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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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Aug 272015
 

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001. Since this was first reported on by the press and discovered by the public in late 2005, EFF has been at the forefront of the effort to stop it and bring government surveillance programs back within the law and the Constitution.

History of NSA Spying Information since 2005 (See EFFs full timeline of events here)

News reports in December 2005 first revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been intercepting Americans phone calls and Internet communications. Those news reports, combined with a USA Today story in May 2006 and the statements of several members of Congress, revealed that the NSA is also receiving wholesale copies of American’s telephone and other communications records. All of these surveillance activities are in violation of the privacy safeguards established by Congress and the US Constitution.

In early 2006, EFF obtained whistleblower evidence (.pdf) from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails web browsing and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, this isnt a wiretap, its a country-tap.

Secret government documents, published by the media in 2013, confirm the NSA obtains full copies of everything that is carried along major domestic fiber optic cable networks. In June 2013, the media, led by the Guardian and Washington Post started publishing a series of articles, along with full government documents, that have confirmed much of what was reported in 2005 and 2006 and then some. The reports showed-and the government later admittedthat the government is mass collecting phone metadata of all US customers under the guise of the Patriot Act. Moreover, the media reports confirm that the government is collecting and analyzing the content of communications of foreigners talking to persons inside the United States, as well as collecting much more, without a probable cause warrant. Finally, the media reports confirm the upstream collection off of the fiberoptic cables that Mr. Klein first revealed in 2006. (See EFFs How It Works page here for more)

EFF Fights Back in the Courts

EFF is fighting these illegal activities in the courts. Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA,a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial “state secrets” privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. On February 10, 2015, however, the court granted summary judgment to the government on the Plaintiffs allegations of Fourth Amendment violations based on the NSAs copying of Internet traffic from the Internet backbone. The court ruled that the publicly available information did not paint a complete picture of how the NSA collects Internet traffic, so the court could not rule on the program without looking at information that could constitute state secrets. The court did not rule that the NSAs activities are legal, nor did it rule on the other claims in Jewel, and the case will go forward on those claims.This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.

In July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how longto the NSA. This so-called metadata, especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program.

In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in First Unitarian that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association. Previously, in Hepting v. AT&T,EFF filed the first case against a cooperating telecom for violating its customers’ privacy. After Congress expressly intervened and passed the FISA Amendments Act to allow the Executive to require dismissal of the case,Hepting was ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court.

In September of 2014, EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, joined the legal team for Anna Smith, an Idaho emergency neonatal nurse, in her challenge of the government’s bulk collection of the telephone records of millions of innocent Americans. In Smith v. Obama, we are arguing the program violated her Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations. In particular, we focus on challenging the applicability of the so-called third party doctrine, the idea that people have no expectation of privacy in information they entrust to others.

First Unitarian v. NSAEFFs case challenging the NSAs phone metadata surveillance Jewel v. NSAEFFs case challenging the NSAs dragnet surveillance Hepting v. AT&TEFFs case that challenged AT&Ts complicity in illegal NSA spying Smith v. ObamaEFF’s appeal with the ACLU of an Idaho nurse’s challenge to the NSA’s phone metadata surveillance.

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NSA Spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The First Amendment, as others see it

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Aug 042015
 

5:48 p.m. CDT July 30, 2015

Gene Policinski Gene Policinski writes the First Amendment column distributed by Gannett News Service. (Gannett News Service, Sam Kittner/First Amendment Center/File)(Photo: SAM KITTNER / GNS)

Theres no doubt that a huge number of Americans are unable to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment national survey results each year since 1997 sadly leave little doubt about that circumstance.

On a more positive note, when reminded of the core freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, our fellow citizens line up behind them in large numbers.

But when it comes to how those freedoms apply in everyday life? Well, its not that theres less support. Rather, less agreement.

About a month ago, the Newseum Institutes First Amendment Center published the results of its annual State of the First Amendment survey and the findings of a follow-up survey that focused on issues around display of the Confederate battle flag. The former was taken before a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows Texas officials to ban display of the flag on state license plates, and before the killings in Charleston, South Carolina, by an apparent racist who had posed for a photo displaying the flag. The latter survey was taken after both had occurred.

In sum, the two survey results showed a shift in how the public viewed the Texas auto tag ban swinging from opposed to support. And the second survey found that while a majority of white and Hispanic respondents did not attach the same racist meaning to the flag as did black respondents, all three groups favored taking down the battle flag from public monuments and government buildings and approved of private companies removing flag-related items from store offerings.

Some interesting reactions to the reporting of those results have come via email.

