Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Senate Anti-Leaks Bill Threatens the Rights of the Press and the Public

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The US Senate is currently debating a dangerous bill that, if passed, would have broad consequences for press freedom and the public’s right to know. EFF asks senators to stand up for government transparency and the First Amendment and vote it down.

The bill’s provisions, buried in the annual Intelligence Authorization Act, are intended to stop leaks of classified information to reporters—a premise worrying in itself—but it is written so sloppily it will also severely impair government transparency and prevent the media from reporting on national security issues.

The problems with this bill are extensive and severe. As the New York Times pointed out in an unusually forceful editorial last Friday, it has been “drafted in secret without public hearings” and bars most government employees from giving press background briefings, even if the information is unclassified—vital for media organizations when reporting on complex issues. Another provision prohibits officials from writing op-eds or appearing on television, again, even if the information is unclassified—a clear prohibition on protected speech.

Classification expert Steven Aftergood documented several specific problems with the bill’s broad definitions, most notably that the bill doesn’t differentiate between properly and improperly classified information. Even the Freedom of Information ...

Monk in New Burning Protest

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Updated at 3:45 p.m. EST on 2012-08-07

A Tibetan monk in China’s southwestern Sichuan province set himself ablaze Monday in the latest in a wave of self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule, according to Tibetan sources.

Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk at the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan prefecture, burned himself shortly after 5:00 p.m. local time, the sources said.

“Witnesses said that he shouted slogans calling for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for Tibetans living in and outside of Tibet to reunite,” said Sungrab Gyatso, a monk at Drepung monastery in India, citing contacts in Tibet.

A Tibetan resident of the area confirmed the account, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"After Chinese police extinguished the flames, he was taken away alive,” he said.

Citing a local source and speaking on condition of anonymity, a Tibetan living in South India said that following the protest, police were observed throwing a badly burned body into a vehicle and driving away.

“More police than residents were present at the scene,” he added.

'Martyrs' Road'

Separately, the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said a witness reported that "Chinese state security personnel quickly extinguished the ...

Military commission to hear oral arguments on ACLU censorship challenge

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The Jurist reports thata military commissions judge at Guantanamo Bay  announced  Thursday that he will hear oral arguments regarding allegations by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  that the government censored discussions about torture during the trial of the 9/11  defendants. The order stated that because neither side objected to counsel for the ACLU and the other 14 news organizations to present oral arguments on the motion, the oral arguments will take place on August 22.

Read more.

Will Gu Kailai Get Death?

Monday, August 6th, 2012

The trial of the wife of ousted former Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai for the murder of a British businessman is scheduled to go ahead on Thursday amid widespread speculation over whether she will receive the death penalty.

Amid the biggest political scandal to hit the ruling Communist Party in decades, China last Thursday formally charged Gu Kailai and a former employee with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The official Xinhua news agency, in reporting the charges, appeared to prejudge the proceedings, reporting Gu and Zhang Xiaojun's guilt as a matter of fact.

"The facts of the two defendants' crime are clear, and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial," Xinhua reported last week in the first official word on the once-powerful Bo family's fate since the March 15 ouster of Bo Xilai as Communist Party secretary of Chongqing.

"Therefore, the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide," the agency reported.

"Worrying about Neil Heywood's threat to her son's personal security, [Gu] Kailai along with Zhang Xiaojun, the other defendant, poisoned Neil Heywood to death," it said.

Heywood, 41, was discovered dead in a Chongqing hotel in November, and was quickly cremated after his death was blamed ...

Will in PBS’ MediaShift: ‘Why Students Need a Guide to Free Speech on Campus’

Monday, August 6th, 2012

If you still require convincing to check out the second edition of FIRE's Guide to Free Speech on Campus (electronic copies are available free!), FIRE Director of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley has you covered. He has a new article up on the front page of PBS' MediaShift, entitled "Why Students Need a Guide to Free Speech on Campus More Than Ever." 

In it, Will highlights the importance of new media and social media, which we cover in the new Guide: 

... because student speech is more visible than ever before, the threat of censorship has grown accordingly. An all-night conversation that might have remained behind dorm room doors a decade ago is now just as likely to be emblazoned upon a Facebook page, where it may be discovered the next morning by a far wider audience than intended. Given this new visibility, all manner of student speech -- criticism of professors or university administrators, heated political debate, dissenting or unpopular opinions, embarrassing jokes -- may provoke dangerous attempts to censor and punish student expression.

If Will's stories about the shocking censorship against Hayden Barnes, Marc Bechtol, and Professor Jim Miller don't prove to you why ...

China Bids High for Foreign Oil

Monday, August 6th, 2012

China's deal to buy Canadian oil company Nexen has renewed questions about the country's practice of paying high prices for overseas assets, analysts say.

The $15.1-billion offer by China National Overseas Oil Corp. (CNOOC) to acquire the Calgary-based company for $27.50 a share on July 23 topped the market's previous closing price by 61 percent, The Globe and Mail said.

While Nexen is Canada's 12th largest energy company, it has struggled with problems at holdings ranging from the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa to Long Lake, Alberta, where it has been working to turn oil sands deposits into crude oil, the paper said.

If approved, CNOOC's deal would give it 100 percent of the technically challenging Long Lake venture after its $2.1-billion purchase last year of Opti Canada, which held 35 percent of the project. Nexen controls the remaining 65 percent.

For state-owned CNOOC, the investment means access to new technologies including horizontal drilling and extraction of crude oil from bitumen, a tar-like source of viscous petroleum.

But CNOOC's price offer may be prohibitive for most international oil companies. The transaction will cost CNOOC about 20 percent more than Nexen's oil and gas reserves are worth, said analyst Laban ...

Political Cartoonist Zunar Scores Partial Victory in Malaysian Court

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Last week, a Malaysian civil court ruled that the arrest of political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaqur, also known as Zunar, was lawful but that the seizure of his 66 books and paintings was not. This decision is the latest in a long history of battles between the Malaysian government and Zunar over his right to free expression. While the court’s ruling on the seizure of his work is a step in the right direction, their ruling of Zunar’s arrest as lawful hurts the fight for free expression in Malaysia.

