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Monday Watercooler


A Chelsea Manning papier-mache float covered in Christmas lights and a spotlight

Still shining in my yard … Here’s to a Free Chelsea Manning New Year!

Previously, MyFDL featured Glenn Greenwald’s keynote address from the Chaos Communication Congress. Tonight’s video is another speech from the Congress: “The Secret Trial of Chelsea Manning” from dedicated Manning journalist Alexa O’BrienLeaksource comments:

In the talk Alexa outlines what Manning was actually charged with and how the Prosecutors used secret aural transcripts, which were not available to defence counsel and the ‘shenanigans’ which led to a sentence of 35 years.

One key point Alexa makes during the talk;

we will get Manning out of jail…we will..’

NPR notes that another kind of whistleblower — animal-rights activists who make videos of cruel factory farms — survived a legislative attack on their work in 2013:

The shocking videos made public have rankled animal agriculture groups, and strained their relationships with retailers. They typically respond that the videos aren’t representative — they merely show one employee, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Industry groups, in turn, have pressured legislators in several states to introduce measures intended to protect them from these kinds of incursions into their business.

The colloquial term for this legislation is ag-gag. It refers to laws that make it illegal to photograph or shoot videos of internal operations of farms where food animals are being raised. And awareness of such laws is growing: ‘Ag gag’ was featured as one of the words of the year in Sunday’s New York Times.

Three states signed ag-gag bill into law in 2011 and 2012, setting new legal precedents. This year, a flurry of legislation — 15 ag-gag bills — was introduced in 11 states, but interestingly, not a single one passed. (Indeed, in some states, more than one measure was introduced: Tennessee and Arkansas each had two, while Indiana had three.)

What explains the failure of these bills, which either didn’t get enough votes or were vetoed by governors? For details, we turned to Matt Dominguez, who spent 2013 traveling around the U.S. fighting various ag-gag bills for the Humane Society of the U.S.

According to Dominguez, ag-gag laws failed this year because of a large and broad coalition opposing them that tapped its grass-roots network to hammer legislators with emails, phone calls and online campaigns. The coalition included animal welfare groups, of course, but also environmental groups like Food and Water Watch, and organizations that advocate for a free press, like the National Press Photographers Association, and legal issues, like the American Civil Liberties Union.

It should be no surprise that these bills are based on an ALEC model bill, as Moyers & Company reports.

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What’s on you mind tonight? Got questions? The watercooler is an open conversation.

Photo by Kit O’Connell, released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and