Posts Tagged ‘freedom of speech’

Afghanistan moves to block WhatsApp, Telegram messaging services

November 4, 2017

Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s telecoms regulator wrote to internet service providers this week ordering them to block the messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram but it was not immediately clear whether they had complied.

Use of social media and mobile instant messaging services has exploded in Afghanistan over recent years. Social media users and civil rights groups reacted with outrage to initial reports of the move and the letter sent by telecoms regulator ATRA was widely shared on social media.

Some media reports, citing unidentified sources, said the move had been ordered by the National Directorate for Security to thwart the use of the encrypted messaging services by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the reports.

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The acting minister for telecommunications, Shahzad Aryobee, posted a message on Facebook saying that the telecoms regulator had been ordered to put a gradual block on the services to improve their functioning after complaints had been received.

“The government is committed to freedom of speech and knows that it is a basic civil right for our people,” he wrote.

The letter by telecoms regulator ATRA, dated Nov. 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed internet companies to block Telegram and Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp services “without delay” for a period of 20 days.

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However, the service worked normally this week and still appeared to be working normally on Saturday on both state-owned operator Salaam and private service providers.

On Friday, there were reports of interruptions but it was not clear whether they were caused by a deliberate shutdown or by the unrelated issues with WhatsApp services that were experienced in several countries.

Mobile phone services have been one of the big success stories in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted from power by a U.S.-led campaign in 2001, but there are also frequent complaints from users about quality and coverage.

WhatsApp and similar services, including Facebook Messenger and Viber, are widely used by Afghan politicians and members of the government as well as by the Taliban, which has a sophisticated social media operation of its own.

The movement’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, wrote to reporters this week giving his Viber number “in case WhatsApp is not working”.

Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Paul Tait

Alan Dershowitz: An Anti-Semitic Characature of Me Gets No Criticism From Berkeley hard left

October 30, 2017

BY ALAN DERSHOWITZ
 OCTOBER 30, 2017 05:50

It is shocking that this vile caricature – which would fit comfortably in a Nazi publication – was published in “the official paper of record of the City of Berkeley”.

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, May 7, 2017. (photo credit:SIVAN FARAG)

I was recently invited to present the liberal case for Israel at Berkeley. In my remarks I advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state and a negotiated end of the conflict. I encouraged hostile questions from protesters and answered all of them. The audience responded positively to the dialogue.

Then immediately after my address, a poster was plastered outside Berkeley Law School with a swastika drawn on my face.

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The dean of Berkeley Law School, Erwin Cherwinsky, sent a letter condemning the swastika. It read: “Several of our students expressed their disagreement with him [Dershowitz] and did so in a completely appropriate way that led to discussion and dialogue. I was pleased to hear of how this went, but then shocked to learn of the swastika drawn on a flyer that someone had posted about him.”

Shortly after, The Daily Californian – Berkeley’s student newspaper – published an antisemitic cartoon, depicting an ugly caricature of me sticking my head through a cardboard cut-out.

Behind the cardboard I am portrayed stomping on a Palestinian child with my foot, while holding in my hand an Israeli soldier who is shooting an unarmed Palestinian youth. Above the cardboard cut-out the title of my speech – ‘The Liberal Case for Israel’ – is scrawled in capital letters.

In a Letter to the Editor, the university’s chancellor, Carol Christ, wrote the following: “Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing. I condemn its publication. Are you aware that its antisemitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old “blood libel” that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder? I cannot recall anything similar in the Daily Cal, and I call on the paper’s editors to reflect on whether they would sanction a similar assault on other ethnic or religious groups. We cannot build a campus community where everyone feels safe, respected and welcome if hatred and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes become an acceptable part of our discourse.”

It is shocking that this vile caricature – which would fit comfortably in a Nazi publication – was published in “the official paper of record of the City of Berkeley” (according to the editor.) The cartoon resembles the grotesque antisemitic blood libel propaganda splashed across Der Sturmer in the 1930s, which depicted Jews drinking the blood of gentile children. Canards about Jews as predators – prominently promulgated by the Tzarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – were antisemitic back then and are still antisemitic today, whether espoused by the extreme Left or the extreme Right.

