Rockers crank it up to Supreme Court

The Slants want to trademark name some find offensive

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Rockers crank it up to Supreme Court

The Slants want to trademark name some find offensive


The band ‘The Slants’ is taking their trademark fight to the Supreme Court. Despite making music for more than a decade, the Portland, Oregon-based band has been unable to get its name registered as a federal trademark. USA TODAY NETWORK

The band ‘The Slants’ is taking their trademark fight to the Supreme Court. Despite making music for more than a decade, the Portland, Oregon-based band has been unable to get its name registered as a federal trademark. USA TODAY NETWORK

WASHINGTON — The latest release from Simon Tam’s dance rock group is called “The Band Who Must Not Be Named” — and for good reason.
Despite making music for more than a decade, the Portland, Oregon-based band has been unable to get its name registered as a federal trademark. The battle will culminate Wednesday when four Asian-Americans who call themselves “The Slants” play a 400-seat theater known as the Supreme Court.
At issue is nothing less than freedom of speech: Does a federal law that empowers the Patent and Trademark Office to turn down applications it deems disparaging violate the First Amendment? In Washington, where a president-elect who criticizes his opponents on Twitter is redefining the outer boundaries of appropriate speech, such power to police language seems almost quaint.
Tam certainly thinks so. He named his band as an act of “reappropriation” — adopting a demeaning term aimed at Asian-Americans and wearing it as a badge of pride.
“We need to allow freedom of expression, especially with those you disagree with the most,” the 35-year-old musician-activist says over a bowl of gumbo in the nation’s capital. “Satire, humor, wit and irony — those are the things that will truly neuter malice.”
Watching in the wings is Washington’s NFL football team, both celebrated and reviled as the Redskins. Its name wasn’t chosen 84 years ago as a term of endearment, but team owner Daniel Snyder’s effort to keep six trademark registrations cancelled by the federal agency in 2014 now hinges on The Slants’ success or failure. For the time being, the Redskins’ case is pending at a federal appeals court.

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Trump’s welcome committee: An avalanche of opponents

Protests are planned a cross the USA and around the world


Protesters led by Reverend Al Sharpton brave the rain to march in Washington just five days ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump. Video provided by AFP Newslook

WASHINGTON — From the grave of a suffragist in upstate New York to the 16th Street Baptist Churchin Birmingham, Ala., and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, President-elect Donald Trump has quite a welcome committee: An estimated 1 million people plan to demonstrate in all 50 states and 32 countries.
In the U.S. capital alone, the National Park Servicehas issued permits for 25 separate events the weekend of his Jan. 20 swearing-in as the nation’s 45th president. It’s a number that’s “pretty well unprecedented” relative to past inaugurations, said Mike Litterst, a park service spokesman. “The biggest issue is merely finding space for all of these groups that allows for a meaningful demonstration,” he said.
The main event is the Women’s March on Washington, which will draw at least 200,000 individuals with concerns about threats to women’s rights, including abortion, as well as affordable health care and equal pay. It has inspired about 300 others of varying sizes across the country and on every continent, according to Yordanos Eyoel, spokeswoman for the network of sister marches.

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U.S. ramp up airdrops to forces fighting ISIL in Syria




Weapons, supplies fuel rebel offensive (Jim Michaels)

Members of Kurdish People Defense Units (YPG) flashing victory sign after coming from Syrian town of Raqqa, in Tel Abyad, Syria, in 2015. Reports state the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Nov. 6, 2016 that it had started a military campaign to liberate the northern Syrian city.(Photo: Sedat Suna, EPA)
Members of Kurdish People Defense Units (YPG) flashing victory sign after coming from Syrian town of Raqqa, in Tel Abyad, Syria, in 2015. Reports state the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Nov. 6, 2016 that it had started a military campaign to liberate the northern Syrian city.(Photo: Sedat Suna, EPA)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois — The U.S. Air Force is increasing airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to a growing number of opposition forces closing in on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria.
“Our expanded precision airdrop capability is helping ground forces take the offensive to (the Islamic State) and efforts to retake Raqqa,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the Air Mobility Command, which is headquartered here.
The Air Force conducted 16 airdrop missions in Syria last year, including six in December.
The airdrops are essential in getting supplies to a force that doesn’t have extensive ground supply lines and is in nearly constant contact with the enemy, highlighting the complexity of supporting an irregular force operating in a hostile environment.
“In those instances airdrops are absolutely essential,” said Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a military spokesman in Baghdad.
The U.S.–led coalition is backing a force of about 45,000 fighters in Syria with airstrikes and teams of U.S. Special Forces, who are providing advice and training.
The force is becoming increasingly important as it places pressure on the Islamic State’s most important stronghold in Syria. Over the border, Iraqi security forces are conducting an offensive in Mosul, the country’s second-largest city and the militants’ remaining stronghold in Iraq.
The Mosul battle is a more conventional operation where Iraq’s army can use roads to get supplies.
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