A big victory for free speech

July 21, 2010

A rare bit of great news out of Congress: the Senate has unanimously passed a bill protecting Americans against libel judgments rendered in countries that don’t have our protections for free speech:

On July 19, 2010, the U.S. Senate Senate passed the Bipartisan HR 2765 (as amended by the Leahy-Sessions SPEECH Act) by Unanimous Consent. The House of Representatives, which already passed HR 2765 introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) by 433-2, has indicated that it will pass the same bill within days.

The bill was introduced by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Ranking Member Senator Jeff Session (R-Alabama). The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut).

At the vote, Senator Leahy noted: “I would like to recognize Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the American Center for Democracy, who herself has been the victim of a libel suit in the United Kingdom, and has been a tremendous advocate for Congressional action in this area.”

The SPEECH Act will uphold First Amendment protections for American free expression by guarding American authors and publishers from the enforcement of frivolous foreign libel suits, filed in countries that do not have our strong free speech protections. Such lawsuits are often used by “libel-tourists” in an effort to suppress the rights of American scholars, writers, and journalists to speak, write and publish freely in print and on the Internet.

The Act grants “a cause of action for declaratory judgment relief against a party who has brought a successful foreign defamation action whose judgment undermines the First Amendment,” and provides for legal fees. These measures will help diminish the severe chilling effect such suits have already had on journalists, researchers, the general media, particularly on matters of national security and public safety.

“The freedoms of speech and the press are cornerstones of our democracy,” said Senator Leahy.  ”They enable vigorous debate, and an exchange of ideas that shapes our political process.  Foreign libel lawsuits are undermining this informational exchange. While we cannot legislate changes to foreign law that are chilling protected speech in our country, we can ensure that our courts do not become a tool to uphold foreign libel judgments that undermine American First Amendment or due process rights.  The SPEECH Act is an important step in putting a stop to this chilling of American free speech.”

Cultural jihadis and terror supporters have regularly used the libel laws of other countries, especially Britain, to attack authors critical of Islam and the jihad against the West. The phenomenon is called libel tourism and is itself a form of terrorism. My congratulations and thanks to the senators of all parties for raising a shield to protect our 1st Amendment rights.

On July 19, 2010, the U.S. Senate Senate passed the Bipartisan HR 2765 (as amended by the Leahy-Sessions SPEECH Act) by Unanimous Consent. The House of Representatives, which already passed HR 2765 introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) by 433-2, has indicated that it will pass the same bill within days.
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Climate bill dead?

July 21, 2010

Politico is reporting that the Kerry-Lieberman bill to fight anthropogenic climate change (You know, the problem that doesn’t exist), which only a few days ago looked like it was heading for a vote in the Senate, may instead be dead:

The Senate climate bill has been at death’s door several times over the past year. But with the days before the August recess quickly slipping away, the case may truly be terminal now.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has wanted to introduce a sweeping energy and climate bill by next week, and Reid even told POLITICO on Monday night that the package was almost ready to go.

But by Tuesday afternoon, Reid was noncommittal about when a bill would come or what it would contain.

“We’re going to make a decision in the near future,” Reid said, describing plans for a Democratic caucus on the issue Thursday. “We’re really not at a point where I can determine what I think is the best for the caucus and the country at this stage.”

Key advocates for legislation to cap greenhouse gases emitted by power plants are pleading for more time as they try to cut a deal with the industry, but it’s time that Reid doesn’t have as he races to finish other Senate business — including the confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan — while girding for a bruising midterm election.

Meanwhile, swing-vote Democrats and Republicans are still clinging to the fence, if not saying no outright. And President Barack Obama has yet to deploy the kind of whip operation his allies think is necessary if the bill has any chance of notching 60 votes.

“The clock is our biggest enemy,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) told reporters Tuesday, shortly after a meeting with several major electric utility industry CEOs who asked for a delay in the floor debate. “Some people know that. We have to figure out what is doable in this short span of time. That’s the test, and we’re going to take a look at that.”

The article goes on to detail the problems: comprehensive regulation was too difficult to get through thanks to political and business opposition, so the bill was scaled back to “just” the electrical industry. (Which would mean your rates would still skyrocket.) But the utilities want concessions the environmentalists hate, and coal-state senators (coal being a fuel for power plants) complain their constituents would be hurt disproportionately. With all these obstacles to get past in the short time left in the legislative session, and with the prospect of a greatly reduced majority in the Senate and the very possible loss of the House after the next election, not to mention the reluctance of some vulnerable senators to further annoy their already angry voters, there doesn’t seem much likelihood this or any version of cap and tax going through this year or next.

Lucky for us.

(via Watt’s Up With That)

RELATED: Senator Kerry (D-Botox) says his bill is not dead yet.


I guess the soccer team was lucky

July 21, 2010

Don't let me down!

All that happened to them for a humiliating loss in the World Cup was a trip to the mines. Now, with Pyongyang’s attempts to extort bribes at rapprochement with South Korea in tatters over the sinking of the Cheonan (Come on, what’s an act of war among friends?), the official in charge of negotiations with the South has been shot:

North Korea executed a former Cabinet official who was in charge of talks with South Korea, a news report said Tuesday, the latest reported death sentence for a North Korean official over policy failures.

Kwon Ho Ung — Pyongyang’s chief delegate from 2004 to 2007 for ministerial talks with the South’s then liberal government — was executed by firing squad, Seoul’s mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said, citing an unidentified source in Beijing knowledgeable about the North.

Calls to South Korea’s intelligence agency and the Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, seeking comment went unanswered.

The reported execution comes as tensions between the two Koreas simmer over the March sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea. North Korea has denied involvement in the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.

Relations between the Koreas have been particularly rocky since a pro-U.S., conservative government took office in Seoul in early 2008 with a tough policy on Pyongyang.

The newspaper report said it had not confirmed when and where Kwon was executed. The allegation follows other reported executions of North Korean officials for policy blunders.

Since all policy originates with the Kim Jong-Il, shouldn’t he have himself shot for these failures?

The world should be so lucky.

(via The Jawa Report)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)