This sequence of events – sparked by hard-left students who originally protested my right to speak at Berkeley– confirmed what I’ve long believed: that there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard Right and the antisemites of the hard Left. There is little doubt that this abhorrent caricature was a hardleft Neo-Nazi expression.

These antisemitic displays against me were in reaction to a speech in which I advocated a Palestinian state; an end to the occupation and opposition to Israeli settlement policies. Many on the hard-Left refuse to acknowledge this sort of nuanced positioning. That is because their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier, and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough. For these radicals, it is not about what Israel does; it is about what Israel is: the nation state of the Jewish people. To many on the hard Left, Israel is an imperialistic, apartheid, genocidal, and colonialist enterprise that must be destroyed.

Nonetheless, just as I defended the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, I defend the right of hard-left bigots to produce this sort of antisemitic material, despite it being hate speech. Those who condemn hate speech when it comes from the Right should also speak up when hate speech comes from the Left.

The silence from those on the Left is steeped in hypocrisy. It reflects the old adage: free speech for me but not for thee.

To be sure, the students had the right to publish this cartoon, but they also had the right not to publish it. I am confident that if the shoe were on the other foot – if a cartoon of comparable hate directed against women, gays, blacks or Muslims were proposed – they would not have published it. There is one word for this double standard. It’s called bigotry.

The best response to bigotry is the opposite of censorship: it is exposure and shaming in the court of public opinion.

The offensive cartoon should not be removed, as some have suggested. It should be widely circulated along with the names prominently displayed of the antisemite who drew it and the bigoted editors who decided to publish it. Every potential employer or admissions officer should ask them to justify their bigotry.

Joel Mayorga is the antisemitic cartoonist.

Karim Doumar (Editor in Chief and President), Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks (Managing Editor) and Suhauna Hussain (Opinion Editor) head the editorial board that oversaw the decision to publish it. They must be held accountable for their reprehensible actions. I challenge them to justify their bigotry.

It will not be enough to hide behind the shield of freedom of speech, because that freedom also entails the right not to publish antisemitic expression, if they would refuse to publish other bigoted expression.

After I submitted my op-ed, the Daily Cal tried to censor my piece in a self-serving way by omitting my characterization of the cartoonist as an antisemite. As far as I know they did not edit the offending cartoon. Also, the editor claimed that the intent of the cartoon was to expose the “hypocrisy” of my talk. Yet, the newspaper never even reported on the content of my talk and I don’t know whether the cartoonist was even at my talk. The cartoon was clearly based on a stereotype not on the content of my talk.

Follow Alan Dershowitz on: Twitter: @ AlanDersh, Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz

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Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

October 30, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Fulya OZERKAN | The case is being heard in Sincan at a purpose-built facility to hear coup-related trials

ANKARA (AFP) – A mass trial in Turkey is set to resume Monday of more than 220 suspects, including former generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of last year’s coup bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The suspects face life sentences if convicted of charges ranging from using violence to try to overthrow the government and parliament, to killing nearly 250 people.

Turkey blames the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is among several of the 221 suspects named in the indictment but are on the run, with the rest set to appear in court.

The attempted coup left 249 people dead, not counting 24 coup-plotters killed on the night of the putsch attempt.

Also among the suspects in one of Turkey’s highest-profile prosecutions are several high-ranking military officers including ex-air force commander Akin Ozturk.

Several of those on trial are accused of leading the so-called “Peace At Home Council”, the name the plotters are said to have given themselves the night of the failed overthrow.

The case is being heard in Sincan near the capital Ankara, at a facility that was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials.

– Massive crackdown –

In the opening trial in May, alleged coup plotters were booed by protesters as they entered the courtroom, with some shouting slogans in favour of “death penalty” for the suspects.

The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge the coup suspects in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey’s modern history.

The government has launched a massive crackdown under state of emergency laws imposed in the wake of the failed coup which have been extended several times.

