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Category Archives: Freedom Freedom: A Novel (9780374158460): Jonathan …

Posted: January 25, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, like his previous one, The Corrections, is a masterpiece of American fiction . . . Freedom is a still richer and deeper work--less glittering on its surface but more confident in its method . . . Like all great novels, Freedom does not just tell an engrossing story. It illuminates, through the steady radiance of its author's profound moral intelligence, the world we thought we knew. Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

Writing in prose that is at once visceral and lapidary, Mr. Franzen shows us how his characters strive to navigate a world of technological gadgetry and ever-shifting mores, how they struggle to balance the equation between their expectations of life and dull reality, their political ideals and mercenary personal urges. He proves himself as adept at adolescent comedy as he is at grown-up tragedy; as skilled at holding a mirror to the world his people inhabit day by dreary day as he is at limning their messy inner lives . . . Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet--a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

[Freedom is] a work of total genius: a reminder both of why everyone got so excited about Franzen in the first place and of the undeniable magic--even today, in our digital end-times--of the old-timey literary novel . . . Few modern novelists rival Franzen in that primal skill of creating life, of tricking us into believing that a text-generated set of neural patterns, a purely abstract mind-event, is in fact a tangible human being that we can love, pity, hate, admire, and possibly even run into someday at the grocery store. His characters are so densely rendered--their mental lives sketched right down to the smallest cognitive micrograins--that they manage to bust through the art-reality threshold: They hit us in the same place that our friends and neighbors and classmates and lovers do. This is what makes Franzen's books such special event. Sam Anderson, New York Magazine

The Great American Novel. Esquire

Epic. Vanity Fair

Exhilarating . . . Gripping . . . Moving . . . On a level with The Great Gatsby [and] Gone With the Wind. Craig Seligman, Bloomberg

A page turner that engages the mind. Dan Cryer, Newsday

Consuming and extraordinarily moving. David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

It's refreshing to see a novelist who wants to engage the questions of our time in the tradition of 20th-century greats like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis . . . [This] is a book you'll still be thinking about long after you've finished reading it. Patrick Condon, Associated Press

Deeply moving and superbly crafted . . . It's such a full novel, rich in description, broad in its reach and full of wry observations. Bob Hoover, Pittsburg Post-Gazette

Freedom, his new book, and The Corrections, its predecessor, are at the same time engrossing sagas and scathing satires, and both books are funny, sad, cranky, revelatory, hugely ambitious, deeply human and, at times, truly disturbing. Together, they provide a striking and quite possibly enduring portrait of America in the years on either side of the turn of the 21st century . . . His writing is so gorgeous . . . Franzen is one of those exceptional writers whose works define an era and a generation, and his books demand to be read. Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A tour de force . . . one of the finest novelists of his generation. Glenn C. Altschuler, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Freedom is a bracingly earnest, ethically serious psychological epic that introduces and exploits its characters' mistakes and foibles, then challenges itself to discover myriad ways to eventually forgive them their trespasses . . . A highly readable triumph of conventional realism . . . Addictive. Akiva Gottlieb, The National

A lavishly entertaining account of a family at war with itself, and a brilliant dissection of the dissatisfactions and disappointments of contemporary American life . . . Compelling . . . Freedom, though frequently funny, is ultimately tender: its emotional currency is both the pain and the pleasure that that word implies . . . A rare pleasure, an irresistible invitation to binge-read . . . That it also grapples with a fundamental dilemma of modern middle-class America--namely: Is it really still OK to spend your life asserting your unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, when the rest of the world is in such a state?--is what makes it something wonderful. If Freedom doesn't qualify as a Great American Novel for our time, then I don't know what would . . . The reason to celebrate him is not that he is doing something new but that he is doing something old, presumed dead--and doing it brilliantly. Freedom bids for a place alongside the great achievements of his predecessors, not his contemporaries; it belongs on the same shelf as John Updike's Rabbit, Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, Philip Roth's American Pastoral. It is the first Great American Novel of the post-Obama era. Benjamin Secher, Telegraph (U. K.)

A literary genius for our time . . . An extraordinary work . . . This is simply on a different plane from other contemporary fiction . . . A novel of our time . . . Demands comparison rather with Saul Bellow's Herzog. . . a modern classic . . . Freedom is the novel of the year, and the century. Jonathan Jones, Guardian (U.K.)

A triumph . . . A pleasure to read. Michael H. Miller, The New York Observer

Brilliant . . . Epic . . . An extraordinary stylist. Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A surprisingly moving and even hopeful epic. Heller McAlpin, NPR

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Freedom Ruck: 106 miles of sacrifice and service – Military Times

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RICHMOND, Va. A group of active duty service members, veterans and family members are redefining what it means to walk a mile in someone elses shoes.

Gathered at the Virginia War Memorial early Jan. 7, this small community embarked on a journey that pushed them far beyond their comfort zone, all in an effort to raise support and awareness for a cause that hits close to home.

Freedom Ruck, as its called, takes marchers approximately 106 miles from Richmond to the Arlington National Cemetery.

