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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Sotomayor’s douchebag verdict

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 6th July 2009

A high school student, disappointed in the cancellation of an extracurricular event, organizes an impromptu but energetic email and phone campaign to lobby against that cancellation.  Her principal, extremely annoyed by this, exchanges words with the student, though stories differ on what those words were: the student reports she was told the event was canceled, but that decision might be reversed if she “played her cards right,” while the principal denies she ever said the event was canceled. The student goes home and writes an angry post on her “LiveJournal” public blog in which she describes the event as canceled — and also (regrettably) describes the school central office as “douchebags.”*

As it happens, the event goes forward after all — but a few weeks later, the principal learns of the posting, demands and gets an apology, requires the student to display the post to her parents, which also happens… and demands the student withdraw from a student election, which the student refuses to do.  The student’s eventual write-in victory is annulled.  The student and her mother sue on the grounds that the student’s freedom of speech was violated.

= = =

These are the basic facts of Doninger v. Niehoff,* as argued in March, 2008 and decided in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in June, 2008.  Sadly, and in my view wrongly, that court found for the school and against the student, by affirming that a district court was right to deny the student’s motion for relief on the basis that she had “failed to show a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits.”

Sadly, also, one Sonia Sotomayor was one of three Circuit judges who delivered this unanimous judgment; Judge Sotomayor also took no exception whatsoever to the particularly distressing explanation of the judgment — and of the state of freedom of speech today — written by Judge Debra Livingston.

Foreseeable  risk of substantial disruption trumps free speech
Livingston did not deny that Doninger had suffered injury, even ‘irreparable injury,’ nor that her speech was curtailed.
Read the rest of this entry »

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“24”, torture, free speech, and art

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 21st January 2009

Over at “Unqualified Offerings,” Thoreau writes about a Stephen Colbert reference to the popular TV show “24“, notorious for depicting torture as an effective tactic:

Last night I had a good chuckle when Colbert mixed in some Jack Bauer speeches with speeches by media and political figures arguing in favor of torture. I chuckled, because I distinguish between reality and fiction, and I can enjoy watching fictional characters do things that would never be excusable in real life. It’s pathetic that some people can’t.

But then he acknowledges that “24” may not be as simple as that, and asks:

Are artists responsible for people who feel validated by their works? Are they responsible for people who fail to see the nuances in their works? What if we were talking about gangster rappers instead of Kiefer Sutherland?

Those are excellent questions, I think.  But one of Thoreau’s readers didn’t, simply answering “no” to each question and closing, “Another edition of easy answers.” As it happens, I value that reader’s opinions, which is why I’m taking the time to write out why and how I disagree; I think easy answers aren’t available in this case.

I begin by affirming that everyone has the right to say whatever stupid, vile, pernicious thing they want, because I don’t see how to agree on what does and does not fit that description, and because trying to in a serious, consequential way would chill the free expression of difficult or unpopular ideas.

But I also think everyone should man up and take moral responsibility when they do say stupid, vile, pernicious things.  As Jane Mayer has shown, this TV show clearly has an intentional agenda, and its directors and actors had and have a choice whether or not to participate in that.  If exposure to “24” has increased the propensity to torture or to approve of torture (as it appears to have done) and if that appears to be part of an intentional agenda, then Kiefer Sutherland and the rest of the “24” cast and crew should take their fair share of the blame.  Sometimes it’s not just a job.

This art — like much art, maybe all of it in some sense — is meant to challenge.  To criticize its makers and their collaborators for their role in that art is to accept that challenge.  This is not about the purported effects of exposure to video games or gangster rap, or whether “Piss Christ” is art or deserves public funding.  This is about the real, intended, and deeply unfortunate effects of a work of art on the public discourse.  In that world of public discourse, these people deserve censure.  I think they are “responsible” for their work to that extent.

To some very small degree, my disapproval of “24” incurs the cost of chilling truly nonstupid, nonvile, nonpernicious expression, and that really is regrettable.  So I don’t think my own answers are easy ones either.  Surnow’s creation of and Sutherland et al’s participation in “24” doesn’t make them permanent pariahs (though in Surnow’s case I’m tempted).  But I do think that in this case they failed as human beings, and that they deserve our temporary contempt and our lasting pity.  They also deserve our serious consideration long enough to answer the questions, “What would I do?”  The answer shouldn’t be “hope that no one gives my choice much thought.”

