This Week in Technology + Press Freedom: June 21, 2020 – Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Reporters Committee urged a federal court on Friday to deny the Trump administrations request for an emergency order that would block the publication and disseminationof a highly anticipated memoir written by former National Security Adviser John Bolton. In afriend-of-the-court brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Reporters Committee argued that the requested injunction amounts to an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Such an extraordinarily broad injunction would be a clear prior restraint that violates long-settled constitutional law,said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The court must reject this effort to censor the free flow of information to the public about government activities.

On Saturday, a federal judgedenied the governments request.

Heres what the staff of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is tracking this week.

After a journalist contacted The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto in 2017 about a suspicious phishing attempt, researchers recently uncovered a huge hack-for-hire operation, dubbedDark Basin,that targeted thousands of people in journalism, business, banking, law, and especially the nonprofit sector.

Researchers linked Dark Basin to BellTroX InfoTech Services, an Indian tech firm owned by Sumit Gupta. Gupta, who in 2015 wasindicted on federal hacking chargesin California,denied the allegationsin an interview with Reuters.

Dark Basin targeted a range of organizations and, in several cases, the journalists connected to them. For example, hackers attempted to infiltrate American environmental advocacy groups, including the Rockefeller Family Fund, Greenpeace, and350.org, as well as multiple major US media outlets who covered the groups work on the#ExxonKnew climate change campaign. The hackers also targeted Free Press and Fight for the Future, organizations that advocate for open internet policies.

Other targets included financial and business journalists covering irregularities at the German company Wirecard AG, along with hedge funds, investigators and short sellers connected to the investigation. According to some of the targets, the hackers obtained and altered emails, including correspondence between journalists and sources. These were then published on various platforms as part of a leaks campaign.

In addition to these campaigns, researchers found Dark Basin targeted lawyers, government officials, oligarchs, and energy executives, all with varying degrees of sophistication. The hackers made numerous phishing attempts by sending emails from custom URL shorteners. Some of the phishing emails imitated colleagues, while others were disguised as horoscopes or pornographic websites.

In our investigation, we determined that hiring hackers may be a relatively common practice for many private investigators, John Scott-Railton, the reports lead author,told the New York Times. The sheer scale of it is remarkable to us.

Despite the danger, a recentreport by the Tow Center for Digital Journalismfound that many journalists are not particularly careful with their digital security. In newsrooms short on time and money, digital security may seem like an unnecessary burden, and some journalists believe as long as they are not covering sensitive topics they will not be targeted. Often newsrooms that adopt security protocols do so informally, with some journalists becoming trainers for others.

This episode highlights the information security risks for journalists, and the continuing need for threat modeling and appropriate security protections in newsrooms.

Abe Kenmore

A San Francisco policememo obtained by the Reporters Committeethrough a public records request last week revealed that officers were instructed not to use body-worn cameras during last years illegal raid of journalist Bryan Carmodys home because the video footage could compromise the confidential investigation. All five search warrants, some of which targeted Carmodys phone records, were laterdeemed illegalunder Californiasshield law. In March, the city of San Franciscoagreed to pay Carmody $369,000to settle with him.

The New York City Councilenactedalawrequiring the New York Police Department to share with the public its surveillance tools and any privacy safeguards it employs to protect the rights of citizens. The Brennan Center for Justice has alreadycataloguedmany of the ways the NYPD surveils residents, including with the use of facial recognition technology and social media monitoring.

On Monday, Filipino journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr.were convicted of cyber libelfor a story they published in Rappler, a Philippines-based news outlet that Ressa founded. Look for further analysis next week on the implications of cyber libel claims for journalists globally.

Six former eBay employeesare facing federal chargesfor allegedly harassing a husband and wife who published an e-commerce newsletter. The Department of Justice alleges the ex-employees retaliated against the couple for negative coverage of eBay by threatening them through Twitter, then sending them a bloody pig mask, a box of cockroaches, pornography, and a funeral wreath, among other objects. eBay said all six employees were fired in September 2019.

Twitter recentlyaskeda Virginia judge for the second time to dismiss the defamation claims brought against it by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) involving two anonymous parody accounts and other tweets. Lawyers for the social media company saidSection 230 of the Communications Decency Actprovides immunity from Nunes claims.

The Trump campaigndemandedthat CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him lagging behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, though the network refused to do so.

An internal CIAreport, published in 2017 after former CIA analyst Joshua Schulte wasaccusedof leaking material about the agencys hacking tools to WikiLeaks, found the cybersecurity of its elite hacking unit lacking. Schultes attorneys noted this in his trial earlier this year, pointing out that other employees could have accessed and downloaded the leaked data. Jurorsdeadlockedon whether Schulte provided the material to WikiLeaks.

The director and deputy director of Voice of Americaresignedlast week after congress confirmed Michael Pack, a conservative activist, as the new leader of the agency that oversees the federally funded news service. Their departures followWhite House criticism of VOAand news last Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Preventioninstructed communications staffto ignore media requests from the outlet.

Smart read

According torecently published reportsby Gallup and the Knight Foundation, 74% of Americans are very concerned about the spread of misinformation on the internet. The reports present other data, including numbers on how Americans view technology companies and content moderation.

Gif of the Week:To all the dads out there: Thanks for putting up with us always being on our phones and Happy Fathers Day!

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The Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press uses integrated advocacy combining the law, policy analysis, and public education to defend and promote press rights on issues at the intersection of technology and press freedom, such as reporter-source confidentiality protections, electronic surveillance law and policy, and content regulation online and in other media. TPFP is directed by Reporters Committee Attorney Gabe Rottman. He works with Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellow Linda Moon, Legal Fellows Jordan Murov-Goodman and Lyndsey Wajert, Policy Interns Abe Kenmore and Joey Oteng, and Legal Intern Sasha Peters.

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This Week in Technology + Press Freedom: June 21, 2020 - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Freedom Day Bailouts Get Several Men Behind Bars Out Before Father’s Day | 90.1 FM WABE – WABE 90.1 FM

Atlantas historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, in connection with the grassroots bailout organization, The Love Project 404, made it possible for some men behind bars to spend Fathers Day 2020 at home.

Since its inception three years ago, the Freedom Day Bailout has raised enough money for dozens many who are in need of treatment or rehabilitation to make bail. Organizers told Morning Edition host Lisa Rayam that 10 men made it out of Fulton and DeKalb jails on Friday to see their families.

Ebenezers social justice chair, Tiffany Roberts, said this time around had special meaning in wake of the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police; Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by armed white men near Brunswick, Georgia; and ongoing protests over police violence nationwide.

We understand that state violence exists on a continuum, Roberts said.

So its not just when someone is killed that we should be concerned, but we should be concerned about the entire system that says to black men, and black people in general, that they are criminals.

The way that black people are treated in the justice system, Roberts believes, is by design. Ebenezer and Love Project 404 are working to collect money for various projects like the Freedom Day Bailout.

Its no accident the bailout falls on Juneteenth which recognizes when the last enslaved African Americans deep in Confederate territory in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free. Months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia, Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended. The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln had been issued in 1863, more than two years earlier.