On September 24, 2010, police raided Zunar’s office in Kuala Lumpur prior to the release of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia. All copies of the book were confiscated, and Zunar was arrested for sedition and publishing without a license. Last year, Zunar filed suit against the Malaysian government over the seizure of his work. Initially scheduled the make a decision on Friday, July 27, the court delayed its decision. They found that Zunar’s arrest was lawful under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publication Act but that there was not enough evidence to warrant the seizure and retention of his works. They ordered the return of the books and paintings.

...

Congress Passes Restrictions On Military Funeral Protests, Delivers Blow To Westboro Baptist Church

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church protesters will soon be severely limited in their ability to disrupt military funerals, after Congress passed a sweeping veterans bill this week that includes restrictions on such demonstrations.

According to “The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012,” which is now headed to President Barack Obama’s desk, demonstrators will no longer be allowed to picket military funerals two hours before or after a service. The bill also requires protestors to be at least 300 feet away from grieving family members.

Read more.

New Leaked TPP Text Puts Fair Use at Risk

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

EFF believes that it is vitally important that fair use and exceptions and limitations to copyright be protected in international trade agreements.

But the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is putting Fair Use at risk with restrictive language in the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP). The US and Australia are both proposing very restrictive text, and Peru is willing to accommodate the bad language. KEI reports on the leak of the negotiating TPP text on copyright limitations and exceptions.

“Limitations and exceptions are positive enabling doctrines that function to ensure that intellectual property law fulfills its ultimate purpose of promoting essential aspects of the public interest. By limiting the private right, limitations and exceptions enable the public to engage in a wide range of socially beneficial uses of information otherwise covered by intellectual property rights—which in turn contribute directly to new innovation and economic development. Limitations and exceptions are woven into the fabric of intellectual property law not only as specific exceptional doctrines (‘fair use’ or ‘fair dealing,’ ‘specific exemptions,’ etc.), but also as structural restrictions on the scope of rights, such as provisions for compulsory licensing of patents for needed medicines.”—Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public ...

Medal Speeches ‘Nearly Identical’

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Medal-winning North Korean athletes at the London Olympics are delivering boilerplate acceptance speeches praising the country’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Un, prompting the international media to increasingly snub them in the absence of sensational stories.

So far, North Korea has won two gold medals in men's weightlifting, one in women's weightlifting, and one in women's judo. It also won a bronze in women's weightlifting.

The reclusive nation may be on track to best its previous record of four gold and five bronze medals in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

With 56 athletes competing in 11 sports, the North Korean Olympic team hopes to win additional medals in table tennis, diving, judo, wrestling, boxing, and archery.

But despite the solid showing, foreign reporters are less likely to interview medal winners from North Korea because none of them are willing to express their own feelings when asked about their Olympic experience.

RFA interviewed a reporter from China’s official Xinhua news agency named Xin Jianqiang who said he would be unsurprised if the North Koreans won additional medals in this year’s Olympics, but said he would be floored if the athletes did not mention Kim Jong Un in their acceptance speeches.

“Although their voices ...

Bloggers’ Trial Put Off

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Vietnamese authorities on Friday postponed a trial for three prominent Vietnamese bloggers, claiming their lawyers had called for the delay following the self-immolation death of the mother of one of the defendants.

But the attorneys for the three activists denied ever having made any request to the court in Ho Chi Minh City, which was scheduled to begin the trial on Tuesday.

Ta Phong Tan, a Catholic former policewoman, Nguyen Van Hai, better known by his online alias Dieu Cay, and Phan Thanh Hai, known as Anh Ba Saigon, are facing charges of conducting propaganda against the state.

The postponement came as authorities on Friday launched an investigation into the self-immolation death of Tan’s mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng, who set herself ablaze in front of a municipal building in Bac Lieu province earlier this week in protest of her daughter’s trial, according to Tan’s sister Ta Minh Tu.

Tu said her mother was also troubled by a threatened eviction from her town over a personal land dispute which the government had not resolved, despite numerous petitions sent to officials.

Phan Thanh Hai’s lawyer, Doan Thai Duyen Hai, told RFA that a court clerk had contacted him and the other ...

5 Great Moments from the 2012 CFN Conference

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Donald Downs to students: It is a few days after the CFN Conference, and the FIRE office is still running on post-conference excitement (and more than a little caffeine). The annual conference, held at Bryn Mawr College, brought together student activists from across the country to learn about First Amendment rights and what they can do to uphold these rights on their college campuses. Interactive sessions conducted by FIRE staff, engaging keynote speakers, and many opportunities for thought-provoking conversation made this weekend a truly memorable and worthwhile experience.

When I got an opportunity to sit down and reflect, I compiled a list of my top five favorite moments from this year's conference. Here they are, in chronological order: 

1. Professor Donald Downs telling us to "make trouble"

Professor Donald Downs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison kicked off the conference Friday night with a keynote relating his experiences defending free speech at Madison. Of his lessons on activism, one of the ones that I particularly took to heart was to "make trouble" in the face of administrative resistance. As we have seen in cases at University of Wisconsin-Stout, The College of William & Mary, and hundreds of other schools, a little noise ...

International Failure: Are We Going to Let Countries Disenfranchise the Visually Impaired?

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

There is a chronic lack of material in formats accessible to the world’s visually impaired and print disabled citizens. Visually impaired people face a “book famine” in which 95% of books published in rich countries and 99% in poorer countries are never converted into accessible formats such as audio, large print or braille.1 The fastest way to address this famine is to change the copyright law: create exceptions and limitations that permit shifting of content into formats accessible to the blind, and allow cross-border exchange of content in accessible formats.

Copyright maximalists argue against change, pointing out that individual countries can make these changes themselves. However, despite the discretion left open to countries by the international copyright framework, only 57 countries—representing fewer than half of WIPO’s 184 Member States—were identified as having created specific exceptions in their national laws for the benefit of the visually impaired.2 And as the Sullivan report (2007) documents, there is considerable uncertainty about the legality of importing and exporting accessible material across borders, restricting access to knowledge and requiring unnecessary duplication.

