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Saturday, March 25, 2006

News that Might not Have made It into Your Local Paper

H.R. 1606, The Online Freedom of Speech Act, will be up for a vote next week in the U.S. House of Representatives. While ostensibly exempting bloggers from 1971 regulations on public communications during an election season, the bill would require bloggers to report any postings considered favorable to a candidate with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Bloggers would also have to post their home addresses if their blog entries endorse a specific candidate. Furthermore, it would provide a loophole in the existing McCain-Feingold act, which would allow outside parties to pour millions of advertising dollars on campaign blogs past the due date.

Introduced last year by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, H.R. 1606 is not expected to pass. Since the OFSA's introduction, the house has mobilized behind a bipartisan bill, H.R. 4900, The Internet Free Speech Protection Act of 2006, sponsored by Reps. Tom Allen and Charles Bass. H.R. 4900 would regulate blogs only if bloggers pay more than $5,000 per year for their site.

In other news...

The Cuban National Baseball team's second place finish in the recently concluded World Baseball Classic should have earned them 7% of proceeds. Before taking the field, the team announced (with Castro's permission) that any money the Cuban national team won would be donated to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Because of economic sanctions against Cuba, however, Major League Baseball negotiated a deal that would prevent Cuba from receiving any money, no matter where the team finished. According to an article in Granma, Cuba's official Communist newspaper, Castro asked that Major League Baseball simply donate their share to Katrina victims. The US State Department, however, insisted that Castro knew that the Cuban team could not earn any money from the series, and accuse the bearded one of political grandstanding. The Newark Star-Ledger quoted an unnamed State Department source as saying, "If there are no winnings, there's nothing to donate."

Granted, there is a problem when anyone, Castro included, serves four-and-a-half decades as a chief of state, even if elected (which Castro has been since the reformation of the Cuban government in 1976). Granted the government keeps close tabs on its people. Castro is by no means a completely benevolent executive, nor is he a saint.

By the same token, Castro isn't a madman or Satan reincarnate, as US government policy since the Eisenhower administration insists. The inability of baseball to chip in money in a place where it could do some real good shows some of the pig-headedness behind the constant demonization of Castro, whose real crime has been standing up to American and multinational corporate hegemony.

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