Nicole Moore

Many African Americans see Juneteenth as a true day of independence, according to historian Nicole Moore, Director of Education at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

News traveled slowly, and you didnt have Union occupation in farther states to really enforce it, Moore said.

She looks at the Emancipation Proclamation as a start, but said people dont really understand all of the details of that document.

It only freed those held in enslavement in the rebellious states, the Confederate states. And not everybody was freed by it, she said.

Today, she said, we are still fighting for that enforcement of equal rights.

We celebrate freedom, we celebrate liberation, but we also recognize that theres so much work that still has to be done.

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Freedom Day Bailouts Get Several Men Behind Bars Out Before Father's Day | 90.1 FM WABE - WABE 90.1 FM

The Juneteenth flag is full of symbols. Here’s what they mean – CNN

The flag is the brainchild of activist Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF). Haith created the flag in 1997 with the help of collaborators, and Boston-based illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf brought their vision to life.The flag was revised in 2000 into the version we know today, according to the National Juneteenth Observation Foundation. Seven years later, the date "June 19, 1865" was added, commemorating the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told enslaved African Americans of their emancipation.

For two decades now, communities around the country have held flag-raising ceremonies on Juneteenth in celebration of their freedom.

"This country has so many aspects to it that are spiritual, and I believe this flag is of that nature," Haith said. "It (the idea for the design) just came through me."

Designing the flag and its symbols was a deliberate process, Haith said. Here's what each element of the flag represents.

The star

The white star in the center of the flag has a dual meaning, Haith said.

But the star also goes beyond Texas, representing the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states.

The burst

The bursting outline around the star is inspired by a nova, a term that astronomers use to mean a new star.

On the Juneteenth flag, this represents a new beginning for the African Americans of Galveston and throughout the land.

The arc

The curve that extends across the width of the flag represents a new horizon: the opportunities and promise that lay ahead for black Americans.

The colors

The red, white and blue represents the American flag, a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are Americans.

June 19, 1865, represents the day that enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, became Americans under the law.

And while African Americans today are still fighting for equality and justice, Haith said those colors symbolize the continuous commitment of people in the United States to do better -- and to live up to the American ideal of liberty and justice for all.

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The Juneteenth flag is full of symbols. Here's what they mean - CNN

We Have to Talk About Liberating Minds: Angela Davis’ Quotes on Freedom – AnOther Magazine

June 19 is celebrated annually across America as Juneteenth, a holidaythat marks the freedom of formerly enslaved African Americans: on June 19, 1865, it was proclaimed that all slaves in Texas, the final Confederate state to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of the Civil War, were now free. In the more than 150 years since, Juneteenth also known as Freedom Day or Liberation Day has been celebrated by African American communities throughout the USA, and many are campaigning for the day to become an official national holiday.

In 2020, Juneteenth arrives amid the context of the largest civil rights protests across the world since the 1960s. This years protests were sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died at the hands of a white police officer in the city on May 25. Recent weeks have been both a time for action, with protests organised by the globalBlack Lives Matter movement, and also education: in order to effect change, we must learn about systemic racism, racial bias,white privilege and the historieswere not taught in school and continue learning, even as news cyclesmove on and momentum might seem to slow. A celebration of freedom feels poignant, when racist acts of police brutality and violence have galvanised protesters to join the ongoing fight against racism, not just in America but in countries the world over, including the UK.

Angela Davis has long fought for freedom. Hers is a voice that many have sought out and shared in recent weeks, though she has been actively campaigning for racial justice for over 50 years. In the early 1970s, Free Angela became a worldwide rallying cry when Davis was imprisoned and later on trial for charges of murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy (guns that she had bought legally were used for an attack on Marin County Courthouse, in which hostages were taken and four people killed). Free Angela moved beyond politics and into pop culture: the Rolling Stones wrote Sweet Black Angelabout her, and Aretha Franklin declared in Jet magazine in 1970: Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free Jail is hell to be in, Im going to set her free if theres any justice in our courts not because I believe in communism, but because shes a black woman and she wants freedom for black people.

It was while she was incarcerated that the interview featured in The Black Power Mixtape 19671975 was filmed, impassioned clips of Davis speaking on violence and revolution from which have been shared widely since the films release in 2011. As a professor and activist, she has fought for the abolition of prisons, spoken out against the prison-industrial complex and capitalism, and continuously campaigned for racial justice via her books, speeches and teaching. With Davis long-fought struggle for liberation in mind, we have compiled a selection of her powerful words on freedom (these quotations can act as a starting point, with a list of further resources also included below).

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We Have to Talk About Liberating Minds: Angela Davis' Quotes on Freedom - AnOther Magazine

Journalism Instructor Leading Online Freedom of Information Event – Ole Miss News

OXFORD, Miss. The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will co-sponsor a Zoom event Tuesday (June 23) that explores open meetings, public records and what the public is entitled to know about COVID-19.

Ellen Meacham, adjunct instructor of journalism, will lead the 11 a.m. event, which is open to the public. It features Leonard Van Slyke, a longtime media law attorney who mans the hotline for the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information.

Tune into the Zoom meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday by clicking this link.

Although this is designed with journalists in mind, public records and public meetings laws are for all members of the public, so anyone can attend, said Meacham, who will take questions from the audience.

The event is also sponsored by the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, the Mississippi Broadcasters Association and the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

We will talk about some of the most common questions Mr. Van Slyke gets on the Freedom of Information hotline, she said. We will especially focus on what should be available for reporters and other member of the public relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will talk about what issues must be talked about in open meetings and when a government board can and cannot go behind closed doors. Well talk about what information should be available and how to get information about law enforcement, too.

Meacham said she hopes those who attend the online event realize that the work that public officials do is paid for by the taxpayers and belongs to them.

Of course there are a few exceptions, but, in general, the publics business should be done in public, and residents and the reporters who represent them are on solid ground when they seek that information, she said. I hope people who attend this will learn what they can get and what options they have if they run into obstacles.

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Journalism Instructor Leading Online Freedom of Information Event - Ole Miss News

Dozens gather for freedom march and rally in downtown Columbus – 10TV

I just want to do this this time so we dont want to have to do this 50 years from now."

COLUMBUS, Ohio A rally and march recognizing Juneteeth which celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in this country was held in downtown Columbus Saturday and drew dozens of people.

Those who gathered chanted: Black Lives Matter or No justice, no peace words that have become a familiar chorus during protests across the country over the past four weeks since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The messages of those who gathered Saturday were a mix of celebration and calls to action.

This is a struggle that weve going through for centuries and decades. And we are just trying to change history and do our part and everybody out here is trying to be on the right side of history out here, said Nickalos Reid.

Those taking part in the marched along East Broad Street to Mayme Moore Park more than a mile away.

I just want to do this this time so we dont want to have to do this 50 years from now. We dont want to have to do this every couple of years every time they kill somebody, said Lavon Haynes.

Along the route 10TV News spoke to Haynes who brought his family with him and says the events that followed George Floyds death in police custody have been hard to explain to his kids.