In one , noted as a Letter to the Editor, in which the writer complained that the reporting, citing this column, seems to be saying that as long as a majority believes then the First Amendment does not apply. Well, thats hardly the case. Freedom of speech means that you and I and others get to say what we will regardless of majority opinion including, if we wish, public and vigorous display of the Confederate battle flag.

The First Amendment protects our right to speak, but doesnt silence others who are just as free to disagree, criticize and oppose.

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The First Amendment, as others see it

Human Genetics Alert – The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering

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Jul 282015
 

David King

The main debate around human genetics currently centres on the ethics of genetic testing, and possibilities for genetic discrimination and selective eugenics. But while ethicists and the media constantly re-hash these issues, a small group of scientists and publicists are working towards an even more frightening prospect: the intentional genetic engineering of human beings. Just as Ian Wilmut presented us with the first clone of an adult mammal, Dolly, as a fait accompli, so these scientists aim to set in place the tools of a new techno-eugenics, before the public has ever had a chance to decide whether this is the direction we want to go in. The publicists, meanwhile are trying to convince us that these developments are inevitable. The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering, has been set up in response to this threat.

Currently, genetic engineering is only applied to non-reproductive cells (this is known as ‘gene therapy’) in order to treat diseases in a single patient, rather than in all their descendants. Gene therapy is still very unsuccessful, and we are often told that the prospect of reproductive genetic engineering is remote. In fact, the basic technologies for human genetic engineering (HGE) have been available for some time and at present are being refined and improved in a number of ways. We should not make the same mistake that was made with cloning, and assume that the issue is one for the far future.

In the first instance, the likely justifications of HGE will be medical. One major step towards reproductive genetic engineering is the proposal by US gene therapy pioneer, French Anderson, to begin doing gene therapy on foetuses, to treat certain genetic diseases. Although not directly targeted at reproductive cells, Anderson’s proposed technique poses a relatively high risk that genes will be ‘inadvertently’ altered in the reproductive cells of the foetus, as well as in the blood cells which he wants to fix. Thus, if he is allowed to go ahead, the descendants of the foetus will be genetically engineered in every cell of their body. Another scientist, James Grifo of New York University is transferring cell nuclei from the eggs of older to younger women, using similar techniques to those used in cloning. He aims to overcome certain fertility problems, but the result would be babies with three genetic parents, arguably a form of HGE. In addition to the two normal parents, these babies will have mitochondria (gene-containing subcellular bodies which control energy production in cells) from the younger woman.

Anderson is a declared advocate of HGE for medical purposes, and was a speaker at a symposium last year at UCLA, at which advocates of HGE set out their stall. At the symposium, which was attended by nearly 1,000 people, James Watson, of DNA discovery fame, advocated the use of HGE not merely for medical purposes, but for ‘enhancement': ‘And the other thing, because no one really has the guts to say it, I mean, if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn’t we do it?’

In his recent book, Re-Making Eden (1998), Princeton biologist, Lee Silver celebrates the coming future of human ‘enhancement’, in which the health, appearance, personality, cognitive ability, sensory capacity, and life-span of our children all become artifacts of genetic engineering, literally selected from a catalog. Silver acknowledges that the costs of these technologies will limit their full use to only a small ‘elite’, so that over time society will segregate into the “GenRich” and the “Naturals”:

“The GenRich – who account for 10 percent of the American population – all carry synthetic genes… that were created in the laboratory …All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry are controlled by members of the GenRich class…Naturals work as low-paid service providers or as labourers, and their children go to public schools… If the accumulation of genetic knowledge and advances in genetic enhancement technology continue … the GenRich class and the Natural class will become…entirely separate species with no ability to cross-breed, and with as much romantic interest in each other as a current human would have for a chimpanzee.”

Silver, another speaker at the UCLA symposium, believes that these trends should not and cannot be stopped, because to do so would infringe on liberty.

Most scientists say that what is preventing them from embarking on HGE is the risk that the process will itself generate new mutations, which will be passed on to future generations. Official scientific and ethical bodies tend to rely on this as the basis for forbidding attempts at HGE, rather than any principled opposition to the idea.

In my view, we should not allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security by this argument. Experience with genetically engineered crops, for example, shows that we are unlikely ever to arrive at a situation when we can be sure that the risks are zero. Instead, when scientists are ready to proceed, we will be told that the risks are ‘acceptable’, compared to the benefits. Meanwhile, there will be people telling us loudly that since they are taking the risks with their children, we have no right to interfere.

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Human Genetics Alert – The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering

Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …

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Jul 242015
 

Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you’re addicted to cigarettes and you’re desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you’re perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you’ll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing.

