Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

by Liberty Chick & Adam Baldwin  ~  at BigJournalism.com

Police warn UC Davis protesters

UC Davis protesters encircle police to prevent them from leaving. Police issued multiple warnings to those in the path to clear access. Just prior to the pepper spray, Officer Pike gives a final warning to each protester, "Do you understand that if you stay here when the police squad comes, you will be subject to the use of force?

On Monday, students, faculty and supporters at the University of California, Davis, attempted a mass general strike to protest tuition hikes and to demand the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after police pepper-sprayed eleven protesters who blocked a public access way at an #OccupyUCDavis event on November 18th. Students maintain it was Chancellor Katehi who requested the police remove the Occupy encampment and clear access to the facility.  The incident sparked a firestorm of media all across the world and has become a viral phenomenon, and now even an Internet meme.

We stand behind those calling for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation.  But not for the reasons they might think.

The events of UC Davis and the way in which the pepper-spray was handled has set a number of dangerous precedents.  In the setting of academia, the rights of the majority of students are being trampled on to appease the tyranny of a minority.  Further, the very system of law and order and its public servants instituted to protect the rights of the public at large have been undermined by incompetent leaders, unable to withstand the growing pressure of a noisy minority and the corrupt media that supports it.  Most importantly, propaganda has established a foothold that is now stronger than ever, and far more dangerous than the short-term effects of pepper spray.

Over the last week, we have seen the media pick up the UC Davis story and run with it, always highlighting the same twenty seconds of one Officer Pike, methodically pepper-spraying eleven “peaceful protesters,” as onlookers gasp and scream in horror and dismay.  The public was almost undivided in its immediate condemnation of the act.

But just as Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Perhaps in this case, it’s not so much a lie, but a lot of omissions.

Continue…

by Adam Baldwin and Liberty Chick

UPDATE: UW-Stout has retreated.  “…Therefore, UW-Stout has reconsidered its decision to remove the two posters from outside the professor’s office, meaning he can display them if he so chooses.”  Popehat has the analysis.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one of America’s most sacred freedoms and our public universities often among its staunchest defenders.  But at the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UWS), it seems this sacred freedom is in the eye of the beholder.

UWS theater professor Dr. James Miller is relatively new to the short-lived, now cult hit TV series “Firefly.”  Some of his students are loyal fans and asked Dr. Miller to check it out for himself. He liked it enough to hang a Firefly poster on his office door. Given its remote location in the theater wing, where mostly only theater students would see it, who would have expected the poster to cause such a firestorm?

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports:

On September 12, 2011, Professor Miller posted on his office door an image of Nathan Fillion in Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series Firefly and a line from an episode: “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.” On September 16, UWS Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter notified Miller that she had removed the poster because it “refer[s] to killing.” After Miller replied, “respect my first amendment rights,” Walter wrote that “the poster can be interpreted as a threat.” Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges: “If you choose to repost the article or something similar to it, it will be removed and you could face charges of disorderly conduct.”

In response to Walter’s censorship, Miller placed a new poster on his office door on the 16th. The poster read “Warning: Fascism” and mocked, “Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets.”

Walter escalated the absurdity. On September 20, she wrote that this poster, too, had been censored because it “depicts violence and mentions violence and death” and was expected to “be constituted as a threat.” She added that UWS’s “threat assessment team,” in consultation with the university general counsel’s office, had made the decision. College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Interim Dean Raymond Hayes then scheduled a meeting with Miller about “the concerns raised by the campus threat assessment team.”

Read the rest here at BigHollywood

This is a reprint of one of my old posts from June 3, 2009.  It has more relevance today, thanks to the exposure that the new documentary film “Battle for Brooklyn” is finally bringing to this horrible tale of eminent domain abuse, after all the years that so many in that community toiled to tell it.

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acorn-ratnerAmidst the coverage of ACORN for allegations of voter registration fraud, the Rathke embezzlement scandal, the ACORN-8 civil lawsuit and Justice Department complaint, controversy over Project Vote and alleged misuse of the Obama donors list, and most recently ACORN’s role in the upcoming Census in 2010, there lies a lesser told tale of controversy, conflict and allegation. Correction: it’s a feverishly told tale, at least in New York, but one largely ignored, perhaps because the very checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to expose allegations of impropriety apparently fall by the wayside when the media itself becomes part of the story (allegedly…).