Over 140,000 people, including public sector employees, have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to the coup while 50,000 people have been arrested since July 2016.

This week will also see other hearings in Istanbul including journalists from opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper who are standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations.

One of Turkey’s acclaimed authors Asli Erdogan will appear before a court Tuesday on charges of spreading terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

In December she was released pending trial, after 132 days of pre-trial detention.

Last week, an Istanbul court ordered the release on judicial control of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, as well as a German and a Swede.

The cases involving journalists have received criticism from human rights advocates who claim the government is seeking to stifle dissent.

by Fulya OZERKAN

VPN law latest step in Kremlin online crackdown — Following China…..

October 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Theo MERZ | A protester with tape covering her mouth takes part in the March for Free Internet in central Moscow in July.

MOSCOW (AFP) – A law coming into force on Wednesday will give the Kremlin greater control over what Russians can access online ahead of a presidential election next March.

Providers of virtual private networks (VPNs) — which let internet users access sites banned in one country by making it appear that they are browsing from abroad — will be required to block websites listed by the Russian state communications watchdog.

The law is the latest in a raft of restrictions introduced by President Vladimir Putin’s government and is expected to affect journalists and opposition activists, even though several VPN providers say they will not comply.

Videos by the punk band Pussy Riot and the blog of opposition leader Alexei Navalny have in the past been blocked under a law that allows authorities to blacklist websites they consider extremist.

“Journalists and activists who are using this to put out messages anonymously will be affected,” Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, told AFP.

Even if they are able to work around the new restrictions, the law will send a powerful message to activists, she said.

“If you’re thinking about taking the steps that you need to stay anonymous from the government, you think maybe it’s not worth it.”

The law will likely be selectively applied and will probably not affect foreign business people using company VPNs, she said.

The measure is part of a wider crackdown on online communications, which this month saw the popular messaging app, Telegram, fined for failing to register with the Roskomnadzor communications watchdog and provide the FSB with information on user interactions.

Starting from 2018, companies on the Roskomnadzor register must also store all the data of Russian users inside the country, according to anti-terror legislation which was passed last year and decried by the opposition and internet companies.

On Thursday, the Russian parliament’s lower house approved a draft law that would let the attorney general blacklist the websites of “undesirable organisations” without a court order.

– ‘Less safe, less free’ –

While falling short of a blanket ban on virtual private networks, the new law undermines one of their key purposes and “essentially asks VPN services to help enforce Russia’s censorship regime”, Harold Li, vice president at ExpressVPN International, told AFP by email.

“VPNs are central to online privacy, anonymity, and freedom of speech, so these restrictions represent an attack on digital rights,” Li said.

“We hope and expect that most major VPN services will not bend to these new restrictions.”

Providers ZenMate and Private Internet Access — which said it removed all of its servers from Russia in 2016 after several of them were seized by authorities without notification — have already announced that they would not enforce the list of banned websites.

Companies that do not comply are likely to see their own websites placed on the Russian blacklist.

Amnesty International has called the new legislation “a major blow to internet freedom” and Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who lives in Russia, said the measure “makes Russia both less safe and less free”.

Laws curbing internet freedoms were drafted following mass protests in 2011 and 2012 against Putin over disputed election results.

The new measures come into force ahead of presidential elections next March, when Putin is widely expected to extend his grip on power to 2024.

Russia’s opposition groups rely heavily on the internet to make up for their lack of access to the mainstream media.

– ‘Complete control’ –

“The path that Russia chose four years ago is founded on the concept of digital sovereignty,” said Sarkis Darbinyan, lawyer and director of the Digital Rights Centre.

“It’s the idea that the government should control the domestic part of the internet. Western countries do not support this concept and so what we are seeing today is an Asian-style development of the internet,” along the lines of China and Iran, he said.

But Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that even if the Kremlin’s end goal is “complete control of communications on the internet”, its technical capabilities still lag way behind China with its “Great Firewall”.