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Takoma Park forum on Maryland State Police spying

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 13th October 2008

Max Obuszewski
Max Obuszewski and other activists spied on by
the Maryland State Police
. From left to
right:
Maria Allwine, (Baltimore Pledge of Resistance
(BPoR), Kit Bonson (Washington Peace Center),
Obuszewski (BPoR), Mike Stark (Campaign to End
the Death Penalty). Allwine and Stark were also
among those surveilled by the MSP.
Originally uploaded by Thomas Nephew.

I’ve written a couple of times now about the Maryland State Police spying scandal (“Sachs Report…”, “Maryland Police Surveillance: Case Explorer and Civil Liberties“).   This Saturday, I attended a forum about it organized by the Washington Peace Center and held at the Presbyterian Church in Takoma Park.

Speakers included four activists surveilled by the state police (Baltimore Pledge of Resistance (BPoR) activists Max Obuszewski and Maria Allwine, and Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) activists David Zirin and Mike Stark), state senator Jamie Raskin, and David Rocah, the ACLU-Maryland lawyer who obtained the documents breaking the Maryland police spying scandal.  Ann Wilcox of the National Lawyer’s Guild broadened the focus by reporting on infiltration and surveillance connected with the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota in September.

Obuszewski, Allwine
Mr. Obuszewski explained that the discovery of police surveillance was connected with protests he was part of at the NSA facility at Fort Meade. Noticing that documents were being provided to the judge in his civil disobedience case, Obuszewski got the help of the ACLU in August of 2006 to obtain whatever he could by federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Maryland Public Information Act petition. Fellow BPoR activist Allwine said she was certain that surveillance had been going on before the time frame they were able to uncover, and may well go beyond the state police.  Allwine is particularly curious about an intelligence unit of the Baltimore City police.  Referring to a October, 2003 incident, she wants to know whether Martin O’Malley — then mayor of Baltimore — was aware of city police surveillance of groups like hers at that time.

Allwine spoke of the chilling effect this can have on free speech; she’s advised worried people in the past that “you have to assume we’re being spied on,” but added “this is the most un-American thing I can think of — people responsible for public safety turning around and spying on” people exercising their right to free speech.

Below:
Fifty-three peace and death penalty “terrorists” — not four
Dissatisfaction with Sheridan, Sachs
Raskin/Hixson legislative reponse
The real “fringe”

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Beijing, MN cops trap, tear gas small crowd for the hell of it

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 3rd September 2008

Lindsay Beyerstein (a.k.a. “Majikthise”) writes about it at firedoglake (“Police Gas Docile Crowd Outside the RNC“), and has a photo essay up as well.  From the latter:

For reasons that I don’t fully understand, the police suddenly tear gassed a whole block of people who were following their instructions and not acting the least bit threatening or disruptive.

Protesters and journalists weren’t the only people on the street. A lot of bystanders were just trying to get home with all the roads blocked off.

From the firedoglake writeup:

I stress that this wasn’t a loud boisterous march like yesterday’s, it was just a crowd of about 100 people walking calmly down the street. I wasn’t even sure they were demonstrating until I looked at my pictures and saw that some were carrying signs. I remember calling my editor from the scene to tell her that I couldn’t see any protesters. Actually, I was looking at them the whole time, they were just very subdued.

The police gradually locked down the intersections on either side, and a number of neighboring intersections as well. They started to push the protesters back down the block. The group backed up. Suddenly, there were at least two very loud explosions and multiple cannisters of tear gas were deployed. I think the noise might have been concussion grenades.

=====
UPDATE, 9/8: “Uptake” video includes some footage of the events:


On the 2nd day of the RNC, the Poor Person’s March began with arrests, at the Ripple Effect Music Festival in front of the Capital Rage Against the Machine was threatened with arrest if they took the stage, the two events collided, combined, and ended with a peaceful demonstrators delivering a Citizen’s Arrest warrant through the fence of the barricade’s surrounding the RNC, and, after that, tear gas and concussion grenades. Oliver Dykstra and Leif Utne report. Footage from Oliver Dykstra, Leif Utne, and Corrine McDermid. Edited by Corrine McDermid.

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G.O.People’s Congress meets in Beijing, Minnesota

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 2nd September 2008

Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested at RNC (Democracy Now! press release via Alternet) —

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon. All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar’s violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, “I’m Press! Press!,” resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman’s arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis (Greenwald, Salon.com) —

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than “fire code violations,” and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Federal government involved in raids on protesters (Greenwald) —

…the raids were specifically “aided by informants planted in protest groups.” Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force — an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI — was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate “vegan groups” and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.

Some piece of paper

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. […]

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Gustav is not the story, Palin’s teenage daughter’s baby is not the story. Even Palin is not the story compared to this: jackbooted thugs are roughing up protesters and journalists at the GOP convention in St. Paul, and searching and arresting them without reasonable cause.