The Freedom Ruck

For anyone who has served in the military, the words ruck march might remind them of the last must-pass events at basic training. For Vic Wise, however, ruck marching has served as a way to honor service members past and present.

I come from a military family, explained Wise. I have seen the physical and emotional toll men and women in uniform face both at home and overseas.

Inspired by their sacrifice and their commitment to serve, Wise decided he had to do something.

Ive always wanted to give back in a way that was impactful, but I never really knew where to start, said Wise. I never served, but both my dad and my brother were in the Army.

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Seven years ago, while running past the Virginia War Memorial, it hit him.

The sun was rising over the river and everything was calm, said Wise. I had an epiphany of This is where I need to start.

Wise determined he wanted to do something over the course of two days to accurately showcase the physical and mental sacrifice men and women in uniform face on a daily basis.

I wanted to do something no one has ever done before, said Wise. I thought, What if I took my ruck, attach an American flag to it and ruck from the Virginia War Memorial all the way to Arlington National Cemetery?

Wise did the research the entire journey would take him approximately 106 miles up Route 1.

We coined the name Freedom Ruck to honor those who have sacrificed for their country, said Wise. This wasnt about me. This was about them.

Wise took to social media to share plans of his upcoming journey, even catching the attention of country music star Brantley Gilbert.

Brantley was gracious enough to share about the ruck on social media, said Wise. That really helped spread the word of Freedom Ruck.

On Jan. 10, 2014, nearly two weeks after his initial run, Wise stood on the steps of the Virginia War Memorial, accompanied by a small group of friends and family to see him off.

They didnt really understand what I was doing, laughed Wise. But I was thankful for their support.

Despite a constant flow of rain and wind, Wise pushed north, stopping every so often to refuel and to change his socks.

Family members updated followers on social media of Wises progress while passing cars honked their support.

On Jan. 12, an exhausted Wise made it to Arlington National Cemetery.

Not only did Wise complete the 106-mile journey from Richmond to Arlington, but he also met his goal of completing the ruck in under 48 hours.

His final time was 47 hours and 45 minutes.

After all was said and done, we ended up raising about $10,000, which we donated to The Navy SEAL Foundation, explained Wise.

The foundation, which provides support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and its families, brought Wises mission to honor service members full circle.

In the days following the ruck, Wise received an outpouring of support, including offers to ruck alongside him should he complete the 106-mile trek again.

Initially, I thought this was just going to be a one-time thing, admitted Wise. So many people wanted to be a part of Freedom Ruck that it turned into an annual event.

For the seventh year in a row, Wise was back at the Virginia War Memorial. This time he was accompanied by a group of 15-20 marchers, brought together by their military and law enforcement ties.

In the crowd was U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Hunter Kiser, a recruiter stationed in Lynchburg, Virginia.

This is my second year participating in the Freedom Ruck, said Kiser. Ive known Vic for years, but Ive never been stationed close enough to really take part until now.

While many of the participants tap out after a certain point, Kiser says the goal is always to finish.

Last year I did about 25 miles and this year I got up to about mile 48 before I had to call it, explained Kiser. But Ive gone into each year hoping to conquer all 106 miles.

For 48 miles, Kiser and the other participants shared stories of their military experiences, their families and offered life advice for those seeking it.

For the first 30 miles, there was enough people to jump around and get to know each other, said Kiser. But when all you have are the flashing lights of the escort in front of you in the middle of the night, you need music or books on tape to keep your mind occupied.

With just about one week after Freedom Ruck 2020, Kiser already has his sights on Freedom Ruck 2021.

Its already written on my mirror: Freedom Ruck 2021, shared Kiser. I see it every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed. Ill be ready.

The impact

Since stepping off for his first Freedom Ruck in 2014, Freedom Ruck has raised nearly $55,000 for The Navy SEAL foundation.

The foundations focus is to cover outside what the government will cover should a teammate become ill or injured, explained Wise.

In particular, the foundation hosts an annual Gold Star Family retreat for families dealing with the loss of loved ones.

It allows these families to come together and heal, said Wise. Its providing families with the support they need.

In the years following the launch of Freedom Ruck, Wise has heard directly from families benefiting from The Navy SEAL Foundation. From emails and letters, to hugs and words of thanks, Wise says he uses the support he has received as motivation during his rucks.

Ive had Gold Star Families reach out and share about what the foundation has done for their families, said Wise. This is why were out here and why we do what we do.

To learn more about Freedom Ruck and how you can support the Navy SEAL Foundation, visit

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Freedom teams hit running clock vs. Saint on road – Morganton News Herald

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HICKORY Led by three players with 14 or more points apiece, the consensus No. 1 Freedom girls basketball team never trailed in a 66-17 road win over last-place St. Stephens on Friday in Northwestern 3A/4A Conference play.

Freedom set a tone early in the halfcourt on offense as well as on the glass, with 10 first-period points in the lane. Junior forward Adair Garrison (15 points) scored six of the teams first eight, and all four starting guards grabbed rebounds in the opening 4 minutes, led by Jayda Glass three.

