NEWSBRIEFS: Speech, file-sharing, big brother, and Brits


British journalist Robert Fisk
spoke at HLS Tuesday.

Students For Speech holds first meeting; seeks to destroy speech code proposal

Before it decides to implement a “harassment code” at HLS, the Committee on Healthy Diversity will have to deal with some organized opposition. Students for Free Speech, founded by 2L Nels Peterson, held its inaugural meeting last night. The group is dedicated to “preserving any remaining vestiges of free and open debate on campus,” an e-mail from Peterson said. While major media outlets across the country have already denounced the proposal as a “speech code,” the Diversity Committee has not announced any further plans.

Zittrain analyzes file-sharing situation

MP3 traders beware: Prof. Jonathan Zittrain has been all over national newspapers lately talking about a recent federal court ruling against Verizon Online. The court ordered Verizon to comply with a subpoena requesting the identity of a user trading copyrighted material via the popular Kazaa file-sharing service. If upheld, the ruling could be big trouble for downloaders who previously thought themselves invincible from the long arm of the law. “The general assumption has been that you can’t control peer-to-peer file sharing because there’s no way to reach the users with any threat serious enough to make them stop,” Zittrain told the Chicago Tribune. “This suggests the music industry isn’t prepared to accept that.”

Colleges begin new system to track foreign students

As of January 30, colleges must begin using a new INS system designed to keep tabs on the over 500,000 U.S. students who are not American citizens, the Boston Globe reported. The Student Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS, will record when a student drops or takes a class, gets a part time job, takes a leave of absence and other similar information. HLS students who already have visas do not have to be entered into the system until August 1. We hope that the federal government will not have tried to exile any more of us by then.

British journalist hammers the media

Speaking at HLS Tuesday night, renowned British journalist Robert Fisk said the media is not doing its job in reporting about the Middle East. He claimed that the media are reluctant to discuss such issues as civilian casualties caused by Western intervention, and cancer caused in Iraq by depleted uranium used in many American weapons. Fisk had facts as well as outrage, too: He cited a CNN memo urging the softening of language referring to what he called unlawful Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Fisk also took aim at possible war in Iraq, saying “I think we want to invade Iraq because we want oil fields.”

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