Democracy

EFF Fights "Chilling Effects" on Free Speech

In response to a website alleging that Enron owns the GOP, the Republican party of Texas threatened to sue for "copyright infringement." This is only one of hundreds of cases in which corporate and political heavyweights have used legal threats to intimidate legitimate speech on the Internet.

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Building Democracy by Killing the President

In a lengthy report on Zimbabwe's upcoming elections, Australia's SBS TV uses hidden surveillance videos to document an apparent plan by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to murder the country's sitting president, Robert Mugabe. According to the footage, money to pay for the killing was channeled through BSMG London, an affiliate of the Weber-Shandwick PR firm.

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Dot Con

During the heady late 1990s, Wall Street investment firms and bankers deliberately hyped Internet startup companies with no prospect of financial success, bilking countless small investors out of their money. This PBS documentary explains how it all worked, from the "roadshows" used to line up initial capital to the strategy of launching a new company, watch its stock price spike, and selling before the inevitable downturn (known within the trade as "flipping").

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Open Season on Public Access

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, several state Legislatures have considered or passed measures restricting access to government records or facilities. In Presstime, a public of the National Newspaper Association, Joe Adams writes, "State lawmakers are closing public records at an alarming pace, often without even a shrug from those with the most to lose -- ordinary citizens. ... In state after state, lawmakers use privacy concerns as a blanket license to shutter records long thought to be safe from exemption.

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Ashcroft's Attack on Dissent

In his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Attorney General John Ashcroft argued that critics of the Bush administration's domestic anti-terrorism measures "only aid terrorists." The next day, Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker told journalists that they had mischaracterized Ashcroft's statements and, in doing so, "became a part of the exact problem he was describing." Such statements by a leading public official and a prominent spokesperson for the administration constitute an attempt to shut down rational debate over the administration's policies by as

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Can What We Know Hurt Us?

If you want to know if any toxic wastes dumps are near where you might soon buy a home, you can no longer find out. If you want to know just what is really being done to keep nuclear power plants safe, you can no longer find out. If you are interested in the design and construction of dams, you probably will not be able to get any information about them from the government any more. If you want to visit the reading rooms provided by many government agencies, such as the IRS, you now must make an appointment, and you will be chaperoned.

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Call for Censorship of Enviro Websites

In a startling plea for official censorship, Amy E. Smithson of the Henry L. Stimson Center has urged the government to "close down" web sites run by environmental organizations if they publish information about hazardous materials in local communities around the country, claiming that such information could be used by terrorists.

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Terror Law a Loss for Freedom

"Rare are the moments in American history when a Congress has surrendered so many cherished freedoms in a single trip to the altar of immediate fear," writes John Nichols regarding the ambitiously named Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act which was recently approved by Congress. In addition to authorizing unprecedented levels of surveillance and incarceration of both U.S.

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Farewell to Democracy in Pakistan

The dictatorship that governs Pakistan was held in contempt by the West prior to September 11, first for its repression of democracy at home and second for its ties with terrorists. Now that it has become our ally against Afghanistan, however, the song has changed. "It may be a good thing that Pakistan is ruled by a friendly military dictator," says Newsweek magazine, "rather than what could well be a hostile democracy." As Robert Fisk points out, "This, of course, is the very policy that dictates Washington's relations with the Arab world.

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