Garrison capped the period with an offensive rebound and assist to Josie Hise on a backcut, and the Lady Patriots (18-0, 7-0) led 16-8.

The guests then got the fullcourt press rolling and blitzed the Indians to the tune of 27-3 in the second period to go up 43-11 at the half, and by the third quarter, the game hit the mercy-rule running clock.

We were able to turn the pressure up on defense there and got some turnovers, Freedom coach Amber Reddick said. We hadnt been super happy with the press lately, but I thought we did a good job squeezing the middle and with coverages.

Freedoms Danisha Hemphill tied Garrison for team-high honors with 15 points, Blaikley Crooks added 14, Christena Rhone scored eight and Hise finished with seven.

Despite this being Reddicks second team in the last five seasons to have rolled to a lengthy unbeaten streak to start the year the 2015-16 state title version holds the countys lone perfect season in the sport she said the sky wont fall if they lose one, and that the unblemished record isnt the primary focus.

Were talking about things like energy and focus for four quarters, Reddick said. We know well get the best shot from everyone every night. And of course, everyone would like to go undefeated, but we have to keep in mind every game is one step toward our goal and keep finding ways to improve our effort and concentration.

Freedom 103, St. Stephens 64

The Patriots (17-1, 6-1) led 27-5 at the end of the opening period and didnt stop there, posting 24 points or more in each quarter to hit the century mark for the second time this year, both against Saint.

It was 55-22 at halftime, and the contest hit the running clock with about 1:30 to go.

A season-best eight Patriots scored eight or more points, led by seniors Bradley Davis and James Freemans 20 and 18 respectively. Quentin Rice joined them in double figures with 12, Nick Johnson and Ben Tolbert scored nine each and Qualique Garner, Jayden Birchfield and Kason Ledford added eight apiece.

One through 13 tonight, everyone made quality contributions, Freedom coach Clint Zimmerman said. As a group, we defended well at the fullcourt and halfcourt levels. We rebounded it well on both ends and never had a lapse in our energy.

Two plays that really stand out came late in the game, Saiveon Pitman laying out for a loose ball at halfcourt and Kason Ledford taking a charge late when the game was already out of reach. It was really enjoyable tonight watching everyone enjoy the successes of their teammates more than their own.

Freedom hosts Hickory, whose boys and girls both occupy second place in the NWC, on Tuesday.

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Six Minutes to Freedom author and POW, Kurt Muse to speak at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum – Sandhill Sentinel

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Six Minutes to Freedom author and POW, Kurt Muse to speak at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum - Sandhills Sentinel Home /Military News/Six Minutes to Freedom author and POW, Kurt Muse to speak at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum

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Six Minutes to Freedom author and POW, Kurt Muse to speak at the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum - Sandhill Sentinel

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Mike Pompeo: Trump ‘America first’ policy creating ‘hemisphere of freedom’ – Washington Times

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a major speech in Florida Thursday that President Trumps foreign policy puts America first, but stressed that the mantra actually means helping oppressed people in other nations fight for freedom and democracy especially in the Western Hemisphere.

Its time to have our hemisphere, the place we are today, be a hemisphere of freedom, Mr. Pompeo told a supportive crowd that interrupted him often with applause, and greeted him with chants of U.S.A., U.S.A, U.S.A., at Sumter County Fairgrounds in Bushnell, Florida.

The speech came on the heels of multi-nation tour of South America and the Caribbean this week by the secretary of state. It also comes against a backdrop of decline among left-leaning political movements in Latin America and the election of pro-capitalist conservative governments in several nations of the region.

Mr. Pompeo pushed back against Trump administration critics, who claim many nations around the world have distanced themselves from the United States over the past three years in frustration at Mr. Trumps unpredictable style and often temperamental rhetorical posturing.

The world knows what America stands for, Mr. Pompeo said. It is true now more, frankly, than ever, and people around the world who love liberty, who love democracy and love freedom, are with us. They stand with us.

While Trump critics accuse the administration of standing up for human rights in some cases but aligning with governments accused of violating human rights in others, Mr. Pompeo portrayed the administrations foreign policy as realist and cut and dry.

The America first approach means protecting America and protecting freedom, he said, asserting that people around the world love that.

You know what else we stand for and the world loves? They love that we stand for religious liberty, the secretary of state said. Christians, Jews, Muslims doesnt matter. You can believe what you want here in America, or you can choose not to believe at all. Never in the world has that right been recognized it is as it is here in the United States of America.

We know that people all across the world should be free to worship their own god, Mr. Pompeo added. I raise it in every meeting. President Trump knows this. The world loves it.

They love, too, that we stand for freedom and markets and capitalism and the right to take risks and to work hard, to raise your family. They love capitalism not that S word, he said, apparently referring to socialism.

With regard to socialism in the Western Hemisphere, Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration is committed to advancing freedom in Cuba and working to restore democracy in Venezuela.

These are tyrannies, he said, referring to the Castro government in Havana and the embattled socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro the ouster of whom has been a foreign policy priority of the administration for the past two years.