EFF believes that protecting liberties online includes making sure that all people, regardless of disability, can participate in the online world. We ...

Updated Arizona Anti-Harassment Bill Features Improved Free Speech Protection

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

By Joe Izenman

Heeding concerns of the public and organizations like Media Coalition, of which the CBLDF is a member, the state of Arizona has passed an updated and more precise version of March’s legislation against cyberstalking and cyberharassment.

House Bill 2549 was intended to expand existing stalking and harassment laws, written before the advent of online communication. However, after it passed in March with little media scrutiny, First Amendment watchdog groups such as CBLDF and their peers in the Media Coalition began to raise significant concerns about the lack of definition and specificity in the language of the bill.

Fortunately, the Arizona legislature chose to heed the calls for reconsideration. Now an updated version of the bill has passed in the house and is poised to become law. The edits to the bill include a qualification that the offending communication be targeted, ensuring protection for speech in public forums such as blogs and message boards. Only person-to-person contact such as emails and text messages will be considered under the law. Republican Vic Williams, who co-sponsored the bill, tells The Arizona Republic:

“People have the right to make comments about people,” he said. “Those things ...

University of California Advisory Panel to First Amendment: Bring It On

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

The Jewish Daily Forward is reporting a backward proposal in the University of California (UC) system. Motivated by concern for the environment for Jewish students on campus, UC President Mark G. Yudof's Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion released a July 9th report recommending the adoption of a hate speech code that would prohibit much speech protected by the First Amendment. 

FIRE will be commenting on this illiberal proposal further over the next few days, but two quotes are worth reviewing at the outset. First, Harvard Law professor and member of the FIRE Board of Editors Alan Dershowitz, an outspoken defender of Israel, noted that the proposal was "a very serious mistake... The first victims of the policy would be pro-Israel advocates. It will backfire."

Even if the policy works as intended—indeed, especially if the policy works as intended—it is obviously unconstitutional. The authors of the anti-speech recommendation admit as much when they state that the panel "recognizes that changes to UC hate speech policies may result in legal challenge, but offer that UC accept the challenge." Wow! It's not every day a university advisory panel comes out and concedes that the First Amendment is ...

Rave Review for FIRE’s New ‘Guide to Free Speech on Campus’

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Accuracy in Academia's Spencer Irvine has written an article praising FIRE's new Guide to Free Speech on Campus. Irvine calls it a "detailed, useful and practical tool to prevent bad things from happening to innocent people." For students and faculty alike, the college campus can be a challenging environment for free speech, and that is where FIRE's Guides come in. According to Irvine:

In the end, most if not all Americans should read FIRE's free speech guide. Parents, future college students and especially current college students and faculty should read this guide to free speech in order to avoid unwarranted and unnecessary harassment and prosecution. 

Thanks, Spencer! Be sure to check out the new Guide to Free Speech on Campus page to read the Guide online; request a hard copy; download the PDF, Kindle, or iBook version; or order a copy from Amazon.com. 

FBI’s Facial Recognition is Coming to a State Near You

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Recently-released documents show that the FBI has been working since late 2011 with four states—Michigan, Hawaii, Maryland, and possibly Oregon—to ramp up the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Facial Recognition Program. When the program is fully deployed in 2014, the FBI expects its facial recognition database will contain at least 12 million “searchable frontal photos.” (p. 6)

The documents, which the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) obtained from a recent meeting of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board,1  shed new light on the FBI’s plans for NGI—the Bureau's massive biometrics database that combines fingerprints, iris scans, palm prints, facial recognition and extensive biographical data collected from over 100 million Americans.

The Advisory Board documents show that FBI's database of facial images will provide search results automatically (the system won't need to rely on a human to check the results before forwarding them to the state or local agency) and that the FBI is developing "Universal Face Workstation software" to allow states that don't have their own "Face/Photo search capabilities"  to search through the FBI's images.

After we read through the Advisory Board documents, we quickly sent Open Records requests to several of the ...

UK Media Company, CEO Drop Bogus Attempt to Out Author of Spoof Twitter Account

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Frivolous, abusive legal attempts to intimidate and silence online critics are hardly rare. From school superintendents to developers to mayors to businesses, bogus lawsuits are often tempting tools for those looking to expose and embarrass critics or simply intimidate them into silence. While we've seen many ridiculous lawsuits filed in recent years aimed at improperly unmasking anonymous online speakers, however, an action filed in the Northern District of California last month stands out given its unusually high number of abusive elements (even for a "John Doe" case).

On July 6, Northcliffe Media Limited, a UK newspaper conglomerate owned by the publisher of the Daily Mail, filed suit in federal district court after its CEO Steve Auckland was parodied in a series of spoof Twitter accounts such as @unstevedorkland. The Twitter feeds, featuring a thumbnail photo of George Clooney (a nod to Auckland's apparent resemblance to the superstar actor—decide for yourself), mocked the CEO and operations at the company, documenting (presumably) fictitious exchanges with Northcliffe employees and portraying the executive as pompous and out-of-touch. Instead of ignoring the feeds (which, at the time, had only a handful of followers), Auckland and Northcliffe filed suit ...

This Week in Internet Censorship: Crackdowns in Nigeria, Tajikistan and Morocco, Immolation in Vietnam

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Tajikistan Launches Online Censorship Body

Last week, the former Soviet nation of Tajikistan made headlines for having launched a program of Internet censorship.  In fact, the country has been known to selectively block websites for political reasons for several years; this latest news actually involves the introduction of a "volunteer-run body that would monitor the Internet for citizens who criticize President Imomali Rakhmon."  

In the same week, however, there was news of new censorship in the wake of conflict in the eastern autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan.  According to Eurasianet, telecommunications lines to the province were cut on July 24 and the website of Asia-Plus, the country's largest independent news agency, has been blocked.  It was also reported that several ISPs had blocked YouTube.Early in 2012, authorities in the country also briefly blocked Facebook.

We urge the Tajik government to restore access to these sites.

Nigeria's Senate President Calls for Censorship

In Nigeria, where online censorship has not previously been reported, Senate President David Mark is calling for authorities to clamp down on social media in light of its being used to "demean leaders."  Mark is no stranger to Internet regulation; for years the Senator has pushed for cybercrime legislation ...

