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The Reformist Block referred the government decision to give priority to construction of a resort in Karadere to the prosecution..

The coalition also demanded the resignation of Economy Minister Dragomir Stoinev.

According to the coalition, the project was in violation of the Limiting of Offshore Companies Act, recently passed by Parliament.

The Reformist Block insists that prosecution checks whether there was an administrative violation or a crime by an official with the suggestion that the Black Sea Eco Garden Resort project of the Madara Europe company be granted a priority status.

The Offshore Act stipulates that an offshore company may apply for a priority investor status after it has registered the actual owners of the company in the Trade Registry. In the Madara Europe case, the company did so five days after it got the priority status.

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Reformist Block Refers Government Decision On Karadere To Prosecution

Although the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, many Malaysians continue to face serious and systemic religious intolerance, observe Aliran and Suaram.

Jais raided the Bible Society of Malaysia Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

Malaysia has a population of 30m people, with 60 per cent of the population practising Islam, 19 per cent Buddhism, 9 per cent Christianity, 6 per cent Hinduism and 5 per cent other faiths and beliefs. Although Malaysia remains a secular state and its constitution guarantees freedom of religion, many Malaysians continue to face serious and systemic religious intolerance and persecution.

Although Muslims may proselytise to non-Muslims, under Article 11(4) of the Malaysian Constitution, proselytisation by those of non-Muslim faiths to Muslims is prohibited. Freedom of religion was one of the key issues discussed during Malaysias second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, with several states including Austria, Canada, Italy and Poland making critical comments and recommendations. In January 2014, Amnesty International stated It is concerning to see the Malaysian authorities increasingly taking their cue from hard-line religious groups and others seeking to silence those who espouse views that differ from their own agenda.

A court ruling in October 2013 prohibits non-Muslims from using the word Allah to refer to God. The appeals court stated that the term Allah must be exclusive to Islam or it could cause public disorder. According to the Christian Federation of Malaysia, about 60 per cent of the 2.6m Christians in the country use the word Allah to refer to God. In a statement made at the second cycle of Malaysias Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October, the Malaysian Government stated that the Court ruling was a preventive measure to ensure public safety and to protect public order in Malaysia.

In November 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur, Mr Heiner Bielefeldt, urged the Government of Malaysia to reverse its decision to ban a Catholic publication from using the word Allah to refer to God, warning that the case may have far-reaching implications for religious minorities in the country.

UN Independent Expert on minority issues Ms Rita Izsk stated that, Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in this instance is a breach of the rights of a religious minority to freely practise and express their faith as they have done for generations. Such actions may present an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between faith communities.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Mr Frank La Rue, has also echoed these statements: The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Malaysia should take necessary steps to secure immediately the right to freedom of opinion and expression of Herald The Catholic Weekly and withdraw unconditionally from further litigation on this issue.

On 2 January 2014, officers from the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized 321 copies of the Bible in the Malay language and a further 10 bibles in the Iban language because they used the world Allah to refer to God. Jais unlawfully conducted the raid without a warrant and threatened to force their way into the office of BSM if they would not open the door for them. During the raid, the Jais officers also arrested the Bible Societys president, Lee Min Choon, and office manager, Sinclair Wong, for allegedly violating that decree. Both were later released on bail.

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Threats to freedom of religion or belief in Malaysia

11 hours ago Mar. 26, 2014 – 3:30 PM PDT

Ever since the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Twitter has been seen by many as an engine for free speech and particularly the kind of political speech that questions authority and/or gives ordinary citizens the power to inform themselves. Although the companys gaze often seems to have moved elsewhere, now that it is publicly traded and pursuing advertising deals, its resolve to fight a ban by the Turkish government shows it isnt ready to give up its claim to be the free-speech wing of the free-speech party any time soon.

Turkeys prime minister Recep Erdogan sparked the social-media battle by blocking Twitter last week, forcing users in that country to employ a number of workarounds including Tor anonymization technology and open DNS servers run by companies like Google, which were circulated quickly via email and even graffiti. Since then, a court has overturned the ban, but Twitter reportedly remains blocked, since the government apparently has 30 days to respond to the courts decision.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Twitters general counsel Vijaya Gadde outlined the context for the blockage and its ongoing attempts to challenge the ban. The Turkish governments decision was apparently triggered by several accounts that it believed were behaving illegally, including one pretending to be someone it was not which is a breach of Twitters terms of service and another that was spreading information accusing a former government minister of corruption.