Unfortunately, I have had to have that talk with a five-year old and eight-year old and a 13-year old. We dont want to keep doing this, Haynes said. It was rough. Brings a tear to my eye.

You want to see a grown man cry, let them talk about police brutality.

The organizers of todays event tell me it was not simply about making their voices heard although that was part of it. But it was also about, in their view, celebrating our community.

This is to bring everybody, Black, white, Latino, gay, lesbian, whatever you are come together to this event lets celebrate everybodys freedom not just on the fourth of July. But also on Juneteenth, said India Riley, one of the event organizers.

While Saturdays event and march were without incident as 10TV covered them, some protesters told us they were upset by another group who showed up at the Ohio Statehouse Saturday morning and were cleaning and scrubbing some of what had been painted along the sidewalk including the word Black in the Black Lives Matter that had been painted on the sidewalk outside the Statehouse.

An emailed message was left with a member of the other group who can be seen on cell phone scrubbing and using cleaning solution on the sidewalk. Some who attended Saturdays rally vowed to re-paint the words Black Lives Matter."

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Dozens gather for freedom march and rally in downtown Columbus - 10TV

Justice Thomas concludes that the "freedom of speech" is a Privilege or Immunity under the 14th Amendment – Reason

Today the Supreme Court denied review in Kansas v. Boettger. This case considered whether "the First Amendment prohibits States from criminalizing threats to '[c]ommit violence . . . in reckless disregard of the risk of causing . . . fear.'" Justice Thomas dissented from the denial of certiorari. He concluded that "the Constitution likely permits States to criminalize threats even in the absence of any intent to intimidate." And he did not think this case was governed by Virginia v. Black (2003). (Thomas dissented inBlack).

At the outset of his analysis, Thomas once again rejects substantive due process incorporation. instead, he says that the First Amendmentan enumerated rightis protected by the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that "[n]o Stateshall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." 1.As I have previously explained, "[t]he evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the privileges and immunities of such citizens included individual rights enumerated in the Constitution." McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 823 (2010) (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment). One of those rights is "the freedom of speech" in the First Amendment. See, e.g., Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 2765 (1866) (speech of Sen. Howard).The Fourteenth Amendment provides that "[n]o Stateshall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." 1.As I have previously explained, "[t]he evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the privileges and immunities of such citizens included individual rights enumerated in the Constitution." McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 823 (2010) (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment). One of those rights is "the freedom of speech" in the First Amendment. See, e.g., Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 2765 (1866) (speech of Sen. Howard).

This conclusion follows from McDonald. This is the first time (as best as I can recall) that Thomas has grounded the freedom of speech in the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Thomas then expressly considers historical evidence leading up to Reconstruction.

The prevalence of statutes from the founding through Reconstruction that did not require intent to intimidate provides strong evidence of the meaning of the freedom of speech protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Thomas raised similar points inElonis v. United States. But that case did not involve incorporation.


Justice Thomas concludes that the "freedom of speech" is a Privilege or Immunity under the 14th Amendment - Reason

Freedom launches Pilot to simplify teleoperation on third-party robots – TechCrunch

We knew remotely operated robotics were going to have their moment soon enough but few predicted how much the category would be forced to accelerate in 2020. Its true that many of the pieces were already in place, including the technology and the desire to innovate, but a global pandemic turned out to be the secret sauce here. Anything companies can do to remove potential human contamination from the process is going to move to the top of the list.

The timing is certainly perfect for Bay Area-based Freedom Robotics. Back in July of last year, the startup announced a $6.6 million raise. More recently, co-founder and CEO Joshua Wilson joined myself and Nvidias Claire Delaunay onstage at TechCrunchs robotics event in March. Off-stage, Wilson showed me software Freedom had been developing: a solution designed to make remote operation a plug and play process for robotics companies.

Image Credits: Freedom Robotics

That software was Pilot. The company is finally ready to discuss it in full, just as many companies are getting really serious about remote operations. The secret sauce here is simplicity, allowing for a wide range of different robotics form factors to create remote operations on various devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets. Freedom says theyll be able to do it with a single line of code. Whats more, inexperienced operators should be able to control the robots almost instantly.

COVID has accelerated robotics deployments by five years, co-founder and CTO Hans Lee tells TechCrunch. People need robotstodayand our robotics customers cant keep up with the demand to build them. We are seeing a ton of longer-term robotics platforms in development pivot to launching in less than 60 days with a significantly simpler system and with humans in the loop. It has really reinforced the value of ourPilotfeature and we are excited to be helping make hospitals, streets, agriculture and other areas significantly safer during COVID.

A number of robotics companies are already utilizing the tech, including Bangalores Invento Robotics and UCLA spin-off Cyan Robotics. Along with teleoperations, the company is pitching the technology as a stepping stone toward full autonomy. Key applications at the moment are delivery and warehouse robotics, both of which are in high-demand during the pandemic.

Commercial cleaning robots are now narrowly targeted at sanitizing. In agriculture vegetable and fruit picking labor shortages have become national news there is limited time until harvest, Freedoms head of robotics Steve Hansen tells TechCrunch. What were seeing is people who previously had longer, more elaborate plans to build out automation systems are coming to us looking to ship their robots quicker with remote teleoperators as a backstop and are in need of dev tools they can use to tune and fix their robots literally in the fields.

Image Credits: Freedom Robotics

Pilot features allow you to ship these robots now and fill in the gaps of bugs and missing features with human operators as you scale each deployment, Freedom writes. You can also supplement your autonomous capabilities with a human backstop to make tough decisions and add in human-level intelligence before algorithms are fully tuned. By rethinking things to include remote human operators in the mix, you can be on the fastest path to a fully autonomous system that meets your customers needs and also positively impacts the world.

Freedom is currently offering free trial accounts for Pilot that includes one year for one robot. Theres a tiered pricing structure beyond that.

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Freedom launches Pilot to simplify teleoperation on third-party robots - TechCrunch

Gov. Stitt says Trump rally attendees ‘have freedom to stay home’ if concerned about contracting COVID-19 – Tulsa World

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday reaffirmed his support for President Donald Trump's campaign appearance in Tulsa despite growing concerns about Oklahoma's rising coronavirus cases.

In a Friday interview on "America's Newsroom" on the FOX News network, Stitt said Oklahoma is a good position to host Saturday's rally at the BOK Center because of how the state has been able to mitigate coronavirus outbreaks.

"Well, what we can tell you is that I made 25 different executive orders over the last 60 days, and we peaked in hospitalizations at 560 back in March," Stitt said. "Today, we have 211. We have been safely reopening. We were one of the first states to start reopening. So, were 57 days into our reopening campaign, and we feel like its the right time to start reopening."

In response toTulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart's saying the indoor rally could trigger a super-spreader occurrence, Stitt encouraged those with concerns about attending the event to stay home.

"My response to those folks the naysayers: When is the right time?" The coronavirus is in the United States; it's in Oklahoma," said Stitt. "We have to take precautions. We have the freedom to stay home. You have the freedom to come to this rally."

On Friday morning, Oklahomarecorded 352 new COVID-19 infections along with three deaths related to the virus. Since June 5, the state has accumulated more than 1,800 new coronavirus cases.