This is a long, complex story that has many twists and turns, and many angles (angles that, quite frankly, I’d consider more important than the one I’m going to cover here). This is a compartmentalized version of a broader story, and will focus primarily on its relevance to ACORN.

On December 10, 2003, one of the most ambitious real estate development projects in the history of Brooklyn was announced, a project that would later unfold into layers of conflict and speculated corruption, and be considered by many to be “the most controversial project ever in New York.”

The Atlantic Yards project, an endeavor of high-profile real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner companies, is a 22-acre mixed-use commercial and residential development project that cuts through the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY.   To understand how deep the personal impacts would be, you need to understand the area and the development plan.

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“We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less guess what you’re thinking about.”
—  former Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a Washington Ideas Forum last October


[Start at 16:02]

 Much has been said about Google’s evolution from a hip, niche technology outfit to a behemoth advertising machine over the years.  As the company has grown in its product offering, so has all that valuable user data – and their users’ online habits.  With almost 200 million users monthly of the Gmail service alone, there’s no shortage of juicy email content from which Google can serve up a cacophony of those automated “creepy” integrated advertising links in and around your email messages based upon your email habits.  When Google launched its Buzz product and automatically opted all of its users IN rather than OUT, the outcry for privacy and data protection was deafening.  And most recently, we’ve read the news reports of Facebook blocking the Google Chrome extension Facebook Friend Exporter, citing its violation of Facebook’s terms of service for vacuuming data right out of other users’ Facebook accounts without their permission.  Names, email addresses, websites, addresses and even phone numbers of users’ friends were being sucked out of their Facebook accounts straight onto Google’s servers where the information could be used by Google in any way they saw fit.  I share my info with my Facebook friends, but that doesn’t mean I want them extracting it for other applications they might want to use.  (But hey, how dare I complain, when Google calls this openness.)

Now, it’s copyrights that Google is seeking to hijack from users.

The Washington Post reports that under the fine print of the Google Terms of Agreement for Google+ there is a provision that robs photographers of the ability to sell their works if they upload their pictures on the site.

The Post noted:

Google’s Terms of Service on photography, Photofocus cautions, should be read carefully, especially these sections:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

Scott Bourne at Photofocus writes that there’s a reason he doesn’t use Google photo sharing services and won’t be signing up for Google+.

“If I do share images on Google services – under the current terms of service – I will risk genuine harm to my ability to earn income from those images. As a professional, I don’t see the reward of using the Google services as being worth more than the risk.”

At least this time Google had the courtesy to notify users upfront that they’ll have to abandon rights to their intellectual property–unlike the launch of Google Books, where Google uploaded copyrighted material without even asking the authors, which resulted in a class action suit.

Some will argue that the Google+ terms state that users do retain any rights they already hold, but the practical application of protecting those rights simply isn’t assured under Google’s model, and most certainly not under its current terms.  In these times of open source and file sharing, artists of all stripes can barely avoid making some of their content available for free to keep customers happy.  In fact, most will find it beneficial to do so to increase their traffic and to build up a customer following.  But many of those artists make their money in exclusive licensing agreements, the boundaries of which become a bit blurred by portions of Google policy, especially now that Google+ has launched. My mother is an artist and as someone who helps her market her work, the Google dilemma is one with which we struggle all the time.  Her artwork is quite unique and sometimes a customer may inquire about an exclusive licensing agreement to use a work of hers, for a line of fashion t-shirts, for example.  If she uploads photos of her paintings to Google+, it might be great to have millions of eyes looking at and sharing her work, but at the same time, she can’t necessarily promise her customer that the “exclusive” image he’s purchasing won’t show up in a Google ad or at a trade show booth someplace.

We frequently hear people in our country say, “we used to make things here in America, we used to create things.”  The truth is, we still do. We now create ideas, innovations, inventions, technology.  We create inspiration: words, music, art.  And while our society is speedily growing accustomed to sharing these creations collectively and openly, and expecting them at zero cost, we must remember that for some – for many, in fact – these creations are the very lifeblood of their creators.