These are leaders that have destroyed countless lives. Now some 6 million people have fled Venezuela, only because this madman Maduro destroyed their ability even make a living for their families, to take care of their kids, Mr. Pompeo said. Thats not right, its not decent, and America will stand with the Venezuelan people until we can have a free and fair election and restore democracy to that once proud nation.

While he did not specify whether such a commitment might mean the Trump administration would support a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Mr. Pompeo asserted that his mission as secretary of state is really, really simple: to make the world safer, so we dont have to send our young men and women off to fight.

In President Trumps administration, we stare at the world as it really is, as it actually is, the reality on the ground, he told the crowd in Florida. The same way you do each and every day in your lives. You cant pretend, you cant wish you have to work within the world in which we live, in which it exists.

The good news is, in spite of what you may read elsewhere that people dont like America, everywhere I go, I see a deep love for our country and for you, Mr. Pompeo said.

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HARRIET Shares the Story of Freedom –

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On Bluray/DVD and Digital this week from director Kasi Lemmons and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a story of the run for freedom with HARRIET.

Minty (Cynthia Erivo) is a young slave woman working on a plantation married to free man John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). Believing their time had come to be set free according to a prior agreement, Minty is upset to learn that the agreement won't be honored by plantation owner Edward Brodess (Mike Marunde). Angry that she even asked, Brodess orders her sold. Looking on is son Gideon (Joe Alwyn) who has known Minty since they were children.

When Minty asks God for answers, Gideon lets it be known that he also has no intention of honoring his grandfather's agreement. Knowing that she has no other choice if she is ever to have a life beyond the fields, Minty plans to make a run north. She also knows that leaving husband John behind will save his life.

She tells her mother and father goodbye and his final father order is to visit Reverend Green (Vondie Curtis-Hall) who gives Minty a mental map to freedom. Not far behind her is Gideon who is not about to let her go. When the two finally meet, it is on a bridge over a rushing river where she makes the ultimate decision.

Making her way north, she meets William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) who takes notes of slaves who find freedom and asks Minty if she wants to give herself a new name for her new life. Choosing Harriet Tubman she meets Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae) who helps her settle in safely and a job. For the first time, Harriet is free to come and go while making a wage without fear.

But Harriet can not forget her husband or family left on the plantation. She makes it clear to William that if she made it north, so could they. She proves all the nay-sayers wrong and so begins her effort to go back and forth from south to north taking as many as possible to freedom.

Gideon's father passes and now he is more obsessed with finding the girl he knows as Minty but Harriet isn't about to stop what she is doing or be stopped by anyone.

Erivo as Harriet portrays a woman who trusts in her faith and doesn't let what others think of her get in the way of her goal. Thinking she is being led one way, it becomes quickly clear that her life would be dedicated to helping others. Her speech in the company of Frederick Douglas is what cements the belief that her path is laid out before her with the Underground Railroad.

Alwyn as Gideon is obsessed with keeping Minty on the plantation, so much so that he's willing to promise her anything to make that happen. When she refuses his offer, Gideon starts a mission to do whatever it takes to get her back. Marude as Brodess is a plantation owner who isn't about to let one single person leave and teaches that behavior to his son Gideon.

Odom Jr. as Still is a man who does everything he can to help slaves who manage to get to Philadelphia. Keeping records, he fears for what Harriet is doing but that's not stopping her! Momoh as Tubman is a free man who is married to Minty as a slave. Believing that one day the agreement would be honored, insists that running is the way to go. His life would change as well when Harriet returns to help family.

Monae as Marie is the first woman in Harriet's life who teaches her what freedom means and how to fool anyone stopping her in the south. She is elegant and graceful and, more importantly, an owner of a business. Curtis-Hall is the Harriet's preacher who also becomes important in helping slaves fleeing the south.

Other cast include Daphne Reid as Miz Lucy, Clarke Peters as Ben Ross, Vanessa Calloway as Rit Boss, Omar J. Dorsey as Bigger Long, Henry Hall as Walter, Tim Guinee as Thomas Garrett, Nick Basta as Foxx, Joseph Anderson as Robert Ross, Antonio Bell as Henry Ross, CJ McBath as Junyah Ross, Alexis Louder as Jane, Tory Kittles as Frederick Douglas, and Jennifer Nettles as Eliza Brodess.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are film of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit

The Bonus Features include Deleted Scenes, Her Story, Becoming Harriet and Feature Commentary with Director and Co-Writer Kasi Lemmons.

HARRIET is a riveting story about a woman who defies the odds of slavery, survival and dangerous trips from south to north to free other slaves. Keeping it simple in the telling allows the viewer to become emotionally invested in understanding the life of Harriet.

This is the genre of film that can be an enormously beneficial teaching tool and hope that teachers will use it. It shows the human spirit and potential to change the wrongs of the society then and what can be accomplished now.

In the end - be free or die.

