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Harvard legal scholar suggests retooling the First Amendment to protect democracy

Harvard legal scholar Cass R. Sunstein, SSRN, July 29, 2019, writes that Times v. Sullivan is an “anachronism” given advances in technology and “new findings in behavioral science.” Given the way agents both domestic and foreign try to manipulate U.S. politics, the Supreme Court may want to reconsider its ruling in 2012 that intentional falsehoods …

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Twitter and Facebook block Chinese disinformation on Hong Kong protests

Twitter and Facebook are fighting back against a Chinese-based disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The social media giants have suspended a number of accounts saying that they have evidence that the Chinese government is directing the campaign. The suspended accounts were also inciting political discord in Hong Kong. (CNBC, August …

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Monsanto critics reveal its campaign to discredit journalists and researchers

U.S. Right to Know Research Director Carey Gillam in The Guardian, August 9, 2019, describes how Monsanto, in the news recently for its herbicide Roundup, devised a plan to discredit the findings in her 2017 book on the suppression of science in marketing its herbicides. They recruited employees to write negative reviews of the book. …

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Free press: Federal judge orders Trump administration to release records on Khashoggi murder

Citing the “considerable public importance” of federal government records on the killing Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. district judge ordered the Departments of State and Defense to release 5,000 pages monthly related to the killing. Open government advocates who sued for the records said it is crucial to gain the records given the …

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Blockbuster merger may determine fate of print journalism

The consolidation of the U.S. daily newspapers continued with New Media purchasing Gannett Co. for $1.4 billion in cash and stock. The company will command 8.7 million in circulation compared to McClatchy in second place with 7 million. New Media’s news company GateHouse Media released this statement on the acquisition, “Uniting our talented employees and complementary …

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Palin gets reprieve on defamation lawsuit against New York Times

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that former VP candidate Sarah Palin should be given a chance to explain her accusation of actual malice in her defamation lawsuit dismissed in district court. Palin sued in 2017 over an unsigned editorial written by James Bennet who tried to make a connection between over-heated politic …

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People’s First Amendment roundup: Man sues Nevada for refusing to register ‘WTF Party’

Nevada is subject of a free speech lawsuit for refusing to register the name “WTF Party” for political candidates. The state told plaintiff Jeffrey Berns that the party name is a profane acronym and contemptible of the political process. Berns’ lawyer said a 1992 Supreme Court ruling established the right to form political parties.  (Nevada …

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Free speech and elections: California congressman filing lawsuit after lawsuit against political enemies

California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes is suing “dark money” groups claiming they are conspiring to hurt his election campaign. The group had unsuccessfully tried to get Nunes’ “farmer” title removed from the ballot. One prominent lawyer thinks the lawsuit won’t survive the state’s anti-SLAPP protections. (Sacramento Bee, August 3, 2019, by Brianna Calix) Mike Masnick …

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Times explores crisis of vanishing local press

The New York Times published a special section on the failure of local newspapers and the effect on their communities in their Sunday edition, August 4, 2019. Here are summaries of two articles in the section.  When the Warroad Pioneer closed down May 7, it left its small Minnesota town just below the Canadian border …

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Open government roundup: First Amendment Coalition has its day in court in case against San Jose

The First Amendment Coalition and Working Partnerships USA appeared in court to make arguments in their jointly filed lawsuit against San Jose over the city’s failure to disclose information regarding negotiations with Google to sell public land for a downtown development. “The people are the boss of the government, not the other way around,” FAC …

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