This story gives us two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty. On the one hand, one can think of liberty as the absence of obstacles external to the agent. You are free if no one is stopping you from doing whatever you might want to do. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be free. On the other hand, one can think of liberty as the presence of control on the part of the agent. To be free, you must be self-determined, which is to say that you must be able to control your own destiny in your own interests. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be unfree: you are not in control of your own destiny, as you are failing to control a passion that you yourself would rather be rid of and which is preventing you from realizing what you recognize to be your true interests. One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons.

In a famous essay first published in 1958, Isaiah Berlin called these two concepts of liberty negative and positive respectively (Berlin 1969).[1] The reason for using these labels is that in the first case liberty seems to be a mere absence of something (i.e. of obstacles, barriers, constraints or interference from others), whereas in the second case it seems to require the presence of something (i.e. of control, self-mastery, self-determination or self-realization). In Berlin’s words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question What is the area within which the subject a person or group of persons is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?, whereas we use the positive concept in attempting to answer the question What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that? (1969, pp. 12122).

It is useful to think of the difference between the two concepts in terms of the difference between factors that are external and factors that are internal to the agent. While theorists of negative freedom are primarily interested in the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, theorists of positive freedom are more attentive to the internal factors affecting the degree to which individuals or groups act autonomously. Given this difference, one might be tempted to think that a political philosopher should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, a concern with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political and social institutions. This, however, would be premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political philosophy are the following: Is the positive concept of freedom a political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant, Humboldt, Spencer and Mill, are typically classed as answering no and therefore as defending a negative concept of political freedom; theorists that are critical of this tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, are typically classed as answering yes and as defending a positive concept of political freedom.

In its political form, positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity. Perhaps the clearest case is that of Rousseau’s theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one’s community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the general will. Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process. But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization. The negative concept of freedom, on the other hand, is most commonly assumed in liberal defences of the constitutional liberties typical of liberal-democratic societies, such as freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and in arguments against paternalist or moralist state intervention. It is also often invoked in defences of the right to private property, although some have contested the claim that private property necessarily enhances negative liberty (Cohen, 1991, 1995).

After Berlin, the most widely cited and best developed analyses of the negative concept of liberty include Hayek (1960), Day (1971), Oppenheim (1981), Miller (1983) and Steiner (1994). Among the most prominent contemporary analyses of the positive concept of liberty are Milne (1968), Gibbs (1976), C. Taylor (1979) and Christman (1991, 2005).

Many liberals, including Berlin, have suggested that the positive concept of liberty carries with it a danger of authoritarianism. Consider the fate of a permanent and oppressed minority. Because the members of this minority participate in a democratic process characterized by majority rule, they might be said to be free on the grounds that they are members of a society exercising self-control over its own affairs. But they are oppressed, and so are surely unfree. Moreover, it is not necessary to see a society as democratic in order to see it as self-controlled; one might instead adopt an organic conception of society, according to which the collectivity is to be thought of as a living organism, and one might believe that this organism will only act rationally, will only be in control of itself, when its various parts are brought into line with some rational plan devised by its wise governors (who, to extend the metaphor, might be thought of as the organism’s brain). In this case, even the majority might be oppressed in the name of liberty.

Such justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. Berlin, himself a liberal and writing during the cold war, was clearly moved by the way in which the apparently noble ideal of freedom as self-mastery or self-realization had been twisted and distorted by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century most notably those of the Soviet Union so as to claim that they, rather than the liberal West, were the true champions of freedom. The slippery slope towards this paradoxical conclusion begins, according to Berlin, with the idea of a divided self. To illustrate: the smoker in our story provides a clear example of a divided self, for she is both a self that desires to get to an appointment and a self that desires to get to the tobacconists, and these two desires are in conflict. We can now enrich this story in a plausible way by adding that one of these selves the keeper of appointments is superior to the other: the self that is a keeper of appointments is thus a higher self, and the self that is a smoker is a lower self. The higher self is the rational, reflecting self, the self that is capable of moral action and of taking responsibility for what she does. This is the true self, for rational reflection and moral responsibility are the features of humans that mark them off from other animals. The lower self, on the other hand, is the self of the passions, of unreflecting desires and irrational impulses. One is free, then, when one’s higher, rational self is in control and one is not a slave to one’s passions or to one’s merely empirical self. The next step down the slippery slope consists in pointing out that some individuals are more rational than others, and can therefore know best what is in their and others’ rational interests. This allows them to say that by forcing people less rational than themselves to do the rational thing and thus to realize their true selves, they are in fact liberating them from their merely empirical desires. Occasionally, Berlin says, the defender of positive freedom will take an additional step that consists in conceiving of the self as wider than the individual and as represented by an organic social whole a tribe, a race, a church, a state, the great society of the living and the dead and the yet unborn. The true interests of the individual are to be identified with the interests of this whole, and individuals can and should be coerced into fulfilling these interests, for they would not resist coercion if they were as rational and wise as their coercers. Once I take this view, Berlin says, I am in a position to ignore the actual wishes of men or societies, to bully, oppress, torture in the name, and on behalf, of their real selves, in the secure knowledge that whatever is the true goal of man … must be identical with his freedom (Berlin 1969, pp. 13233).