Related content about the Trump rally in Tulsa

Gallery: Trump supporters out Friday in downtown Tulsa for campaign rally

President Donald Trump supporter Randall Thom rides a scooter Friday with a flag attached to it in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A bust of President Donald Trump sits on a barricade on in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A bust of President Donald Trump sits on a barricade on Fourth Street and Boulder Avenue in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Andrea Garrett puts her contact lenses in as she and other Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A woman looks out of a window at the Irving Building as Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A heavy rain falls as Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Trump supporters line up and camp on in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Barricades block Fourth Street at Cheyenne Avenue as Trump supporters line up and camp ahead of Saturday's campaign in Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Mike Pellerin waves a Donald Trump campaign flag near a barricade after driving all night from Austin, Texas, to line up and camp with other Trump supporters in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. The area for several blocks around the BOK Center is barricaded. Upon arriving Pellerin said he needed to burn some energy before taking a nap. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Mary Kent is greeted by steel barricades as she exits her home in the Adams Building in downtown Tulsa ahead of President Donald Trump's Saturday campaign rally. Kent was traveling to a doctor's appointment. Several blocks around the BOK Center have been barricaded. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Karson Curttright of Enid films members of the media as he and other Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Vincent Ruiz removes lamps from the Adams Building so they don't get damaged ahead of President Donald Trump's Saturday campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Mary Kent is greeted by steel barricades as she exits her home in the Adams Building. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Messages in the Adams Building window as Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Preston Hanning sleeps as Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Rose Brown of Tulsa and other Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Robert Harper traveled from Boston to attend President Donald Trump's Saturday campaign rally. Harper is originally from Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Trump supporters are seen from an apartment window in the Irving Building. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A motorist plays and sings an anti Donald Trump song as he passes supporters in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Jerome Garvin, manager of the Irving Building, sits in his apartment as Trump supporters line in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Messages in the Adams Building window as Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Mike Pellerin drove all night from Austin, Texas, to line up and camp with other Trump supporters in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturdays campaign rally.MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

A Trump vendor shields herself from the rain as supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Trump supporters shield themselves from a hard rain as they line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Caroline DeVenuto from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, shouts near a vendor of Donald Trump merchandise as the presidents supporters camp in Tulsa on Friday.MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Trump supporter Blake Marnell of San Diego walks in the rain as he and others line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Risa Holland of Wichita, Kan., shouts, "Eight more years" as she and other Trump supporters line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Jennifer, who declined to give her last name, takes photos of Trump supporters in the rain as they line up and camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Workers set up fences for lines ahead of President Donald Trump's Saturday campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

President Donald Trump supporter Angela Perkins makes a sign about the Fake News while camping in line in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturday's campaign rally. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Esther Seim and Elijah Pearrow, supporters of President Donald Trump, rest in their tent as they camp in downtown Tulsa ahead of Saturdays campaign rally.MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

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Gov. Stitt says Trump rally attendees 'have freedom to stay home' if concerned about contracting COVID-19 - Tulsa World

Opinion: The freedom to take a knee – Houston Chronicle

Freedom to protest

Regarding Kneeling for anthem is protesting America, (A14, June 18): Ask Marc Thiessen who will speak for those U.S. solders like my dad and his three brothers who fought for others freedom when their freedom in the U.S. was limited or non-existent?

Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., Houston

Marc Thiessen condemned Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem. In doing so he repeated President Donald Trumps assertion that Kaepernick was kneeling to show disrespect for our flag, our military, and our country and not (as Kaepernick has repeatedly stated) to call attention to the disproportionate use of violence by the police against black and brown men.

When my grandson played soccer, he and his teammates were taught to kneel whenever a player on either team was injured. This was done to show respect for the injured player. In the old days a man would kneel to ask for his girlfriends hand in marriage. Soldiers kneel before the graves of their fallen comrades. Knights kneel before the queen. In each instance kneeling is a sign of respect. I cant think of any situation in which kneeling did not represent respect, until the president took it upon himself to redefine Colin Kaepernicks act as one of disrespect.

Barbara Navarro, Magnolia

Bravo to Marc Thiessens oped. My father fought in the South Pacific during WWII and was proud of his service as were many of his comrades. I was raised to respect the flag as a symbol of Americas ideals.

Because of many who fought for our country, you have a right to protest but (as Thiessen stated) when you disrespect the flag, you disrespect them.

Kitty Russell, Houston

White privilege

Regarding Pastors white blessing remarks draw fire, (A13, June 19): As a Houston native who now lives in Lufkin, I look forward to my enewspaper each day. As a just-left-of-center independent voter and thinker, I expect and want the news to be given without slant or bias. Please let me gather information and make my own decisions. When I saw the headline Pastors white blessing remarks draw fire, I was livid. I am a pastors wife, and I was ready to pounce and take action on this injustice. I had already typed a scathing Facebook comment about him not following the same Bible I follow. Then I read the rest of the story. This pastor said something that was totally stupid, unacceptable and apparently unintentional. When he realized what he said was not what he meant, he immediately retracted it and apologized. This is a story of sin and redemption. But your headline was clearly manipulated to get a readers attention, and sadly many of them may not have read anything but the biased headline. I am an ardent supporter of the First Amendment and freedom of the press, and I am thankful to be able to read your paper each morning. That being said, I am tired of the divisions in our country. Please just report the news fairly, and dont try to add to the divisiveness. Let us draw our own conclusions.

Terri Morgan, Lufkin

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Opinion: The freedom to take a knee - Houston Chronicle

Politicized COVID-19 Response Imperils Both Freedom and Safety, States Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons – GlobeNewswire

TUCSON, Ariz., June 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Based on seriously flawed statistical models, government has seized unprecedented powers, claiming to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Ohio endocrinologist David Westbrock, M.D., in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. But have these measures done more harm than good, he asks.

The devastating economic impact is not irrelevant to health, Dr. Westbrock writes: As stated in a Wall Street Journal editorial, No society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its overall economic health.

The medical impact is also being affected by governmental authorities, apparently driven by political forces and media coverage, Dr. Westbrock states. Some treatments, such as the use of plasma from recovered patients or the not-yet-approved remdesivir, are highlighted, while the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin/zinc regimen and others are ignored or claimed to be dangerous or fraudulent.

Here, there is no right to try, and the media appears to accept that a central authority should make treatment decisions rather than individual, independent physicians.

For thousands of years physicians have been deciding what treatment or what drug is necessary, Dr. Westbrock writes. This includes the assessment of side effects as well as efficacy of any given treatment. Physicians are also trained to evaluate evidence. Yet one White House adviser presumes to declare that a large body of the best available clinical evidence on HCQ treatment is merely anecdotal.

Who should be in charge? Dr. Westbrock asks.

And what are the trade-offs? Dr. Westbrock cites Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick stating that he would gladly risk his demise to protect the future freedom of his children and grandchildren.

This is the dilemma we face today, Dr. Westbrock writes. Do we give up our natural, God-given freedoms and sacrifice the next generations economic well-being as well as family, social, and religious connections based on statistical prognostications?