Victory Over Cyber Spying

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S 3414) Defeated in Senate Vote this Morning

Support EFF's fight for your digital rights!This morning, the US Senate defeated the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a bill that would have given companies new rights to monitor our private communications and pass that data to the government. The bill sponsors were 8 votes short of the 60 votes necessary to end debate on the bill (vote breakdown here). This is a victory for Internet freedom advocates everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of individuals emailed, tweeted, called, and sent Facebook messages to Senators asking them to defend privacy in the cybersecurity debate. Those voices were heard loud and clear in the halls of Congress today. EFF extends our heartfelt thanks to everyone who fought with us on this issue.

We can all be proud today that there was no law enacted on our watch that would have compromised the online privacy rights of Internet users in the name of cybersecurity.  

We beat the bill, and we changed the conversation

Pressure from civil liberties groups and Internet users didn’t just defeat the bill – it changed the conversation around cybersecurity in fundamental ways. Working together, we convinced the bill sponsors to put privacy ...

Extra ‘Popehat’ Proceeds Benefit FIRE!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Longtime FIRE friend Ken White has announced that his widely read blog Popehat will begin covering the costs of running the popular site by adding an Amazon search button to its sidebar. Popehat will receive a portion of any Amazon sales that originate from that button.

Here's the best part: Any proceeds that exceed the cost of running Popehat will go to FIRE! 

We are so thankful to Ken for generously directing extra funding to us! Of course, we'll be sure to put it to good use defending freedom on campuses across the country.

Check out Popehat, and if you enjoy the site, use the Amazon button on the sidebar for any purchases you make (hint, hint: you might want to type in "Unlearning Liberty" or "FIRE's Guide to Free Speech on Campus"). Not only will you get to enjoy the site's irreverent, incisive, and witty commentary, you'll also be able to support FIRE!

Questioning Copyright’s Trade-Off

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The idea behind copyright is simple — it is supposed to be a balance in the service of the public interest. There's a trade-off: for accepting a restriction on certain speech, the public benefits from the production of more new creative works each year. That delicate equation is complicated by many factors, and the right policy should find the balance of copyright scope and duration, limitations and exceptions like fair use, and the appropriate remedies in case of infringement.

But in fact, copyright policies almost universally lack the serious cost-benefit analysis that must precede any evidence-based proposal. And indeed, while the unintended costs are clear to anybody who has observed abuse of, say, the DMCA takedown system, the evidence that these policies create incentives — or even prevent harm — is less forthcoming.

Last week Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute posted a thought-provoking piece that questions the similar calculation at the core of national security rhetoric. In the area of security, he asks, are we actually getting a "trade-off" for all the costs we incur to the country’s budget and our personal liberty? Sanchez convincingly argues that we haven’t been working towards a balance between those two ideas ...

New FIRE Video: What Every Student Should Know Before Starting College

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

What should every student know before starting college? FIRE's newest video has the answer: Students should know that they have rights—and colleges must do a better job of protecting those rights. 

We thought it would be useful to explain each statement made in the video for folks who might not be able to believe this kind of censorship happens on our nation's campuses. Sadly, it does!

"In college, you can get in trouble for what you wear, what you post on Facebook, even for what you say." 

In the past few years, FIRE has fought back against several schools who punished students for their expression-verbal, online, and even sartorial. For example, students on the crew team at Tufts University were punished for a joking T-shirt this year, while Yale University has nixed its student government's T-shirt design for the annual Harvard-Yale football game two years in a row. Facebook cases are even more common. See what happened to Roman Caple, who was barred from participating in his college graduation for a Facebook post that was critical of his school, Saint Augustine's College. And just ask Isaac Rosenbloom if you can get in trouble for what you say: ...

Blogger Barred from Travel

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A blogger in Vietnam who has been critical of the one-party communist state was prevented by the authorities on Thursday from traveling abroad, a month after he was attacked by suspected government agents.

Catholic blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh said staff at the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi stopped him from boarding a flight to Singapore when he wanted to accompany his mother, who needed medical treatment in the island state.

The airport authorities said they were acting on police orders.

"At noon today, I escorted my mother to the airport to travel to Singapore, where she needs medical treatment. After checking in, we proceeded to the waiting lounge but I was withheld there," he told RFA Vietnamese service.

"I did not know the reason. I was taken to a room and told I was prevented from going abroad based on orders by the Hanoi Police. At that time, I was so surprised because, under Vietnam Law, notifications of such preventions should be made before departure," Vinh explained.

Vinh, a former policeman in his mid-50s, has been an outspoken blogger, writing about social injustice, official corruption, and Hanoi’s response to what many Vietnamese see as Chinese “aggression” in the South China ...

Court Battles Over Warrantless DNA Collection Heating Up

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Should the police be allowed to warrantlessly collect and index the DNA of people merely arrested for a crime, while they are still cloaked in the presumption of innocence and have not been found guilty of anything? Over and over again, we've warned courts throughout the country the answer is no, and it now looks like judges are taking notice, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Courts and judges throughout the country have been split over the controversial practice of warrantless DNA collection from mere arrestees. The samples collected by state and federal law enforcement officials are placed into CODIS, a federal DNA database that law enforcement officers throughout the country are permitted to access.

In California, federal and state courts have reached different conclusions on the constitutionality of Proposition 69, California's DNA collection scheme. The California Court of Appeal (PDF) initially found the practice unconstitutional as a violation of the Fourth Amendment's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. That decision is now on review to the California Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a federal three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) rejected a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Northern California and instead found Prop. 69 constitutional.

...

Art on Trial: We need your help!

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Thomas Jefferson Center has launched an online fundraising campaign for Art on Trial, a virtual exhibit of artworks at the center of actual courtroom battles.

Each of the works displayed will represent a legal action in which an argument was made (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) that the artistic expression at issue could be censored or restricted in a manner that did not violate the First Amendment. Accompanying each piece in the exhibit will be a summary of the court case involving the artwork and the legal issues surrounding it.  In addition to the well-known controversies involving nudity in the arts, Art on Trial will also address such diverse topics as religious freedom and artistic expression, counterfeiting, public safety, harm to minors, satire, and much more. The ultimate goal of Art on Trial is to expose visitors to litigated works of art and challenge them to assess whether the outcome of each case is consistent with their own views as to what should be protected under the First Amendment.