Those in the negative camp try to cut off this line of reasoning at the first step, by denying that there is any necessary relation between one’s freedom and one’s desires. Since one is free to the extent that one is externally unprevented from doing things, they say, one can be free to do what one does not desire to do. If being free meant being unprevented from realizing one’s desires, then one could, again paradoxically, reduce one’s unfreedom by coming to desire fewer of the things one is unfree to do. One could become free simply by contenting oneself with one’s situation. A perfectly contented slave is perfectly free to realize all of her desires. Nevertheless, we tend to think of slavery as the opposite of freedom. More generally, freedom is not to be confused with happiness, for in logical terms there is nothing to stop a free person from being unhappy or an unfree person from being happy. The happy person might feel free, but whether they are free is another matter (Day, 1970). Negative theorists of freedom therefore tend to say not that having freedom means being unprevented from doing as one desires, but that it means being unprevented from doing whatever one might desire to do.

Some theorists of positive freedom bite the bullet and say that the contented slave is indeed free that in order to be free the individual must learn, not so much to dominate certain merely empirical desires, but to rid herself of them. She must, in other words, remove as many of her desires as possible. As Berlin puts it, if I have a wounded leg there are two methods of freeing myself from pain. One is to heal the wound. But if the cure is too difficult or uncertain, there is another method. I can get rid of the wound by cutting off my leg (1969, pp. 13536). This is the strategy of liberation adopted by ascetics, stoics and Buddhist sages. It involves a retreat into an inner citadel a soul or a purely noumenal self in which the individual is immune to any outside forces. But this state, even if it can be achieved, is not one that liberals would want to call one of freedom, for it again risks masking important forms of oppression. It is, after all, often in coming to terms with excessive external limitations in society that individuals retreat into themselves, pretending to themselves that they do not really desire the worldly goods or pleasures they have been denied. Moreover, the removal of desires may also be an effect of outside forces, such as brainwashing, which we should hardly want to call a realization of freedom.

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Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …

First Amendment to the United States Constitution …

 First Amendment  Comments Off on First Amendment to the United States Constitution …
Jul 022015
 

Thomas Jefferson wrote with respect to the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut):

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.[9]

In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme Court used these words to declare that “it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach [only those religious] actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.” Quoting from Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom the court stated further in Reynolds:

In the preamble of this act […] religious freedom is defined; and after a recital ‘that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty,’ it is declared ‘that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere [only] when [religious] principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.’ In these two sentences is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State.

Originally, the First Amendment applied only to the federal government, and some states continued official state religions after ratification. Massachusetts, for example, was officially Congregationalist until the 1830s.[10] In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Establishment Clause (i.e., made it apply against the states). In the majority decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote:

The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another … in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State’ … That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.[11]

In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution prohibits states and the federal government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office. In the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet (1994),[12] Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”[13] In a series of cases in the first decade of the 2000sVan Orden v. Perry (2005), McCreary County v. ACLU (2005), and Salazar v. Buono (2010)the Court considered the issue of religious monuments on federal lands without reaching a majority reasoning on the subject.[14]

Everson used the metaphor of a wall of separation between church and state, derived from the correspondence of President Thomas Jefferson. It had been long established in the decisions of the Supreme Court, beginning with Reynolds v. United States in 1879, when the Court reviewed the history of the early Republic in deciding the extent of the liberties of Mormons. Chief Justice Morrison Waite, who consulted the historian George Bancroft, also discussed at some length the Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments by James Madison, who drafted the First Amendment; Madison used the metaphor of a “great barrier.”[15]

Justice Hugo Black adopted Jefferson’s words in the voice of the Court.[16] The Court has affirmed it often, with majority, but not unanimous, support. Warren Nord, in Does God Make a Difference?, characterized the general tendency of the dissents as a weaker reading of the First Amendment; the dissents tend to be “less concerned about the dangers of establishment and less concerned to protect free exercise rights, particularly of religious minorities.”[17]

