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Court intervention in political debate could backfire, free speech activist says

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SAN PAULO, SP (FOLHAPRESS) – Jacob Mchangama, 44, a Danish freedom of expression lawyer and author of Freedom of Speech (Basic Books, 2022), issued a warning to ministers of the STF (Supreme Federal Court), on bends with protection and suppression of information.

“The problem is that those who define what misinformation is also tend to have their own biases,” he says. “When the judiciary gets into this debate, it can backfire. This can undermine the credibility of the judiciary, which is necessary for the rule of law.”

He emphasizes that he has a smattering of knowledge of the situation in Brazil, just after the “gradual democratic regression”, and mentions that in a study carried out by the institute he leads, Justitia, together with Aarhus and Columbia Universities, support for freedom of expression showed limited support in the country. .

“More than 90% of Brazilians say it is very important for the media, individuals and the Internet,” he says. “But only 42% think he should defend words that offend religion, and only 38% think he should defend insults against his flag.”

The controversy of defending the freedom to express ideas with which people agree but disagree runs through history, which he details in his book, from antiquity onwards.

With the scale achieved by social media, cancellation across platforms is high on the agenda, left and right. Why does his book go to question him about the Weimar Republic and the censorship efforts against Nazi newspapers? What was the lesson at that time?

JACOB MCHANGAMA: One of the recurring arguments for limiting the online space is the need to protect democracy from hate and disinformation. In Europe, this argument is often made with reference to Europe’s totalitarian past. But, as I show in the book, the Weimar Republic in Germany was not a democracy based on the absolutism of free speech.

There was strict political censorship of radio, Nazi and Communist newspapers were often banned, and prominent Nazis such as Hitler, Goebbels, and Julius Streicher were punished or censored. Even more disturbing is the fact that the emergency laws that were supposed to protect democracy were used by the Nazis to destroy it. First of all, because of the possibility of using the laws of the Weimar Republic, which allowed censorship and the suspension of freedom of speech.

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Can you explain the Milton Curse you cover in the book?

DM – This is a selective and unprincipled defense of freedom of speech. This refers to the English poet John Milton, who in 1644 published The Areopagitics, his famous call for freedom of the press. Milton declared: “Give me freedom to freely know, speak and reason according to conscience, above all freedoms.”

However, his defense of free speech was accompanied by many ifs and buts. He emphasized that by freedom of the press “I do not mean the papacy, which, since it eradicates all religions, must also be eradicated.” He also did not want to harbor ideas that were “impious or perverted against faith or custom”. If “evil and slanderous” books were still being printed, Milton saved them from book burning. Its purpose was to facilitate discussion of the “close differences, or rather indifference” that caused the Protestant sects to hang each other, not freedom and equal freedom of speech for all.

Eventually, Milton even joined the censor corps under Cromwell’s military dictatorship. That Milton, the scourge of censors, has become such is one of the great ironies in the history of free speech, although he is not alone when it comes to double standards of censorship.

And how does this curse now manifest itself in the censorship debate and demands?

DM: Today we see it happening around the world. See Brazil. In 2021, we conducted a study of attitudes towards freedom of speech in 33 countries around the world. Over 90% of Brazilians say that freedom of speech is very important for both the media and individuals and online. But only 42% of Brazilians think that free speech should protect words that offend religion, and only 38% think it should protect insults to their flag, which is admittedly beautiful.

So we often see people think that free speech should protect ideas they agree with, but not necessarily ideas or people they strongly disagree with. But if you think free speech should only protect harmless ideas, free speech is vulnerable at best. At worst it’s useless.

In Brazil, the members of the Supreme Council are responsible for organizing elections and making immediate decisions. And this year, publications were suppressed, some disinformation, while others were not. At the same time, they helped protect coverage when government agencies acted against it. Do you have any advice or historical parallels you could offer these ministers?

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JM – I have only a superficial knowledge of the events in Brazil, so I need to be careful not to make statements without knowing the facts and the law in particular. But given the elections and the past few years, it seems to me that Brazil is going through a phase of deep polarization and gradual democratic regression. In such cases, it is often tempting to legislate to prevent propaganda and disinformation.

The problem is that those who define what disinformation is also have their own biases. Also, when it comes to political debate, it is often impossible to separate facts from opinions. When the judiciary gets into this debate, it can backfire because if they decide that certain ideas can be banned as disinformation, it will give the impression that judges are taking sides, denouncing one side and supporting the other. Not only can this be a risk to freedom of expression, but it can also undermine the credibility of the judiciary, essential for the rule of law.

Do you think police power is another step in the wrong direction for the Brazilian electoral court?

DM: Again, I’m not an expert on the Brazilian constitutional or electoral system and I don’t know the extent of misinformation in the digital ecosystem. But insisting on deleting information too quickly because of disinformation is like a system where you create a clear risk of unpopular opinions being deleted and where government agencies are empowered to decide what is true. It is hard to imagine that the real problems of online disinformation can be solved through online regulation and censorship.