Twitter says it received two court orders to take down content that breached its rules (which the company said it had already done before it was ordered to do so) but added that it is fighting the third order, which was to remove the account accused of posting details of corruption in the government. As Gadde put it:

This order causes us concern. Political speech is among the most important speech, especially when it concerns possible government corruption. Thats why today we have also petitioned the Turkish court on behalf of our users to reverse this order.

While Twitter appeals the order, it is using its Country Withheld Content tool, which allows the service to block specific tweets from being seen within specific geographic areas. It launched this ability in early 2012 in order to get around legal issues in Germany, where content that promotes Nazi ideology is against the law, and has since used it in France, Japan and Russia for a variety of reasons. The company also said it would be filing the details of the Turkish order and its response with Chilling Effects, a central directory for all such requests that Twitter committed to use when it implemented the blocking feature.

In fighting the Turkish governments attempts to either block the service or force it to remove content, Twitter is sticking to the commitment made by its former general counsel Alex Macgillivray that it would remain the free-speech wing of the free-speech party. Twitter has not only fought against requests from governments including the U.S. government for information about users, but has also notified users of such requests even after being ordered not to do so.

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Twitter fights Turkish censorship, determined to uphold its status as free-speech champion

Air New Zealand renews agreements to operate long haul Cook Islands services

Air New Zealand has re-signed agreements with the Cook Islands Government to operate non-stop services between Rarotonga and Los Angeles and Rarotonga and Sydney.

The airline has worked alongside the Cook Islands Government to operate a weekly return service to Los Angeles since 2007 and to Sydney since 2010.

Air New Zealand Manager Pacific Islands Peter Walsh says the airlines latest safety video which was shot in the Cook Islands has helped to cast a global spotlight on the tropical beauty of the Cooks.

The agreements ensure that visitors from both the Northern Hemisphere and Australia have convenient travel options that allow them to experience this island paradise in person.

Air New Zealand was announced as the preferred bidder for the tender to provide the two long haul services in November following a comprehensive Government review of the underwritten contracts.

We are honoured to renew these two four year agreements to operate to Los Angeles and Sydney from Rarotonga says Mr Walsh.

These services will help to further stimulate tourism in the Cooks and ensure the picturesque islands remain accessible to those outside of New Zealand.

In 2013 Air New Zealand carried around 200,000 people to Rarotonga from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles.

Ends

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Long haul Cook Islands services renewed

BEIJING Michelle Obama strayed into taboo territory during a speech Saturday at China’s Peking University in which she called the rights of free speech and worship “the birthright of every person on this planet.”

The first lady dropped her remarks toward the end of an otherwise uncontroversial speech to Chinese and U.S. students about overseas exchange programs.

“We respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies,” Obama said with a caveat nodding to Beijing’s frequent protestations that Westerners don’t understand their system. “But when it comes to expressing yourself freely and worshiping as you choose and having open access to information, we believe those universal rights they are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet.”

Obama is in the middle of a weeklong visit, billed as a nonpolitical family vacation, that will include visits to China’s tourist attractions the Great Wall, the terra cotta warriors, the pandas. She is traveling with her daughters, Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, and her mother, Marian Robinson.

The talk before a small, hand-picked audience of about 200 students at the Stanford Center at Peking University is the closest thing to a keynote speech the first lady is expected to deliver during the trip.

Although Obama avoided direct criticism of China, there was no way that Beijing could have missed the intent: The English-language China Daily in Sunday’s editions reported extensively on her comments about education while omitting any reference to free speech or religion.

Chinese media are heavily censored; imports of foreign publications are still banned and many websites are blocked. Under the government of President Xi Jinping, installed as head of the Communist Party in 2012, restrictions on foreign journalists have been tightened, with visas denied to publications that have reported on the wealth of the top echelon of the party leadership.

“It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media,” Obama said.