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

David Westbrock, M.D, d.westbrock@gmail.com, or Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.com

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Politicized COVID-19 Response Imperils Both Freedom and Safety, States Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons - GlobeNewswire

Julian Assange’s fianc calls on the Australian government to secure his freedom – World Socialist Web Site

By Oscar Grenfell 22 June 2020

Stella Morris, the fianc of Julian Assange and mother of his two young children, issued a powerful call last night for the Australian government to secure the WikiLeaks founders freedom and prevent his extradition to the US, where he faces life imprisonment for exposing American war crimes.

Morris was featured on Channel Nines 60 Minutes program. The 24-minute segment provided an objective account of Assanges decade-long arbitrary detention, first in Ecuadors London embassy where he was a political refugee, and since April 2019 in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.

The program, presented by Tara Brown, was the first substantive examination of Assanges plight by the Australian media since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Despite the fact that he is an Australian journalist being persecuted by the most powerful governments in the world for his publishing activities, corporate media outlets have maintained an effective D-notice on Assange for more than three months. This has dovetailed with the refusal of the Australian government, the Labor opposition and all of the official parties to defend the WikiLeaks founder.

Morris warned that Assanges incarceration in Belmarsh, which she noted has been dubbed the UKs Guantanamo Bay, is exacerbating physical and psychological health issues stemming from his protracted persecution.

Hes very unwell and Im very concerned for his ability to survive this, she said. Now hes in the UKs worst prison. Its a high-security prison. One in five prisoners are murderers. He shouldnt be there. Hes not a criminal, hes not a dangerous person, hes a gentle intellectual thinker and a journalist. Those people are not the people who belong in prison.

Morris stated that she was very worried about Assanges circumstances. She has been unable to visit him since February, as a result of coronavirus lockdown measures. Despite widespread infections throughout the British penitentiary system, including in Belmarsh, and Assanges vulnerability to the virus as a result of a chronic lung condition, he has been refused bail.

If youre separated from your family and youre alone in a tiny, dark room for 23-hours a day, with no control over your surroundings, I think people can imagine what that is like, Morris said.

Brown stated that in such circumstances, most people would probably go mad. Morris responded: I think any person would get very severely depressed and he is very depressed. 60 Minutes showed Morris and her two young children speaking with Assange on the phone. The older of the two asked Assange when he was coming home.

Morris, a 37-year-old lawyer, recounted the circumstances of her relationship with Assange. They had grown close when she was working on his legal cases after he had successfully sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

When the couples two children were born in 2017 and 2018, the new Ecuadorian government had initiated closer relations with the US and was increasingly hostile to Assange. UC Global, a Spanish firm contracted to manage the embassys security, was surveilling every aspect of Assanges life and was passing the material gathered to the US Central Intelligence Agency.

When she fell pregnant, Morris informed Assange by writing the news on a piece of paper. They were fearful that any conversation about their personal life would be picked up by the audio recording devices placed throughout the embassy by UC Global. Morris sought to hide her pregnancies from the embassy staff and after the children were born, a friend of Assange pretended to be their father and brought them to the embassy.

The real issue was I thought that our family would be targeted by the same people that were trying to harm Julian, Morris stated. The program featured news clips of senior US government figures denouncing Assange in hysterical terms and calling for him to be silenced. Morris noted that UC Global had considered stealing the diaper of one of her children to confirm his paternity, and had even discussed plans to kill Assange or allow American agents to kidnap him.

Morris commented that it would be difficult for many people to appreciate the lawlessness that had characterised Assanges persecution. Theres incredible criminality that has been going on in order to gather information about Julians lawyers, and his family, and journalists who were visiting him, she said. Ive been in a permanent state of fear for years and now its slowly playing out.

Significantly, the politically-motivated character of Swedish sexual misconduct allegations against Assange was made clear in the program. The allegations were concocted by that countrys police and judiciary, in the midst of a frenzied US campaign against WikiLeaks exposure of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brown noted that Assange had never been charged with a crime in Sweden, and that the Swedish investigation had been dropped. Australian independent parliamentarian Andrew Wilkie pointed out that documents had shown that the British government used the allegations to enforce Assanges arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy. The British authorities had been aware that the Swedish claims were a smokescreen for plans to dispatch Assange to his US persecutors.

The program concluded with an appeal from Morris to the Australian government. She said: I want people to understand that were being punished as a family. Its not just Julian in the prison. The kids are being deprived of their father. I need Julian and he needs me.

Morris declared: Id like to ask [Australian Prime Minister] Scott Morrison to do everything he can to get Julian back to his family. If Australia doesnt step in Im very fearful this wrong wont be righted. Its a nightmare.

Tellingly, Brown stated that Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Christian Porter refused to be interviewed.

This was in line with the ten-year collaboration of Australian governments in the US-led vendetta against Assange. Beginning with the Greens-backed Labor government of Julia Gillard, they have rejected calls to defend the WikiLeaks founder, instead participating in the campaign against him.

The official hostility to Assange is bound up with the Australian ruling elites unconditional support for the US military alliance and all of American imperialisms illegal wars and military preparations and dovetails with a domestic assault on democratic rights, including attacks on press freedom and laws increasing punishments for whistleblowers. It is facilitated by the refusal of the Greens, the pseudo-left groups and the unions to mount any campaign for Assanges rights.

This underscores the fact that the fight for Assanges freedom and for the defence of all civil liberties requires the mobilisation of the working class. The international protests over recent weeks against police violence have demonstrated the objective basis for building such a movement.

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Julian Assange's fianc calls on the Australian government to secure his freedom - World Socialist Web Site

5th Annual Tybee Island Wade-In commemorates fight for freedom – WSAV-TV

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) People came together on Tybee Island to wade in the water to celebrate Juneteenth.

People across the country are celebrating Juneteenth and its significance in American history. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson ordered June 19 to be an official city holiday as well as leaders in Bluffton and Statesboro.

Commemorative events are happening both locally and out on Tybee Island where community members gathered for the Fifth Annual Juneteenth Wade-In, led by the Tybee MLK Human Rights Organization.

Committee members said June 19s significance in history serves as the nations true independence day.

It took over 88 years after the War for Independence before all American people were free.

Julia Pearce, the coordinator for Tybee Islands Juneteenth commemoration and jubilee, said on July 4th, 1776, 20 percent of the colonists were still enslaved.

This is an American holiday, said Pearce. We are American people and we are asking everyone to come together. And this holiday is a Jubilee Day for everybody to come together.

Pearce said black soldiers who fought in the war were fighting for their freedoms too, but that day wouldnt come until June 19, 1865.

The truth can actually liberate us if we allow it, said Pearce. We can hold hands and look at the truth together. Hold hands, and look at it together. And thats what were going to do.

Patt Gunn, a Gullah Geechee storyteller led community members out on North Beach into the watersymbolic of the first wade-in which was led by some college students from Savannah State University in the 60s.

During that time, African Americans on Tybee Island were restricted by law from going into the Atlantic Ocean.

The wade-in was both a movement of protest, and a demonstration. Among the group was former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson.