Please take a moment to look through the campaign and consider the importance of free expression in our modern world.

Click here to visit the Center’s fundraising campaign for Art on Trial.

The Sordid Tale of The Lone Avenger’s Rise to Infamy

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

In examining the history of comic book censorship, sometimes it is difficult for people to separate the creator from the creation. A clear example of this is the sad tale of Australian comic creator Len Lawson and his creation, The Lone Avenger. Some commentators speculate that Lawson’s The Lone Avenger was probably as popular as Superman back in the 1940s and 1950s. However, today most people are unaware of the activities of the character or crimes of his creator. Still more are ignorant of the effect these actions had in causing the demise of the Australian comics market.

As a bit of background, the Australian comic market consisted of mostly American imports prior to the 1940s. After the start of World War II, the Australian government banned the import of American comics and Australia was able to develop its own local comic industry.  At the conclusion of the war, Australia found itself with a large national debt and a determination to support local businesses. As a result, the Australian government kept the import restrictions in place. This gave Australian comic publishers no competition and a captive audience of comic book readers.

In 1946, one of these publishers, the Sydney-based H.J. Edwards Pty. Ltd. released ...

Use Facebook to Speak Out for Privacy Before the Vote on Cybersecurity

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Senate is about to vote on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 – perhaps even as early as tomorrow. So we’re in a last push to get concerned Internet users to speak out for privacy before the big vote. If you want to ensure that we don’t compromise our rights to speak and communicate online privately, then please tweet and call your Senators. And now you can do one more thing: post a note on your Senators’ Facebook profiles. Leave comments asking them to stand up for your privacy in the cybersecurity debates. Comments might read something like:

I’m a constituent and I want you to defend privacy when you vote on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S 3414). Please support the Franken-Paul Amendment and other pro-privacy amendments, reject any attempts to water down privacy protections, and oppose the bill as a whole.

We’ve heard from our contacts in DC that the tweets are making a big impact – let’s add to the impact with Facebook messages.  Scroll down to find your Senator's Facebook information. Note that you must have a Facebook account to comment on a Senator's profile, and you will probably need to "like" the Senator's page in ...

Syrian Cartoonist Ferzat Featured in Amsterdam Exhibit

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Maren Williams

Almost a year ago, when Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was abducted and had his hands broken by men likely connected to authoritarian president Bashar Assad’s government, the message was clear: stop drawing. But Ferzat defied the warning and, in solidarity with the rebels fighting the Assad regime, resumed creating his cartoons with new zeal as soon as his hands healed. Instead of silencing Ferzat’s work, the attack amplified it worldwide, bringing him recognition from Cartoonists Rights Network International and Time, among many others. Now, his cartoons are figuring prominently in an exhibit at the Prince Claus Fund Gallery in Amsterdam.

In the accompanying artist’s statement reprinted on the website of Nafas Art Magazine, Ferzat discusses his past efforts to circumvent censorship and his determination to continue drawing no matter what. For almost 40 years, says Ferzat, he managed to avoid government sanction:

My caricatures were devoid of speech and used symbols, and because of that I could survive censorship in my country and publish some of them freely. This approach also gave my work an international appeal since it relied on images anyone could understand – without the barrier of language intervening. So while ...

FIRE Launches 2012 Essay Contest: Win $20,000 in Scholarships!

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
FIRE is pleased to announce that our 2012 Essay Contest is now accepting submissions.

To enter, high school juniors and seniors should watch two FIRE videosSilencing U: Five Outrageous Cases of Campus Censorship  and our brand new video, What Every Student Should Know Before Starting Collegeand write an essay explaining why it is important for colleges and universities to protect student expression.

FIRE will award nine college scholarships to the best entries. One first-place winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship, one second-place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship, and three third-place winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Four runners-up chosen by lottery will each receive a $500 college scholarship.

Part of making an informed decision about where to go to college is knowing if a school actually upholds its commitments to protect student expression. All too often, students do not realize they should consider a school's free speech track record when making this important choice. FIRE's essay contest encourages high school students to know their rights before they go to college, so they are better prepared to defend those rights when they get to campus. Encourage the students in your life to enter today!

To ...

Columbia Missourian Project Reveals the Breadth of Book Challenges in Public Schools

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Mark Bousquet

Why are books challenged in public schools and, even more importantly, why are some challenges successful in getting books banned while others fail? A new comprehensive study by the Columbia Missourian is attempting to find out. The periodical is currently in the midst of a “public records project that looks at book challenges in schools in Missouri and across the country.” The newspaper’s findings (which are primarily about Missouri) demonstrate a breadth of reasons why books are challenged, as well as a breadth of books themselves.

The Missourian‘s project relied on college students at the Missouri School of Journalism. The students sent public record requests to all of the state’s 556 school districts, seeking all book challenge correspondence going back to January 1, 2008. A total of 495 (87.5%) districts provided information. The study found that “since 2008, 53 challenges were discovered at 32 districts across the state. In just over four years, 12 books were removed from circulation.”

In terms of the specific nature of the challenges, the Missourian describes:

The reasons for book challenges in Missouri run the gamut. Those seeking to ban or restrict books cited sexual themes and situations in 21 ...

For Some College Papers, Free Speech Ends Where Ads for Competitors Begin

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

The spring 2012 issue of the SPLC Report, published by the Student Press Law Center, contains a concerning story about intrusions on private university newspapers by administrations who don't want them taking advertisements from other institutions.

The most troublesome example of the bunch is from Long Island University's (LIU's) C.W. Post campus, where the administration banned its campus newspaper, The Pioneer, from running ads for other universities after it carried ads for programs at Hofstra University. (Do read the whole article, though, for the other examples.) SPLC staff writer Nick Glunt reports LIU's justification for doing so:

"Our student newspaper is a student club. It is funded through the Student Government Association using student activity fees that the university collects," C.W. Post Provost Paul Forestell wrote in a statement. "I have the fiduciary responsibility to make sure those funds are used in ways that most benefit our students."

