IT WAS 21 YEARS AGO this spring that hundreds of thousands of students flooded the streets of Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities to protest communist repression and call for greater freedom and democratic reforms. Those amazing demonstrations generated intense global interest -- interest the regime tried to quell by blocking international TV transmissions, ordering Western networks to halt their coverage, and arresting several journalists.
But the government overlooked the then relatively new communication technologies of cellular phones and fax transmissions. As the Newseum's Sharon Shaheed described it in a retrospective last year, "Reporters got around the ban by reporting by mobile telephone. Students in China's prodemocracy movement kept the news flowing by fax machines and electronic mail connections. Technology managed to open Chinese repressions to the world, despite government censorship." The same technology enabled the world to respond, buoying the protesters with invaluable moral support.
In the wake of the Chinese uprising and the fall of the Iron Curtain later that year, many voices extolled the power of technology -- and technology-driven globalization -- to advance liberty and undermine authoritarian regimes. Two decades later, many are still hailing the ability of information technology to produce greater freedom -- only the technical innovations being celebrated now are the Internet, text-messaging, and social-media applications such as Twitter and Facebook. Tweets by the thousands fueled the "Green Revolution" set off by last year's elections in Iran, and pro-democracy activists from Vietnam to Venezuela are using the Internet to denounce repression, expose government corruption, and champion human rights. "The Internet is God's present to China," the prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo exulted a year ago. "It is the best tool for the Chinese people in their project to cast off slavery and strive for freedom."
If only it were true. If only the miracles of high-tech communication really were a silver bullet against dictatorship and government brutality. But fax machines didn't prevent China's rulers from sending in tanks to crush the 1989 democracy movement at Tiananmen Square, and Twitter hasn't weakened the mullahs' grip on power in Iran. As for Liu Xiaobo, he was convicted of "subversion" in December and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
For all the wonders it makes possible, information technology is only a tool, and like all tools it can be used to promote the cause of freedom, or to oppose it. That was the sobering theme of a conference on cyber-dissidents organized in Dallas last week by the George W. Bush Institute in conjunction with Freedom House, the noted human-rights organization. The conference brought together online dissidents from an array of unfree or authoritarian countries -- China, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, and Iran -- as well as experts on Internet strategy, nonviolent resistance, and international relations.
It is always inspiring to encounter individuals who jeopardize their safety and freedom to speak truth to power, and the dissidents gathered on the campus of Southern Methodist University were no exception. Ahed al-Hendi, a young anti-government activist seized by the Syrian mukhabarat -- the secret police -- as he was blogging in an Internet café, spent 34 days in a 3-by-5-foot jail cell. The Russian dissident Oleg Kozlovsky (who was grounded in Europe and joined the conference via Skype), has been repeatedly arrested and was even drafted by the Russian army in 2007 in order to thwart his pro-democracy activities. As former President Bush put it in opening the conference, these "are people who refuse to take the lack of freedom for granted."
The dissidents and other speakers traded war stories and discussed ways in which cyber-technology can be used to rally supporters and share intelligence, but running through the whole program was the Dickensian sense that today's dissidents are living in the best of times and the worst of times: The social-media explosion makes it easier than ever for champions of freedom to organize opposition and get information to the outside world, yet the very same online technology arms repressive governments with sophisticated new methods of censorship, surveillance, and disinformation.
Far from ushering in a golden age of liberal democracy, remarked the Bush Institute's James K. Glassman, a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, the Internet era has coincided with a "freedom recession." Interactive Web 2.0 applications have facilitated the rise of "Authoritarianism 2.0."
The Internet, in short, will not set men and women free. It is, rather, just the latest arena in which those who yearn for liberty must battle for it -- and in which the outcome is never guaranteed.
FREEDOM TAKES MORE THAN TECHNOLOGY
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe April 25, 2010
Next: The medium isn't the message
WHY AREN'T DEMOCRATIC DISSIDENTS as well-known in the free world today as the dissidents who challenged the Soviet empire were in the 1970s and 1980s?
Activists confronting repressive regimes in the 21st century often have all the communication tools of the digital age at their disposal -- Facebook, YouTube, cell phones, e-mail. Yet none of them has achieved anything like the renown of Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, or the other indomitable souls who challenged communist tyranny in the decades before the Internet existed.
That paradox was posed last week by David Keyes, the co-founder and director of CyberDissidents.org -- an organization dedicated, in the words of its website, "to bringing the world's attention to online democracy advocates and their plight." Speaking at a conference on the Internet and contemporary dissent organized by the Bush Institute and hosted by Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Keyes framed his agenda candidly: He wants to make pro-democracy internet activists in the Arab world and Iran famous and beloved in the West. Keyes was an aide to Natan Sharansky, the celebrated Soviet-dissident-turned-Israeli-statesman, and it was Sharansky who taught him that when it comes to anti-totalitarian dissidents, "the more famous you are, the more protected you are."
The best example of that phenomenon is Sharansky himself. The Ukrainian-born mathematician and human-rights champion was falsely convicted of treason and spent nine years in the Soviet gulag before finally being released by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. Years later, Gorbachev recalled visiting Canada as a Politburo member on an agricultural mission in 1983, and being repeatedly peppered with questions about Sharansky, whom at that point he had never heard of. To Gorbachev personally, the refusenik's fate was a matter of indifference. But Sharansky's high profile in the West convinced the future Soviet ruler that Moscow gained nothing by keeping him imprisoned.
For a more recent illustration of the significance of fame to democratic dissidents, consider the Iranian activist Ahmad Batebi. During a protest against government repression in 1999, Batebi was photographed waving a shirt stained with the blood of a student who had been gunned down by the police. After that photograph appeared on the cover of The Economist, Batebi was arrested, tortured, and condemned to die. "With this picture," the judge told him, "you have signed your own death sentence." But that picture had made Batebi famous, and his threatened hanging triggered a global uproar. His death sentence was commuted to 15 years and in 2008, he escaped to the West.
