Recording in Progress
Continuous Video Recording in Progress

I’ve been following the Chris Drew travesty fairly closely. Why should police be treated differently than other citizens? If Illinois law was on the books in California, for instance, would Scott Olsen be a household name? Or other Occupy incidents, like the various pepper spraying videos? If police are doing their job, they shouldn’t be worried about a spectator videoing their actions, and if they are doing something questionable, citizens should be able to collect evidence of police wrongdoing.

Anyway, there are rumblings that the law could be thrown out as vague, or unconstitutional.

When a Cook County jury in August acquitted a woman of violating Illinois’ strict eavesdropping law, an unassuming man with wire-rimmed glasses and wispy white hair sat in the gallery, quietly taking notes.

Chris Drew had good reason to keep an eye on the case — he’s facing trial on the same felony charge of eavesdropping on a public official, which carries up to 15 years in prison.

An artist whose ’60s upbringing instilled a deep respect for questioning authority, Drew, 61, is accused of making an illegal audio recording of Chicago police during a 2009 arrest for selling art on a downtown street without a permit.

Drew intended the incident to be a test of the city’s permit laws. But now his case has wound up at the forefront of a much bigger effort to challenge the constitutionality of Illinois’ eavesdropping law, which makes it illegal to audio-record police without their consent, even when they’re performing their public duties.

“He’s become the accidental eavesdropping activist,” Drew’s lawyer, Joshua Kutnick, joked in a recent interview.

Illinois is one of a handful of states in which it is illegal to record audio of public conversations without the permission of everyone involved and has one of the strictest eavesdropping laws in the country.

Opposition to Illinois’ law has been gaining traction for months as several cases have been tossed out of court.

In August, while Drew watched, Tiawanda Moore, 21, was acquitted of illegally recording two Chicago police internal affairs investigators whom she believed were trying to dissuade her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer. One juror later told the Tribune that he and his fellow panelists considered the case “a waste of time.”

The next month, a Crawford County judge ruled the law unconstitutional and dismissed eavesdropping charges against a man accused of recording police and court officials without their consent.

 

(click here to continue reading Illinois’ eavesdropping law under attack – chicagotribune.com.)

Officer with Blackberry
Officer with Blackberry

For instance, Ralph Braseth, a Loyola University journalism professor had a run-in with the Chicago Police while filming a documentary. The officers arrested him, and erased his footage.

Braseth has since filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority, which forwarded the case to Chicago police internal affairs investigators.

While Braseth said he understands why some police officers don’t like to be recorded, he said Illinois’ eavesdropping law “should have been done away with a long time ago.”
“The citizens of Chicago employ the police officers, and they are acting as agents for our government,” Braseth said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s my job to police the police, but I think it’s a good idea for them to know that that can happen at any time. It’s one of the checks and balances that we have. It’s so fundamental.”

Even the Faux Walls have eyes
Even the Faux Walls have eyes

Meanwhile, the court has ruled it is ok for corporations to spy on you:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has ruled as constitutional a law giving telecommunications companies legal immunity for helping the government with its email and telephone eavesdropping program.

Thursday’s unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision regarding the 2008 law.

The appeal concerned a case that consolidated 33 different lawsuits filed against various telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. on behalf of these companies’ customers.

The court noted comments made by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding the legal immunity’s role in helping the government gather intelligence.

“It emphasized that electronic intelligence gathering depends in great part on cooperation from private companies … and that if litigation were allowed to proceed against persons allegedly assisting in such activities, ‘the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful government requests in the future,'” Judge M. Margaret McKeown said.

The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers including the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, accuse the companies of violating the law and the privacy of its customers through collaboration with National Security Agency on intelligence gathering.

