During recent protests in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, police deliberately used mass arrests to round up protesters who had committed no crime, writes law professor Jonathan Turley. "All the students were arrested while trying to comply with the law," he writes. "The D.C. and National Park Service police had used the same technique in each instance: Surround the crowd. Tell its members to disperse or face arrest. And then, as people try to disperse, block their escape with rows of officers in riot gear and arrest them. ...
"The Lebanese government is prosecuting the news director of a major television station," reports MSNBC, "setting the stage for a broader crackdown on press freedoms in a country once admired as the only bastion of free press remaining in the Arab world. ... Rumors are the true currency of political discussion on the streets and in the cafes of the Arab world, where media outlets are either owned by the government or privately owned by political leaders and under the constant threat of sanction and closure."
Reporters Without Borders, a group that advocates for greater press freedoms, has issued a report warning that security abuses by the world's governments in the year since September 11 have increasingly put the Internet under the control of government security forces.
George Hesselberg, columnist with the Wisconsin State Journal, is fed up with all the government and media hype for war on Iraq. He excoriates the ignorance of US citizens as reflected in recent surveys but asks, "What do you expect in a country where ... the media seem to spend more money printing fast-fading flags and producing flag-waving promotions than on researching and reporting the actual degradation of rights, even the dissolution of rights, among citizens. ...
"Can A Sitting President Be Charged With Plagiarism?" asks TomPaine.com's New York Times op-ad. "As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell's 1984," writes Daniel Kurtzman, a San Francisco writer and former Washington political correspondent. "1984 was intended as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism -- not a how-to manual."
"I believe it is vital to the interest of the journalist and the public alike that we engage in an urgent, forceful and consistent campaign to educate the public with the knowledge that in a democratic society the journalist is, in fact, exercising the highest form of citizenship by monitoring events in the community and making the public aware of them and their import; by skeptically examining the behavior of people and institutions of power; by encouraging and informing forums for public debate," writes Bill Kovach, North American representative and chair of the International Consorium of
"On Nov. 22, 2000, the so-called 'Brooks Brothers Riot' of Republican activists helped stop a vote recount in Miami -- and showed how far George W. Bush's supporters were ready to go to put their man in the White House," writes Robert Parry, who cites newly-released documents which "show that at least a half dozen of the publicly identified rioters were paid by Bush's recount committee.
Public domain information - including our shared culture of literacy and democratic dialogue, basic drug research and government information resources paid for with public tax dollars - has grown in importance now that the Internet has empowered everyone to become a creator and to readily share information with others. As a result, writes David Bollier, corporate "content aggregators" -- film studios, publishers, record labels -- have "brazenly cast a broad net of claimed ownership rights in the intangibles of our culture.
Jeffrey Chester and Gary Larson have drafted a "plan on behalf of a more democratic media system, a collective effort to ensure that alternative, independent voices will still be heard over the growing din of conglomerate media culture. " In the Internet age, they say, "The sad irony is that never before have we had such communications power at our disposal, in the form of new digital technologies that allow any of us to be producers as well as consumers of media content.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is pushing a series of sweeping proposals that would weaken congressional oversight of the Pentagon. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Pentagon officials also are drafting proposals to ban strikes by contract workers, eliminate federal personnel rules protecting civilian workers at the Pentagon and bypass environmentalists in Congress. Some proposals are more provocative. They include allowing the Pentagon to send its initiatives directly to Capitol Hill before other agencies could review them.