Protect free speech rights for bots?

❝ Do you have a right to know if you’re talking to a bot? How about the bot? Does it have the right to keep that information from you? Those questions have been stirring in the minds of many since well before Google demoed Duplex, a human-like AI that makes phone calls on a user’s behalf, earlier this month.

Bots — online accounts that appear to be controlled by a human, but are actually powered by AI — are now prevalent all across the internet, specifically on social media sites. While some people think legally forcing these bots to “out” themselves as non-human would be beneficial, others think doing so violates the bot’s right to free speech. Yes, they believe bots have the same First Amendment rights as humans in America.

RTFA. Standard copout piece pretty much avoiding rational science-based discussion of philosophical questions. I expect there are plenty of handy bots slipping through the fog of the Web already advancing petit bourgeois rationales for Bot Freedoms – generated by owners profiting from their bots. Or hoping to.

But, you might want to interfere with morning coffee [or tea] enough to – at a minimum – develop your own opinion on the topic.

“I have wasted 40 years of my life” if Trump’s lies represent “who we are”

❝ Retired U.S. Air Force four-star general Michael Hayden didn’t mince words when it comes to Donald Trump’s “outrageous assault on truth, the free press and the first amendment.”

❝ Trump petulantly lashed out at CNN International Saturday night, calling it “a major source of (Fake) news,” and saying that “they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.”

Hayden’s response was chilling:

Hayden has given over 40 years of his life in service to the nation, through multiple administrations both Republican and Democratic.

Trump has spent less than one year of his life in ostensible service to the country, which he has used as little more than a massive ego-boosting, self-aggrandizing — though failing — business opportunity.

He fails even more as our Fake President. Not as troubling as the number of ignorant, ill-informed, directionless chumps who voted for him.

Senate Committee Votes Against Republican Anti-Abortion Gag Rule

❝ In a vote that marks a rejection of the Trump administration’s foreign aid budget and approach to family planning policy abroad, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved Thursday to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn the global gag rule, a longstanding Republican policy that forbids U.S. support for international health organizations that offer or discuss abortion services.

❝ The Mexico City Policy, the formal name of the global gag rule, was put into effect during the Reagan administration, has existed under every Republican administration since. Under President Donald Trump, it is more sweeping, denying funding for family planning, nutrition, child health, and certain illnesses to aid organizations that refuse to comply.

Previous Republican administrations only denied organizations family planning funds.

❝ Separately, in April, the State Department announced plans to end support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to which the United States is the second largest donor. The State Department cited allegations that the family planning arm of the U.N. participated in forced sterilization in China, something the international body called “erroneous.”

A polite way to acknowledge lies from the US government.

❝ Both of these policy moves came under fire as the appropriations committee was deliberating the Foreign Operations Funding Bill. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) proposed an amendment that would overturn the president’s version of the Mexico City Policy, and limit any future president’s power to reinstate it, while also restoring U.S. contributions to UNFPA. The amendment narrowly passed 16-15 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) voting against it, while Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) voted for it.

Collins and Murkowski have both vocally opposed Trump’s decision to reinstate the Mexico City Policy since the president signed the executive order shortly after entering office.

Nice to see – and not entirely unexpected from Republican women – conservatives get up on their hind legs and separate themselves from 19th Century ideology.

Also not surprising to witness Manchin embracing one more backwards policy.

Increasing Number of Psychiatrists challenge the “Goldwater Rule”

❝ Do psychiatrists who question the mental state of President Donald Trump have a professional or personal obligation to speak out if they fear his words and actions endanger the nation?

That question prompted a packed and sometimes heated panel discussion…during the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association here. The answer for many, including some prominent members of the profession, was a resounding “yes.”

❝ But a 1973 APA policy known as the Goldwater Rule tells them they can’t — not without conducting an examination of the man and receiving proper authorization or consent — lest they be found guilty of unethical behavior, face professional rebuke, and ultimately, get themselves kicked out of the association…

❝ But many in the room disagreed. Some called the Goldwater Rule nothing more than a “gag” rule, a violation of their right to free speech, especially during these particularly tempestuous first months of the administration. They want the APA to eliminate the rule, or seriously modify it, because they need to be “liberated” to speak out about the clear signs and symptoms they’re trained to recognize, and which they believe suggest the president could lead the nation into an unnecessary war.

Regardless of personal convictions – mine certainly are strong and open – the article is a good read. An historic examination of a topic critical to medical disciplines and public freedoms.

Middle of the road, traditional – and solid – defense of a Free Press

No comment. I’m not interested in changing this part of our Constitution – even if the TeaPublicans, neo-cons, Trumpkins and other proto-fascists appear to be headed in that direction. Truth-telling is still a good defense.

Bar Association investigates Trump using libel suits to silence critics — Doesn’t publish report for fear of Trump lawsuit!

❝ Alarmed by Donald Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.

But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump.”

“It is more than a little ironic,” David J. Bodney said, “that a publication dedicated to the exploration of First Amendment issues is subjected to censorship when it seeks to publish an article about threats to free speech.”…

❝ Trump has made frequent threats in recent weeks to file more lawsuits, including ones against The New York Times for publishing parts of his tax returns and accounts of women accusing him of sexual misconduct. On Saturday, he threatened to sue the women themselves.

Members of the committee expressed dismay with the bar association’s actions.

“It’s colossally inappropriate for the ABA to sponsor a group of lawyers to study free speech issues and at the same time censor their free speech,” said Charles D. Tobin, another former chairman of the committee.

RTFA for all the forth-and-back discussion. True hypocrisy on the part of the ABA Executive. All somehow fitting.

Apple, tech corporations, support Microsoft fight against gag order on federal snooping

❝ Microsoft has received the backing of Apple and other major technology, media and pharmaceutical companies in its legal fight to dislodge laws preventing it from informing customers of government requests for user data.

Apple was among a host of companies and corporate lobbies to file amici curiae, or friend of the court, briefs siding with Microsoft in its case to end gag orders targeting the release of government requests for data…

❝ In April, Microsoft lodged a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, saying a government statute that allows the government to search or seize customer data without their knowledge is unconstitutional. The DOJ filed a motion to dismiss the suit in July…

These secrecy orders, Microsoft argues, violate the Fourth Amendment, which permits citizens and businesses the right to know of government searches or seizures of property. Microsoft is also having its First Amendment rights trampled on by not being afforded the opportunity to inform customers about the investigations…

❝ To increase transparency, Apple issues a biannual Report on Government Information Requests, with the latest release showing U.S. government data demands impacting nearly 5,200 accounts during the six-month period ending in April.

Uncle Sugar can’t continue to have it both ways. Our government blathers constantly about needing access to otherwise private information from individuals, organizations and businesses and, then, claim they need to have the process shrouded in secrecy for a number of crap reasons. Which usually ends up being “we need it – and that’s that!”