Gently referring to her family’s tangles with the American press, Obama told the audience, “My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens.”

“It’s not always easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of and opinions of all their citizens can be heard,” she said.

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In China, Michelle Obama gently broaches free speech

‘Cheats to pay back the working man’

(By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) – Rome, March 21 – Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday vowed to rein in tax dodgers, who every year evade payments on over 130 billion euros in income. Speaking after his first EU summit in Brussels, the new premier said that finally “those who have never paid will have to pay,” in order to “pay back citizens who have paid for the crisis due to nearsighted politicians who are far from the needs of the people”. Renzi vowed to implement “innovative methods” to cross check financial records digitally. The problem of tax evasion is well publicized and a constant and long-running problem for governments. They have intensified in recent years as governments have struggled to meet their obligations in the midst of a double-dip recession that began in 2008-2009. On the heels of that came a second crisis which reached depths in the past two years not seen since World War II. That was further aggravated by austerity measures to avoid a Greek-like economic meltdown when interest rates on Italian bonds rose alarmingly high. The hard medicine forced on Italy to try to regain its financial footing included program cuts and tax hikes that businesses say have crippled their operations while stunting economic growth and job creation. Recession in Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy, began to show tentative signs of easing only in the second half of last year. The economy remains fragile with a tepid growth outlook, although things may be improving with Renzi, a business-friendly reformer, at the reins. On Friday, Italian retailers’ association Confcommercio revised its growth forecast from 0.3% to 0.5% in 2014, and 0.9% in 2015. Those numbers could go up even more if Renzi follows through on cutting over 12 billion euros in income and business taxes, Confcommercio said. However, the forecast is weaker than the national inflation rate that averaged 1.2% in 2013, and if unemployment remains at the record-high 12.9%, it suggests that the incentives to avoid paying out cash to tax collectors will remain weak. According to the finance police, last year they discovered 8,315 evaders who concealed income or did not even file a tax return on 16.1 billion euros in revenues. About 15.1 billion euros that were not reported to tax authorities came from international income including “transfers of convenience” to tax havens as well as foreign-based companies’ income earned in Italy that is subject to taxation here. The finance police said much of that was uncovered by working cooperatively with agencies in other countries. Almost five billion euros were dodged by Italians avoiding the value-added tax alone, and more than 13,000 people were found to be working “in nero” or outside the legal system, meaning their work was not reported and they paid no tax. By not cracking down on tax evasions, particularly on value added tax, Italy lost 36.1 billion euros in 2011, giving it the worst record in the EU on VAT collection, according to a study by the European Commission. France had the next worst record, losing 32.2 billion euros to tax evasion in 2011, followed by Germany with 26.9 billion euros lost. The study says reasons for tax evasion include fraud but also bankruptcies and defaults, and the eurozone economic crisis which left more and more companies in such dire straits they cannot pay taxes owed. Still, improving anti-fraud measures would “certainly help Italy to bridge the gap” between value-added taxes owed and what is actually paid to the government, said a spokesman for EU Taxation Commissioner Algirdas Semeta. Across the 28-member European Union, lost revenue in 2011 totalled 193 billion euro, equal to 1.5% of GDP.

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Renzi vows crackdown on tax dodgers

Mar 212014

Press freedom has been taken to extremes in Hong Kong. Any newsroom dispute, irrespective of the cause, can touch off protests by young reporters, together with the usual crowd of self-styled liberal academics and politicians desperate for a chance to step into the limelight.

The firing of a radio talk show host was made out by this group to be an example in the oppression of press freedom while the allegations, mostly unsubstantiated, made by the dismissed woman against her former employer and the government were widely reported by the media. One would suspect that her allegations would have been suppressed if press freedom was indeed reduced.

Of course, Hong Kong people are outraged by the vicious attack on Kevin Lau, former chief editor of Ming Pao. The police have said that at this stage of the investigation, there is no evidence indicating the attack was related to the victim’s work as a journalist. But many reporters and some politicians have wasted no time concluding that freedom of the press is once again threatened.

Demonstrations staged by many hundreds of concerned journalists to demand swift action by the police in tracking down the perpetrators of this serious crime were understandable. But it is presumptuous for those politicians to win public attention by branding the case an attack on press freedom.