African Americans celebrate America just like everybody else and so weve been coming to the fourth of July knowing that the fourth of July really wasnt freedom for us. It wasnt freedom for us but its celebrated as a freedom day so we should actually have a freedom day thats for everyone, so thats what Juneteenth is about, Pearce stated.

Musicians performed Kumbaya and other native Gullah songs. Gunn addressed the crowd and told stories about Tybee Islands Wade-In history.

NAACP Vice President Chad Mance was the special speaker at the eventcalling for Juneteenth to be made an official holiday on the island: If you cant stand in solidarity to the freedom of all men, you cant stand in solidarity to the freedom of some.

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5th Annual Tybee Island Wade-In commemorates fight for freedom - WSAV-TV

Pence to visit Texas for ‘Freedom’ event at megachurch – Monitor

DALLAS (AP) Vice President Mike Pence will visit Texas later this month for a Celebrate Freedom event at a Dallas megachurch, officials said Wednesday.

Pences office said the vice president will travel to Dallas on June 28 and will visit First Baptist Church. He will also speak at the churchs event, which is described as an annual celebration of Americas freedom and spiritual foundation.

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the 14,000-member, Southern Baptist church, is one of President Donald Trumps leading allies among conservative evangelical Christians.

This weekend, Pence is scheduled to attend Trumps first campaign rally since the coronavirus campaign began in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also spent time in Iowa this week, visiting a diner and speaking at a Winnebago facility.

Diana Eva Maldonado is the Digital Editor for the Brownsville Herald, Valley Morning Star and Coastal Current. She can be reached at dmaldonado@valleystar.com or (956) 421-9872 or (956) 982-6618.

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Pence to visit Texas for 'Freedom' event at megachurch - Monitor

COVID-19: Freedom Means That We Can Do Stupid Things, Not That We Have To – Anchorage Press

NBC News reports that US president Donald Trump is "furious" over "underwhelming" attendance at his June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Only 6,200 of 19,000 seats ended up cradling Trump supporters' butts. An optimistically pre-arranged overflow area went unused.

Explanations abound: Trump's campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, blames "radical protesters, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media." Others note the 95-degree heat combined with thunderstorms -- not the weather combination most conducive to standing in lines. Still others credit a social media campaign to request but not use tickets to the event.

The most obvious and likely explanations are simpler.

First, Trump isn't as popular, nor is his base as enthusiastic and energized, at the moment as was the case four years ago.

Second, despite what you may have heard, an individual's support for Trump does not necessarily indicate more general idiocy.

Believe it or not, COVID-19 really is a thing, people really are worried about it, and it really is sensible to take precautions.

Has COVID-19 been abused by opportunistic bureaucrats and authoritarian politicians as an excuse to violate our rights? Yes.

Have we found ourselves bombarded by dubious claims about everything from how COVID-19 is transmitted to what must be done for humanity to survive it? Absolutely.

Have mask-wearing and other measures transcended their practical containment value and become more like public testimonials to belief in junk "science" as a state-sponsored religion? Yep.

The "lockdowns" should never have happened, it's a good thing they're ending, and the sooner life gets back to something resembling normal the better.

On the other hand, it's a real disease that's really killing people, and taking reasonable precautions is, well, reasonable.

Yes, as freedom returns, some people will throw caution entirely to the winds. They should be free to act like idiots, right up to the point they actually -- not prospectively, not hypothetically, ACTUALLY -- cause harm to non-consenting others.

They should also be free to refrain from acting like idiots.

Packing tens of thousands of people from hundreds or thousands of miles around into an arena for a rally in Tulsa was an idiotic idea that might as well have been designed specifically to maximize the spread of COVID-19. But hey, it turned out that most of Trump's supporters from that area weren't idiots after all.

Packing thousands of Republicans from all over the country into an arena in Jacksonville, Florida in August, or hundreds of Libertarians from 50 states into a hotel ballroom in Orlando, Florida in July, for gratuitous "national convention events" are idiotic ideas too.

No, those events shouldn't be prohibited. Freedom demands that they not be interfered with. But freedom also allows us non-idiots to avoid the events and scorn their organizers.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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COVID-19: Freedom Means That We Can Do Stupid Things, Not That We Have To - Anchorage Press

No restrictions on using firearms: India gives soldiers freedom along LAC in extraordinary times – Hindustan Times

A significant change in Rules of Engagement (ROE) by the Indian Army following the Galwan Valley skirmish that left 20 Indian soldiers dead gives complete freedom of action to commanders deployed along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) to handle situations at the tactical level, two senior officers said on Saturday on condition of anonymity.

The commanders will no longer be bound by restrictions on the use of firearms and will have full authority to respond to extraordinary situations using all resources at their disposal, said one of the officers cited above.

The amendment in ROE comes after Indian and Chinese soldiers engaged in their first deadly conflict in 45 years in Galwan Valley on June 15, resulting in death of 20 Indian army troops and several Chinese casualties.

Also read: Released after 60 hours by China, 10 Indian soldiers undergo debriefing

In his remarks during an all-party meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the army had been given the freedom to take necessary steps along the border and India had conveyed its position (to China) through diplomatic means.

With the changes in the ROE, theres nothing that limits the ability of Indian commanders to take whatever action they deem necessary on the LAC. ROE have been amended to address the brutal tactics being employed by Chinese troops, said the second officer cited above.

The seven-hour Galwan Valley clash marked the first time India suffered combat fatalities in an incident involving Chinese troops since 1975. Changes in ROE were imminent after a series of violent clashes along the border, with the army finally deciding not to restrict the scope of response of its soldiers after the June 15 clash, the second officer said.

Two violent clashes took place in Pangong Tso (May 5-6) and Galwan Valley (around mid-May) before the June 15 skirmish in eastern Ladakh. On all occasions, they came in huge numbers and assaulted our troops with iron roads and nail-studded clubs. Our troops fought back fearlessly but the ROE had to be revisited, he said.

Also read: India tells China to stick to its side, says no soldier missing

Forward troops keep their guns slung on their backs with the magazines in pouches and not clipped on.

Since soldiers are allowed to carry weapons while patrolling the LAC, it is inherent that they can use the firearms in unprecedented situations like the attack in Galwan Valley, said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).

The government said on Thursday that soldiers involved in the June 15 clash with Chinese troops were carrying weapons and ammunition but did not open fire as they were following border agreements between the two countries -- a remark that came in response to a question from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on whether the Indian soldiers were sent in unarmed.

Let us get the facts straight. All troops on border duty always carry arms, especially when leaving post. Those at Galwan on 15 June did so. Long-standing practice (as per 1996 & 2005 agreements) not to use firearms during faceoffs, external affairs minister S Jaishankar tweeted, responding to a post by Gandhi earlier this week.

Border agreements from 1996 and 2005 between India and China disallow the use of firearms during face-offs. Article 6 of the agreement on confidence-building measures in the military field along the LAC, signed by India and China in November 1996, states that both sides will not open fire or conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometers from the Line of Actual Control.

Top retired commanders and China watchers, however, said that Galwan clash and last months Pangong Tso brawl were not classical face-offs between rival troops but were extremely violent attacks on Indian soldiers.