Google itself started as the creation of two young college graduate students.  In the end, Google is built on the acquisition and use of more and more data from more and more people that is used to build marketing profiles and sell advertising. And that insatiable need coupled with a long track record of outright disregard for privacy and property rights should prompt users to exercise caution.

After all, these are the same do-as Google-pleases and take-whatever-Google-wants policies that Congress and the FTC are currently investigating.

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” 

— Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt [video]

 

21 days after Weinergate first broke, the Congressman from NY finally resigned today.  For the record – for me, it was never about the sexting or the pics.  This was about the false accusations and the sociopathic lying of a man who was elected to hold the public’s trust.  That trust was shattered three weeks ago.  It never should have taken this long.  (TMZ has confirmed that the heckler is in fact Benjy Bronk from the Howard Stern show).

For the best, most complete coverage out there on every step of this story, please visit Patterico’s site.  It was Patterico who first reported the details on the 17yr old girl from Delaware with whom Weiner was communicating via Twitter.  Hopefully, our research will continue on this part of the story and others to which it is connected.  We have not been permitted to publish certain components, but perhaps this will change soon.  We hope.

Also, this post from The Prudence Paine Papers entitled Weiner and the Teen is fantastic – a comprehensive look into the girl we’ve come to know anonymously as “Ethel.”

by Liberty Chick

If you want to take a pulse on the political vibe in this country, one need only look at Wisconsin.  The state has become the barometer for judging not just the public’s appetite for political battle, but the competitive landscape as well.  The spotlight on anything that has six degrees of separation from a Koch brother has been great drama for Wisconsin’s ongoing soap opera, but audiences in the state and nationwide might get a better show by turning their attention leftward.  Few have examined the strange pattern of money and favor trading that’s been pervading Wisconsin’s beloved circle of progressive politics.

The activity in Wisconsin over the last few months becomes crucially pertinent as the state gears up for the 2012 Wisconsin Senate race.  It’s worth looking at the financial innards  of the Supreme Court race and the protests against Governor Scott Walker in order to assess what the fight for the Wisconsin Senate seat, soon to be vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, will look like.  What many don’t realize is that this race could have broader implications – not just in national politics, but in specific policy areas, like health care and your personal medical records, for example.  Lots of money, fueled by liberal business interests and an ever-growing progressive movement in Wisconsin, has already been freely flowing.

But is anyone watching? Who are some of these donors?

Let’s start by looking back at the recent Wisconsin protests and the Supreme Court election, and then dissecting some of the money trail.

The hostility stemmed from the union reform bill signed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on March 11th as a stand-alone portion of the overall budget repair bill.

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by Liberty Chick

By now, you’ve all seen it.  Gawker has reported on it, as has Huffington Post and Jake Tapper, among others.

It was tweeted this afternoon from the official Secret Service Twitter account and subsequently deleted by its author.  But Twitter has no mercy…delete can only delete if no eyes ever saw it in the first place.  Unfortunately for one Secret Service employee, eyes saw it.

I called the Secret Service Office of Public Affairs to ask for a comment.  I asked the question and almost immediately after identifying myself, was transferred to the voice mail of spokesman Robert Novy.  Luckily, Jake Tapper had already reached the office and received an official statement:

“An employee with access to the Secret Service’s Twitter account, who mistakenly believed they were on their personal account, posted an unapproved and inappropriate tweet,” Special Agent in Charge Edwin M. Donovan said in a statement to ABC News. “The tweet did not reflect the views of the U.S. Secret Service and it was immediately removed. We apologize for this mistake, and the user no longer has access to our official account. “

My first question was, ‘why is the Secret Service monitoring FOX News in the first place’?  But then I realized that such agencies monitor news outlets all the time – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t know which person in Congress just said something stupid that might prompt a foreign entity, or perhaps terrorists, to get really pissed at us.  And for other generally harmless reasons, too, of course.  It’s their public affairs staff doing the monitoring.  And besides, it’s Twitter.  We all know, Twitter is a public sandbox – you get in and play, and anyone can see you, and play with you.

I will admit however, I was slightly irked when I saw this in Jake Tapper’s report:

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Apparently, the Big Labor-related death threats aren’t limited to Wisconsin.  Or to lawmakers.