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How artistic freedom of expression shrinks in ‘new’ Egypt – Al-Monitor

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The Jan.25, 2011uprising that toppledPresident Hosni Mubarakunleashed acreative revolutionwith the spontaneous emergence of a variety of art forms:graffiti, street performances, underground music and satirical online videos.Much of the revolutionary art was aform of protestagainst social injustice and repression, but it also acted as avisual commentaryon the dramatic developments that were unfolding during that time of political turmoil.Relishing their newfound freedom, artists and musicians used their art to express grievances about "social wrongs"and urge action to redress them.

Nine years on, as the anniversary of the revolution approaches, there is hardly a trace of thecultural awakeningthat symbolized the freedom of expression in the "new"Egypt. An ongoingsecurity crackdownon dissent, in place since 2013, has targeted artists and musicians along with opposition and political figures, journalists and members of theLGBT community, stifling freedom of expression and putting a lid on provocative art and creativity.

Nearly all of the graffiti art that mushroomed on the walls in and around Mohamed Mahmoud Street in the wake of the revolution has beenwhitewashedand a large part of an iconicgraffiti wallon the same street has been torn down.As the authorities carry out extensiverenovation worksin downtown Cairo, they appear adamant to wipe out anyremnants of the revolution. Tahrir Square where the protesters had gathered is undergoing an overhaul its second since 2011.

Meanwhile, a number of artists who rose to prominence during the revolution, have paid a high price for expressing nonconformist ideas. Ganzeer, notorious for his street artlampooning the military,was forced to flee Egypt for the United States after he was branded "a terrorist"by the country's pro-government media in early 2014. His disputed poster on the Mohamed Mahmoud wall depicting a soldier standing amid a pile of skullslikely provoked the allegation, putting him at risk of arrest.

"In today'srestrictive environment, artists are no longer able to express their ideas freely; if they do, no galleryor art fair will agree to show their work," saidMohamed Abla, a painter and sculptor whose works touch upon political and social issues. "Artists are increasingly resorting to symbolism in their work; they are also having toself-censorfor fear of arrest," he told Al-Monitor. "This situation is unsustainable as Egyptian artists are not accustomed to being silencedthings will have to change."

Abla reminisced about the days when he and fellow artists could showcase their work at the volunteer-runAl-Fan MidanFestival (Art is a Public Square Festival), launched in the spring of2011. The festival wasinitially fundedby the Ministry of Culture but the funds quickly dried up, prompting organizers togather donationsinstead. For three consecutive years, a host ofcultural eventswere staged in public squares across the country under the Al-Fan Midan banner.

"The aim of the festival was to bring culture to the masses and educate the public about art. Organizers sought to attract the layman rather than art connoisseurs so as to spark interest in art," Abla said. "It was also meant to promote freedom of expression and protest all forms of censorship."

The public response was overwhelming with large crowds flocking to the squares to attend the performances or tour the art exhibits. But all that came to a shuddering halt in the summer of 2014, when thefestival was canceledtwice by the Egyptian authorities on the grounds that "the organizers did not have the right permits." An anti-protest law,passed in November 2013, criminalized such gatherings without a prior permit from the Interior Ministry, spelling the festival's end.

Abla now spends his time shuttling between his art studio in downtown Cairo and Fayoum, a city located southwest of Cairo, where he continues to organizeart workshopsat the Fayoum Arts Center, which he founded in 2006. He also oversees the running of theCaricature Museumthere, which he established in response to the 2005Prophet Muhammad cartoons controversy"to show that there are also caricatures in Egypt and they are political as well associally critical," according to a March 2010 interview with the artist published in

The museum, the first of its kind in the Middle East, showcases an impressive collection of Egyptian cartoons, some dating back to the early 1920s "a treasure" that Abla has sought to preserve for future generations. While many of the cartoons poke fun at the woes of the society, there are none lampooning President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. It appears that Abla has to tread cautiously so as not to ruffle the feathers of the authorities. The arrests anddetention of a number of satiristsin recent years have sent a chilling message of zero tolerance for humor when the military, police or the president are the targets.

This was made clear right from the start of Sisi's rule when "Al-Bernameg," a satirical TV show,was suspendedafter an episode in which the host, Bassem Youssef, had joked about the "Sisi-mania" sweeping the country at the time. Bassem was accused ofdisturbing the peaceand security of the country in no less than 12 legal complaints filed against him, by pro-government citizens. He has since relocated to the United States and has been unable to return.

In December 2015, Amr Nohan, a law student, was handed a three-year prisonsentence for posting on Facebook a doctored image of Sisi wearingMickey Mouse ears.

It has not been smooth-sailing either for theunderground musicbands that shot to fame with their politically charged songs in the wake of the revolution. Rock bandCairokeewhose song "Sot el Horreya" ("Sound of Freedom") became the anthem of the revolution had several concerts called offin 2018 after tickets had sold out. The repeated cancellations prompted the group to shift its attention to international concerts abroad instead of staging local performances.

A committee formed in July 2018toregulate festivalsand issue permits for cultural events including music concerts. The new regulations alsomade it mandatory for event organizers to have a capital of no less than 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($31,700) and to provide all details about their event. Moreover, applications for permits can only be submitted in June each year.