Many of the invasive measures pushed by the Kremlin are comparable with the snooping powers demanded by Western governments, she said.

“Russia will frequently point to the fact that the FBI and (British Prime Minister) Theresa May want these powers as reasons why they should have them, and why they’re compatible with human rights.”

by Theo MERZ
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Brainwashing fears stoked as Hong Kong schools encouraged to broadcast Beijing official’s Basic Law speech live

October 25, 2017

Government circular raises concerns among teachers, pupils and others

By Peace Chiu, Kimmy Chung, and Jeffie Lam
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 10:54pm

Hong Kong’s Education Bureau has once again drawn accusations of patriotic brainwashing after a circular surfaced inviting secondary schools to stream a broadcast of a seminar featuring a senior Beijing official.

Despite raising questions about the government’s intention to have pupils view the event, some schools expressed confidence the children would handle the experience with a critical mind.

The circular, issued to school operators last week, stated the Basic Law seminar to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre next month would celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

 Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei is to be featured in the seminar. Photo: Simon Song

According to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Basic Law Committee chairman Li Fei is to deliver a speech about Hong Kong’s role and mission under both the country’s constitution and the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

Four other experts in the field were expected to share their views at the event also.

But the bureau said the seminar did not exclusively target schools and that lawmakers and business representatives had also been invited. A live online broadcast is to be made available for those unable to attend in person.

A bureau spokesman explained it had invited sponsoring bodies to arrange for their secondary-level teachers and pupils to watch the broadcast and encouraged government schools to make arrangements to enhance understanding of the “one country, two systems” principle and Basic Law.

 Pupils at Fresh Fish Traders’ School in Tai Kok Tsui attend morning assembly on September 1. Photo: Felix Wong

He added that participation was purely voluntary and that each school could determine its arrangement.

But education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen pointed to a reply slip in the circular stating sponsoring bodies had to indicate whether they would broadcast the seminar as well as leave their contact details.

“Some sponsoring bodies complained to us that they felt pressured,” he said. “They’re worried about the consequences [of not taking part].”

Ip claimed it was the first time the government demanded schools participate in a live broadcast of an official’s speech.

This kind of arrangement is not in keeping with Hong Kong’s tradition, culture or practice
IP KIN-YUEN, LAWMAKER

“The pupils will only hear a one-sided view from Li Fei,” he said. “This kind of arrangement is not in keeping with Hong Kong’s tradition, culture or practice.”

A government schoolteacher speaking on condition of anonymity challenged the motive behind the circular.

“Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law is different from ours and their legal perspective is not in line with that of Hong Kong’s,” he said.

He believed political considerations played a role.

The news came after the mainland’s education minister, Chen Baosheng, spoke of the importance of national education for teachers in the city.

But the teacher expressed confidence that his pupils possessed adequate critical thinking skills to question the subject matter.

Form Five pupil Comson Or Yan-lung said his teacher told him only those studying history in senior secondary levels would be required to watch.

 C.C.C. Fong Yun Wah Primary School pupils in Tin Shui Wai on September 1. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

“I take history as an elective and am learning about Hong Kong history now, so this will be useful,” he said.

Or added that his teacher advised pupils to adopt their own stance and thinking as they watched.

Still, he believed schools should not require junior secondary pupils to view the broadcast, saying they might not be familiar enough with the topic to critically analyse the discussions.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor denied accusations that the government was forcing all pupils to watch the broadcast.

Lam said the Education Bureau was responsible for strengthening Basic Law instruction and that schools previously might not have had the equipment to make such a broadcast possible.

Additional reporting by Kimmy Chung and Jeffie Lam

 http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/2116987/brainwashing-fears-stoked-hong-kong-schools-encouraged

Free speech in the digital age: Prager University sues YouTube in free-speech case

October 24, 2017

Conservative nonprofit says site is restricting its content and infringing First Amendment rights

Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum.
Prager University argues in its lawsuit that Google’s YouTube should be treated as a public forum. PHOTO: MICHAEL SHORT/BLOOMBERG NEWS

LOS ANGELES—Prager University, a nonprofit that produces short, educational videos from conservative perspectives, is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, claiming the tech giant is illegally censoring some of its content as part of a wider effort to silence conservative voices.

