Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for September 8th, 2022

Ants love flameleaf sumac flowers

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Ants love the flowers of flameleaf sumac, Rhus lanceolata. It’s hard to see individual ants and flowers above, so here’s an enlargement of a little piece of the top picture:

I found this young flameleaf sumac flowering in my part of town on August 23rd.



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Truth does indeed have immense power; yet it remains extremely elusive. No single person, no body of opinion, no political or religious doctrine, no political party or government can claim to have a monopoly on truth. For that reason truth can be arrived at only through the untrammelled contest between and among competing opinions, in which as many viewpoints as possible are given a fair and equal hearing. It has therefore always been our contention that laws, mores, practices and prejudices that place constraints on freedom of expression are a disservice to society. Indeed these are the devices employed by falsehood to lend it strength in its unequal contest with truth.

That’s from a speech Nelson Mandela gave to the International Press Institute Congress on February 14, 1994. Jacob Mchangama quoted it in his 2022 book Free Speech. He then noted, unfortunately, that “according to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, 1,010 journalists were imprisoned from 2011 to 2020. This represents an alarming 78% increase from the previous decade of 2001 to 2010.” Mchangama later added that “the V-Dem Institute’s Democracy Report 2020—the largest global dataset on democracy—found that media censorship intensified in a record-breaking thirty-seven countries in 2019.”

And I’m dismayed to report the degree to which censorship and suppression of information have increased in my own country. For example, a September 1st article in the Epoch Times by Zachary Stieber documents some of the ways that “more than 50 officials in President Joe Biden’s administration across a dozen agencies have been involved with efforts to pressure Big Tech companies to crack down on alleged misinformation.” Some of that “misinformation” came from highly qualified doctors, professors, and medical researchers who happened to have opinions about the pandemic that differed from the official party line.

The documents that the Epoch Times article cites as evidence that the government pressured companies into censoring opposing opinions “were part of a preliminary production in a lawsuit levied against the government by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, later joined by experts maligned by federal officials.” You can read an announcement about that from Missouri’s Attorney General. It’s likely we’ll learn more as the lawsuit progresses.

When we look at events in the past we’re appalled, for example, by the way authorities suppressed the scientific findings of Galileo because those findings differed from orthodox—and incorrect—views of the world. We should be equally appalled when powerful people in our own era suppress views they disagree with.


UPDATE: After I wrote this post (I usually prepare posts several days in advance of posting), the Epoch Times put out an article on September 7 which began as follows:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and other top Biden administration officials who were resisting efforts to obtain their communications with Big Tech companies must hand over the records, a federal judge ruled on Sept. 6.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, ordered the government to quickly produce documents after it was sued by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri over alleged collusion with Big Tech firms such as Facebook. The initial tranche of discovery, released on Aug. 31, revealed that more than 50 government officials across a dozen agencies were involved in applying pressure to social media companies to censor users.

But some of the officials refused to provide any answers, or answer all questions posed by the plaintiffs. Among them: Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.

The government claimed that Fauci should not be required to answer all questions or provide records in his capacity as NIAID director or in his capacity as Biden’s chief medical adviser. It also attempted to withhold records and responses from Jean-Pierre.

In the new ruling on Tuesday breaking the stalemate, Doughty said both Fauci and Jean-Pierre needed to comply with the interrogatories and record requests.


As I said above, it’s likely we’ll learn more as the lawsuit progresses. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits our government from interfering with citizens’ free speech. Trying to get around that prohibition by pressuring or colluding with non-governmental entities to do the government’s censoring for it is also illegal. You’re welcome to read the full Epoch Times article.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Posted in nature photography

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