American conservatives praised his book for questioning cancellation culture, but also criticized it for saying the same about right-wing pressure on so-called critical race theory. How do you see the future of free speech in the US?

DM: On the one hand, the United States has a developed culture of free speech compared to many other countries. But this American culture seems to be on the wane due to polarization and younger generations taking it for granted.

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I worry that if this culture in the US deteriorates further, the very strong legal protection offered by the First Amendment could be weakened. And that Democrats and Republicans are beginning to use restrictive laws in a deeply biased way. That is why I believe that a principled commitment to freedom of expression is essential, especially in educational and media, social and traditional institutions where this freedom is practiced.

In 2020, the New York Post published an article about Hunter, Joe Biden’s son, which was hidden by Facebook and other social networks. What needs to be done to protect freedom of speech and even the press on these platforms?

JM: The deletion of an article from the New York Post was a disturbing example of moderation mismanagement. Ultimately, this may have helped the Republicans more than it hurt because the story was covered by so many media outlets that it became an example of the Streisand effect. [quando a tentativa de ocultar uma informação acaba por chamar mais atenção a ela]. But how many small stories potentially affecting democratic elections will be silenced without such disclosure, by arbitrary content moderation? Impossible to know.

The book explores the rise and fall of free speech in history, even in some unexpected places, of the 6th century BC Persian Empire. [Antes da Era Comum] medieval Catholic monasteries, while exposing the negative, and not just the positive, influence of the Gutenberg press. Do you see freedom of speech as a constant struggle?

JM – Let me quote the conclusion of my book: freedom of expression is still an experiment, and no one can guarantee the outcome of providing free and instant voice to billions of people. But this is a principle based on thousands of years of experience, often bloody, with the consequences of suppressing it.

X-ray

Jacob Mchangama, 44

Founder and CEO of the Justitia Institute in Copenhagen, the Danish lawyer is the author of Freedom of Speech – A History from Socrates to Social Media. In 2018, he was a visiting professor at the Global Center for Free Speech at Columbia University in New York.

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Beja County President. “PSD wants to have more political weight in the region in 2025”

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Beja County President.  "PSD wants to have more political weight in the region in 2025"

Gonçalo Valente, re-elected November 26 with 96% of the SDP activists in Beja, says the region “needs” to have social democrat-led city councils.

What made you re-run for president of the Beja constituency for the SDP?

I have never hidden the great love I have for my region, and as soon as possible I responded positively to the challenge of the SDP in the sense of helping the region in its weaknesses. This is exactly what I have been doing since 2019, with the activation of the JSD, several sections of the JSD district, the PSD section in Almodóvar, with the election of more representatives to the municipalities, with the restoration of many militants who were aloof from the participation policy. We also managed to reach a critical mass for a more active participation in the party. In short, I can say that the motive for my re-election was precisely the opportunity to continue the work that my team had already done and which was reflected in the percentage of votes that we were able to get in this election, 96%.

What is the highest priority for this mandate?

Unite people and ideals in the sense that we can create conditions for increasing political weight in the region from 2025. I believe that “the path is paved by walking”, and also that there is still much to be done in the area. At the moment we have many needs that need to be pointed out and it is vital that we continue to fight for them, among which I highlight the need for more continuing care units and the lack of health professionals. Our hospital is the only district hospital in the country that does not have an MRI machine. We have to improve the Beja airport and we need to electrify the railway. We need a motorway connection to Beja airport and we also need to benefit from the “triangulation” of Porto de Sines-Alqueva-Beja airport which is underused. Thus, it is a set of priorities that complement each other.

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“Just as I believe more in the sociology of the field than the secretary story, I also believe that in order to help people, we need to be closer to them.”

He says he wants to “leave the party where it deserves to be, run for election to win.” What is your strategy for this?

First of all, I must emphasize that I want to run for elections in order to win, exclusively for the region, and not power for the sake of power. PSD is the means by which we propose to improve the lives of the inhabitants of the Lower Alentejo. Therefore, we must always remember that a political party is the best tool we have at our disposal to better serve the people who are the true center of political action. My strategy involves a deep knowledge of the needs of the area, because only in this way can we arm ourselves with the most appropriate means to solve the problems and challenges that currently exist in the area, and there are quite a few of them. I intend, in line with what I have always done, to maintain a transparent and serious attitude so that people continue to trust us. Just as I believe more in field sociology than secretary storytelling, I also believe that in order to help people, we need to be closer to them. We have to experience their problems and really feel what people feel.

Do you think there will be conditions for the SDP to again lead the city council in the region in 2025?

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Of course yes! I am sure of it, and I also feel that the region has such a need. And from what I’m diagnosing, people now more than ever are aware of this shortcoming.