(click here to continue reading Court OKs immunity for telecoms in wiretap case – CBS News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 2nd, 2012 at 10:35 am

A Concise History of Fuck

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Juli Weiner of Vanity Fair with a delightful small article reacting to the recent FCC ruling in regards to the expressive and powerful word, fuck

Both verb and noun, infix and interjection, “fuck,” like many chimerical beasts, is of ill repute and unknown genesis. The American Heritage Dictionary, similar to its tweedier brother, the Oxford English Dictionary, is unable to divine the exact etymology of “fuck,” however it does provide information about its first known publication. Specifically, the word initially appeared in a satirical poem composed sometime around 1500 that takes aim at the Carmelite friars of Cambridge. Although the letters F, U, C, and K do not appear in their recognizable, rancorous order, they are expressed in a simple code that “is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now,” according to the dictionary. Drained of its cryptic Latin and less cryptic cryptology, “non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” begets “they are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].” For what it’s worth, the Online Dictionary of Etymology surmises that “fuck” has roots in the Middle English “fyke,” meaning to “move restlessly.” “Fyke” had sexual connotations, too; it suggested fidgeting as well as flirting, as the wives of Ely might attest.

Hundreds of years later, James Joyce was not as covert in his use of the word. The 1921 publication of the complete Ulysses was met with book banning and book burning. A New York court ruled the work obscene, even though the word “fuck” appeared just twice—once as noun, once as verb—in 265,000 words. Other classics infamous for their embrace of the word include The Catcher in the Rye and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Norman Mailer substituted “fug” for “fuck” in The Naked and the Dead, from which the band the Fugs would later take its name. (One of the group’s founding members, Tuli Kupferberg, passed away yesterday.) “Fug,” a cacophonous cousin, is still an undeserving member of the vernacular. Alternative progeny also include “fink,” “freak,” “feck,” “frack,” and “frig,” the latter regretfully embalmed for pop-culture immortality with the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite. The Wire eschewed euphemisms altogether, embracing the guttural, satisfying “fuck” a total of 38 times in a single scene.

(you should click to continue reading A Concise History of “Fuck” | VF Daily | Vanity Fair.)

 

Words are words, no? The government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding what words are appropriate and which are not.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2010 at 9:37 am

Posted in government,humor

Tagged with , ,

Frak the FCC

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Like Steve Earle sang, Fuck the FCC. Aren’t we modern enough not to worry what words are excitedly uttered over the airwaves? If the FCC wants to regulate filth, why is Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck still on the air? If the American Christian Taliban weren’t so powerful, this wouldn’t even be worthy of discussion.

A United States appeals court tossed out the indecency policy of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, calling it a violation of the First Amendment.

An appeals panel said the F.C.C. policy was “unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.”

The ruling was immediately characterized as a victory for big broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, which have been fighting the indecency policy for years.

Tuesday’s ruling vacates a 2004 decision by the Bush administration F.C.C. to step up enforcement of the indecency policy on the broadcast airwaves. Earlier that year, the singer Janet Jackson’s breast was bared during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, reigniting a decades-old debate about broadcast standards.

But Tuesday’s ruling deals more specifically with the F.C.C. policy toward so-called fleeting expletives. After several curse words were uttered during awards shows in 2002 and 2003, the F.C.C. concluded that a single use of an expletive “could be actionably indecent,” triggering fines against broadcasters.

(click to continue reading Appeals Court Strikes Down Indecency Rule – Media Decoder Blog – NYTimes.com.)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUYWGo4Fl2s

Written by Seth Anderson

July 13th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

25 Blasphemous Quotations

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Patri

There’s a bit of a dust-up in my mother country:

An atheist group in the Irish Republic1 has defied a new blasphemy law by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations on its website.

Atheist Ireland says it will fight any action taken against it in court. The quotations include the words of writers such as Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, but also Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad and Pope Benedict XVI.

The new law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (£22,000; $35,000). The government says it is needed because the republic’s 1937 constitution only gives Christians legal protection of their beliefs.

The new law was passed in July 2009 but came into force on 1 January.

[Click to continue reading BBC News – Irish atheists challenge blasphemy law]

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

What kind of nonsense is this? Are there not more pressing items on the agenda than governments sticking finger in their ears to block out words they don’t want to hear? Anyway, the BBC, staid journalistic organization that it is, did not provide any samples of these quotations, so I had to find the site on my own.

Just a few excerpts, because I laughed at most, but you should read them yourself.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

Amanda Donohoe spitting on the cross

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

[Click to continue reading 25 Blasphemous Quotations « blog.atheist.ie]

Religion and its zealots, hissing with hysteria, are so damned ridiculous.

