Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Pop Quiz

OK class. We are going to have a current events quiz. Please take out a piece of paper and a pencil.

Are we ready? Good.

First question: Recently in Egypt reporters covering peaceful demonstrations were arrested and beating, then later released without charge. What country's administration condemned Egypt, yet in 2008 at peaceful demonstrations slammed reporters to the ground, arrested them, and later released them without charge?

Second question: Where is there an effort to outlaw public sector workers from organizing, and the government has threatened to call in the military to stop peaceful demonstrations?

Third question: This past weekend a reporter covering the rebuilding of schools in Haiti returned to his native country. Upon entry he was held for several hours as every paper he had was photocopied, a copy was made of his complete laptop hard drive, and the contents of camera flash cards were duplicated. What nationality was that reporter?

Fourth and final question: What part of the world have there been large mass protests to stop and prevent abuses like those in the previous questions?

Trade papers with the person next to you, and lets go over the answers.

Question 1. The U.S.. Secretary Clinton recently condemned Egypt for their treatment of the media, but at both the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2008 reporters were targeted by the police. At the Republican convention at least one reporter had his nose bloodied during his arrest. All charges were later dropped. Though the abuse was not as bad as Egypt, there was an organized effort to suppress the media.

Question 2. You get two point if you wrote Wisconsin, and one point if you said the U.S.. The governor of Wisconsin is trying to get a law passed that would eliminate most public sector workers' collective bargaining rights. Excluded from the law are law enforcement and fire fighters, the two labor groups that supported him in his last election. He has threatened to call out the national guard to stop protests against this action.

Question 3. American. When the plane landed everyone was told to have their passports available as they left the plane. When independent journalist Brandon Jourdan left two immigration workers grabbed him and took him to a room where he was held, questioned, and his information copied. He was the only person on the flight to have this treatment. His treatment is not unique. Reporters and lawyers working abroad often are treated this way.

Question 4: Inspired by the success of Tanzania and Egypt there are protest in many Middle Eastern countries.

Now, back to me, Stanford.

We do not have it as bad as people Tanzania, Egypt, Palestine, and many other nations with oppressive regimes. But, we are losing our rights, and losing them at a great rate.

Our government is suppressing the freedom of press by harassing reporters, arresting reporters covering demonstrations, and now attempting to cut funds for public and independent media.

Our government is copying the files of lawyers returning to this country, including ones getting evidence for the defense. This is denying defendants their full rights.

Our government claims the right to kidnap people including U.S. citizens (extrajudicial rendition) and even to assassinate U.S. citizens overseas without trial.

AT&T spits all communications going through the San Francisco switch, and possibly others, giving our government a copy of all communications without a search warrant. This includes all conversations, emails, text messages, etc. They claim to "only" keep communications with one party overseas. First, there is no oversight, and what gives them that right?

I could continue, but the point is made. If we allow this trend to continue, our government could become one of the oppressive regimes. It is therefore imperative that we follow the lead of Tanzania, Egypt, and others, and protest. Nonviolent protests work! Is has been proven! The costs are high, and people will die. That is also proven.

I do not suggest or support the overthrow of a government, except in the most extreme cases. I do suggest restoring our constitutional government, and adding security to insure that never again will our government become the bullies of the world. I do suggest prosecuting governmental leaders that have violated the law, giving them the right to a fair trail that they have denied to others.