At the TV licensing hearing in the Legislative Council, a “liberal” legislator raised the concern of “meddling” in news programs by the respective managements of the two stations. In response, representatives of both stations denied they had ever tried to “meddle” in the affairs of their respective news department.

That legislator who raised the question didn’t seem to understand what press freedom is. And the denials from these two TV executives looked decidedly disingenuous.

Press freedom applies specifically to the owners of the press. The owners and their representatives to whom management power is delegated have every right to “meddle” in the affairs of any department within the organization, news or otherwise, in ways they see fit.

Purists believe that the owner of the press should be allowed to print anything. Normally, the limit is set by the law of the land. The law in Hong Kong is never seen to be overly restrictive of the press by any standard. And the government knows better than to infringe on the freedom of publishing. In fact, every journalist in Hong Kong knows that the safest way to be sensational is to criticize the government. Rub a property tycoon up the wrong way and you can expect to be slapped with a big law suit.

There have been suggestions of self-censorship by publishers who have sizeable business interests on the mainland. They have every right to do so if they don’t care about the future of the publications they own. Hong Kong readers are particularly sensitive to bias and inaccurate reporting. They won’t be fooled especially when there is a vast variety of news sources made available to them in cyberspace, which is uncensored in Hong Kong.

The politicians should stop misleading the public about the state of press freedom in Hong Kong and young reporters should refrain from citing the imagined curtailment of press freedom as an excuse for their incompetence and shortcomings in news gathering.

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Politicized press freedom

Critics warned that UK agriculture would be “devastated” by the plans and said the Government subsidies referred to are already in the public interest.

The recommendations came in an interim report produced by a cross-party group of MPs who have been considering Scottish land reform.

The Scottish Affairs Committee called for more information on land ownership to be published by both the UK and Scottish Governments “as a matter or urgency”.

It said the availability of such information in the UK pales in comparison with other European companies and helps landowners hide behind shadowy trusts or in tax havens.

MPs said they were surprised to learn that Latvia and Turkey had more advanced land information systems than Scotland and said it was “doubtful” that any meaningful reform could be implemented without improvements.

But the committee’s most radical proposals came over the issue of Government financial support to Scottish landowners.

Ian Davidson, the Labour MP who chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee, said: “The evidence we have received to date suggests that public policy on inheritance tax, business property relief, agricultural property relief, non-domestic rates and similar financial measures contribute considerably to the preservation of inherited wealth in landed estates and to driving up the price of land, which has become a speculative commodity as much as a productive asset.

He added: “We are minded to propose an end to all tax exemptions, subsidies and cosy tax deals unless these can be shown to be in the public interest.”

While the committee called for more evidence before making its final conclusions, floating the idea of ending so many forms of financial support is likely to alarm many Scottish landowners.

The proposals also put pressure on the SNP, which has a review group chaired by Dr Alison Elliot exploring how existing community right-to-buy legislation can be reformed.

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Radical proposals call for Scottish landowners to lose tax relief

The Second Amendment: A Symbol of Freedom or An Invitation to Violence?

By John W. Whitehead

March 17, 2014

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution

You can largely determine where a person will fall in the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment based on their view of government and the role it should play in our lives.

Those who want to see government as a benevolent parent looking out for our best interests tend to interpret the Second Amendments militia reference as applying only to the military.

To those who see the government as inherently corrupt, the Second Amendment is a means of ensuring that the populace will always have a way of defending themselves against threats to their freedoms.

And then there are those who view the government as neither good nor evil, but merely a powerful entity that, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, must be bound down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. To this group, the right to bear arms is no different from any other right enshrined in the Constitution, to be safeguarded, exercised prudently and maintained.

Unfortunately, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, while these three divergent viewpoints continue to jockey for supremacy, the U.S. government has adopted a do what I say, not what I do mindset when it comes to Americans rights overall. Nowhere is this double standard more evident than in the governments attempts to arm itself to the teeth, all the while viewing as suspect anyone who dares to legally own a gun, let alone use one.

