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April 23 2012

07:55

Targeting companies delivering to Iran, Syria: Obama to cite new technologies in rights abuses

Reuters :: President Barack Obama will issue an order on Monday to allow imposition of sanctions on foreign nationals who use new technologies such as cell-phone tracking and Internet monitoring to help carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Continue to read www.reuters.com

April 20 2012

18:36

This week in censorship: News from Iran, India, Vietnam, and China

Electronic Frontier Foundation :: The Islamic Republic of Iran has recently become notorious for its efforts to create a halal” Internet. This week, a security researcher found that Iranian authorities published a “Request for Information” (RFI) seeking details on new types of censorship tools that are available in the market. Ars Technica reported that the Persian language RFI calls for “proper conditions for domestic experts in order to build a healthy Web and organize the current filtering situation.” The deadline for response was yesterday, April 19.

This Week in Censorship - Continue to read www.eff.org

Tags: China Iran

March 30 2012

20:14

Iran suspends accreditation for Reuters in Tehran

Reuters :: The Iranian government has suspended the press accreditation for Reuters staff in Tehran after the publication of a video story on women's martial arts training which contained an error. Reuters, the news arm of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information group, corrected the story after the martial arts club where the video was filmed made a complaint.

Continue to read www.reuters.com

Tags: Iran Reuters

January 20 2012

21:22

Iran's Press TV loses UK licence

Guardian :: Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster's English-language outlet, has been forced off the air in the UK after Ofcom revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act. Ofcom found that Press TV's practice of running its editorial oversight from Tehran, Iran's capital, is in breach of broadcasting licence rules in the UK.

Continue to read Mark Sweney, www.guardian.co.uk

Tags: Iran

January 14 2012

10:14

Story of a changing (thus revised) headline: Iran 'regime collapse'

Al Jazeera :: On Tuesday morning, the Washington Post published an article, now revised, titled "Goal of Iran sanctions is regime collapse, US official says". Regime collapse would inevitably lead to "regime change", something that the Obama administration has publicly rejected for its Iran policy.

Thus the article quickly became a talking point amongst analysts and media professionals from all over the political spectrum on mailing lists and in the Twittersphere. Many on Twitter noted that the ramifications of working to implement regime change are potentially disastrous, and "could further harm prospects of US-Iran relations," writes Jasmin Ramsey.

Continue to read Jasmin Ramsey, www.aljazeera.com

Tags: Iran Twitter

January 08 2012

07:50

Ahead of parliamentary elections: Ahmadinejad's Iran clamps down on internet use

Guardian :: Iran is clamping down heavily on web users before parliamentary elections in March with draconian rules on cybercafes and preparations to launch a national internet. Tests for a countrywide network aimed at substituting services run through the world wide web have been carried out by Iran's ministry of information and communication technology, according to a newspaper report. The move has prompted fears among its online community that Iran intends to withdraw from the global internet.

Continue to read Saeed Kamali Dehghan, www.guardian.co.uk

December 31 2011

18:54

In skies over Iran, a battle for control of Satellite TV

Wall Street Journal :: As uprisings rolled across the Middle East this year, Iran stepped up its jamming of the satelitte signlas of BBC, Voice of America and other Western networks with Persian-language news channels. The move "is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable," five networks protested in a joint statement this month.

Continue to read Paul Sonne | Farnaz Fassihi, online.wsj.com

November 30 2011

23:07

Now in the news: Second Iranian nuclear facility has exploded

The Australian :: An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack. Satellite imagery seen by The Times confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.


