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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

US News – Is America Great Again? Data Say No

Three years of Best Countries survey results show an unmistakable trend that should alarm Americans.

“Among the many things that helped define the 2016 U.S. presidential election, one slogan still rings strong: “Make America Great Again.” The Donald Trump campaign set out to regain the status that the United States had supposedly lost because of the Obama administration. How did Trump fare in making America great again? In the eyes of the world, we certainly are going in the wrong direction. Say what you will about President Trump, one thing was true: At the end of 2015, there was room for America to be better perceived. To be clear, the U.S. is and always has been a great country, but there are some areas in which it could have improved vis-à-vis the rest of the world. According to the U.S. News, WPP, and Wharton Best Countries study, which ranks 80 countries by polling more than 21,000 people around the world – the U.S. was ranked the fourth best country in the world in 2016. This ranking is based on perceptions – how the world views the U.S. relative to other countries based on 75 metrics weighted by their correlation with gross domestic product per capita. In the 2016 survey, the U.S. was ranked only the 13th most economically stable country in the world and ranked 33rd in terms of how much people wanted to invest in it. At that time, it was ranked ninth for gender equality, 20th for open travel policies, and 16th in environmental policies. The vitriolic presidential campaign of 2016 further hurt the country’s reputation. A second wave of our survey (the 2017 rankings) taken immediately after the election showed that the election and its result affected not just internal American perceptions, but also views from abroad. Its political stability ranking dropped from 11th to 21st and its trustworthiness ranking dropped from 17th to 23rd.”

World Prison Population List

“This tenth edition of the World Prison Population List gives details of the number of prisoners held in 222 independent countries and dependent territories. It shows the differences in the level of imprisonment across the world and makes possible an estimate of the world prison population total. The information is the latest available at the… Continue Reading

World Report 2018: Fighting for Rights Succeeds

Principled Politicians and Popular Protest Weaken Authoritarian Populist Agenda – “Political leaders willing to fight for human rights principles showed that they could limit authoritarian populist agendas, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018, reviewing events of the past year. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated… Continue Reading

Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases

Human Rights Watch Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases “In the United States today, a growing body of evidence suggests that the federal government is deliberately concealing methods used by intelligence or law enforcement agencies to identify or investigate suspects—including methods that may be illegal. It does so by creating a… Continue Reading

8 challenges for open government posed by emerging technology

Sunlight Foundation: 8 challenges for open government posed by emerging technology – “As 2018 begins, the big tent of open government holds both promise and peril, as nationalism, populism, low trust in institutions, and voter anger and apathy put years of gains at risk. We continue to see meaningful ways for better laws and policies to enable… Continue Reading

Wired – The Golden Age of Free Speech?

It’s the [Democracy-Poisoning] Golden Age of Free Speech: “..In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. This should be the golden age of free speech. And sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can… Continue Reading

Americans See More News Bias; Most Can’t Name Neutral Source

Gallup News: “Americans’ perceptions of news media bias have increased significantly over the past generation. Thirty-two percent believe the news media are careful to separate fact from opinion, well below the 58% who held this view in 1984. Meanwhile, 66% currently agree that most news media do not do a good job of letting people… Continue Reading

Freedom in the World 2018 Democracy in Crisis

Freedom House – Freedom in the World 2018, Democracy in Crisis: “Democracy is in retreat globally and, some say, in the United States. Exacerbating the democratic backslide are authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China, which have increased both repression at home and efforts to export instability abroad. On the home front, indifference toward democratic… Continue Reading

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses – CRS report via FAS – Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law, January 11, 2018: “As a general rule, federal judges must impose a minimum term of imprisonment upon defendants convicted of various controlled substance (drug) offenses and drug-related offenses. The severity of those sentences depends… Continue Reading

Martin Luther King’s entire FBI file as posted by the original Memory Hole

Russ Kick – “The existence of MLK’s full file had been known in certain circles; many university libraries have it on microform/microfiche, and it’s been used as source material for numerous books through the years. So in 2008, I filed a FOIA request specifically asking for the entire thing on PDF. And I got it.… Continue Reading

LIS News – Ten Stories That Shaped 2017

LIS NEWS – Can you believe it’s almost 2018? That means it’s time to look back at some of the notable library-related stories from the past year. 10. Librarians Fight Fake News The problems with fake news caused many of us to revamp our web evaluation handouts into guides for spotting bogus information sources. 9.… Continue Reading

Trump Justice Department Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census, Alarming Experts

ProPublica: “Two members of Congress are pushing back against a proposal by the Justice Department to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census. In a letter sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has the authority to decide on census questions, Reps. Jose Serrano and Grace Meng, both New York Democrats, call on… Continue Reading