The freedom to communicate and to share has entered a new era. The power promised by this freedom, by the Internet, is immense, so much so that it frightens entrenched institutions. Governments, militaries, corporations, banks: They all stand to lose the control they exert over society when information they suppress runs free. Yet some of the most ardent advocates for the free Internet have become targets of these very institutions, forced to live on the run, in exile or, in some cases, in prison.
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Egypt sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists this week to severe prison terms, in court proceedings that observers described as "farcical." Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were charged with fabricating news footage, and thus supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in a military coup a year ago and labeled a terrorist organization.
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Have you seen the pictures? All the kids, sleeping on floors in row upon row, detained by the Department of Homeland Security. There are more children coming in every day, and the federal government doesn't know where to keep them.
"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise"
wrote Maya Angelou, in her poem "Still I Rise." She died this week at 86 at her home in North Carolina. In remembering Maya Angelou, it is important to recall her commitment to the struggle for equality, not just for herself, or for women, or for African-Americans. She was committed to peace and justice for all.
The world lost two remarkable men in May, two African-Americans who helped shape modern history, yet whose names and achievements remain too little known. William Worthy, a journalist, died at the age of 92. Civil-rights activist Vincent Harding was 82. Each was a witness to some of the most pivotal events of the latter half of the 20th century. They led their lives speaking truth to power, working for a better world.
Michael Powell is the son of Gen. Colin Powell. The elder Powell knows a thing or two about war. He famously presented the case for invading Iraq to the United Nations, on Feb. 5, 2003, based on faulty evidence of weapons of mass destruction. He calls that speech a painful "blot" on his record. So it is especially surprising when his son threatens "World War III" on the Obama administration.
There has been much attention, and rightly so, on the CIA's extensive use of torture, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is said to have documented in its still-classified 6,000-page report. The use of torture is not limited to the CIA, however. It is all too common across the United States. Solitary confinement is torture, and it is used routinely in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities here at home. Grassroots movements that have been pressuring for change are beginning to yield significant results. The coalitions include prisoners, their families, a broad swath of legal and social-justice groups and, increasingly, prison guards and officials themselves.