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April 28, 2011

China engaging in awful, paranoid crackdown on independent thought

Great Leap Backward - NYTimes.com
Since China is in the middle of its harshest crackdown on independent thought in two decades, I thought that on this visit I might write about a woman named Cheng Jianping who is imprisoned for tweeting. Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp. So I tried to interview her fianc�, Hua Chunhui, but it turns out that Mr. Hua was recently arrested and imprisoned as well. That’s the way it goes in China these days. The government’s crackdown is rippling through the country, undercutting China’s prodigious growth and representing the harshest clampdown since the crushing of the Tiananmen democracy movement in 1989. The reason? Surprising as it may seem, the government is worried that China could become the next Egypt or Tunisia, unless security forces act early and ruthlessly. “Of course, they’re scared that the same thing might happen here,” one Chinese friend with family and professional ties to top leaders told me. A family member of another Chinese leader put it this way: “They’re just terrified. That’s why they’re cracking down.” . . .

March 16, 2011

White House calls for streaming video to be federal felony

So if I click on a Surf the Channel link, or watch a video on YouTube uploaded by someone other than the rights holder, I'm committing a federal crime? White House wants new copyright law crackdown | Privacy Inc. - CNET News
Some of the highlights: • The White House is concerned that "illegal streaming of content" may not be covered by criminal law, saying "questions have arisen about whether streaming constitutes the distribution of copyrighted works." To resolve that ambiguity, it wants a new law to "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances." • Under federal law, wiretaps may only be conducted in investigations of serious crimes, a list that was expanded by the 2001 Patriot Act to include offenses such as material support of terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction. The administration is proposing to add copyright and trademark infringement, arguing that move "would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses." • Under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it's generally illegal to distribute hardware or software--such as the DVD-decoding software Handbrake available from a server in France--that can "circumvent" copy protection technology. The administration is proposing that if Homeland Security seizes circumvention devices, it be permitted to "inform rightholders," "provide samples of such devices," and assist "them in bringing civil actions." The term "fair use" does not appear anywhere in the report. But it does mention Web sites like The Pirate Bay, which is hosted in Sweden, when warning that "foreign-based and foreign-controlled Web sites and Web services raise particular concerns for U.S. enforcement efforts." (See previous coverage of a congressional hearing on overseas sites.) The usual copyright hawks, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded the paper, which grew out of a so-called joint strategic plan that Vice President Biden and Espinel announced in June 2010.

Hey look, another reason to never read the HuffPost

Final Death Blow for HuffPo: Andrew Breitbart Now Blogging for Huffington Post | Veracity Stew This is just blistering. Joe. My. God.: O'Donnell Eviscerates Crazy Eyes Bloggers have been coming and going very rapidly over at Huffington Post since Arianna Huffington sold out to AOL last month. There has been mounting speculation about the death of the once liberal-leaning HuffPo in light of editorial changes. Well, we can now confirm that the old HuffPo is dead and something hideous is sprouting in its place. We know this because of the revelation today that right-wing extremist Andrew Breitbart is now blogging for Huffington. And what has Breitbart chosen to write about in his premiere post? His friend James O’Keefe. The latest James O’Keefe success story against NPR has taken a predictable pattern — panicked press releases and firings, followed by denunciation of O’Keefe in a belated attempt to discredit him. Naturally, conservatives are crowing about it, but I wanted to give a little perspective to those Huffington Post readers — whatever your political stripe — who share my passion for free speech, honest debate, and fairness in the media. Fairness in the media? This from the guy who released a selectively edited video of Shirley Sherrod – which he knew to be misleading – and then labeled the poor woman as a racist. Breitbart’s actions were reckless, mean, unethical and some would say fraudulent. Sherrod lost her job and is now suing Breitbart.