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No restrictions on using firearms: India gives soldiers freedom along LAC in extraordinary times - Hindustan Times

Aim to Achieve Financial Freedom in the Stock Market With This $30 Bundle – CT Post

Photo: Entrepreneur Store

Aim to Achieve Financial Freedom in the Stock Market With This $30 Bundle

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Take on the stock market with the skills used by the world's best traders. The Wall Street Survival & Stock Trading Guide Bundle is on sale now for just $29.99.

Related:Aim to Achieve Financial Freedom in the Stock Market With This $30 Bundle3 Factors Driving Real Estate Investment in 20205 Resources to Discover Investing

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Aim to Achieve Financial Freedom in the Stock Market With This $30 Bundle - CT Post

Freedom is never defined as mob rule | Opinion – nj.com

There have been numerous demonstrations lately regarding freedom. Mostly White men and women of all ages have marched on state capitols demanding their freedom, by which they mean meant removing social distancing restrictions.

In some states, protesters were so passionate that they came armed with AK-47s, AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons, dressed in survivalist gear. Nazi symbols and Confederate flags were spotted among these crowds.

I have participated in numerous protests. In none of them did anyone bring firearms. Doing this has nothing to do with freedom. Its meant to intimidate and to make the statement that if the demonstrators do not what they want, they may use their guns to take what they want. Under the guise of freedom, their speech, attire and weaponry all shout revolution, and that is what makes these people dangerous.

Unfortunately, during this time of COVID-19, and with the spoken approval of the current president who refers to them as very responsible, these mobs are getting bolder.

When most of us speak of freedom, it is related to our personal independence and liberty as described in the Constitution. But there is a growing number who define their own freedom as having absolutely no constraint in their choices or actions. That is where the concept becomes dangerous, and leads Americans into becoming zealots who roam and patrol the streets. When those armed persons descend on state capitols demanding freedom, what they mean is removing the safety precautions that help protect all of us us from COVID-19.

Our safety and well-being is also being jeopardized by President Donald Trump, who has been egging on these fanatics, ignoring scientific evidence and the advice from experts on his team. This egomaniac, who did much to destroy Atlantic City when he owned casinos there, is doing the same thing to our nation under the guise of freedom.

Freedom is dangerous when an out-of-control president, defended by key Republican members of Congress, can remove an immunologist, Dr. Rick Bright, from his position as director of the federal office responsible for developing countermeasures to this current pandemic. Bright made the mistake of objecting to the Trump administrations narrative that the old anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was a safe emergency treatment for COVID-19. Despite Trumps push for widespread use, later research showed that hydroxychloroquine could be harmful, or even fatal, if given to COVID-19 patients.

Freedom is dangerous when, unrelated to the pandemic, it is the rationale for two armed White men, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, to follow from their truck an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, jogging down a Georgia street. The McMichaels claimed that their neighborhood had suffered several recent burglaries by a suspect matching Aberys description. But police records show that no break-ins were reported in their neighborhood for weeks before their Feb. 23 confrontation.

When Arbury refused to stop and explain himself, he was shot and killed by three shotgun blasts in broad daylight, an incident captured on cellphone video. Yet, no one was arrested at the time. Officials swept the entire episode under the rug for three months, until the video became public recently. Now charged with murder, the McMichaels apparently believed that they had enough freedom to make the incident deadly.

Freedom is dangerous when it provided a sense of superiority to 15 angry White men, searching for a missing 16-year-old girl, who banged on the front door of Monica Shepards North Carolina home around 10 p.m. May 3, while searching for a missing 16-year-old girl. One of the group was a sheriffs deputy in uniform, and others were reportedly armed.

The mob demanded information from Shepards high-school age son Dameon about the missing girl. But Dameon was not the Black teen possibly involved in a runaway incident; these fools were at the wrong house. As this teen tried to exert his freedom and go back in his house, the deputy reportedly prevented him from doing so by sticking his foot in the doorway. Fortunately, no one was killed but, yet again, no immediate arrests were made. It wasnt until five days later that the deputy lost his job and, along with one of the other men, faces charges related to terrorism and forcible trespass.

Freedom has now become dangerous. The rule of law is obviously breaking down, and once again Black boys and men are the targets. Refuse to become a victim.

Milton W. Hinton Jr. is retired as director of equal opportunity for the Gloucester County government, and is past president of the Gloucester County Branch NAACP. Email: miltonw@imap.cc. Twitter: MiltonHintonJr@WritestheNation.

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Freedom is never defined as mob rule | Opinion - nj.com

American freedom was tug-of-war from the start – York Dispatch

About a thousand rally outside the capitol in Harrisburg, protesting Gov. Wolf's virus shutdowns. York Dispatch

We, the people. But individual rights. The common good. But dont tread on me. Form a more perfect union and promote the general welfare. But secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

From the moment the American republic was born right up until today, this has been its hallmark: Me and we different flavors of freedom that compete but overlap living together, but often at odds.

The history of the United States and the colonies that formed it has been a 413-year balancing act across an assortment of topics, priorities, passions and ambitions. Now, in the coronavirus era, that tug-of-war is it about individuals, or the communities to which they belong? is showing itself in fresh, high-stakes ways.

On Friday, protesters massed at the foot of the Pennsylvania Capitol steps most of them maskless for the second time in a month to decry Gov. Tom Wolf and demand he reopen the state faster. It is one of many states where a vocal minority has criticized virus-related shutdowns for trampling individual rights.

He who is brave is free, read a sign carried by one Pennsylvania protester. Selfish and proud, said another, referring to the governors statement that politicians advocating immediate reopening were selfish. My body my choice, said a sign at a rally in Texas, coopting an abortion-rights slogan to oppose mandatory mask rules.

More: Crying Wolf: Protesters lambaste governor's lockdown orders

More: Round the Clock Diner could face $10K per day fines for dine-in service

More: Face masks, worn and unworn, become political statement

Classic struggle: The pandemic is presenting this classic individual libertycommon good equation. And the ethos of different parts of the country about this is very, very different. And its pulling the country in all these different directions, says Colin Woodard, author of American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.

Though polls show a majority of Americans still support some level of shutdown, the cries to reopen have grown in the past few weeks as job losses continue to mount. In Pennsylvania and across the country, the demonstrators chorus has generally been: Dont tell me how to live my life when I need to get out of my house and preserve my livelihood.


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Theyre being told to stay home, wait it out. And thats a really weird democratic message to get. And the only way to do it is to say, I trust the government, says Elspeth Wilson, an assistant professor of government at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

While the catalyst is an unprecedented pandemic, the collision of individual rights and the common good is as old as the republic itself: Where does one Americans right to move around in public without a mask end, and another Americans right to not be infected with a potentially fatal virus begin?

This is economic paralysis by analysis for some people. And theyre afraid, says Steven Benko, an ethicist at Meredith College in North Carolina. They feel devalued.

American romanticism: Americans have long romanticized those who reject the system and take matters into their own hands the outlaw, the cowboy, the rebel. Many American leaders have wrestled to reconcile that with common good principles that are generally needed to govern.

