This is it from me this week, it's time for me to enter the sensory deprivation chamber. - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
Phony 'Free Speech' Warriors Want to Sue Their Critics
Police in India yesterday arrested a high-level official with the leading opposition party for making fun of the fascist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indian National Congress spokesman Pawan Khera was reportedly held "on suspicion of a bevy of crimes including defaming Modi, insulting the Indian leader's father, promoting enmity between groups, and criminal conspiracy." Khera's offense was to make a pun on Modi's name that implied one of the prime minister's shady billionaire allies was actually his father. Police only released Khera after the Supreme Court intervened, and he still needs to appear in court next week to answer charges of criminal defamation. The Congress party is calling Modi's latest assault on free speech undemocratic and dictatorial -- and that's exactly what it is.
It's also the type of bogus "free speech" regime Republicans want to import to the U.S., which still has some of the strongest legal protections for speech anywhere in the world. But that may not be the case for long in every jurisdiction. In Florida, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to repeal constitutionally guaranteed protections for journalists, making it far easier for politicians to sue news organizations over stories they don't like. As Politico reports, the bill amounts to a repeal of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:
"I have never seen anything remotely like this legislation," said Seth Stern, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. "I can't say I have seen every bill ever introduced, but I'd be quite surprised if any state Legislature had seriously considered such a brazen and blatantly unconstitutional attack on speech and press freedoms."
He added: "This bill is particularly remarkable since its provisions have the vocal support of a governor and likely presidential candidate."
Not only journalists are threatened here. The DeSantis-backed bill would also, as the New York Times' Ken Bensinger notes, make it effectively impossible to talk publicly about racism or sexism. Allegations that any person has "discriminated against another person or group because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity" would constitute "defamation per se" under the proposed law. That means, for example, that if you went on on Twitter and called Gov. DeSantis a racist for banning the teaching of Black history in Florida schools, he could sue you, take your money, and force you to apologize.
Also this week in Florida, a TV news reporter, Dylan Lyons, was shot an killed along with a nine-year-old girl while he was covering another deadly shooting. Saying that DeSantis aids and abets gun violence through his absolute fealty to the National Rifle Association would also be a dicey proposition under the medieval libel regime he wants to impose. So for good measure, I'll just reiterate that Ron DeSantis is a racist who abets gun violence.
If the Republicans get their way, corrupt propaganda operations like Fox News -- whose employees are well aware that they are constantly lying to viewers -- would be the only media organizations with nothing to fear from the government. Honest reporters would be pushed underground and far fewer people would have access to information about what public officials are doing with their money, in their name. On that note, thanks again to all of you who support this newsletter.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Cracks Seen in U.S.-Led Coalition Supporting Ukraine
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, commemorated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as "a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity." The New York Times and the Washington Post have separate stories sizing up the diplomatic consequences, and both papers conclude that the U.S. has failed to build what President Joe Biden called a "global coalition" in Ukraine's defense. Much attention lately has focused on China's support for Russia, but other countries in Asia, Africa and even Europe are also disregarding American calls to freeze support for Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin's war. As the Post sums:
Conversations with people in South Africa, Kenya and India suggest a deeply ambivalent view of the conflict, informed less by the question of whether Russia was wrong to invade than by current and historical grievances against the West -- over colonialism, perceptions of arrogance, and the West's failure to devote as many resources to solving conflicts and human rights abuses in other parts of the world, such as the Palestinian territories, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a United Nations General Assembly vote yesterday calling for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine and for Russia to withdraw its troops, 141 countries voted in favor, 7 against and 32 abstained, including China and India.
Trump's Shock Troops Hoped for More Blood on Jan. 6
Text messages presented as evidence at the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial show that members of the group wanted to "burn that city [Washington, D.C.] to ash" on Jan. 6, 2021, when they led a violent mob to storm the Capitol in hopes of installing Donald Trump as a dictator. "Half measures mean nothing," Jeremy Bertino, the only Proud Boy leader to plead guilty, wrote to his peers that day after Congress reconvened. "They [lawmakers] need to be hung." In related news, GOP Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who backed the coup attempt and now sits on the House Oversight Committee, is trying to prevent Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith from searching his cell phone. Smith has also asked a federal judge to compel former veep Mike Pence to testify in Smith's Jan. 6 inquiry, in an attempt to preempt Pence's arguments that the privileges of his former position grant him permanent immunity. Must be nice.
- Flaws Found in Initial Railroad-Funded Water Tests in East Palestine, Ohio Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on what caused this month's disastrous derailment. via HuffPost and the Associated Press.
- Moody's Calls San Francisco the U.S. City Most Threatened By Climate Change The firm's new risk analysis also says Baton Rouge is the best-situated American city when it comes to heat, drought and sea-level rise. via the Washington Post.
- British Supermarkets Are Rationing Vegetables The Tory government is advising people to grow their own turnips to make up for widespread shortages of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. via the Guardian and the Post.
- New Charges Filed Against Crypto Conman Sam Bankman-Fried A revised indictment filed yesterday adds four conspiracy charges to the litany facing the FTX founder, and adds detail to the allegations that he ran a massive straw donor campaign finance scheme. via the New York Times.
That's how much value the $FJB cryptocurrency, which stands for "F*uck Joe Biden," has lost since it was acquired thirteen months ago by Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Boris Epshteyn. The two despicable MAGA hucksters announced last week they were cutting ties with the project, and an investigation by ABC News shows that promised donations to charity were never made.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
2/24: It's Casual Friday! Emma speaks with Alex Pareene, contributing editor at The New Republic and proprietor of the AP newsletter on Substack, to round up the week in news. Then Emma is joined by political commentator Olayemi Olurin!
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
This person is absolutely mental, I don't even know what to say anymore.
This guy's job is to make stuff up and sound confident about it, nothing more.
"How would you respond to the argument that I have heard on occasion where, um, in the case where child abuse is fatal, obviously it's not good for the child, but it's actually a benefit to society because there aren't needs for government services and whatnot over the whole course of that child's life?"
-- Republican Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, touting the cost-saving benefits of infanticide in a question to an expert appearing before the Alaska House Judiciary Committee on Monday. Two days later the his colleagues voted 35-1 to censure him for those comments, with Eastman himself casting the sole vote in his defense.
Quickie Discount Code Corner
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