Größere Kartenansicht

Continue to read Sheera Frenkel, www.theaustralian.com.au

Photos show Iran base decimated by blast AFP, 49 minutes ago, www.google.com

May 25 2011

06:05

James Risen, New York Times, served with subpoena in C.I.A. leak case on Iran sabotage

New York Times :: With the approval of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., federal prosecutors are trying to force the author of a book on the C.I.A. to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information to him about the agency’s effort to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program at the end of the Clinton administration. The writer, James Risen, a reporter at The New York Times, was served with a subpoena on Monday

Continue to read Charlie Savage, www.nytimes.com

December 16 2010

18:02

CNN's Joshua Levs Uses Social Media Savvy in Hard, Soft News

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Social Media content on MediaShift is sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, a program offering innovative and entrepreneurial journalists the resources of Stanford University and Silicon Valley. Learn more here.

When Joshua Levs left NPR's Atlanta Bureau to become a correspondent for CNN, he found that something was missing. Specifically, it was time. The rapid pace of TV left him with a fraction of the time he once had to present the many layers of a story. In the end, Levs saw that social media could fill the gap and provide an additional avenue for him to share information and connect.

"I like to give more information," Levs said. "Social media is a way for me to tell you more than I can on air." That's one reason he often closes a story by saying that he'll post additional details on his Twitter account or Facebook page.

One of the most social media-savvy journalists in broadcast news, the Murrow-award winner and Yale grad has carved out a niche both in complex international and economic stories, and fun, offbeat features such as his weekly "Viral Video Rewind" segment. (Anchor Kyra Phillips last month called him one of CNN's "premier Facebookers.") But social media isn't just about getting information out there -- it's also about bringing it in.

"He knows how to strike the right balance between using it as a way to get leads for an ongoing story and using it to share his own thoughts with the world at large," says Sree Sreenivasan, the dean of student affairs at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a professor of digital media who teaches social media workshops. "Unlike Josh, too many journalists only use it as a one-way communications tool."

Iran Protests

One of Levs' most recognizable efforts was his coverage of the violent Iran election protests in June 2009.

"The Iran riots showed us that times have changed," Levs said. "A few Tweets can lead you to discover something that an entire country with soldiers doesn't want you to know. It was a huge change. It was a sign that newsgathering now has a new option."

Even though Iran banned journalists from covering protests over the disputed victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, outraged citizens posted videos of the violent repercussions online. A CNN editorial team worked around the clock reviewing them.

"We would talk and look at the videos that came in and say, 'What do we know about it? Can we verify anything here? Do we recognize the location? Is there anyone at all we can reach to help us understand what's in here?' It went through a pretty complex and important -- but also swift -- vetting process," Levs said.

Finally they decided which videos to air, and which ones needed scenes blurred, like the death of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan.

"That one was particularly shocking ... horrifying," he said. "We studied it to try to gather any information we could about the location, confirm the authenticity, etc. We had native speakers listen to the words being shouted. It's a devastating video to see, and being the one to tell the world about Neda was not an easy task. But it was important."

Levs presented the videos with what he describes as a message of total transparency.

"We would say on the air, 'Look, because of these limitations now inside Iran, there's a lot we cannot tell you; here's what we do know about this video,'" he said.

Election Coverage

Today, social media is a critical daily newsgathering tool. For example, Levs covered voting irregularities in the November elections this year, just as he did in 2008. But this year brought a large-scale social media outreach to viewers.

"We said 'Hey, any information you get, any experiences you have, and questions, problems -- get in touch with us,'" he said.

Watch him in action during the election:

Levs said he's seeing more law enforcement and court officials using social media when big stories break. For example, law enforcement officials used Twitter to update the media during September's hostage stand-off at Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Politicians and even federal agencies now use social media.

"There are people out there who don't use Twitter much, or don't know how to use it, and they say, 'You can't report what you see on Twitter,'" he said. "Right -- you can't report what some random person puts on Twitter. But when it's an official agency that's putting information out there, that's what you should be reporting. You make sure that you're dealing with official sourcing and then you grab it and you say, 'They just put this information out there.' That's our new reality. It used to be fast. Now it really is instantaneous."

Just as using social media for newsgathering requires caution, communicating with viewers takes care as well, according to Levs.

He said reporters should be sure they only post items of value that are appropriate and worthy of being in print or on the air.