"Running ads from other universities would be a poor business decision on the part of the student newspaper," Forestell continued. "This is not a free speech or student service issue. Our position is that it does not serve our students well to allow others to use the student newspaper to ...

University of Memphis Student Fee Board Only Funds Speech it Likes

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

The Student Press Law Center is reporting on a ridiculous situation at the University of Memphis. Memphis's student-run Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee (SAFAC) has voted to reduce the funding for the student newspaper The Daily Helmsman by $25,000, or one-third of its previous funding. Here's the kicker:

Helmsman editors said they have been told by several committee members — including student government representatives and university administrators — that the cuts are due to growing displeasure with the newspaper's content.

If this is true, it represents a grave First Amendment violation. If the University of Memphis, a public institution, wanted to reduce funding for any student group, it would have to comply with the United States Supreme Court's decision in Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217 (2000), requiring viewpoint neutrality in funding decisions. Writing for the majority in Southworth, Justice Kennedy held: 

When a university requires its students to pay fees to support the extracurricular speech of other students, all in the interest of open discussion, it may not prefer some viewpoints to others.

If the reason for deeply reducing funding for The Daily Helmsman is because petty SAFAC ...

Looking Back At SDCC 2012

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

By Alex Cox

The Summer Solstice of the comic fan’s year has come and gone. The maypoles are down, and the blood has been washed from the altars. Comic Con International is over until the earth spins around the sun again.

This was a terrific year at CCI for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, with launches of great new products, important programs, and some nose-to-the-grindstone work by some extremely dedicated volunteers. This was an important event, and not only was it a great fundraiser for our ongoing First Amendment work, but it was a vital week of education and outreach.

First and foremost, we hosted Ryan Matheson (formerly known as “Brandon X”), who spoke during a panel about what he went through in the past year as he was falsely accused of transporting child pornography into Canada. Ryan’s case is a perfect storm of institutionalized bullying, xenophobia, and classic censorship tactics. In the end, thanks to the outstanding defense funded by CBLDF, cooler heads prevailed and the Crown dismissed the charges leveled against Matheson. While he was ultimately declared innocent, this was only after $75,000 of legal bills had stacked up, and as part of the CBLDF’s initiative ...

University of Alabama Protects Rights of Religious Student Groups

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Following receipt of a letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the University of Alabama has made an important change to university policy in order to protect the freedom of association of religious student organizations on campus.

ADF explains

The University of Alabama's policy on membership in student organizations states that leadership and voting membership positions must be open "to all students of The University ... without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, or national origin, except in cases of designated fraternal organizations." In reply to the Alliance Defending Freedom letter, the university said it will amend the policy with the following sentence: "However, religious student groups will not be denied registration solely because they limit membership or leadership positions to students who share the same religious beliefs." 

Alabama's policy change ensures that religious student groups will be allowed to reserve membership and leadership roles for those who share the core beliefs of the group. Religious groups will no longer be forced to choose between accepting members or leaders who do not share in the group's basic tenets or facing denial of official recognition and its attendant benefits. Such "forced inclusion," as FIRE has long argued, dilutes or outright ...

IFAction Round Up July 24-29, 2012

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

OIF sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more.  To subscribe to this list, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/subscribe/ifaction.  For an archive of all postings to the list since 1996, visit http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/ifaction. Below is a sample of articles from July 24-29, 2012.

 

Privacy

Crashing the Third Party: Experts Weigh How Far the Government Can Go in Reading Your Email

The Data Question: Should the Third-Party Records Doctrine Be Revisited?

Congress to Examine Data Sellers

Former NSA Official Disputes Claims by NSA Chief

Obama Administration Supports New Cybersecurity Bill

Related:

The Caucus: Assessing the Trade-Offs Between Security and Civil Liberties

 

Access

Why Recent Court Decisions Don’t Change the Rules on Filtering (by Freedom to Read Foundation General Counsel Theresa Chmara)

San Francisco Library Porn Shield Lets Patrons View Adult Content In Private (VIDEO)

 

Censorship

TUSD MAS books will not be restored

 

Mommy Porn & Social Media: Erotic and Mainstream Meet in the Middle

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Christian Grey. If you haven’t heard that name uttered dozens times over the last year, it’s safe to say that you may have been living under a rock. While certainly not a literary prose masterpiece, the Fifty Shades trilogy hasn’t done too bad for itself, reaching a sales record of over 31 million copies worldwide just a few days shy of its thirteen month publication anniversary. Evidently tired of their typical lackluster fiction, women across the globe embraced literary erotica in a way never before seen. Sophisticated marketing campaign? Nope. Just your average suburban housewife word of mouth and young professional girly gab session via Facebook. Quite possibly the first truly erotic novel since the advent of the “Oprah Book Club” group dynamic – promotion simply fueled by women talking to other women – has generated a massive demographic of female readership that just keeps growing. So a mediocre piece of fan-fiction centering on the BDSM escapades of an older, emotionally unavailable, brooding alpha male and his younger, innocent, eager-to-love and be-loved companion, is redefining the landscape of mainstream literature as we know it?

Well, don’t get Gloria Steinem on speed dial just yet. The appeal of Fifty Shades has ...

Not Made of Glass: How Speech Codes Harm the Ones They Were Meant to Protect

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Sophia Mortensen is a FIRE Summer Intern.

No student enjoys taking exams, but I doubt any would consider their midterms or finals a form of harassment. Columbia Law School apparently disagrees—or at least it did in the 2001 case of Professor George Fletcher. For one of his exam questions, Fletcher created a hypothetical situation (based on real cases) in which a pregnant woman felt grateful for an assault that resulted in a miscarriage. In the hypothetical, she had been unsuccessfully seeking an abortion and wanted to thank her attacker for the end result. This exam question was deemed demeaning to the women in the class, and Professor Fletcher was threatened with a "a plausible contention of liability an[d] unlawfulness." While Columbia University did not punish him in the end, the case is still indicative of a greater problem on campus. 