A lawsuit filed Monday evening in federal court in San Francisco says YouTube’s more than 30 million visitors a day make the site so elemental to free speech in the digital age that it should be treated as a public forum. The suit argues the site must use the “laws governing free speech,” not its own discretion, to make decisions about what to censor.

The nonprofit, known as PragerU, alleges that by limiting access to some of its videos without clear criteria YouTube is infringing on PragerU’s First Amendment rights.

YouTube said it didn’t have immediate comment because it hadn’t yet reviewed the suit. The site is owned by Google, part of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -1.94%

The suit heightens a debate over tech companies’ increasing influence on public opinion and how they should police content on their sites. With the internet enabling the spread of misinformation, hate speech and foreign propaganda—especially around the 2016 U.S. election—politicians, academics and the media are increasing scrutiny on the role a handful of tech giants play in modern society.

Since last year, more than three dozen PragerU videos—on subjects including the Korean War and Israel and Palestine—have been restricted by YouTube. As a result, those who use YouTube in “restricted mode,” including students at some universities and children whose parents have put parental control filters in place, are prevented from seeing the videos; all potential ad revenue from the videos is also cut off.

YouTube hasn’t pulled the videos from the default version of its website or mobile app, which are how the vast majority of users access videos.

YouTube has long championed itself as an open platform for ideas and is more often criticized for its reluctance or delay in removing objectionable content. “We believe everyone should have a voice,” YouTube said in a blog post in March. “Since our founding, free expression has been one of our core values.”

PragerU’s suit fits into more recent criticism from YouTube-video creators of the site’s push to remove ads from certain videos—prompted by a backlash from advertisers.

“There’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against,” YouTube said in the March post.

PragerU was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager in 2011.

In email exchanges with PragerU, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, YouTube declined to offer specific explanations about why most of the videos were restricted, saying that they “aren’t appropriate for younger audiences.”

In those emails, a YouTube representative told PragerU officials that some of the videos that were censored were reviewed “manually” by humans, not solely by an automated system.

One of the videos that was initially restricted by YouTube featured Kimberley Strassel, a Wall Street Journal columnist who writes for the Journal’s opinion pages. The restriction of the video was later lifted.

The lawsuit lists videos on similar subjects by other content creators—including Al Jazeera and The Daily Show—which weren’t restricted, and argues that PragerU was targeted solely for its conservative views.

“Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU,” the complaint says.

The suit escalates a battle between YouTube and content creators over how much control the tech giant should exercise over what is posted on the site.

YouTube faced a firestorm earlier this year when news reports revealed the site was running ads on extremist and racist videos, causing a series of big brands to pull spending from the site.

The backlash prompted YouTube to better police content on its sites, pull more ads from “hateful, offensive and derogatory” videos and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. Those changes include technology to automatically screen videos as well as more human reviewers to pull ads from objectionable videos.

Some advertisers still remained off the site even months after the changes.

As a result, many of YouTube’s most popular video creators have complained of a drop in their ad revenues.

There are also signs that YouTube is trying to move away from the fringe content that attracts many of its viewers—but also creates headaches with advertisers. After searches on YouTube about the mass shooting this month in Las Vegas surfaced videos peddling conspiracy theories, the site said it was tweaking its search algorithm to promote more authoritative news sources.

The lawsuit alleges that the criteria YouTube uses to restrict videos is so broad that it effectively allows the company unfettered discretion, with no objective standard at all.

In addition, the suit says that the standards the company does use are being applied unfairly to PragerU.

Pete Wilson, a former governor of California who is representing PragerU in the suit, said the restrictions on the nonprofit’s videos were part of a wider effort to limit conservative speech.

“Just as on many college campuses, there has been a refusal to allow conservatives to speak,” Mr. Wilson said. He added of YouTube, “They have incredible reach, and that really sets them apart from almost any other entity.”