"It's easy to get lost in the maze on Twitter and on Facebook, so you want to be sure that you keep in mind what your role is -- that's what you're focusing on all the time," he said.

Levs on the Lookout

His job also has a lighter side. Every weekend his "Levs on the Lookout" segment highlights the week's most unique stories. It opens with animation that one of his producers says highlights his "animated personality."

He also features some of the week's most interesting and often funniest viral videos.

"For me, Viral Video Rewind is a weekly dessert," Levs said. "I cover so many hard news stories all week -- sometimes three or four different topics in a single day. But these videos also say a lot about us and our society at this time. They're reflections of what excite and fascinate people. Plus, when you look back at previous generations, you don't just look at the news stories that were above the fold on newspapers. You also look at what movies and shows they were excited about. That's what viral videos are in this era."

Terri Thornton, a former investigative reporter and TV news producer, owns Thornton Communications, an award-winning PR and social media firm. She is also a freelance editor for Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly.

news21 small.jpg

Social Media content on MediaShift is sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, a program offering innovative and entrepreneurial journalists the resources of Stanford University and Silicon Valley. Learn more here.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

October 06 2010

14:13

#WEFHamburg: WAN-IFRA calls on Iran to improve press freedom standards

The World Association of Newspapers and IFRA (WAN-IFRA) used the opening ceremony of the Word Editors Forum (WEF) in Hamburg to call upon Iranian authorities to adhere to international standards of press freedom.

Presenting the annual Golden Pen of Freedom Award to Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, Xavier Vidal-Folch, president of WEF, said Iranian journalists are “essentially trapped in a prison within a prison. A hellish place, where, in Ahmad Zeid-Abadi’s own words, ‘the desperation they create in prison is so bad you think it’s the end of the world’.

“Though we honour Mr Zeid-Abadi here today, it is also important to remember the other jailed journalists, the ones who don’t win awards but nevertheless suffer under despotic regimes, We should never forget them and we in the international newspaper community should do our utmost to win their release.”

Zeid-Abadi, who has worked for a range of daily and weekly newspapers in the country, is currently in prison in Iran. He was jailed, not for the first time in June 2009, after calling for Iranians to boycott the country’s election. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment and has previously been jailed and banned from practising journalism, because of his work.

According to WEF, 22 Iranian journalists are currently in prison in the country, accounting for around a fifth of all journalists imprisoned worldwide.

Accepting the award on his behalf, fellow Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji made an emotional speech in which he said treatment in prison had driven Zeid-Abadi to the “edge of suicide”. Ganji, who has himself spent time in jail because of his work as a journalist, said the family members of press freedom fighters and activists are often overlooked.

I have no doubt that if Ahmad Zeid-Abadi was here with us, he would have shared the honor of this prestigious award with other political prisoners.

One must interpret these awards as a kind of ethical and moral endorsement of democratic activists who are committed to liberty and human rights.

Today members of the world community of journalists have selected Ahmad Zeid-Abadi as the courageous journalist of 2010 fighting for democracy, and have honored him with the Golden Pen Award. This is a judicious and fair choice worthy of Ahmad Zeid-Abadi. He uses the might of his pen not just to tell the truth and expose political corruption.

In addition he also tries responsibly to use his pen and his ideas to make the world more ethical, reduce people’s pain and suffering. Without a doubt this pen will bring its responsibilities to fruition, for what that pen writes gushes forth from the soul of the person holding that pen and is the bright and shining mirror of his noble heart and his humane ideas.

Last month, Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who has dual citizenship in Iran and Canada, was jailed for 19 years after being convicted of “collaborating with hostile governments, committing blasphemy and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, and managing an obscene website”, according to an Al Jazeera report.

