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Terrorism and free speech: Britain’s Choudary shows difficulties of stemming proselytizing

The British Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary was convicted last week after 20 years of radicalizing young people and urging them to engage in terrorism. His case demonstrates how difficult it is to convict someone like Choudary even in Great Britain where free speech is not as staunch as it is in the U.S. Here it […]

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The free press: Post mortems on Gawker

Commentators are lamenting Gawker’s shutdown after the company lost a $140 million verdict in a defamation lawsuit funded by billionaire Peter Thiel. Stephen Marche, Esquire, August 18, 2016, fears that the Gawker takedown provides a blueprint for others with immense wealth to demolish any media outlet that takes them on. And Marche thinks Thiel favors […]

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Drones close to becoming a staple in news reporting

With new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines on the commercial use of drones in effect this month, CNN is grabbing the initiative by establishing a new division, CNN AIR, for aerial imagery and reporting. Two full-time drone operators will operate a fleet of a dozen or more drones. CNN thinks drones will improve reporting by […]

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Christie signs bill to hurt companies boycotting Israel

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved a law that bans state investments in companies boycotting Israel. Christie expressed support for Israel as a “beacon of democracy” in the Middle East. The bill met little opposition in the New Jersey assembly and senate. (Courier-Post, August 16, 2016, by John C. Ensslin) The new law requires the […]

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Transparency: Iowa agrees to end secrecy in bids for public contracts

Iowa now requires private businesses to forego redaction of documents supporting bids for public contracts. To omit information they must now justify their requests under existing Iowa law. Allowing redaction had shut out the public in judging awards particularly in 2015 when private companies shielded information in bidding to manage Iowa’s $4.2 million Medicaid program. […]

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Supreme Court may reconsider landmark libel law decision

The Supreme Court may take on a review of Times v. Sullivan in the case of Armstrong v. Thompson. Armstrong contended that as a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department he had been improperly categorized as a “public figure” making it difficult to win a defamation case against a colleague who made complaints about him […]

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Trump misreads First Amendment in criticizing unfavorable content in New York Times article

Kristen Powers, USA TODAY, August 16, 2016, writes that Donald Trump is confused in claiming that a New York Times article about him was not free press since it was “completely false.” Powers quotes a First Amendment lawyer, Ken White, who refuted Trump, “Political arguments, characterizations, opinions based on disclosed facts, and interpretations can’t be […]

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ACLU wins free speech battle in Tennessee school district

The American Civil Liberties of Tennessee settled with the Giles County schools over censorship of a shirt supporting equal rights for lesbians and gays worn by a then Richland High School student. The county school board has since changed its dress code policy. (WBRC Fox 6 News, August 16, 2016, by Holly Thompson) The principal told […]

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Ex-Twitter CEO accused of censoring hate tweets against Obama

Although ex-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo claimed he stood for “democratic access” to information on the internet, it was reported that in 2015 he allowed Twitter employees to surreptitiously filter ugly tweets against President Barack Obama. (BuzzFeed, August 11, 2016, by Charlie Warzel) Twitter has  a reputation for standing up to the government and allowing unfettered […]

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California open government roundup: Ridgecrest finance committee accused of violating the open meeting law in meeting behind closed doors

The Ridgecrest finance committee closed their doors on the public and press to discuss an item in closed session listed on the regular agenda claiming it was a personnel discussion. In reality the discussion concerned job definitions and should have been in public session under California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act. (The Ridgecrest Daily […]

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