But Batebi was an exception; it was only by chance that he landed on the cover of The Economist. How does a dissident living in a dictatorship attain the kind of fame that ultimately saved Sharansky? At CyberDissidents.org, Keyes spotlights many of the Middle East's pro-democracy bloggers and online organizers, with links to their writings, descriptions of their work, and photographs. But compared with the 20th century's great Soviet and Eastern European dissidents, they might as well be anonymous.
"The Internet enables them to reach the world," Keyes says. "They push the 'send' button and thousands of people can instantly read their words. Yet not a single American in a million knows their names." Dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Havel, by contrast, communicated through samizdat -- laboriously produced underground writings, printed in secret and circulated from hand to hand -- and still managed to reach an international audience.
Perhaps the explanation for that puzzle lies in the very immediacy of the Internet itself.
Samizdat literature was difficult to create and dangerous to distribute; precisely for that reason, it was inestimably precious, far more likely to be read with care and deliberation. But online writing is ubiquitous. There are nearly 2 billion Internet users, 350 million Facebook pages, and scores of millions of blogs. Twitter processes 600 tweets per second. No wonder cyber-dissidents struggle to be heard. Amid such a din of white noise, how are their messages supposed to draw attention?
And even if their blog posts and Facebook comments are noticed, how many are as thoughtful or significant as the essays and manifestos the Soviet-era dissidents took such risks to write and read? "The new media is much more conducive to instant opinion rather than considered opinion," says Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Jeffrey Gedmin, who delivered a speech at the Dallas conference. With the rise of the Internet has come an amazing array of tools for communication. But dissidents need more than the ability to speak. They also need something wise and important to say.
Twitter may be a great vehicle for letting people know where to meet for the rally on Thursday, but it won't tell dissidents how to replace a corrupt dictatorship with stable democratic institutions. When those "chain-smoking intellectuals" got together in their cramped apartments in Moscow or Prague, Gedmin says, it was to do some serious thinking about why communist rule was wrong, how it could be overthrown, and -- above all -- how it could be replaced with something decent and durable. "That was intellectual and conceptual heavy lifting -- not Internet chatter or quick blogging."
Democratic revolutions require such deliberation and philosophical nourishment -- more than can be delivered in 140-character bites. The Internet is a medium like none the world has ever known. But the medium isn't the message. And in the struggle for liberty, the message matters most.
THE MEDIUM IS NOT THE MESSAGE
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe April 28, 2010
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe).
BARRY SOETORO aka BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA
He is not eligible to be
President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five of the United States Constitution.
This is a fact REGARDLESS of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, Mecca or Mars).
He is not eligible
because he was not born of
BOTH OF WHOM WERE UNITED STATES CITIZENS
AT THE TIME OF HIS BIRTH
as required by the Constitution.
Barack Hussein Obama Jr. is not eligible to be President of the United States because – according to public admissions made by him – his “birth status was governed” by the United Kingdom. Obama further admits he was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at birth.
Since Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was, if born in the state of Hawaii, a dual citizen, who – according to his own State Department – owed allegiance to the Queen of England and United Kingdom at the time of his birth – he cannot therefore be a “natural born” citizen of the US according to Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution.
His father, who did not live in the United States for more than a couple of years, was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain at the time of Barack’s birth and afterwards, AND further, as Barack himself admitted on his website during the 2008 campaign, Barack was therefore born SUBJECT TO THE GOVERNANCE OF GREAT BRITAIN.
Here is a direct quote from Obama's "Fight the Smears/Fact Check" 2008 website:
‘When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.‘s children…’ “
The FACT that he was not born of TWO US CITIZEN PARENTS is all that matters. The question of his birth certificate is a distraction (a distraction fostered by Obama’s supporters?) that ought not to occupy our time and resources. BUT if you are really convinced of the value of the COLB (certificate of live birth) that Obama posted on his website, see this:
Also, it is possible that he is not a United States
citizen at all through his mother if he was born in Kenya, as three witnesses have testified. The reason is because his mother could not pass her US citizenship on to her son because she did not live continuously in the United States for five full years after her fourteenth birthday as required by the US immigration law in effect during that period of time.
Check it out:
Also, an excellent introductory primer on Obama Presiidential Eligibility is to be found at:
His usurpation can only be corrected (1) by Congress through his Impeachment and Removal [something which will never happen in a Congress controlled by Pelosi/Reid], or (2) it can be
corrected by his resignation, which could happen if the public presssure on him to resign becomes great enough, or (3) by his removal by the United States Supreme Court affirming a Quo Warranto decision of the United States Federal District Court for the District of Columbia [which process Attorney General Eric Holder would never allow to even begin] or (4) by an amendment to the Constitution,
which will never happen because that again would require the agreement of a Congress controlled by Pelosi/Reid.
HERE IS THE QUESTION WHICH EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN SHOULD BE ASKING HIS OR HER CONGRESSMAN AND SENATORS
“During the 2008 election, then Senator Obama published a statement at his website which said that his birth status was ‘governed’ by the British Nationality Act of 1948. Can you please tell me, and the American people, how a person governed - at birth - by British law, can be a natural born citizen of the United States and thus constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States?”
If you really want to understand the difference between the technical terms natural born citizen, native born citizen, naturalized citizen and just plain citizen, go to:
And if you really want to understand why it is necessary for a man to be a natural born citizen of the United States in order to be President of the United States, read the essay by Leo Donofrio at:
- Leo Rugiens
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