Beginning with Everson, which permitted New Jersey school boards to pay for transportation to parochial schools, the Court has used various tests to determine when the wall of separation has been breached. Everson laid down the test that establishment existed when aid was given to religion, but that the transportation was justifiable because the benefit to the children was more important. In the school prayer cases of the early 1960s, (Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp), aid seemed irrelevant; the Court ruled on the basis that a legitimate action both served a secular purpose and did not primarily assist religion. In Walz v. Tax Commission (1970), the Court ruled that a legitimate action could not entangle government with religion; in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), these points were combined into the Lemon test, declaring that an action was an establishment if:[18]

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First Amendment to the United States Constitution …

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Services – e-CBD

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Jul 022015
 

You have a beautiful new website but it is nowhere to be found in search engines. You’ve heard of SEO, you kind of know that it’s important but have no idea what it’s about, who to call or what’s involved… Why is SEO important?

Right now, this very second, someone is using a search engine to find the types of products or services you provide. Recent research and surveys have found that:

If your website doesn’t appear in the first page of search engine results for key searches related for your business, you’re missing out on being visible to new customers.

These are the CTR (Click-Through-Rates) on average according to CTR research from Nielson and GroupM UK. For branded results (e.g. results related to branded products of services) the percentage of click through is even higher! You need to be in those top 3 results to get the online visibility you need.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making a website more visible in Search Engine results. We don’t pay for advertising on the search engines, that is called Pay Per Click advertising, instead we “optimise” your website using proven techniques so that search engines show your site on the first page of results for relevant searches.

SEO is not magic or a trick to fool search engines into ranking your website. Search Engine Optimisation is quite simply making your website valuable for visitors and therefore making it worthy of ranking in Search Engines. Another way to look at it is being the “best answer” to the questions people are searching for.

Often when a business comes to us to have a site optimised the problems are quite obvious. One of the biggest issues is content.

The site isn’t getting ranked because whats on the site isn’t worth ranking. We often get “But it’s my website and people should be able to see it” but then a visit to their own site lasts less than 10 seconds looking for an answer to a question or for a product or service that they were selling.

They might find it too hard to find what they were looking for, not enough information or the information is laid out in a way that doesn’t make sense. A search engine crawler would see the same thing using a special algorithm to work out what the site is about in 10 seconds and hence cause the site not to rank.

What we do is help make your site valuable to users and therefore valuable to search engines.

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SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Services – e-CBD

SEO and Web Design Packages | Gold Coast Web Optimisation

 SEO  Comments Off on SEO and Web Design Packages | Gold Coast Web Optimisation
Jul 022015
 

SEO and Website Design Packages

Every business is different and has unique requirements and goals. Thats why SEO Gold Coast doesnt offer cookie cutter SEO packages. When you ask us for a quote we want to know a little about you first and thats why we ask for your phone number. When we ring you to discuss your business and your online marketing needs we want to know;

Its only when we know the answers to these questions can we provide you with a unique detailed quote that will get you a whole lot closer to your goals and aspirations for your business; Some of the services we offer include;

Some clients need a new website, some just need a couple of hours of our time to fix something thats broken and others require on-going web optimisation services to get to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) otherwise known as the top of the first page of Google (the only game in town!) and to stay there! Some people come to us because their online reputation has been trashed, we have clients looking for lead generation and still others who need Google Adwords management. Whatever the reason, SEO Gold Coast can help.

If you want to succeed online you must think long-term. A lot of people come to us hoping for a quick fix. They ask how long is it going to take to rank? or when will I get to the first page of Google. The answer is that there is no answer. You might as well be asking how long is a piece of string? The answer is, no-one knows!

People also ask us for guarantees about getting to the top of the first page of Google. It is impossible to give a guarantee because there are so many factors involved, and some of these are completely beyond our control. First of these factors is your website. Unless we have complete control of your website from day 1, i.e we build it, add all the content and do all the on and off page SEO, we simply dont know enough about whats going on with your site. Factors beyond our control include the coding and structure of the site, the content (is it original or copied from else where on the Internet?) and any off-page SEO (back linking) youve done in the past, either by yourself or by another SEO company.

The second and biggest factor that is beyond our control is Google itself. Google makes over 500 algorithm changes each year and 3 or 4 of these are major changes. We never know when a strategy that is working now will suddenly become black hat and banned by Google.

Anyone who is giving out guarantees these days is either blindly unaware of Googles power or trying to convince you to spend your hard earned with them.

If you want to succeed online you need to take a long term view. You need to have an online marketing budget, just like you have budgets for every other part of your business.