And this is part of a pattern — and not some dated one from the bad old days immediately after 9/11, but an ongoing one no longer excusable (if it ever was) by the fears of those days. In Maryland, in 2005-2006, the Maryland State Police infiltrated and surveilled anti-death penalty and anti-Iraq war groups with no reasonable basis for doing so. Note not just the risible “Terrorist” part of the “Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force” name, but also the “inter-agency” description; recall the potential data sharing aspect of the Maryland story — “Case Explorer” — and wonder if records of the people unjustly surveilled will ever be deleted from federal, state, and local law enforcement databases.

We just got through weeks of tut-tutting about China doing this to its dissidents and journalists.  Either we’re a nation of hypocrites, a nation of sheep, or a nation of citizens with inalienable rights. Time to choose.

=====
UPDATE, 9/2: Ongoing RNC coverage at the Uptake.org, which has distributed video cameras to people who are recording and uploading reports to the site; reports locations are visible on a Google map of the city. (Via Jane Hamsher at “firedoglake,” whose post “The Revolution will be Twittered” lists other groups doing innovative coverage and monitoring of the RNC and local police actions.) See also Matt Stoller’s coverage at OpenLeft: “Gotham City is Safe From the Protesters.” Orin Kerr (“Volokh Conspiracy”), on the other hand, argues the police raids this weekend weren’t out of line because of the stated intentions of the “RNC Welcoming Committee.”  But National Lawyer’s Guild lawyer Bruce Nestor sees it differently:

…according to the Hennepin County Jail records they’re being held on probable cause. Which means no formal charges have been issued. No complaint has been reviewed or signed by a prosecutor or a judge. But the police have detained these people. They can be held on probable cause until Wednesday at 12 noon. In my view this is a preventive detention action by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s department. It’s designed to keep people off the streets. It’s designed to scare people from participating in protest activity . […] Look if this raid was warranted people would be arrested on criminal complaints.

UPDATE, 9/3: See Nell Lancaster’s post “Conventional crackdown” for more. Nell:

The counter-terror targets: us. We commit conspiracy to riot by planning to assemble. Sure, you might insist it will be peaceable, but the security forces’ infiltrators have a different story to tell. And look: guys in masks smashing stuff, proving it’s just like they say.

UPDATE, 9/4: See also a guest post at “Making Light” by Elise Matthesen: “Who are these people?”

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Maryland police surveillance: “Case Explorer” and civil liberties

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 25th July 2008


Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
(WB HIDTA) “Case Explorer” listing for Max Obuszewski, June 2005.
Via ACLU-MD “MSP Documents” dump, 7/17/08.

On July 17th, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland released documents “…revealing that the Maryland State Police (MSP) engaged in covert surveillance of local peace and anti-death penalty groups for over a year from 2005-2006.”

As the Washington Post reported the next day,

A well-known antiwar activist from Baltimore, Max Obuszewski, 63, was singled out by the undercover agents and entered into a “Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” database. His entry indicates a “Primary Crime” of “Terrorism-anti-government” and a “Secondary Crime” of “Terrorism-Anti-War Protesters,” according to the documents.

 

In the following, I summarize the story so far, and then pursue one aspect that may not yet have received sufficient attention: the “Case Explorer” database and its implications.

Read the rest of this entry »

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I miss Fafblog!

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 10th November 2007

But at least Fafblog has a long shelf life. February 20, 2006:

Q. Why are we in Iraq?
A. To prevent the failure of the occupation of Iraq. If we pull out now the occupation will be a failure!

Q. Would it have been easier to have never occupied it in the first place?
A. Ah, but if we never occupied Iraq, then the occupation certainly would have been a failure, now wouldn’t it?

Q. [meditates for many years]
Q. Now I am enlightened.

 

August 25, 2005:

FAFBLOG: So what’s up, Democrats?
JOE BIDEN: What’s up is the war in Iraq, which is terribly mismanaged, Fafnir.
FB: Oh wow! Are you guys against the war, too?
JOE LIEBERMAN: Oh no, we’re not AGAINST the war!
HARRY REID: We’re all FOR it!
BIDEN: It’s the best worst idea in the world, and we’re gonna run with it to victory!
HILLARY CLINTON: Watch me eat a bug!
FB: So we can actually win the war! That’s great news!
LIEBERMAN: Yes!
REID: Sort of!
BIDEN: Maybe!
CLINTON: I can wrestle a buffalo!
FB: I’m confused.
REID: The problem is troop levels, Fafnir. The US invaded without enough boots on the ground!
LIEBERMAN: Just another couple hundred thousand soldiers on the ground and hey, we should have this thing wrapped up in no time!
BIDEN: Just like I told George Bush all along! I told him in the Oval Office, “You’re gonna go in without enough troops and you’re not gonna plan for the occupation and it’s gonna be the biggest mistake of your presidency and I’m gonna vote for it!”
FB: Wow, that all seems so prescient.