The impulse to cry "harassment" at the slightest provocations and the eagerness of universities and colleges to clamp down on any speech or action deemed offensive chills debate and inhibits inquiry. Proponents of campus speech codes argue that such codes are enacted in an effort to make campuses welcoming and civil, neither of which is a bad thing. However, ...

Religious Freedom ‘Declines Markedly’ in China

Monday, July 30th, 2012

China has suffered a sharp decline in religious freedom while Burma has made little progress on the issue despite democratic reforms, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report to American lawmakers.

It said that abuse of religious freedom remained a concern in Vietnam, including cases involving arrests, detentions, and convictions of religious practitioners.

The State Department’s 2011 Religious Freedom Report that reviewed the situation across the globe last year slammed China, saying there was a “marked deterioration” in Beijing’s respect for and protection of religious rights in the world’s most populous nation.

It cited increased restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns and clampdowns on religious practices ahead of sensitive anniversaries, as well as “severe” repression of Muslim Uyghurs in the volatile Xinjiang region.

Burma, which ushered in a new, nominally civilian government in 2011, “took steps” during the year toward overcoming its legacy of “intense religious oppression,” but continued to impose restrictions and monitor meetings by religious organizations, it said.

In Vietnam, authorities held religious prisoners, refused to allow churches to register, and harassed believers, the report said, amid calls by rights groups to President Barack Obama’s administration to re-designate the country as a “Country of Particular ...

A Victory for Campus Speech in Michigan

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down its ruling in People v. Rapp (PDF) and delivered a win for student rights on campus. The court overturned the conviction of Jared Rapp, a former Michigan State University (MSU) law student prosecuted under an ordinance that prohibited a large swath of protected speech on MSU's campus. The court ruled that the speech restrictions, made under the guise of preventing "disrupt[ion]," were overbroad. This decision stands as yet another reminder to university administrators that the First Amendment fully extends to public campuses. 

On September 16, 2008, Rapp received a parking ticket on MSU's campus. He approached a nearby MSU parking enforcement employee to complain about the ticket. When Rapp began shouting, the employee called campus police from inside his service vehicle, the standard procedure for responding to an upset parking ticket recipient. Rapp was charged with violating MSU Ordinance § 15.05, which reads:

No person shall disrupt the normal activity or molest the property of any person, firm, or agency while that person, firm, or agency is carrying out service, activity or agreement for or with the University.

Rapp was eventually convicted of violating this ordinance for his tirade against the parking ...

Why Free Press Shouldn’t Have a Price

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Shelli Gimelstein is a FIRE summer intern.

Next to squirrels and Apple products, student newspapers are perhaps the most ubiquitous items on a college campus. You can see them peeking out of backpacks during the morning rush to class, sticking out amid a sea of coffee cups in the study lounge, or lying flat on lecture hall chairs as students sneak glances at the headlines while taking notes. 

So why are some universities and state commissions treating student newspapers — a staple of campus life that students rely on to know what's really going on at their school — like an ordinary scrap of paper fit for the recycling bin? 

In the words of a Colorado commission that has recommended the repeal of a state law banning free newspaper theft, student newspapers — which are distributed on most campuses free of charge — don't deserve protection from theft because they're not "something that has value."

The commission believes the law, which penalizes large-scale free paper theft and gives those publications, including student periodicals, the ability to sue for damages, should be overturned because only five cases of free newspaper theft have surfaced since its 2004 enactment. By arguing that ...

Detained Blogger’s Mum Self-immolates

Monday, July 30th, 2012

The mother of a popular Vietnamese blogger and government critic died Monday in a rare self-immolation protest, concerned over the plight of her daughter who is to stand trial for criticizing the state, according to a family member.

Dang Thi Kim Lieng, 64, set herself ablaze at dawn in front of a municipal building in her home province of Bac Lieu in southern Vietnam and succumbed to serious burn injuries on the way to the hospital.

Lieng was very concerned over the trial of her 43-year-old daughter Ta Phong Tan, a Catholic former policewoman who has been held in detention since September last year along with two other bloggers after she slammed corruption within the government, Tan’s younger sister said.

“[M]y sister's detention and charges affected her deeply,” Ta Minh Tu told RFA in an interview, saying Tan’s case had also led to constant state surveillance over the family.

“[The authorities] followed us all the time. Whenever I would go to [Ho Chi Minh city], someone would immediately begin tailing me.”

Tu said her mother was also troubled by a threatened eviction from her town over a personal land dispute which the government had not resolved, despite numerous petitions sent ...

Effort to Return MAS Books to Classrooms Fails in Tucson

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Early this year, CBLDF joined a coalition of organizations to decry the removal of seven books by renown Latino and Native authors from Tucson, Arizona, classrooms. Last week, TUSD Governing Board Member Mark Stegeman brought forth a resolution to put the removed books back into Tucson classrooms, but the resolution did not go to vote when Stegeman realized he did not have the support of other members of the school board.

Stegeman played a key role in the dissolution of Tucson’s highly-praised Mexican American Studies program, claiming that the program violated Arizona state law. As a result, the books were removed from classrooms. Stegeman claims that while he still believes ending the MAS program was the right thing to do, he believes the books should be returned to classrooms.

Fellow board member Adelita Grijalva doesn’t think Stegeman’s being entirely honest. From the Arizona Daily Star:

Board member Adelita Grijalva was the most vocal in her disapproval of the resolution, calling Stegeman’s effort a “campaign strategy” and the “height of hypocrisy.”

“I don’t think the irony is lost on anyone who has been paying attention,” said Grijalva, who did not support the dismantling of the classes in January. “If ...

Activist’s Sentence Reduced

Friday, July 27th, 2012

A Beijing court on Friday overturned a fraud conviction handed down earlier to a disabled rights lawyer, but upheld a conviction on a second charge, reducing the wheelchair-bound activist’s sentence by only two months.

Beijing lawyer and eviction activist Ni Yulan, 52, had been sentenced in April to a two-year prison term following her conviction on charges of “fraud” and “causing a disturbance” by the Xicheng District People’s Court.

Her husband, former schoolteacher Dong Jiqin, was also convicted of creating a disturbance and was handed a two-year term.