Remember the Yellow Pages? If youve been in business for a while youll remember that one of the few marketing strategies that worked was getting your ad into the Yellow Pages. You moved Heaven and Earth to design and pay for your print ad every year. Anyone who missed the deadline was in for a very lean year indeed.

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SEO and Web Design Packages | Gold Coast Web Optimisation

Bitcoin fans eye potential in Greek crisis | Technology …

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Bitcoin fans eye potential in Greek crisis | Technology …
Jul 012015
 

A customer uses the worlds first ever permanent bitcoin ATM unveiled at a coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia 29 October, 2013.

The world is watching with bated breath as the Greek people consider how to vote in the countrys upcoming referendum. A yes vote on Sunday will see Greece accept the terms of the troikas bailout, and commit itself to further austerity; a no vote will see the country taking the first step towards exiting the Euro entirely.

But not everyone is afraid of the prospect of Grexit. For proponents of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, a shaky Mediterranean economy implementing capital controls amid the prospect of full-blown exit from the euro recalls halcyon days gone by.

In theory, when the conventional financial system is experiencing turbulence, alternative currencies such as bitcoin should have their time to shine. The decentralised nature of the currency means that its impossible for any central bank to impose controls on it, while the pseudonymity at its core could make it the perfect vehicle to get money into and out of the country while avoiding legal reprisals.

As a result, Tony Gallippi, the co-founder of bitcoin payment processor Bitpay, tweeted on Sunday night that he expected the price of bitcoin to rise to between $610 and $1,250 if Greece exits the Euro. The currency is currently worth $250. On Reddits bitcoin subforum, users are sharing tips on how to buy bitcoin in the country, and commenting on reports of bank runs in the capital: Shouldve bought bitcoins.

Part of the reason why the crisis is so tempting for proponents of the cryptocurrency is the echoes of a previous crisis in the Eurozone: the banking collapse in Cyprus in 2013, which saw that nation also impose capital controls to prevent massive outflows of currency from the panicking country.

That collapse came at the same time as the first major boom in the price of bitcoin, which began the year at less than $20 and peaked at ten times that by early April before it all came crashing down.

At the time, many credited the price rise to interest in the currency sparked by the banking crisis, but Nathaniel Popper, author of the book Digital Gold: the Untold Story of Bitcoin, says that they are labouring under a misapprehension.

Speaking on the Guardians Tech Weekly podcast, Popper explained that the rise was more likely caused by an influx of money from Silicon Valley. In those days, if someone buys $1m of bitcoin in one go that will make the price rise, he said.

For now, the price of bitcoin has steadily risen as the Greek crisis has intensified, from $240 on Wednesday to $250 over the weekend. It remains a long way off its 2014 highs of $1,000 per coin, but what happens after Sundays vote is anybodys guess.

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Bitcoin fans eye potential in Greek crisis | Technology …

First Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica.com

 First Amendment  Comments Off on First Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica.com
Jun 192015
 

First Amendment,amendment (1791) to the Constitution of the United States, part of the Bill of Rights, which reads,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The clauses of the amendment are often called the establishment clause, the free exercise clause, the free speech clause, the free press clause, the assembly clause, and the petition clause.

The First Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, originally restricted only what the federal government may do and did not bind the states. Most state constitutions had their own bills of rights, and those generally included provisions similar to those found in the First Amendment. But the state provisions could be enforced only by state courts.

In 1868, however, the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, and it prohibited states from denying people liberty without due process. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually interpreted this to apply most of the Bill of Rights to state governments. In particular, from the 1920s to the 40s the Supreme Court applied all the clauses of the First Amendment to the states. Thus, the First Amendment now covers actions by the federal, state, and local governments. The First Amendment also applies to all branches of government, including legislatures, courts, juries, and executive officials and agencies. This includes public employers, public university systems, and public school systems.

The First Amendment, however, applies only to restrictions imposed by the government, since the First and Fourteenth amendments refer only to government action. As a result, if a private employer fires an employee because of the employees speech, there is no First Amendment violation. There is likewise no violation if a private university expels a student for what the student said, if a commercial landlord restricts what bumper stickers are sold on property it owns, or if an Internet service provider refuses to host certain Web sites.

Legislatures sometimes enact laws that protect speakers or religious observers from retaliation by private organizations. For example, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans religious discrimination even by private employers. Similarly, laws in some states prohibit employers from firing employees for off-duty political activity. But such prohibitions are imposed by legislative choice rather than by the First Amendment.

The freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and petitiondiscussed here together as freedom of expressionbroadly protect expression from governmental restrictions. Thus, for instance, the government may not outlaw antiwar speech, speech praising violence, racist speech, procommunist speech, and the like. Nor may the government impose special taxes on speech on certain topics or limit demonstrations that express certain views. Furthermore, the government may not authorize civil lawsuits based on peoples speech, unless the speech falls within a traditionally recognized First Amendment exception. This is why, for example, public figures may not sue for emotional distress inflicted by offensive magazine articles, unless the articles are not just offensive but include statements that fall within the false statements of fact exception.

The free expression guarantees are not limited to political speech. They also cover speech about science, religion, morality, and social issues as well as art and even personal gossip.

Freedom of the press confirms that the government may not restrict mass communication. It does not, however, give media businesses any additional constitutional rights beyond what nonprofessional speakers have.

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First Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica.com

Nasdaq will start using Bitcoin technology – May. 11, 2015

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May 132015
 

Most people have heard of Bitcoin (XBT) as a system of electronic money — one that hasn’t really caught on yet.

But what gets less attention is blockchain, the technology that powers the Bitcoin system. It’s a computer program that automatically processes transactions and creates a perfect, reliable digital record.

High-tech bankers are starting to realize this could revolutionize trading. Nasdaq (NDAQ), a favorite exchange among many technology companies, is making the first move.

On Monday, the stock market announced it will start using a blockchain system to keep records for its Nasdaq Private Market, which handles trading of shares in the pre-IPO phase before a company goes public.

Nasdaq sees the blockchain’s perfect recordkeeping as a major step in the right direction for more transparency. The pre-IPO market doesn’t typically see as much trading and what does occur is often by a tight circle of employees and early investors.

“Blockchain technology will provide extensive integrity, audit ability, governance and transfer of ownership capabilities,” Nasdaq said in its public announcement.

This doesn’t mean Nasdaq is using actual Bitcoins as currency. But Nasdaq will be interacting with the Bitcoin system to slip data into the blockchain.

By using Bitcoin’s core technology, this is a major acknowledgment of Bitcoin’s contribution to finance and trade. This is the first time the world has seen a trading system that doesn’t require a trusted middleman. It sounds boring, but in the banking world, it’s revolutionary.

CNN explains: What is Bitcoin?

It seems odd to equate Bitcoin with better security. The world’s first true big digital currency is generally known for two things. One, its popularity in online black markets. Two, the epic fall of Mt. Gox, a major Bitcoin exchange market that wiped out $400 million in people’s savings.

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Nasdaq will start using Bitcoin technology – May. 11, 2015

NATO Review Special "Escape from Crimea: The Tatar" – Video

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Apr 142015
 



NATO Review Special “Escape from Crimea: The Tatar”
04/13/15 In the first episode of a three-part NATO Review special titled “Escape from Crimea,” we hear from a refugee who fled to Kiev who says that despite Russia promising to protect Crimea's…

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NATO Review Special "Escape from Crimea: The Tatar" – Video

Iowa Senate OKs bill addressing funeral protests

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Iowa Senate OKs bill addressing funeral protests
Apr 142015
 

DES MOINES Iowa senators sent Gov. Terry Branstad a bill Tuesday designed to balance Iowans constitutional rights at funerals or memorial services.

House File 558 expands the level of privacy granted under the Fourth Amendment to grieve for loved ones, soldiers or civilians, backers say.

The bill, which won Iowa Senate support by a 50-0 vote, would establish a 1,000-foot buffer between funerals and protesters for one hour before and after the funeral while balancing free speech rights of participants and onlookers.

The bill is a response to demonstrations by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. Church members have shown up at military funerals say that God will turn his back on a nation that sanctions abortion, same-sex marriage and other abominations. The death of soldiers, according to Westboro, is Gods punishment for America abandoning him.

Families and friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one should not have to be subject to a barrage of hateful yelling and signs while theyre honoring and remembering the person they have lost, said Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, the bills floor manager.

The bill is based on legislation that has been upheld by courts in Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota, supporters say.

Actions such as shouting homophobic slurs and desecrating the U.S. flag at military funerals are reprehensible, said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, noting that he personally finds individuals who engage in such actions to be despicable. But he told his Senate colleagues its exactly for those reasons that their First Amendment rights of expression need to be zealously defended. The First Amendment isnt about protecting popular speech.

At the same time, he said, it is not just one group whose constitutional rights are at issue, noting that people who participate in a funeral or a memorial service are exercising their freedom of expression and in many cases their religious freedom while celebrating a life or mourning a loss.

When those rights collide, Quirmbach said, some distance, some separation is appropriate. The right to free speech does not include the right to shout down someone elses speech. I think that this bill provides appropriate separation so that each may be able to express their views under our Constitution.