Read Xavier Vidal-Folch’s speech in full at this link…

Read Akbar Ganji’s speech in full at this link…

More from Journalism.co.uk:

Half the world’s jailed journalists were working online, says CPJ

Human rights lawyer arrested in IranSimilar Posts:



September 29 2010

10:32

September 28 2010

21:28

The persecution of Hoder

Very troubling news about Hossein Derakhshan, the Iranian blog pioneer known online as Hoder: He received a prison sentence of 19.5 years in Iran for being an “anti-revolutionary blogger.”

I’m personally heartbroken. I first met Hoder online when I happened upon his blog as he announced that another Iranian blogger, Sina Motalebi, had been arrested. Sina, who is now working for the BBC in London, just emailed me, by coincidence, when I asked below about the idea of publicness. Sina had announced in public on his blog that he had been summoned to the police. Hoder blogged it. I did. Many others did. He believes that public attention helped get him out of prison and enabled him to escape the country.

Hoder’s story is much more complicated. When I met him online, he was in Canada, where he’d become a citizen. Some gave him credit for starting the amazing Iranian blogosphere; others don’t. He has always been controversial. He was critical of the Iranian regime. He went to Israel and made friends (and lost friends) there — which is one of his so-called crimes: “cooperation with hostile states, propagating against the regime, propagation in favor of anti-revolutionary groups, insulting sanctities, and implementation and management of obscene websites.” Then, just as suddenly, he turned the other way and started supporting Iran’s government and even its right to have nuclear weapons. He asked me to link to posts that made such statements. I was over my head in Iranian politics as I heard other online expats criticize him. I wasn’t sure what to do.

Then Hoder mysteriously returned to Iran. Some say he’d been given assurances that he’d be OK. Others say that he is caught in a power struggle. Again, I know too little. He was arrested two years ago. His family stayed silent in hopes that things would work out. That’s why I said nothing.

But now he has been sentenced. No matter what his opinions were or what opinions you may have had about him, that doesn’t matter now. We should all be outraged, loudly outraged. For — as I said when Hoder told me about Sina’s arrest — a blogger, one of us, has been arrested and imprisoned for what he has said. If anyone should stand up for the right of free speech of a blogger it should be us, bloggers.

What to do? Ethan Zuckerman suggests we pressure Canada to pressure Iran for his release. On the Media reports (when there were still rumors that Hoder could have received the death penalty) that Iran does not recognize dual citizenship. The Canadian government is protesting:

“We are deeply concerned about the news of this severe sentence,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said. “If true, this is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.”
“No one should be punished anywhere for simply exercising one’s inherent right to freedom of expression,” he said, adding that “Iran must release him.”

The Globe and Mail editorialized for his freedom:

Mr. Derakshan’s views and ways may not be to everyone’s liking – he doesn’t fit neatly as either a state propagandist or an agitator for democracy. But free speech is often inconvenient; indeed, that is one of the reasons why free people should be agitating for his release.

: Here is my original post announcing Sina’s arrest as reported by Hoder. (Please ignore the damned spam links in my archives; I don’t know how to clean them up.)

August 27 2010

09:56

June 14 2010

09:02

Index on Censorship: Iran’s Green Movement will be reborn in ’small media’

Mahmood Enayat, a doctoral student at the Oxford Internet Institute and director of Iran, BBC World Service Trust, has an excellent post on reporting Iran, a year on from the presidential election protests.

Small media is key, he argues. “The green movement and its supporters inside and outside Iran need to go beyond the common perception and prescribed use of the internet (like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook) and come up with new and innovative solutions,” he says.

[Opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi] himself has encouraged the green movement to embrace “small media”, which relies on offline social networks for further distribution of information. He is reminding the Green Movement of the lessons learned from the 1979 and Constitution Revolutions as both used small media to mobilise support and achieve their aims.

Full post at this link…

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March 10 2010

17:18

February 22 2010

08:39

New York Times: Behind the anonymous video nominated for a Polk Award

The New York Times speaks to the first uploaders of the video of the collapse and death of Neda Agha-Soltan after she was shot during anti-government protests in Iran.