Indeed, while it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at and killed. (This same rule does not apply to law enforcement officials, however, who are armed to the hilt and rarely given more than a slap on the wrists for using their weapons against unarmed individuals.)

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The Second Amendment: A Symbol of Freedom or An Invitation to Violence?

Will the Supreme Court agree to hear arguments on the subject (in Strine v. Delaware Coalition for Open Government, Inc.) for the first time since 1986, right before the most senior current Justice joined the Court?

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Volokh Conspiracy: First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings

Mar 172014

Michigans Freedom of Information Week is a great time to let folks know about how accountable and responsible their governments are at the state, county and local level.

Its also the first official birthday of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government (MiCOG), a tax-exempt nonprofit group that keeps a sharp eye on the accountability, transparency and responsibility of public officials, governments, public universities and the courts.

Back when the states freedom of information and open meetings laws went into effect in 1977, the Michigan Supreme Court exempted all Michigan courts from being covered by those laws.

In subsequent decisions, the court has exempted all 15 public university boards from the Open Meetings Act when it comes to presidential searches. The universities say that decision also applies to their retreats, pre-meetings and other discussions that occur outside of the public meetings mandated by the state constitution. Thats extremely relevant now as a presidential search was just completed for the University of Michigan, and as searches are underway at Oakland University and Saginaw Valley State University. Public universities are annually given hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, yet because of the courts ruling, information about applicants who want to become president can remain secret until a new president is selected.

Court decisions have consistently expanded the interpretations of exemptions despite the public policy language of the Freedom of Information Act itself. Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court through the State Court Administrative Office helped draft legislation that exempts disclosure of any information on:

Mental health courts (even data on the number of cases these courts handle, the success, failures and rates of recidivism on individuals involved).

Hidden criminal juvenile records (including violent felonies and keeping potential employers from finding out about sex offenders).

Most recently, the Michigan Supreme Court has approved phasing in mandatory electronic filing of court documents without any mention of public access to the records and what that access should cost.

The so-called e-filing legislation is an unfunded mandate being handed down to the local courts that requires them to keep all court documents in electronic form rather than on paper. According to some of the court clerks that MiCOG surveyed last year, unfunded mandates from the state are a serious financial problem for local governments.

Nationally and in Michigan, the courts have historically operated with a great deal of transparency. But this is changing fast in Michigan despite the state law mandate that sittings of every court within this state shall be public except in certain cases.

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Shine a light on government

Today is Freedom of Information Day, the start of a weeklong celebration of sunshine. Not the bright light coming from the sky, of course, but the illumination of transparency in government.

Both are necessary to life, at least to a life of freedom in a democratic nation.

Theres no bold revelation in that statement. The concept was well understood by the men, and women beside them (well, it is Womens History Month), who wrote the first pronouncements of our nation, the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Consider, too, the ancient philosophers whose writings molded the ideas that motivated our Founding Fathers.

Why else would those documents have included in those documents such lines as:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

And, whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

Freedom of Information is not about the newspapers and other media that this week will publish editorial cartoons and opinion pieces about why public information and government meetings should be open and available. It is about each and every individual who is a citizen of this country, and who embraces its basic freedoms particularly those five outlined in the First Amendment. Quick, can you name them?

Thomas Jefferson was among those who believed and insisted on the need for everyone to be involved in this young government. He believed it so strongly that he proposed widespread free education. He reasoned that this new government would succeed only if the burden of governing rested on the citizenry, and they must be educated to fulfill that duty.

In an 1820 letter to William C. Jarvis, Jefferson said: I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

His words ring true today, particularly when it comes to our need for open and transparent government. Without transparency, there is an ease and inevitability for leaders to abuse their authority.

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Sunshine week is really about you and your right to know

Do corporations have a legal right to track your car? If you think that is a purely academic question, think again. Working with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, states are considering laws to prevent private companies from continuing to mass photograph license plates.

This is one of the backlashes to the news about mass surveillance. However, this backlash is now facing legal pushback from the corporations that take the photographs and then sell the data gleaned from the images.