"The new restrictions have made it exceedingly difficult to organize a concert as it takes a verylong time for the committee to issue the permits, and sometimes, those are never granted," Sherif Hawary, lead guitarist ofCairokee, told Al-Monitor. He believes the restrictions were placed in reaction to the Mashrou' Leilaconcert controversywhen at least seven concertgoers were arrested and detained for raising the rainbow flag at the concert. The government accused them of "inciting debauchery."The Lebanese alternative rock band Mashou' Leila, whose lead singer is gay,has since beenbanned from performingin Egypt.

The space for freedom of artistic expression has been shrinking under Sisi's rule. In 2017-18, two female singerswere detainedover their "racy" music videos; they were accused of inciting debauchery. Singer Sherine Abdel Wahab has twicefaced prosecution, once in November 2017 over a joke she made at a concert about the River Nile beingpolluted, and a second time earlier this month when she had said on stage, "Egypt doesnt deserve me." The legal complaints against her were filed by Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer notorious for filinglawsuits against celebrities.

Egyptian-American musician Nader Sadek wasdetainedfor four days in 2016 for his part in organizing a concert in which Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura would have played. In this case, the lawsuit was filed by Hani Shaker,head of the Musicians Syndicate, who claimed in a TV interview on Egypt's CBC channel that "devil worshippers" in weird clothing had turned up for the ill-fated event.

The detentions and prosecutions of artists is a far cry from the short-lived period of freedom in the early days of the revolution. Sadek painted a gloomy picture of the current situation for the arts. "Music and art have become dangerous business in Egypt,"he told Al-Monitor.

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Federal Judge Finds ICE Violated Freedom Of Information Act By Denying Immigration Lawyers Documents – Colorado Public Radio

Posted: at 1:56 pm

A federal court ruled in December that ICE violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by denying immigration lawyers access to their clients files.

Immigration lawyers are not entitled to their clients files, so many rely on FOIA requests. ICE defended the practice because the agency deems the lawyers clients that are in their custody as fugitives.

But that reasoning was not within the nine stated exemptions in the law, and the ACLU decided to file a lawsuit. FOIA requires federal agencies to provide documents to any person who requests them.

The government needs to follow the law, ACLU of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said. The government doesnt get to make up extra exceptions to disclosure. This was a lawless and illegal practice.

In 2013, Glenwood Springs immigration lawyer Jennifer Smith filed a FOIA request to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for information about one of her clients. USCIS then forwarded the request to ICE, who refused, stating It is ICEs practice to deny fugitive alien FOIA requesters in 2015.

Smith then filed a lawsuit in 2016, arguing that there is no FOIA exception that would justify ICEs practice. Soon after, ICE sent Smith the information she originally requested. Regardless, she continued on with her lawsuit, stating that this was an ongoing problem with ICE.

According to court documents, ICE used this practice as justification to deny FOIA requests at least 333 times between July 21, 2017, and April 4, 2019.

ICE has about a month remaining to appeal, Silverstein said.

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Wings of Freedom returns to Venice Thursday – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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Three months after the fatal crash of the B-17G Flying Fortress bomber Nine O Nine, patrons can tour one visiting B-24J vintage bomber but flights will not be available.

VENICE The Wings of Freedom Tour returns to Venice Municipal Airport at 2 p.m. Thursday, for what will be the third stop on its 31st annual tour. Organizers are still regrouping in the aftermath of the Oct. 2, 2019, crash of the B-17G Flying Fortress Nine O Nine that cost the life of pilot Ernest "Mac" McCauley, co-pilot Michael Foster and five passengers.

The tour started Jan. 17 in DeLand and moved to Tampa Executive Airport, with two planes the B-24J Liberator Witchcraft and the Mustang fighter plane, Toulouse Nuts available for ground tours.

Flight training is being offered on the Mustang, technically a TF-51D two-seat trainer.

No flights will be offered on Witchcraft, as the Collings Foundation is still in the middle of a "voluntary stand-down" on the Living History Flight Experience during an Federal Aviation Administration investigation.

The B-25 Mitchell bomber Tondelayo is currently being serviced in New Smyrna Beach and may rejoin the tour in two or three weeks.

"With fewer aircraft it draws fewer people but what were surprised is theres still a good turnout thankfully so," Collings Foundation spokesman Hunter Chaney said.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash that occurred at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

"We really were encouraged by people all around the country to get back on the horse and start the tour in Florida," Chaney said. "Were taking things gently as we start to tour."

He added that the continued tours are a tribute to McCauley, co-pilot Michael Foster and the five passengers who died.

"Its not something that we outrightly advertise," Chaney said. "They were friends and family stellar, excellent people, unique its heartbreaking, so they leave a big hole for us."

McCauley, who was 75, had the most hours spent as a pilot and in command of a B-17 in the history of aviation, Chaney noted.

"Its been rough," he added. "Aside from just the encouragement of the general public around the country, Mac would have our hides if we stopped touring hed say you have 10 minutes to get over it.