In Beja, the SDP-led coalition serves as a “balance point” in the PS-led executive with the same number of advisers as the CDU. How do you rate the performance of Nuno Palma Ferro?

Councilman Nuno Palma Ferro, with nobility and great responsibility, performed the function, as he rightly said, “the keeper of the balance.” He showed great accessibility and commitment to someone who loves his land. Without departing from social democratic ideals, he managed to give priority to what his municipality really interests – its development.

Did Luis Montenegro bring new enthusiasm to the party?

Luis Montenegro showed himself as a leader close to the structures and bases of the SDP, but, in fact, to the Portuguese. He was sharply opposed, reacting in a timely manner to the actions as well as to the inertia of the government, often putting pressure on him to take measures that he considered necessary for the good of the country.

Looking at the region, what worries you the most?

Undoubtedly and in general terms, territorial discrimination! I’m talking about oblivion, for which the central government constantly votes for us. Sometimes it seems to me that Alentejo as a whole is part of another country, different from the one that so often lives only by three F’s: Fatima, Football and Fado. And what a sad fate we have that without stadiums and patrons we fall into oblivion so many times. From a practical point of view, my main concern is the exodus of people from rural areas, which is a direct consequence of the aging of the population and the decline in investment in the region.

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Carlos posted a photo of Bolsonaro’s legs with a mug

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Carlos posted a photo of Bolsonaro's legs with a mug

alderman Carlos Bolsonaro (Republicanos-RJ) posted today (4) on her Telegram channel a photo of the president’s leg Jair Bolsonaro (PL) com erysipelas, skin infection🇧🇷 According to the president’s son, the picture was taken “a few days ago.”

“My father developed an erysipelas on his leg. The photo was taken a few days ago. I was informed that at this stage he is already in the process of recovery and everything is going very well, ”the president’s son wrote. The publication did not allow user comments.

erysipelas is infection considered more common in people with circulatory problems or diabetes🇧🇷 The infection settles in the deepest part of the skin and is characterized by red and painful plaques. The condition mostly manifests itself in the legs – as in the case of Bolsonaro, according to his son.

The wanted adviser to the Palais Planalto did not comment on the publication of the president’s son. The federal government has not officially commented on the matter. The NGO Transparência Eleitoral Brasil even demanded greater clarity in the disclosure of Bolsonaro’s health..

December 4, 2022 – Message released by Councilor Carlos Bolsonaro on the condition of President Jair Bolsonaro’s leg, which has erysipelas.

Image: Reproduction / Telegram

After the elections, Bolsonaro remained silent and did not interfere in public affairs. Initially, the president’s associates claimed that this was due to erysipelas, but, as the observer notes UOL boy Alves, friends of the president are concerned about Bolsonaro’s behavior.

“He believed that there would be some change in the political scenario, in connection with demonstrations at the barracks and on the highways, but I think he realized that this was not possible,” expressed the opinion of a friend of the president who was with him last weekendat the graduation of cadets in Amana (Military Academy Agulhas Negras) in Rio, and who maintains frequent telephone contacts.

During the meeting, Vice President and Senator-elect Hamilton Murao urged Bolsonaro talk to your people, but the President left without speaking to supporters. According to the report, the closeness of Lula’s (PT) diplomacy as president-elect worsened Bolsonaro’s condition. UOL.

According to people close to him, the anticipation of Lula’s diplomacy, scheduled for December 12, made Bolsonaro feel even more depressed. “As the change of government approaches, he notes that the situation is irreversible,” said the politician, who was recently with the president.

The president’s isolation is also reflected in the virtual environment. As the WOL showsin November, Bolsonaro posted three times on Instagram and four times on Twitter and Facebook, in addition to abandoning the traditional Thursday life.

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The Venezuelan opposition demands from Maduro the date for the resumption of political dialogue – 04.12.2022

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Germany sentenced Russian to life imprisonment for political murder by order of Moscow - 12/15/2021

CARACAS (Reuters) – The Venezuelan opposition has asked President Nicolás Maduro’s government to set a date for the resumption of political talks in Mexico that could ease the country’s long economic and political crisis.

Delegates from the government and the opposition met in Mexico City on November 26 after more than a year’s break and signed a “social agreement” but did not announce a date when they would meet again. The opposition said it would meet with the ruling party in December.

The government is “setting new conditions to move forward on the political issue,” the opposition said in a Twitter statement released Saturday afternoon, but did not provide details of the new official requirements.

The head of the opposition delegation, Gerardo Blyde, said this week that the talks will enter a difficult phase, including political and human rights issues.

The Venezuelan Communications Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We demand that Nicolás Maduro not delay the commitment made in Mexico and proceed immediately to set a date, during December, to continue negotiations on a political and free agenda, as agreed,” the opposition said.

(Reporting by Vivian Secker)

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