In a lawsuit against the state of Utah, Digital Recognition Network, Inc. and Vigilant Solutions are attempting to appropriate the ACLUs own pro-free speech arguments for themselves. They argue that a recent Utah law banning them from using automated cameras to collect images, locations and times of license plates is a violation of their own free speech rights. Indeed, in an interview, DRNs counsel Michael Carvin defends this practice by noting, Everyone has a First Amendment right to take these photographs and disseminate this information.

He argues that a license plate is an inherently public piece of information.

The only purpose of license plate information is to identify a vehicle to members of the public, he says. The government has no problem with people taking pictures of license plates in a particular location. But for some irrational reason it has a problem with people taking high-speed photographs of those license plates.

The analogy to an individuals right to take photos only goes so far, though. Vigilants website notes that DRN fuels a national network of more than 550 affiliates, its tracking technology is used in every major metropolitan area and it captures data on over 50 million vehicles each month.

This is a complicated area where we are going to need to carefully balance First Amendment rights of corporations versus individuals privacy rights, says ACLU attorney Catherine Crump. The mere fact that an individual has a First Amendment right doesnt mean that right is unlimited.

There are circumstances under which the government is free to regulate speech.

Crump cited the Fair Credit Reporting Act and laws regulating the dissemination of health information as examples of legal privacy-related restrictions of speech rights.

One could argue that the privacy implications of a private individual taking a picture of a public place is sufficiently less than a company collecting millions of license plate images, Crump says. Especially with technology becoming more widespread and databases going back in time, there may be justification for regulation.

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Sirota: Do companies have a First Amendment right to track you?

BURLINGAME — Tim Donnelly, who has made gun rights a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, has a complicated history with firearms.

The Legislatures most outspoken Second Amendment advocate, he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors after carrying a loaded gun into Ontario International Airport in 2012, and he acknowledged recently that the gun was not registered in his name.

As hes traveled the state in recent months, he has handled and fired guns at campaign events, raising questions about whether he was complying with the terms of his probation.

He has also experienced tragedy, the death of a family member following a gun-related arrest. His brother Paul E. Donnelly hanged himself in a Laurens County, S.C., jail in 2000 after he was arrested on charges that included assault with intent to kill, according to records reviewed by The Sacramento Bee.

In a lengthy interview with The Bee on Friday, Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, talked about his brothers death and his own struggles with suicidal thoughts. On the subject of gun ownership, he said everything I have is legal but wouldnt say how many guns he owns or whether they are registered.

I find gun registration to be offensive, Donnelly said. I think gun registration is simply so that someday the government can confiscate it.

Last month, Donnellys main Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, told an audience in Sacramento that he owns four guns and supports gun rights but is not running on an agenda of the Second Amendment.

If youre a single-issue voter, and you just want someone to give you a full-capacity assault rifle magazine, God bless you, you can go vote for somebody else, Kashkari said. Im not your guy.

Donnelly seized on the comment. In a fundraising email soliciting donations of $22, $222 or $2,222, Donnelly said, If you support the Second Amendment and believe its your God-given right as an American, then my RINO opponent, Neel Kashkari has got a newsflash for you: hes not your guy. RINO is shorthand for Republican in name only.

Donnelly wrote, Can you imagine a scenario in which you are forced to surrender your guns at the state line? We might, if Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari have their way.

Continue reading here:
Donnellys history with firearms marked by controversy, tragedy

The New York City Police Department has denied a public records request and subsequent appeal for its Freedom of Information handbook.

Muckrock journalist Shawn Musgrave filed a records request under New Yorks Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) for the police departments FOIL handbook, the guide officers use to apply public record law.

SEE ALSO: U.S. Navy mistakenly sends how-to memo on dodging FOIA requests

However, the NYPD told Musgrave its Freedom of Information handbook is not covered by FOIL, arguing it is protected under attorney-client privilege.

The NYPD said the information in the handbook reflects confidential communications between members of the FOIL unit and their attorneys in the context of the providing of legal advice concerning the meaning and requirements of the Freedom of Information Law.

Journalists and transparency advocates who have long complained about the NYPDs culture of secrecy criticized the latest rejection.

Whats ludicrous here is that the NYPD is refusing to be open about its own transparency process itself, Musgrave told the WashingtonFree Beacon. Even if attorney-client privilege applied hereand I dont believe that it does, not for the departments FOIL handbooks and manuals, at leastdepartment lawyers can absolutely choose to release this basic information. Even the FBI and NSA have released similar documents with minimal redactions.