The anonymously filmed and uploaded video last week won a George Polk journalism award – the first time in the awards’ history that a work produced anonymously has taken a prize.

This is a snapshot of how “viral” news can spread and, as Steve Grove, head of news and politics for YouTube, says, how readers and citizens are participating in documenting news events.

Full story at this link…

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January 12 2010

00:37

2009 Was a Terrible Year for Free Speech Online

2009 was an unprecedented year for online repression.

For the first time since the Internet emerged as a tool for public use, there are currently 100 bloggers and cyber-dissidents imprisoned worldwide as a result of posting their opinions online in 2009, according to Reporters Without Borders. This figure is indicative of the severity of the crackdowns being carried out in roughly 10 countries around the world. (In one example, Burma handed out long prison sentences to online dissidents.)

The number of countries pursuing online censorship doubled in the past year -- a disturbing trend that suggests governments seek to increase their control over new media. In total, 151 bloggers and cyber-dissidents were arrested in 2009, and 61 were physically assaulted.

The crackdown on bloggers and ordinary citizens who express themselves online comes at the same time that social networking and interactive websites have become extremely popular, not to mention powerful vehicles for free expression.

China Still Leads in Online Censorship

China was once again the leading Internet censor in 2009. Countries such as Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan also blocked websites and blogs, and engaged in surveillance of online expression. In Turkmenistan, for example, the Internet remains under total state control. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer is still in jail, while the famous Burmese comedian Zarganar still has 34 years left on his prison sentence. These are but a few examples.

The list of approximately 120 victims of Internet censorship in 2009 also includes leading figures in the defense of online free speech, such as China's Hu Jia and Liu Xiaobo, and Vietnam's Nguyen Trung and Dieu Cay.

People are usually targeted because they speak out on political matters, but the global financial crisis is also on the list of subjects likely to provoke online censorship. In South Korea, a blogger was wrongfully detained for commenting on the country's disastrous economic situation. Roughly six people in Thailand were arrested or harassed just for making a connection between the king's health and a fall in the Bangkok stock exchange. Censorship was slapped on media in Dubai when it came time for them to report on the country's debt repayment problems.

Overall, wars and elections constituted the chief threats to journalists and bloggers in 2009. It is becoming more risky to cover wars because journalists themselves are being targeted for murder and kidnappings. It's also just as dangerous for reporters in some countries to do their job at election time. Journalists have ended up in prison or in a hospital thanks to their election reporting. Violence before and after elections was particularly prevalent in 2009 inside countries with poor democratic credentials.

Iran Election Crackdown

Iran saw the most violence, censorship and arrests due to an election. Its elections this past summer saw more than 100 arrests, and many prison sentences handed down. The country, which is on the Reporters Without Borders list of "Enemies of the Internet," has also deployed a sophisticated system of Internet filtering and monitoring, especially in recent months. The country's main ISPs depend on the Telecommunication Company of Iran, which recently came under control of the Revolutionary Guard, and does not hesitate to flout international treaties or to restrict the free flow of information.

Within hours of the announcement of President Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's election "victory," journalists were being arrested by the intelligence ministry, Revolutionary Guard, and other security services. Most were taken to Tehran's Evin prison. At least 100 journalists and bloggers have been arrested since June, and 27 are still being held. Today, Iran is one of the world's five biggest imprisoners of journalists.

Since the election, national and international media in Iran have been subject to massive and systematic censorship that is without precedent. For the first time since the 1979 revolution, the security services are vetting the content of newspapers before they're published.

The Iranian regime's offensive against online free expression took a new direction in December after Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi announced he was going to prosecute two conservative websites for "insulting" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, several Internet service providers cut access to prevent political opponents from disseminating information during opposition demonstrations on December 27. After the demonstrations, the intelligence ministry and Revolutionary Guard began rounding up government opponents and journalists, arresting an estimated 20 people in the latest wave. Those targeted included a dozen or so journalists and cyber-dissidents. Alireza Behshtipour Shirazi, the editor of Kaleme.org (opposition leader Mirhossein Moussavi's official website), was arrested at his Tehran home and taken to an unknown place of detention.