July 10, 2004:

It’s so easy to kind of sweep it all under your brain an think “Well theres nothin more to be said an nothin more to think about it” cause let’s face it nobody wants to think about their government participating in horror. An right now the level of torture talk has gone from “Torture: Bad!” to “Torture: Bad, But Not As Bad As Saddam Hussein” to “Torture: Bad, But What About Ticking Bombs?” to “Torture: Bad, But Not Necessarily Proof That The People Who Ordered Torture Are Bad” to “Torture: We Still Talkin Bout Torture?” to “Torture: Bad?” An before we get to “Torture: Sorta Like Mowin Your Lawn” I think we should try as hard as we can to wake up.

Wake up.

Apropos of which: high school kids in Chicago did, about the war — now they’re getting expelled. They did their part — now you do yours, and sign this petition to “drop all disciplinary action against the said students, and to remove any indications of said events from their permanent records. We urge you to respect these students right to free expression now and in the future.”

I would add that that I wish there were/there ought to be at least one or two colleges in this great country of ours that might look favorably on expulsions such as these. More by Arthur Silber, all via Jonathan Schwarz.

=====
NOTE, UPDATE, 11/11: “sorta like mowin your lawn” link via Nell Lancaster, “A Lovely Promise.” Other favorite Fafblog posts of mine are an interview with James Dobson (features tbe unforgettable line “powerful shockwaves of destructive gay energy”) and “drivin with Donald.”

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Garrett Park, Maryland SLAPPed — then stifles itself

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 12th October 2007

The term SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”) is used to describe a lawsuit “involving communications made to influence a governmental action or outcome, which resulted in a civil complaint or counterclaim filed against nongovernment individuals or organizations on a substantive issue of some public interest or social significance,” and more generally suits arising from speech in connection with a public issue.

Though it hasn’t reached actual litigation yet — and perhaps never will — something very much like that has happened to Garrett Park, Maryland impeachment advocates and their city government.

The story begins on September 10th, when the Garrett Park city council first considered passing a resolution supporting impeachment. Nine citizens of the small (pop. 917 in 2000) town testified for it, one suggested a referendum. For whatever reason, the latter suggestion prevailed in a 3-2 vote.

Or so it seemed. A legal firm representing two Garrett Park residents unhappy with the vote claimed in a September 27 letter that the Garrett Park council could not call for such a referendum, under state law and the town charter, since there was no ordinance for the referendum to refer to:

Pursuant to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Art. 23A, the powers of a municipal corporation such as Garrett Park are limited to those powers specifically enumerated in Section 2 of Article 23A. The power to vote a referendum is not among those powers, because, among other reasons, under the Constitution of Maryland, Art XVI, the referendum is reserved solely to the people. In order to exercise the power of referendum, either for the purpose of amending the municipal charter (Ann Code of Maryland, Art. 23A, Section 13) or for submitting an ordinance of the Town Council for the approval or disapproval of the qualified voters of the town (Garrett Park Charter, Section 78-15), a petition of not less than twenty percent of the qualified voters of the town is required. It is our understanding that you do not have before you a petition of at least 20% of the qualified voters on this matter, and even if you did, the question of impeaching President Bush and Vice President Chaney (sic) is neither an ordinance of the Town Council nor a proposed charter amendment, so submitting the matter to referendum is improper. Lastly, because the Town Council, as a legislative body, lacks the power of referendum, the vote on September 10, 2007 to refer the matter to referendum was also improper.

(Links added.) The mayor and town council hastily agreed — having established meanwhile that the proper sequence of votes on the various motions of the evening had not occurred, so that the referendum vote itself was procedurally out of order. (Parliamentarians can peruse the mayor and town council’s explanatory letter of October 2, and a local “e-Bugle” newsletter covering the meeting, to check whether I — and the elected leaders of Garrett Park — have this part of the story right.) From the council’s letter:

Further research after the September meeting has led the Council to understand that it does not have the authority to call for a referendum on the issue of impeachment of the President and Vice President. Under state law and the Town Charter, referendums may only be held for Charter amendments or approval or disapproval of ordinances of the Town based on petitions with the signature of 20% of the registered voters of the town.