This following email is just in from our friends at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

<start email>

“The Mackinac Center for Public Policy received numerous death threats and bomb threats in the aftermath of national publicity about a Freedom of Information Act request it sent to three public universities.

The messages were left on the Center’s voice mail Thursday night and early Friday morning, but it is unclear at this point if one or two women were responsible for the threats.

Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman said the Mackinac Center has contacted law enforcement about the threats.

“We, along with the authorities, are doing everything necessary to protect ourselves,” Lehman said. “No threats will prevent us from showing the public how universities spend tax dollars.”

There were five messages left containing death or bomb threats. Four of them appear to be from the same caller. A fifth message was from a woman who left a death threat and, unlike the previous caller, left her name and indicated she lived in a neighboring state. It was unclear if the second caller was the same as the first caller.

A female voice said:

“Scotty Walker is dead. So are you. We know where you live.” The woman then recited the Mackinac Center’s address and said, “We are coming up to destroy you.”

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Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is sponsoring a session with Bill Ayers at Montclair University in Montclair, NJ this Thursday 3/24.  The topic is “Education & the New Activism”

Yes, this Bill Ayers:

Described by Discover the Networks as:

  • Leader of the 1960s and 70s domestic terrorist group Weatherman
  • Having said, “Kill all the rich people. … Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents.”
  • Participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972
  • Currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois

Born in 1944, Bill Ayers, along with his wife Bernardine Dohrn, was a 1960s leader of the homegrown terrorist group Weatherman, a Communist-driven splinter faction of Students for a Democratic Society. Characterizing Weatherman as “an American Red Army,” Ayers summed up the organization’s ideology as follows: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.”

And to give you another sampling of his ideology, Discover the Networks offers some of the thoughts Ayers recounted in his 2001 book Fugitive Days:

Of the day he bombed the Pentagon, Ayers writes, “Everything was absolutely ideal…. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.” He adds:

“There’s something about a good bomb … Night after night, day after day, each majestic scene I witnessed was so terrible and so unexpected that no city would ever again stand innocently fixed in my mind. Big buildings and wide streets, cement and steel were no longer permanent. They, too, were fragile and destructible. A torch, a bomb, a strong enough wind, and they, too, would come undone or get knocked down.”

Ayers named one of his three children after Zayd Shakur (Tupac’s uncle), the Black Panther who was killed during the infamous JoAnne Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur) shootout on the NJ Turnpike that killed State Trooper Werner Foerster and wounded State Trooper James Harper.

Yep.  And Montclair State University thinks it’s a great idea for your kids to be learning about “the interaction between education and activism” from this man.

Complaints? Call Montclair State University at 973-655-4000.

Otherwise, perhaps if you’re a Tea Party member, Republican, Conservative, Right-Leaning Libertarian or simply a pro-Capitalism free-markets kind of soul, I suggest you attend.  Thursday, 3/24/2011 , 8:15pm to 10:30pm in University Hall, Room 1030.

In North Carolina, collective bargaining in the public sector has been banned by the state for over 50 years.  A statute implemented in 1959 declared collective bargaining by state and local government employees “to be against the public policy of the State, illegal, unlawful, void and of no effect.

To unionists, it seemed like a drastic and unfair law, but for years it has protected the individual’s right to choose whether or not to join a union and the right to work without being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.  In addition, it has protected the interests of the taxpayers of the state of North Carolina.

But a 2007 decision issued by a United Nations agency against the North Carolina law is back in the spotlight today, as labor unions are gearing up to use the argument in a mass campaign to repeal all currently existing Right to Work laws in response to Wisconsin’s collective bargaining outcome.

In an Emergency Labor Meeting that occurred last week in Cleveland, Ohio, nearly 100 labor leaders and activists met to construct an emergency action plan and strategy for the future to deal with what they say is an “assault on the unions.”  The meeting produced plans to hold a National Day of Action on March 12th and again on April 4th, as well as a “Perspectives” document that will serve as a framework for 15 key objectives.

Within the framework document are two specific objectives that are of special concern to supporters of the worker freedom movement and Right to Work laws. Labor unions and solidarity federations in the US and across the globe intend to use the UN-based International Labor Organization (ILO) decision to put pressure on US government officials and the public to repeal the Right to Work laws that exist in 22 states.

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