"Thats another form of our memorial for the crew."

The tour, essentially a traveling aerial museum, has been offering rides since 1989 and visits by World War II veterans have often resulted in cathartic experiences.

"Its a way that these veterans remember their past and heal from it too," Chaney said.

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With members of the Greatest Generation dwindling, their children and grandchildren have been attending to try and connect with the past.

"Were starting to find theres a whole new group of younger people who are genuinely curious to see what these planes are like, to crawl through the inside of it, to talk to the pilots," Chaney said. "A lot of extended family members are starting to come out, because theyre genuinely curious, trying to capture that slice of time, to get an idea what it was like in 1944, how do these machines behave, what do they smell like, feel like thats appealing to a lot of folks."

Venice where the planes will be available for tours through Monday afternoon has always been a highlight of the Wings of Freedom tour.

"Its in the top 10 every year," Chaney said. "The number of friends who come out every year is just neat.

"Venice is one of the true motivating factors for us to get out there and tour and at least get done what we can for people to come and visit Its a special stop.

"We have some great organizers there who work so hard and we felt it necessary to make sure we visited."

The planes will be open for tours from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for children age 12 and under. World War II veterans are admitted free.

Mustang training flights start with a $2,400 donation per student for a 30-minute flight training, with 60-minute sessions available. Links to book the flight are available at

Even as it works on preserving history, the Collings Foundation which operates one of the worlds largest collections of historic aircraft has an eye on future activities.

Last year, the foundation started refurbishing a second B-17, which will be outfitted to look like "Outhouse Mouse," a plane that flew in the same squadron as Nine O Nine.

A two-stick P-40 Warhawk it acquired last year is being outfitted to fly along with the Mustang.

"Its still in the works, were about a year out with that restoration," Chaney said. "As tragic as it is, its nice that well have another B-17 representing the veterans that flew them."

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There is no timetable for the FAA to allow the Living History Flight Experience excursions to resume. Flights on the B-24, at $475 per person, and the B-25, at $425, are the main source of revenue to keep the museum going.

Since the crash, insurance premiums have also increased, boosting costs of what was already an expensive endeavor. Proceeds from the flights already go back into the airplanes.

"It really is more of a labor of love than anything," Chaney said.

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PROFILE: The freedom teacher in the Delta – Yale Daily News

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Most afternoons, Jeremiah Smith can be found in a small building at the center of the Mississippi Delta, where a signpost in the front features a Black Power fist clutching a rose. He belts verses of Oh, Freedom and Which Side Are You On with his students after long days at school. In his usual teaching uniform of a T-shirt and cargo shorts, Smith claps with the most enthusiasm out of anyone and bravely tries to get a group of middle schoolers to muster up enough energy for the rest of the afternoon with his endless enthusiasm and commanding voice. After this morning circle-up with singing and announcements for the day, Smith leads some of the students in a class about filmmaking techniques. Others head to the creative writing club, the activist club, a study session or the social justice reading club for afternoon activities like voter registration planning and poetry readings.

A 29-year-old Teach for America alum in Mississippi, Smith is the Director of Programming at the Rosedale Freedom Project. The Project is an educational nonprofit organization in the Mississippi Delta that aims to support youth leadership through community building, grassroots organizing and classroom enrichment. Its programming focuses on the histories of democracy and protest in the Delta. The students, called Freedom Fellows, participate in six years of summer camp and after-school programming that culminates in high school graduation.

A 29-year-old Teach for America alum in Rosedales school district West Bolivar, Smith remembers being dissatisfied with the prospect of moving back to the East Coast, having felt a pull to remain in the Delta. I was on this precipice of do I stay, or do I go, he said.

Smith chose to stay, taking a job an hour away from Rosedale at the Sunflower County Freedom Project a program founded by early Teach For America corps members in 1998. The program had modeled itself after the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project in which liberal college students from the East Coast organized mass voter registration and taught civics classes to local residents. In 1998, almost 50 years after the Freedom Summer, TFA corps members decided to bring students and teachers from beyond the community to supplement the still-broken and underfunded education system in Mississippi and help students get to college.

Smith saw a need for a similar program where he lived in Bolivar County, where the lasting impact of centuries of racial oppression is perhaps felt most deeply in the schools. Once the site of a failed lawsuit to integrate Chinese students into white schools, the high school is now considered an apartheid school. Over 98 percent of the student body is black. In 2015, Smith decided to open up another organization in Rosedale with a similar mission inspired by Sunflower County the Rosedale Freedom Project.

Amidst national conversations about desegregation, Mississippi can be seen as one of the places where efforts have most obviously failed. A study done by the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 found that Mississippi spends $33,355 less per student over the course of their education than the national average. Black families continue to fight for better resources and investment in their childrens education despite these barriers. When I was a teaching assistant, we attended crowded school board meetings where parents constantly questioned the lack of funding in the district. Students in the Freedom Project have met with their state and congressional representatives several times encouraging them to advocate for black students in public schools. In contrast, white parents in the area pay thousands of dollars for their students to attend private segregation academies private schools founded in the 1960s to ensure that white students did not have to participate in integration.