Notice so far that even if both the legal firm and the town fathers are absolutely right about all of the above, they are saying a very limited thing at this point: for lack of (1) a relevant ordinance or Charter amendment and (2) signatures from 20% of Garrett Park, a referendum can not be called by the Garrett Park town council. As will be seen below, it is not clear that everyone is absolutely right even about that — but the story takes a far more disturbing turn at this point.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The New Stasiland Bulletin (Vol 1, Issue 2)

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 10th April 2007

  • Police Log Confirms FBI Role In Arrests (Carol Leonnig, Washington Post, 4/3/07):

    A secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain a group of war protesters in a downtown Washington parking garage in April 2002 and interrogated some of them on videotape about their political and religious beliefs, newly uncovered documents and interviews show.

    The protesters were asking for it, of course — wearing black clothes, having political beliefs; you name it, they were doing it.

  • Another Enemy of the People? (Professor Walter F. Murphy of Princeton University, via Mark Graber, “Balkinization”, 4/8/07):

    When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years. I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said.

    (Emphases added.) This reminds me, of course, that they hate our freedom. Murphy’s got nothing to whine about, really; they got on Senator Ted Kennedy’s case a couple of years ago the same way, and just like with Murphy, that was probably for sassing the President, too. The good thing is that Murphy might just need to wait a couple of months to get an apology from the Secretary of Homeland Security, that’s how it worked for the Senator. But meanwhile, he should watch what he says.

  • Our homeland authorities can’t do it all themselves, of course, they need help from a watchful populace. Aziz Poonawalla (“City of Brass”) reports:

    As my regular readers know, I am a member of the Dawoodi Bohra muslim community (specifically, an Ismaili sect with Shi’a Islam). Our masjid in Katy, Texas has stood there for over ten years. Last night, drunken vandals smashed almost a dozen windows and a glass door on the madrasah building of our complex.

    Maybe I should start a “New Kristallnacht Bulletin” to go with this one. By the way, Katy, Texas is also where a nice man put up a sign announcing pig races to try to prevent the building of a Muslim mosque. An ABC affiliate apparently thought it was all pretty funny, concluding: “There’s no date for the groundbreaking ceremonies, or the first pig race.”

    I’m sorry, Aziz.

=====
NOTES: “Police log” — via Laura Rozen (“War and Piece”), whose friend asks “why is this in the Metro section?”; Kennedy story — “Terror no-fly list singled out Kennedy: Senator was stopped 5 times at airports,” Sara Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post, August 20, 2004. (In one month, too.) Katy, Texas” story — KTRK TV, ABC 13, Houston; way to go, guys. “Stasiland” refers to the East German security agency or “Stasi”; see my post “The Lives of Others” for more about it, with the bullet entries at the beginning of that post comprising Vol 1, Issue 1 of my new running feature. In its English usage, “Stasiland” was coined (as far as I know) by human rights attorney Scott Horton at his new blog, “No Comment,” also writing about the 2002 DC incident.
EDIT, 4/11: “put up a sign announcing” instead of “staged”.

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Help jailed Egyptian human rights blogger

Posted by Thomas Nephew on 8th June 2006

Human Rights First:

Alaa Ahmed Seif al-IslamAlaa Ahmed Seif al-Islam, a twenty-four-year old Egyptian blogger [Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket — ed.], was detained in central Cairo on May 7, 2006 while taking part in a peaceful protest in support of two judges threatened with removal from the bench for exposing electoral fraud and also to call for the release of protesters detained in earlier demonstrations.

The case of the judges became a focus for public protests during April and May. The authorities confronted peaceful protesters with a massive, intimidating deployment of thousands of riot police.

Hundreds of protesters were taken into detention, many were beaten by police and plain clothes security officers on the street and some suffered torture and ill-treatment while in detention. More than 300 protesters are believed to remain in detention.

On June 4, Alaa’s detention was extended for a further 15 days using the powers of administrative detention available under Egypt’s emergency law. He faces a variety of charges and accusations, including “insulting the President,” but no date has been set for his trial.

Please call for Alaa’s immediate release from detention and for the release of all those held in detention for exercising their right to freedom of assembly and expression.

A second Human Rights First web page adds:

…[detained bloggers’] supporters allege that they have been particularly targeted by the police because of their activities as “citizen journalists,” reporting news that is ignored by the state dominated media in Egypt. One of them, Muhammad al-Sharqawi has posted his testimony describing torture he suffered while in detention:

Take a minute and contact the Egyptian Interior Minister and the Egyptian ambassador to the United States.

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UPDATE, 6/8: See also a 5/31 Washington Post article by Daniel Williams, “New Vehicle for Dissent is a Fast Track to Prison,” or parts Gary Farber has excerpted at his blog.

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