Write to Ian Lovett at Ian.Lovett@wsj.com and Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/prageru-sues-youtube-in-free-speech-case-1508811856

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Image result for hands tied by computer cord, photos

Google/YouTube vs. Conservative Speech 

By Dennis Prager

Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to our universities?

Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote the following editorial about YouTube restricting access to 16 videos — down from 21 — created and posted online by my non-profit educational organization, Prager University: “YouTube thinks Dennis Prager’s videos may be dangerous.”

Tech giants like Google and Facebook always deny that their platforms favor some viewpoints over others, but then they don’t do much to avoid looking censorious. . . .  Dennis Prager’s “PragerU” puts out free short videos on subjects “important to understanding American values” — ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State. The channel has more than 130 million views. . . . As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content.

But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube. . . . This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering — say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” . . .  PragerU started a petition calling for YouTube to remove the restriction, and more than 66,000 people have signed.

“YouTube is free to set its own standards,” the editorial concluded, “but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for ‘free expression.’” It is a good sign that Google/YouTube’s censorship of respectful, utterly non-violent and non-sexual videos made it to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is very bad sign that it had to.

And it is a very bad sign that it made the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, but not the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, or any other mainstream newspaper that still purports to support the classic liberal value of free speech.

To understand what Google/YouTube has done, it is necessary to briefly describe what it has restricted access to. Every week, PragerU (the generally used name for Prager University) posts at least one five-minute video presentation online.

These presentations are on just about every subject and are given by important thinkers — some very well-known, some not. The list includes dozens of professors at, among other universities, MIT, Notre Dame, Princeton, Dayton, Boston College, Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, and West Point; a black member of the South African Parliament; comedians Adam Carolla and Yakov Smirnoff; two former prime ministers (Spain and Denmark); three Pulitzer Prize winners (George Will, Bret Stephens, and Judith Miller); Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Arthur Brooks, Jonah Goldberg, Alan Dershowitz, Nicholas Eberstadt, Larry Elder, Steve Forbes, Walter Williams, Christina Hoff Sommers, George Gilder, Victor Davis Hanson; Bjørn Lomborg, Heather Mac Donald, Eric Metaxas, Amity Shlaes, and the commander of British troops in Afghanistan, among many others. I also present some videos.

Any responsible person, left or right, would have to acknowledge that this is a profoundly respectable, non-bomb-throwing list of presenters — hardly conducive to censorship.

What videos did YouTube place restrictions on?

On Race (2): “Are the Police Racist?” “Don’t Judge Blacks Differently”

On Islam (6): “What ISIS Wants” “Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women?” “Islamic Terror: What Muslim Americans Can Do” “Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?” “Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology” “Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists?”

On abortion (2 — the only two offered): “Who’s More Pro-Choice: Europe or America?” “The Most Important Question about Abortion”

On Israel (2): “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army” “Israel’s Legal Founding” (Alan Dershowitz’s video was reinstated after much publicity) On America (3): “Why Did America Fight the Korean War?” “Did Bush Lie about Iraq?” “What is the University Diversity Scam?”

On politics (1): “Who NOT to Vote For”

On men and women (1): “He Wants You” (a video I present about men and women) Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms’​ that catch violence and sex. Think of these topics and consider the list of presenters. Do you see any violent or sexual content? Do you see anything you wouldn’t want your minor child to view?

The only possible “yes” might be to the video titled “He Wants You.” Though void of any explicit content, it deals with the subject of men looking at other women yet still most wanting their own wives. It has almost 4 million views and has helped a lot of couples. Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms that catch violence and sex.

Rather, Google/YouTube doesn’t want effective (each video has at least 1 million views) conservative videos. Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? They don’t have to. Left-wing viewers simply “flag” our and others’ videos as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest. I have never devoted a column to PragerU. I have done so here because if YouTube gets away with censoring as big a website as PragerU — after a major editorial in the Wall Street Journal and coverage in the New York Post, Boston Globe, Fortune, National Review, and many other places, and a petition signed by over 70,000 people (the petition is at prageru.com) — what will happen to other conservative institutions?

