- The United Kingdom, which doesn’t have a First Amendment, has slowly seen citizens’ free speech rights eroded—and now may soon start imprisoning people for being trolls on the internet. At question is pending legislation called the “Online Safety Bill,” which ostensibly punishes social media companies that allow harassment. Yet it may be expanded to include new criminal penalties for individuals who engage in mean speech online. Other offenses will reportedly be created for “knowingly false communication,” applying to those who “send or post a message they know to be false with the intention to cause emotional, psychological, or physical harm to the likely audience.” The new offenses will also include punishment for social-media “pile-ons,” where groups gang up and are rude to people online. Ideas like allowing women to vote, ending racial segregation, and legalizing same-sex marriage were all once considered “harmful” by many. If subjectively harmful or disruptive speech is stifled, progress is drastically held back. Moreover, the government punishing “knowingly false” speech is deeply disturbing. Firstly, it’s not a black-and-white matter to actually determine what is “true” and what is “false.” There are a million shades of gray and robust debates over factual reality across countless subjects. No one who values freedom should want a government Ministry of Truth determining what speech is “false” and punishing those who spread it.
- Nearly half of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts have been hit by pounding rains, with the worst affected areas in and around the island’s tea-growing Central Highlands. More floods are likely in the coming days with downpours set to move to the country’s northern coast around the city of Jaffna, the country’s weather bureau warned. Authorities had established more than 150 relief camps to distribute food and aid to those forced out of their homes, the minister added. Most main roads in state capital Chennai were underwater and trees were uprooted, disrupting traffic. Residents were seen wading around the city ankle-deep in waters that also lapped up against the century-old offices of the municipal government.
- Over 33 million children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the severely malnourished category with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topping the list. The Women and Child Development ministry estimates that there are 1.7 million severely acute malnourished children and 1.5 million moderately acute malnourished children as of October 14, 2021.
- India and France agreed to strengthen defence and security partnership by enhancing intelligence and information sharing, bolstering capabilities, expanding military drills and pursuing new initiatives in maritime, space and cyber domains, the Indian embassy in Paris said on Saturday. The Indian embassy said France reiterated its commitment to fully support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India)” and defence industrialisation, joint research and technology development in India across a wide range of advanced capabilities.
- More than 1,000 asylum seekers have marched with their belongings through Belarus to the country’s frontier with Poland, the authorities in Minsk have announced, in what is the latest chapter of the EU’s worsening migrant crisis. The movement was initially reported by the Belarusian Border Guards and was later confirmed by videos posted online showing men, women and children moving along a highway. Upon arriving at the Belarusian side of the frontier, at the Bruzgi-Kuznica crossing, they were let through and allowed to pass to the Polish border fence, Sputnik Belarus news agency reported.
- On Sunday, law enforcement officials in the Urals city of Ekaterinburg confirmed to local media that Nikolay Dylykov, who goes by the name Dylyk Khan, had been taken into custody as a potential risk to himself and others. Within the past year, the self-declared spiritual leader had filmed himself on a marathon walk across the vast expanse of eastern Russia, pledging to reach the city, Russia’s fourth largest. Local media reports that he had announced he was on a mission “to save humanity from satanist pedophiles.”
- Line 5 is a major 1,038 km pipeline running through Wisconsin and Michigan to a refinery in Sarnia, Canada. The Line 5, pipeline has garnered controversy amid fears that it is rife for spillage – including into the Great Lakes (it passes under the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Huron). According to Sierra Club estimates, the pipeline has already leaked over a million gallons of oil since being commissioned in 1953, including a catastrophic spill in October 2011 which devastated the Kalamazoo River watershed. A recent study by the University of Michigan warned that a new major spill could affect up to 60 percent of Lake Huron’s waters, and 15 percent of Lack Michigan’s open waters.
- A fully-vaccinated passenger on a flight from Turkey to Germany was found dead in his seat, reportedly infected with the coronavirus. Crew members on Pegasus Airlines’ Flight 1043 discovered the 51-year-old traveller, when they arrived in Hamburg last week. Germany’s COVID-19 rules require passengers to reveal their COVID status before flying by providing a negative test result or proof of immunity. The man was allowed to board the 3 1/2-hour flight from Istanbul because he proved he was fully vaccinated, according to the paper.
- Norway’s newly appointed Culture Minister Anette Trettebergstuen has voiced a desire to shield the national media from what she called censorship on Big Tech’s part. Earlier, posts by several media, including national broadcaster NRK, were suspended by Facebook, sparking criticism of corporate intervention into media freedom. “The big and faceless Big Tech companies can not be gatekeepers who censor national media. This is a completely unreasonable intervention in the media’s free position and role in society,” Trettebergstuen told the newspaper Aftenposten.
- On Oct. 25, the science instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode. “NASA is continuing to investigate why the instruments in the Hubble Space Telescope recently went into safe mode configuration, suspending science operations,” agency personnel wrote in the full statement. “The instruments are healthy and will remain in safe mode while the mission team continues its investigation.”
- [Babylon Bee] Airports around the world are reporting record revenues after introducing a long-awaited feature: the ability to turn off CNN on television sets in their terminals. For just one quarter, you can turn off CNN for a full fifteen minutes while you’re waiting for your flight, leaving you with the “far superior” experience of just staring at a blank screen.
News Burst 9 November 2021