Beijing authorities had earlier revoked Ni’s business license because of her work on behalf of city residents evicted to make way for development linked to the 2008 Olympic Games.

And though prosecutors alleged that she had afterward illegally represented herself as a lawyer, the court ruled today that money given her by clients were not fees but donations.

“The judge accepted the evidence we provided, and therefore her original sentence was reduced by two months,” Ni’s lawyer, Cheng Hai, said.

“Her original fine of 1,000 yuan [U.S. $157] was also voided,” Cheng said.

Heavy police presence

Police turned out in force on Friday to cordon off the area around the court and ...

Expelled Valdosta State Student Earns Early Win in State Court

Friday, July 27th, 2012

As we reported here on The Torch back in June, former Valdosta State University student Hayden Barnes is now fighting his legal battle against the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in state court—and the early returns are encouraging for student rights.  

Here's the backstory. Barnes originally included his breach of contract claim in the federal lawsuit he filed in January 2008 with the help of FIRE and attorneys Robert Corn-Revere and Cary Wiggins. In addition to the First Amendment, due process, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Rehabilitation Act claims brought against the named defendants (former VSU President Ronald Zaccari, relevant VSU administrators, the university itself, and the Board of Regents), Barnes alleged that VSU and the Board of Regents had violated the contract formed with Barnes when he enrolled. Specifically, Barnes argued that VSU and the Board of Regents failed to follow their own stated policies governing student discipline and expulsion by kicking him out of school without notice or a hearing. 

The federal district court agreed that "the VSU Student Handbook provided to Barnes upon enrollment constituted a valid, written contract" that had been breached by Barnes' expulsion—but only with respect to the Board ...

60 Students En Route to Philadelphia Thanks to FIRE Supporters

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Today is the first day of FIRE's fifth annual Campus Freedom Network (CFN) student conference! Students from all over the country are joining us in the City of Brotherly Love to learn about how to defend and promote their rights on campus. With the lessons they learn over the course of the next three days, students will head back to campus ready to take on restrictive speech codes, defend against unjust censorship, and share the lessons of liberty with their peers. 

This conference is a crucial part of FIRE's efforts to arm students with the knowledge and resources they need to make their campuses safe havens for free speech. It is made possible by the consistent and generous support of FIRE's donors.  

If you would like to support this year's conference or help us make next year's conference even better, you can do so by making a 100% tax-deductible gift using our secure online donation form

Thank you to our current donors and to all those who decide to support FIRE's work for the first time today!

Greg Lukianoff Talks Liberty with Reason.tv

Friday, July 27th, 2012

While at this year's FreedomFest in Las Vegas, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff sat down for an interview with Reason.tv to discuss FIRE's recent work and his forthcoming book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. In his sit-down with Reason.tv's Kennedy, Greg highlights FIRE's fight against the University of Cincinnati's free speech zone, which was recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in a lawsuit brought with FIRE's assistance. Greg also discusses the major themes of Unlearning Liberty, offering advice to today's college students who too often become their own worst enemies in the fight for free speech on campus. Viewers can check out the interview below or at Reason.tv's website.

Tucson program uplifts, inspires supporters of intellectual freedom (video)

Friday, July 27th, 2012

On Monday, June 25, 2012, a remarkable coalition of librarians, writers, researchers, and thinkers came together to discuss the removal of educational materials and  elimination of Mexican American Studies (MAS) classes in the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District (TUSD). This program — “Ethnic Studies Under Fire: The Role of Librarians, Publishers, Teachers, and Activists” — at ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim was co-sponsored by ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, the Association of American Publishers, and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.

After an introduction by Barbara Jones, Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Adriana McCleer, PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies, laid a foundation for the session. McCleer provided a thorough overview of the history and events leading up to TUSD’s decision to suspend MAS classes and pull materials associated with that curriculum. Carmen Tafolla, Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio, then gave a rousing and personal defense of the materials in question and the value to young people of seeing their lives reflected in literature.

Tony Diaz then inspired listeners with his story of the Librotraficante activist movement, which ...

Associated Press and ‘Oregonian’: Portland State Student Expelled for Alleged "Threat"

Friday, July 27th, 2012

This week, FIRE was quoted in two newspaper articles covering the story of a Portland State University graduate student, Henry Liu, who was expelled from the university last month for allegedly constituting a campus threat. 

As The Oregonian reports, Liu was expelled for allegedly expressing frustration about a faculty member to a classmate and mentioning firearms in the same conversation: 

Liu's classmate told police he vented loudly about the conflict resolution program and its chairman, Robert Gould, saying, "I'm about ready to stick a .45 in his ass." She said that Liu had complained about his chronic back problem and sleeplessness, and that he was going target shooting that weekend, according to a campus police report. 

Liu contends that he was merely expressing unhappiness with a grade he received from a different faculty member, whom he never threatened:

Liu disputes his classmate's characterizations of the conversation. He says he confided his deep disappointment in PSU's conflict resolution program and his unhappiness with assistant professor Stan Sitnik, who had given him a B-plus instead of the A he thought he deserved. But Liu says he never raised his voice and never mentioned Gould.   

The Oregonian piece is worth reading ...

Support The CBLDF At OTAKON!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

This weekend the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund will be at Otakon, one of the country’s largest gatherings celebrating anime and manga culture! Learn more about the fight to protect manga with a panel and booth appearances by Ryan Matheson, the man who stood up to Canada Customs to prove manga is not a crime! The CBLDF will be set up with a booth on the dealer’s room floor in space Y4, where CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein will be available to answer questions about manga rights, and thanking supporters with exclusive thank you gifts from Camilla d’Errico made available especially for this event!

On Sunday morning be sure to come to the CBLDF’s program The Fight To Defend Manga at 10:45 in BCC Ballroom I-II. Otakon opens today at 12 PM.

CBLDF: The Fight To Defend Manga

In 2010, American citizen Ryan Matheson was illegally detained and falsely charged with importation of child pornography for humor and fantasy manga on his laptop computer. Earlier this year, all charges against Ryan were dropped, thanks to his willingness to stand up for his rights, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s work to aid his defense. Meet the man ...