For the probable answer, see your local university.

The question, then, is this: Will Google and YouTube do to the Internet what the Left has done to the university?

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com. © 2016 Creators.com Editor’s Note: This article has been emended since its original publication.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441400/google-youtubes-prageru-censorship-prager-universitys-conservative-videos-censored

Hong Kong democracy activists granted bail as they seek to appeal against jail terms

October 24, 2017

Reuters

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing and crowd

Hong Kong student leaders Nathan Law and Joshua Wong arrive at the High Court to face verdict on charges relating to the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central protests, in Hong Kong, China August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s highest court granted bail to two prominent young pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, on Tuesday pending an appeal over their jail terms for unlawful assembly linked to the city’s mass pro-democracy protests in 2014.

Hong Kong’s appeals court jailed Wong, 21, Law, 24 and Alex Chow, 27, leaders of the Chinese-ruled city’s democracy movement, in August. Their sentencing came as a blow to the youth-led push for universal suffrage and prompted accusations of political interference.

The trio helped lead the largely peaceful “Umbrella Movement” that blocked major roads for 79 days in 2014, demanding Beijing grant Hong Kong full democracy.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997, allowing freedoms not enjoyed on mainland China that include an independent judiciary.

Hong Kong Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who heads the Court of Final Appeal, granted Wong and Law bail of HK$50,000 ($6,408) each while they appeal against their respective six-month and eight-month jail terms.

“There’s no flight risk,” Ma told the court.

Chow did not apply for bail.

Ma said a Court of Final Appeal hearing would be held on Nov. 7 to consider the trio’s applications for appeal.

The next legal steps will likely be scrutinised closely, with the jailings having shaken confidence in Hong Kong’s vaunted rule of law.

Wong, Chow and Law were sentenced last year to community service for unlawful assembly. However, Reuters reported that Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen had overruled other senior colleagues to re-open the case and push for a harsher sentence that eventually led to their imprisonment.

A group of senior international lawyers recently issued a joint letter saying the jailings posed a serious threat to the city’s rule of law.

($1 = 7.8030 Hong Kong dollars)

Reporting by James Pomfret and Pak Yiu; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-protest-leader-joshua-wong-freed-on-bail-1508821515

Communism is ‘beyond’ them, but Chinese still flock to the party

October 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Ludovic EHRET | China’s Communist Party boasts an 89 million-strong membership that still attracts people motivated by ideology — and self-interest

BEIJING (AFP) – Marx might struggle to recognise his heirs among the billionaires, skyscrapers and stock exchanges of modern China.But as the country’s ruling Communist Party meets for its twice-a-decade congress this week, it boasts an 89 million-strong membership that still attracts people motivated by ideology — and self-interest.

“When I was younger, in the 1960s, we were told in school that being in the party signified being someone good,” 53-year-old Liu Shimin, a former employee at a state-owned enterprise and long-standing party member, told AFP.

“At the time, you would join it to stand up for socialism.”

“Today, the ideological side of it is a little beyond me. Communism is so vague, no one can say if it will come true.”

The Chinese Communist Party was clandestinely founded in 1921 by about a dozen revolutionaries in Shanghai.

Since coming to power in 1949, the CCP has survived near-destruction during the decade of the Cultural Revolution — which regime founder Mao Zedong launched against his own cadres — and sweeping pro-market economic reforms.

Throughout, Chinese people have continued to join the CCP in great numbers, with today’s membership making it one of the largest political organisations in the world, alongside India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Communist Party’s membership comprises 6.5 percent of China’s population of almost 1.4 billion people.

But young recruits do not hide their intentions. They join the party not only to participate in national development, but also out of their own self-interest.

– Joining the ‘elite’ –

“At first, I never imagined joining the CCP. I only started thinking about it after university, when I had to find a job,” said Xiao Wei, a 30-year-old Beijinger.

Xiao is employed by the CCP in a residential area. Her work includes relaying instructions; organising public campaigns on fire safety, the environment and health matters; and putting party slogans on display.