Robert Freeman, the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, said that, while he has not seen the handbook, the NYPDs arguments are tenuous at best.

Legal advice is something that can be accepted, rejected, or modified by the boss, Freeman said. When it is adopted by the decision maker, its no longer legal advice, it becomes the policy of the agency. There are any number of circumstances where similar kinds of documents have been made public via FOIL requests.

Second, assuming that some of the content does not consist solely of legal advice but rather is reflective of police department policy, in my opinionagainthe privileges that were cited would not apply, Freeman continued.

Excerpt from:
NYPD denies Freedom of Information request for public records handbook

Illustration: michaelmucci.com

Thanks to ABC1′s Q&A last Monday, we’re in an even more confused state about the government’s free speech program. There was Attorney-General George Brandis appropriating an inordinate amount of time to tell viewers that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was throttling free speech and that it should be repealed ”in its current form”.

Brandis said: ”In a free country, people should have the right to say things that other people find insulting or offensive or wounding” – and that applies to making nasty remarks based on someone’s race or ethnicity.

So that seemed fairly clear, until the Q&A panel got onto the topic of Chinese buyers snapping up all the best housing. Brandis said: ”I’m always uncomfortable with the idea of picking on one racial group and saying, well, they’re the problem.”

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He may well be uncomfortable, but that didn’t mean he wants the law to get involved.

Yet if the man who is engineering this legislative change feels unsettled about people picking on particular racial groups, maybe that should be a tiny warning.

Two days after Q&A the Attorney-General gave a doorstop interview in Melbourne where he complained about an ALP leaflet circulating in the South Australian election that attacked a Liberal candidate, Carolyn Habib.

He said the flyer showed Habib in silhouette against a bullet-riddled wall with the caption ”don’t trust Habib”. This, he thundered, was ”a thinly veiled racist slur”.

The slurs may not be so thinly veiled once s.18C ”in its current form” is ditched. Be careful what you wish for, George.

The rest is here:
The free speech tongue-twister



Big Debt, Big Government, and Less Freedom
http://libertycrier.com/global-debt-exceeds-100-trillion-governments-binge-bis-says/?utm_source=The+Liberty+Crier utm_campaign=1af96f6aa3-The_Liberty_Crier_D…

By: Bert Powers

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Big Debt, Big Government, and Less Freedom – Video

WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) — Ukrainians are fighting for freedom and “we will never surrender,” Ukrainian Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in Washington Wednesday.

“My country feels that the United States stands by the Ukrainian people,” Yatsenyuk said during a media availability with President Obama at the White House. “Mr. President, it’s all about freedom. We fight for our freedom, we fight for our independence, we fight for our sovereignty and we will never surrender.”

President Obama praised Yatsenyuk and “the courage of the Ukrainian people standing up on behalf of democracy.”

Obama reiterated earlier statements that the United States and the international Community “completely reject” Sunday’s referendum in autonomous, pro-Russia Crimea, adding if the vote went forward, and Russia does not back away from its military incursion into Crimea, the international community would be “forced to apply a cost to Russia’s violation of international law.”

The international community has been clear it believes the increased Russian military presence Crimea beyond its bases violates international laws and agreements that Russia signed and violates the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

“There’s another path available and we hope President [Vladimir] Putin is willing to seize that path,” Obama said. “But if he does not, I’m very confident that the international community will stand firmly behind the Ukrainian government.”

While all would recognize the historic ties between Russia and Ukraine, Obama said Yatsenyuk and the government in Kiev communicated to Russia their desire to work through these ties diplomatically.

“But what the prime minister I think has rightly insisted on is they cannot have a country outside of Ukraine dictate to them how they should arrange their affairs, and that there is a constitutional process in place and a set of elections that they can move forward on that in fact could lead to different arrangements over time with the Crimean region,” Obama said.

“But,” Obama said, “that is not something that can be done with the barrel of a gun pointed at you.”

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Yatsenyuk: Ukrainians fighting for freedom and 'will never surrender'



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