News & Opinion

“The Interview”: Censorship prevails in withdrawal of film about North Korean leader

Theater chain owners are removing “The Interview” from their theaters concerned about the chance of terrorist attacks on their customers. The film depicts journalists assigned to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un portrayed in negatively. (The Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2014, by Richard Verrier and Ryan Faughnder) Steve Kovach of Business Insider, December 17, […]

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Free Speech: Supreme Court to decide thorny issue of messages on state license plates

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether Texas can ban a license plate with the Confederate flag after the Fifth Circuit appeals court held that the specialty plates are private speech so can’t be restricted by the state. The appeals court found that the state was practicing viewpoint discrimination in banning the plate. […]

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California: Police keep tech surveillance under wraps

With scant transparency, California police departments are spending millions on surveillance technology including license plate readers. Reporters and civil rights groups are meeting stiff resistance when they try to learn the details of department policies, practices and expenditures. (Pasadena Weekly, December 11, 2014, by Andre Coleman) The Electronic Freedom Foundation and the American Civil Liberties […]

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Mississippi student wins First Amendment case over his online rap criticizing coaches

A federal appeals court ruled for a Mississippi high school student suspended for posting a rap about coaches who he said were acting inappropriately with female students. The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the student could not be punished by the school since he wrote the rap off campus and posted in […]

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Pressures on media over whether to publish hacked Sony data

Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein concludes after extensive analysis that reporters should report information hacked from Sony. Sony lawyers have warned the press not to publish the hacked documents that include scripts, film budgets, financial statements and executives’ e-mails. (Variety, December 14, 2014, by Brent Lang with Ted Johnson) But UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, The […]

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After police killings questions about legitimacy of secret grand jury sessions

With grand juries meeting in secret failing to indict police officers in the high profile killings of unarmed citizens, Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, there has been a swell of criticism of the use of secret proceedings in such cases and their value in an open, democratic society. Editor George […]

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FOIA reform bill fails for this session of Congress

Congress failed to pass a reform of the Freedom of Information Act in spite of strong bipartisan support. Supporters are hoping that the next Congress will pass a version of the bill introduced for the first time this year.  (Sunlight Foundation, December 12, 2014, by Matthew Rumsey) The bill was scuttled when the House failed […]

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New York Times reporter avoids prison for withholding source’s identity

Attorney General Eric Holder will not force The New York Times journalist James Risen to reveal his source on a botched CIA initiative to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear program. In 2006 Risen revealed in a book that the CIA had tried to feed the Iranians false information on refining nuclear fuel for weapons. […]

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Iowa campus struggles in aftermath of censorship of Ku Klux Klan effigy

The University of Iowa is debating the right to display controversial public art in a public forum on campus known as the Pentacrest. A seven-foot effigy of a robed Ku Klux Klan member covered with headlines and newspaper articles from 1908 to 2010 of riots, murders and racial conflict was erected and stood for almost […]

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Drone regulations stalled as interest grows in commerical and media uses

Entrepreneurs are complaining that the failure of the Federal Aviation Agency to enact drone regulations is hurting innovation and enterprise. A handful of drone operators got an exemption to the ban on commercial use of drones but were required to get a private pilot licenses, that the drone operators say does not prepare anyone to […]

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