“To be a civil servant or work in a state enterprise, it’s almost obligatory to be in the party,” Xiao said. “It’s like a diploma. It opens doors.”

Not just anyone can join: candidates must apply or be recommended, most often by a university professor or their company’s party cell.

Then, a long selection process begins: courses, dissertations, exams, interviews and a probationary period.

At the end, the CCP chooses candidates based on their high education level, political reliability, or ability to bring something extra to the table.

Some are flattered to have received an invitation to join — recognition that they belong to the “elite”.

“Today, some join the party to enter the civil service, to have a better job or to gain respectability. There’s no doubt about it,” prominent pundit Sima Nan told AFP in front of a portrait of Mao hung in his spacious Beijing apartment.

– ‘Eternally grateful’ –

For all that has changed, the Party today still dominates politics, society and the economy, ruling without opposition and with no tolerance for dissent.

“The benefit of the party is its ability to unite the forces of all these people, to mobilise it, to move the country forward and maintain order,” said Sima. “Without the CCP, all this would be very difficult.”

Sima, 61, became a party member in 1980. He saw the first economic reforms and the country’s opening up as “a way to reach communism more quickly”.

Although he believes that that objective is now “very distant”, he is glad to have personally benefited from the party’s accomplishments.

“My family was very poor,” he said. “If the Communist Party had not been in power, I would never have been able to get a scholarship and enroll in university.”

“I am eternally grateful to it.”

by Ludovic EHRET

As U.S. Confronts Internet’s Disruptions, China Feels Vindicated

October 17, 2017

HULUNBUIR, China — In the United States, some of the world’s most powerful technology companies face rising pressure to do more to fight false information and stop foreign infiltration.

China, however, has watchdogs like Zhao Jinxu.

From his small town on the windswept grasslands of the Inner Mongolia region of China, Mr. Zhao, 27, scours the internet for fake news, pornography and calls to violence. He is one of a battalion of online “supervisors” whom Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, announced last month it would hire to help enforce China’s stringent limits on online content.

For years, the United States and others saw this sort of heavy-handed censorship as a sign of political vulnerability and a barrier to China’s economic development. But as countries in the West discuss potential internet restrictions and wring their hands over fake news, hacking and foreign meddling, some in China see a powerful affirmation of the country’s vision for the internet.

“This kind of thing would not happen here,” Mr. Zhao said of the controversy over Russia’s influence in the American presidential election last year.

Besides Communist Party loyalists, few would argue that China’s internet control serves as a model for democratic societies. China squelches online dissent and imprisons many of those who practice it. It blocks foreign news and information, including the website of The New York Times, and promotes homegrown technology companies while banning global services like Facebook and Twitter.

At the same time, China anticipated many of the questions now flummoxing governments from the United States to Germany to Indonesia. Where the Russians have turned the internet into a political weapon, China has used it as a shield.

In fact, when it comes to technology, China has prospered. It has a booming technology culture. Its internet companies rival Facebook and Amazon in heft. To other countries, China may offer an enticing top-down model that suggests that technology can thrive even under the government’s thumb.

An electronic display showing recent cyberattacks in China at the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing last month. Credit Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

“It doesn’t matter how efficient the internet is,” said Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communications Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, which advises the government on internet laws. “It won’t work without security.”

China is not resting on its laurels.

In the weeks leading up to the major party congress that opens in Beijing on Wednesday, the country’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has issued a raft of new regulations.

One, which took effect last week, holds the creators of online forums or group chats responsible for their users’ comments.

Another bans anonymous users, a blow at the bots and deceptive accounts — like those on Facebook and Twitter — that distributed false stories aimed at American voters.

“If our party cannot traverse the hurdle presented by the internet, it cannot traverse the hurdle of remaining in power,” a department of the cyberspace administration wrote in a top party journal last month.

The article was in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s early recognition of the power of the internet. Mr. Xi created and empowered the cyberspace administration, which has subsumed many of the overlapping agencies that once governed content in cyberspace.

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