Footnotes:
  1. Is this the common term? Thought that was a defunct nation, a nation that existed from 1919 – 1922. Maybe the British press reverses the order of the words of the Republic of Ireland for some stylistic reason? []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 2nd, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Felony Franks

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Felony Franks has finally opened [Joe M500 has a photo of the sign, here], and the national news media is noticing:

When James Andrews opened a hot-dog stand on this city’s rough West Side, he thought he was doing a community service by hiring ex-convicts. But some in the neighborhood think the name he chose — Felony Franks — is a crime.

An alderman [Robert Fioretti ]has refused Mr. Andrews permission to hang a new sign or build a drive-through lane. A pastor accused the restaurant owner, who is not an ex-convict, of “pimping out” the community. Members of a neighborhood association have vowed to stay away from Felony Franks until the name is changed and the décor — including paintings of cartoon hot dogs in prison stripes — is removed.

He spent more than $160,000 to refurbish a shuttered Polish-sausage stand on a busy corner in an area that’s a mix of new condos and stately old homes, subsidized housing and boarded-up storefronts. Mr. Andrews hired a dozen ex-cons to cook and serve frankfurters, sausages, steak sandwiches and french fries sliced from raw potatoes.

Customers enter a cramped space framed by cinder-block walls, with no tables or chairs. Near the entrance hangs a mock list of Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain hungry. Anything you order can and will be used to feed you here at Felony Franks.”

Servers standing behind bulletproof plastic — standard for stores in the neighborhood — ask customers, “Are you ready to plead your case?” Among other dishes, the menu lists the Misdemeanor Wiener and the Chain Gang Chili Dog. Side orders, such as fries, cole slaw and garlic bread, are dubbed “accomplices.” The restaurant’s slogan is, “Food so good it’s criminal.”

[Click to continue reading Slaw and Order: Hot-Dog Stand in Chicago Triggers a Frank Debate – WSJ.com]

In poor taste? Possibly, but seems like a pretty minor crime against humanity. Life is too short to become incensed over such silly details.

I’m with Kevin Jones, a Felony Franks employee:

Kevin Jones, 42, who works at Felony Franks, says he doesn’t feel exploited. “Working here allows me to provide for myself and my family,” says Mr. Jones, who says he used to sell crack and served two years’ probation for possession of a controlled substance. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and there’s gunfire every other day and you never hear anything about that, but all of a sudden there’s all this hoopla about a hot-dog stand?”

Written by Seth Anderson

October 14th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with , , ,

FTC Says Bloggers Must Disclose Payments

with one comment

Blog rules have, apparently, changed.

Mictorate Surrogate

– Blogger or flogger? The Federal Trade Commission is taking a tougher line on bloggers who accept cash or gifts to tout a company’s products or services.

Under revised rules announced Monday, the FTC will require bloggers and celebrities to clearly state when they receive cash or “payment in kind” for endorsing a company’s products or services.

The changes, adopted on a 4-0 vote, are the first revisions to federal guidelines on endorsements and testimonial advertising since 1980.

Connections between advertisers and endorsers must be disclosed under the revised guidelines. The FTC said the stricter disclosure will apply to comments on talk shows, blog posts and on social media as well as in traditional advertisements.

[Click to continue reading FTC Says Bloggers Must Disclose Payments – WSJ.com]

But this policy, as reported here and in a similar NYT article, is pretty vague as to terms and definitions. How will it be enforced? Who qualifies as a blogger? Does this policy include Yelp and their pay-to-play model?

Or does the policy include low trafficked sites like your humble host? Does Amazon.com’s mildly dirty lucre qualify as “receiving cash”? Amazon pays me approximately 3% of the pre-tax price of any product that you purchase through a B12 Partners affiliate link1, which reaches peaks of nearly $30 some months, but more frequently is in the single digits. Google ads, over on the sidebar, or possibly inserted into your RSS feed or daily email, pay me a few cents for every click-through, which also adds a few dollars to my bank account every month. I pay more for my website than I make, but I’m not doing it for money, I’m doing it for other2 reasons.

Other than that, B12 Solipsism has not received squat from any product I’ve mentioned, any person I’ve praised or ridiculed, or any event I’ve mentioned. Now and again, someone will suggest a topic to me, but most of the time, I just ignore the PR pitch. Perhaps if there was financial compensation attached to the pitch, or even free tickets, I might pay attention.