Trouble in Democratic Countries

Democratic countries have also enacted online censorship. Several European nations are working on new steps to control the Internet in what they say is a campaign against child porn and illegal downloads. Australia is also planning to set up a compulsory filtering system that poses a threat to freedom of expression.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy announced in December that, after a year of testing in partnership with Australian Internet service providers, the government will introduce legislation imposing mandatory filtering of websites with pornographic, pedophilic or particularly violent content.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, raised concerns, saying, "Moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy-handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information." In a Fairfax Media poll of 20,000 Australians, 96 percent strongly opposed a mandatory Internet filtering system.

Yet that proposal -- as well as many others around the world -- continues to move ahead. Hopefully, 2010 will be a better year for free speech online.

Clothilde Le Coz has been working for Reporters Without Borders in Paris since 2007. She is now the Washington director for this organization, helping to promote press freedom and free speech around the world. In Paris, she was in charge of the Internet Freedom desk and worked especially on China, Iran, Egypt and Thailand. During the time she spent in Paris, she was also updating the "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents," published in 2005. Her role is now to get the message out for readers and politicians to be aware of the constant threat journalists are submitted to in many countries.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

January 06 2010

10:11

Guardian: Iran bans contact with BBC

Iran has banned contact with more than 60 international organisations, including the BBC:

The intelligence ministry said the blacklist included thinktanks, universities and broadcasting organisations identified as waging a “soft war” aimed at toppling Iran’s Islamic system.

The BBC launched a Farsi satellite television channel last year. The corporation’s coverage of the post-election protests in Iran was fed by user-generated content after foreign news organisations had their movements restricted in the country.

Full story at this link…

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December 21 2009

13:58

Palfrey and Zuckerman now officially "conspirators" against Iran, as if their work needed more praise

Yesterday's Boston Globe featured an article by Farah Stockman explaining how "under siege at home, Iran’s dissidents draw comfort and ideas from some visionary thinkers based here."

In the wake of widespread protests in Iran after a disputed presidential election, a mass indictment accused more than 100 Iranian politicians and activists of following the instructions of Sharp, as well as spying for several other US academics, among other charges. So far, about 80 of the accused have received prison sentences, while at least one has been sentenced to death.

The indictment, which appears to target Iranians with connections to the West, has led to soul-searching among some US scholars, many of whom have curtailed communications with Iranian dissidents to avoid putting them in jeopardy. Others, like Sharp, see the charges as a badge of honor, and a sign that their arguments are hitting home. They have no intention of scaling back their activities.

John Palfrey and Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society were two of those indicted (Zuckerman is also a Knight News Challenge Fellow here at the Center for Future Civic Media). Palfrey describes needing to play down his work with Iranians, knowing that ties to the United States is often a shorthand the Iranian government uses to harass or indict protesters.

Palfrey, whose center received State Department funds in 2007 to study the Internet's impact on democracy, said he has curbed his contacts with people in Iran, so as not to endanger them.

"There is always a risk when studying non-democratic countries ... that you may unintentionally harm the people you are talking to," Palfrey said. "Unfortunately, this is the case in Iran today."

It places into sharp relief the persistent power of states. The suspicion of state power receded for many after the end of the Cold War and was displaced entirely as genocide became the international relations story of the 90's and jihadist terrorism that of the '00's. But the development of (ostensibly) legal warrantless wiretapping in the United States, multiple countries' rendition of terror suspects, and British retreat on civil liberties, the story of the 2010's will be the radical databasing of civil society.

The far left and far right in this country have always agreed on at least this: increased state control over information deteriorates civic connections. And, in this networked age, increased Iranian control over information deteriorates civic connections in America. It's why groups like the ACLU have such an absolutist view of civil liberty, because loss of liberty in one place really does result in loss of liberty elsewhere.

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