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JLB Sept – 2013 Just when I really believed that our President was on the up

JLB Sept – 2013

Just when I really believed that our President was on the up & up, I read that members of his party in Congress are moving forward to make our 1 st Amendment rights a thing of the past. Whereas on Sept 13 th , (Friday no-less) the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-5 to introduce “common sense press control” in the news you and I read or watch, in this they set some preliminary standards that will eventually lead to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in either upping the charges on such news outlets such as those run by “bloggers”. In fact they are leaning toward blocking their “grid” access. The panel is noted as working out a “compromise” with Democratic Senators, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Dick Durbin in coordination with news organizations, where the overall bill will “codify” many regulations proposed earlier this year by Attorney General Eric Holder. They are in the process of making a law that will define “covered journalists”, as to those who are employed as an “employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information,” the bill will also “extend to student journalists,” the report continues, meaning it will also “codify” who is an “Authorized Student.

In has been my personal experience being behind my daughter when she was in the journalist class at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA – where one day she asked me what the morning siren at the local GP pulp mill was for. Snooping around a bit in Old Main (I was employed by WWU), I found out it was a warning whistle that was tested daily to be used if there was a chlorine incident at the mill. Informing of this she was off and running constructing a news article in the University rag, asking such questions as why the new students did not received notification of the warning siren, and why didn’t the University post instructions on an evacuation if such an event occurred. She went one step further in contacting the local emergency services if there was an evacuation plan for downtown Bellingham…their reply was they’d get back to her. They did alright, she was asked to report to the school safety director (I went with her), and we were told to kill her investigation or her grades and status in the school would suffer – end of story. This is the power that hangs over a student who investigates a story that might be adverse to the local economy or the political establishment in-place, the same power executed daily on your local news outlet or information center, and on a national media organization but on a grander and more far reaching scale. For those select few who do not know the words of the 1 st Amendment it is written:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

“Abridging the freedom of speech, or the press…” Now before the citizens of the country comes the Senate Judiciary Committee with

a vote of 12-5 that makes some of us “more equal than others”, yet not too surprising in many opinions. Be afraid American’s, here we have 17 members of a committee that are on their way of creating a law, which will be backed with the force of the government. I understand that the press is now under the control of the rich who feed the government just enough to obtain their wishes on how to run their private enterprise, the Congress of the United States. Now they want to muffle the words of private blogs, what is next? The demise of the social media sites, such as Facebook or put them under strict censorship to allow only what a government official states falls within a dictated set of rules? Schumer is the bat boy for the White House, while Feinstein views the 1 st Amendment as a “special privilege” to grant the “loyal” members of the press, while Dubin is racking his grey matter to make once-and-for-all the demise of the quill pens (keyboards) broadcasting only what he deems to be to his and his party’s advantage. A good example is what as known as the “Fukushima Event”, whereas EPA working with NOAA, and the FDA published a set of Pacific charts showing how there was no effect of the 300-400 gallons- a-day radiation release on the fish in Alaska, charts or maps with a slew of red dots on it showing that the fish in Alaska did not range into the waters being flooded with radiation. In a flash of a dart thrown at a chart they now know where fish grow up. And yet Feinstein in all her glory passed a rule that pulled all monitoring of the waters in the Pacific by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. We don’t have to go to Denmark to see that something is “rotten in and around the Potomac” – the power of the press, and big money. Feinstein comments allude to a hard-to-pass bill she says should “only protect” reporters and their sources and apply to only “real journalists”, stomping her feet and pulling her hair stating that WikiLeaks employees, and non-salaried reporters, don’t count. The

“shield law” (Senate bill 987) under debate in the committee would protect journalists and their confidential sources from court orders and subpoenas. Dianne Feinstein “criticized” the bill on the 12 th , declaring she was “very disappointed” that the law contained a “flawed definition” of journalists – which “she says” is “inclusive” of WikiLeaks and non- salaried reporters. “I’m concerned this would provide special privilege to those who are not reporters at all,” she exclaimed – thereby her demand the changes to the bill’s definition. This is the 3 rd attempt at passing the bill, while all parties agreed that WikiLeaks should be excluded from protection, some insist that the language already stipulates that exclusion. Her amendment, not only retains the “problematic requirement” that a person “regularly” engage in journalism to enjoy “shield law protections”, it adds new requirements that would make it especially difficult for self-publishers such as “independent bloggers” and “citizen journalists” to be protected under the law. In fact “her” definition for being either salaried or at least affiliated with a news “entity” seems to “purposefully” target these self-publishers. All-in-all such definitions, as she proposed, being as vague as they are in “many key terms” will

only do harm in that they will be able to create massive court battles in years to come, thereby discouraging self-reporters to publish their findings – in the end this growing number of “reporters” will nevertheless find themselves on the short end of the stick in most courts of the land. Feinstein’s amendment states:

  • 1. working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent that disseminates news or information,”

  • 2. either, (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period with the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author,

editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity…within two years to the relevant date” or

  • 3. working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic

publication at an institution of higher education.” As you can read the requirements are very loose, whereby in a court of law in today’s environment the accused (the blogger or new reporter with a scoop) would loose any protection under the bill. And, define “substantially”, or “significant” and under the student journalist what happens if the publication is issued after they graduate – and once again an independent who just happened to submit an article to the news outlet and it was accepted – what is their protection. None! Senator Charles Schumer did remark, “there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.” The debate around the bill is based on the recent conviction of Bradley Manning, who is facing up to 136 years in jail for revealing documents to WikiLeaks – documents that exposed US “human rights” abuses and “corruption” across the world. The recent conviction of Bradley Manning who material passed on to WikiLeaks …has only added impetus to the passing of S-987. Nathan Fuller stated, “It is dangerous to rely on ‘only’ those sources the government deems worth of protection,” in other word the organizations that prints or broadcasts what the government “tells” them to disseminate. He went on to say, “WikiLeaks is a serious news publication: it edits material and protects sources. WikiLeaks has ‘anonymous submissions’ because it knows its contacts don’t get protection.” These un-recognized sources, albeit their information is accurate are the sources that the government wants to shed. In May of this year, the Justice Department was publicly exposed for unlawfully seizing of the phone records of AP reporters – totally without

due process of notice and the subsequent monitoring of the communications (wire tap) of a Fox News reporter. Although I’m not a fan of Fox News the Constitutional right of the AP reporters and the Fox News reporter were violated in a very disturbing fashion. The Feinstein requirements run directly against the grain today, where the established entities are slowly morphing into the background of “honest unbiased” news and loosing their audience, while the independent and often un-paid amateur journalists (in some cases) are playing “key roles” in exposing the truth and holding power accountable. Coordination with “establishment media”, who would have thought? With many of them scrambling to fight the influx of the Internet, thrashing around in their attempts to create a business case that mimics the days of yesteryear as the demand for their services decreases the new S-987 represents a breath of fresh air. In other words the bill will stack the deck in their favor – why not cooperate? And lets not forget the select few that are picked from the private media and handed cushy jobs in government. Uncle Joe Biden has remarked a time or two these outfits or “legitimate media” look down their “collective noses” at “just-a- blogger” – in fact he promotes a sort of “public/private partnership” with the captains of the legitimate media – in other words a stellar form of “economic fascism.” So in a nutshell keep your eyes and ears on alert as the Senate tries once again to walk all over your 1 st Amendment rights – if by some turn of events they are allowed to have the authority to regulate the presentation of news, they will amendment and twist this foray into finally eating away at your right to voice or print an opinion – bingo! A police state!