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Iowa Senate OKs bill addressing funeral protests

The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Episode #21 – Video

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Apr 142015
 



The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Episode #21
Curtis Kelly joins Frederick Douglass Dixon on this edition of “The First Amendment”.

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The First Amendment…(Historically Speaking) – Episode #21 – Video

Europe’s 1st Liberty Walk Lamborghini Aventador by SBR – Video

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Apr 122015
 



Europe's 1st Liberty Walk Lamborghini Aventador by SBR
Welcome to the first Liberty Walk Lamborghini Aventador built by us at SB Race Engineering. The car features a unique spec including the first Liberty Walk car to feature factory reversing…

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Europe’s 1st Liberty Walk Lamborghini Aventador by SBR – Video

The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Opening Remarks – Video

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Apr 122015
 



The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Opening Remarks
Dean Donald Tobin delivers the opening remarks at Maryland Carey Law's 2015 JBTL Symposium, “The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses.” The symposium facilitated a …

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The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Opening Remarks – Video

Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse, First Amendment Audit – Video

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Apr 122015
 



Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse, First Amendment Audit
Stay cool, Be polite, Assert Your Rights, and Always Film The Police. I am not an attorney. Please seek legal advice from a licensed attorney. The views expressed in the comments section are…

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Elbert P. Tuttle Federal Courthouse, First Amendment Audit – Video

NOVA SCIENCE NOW – HUBBLE TELESCOPE, FIRST PRIMATES – Discovery History Universe (full documentary) – Video

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Apr 112015
 



NOVA SCIENCE NOW – HUBBLE TELESCOPE, FIRST PRIMATES – Discovery History Universe (full documentary)
GET ON AMAZON: NATUREWISE GREEN COFFEE BEAN EXTRACT 800 WITH GCA NATURAL WEIGHT LOSS SUPPLEMENT, 60 CAPS …

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NOVA SCIENCE NOW – HUBBLE TELESCOPE, FIRST PRIMATES – Discovery History Universe (full documentary) – Video

SHORT SPRING VLOG – Bus & Beaches – Video

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Apr 112015
 



SHORT SPRING VLOG – Bus Beaches
Heyy ! So this is my first vlog on this channel ! I'll be vlogging when i can , and the whole summer ! I HOPE YOU LIKE THIS AND MAKE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY MAIN CHANNEL FOR MAKEUP …

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GOP hopefuls flock to NRA cattle call

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on GOP hopefuls flock to NRA cattle call
Apr 112015
 

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

Nearly all of the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls wereonstage Friday attheNational Rifle Association’s annual leadership conference in Nashville, a GOP cattle-call of sortsthat gavethepotential candidates a chance to trumpet their Second Amendment bona fides.

Attendees heardfrom a majority of the GOP’s first- and second-tier presidential primary contenders, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businessman Donald Trump.

Notable absences? Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom have a prickly relationship with the NRA and were not invited to attend — Paul because of his affiliation with another gun-rights group and Christie who scores low on the NRA’s scorecard. Paul told Bloomberg that it was the group’s loss, not his: “To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record’s pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups.”

For those candidates who made the cut, today wasa critical campaign stop. The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold reported on the role of gun rights in the GOP last month:

Even for those who dont own [guns],they are a bellwether of individual liberty, a symbol of what big government wants and shouldnt have. … As the 2016 campaign gets going, guns and hunting will inevitably be part of its political theater. That may offer a chance for longtime gun-owning candidates to stand out….Already, on the campaign trail, several contenders have used their support for guns as a way to signal broader conservative bona fides. In a party full of internal arguments, this is one thing few will argue with.

Find the speech highlights below.

Bobby Jindal

Biggest applause line: “You sometimes get the idea that president Obama and Hillary Clinton believe that these are just crazy right-wing ideas…But these are not the ideas of a right wing conspiracy. These are the pillars of our nation. And thats why I was glad to write the law in Congress after Hurricane Katrina ensuring that never again can the government seize your firearms after a disaster.”

Biggest flop: “I remember the days when Hollywood actually liked the First Amendment. Well maybe they havent read the First Amendment lately. Theyre too busy dealing with record-low movie attendance.”

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GOP hopefuls flock to NRA cattle call

The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Closing Remarks – Video

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Apr 112015
 



The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Closing Remarks
Maryland Carey Law Professor Danielle Citron delivers the closing remarks at the 2015 JBTL Symposium, “The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses.” The symposium facilitated a…

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The Impact of the First Amendment on American Businesses – Closing Remarks – Video




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