Reagan did that better than anyone. He was the cowboy selling the shared American vision. Thats quite a contradiction, Benko says.

Ronald Reagans crowning metaphor the United States as the city upon a hill was borrowed from the Puritans, whose traditions shaped the American ethos, including the compact that created the New Worlds first English government. But Puritanism also asserted that hard work, a form of moral righteousness, heralded success and salvation.

Over time, and with other ingredients added as more groups came to American shores, a vague sense of shame became attached to the inability to be an individualist: If you couldnt get along on your own, in the eyes of some, you were less of an American.

But is that kind of rugged individualism, as it came to be known, applicable in a 21st-century virus scenario where everything from food shopping to health care to package delivery requires a web of intricate, precise networks that form a common good?

Culinary union members prepare for a car caravan rally in Las Vegas last week. The union wants casino owners to make their safety guidelines and reopening plans public.(Photo: John Locher / The Associated Press)

Power dynamics: Overlaid on this debate, too, is what some call an ignored truth: Individualism tends to favor groups that are in power, economically or socially. In short, doing what one wants is a lot easier when you have the means (health care, money, privilege) to deal with the impact it causes.

Thats particularly relevant when the direct impact of ones individualism in the form of virus-laden droplets can ripple out to others.

We fail to recognize how interdependent we really are, says Lenette Azzi-Lessing, a clinical professor of social work at Boston University who studies economic disparity.

The pandemic and dealing with it successfully does require cooperation. It also requires shared sacrifice. And thats a very bitter pill for many Americans to swallow, she says. The pandemic is revealing that our fates are intertwined, that the person in front of us in line on the grocery store, if he or she doesnt have access to good health care, that thats going to have an effect on our health.

U.S. history has sometimes revealed that in times of upheaval the Great Depression, World War II, even the founding of the nation itself common good becomes a dominant American gene for a time. Will that happen here? Or is the fragmentation of politics and economics and social media too powerful to allow that?

The status quo is individualism. And then when we get to these crisis periods, it changes, says Anthony DiMaggio, a political scientist at Lehigh University who is researching groups that advocate reopening. All these rules go out the window and people are willing to jettison all these ways of looking at the world.

So is it, as Ayn Rand once told an interviewer, that each man must live as an end in himself, and follow his own rational self-interest? Or is it more like Woody Guthrie, paraphrasing Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath: Everybody might be just one big soul well, it looks that way to me.

More likely, in a nation stitched together by a high-wire act of political compromise, its somewhere in between a new path that Americans must chart so they can continue their four-century experiment through unprecedented times. Yet again.

Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/anthonyted.

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American freedom was tug-of-war from the start - York Dispatch

Finding the balance between safety and freedom in the shadow of COVID-19 – VentureBeat

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series: AI and Surveillance.

Countries around the globe are focusing their collective attention on humanitys most immediate existential threat. The coronavirus threatens jobs, global economic activity, international relations, the health of our loved ones, and our own lives. To combat this pandemic, epidemiologists require data so they can better understand where and how the coronavirus may be spreading among populations. World leaders from the international level down to local ranks need to be able to track the spread of the virus in order to make informed decisions about how to manage resources, handle shelter-in-place restrictions, and reopen businesses.

The technologies politicians are testing, like phone-based contact tracing, thermal scanning, and facial recognition, are all euphemisms for surveillance, and tradeoffs being weighed now could extend well beyond this crisis.

Before the pandemic, one of the most important and popular movements in ethics and social justice was the push against technology-powered surveillance, especially AI technologies like facial recognition. Its a rich topic centered around power that pits everyday people against the worst parts of big tech, overreaching law enforcement, and potential governmental abuse. Surveillance capitalism is as gross as its name implies, and speaking truth to that particular sort of power feels good.

But now, with millions suddenly unemployed and some 80,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, the issue is no longer corporate profits or policing efficacy versus privacy, security, and power. In a global pandemic, the tradeoff may very well be privacy, security, and power versus life itself.

The spread of the coronavirus poses an immediate life-and-death threat. No one alive has experienced anything like it on such a scale, and everyone is scrambling to adjust. Against such a dire backdrop, theoretical concerns about data privacy or overreaching facial recognition-powered government surveillance are easily brushed aside.

Is it really such a bad thing if our COVID-19-related medical records go into a massive database that helps frontline health care workers battle the disease? Or if that data helps epidemiologists track the virus and understand how and where it spreads? Or aids researchers in developing cures? Who cares if we have to share some of our smartphone data to find out whether weve come into contact with a COVID-19 patient? Is it really that onerous to deploy facial recognition surveillance if it prevents super-spreaders from blithely infecting hundreds or thousands of people?

Those are legitimate questions, but on the whole its a dangerously shallow perspective to take.

A similar zeitgeist permeated the United States after 9/11. Out of fear and a strong desire for solidarity Congress quickly passed the Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support. But the country lacked the foresight to demand and implement guardrails, and the federal government has held onto broad surveillance powers in the nearly two decades since. What we learned or should have learned, at least from 9/11 and the Patriot Act is that a proactive approach to threats should not exclude forward-looking protections. Anything less is panic.

The dangers posed by a hasty and wholesale surrender of privacy and other freedoms are not theoretical. Theyre just perhaps not as immediate and clear as the threat posed by the coronavirus. Giving up your privacy amounts to giving up your power, and its important to know who will hold onto all that data.

In some cases, its tech giants like Apple and Google, which are already not widely trusted, but it could also be AI surveillance tech companies like Palantir,or Clearview or Banjo, which have ties to far right extremists. In other cases, your power flows directly into the governments hands. Sometimes, as in the case of a tech company the government contracts to perform a task like facial recognition-powered surveillance, you could be giving your data and power to both at the same time.

Perhaps worse, some experts and ethicists believe systems built or deployed during the pandemic will not be dismantled. That means if you agree to feed mobile companies your smartphone data now, its likely theyll keep taking it. If you agree to quarantine enforcement measures that include facial recognition systems deployed all over a city, those systems will likely become a standard part of law enforcement after the quarantines are over. And so on.

This isnt to say that the pandemic doesnt require some tough tradeoffs the difficult but crucially important part is understanding which concessions are acceptable and necessary and what legal and regulatory safeguards need to be put in place.

For a start, we can look to some general best practices. The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance, which has been signed by hundreds of organizations worldwide, has for years insisted that any mass surveillance efforts must be necessary, adequate, and proportionate. Health officials, not law enforcement, need to drive the decision-making around data collection. Privacy considerations should be built into tools like contact tracing apps. Any compromises made in the name of public health need to be balanced against the costs to privacy, and if a surveillance system is installed, it needs to be dismantled when the emergent threat of the coronavirus subsides. Data collected during the pandemic must have legal protections, including stringent restrictions on who can access that data, for what purpose, and for how long.

In this special issue, we explore the privacy and surveillance tradeoffs lawmakers are working through, outline methods of tracking the coronavirus, and examine France as a case study in the challenges governments face at the intersection of politics, technology, and peoples lives.

This is a matter of life and death. But its about life and death now and life and death for years to come.

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Finding the balance between safety and freedom in the shadow of COVID-19 - VentureBeat