Or Else

Besides B12, is the new ruling akin to what television product placement law is? Which is what again? Seem to see a lot of product placement in traditional media, how is a consumer to know which news magazines are running paid-for content, and which are not? How about Congressional leaders? Can the FTC or comparable governmental agency place disclaimers, perhaps in a forehead tattoo form, on health industry shills like Max Baucus for instance?

The FTC Guide, as currently written, seems woefully unenforced. Nearly all of the Sunday Talking Head shows seem to skirt the endorsement guidelines. Will that change too?

For purposes of this part, an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) which message consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group or institution.

(c) For purposes of this part, the term product includes any product, service, company or industry.

(d) For purposes of this part, an expert is an individual, group or institution possessing, as a result of experience, study or training, knowledge of a particular subject, which knowledge is superior to that generally acquired by ordinary individuals.

[Click to continue reading FTC GUIDES CONCERNING USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING ]

Live High aka High Life

Anyway, we’ll probably read more about this in the future, but B12 Solipsism readers can sleep easy tonight knowing that we are not paid blogger shills3 ,4 ,5

Footnotes:
  1. such as the images of books-recently-purchased residing on the blog sidebar []
  2. heretofore unknown []
  3. though, Corporate America, our lines of communication are open, hint, hint []
  4. no, not really, we’ll probably just make fun of you. []
  5. but maybe not, if the price is right! []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 5th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Reading Around on May 7th through May 8th

without comments

A few interesting links collected May 7th through May 8th:

  • Barack Hussein Obama’s un-American mustard choice – The latest blogospheric brouhaha? When President Obama ordered a burger earlier this week, he asked for it without ketchup — and with Grey Poupon. No, seriously. Not that this should be surprising by now, but even Sean Hannity has picked up on the story and broadcast it to millions of Fox News viewers. Naturally, in response, various liberal outlets are responding with equal fervor.…Why, then, am I writing about this? Well, because it gives me an excuse to link to a really fascinating article Malcolm Gladwell wrote for the New Yorker a few years back about the science of taste — why people like certain kinds of things like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, soda and mustard. Turns out that those store brand colas really aren’t very well-made, that Heinz really might be the platonic ideal of ketchup and that almost everyone prefers Grey Poupon to patriotic and manly (but lousy) American mustard. From the piece:
  • The Seattle Traveler » Waterfront Fun at Seattle Maritime Festival – Seattle puts its maritime prowess on display this weekend with the annual Seattle Maritime Festival.

    Saturday’s Family Fun Day is always a big treat, and the highlight is the Tugboat Races. These are the largest Tugboat Races in the World = with over 40 boats expected to participate.
    Photo credit: swanksalot @flickr

  • Lawmaker Defends Imprisoning Hostile Bloggers | Threat Level – “Rep. Linda Sanchez responded Wednesday to Threat Level’s tirade against her proposed legislation outlawing hostile electronic speech. Her answer: “Congress has no interest in censoring.”Sanchez, with the introduction of the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, clearly has a great interest in censoring.”

Written by swanksalot

May 8th, 2009 at 7:00 am

Reading Around on March 3rd through March 4th

without comments

A few interesting links collected March 3rd through March 4th:

  • Warnings: Going To The Doc? Be Sure You Don't Sign A Gag Order – "ateMDs.com says it's planning on creating a "Wall of Shame" that will list all the doctors who are known to use the Medical Justice waivers—around 2,000 so far, according to Medical Justice.
    John Swapceinski, co-founder of RateMDs.com, said that in recent months, six doctors have asked him to remove negative online comments based on patients' signed waivers. He has refused.

    "They're basically forcing the patients to choose between health care and their First Amendment rights, and I really find that repulsive," Swapceinski said."

  • Johnny "Red" Kerr: Man of pleasures and passions — chicagotribune.com – "This disclosure sparked a discussion about our shared love of music. When Red asked for some of my favorite artists, I mentioned acts as varied as Uncle Tupelo, the Clash and Alejandro Escovedo and didn't give it much more thought.

    About a week later, Red arrived at the United Center for a game with a stack of CDs in his hand.

    "Here," he said, handing them over. "I burned you a bunch of your favorite artists. I really like that Uncle Tupelo. Thanks for turning me onto them."

    He was 68 at the time."

Written by swanksalot

March 4th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , , , ,