Wikileaks seems to have become the paparazzi of the diplomatic corps, doing for Hillary Clinton’s world what National Enquirer magazine did for Paris Hilton. I tried at first to ignore the Wikileaks media sensation. Wouldn’t you know, it won’t go away. Some gossipy tidbits are fascinating. Many are potentially embarrassing. Some threaten delicate negotiations, or diplomatic relationships that took years to build. Almost all undermine international confidence in “the system.” Most confirm what we already knew, heard or suspected. How secure were they? The money was not actually kept in bank vaults, but the front door to the bank was thought to be really, really strong. What do these Wikileaks mean, who is responsible for them, and who, ultimately, is accountable for their embarrassing disclosure?
Remember “1984″? It’s banned in some American schools. In fact, a partial listing includes most of my required reading for our high school classes in the early 1960′s.
I’d heard about Harry Potter being banned by some religious groups for being too irreligious. You can see more complete lists on the web. Just do a Google search on “Banned Books Week“. If this is “to much information”, try the easy-to-scroll list at the Wikipedia link. It’s a real eye-opener.
I found out about the scope of this problem from an AARP bulletin. The American Library Association has proclaimed September 25 – October 2 “Banned Books Week”.
Below is a partial list of banned books that I’ve read at some point in my life. Can you spot any patterns?
This just popped up in BBC news. Here’s a country with a civil rights track record that’s worse than Singapore’s and actually has much in common with the Taliban. And to think Turkey seeks admittance into the EU …
Read the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8509455.stm
A Turkish court has sentenced the editor of a Kurdish newspaper to 21 years in prison for publishing material sympathetic to the outlawed PKK …
The paper had in fact simply described the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, as the “leader of the Kurdish people” – and it had failed to describe Turkish soldiers killed in battle as “martyrs”.
I read a fascinating story about the Beijing-Lhasa Tibet Railway, a monumental engineering feat by any accounting.
The article by correspondent Pankaj Mishra, The Train to Tibet, appears in the April 16 New Yorker. (The text of the article is not available online).
As an armchair railway buff, I was struck by the engineering difficulty of constructing track on the fast-melting permafrost (global warming), the systems to deliver oxygen-rich air to passengers at 16,400 feet, and the political side of the railway that we do not hear so much about. The railway serves as a delivery system for trainloads of Han Chinese, who already dominate the Tibetans, now a minority, living in their own capital of Lhasa. Many also view the railway as a British-style colonial device for plundering rich mineral resources and diverting them to Beijing.
How much power can a grand jury have?
In the high-visibility BALCO sports doping case, company president Victor Conte and four other defendants have already pleaded guilty. He spent four months in prison for his role in an illegal steroid doping scheme.
No imperiled fair maiden remains tied to the railroad tracks. No federal prosecutor can still say he wants to “send a message” to sports youth. But the grand jury is just shifting into high gear. During the hearings, somebody leaked confidential testimony to the press. Aided by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, the grand jury intends to compel the press to tell who leaked the testimony.
“When do we get to choose what laws we’re going to obey?”, asks Judge White. To prove his point, he’s offered San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams a choice: divulge your sources, or spend 1-1/2 years in jail — the maximum sentence allowed by law.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup sentenced freelance photographer Josh Wolf, 24, to what could be a year in federal prison for contempt of court. Wolf, citing a right to withold unpublished material, refused to surrender a videotape he shot of a 2005 anarchist demonstration, in which a San Francisco police officer suffered a skull fracture at the hands of protesters.
Portions of the tape had been broadcast on network news, but the grand jury wanted the whole thing. Aspiring journalist Wolf’s standing as a professional under the First Amendment was questioned, and federal prosecutors also cited the fact that Wolf had not promised anyone he would not divulge the source of his information.