FOD Saying of the Day
Ye who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities. – Horace
FOD Trivia Question
On September 16, 1630, the town of Shawmut, Massachusetts changed its name to what?
Previous FOD Trivia Answer
In 1851, what did Elias Howe, Walter Hunt and Isaac Merritt Singer all invent simultaneously, each in a different part to the US? Answer: The sewing machine.
There’s A Lot Of Stuff Going On Out There – Let’s Get To It
Fireball Editorial on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press
I had not commented, till now, on the Saudi’s amateurish assassination the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Evidence is coming out his murder was brutal and premeditated; and his body was dismembered inside the Saudi consulate building. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to discuss Khashoggi’s disappearance. CIA Director Gina Haspel has now traveled to Turkey as part of the investigation. It is well documented that nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without the knowledge and consent of the powerful Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS’s degree of authoritarianism and bold aggression against any criticism adversely distinguishes his regime from those of his processors, despite his marketing campaign in the West as a progressive reformer. With US help he has continued a brutal war in Yemen, bullied Qatar, detained members of his own family and punished an unknown number of Saudi citizens. In his comments of 23 October President Trump doesn’t criticize MBS or Saudi Arabia, but instead said “They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was the worst in history of cover-ups.” Overall our President has once again espoused a fundamental reorganization of American values: Money first and morality, or at the least the protections enshrined in the US Constitution for journalists and citizens to voice their dissent, a distant second. He recently praised a congressman for his cowardly attack on an American journalist (for which the Congressman pleaded guilty to assault) and he’s mocked the American press while abroad. His ongoing contempt of the press has heartened the world’s dictators to mimic his actions. During the 2016 election, Trump refused to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime for jailing and killing dissidents, including journalists. And, though no one knows what the two men discussed in their private Helsinki summit, no one in the administration has even so much as hinted they discussed press freedom. Trump also laughed in front of the American press when Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called journalists “spies.” Those reporters were asking if Trump brought up human rights abuses while with the strongman who has allegedly killed countless thousands of drug users and who has defended the killing of journalists. American leaders have traditionally been able to claim the moral high ground when calling for freedom of the press and freedom of speech around the world. That best of American freedoms is not just for journalists, but for people of all occupations to be able to speak their minds without fear of jail or death. For regimes like Putin’s, MBS’ and Deterte’s, censorship and control of its citizens is why the fundamental value of free speech was given a prominent, foundational place by our founding fathers. Speaking of journalists in particular, US presidents and other US officials have championed those ideals on the global stage by letting all countries know they face tangible repercussions to their seats of power; for example sanctions, or cancellation of arms sales, or discontinuation of foreign aid if they were to harm or imprison foreign reporters, let alone kill them. American correspondents have over past generations exposed corruption, human rights abuses as well as general ineptitude that would have gotten local journalists censored, jailed or possibly killed for covering. We need to foster dialogue rather than see it suppressed by a growing number of strongmen around the world. We need free speech and freedom of the press. We need our own president to support these American values. Comments solicited and appreciated.