Bolivar County is the kind of place that programs like Teach For America were originally founded to serve. A drastic shortage of teachers in the county led to the school system buying a computer program, which students use to take classes for several hours of the day. Fifty-seven percent of the rural towns population lives under the poverty line, and eleven percent of students in West Bolivar High School are considered proficient in algebra by the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program. Eleven percent are proficient in English. Paddling students by hitting them with rulers as a disciplinary measure is a legal and common occurrence in the public school system. Students are acutely aware that they are being disempowered by larger political systems, and Smith says that the first thing students ask during the program is, Why does racism exist?

This is the system that Smith and the rest of the staff are working to subvert. With a starting budget of only $12,000 raised with local grants and a supportive community a dilapidated former youth center donated by the town and a few undergraduate teaching assistants, they put on the first Rosedale Freedom Project Freedom Summer in 2015.

Now, there are around 30 Freedom Fellows a year. The program has a $150,000 operating budget and pays three full-time staff members. Four principles define all programming: love, education, action and discipline (LEAD), which guide student behavior and highlight the Freedom Projects desire to provide structure in students education while still allowing them to take control of what they want to learn. Fellows take annual trips to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and began a student-operated community garden on their lawn in 2018 called the Freedom Farm. During the summer, middle school students spend all day at the building taking reading, math and arts classes, while high schoolers have the opportunity to take college-level courses with Ph.D candidates. When I most recently spoke to Smith, it was on his single Sunday off of work after taking the Fellows to the New Orleans Film Festival on an overnight trip.

It is kind of hard to wrap my head around how much we have changed since the beginning and how many of those changes have been innovating what it means to be a Fellow, Smith said. To be honest, then, it was really just about giving kids quality reading and math instruction and teaching them about the civil rights movement.

Smith is known among his staff and students for his willingness to work endless hours for the Freedom Fellows and intense devotion to developing the program. His desk is often filled with Red Bulls and student work, and he has put in hundreds of hours driving students around the South in the Freedom Projects white van.

Lucas Rapisarda, the former director of operations of the Rosedale Freedom Project and Smiths former roommate in Teach For America, recounted Smiths passion for young people as a large part of what has contributed to the projects rapid growth and sustainability. However, he also acknowledges that this same devotion to students and strong opinions about the direction of the Freedom Project can cause conflict and wear out the staff. Smith himself acknowledges that, for a long time, he believed it was necessary to constantly look at what was going wrong at the Freedom Project so they could improve while not allowing himself to celebrate small successes. Now, he tries to balance the small victories with students while still pushing himself and the staff to think about improvements.

Although the Freedom Project prides itself on allowing students to take charge over their own lives and education, Program Coordinator Lydia DuBois also said that Smiths personality has helped keep students motivated. He is a person that people want to impress when they meet him, she said. It drew the kids back because there was this person that was working for them overtime and in overdrive all the time.

One of those students is Chandler Rogers, a high school junior who has been a Freedom Fellow since 2015. During the summer, he often remains in the building long after programming is over, chatting with Smith and the teaching assistants about anything and everything. Rogers credits the Freedom Project with giving him confidence in his social and academic life, and he now helps lead the Creative Writing Club for younger students. He is a junior, so he is starting ACT preparation at the Freedom Project and hopes to attend Southern Mississippi University. Chandlers sister JaMya is a sophomore who helps run the Freedom Farm, and many of Chandlers closest friendships are with other fellows.

The opportunities and the atmosphere they give the youth are important, he said of his time at the Freedom Project. It makes you feel welcome and like you are important to society.

Although he has established the Freedom Project as an important presence in the region and is well-known by residents of Bolivar County, Smith said that it has been difficult to foster trust in an outsider in Mississippi. He came into a community that has often been betrayed in the past by people who receive grants to do projects that are unsustainable, with weak frameworks that rely on short-term teachers from outside Mississippi. By living in the community and establishing permanent partnerships, he has been able to slowly earn trust from parents and leaders. Smith spends a lot of time thinking about his own privilege as a white, college-educated man from Virginia and the ways it has helped him bring grants and other donations to the Freedom Project. They have started to attract more staff and summer teaching assistants who are from the Delta as well as bringing in the parent community board and student leaders as a more active presence. Smith says that the ultimate goal is to get to a place where his presence is no longer needed at the Freedom Project and it can be fully sustainable in the long term. But until then, he is completely invested in Rosedale and its students.

Smith is also fundamentally uncomfortable with any assessment that would give him too much credit for the community created within the Freedom Project. He describes a restorative council he facilitated a few weeks prior between students who were in an altercation and their parents as just one example of the communitys investment in children. Smith emphasizes how much the parents did the work of making their children feel protected and loved while he only facilitated the discussion. To Smith, it is only because of the contributions of the people who the Freedom Project serves who have made its direction possible.

This space is a product of students and teachers and parents and community members, he said. Just remember how indebted you are to the people that you serve.

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