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Red tomatoes: Freedom from slavery includes fair food

Piers Morgan Alex Jones was right Bundy Ranch Second Amendment
Did you notice something very strange about the Bundy ranch confrontation this weekend? Piers Morgan who always gives his opinion on important matters was no…

By: DailyWorldwideNews

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Piers Morgan Alex Jones was right Bundy Ranch Second Amendment – Video

The recent stir about Brendan Eichs departure as Mozilla chief executive and the reported backlash related to free speech issues are baffling to me [Mozilla CEO resignation raises free-speech issues, Business / Technology, April 5].

Yes, corporations are considered people under the law and hence are entitled to First Amendment rights. Eich, as the living, breathing personification of Mozilla, is entitled to support any cause he deems fit.

Consumers and advocates of gay equality similarly have the right to confront Eich with the discriminating nature of his opinion. And if that in turn causes stockholders or the board of a publicly traded company to deem him a liability to the company, nobody should be surprised nor dismayed if he is urged to step down.

The right to express an opinion does not protect one from the consequences of expressing an opinion.

Jos van Schagen, Seattle

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Mozilla: The right to free speech doesnt protect you from consequences

Topics: alexandria bay, editors picks, noosa, nudist beach, sunshine coast

AN OUTSPOKEN nudist suggests the “sleazy elements” that visit nude beaches would be eradicated if clothes-optional beaches became legal in Queensland.

Rocky Ind, a full-time nudist who organised the recent Alexandria Bay Beach Carnival, said legalising nude beaches – like Noosa’s Alexandria Bay – would give genuine nudists the authority to evict the creeps.

“Everywhere they’ve put legalised nude beaches, it becomes self-policing, it gets rid of the sleazy element,” Mr Ind said.

“Anywhere that becomes nude, well then they’ve got something to say to those who are not doing the right thing.”

Mr Ind’s expert input follows two recent incidents on Sunshine Coast beaches.

In the first, a lone female jogger was approached on Noosa’s A-Bay beach by a male nudist who shoved a camera into her hands and asked her to take his photo. In the second incident, a nude man approached three teen beachgoers last week at Coolum’s Second Bay.

“My opinion of these people, and the opinion of the vast majority of the nudists in Australia, is that these people are not genuine nudists,” Mr Ind said.

“People in the nude should be avoiding those people, not out there on display, in your face, as it were.

“The incidents of this sort of behaviour is just about zero in legalised nude beaches; you don’t get that sort of interaction.”

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Nudist beach would weed out perverts, says advocate

What kind of bizarro world do we live in where a near majority of Justices of the United States Supreme Court criticizes a First Amendment ruling for being overly concerned with the individuals right to engage in political speech? Where these same jurists instead elevate the publics interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters? Are these four reactionary horsemen who wont countenance anti-war protestors, marches against oppressive laws, and other anti-establishment speech-acts? Or perhaps theyre censorious troglodytes inveighing against flag-burning, nude dancing, and other emotion-riling forms of expression?

It turns out no, that this statist-majoritarian cant is the highest explication of so-called liberal dissent. Weve always been at war with Eurasia (at least until those in charge decree that our eternal enemy is Eastasia), etc.

Rubbish. Just as the government cant limit the number of hours that Oprah broadcasts or issues that The New York Times publishes lest they unduly influence our political system it cant restrict the money that someone wants to spend on campaign donations lest he skew the marketplace of ideas. Heck, Ive been part of enough SCOTUSblog symposia that Im sure glad theres no federal limit on how much analysis someone can provide on a website thats read by all the key opinion-making eyeballs!

Despite the alarming five-to-four split among the Justices, McCutcheon is an easy case if you apply well-settled law (let alone the political-speech-protective first principles upon which this nation was founded): (1) Preventing quid pro quo corruption (or the appearance thereof) is the only valid basis for regulating the finance of political campaigns; (2) restrictions on the total amount an individual may donate to candidates and party committees dont serve that bribery-prevention interest and thus violate the First Amendment; (3) thats it; case closed.

The only surprise here is that the ruling wasnt a unanimous rejection of the governments incredible claim that, somehow, someone who maxes out to nine congressional candidates corrupts the system by giving more than $1,800 to any others. (Or maybe its those nine candidates who are corrupted by the jealous knowledge that theyre no longer unique snowflakes, that their benefactor has Benjamins for literally anyone who agrees with his political positions?I could never fully grasp the logic.)

In any event, Chief Justice Roberts provided the nut of this oh-so-easy-to-crack-case when he called the contribution limits a tax wrote for the majority (which is indeed a majority because Justice Thomas concurred on broader grounds): Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi paradesdespite the profound offense such spectacles causeit surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

With Justice Thomas, however, I would go beyond that simple point and overrule Buckley v. Valeo altogether because [c]ontributions and expenditures are simply two sides of the same First Amendment coin and the Courts efforts to distinguish the two have produced mere word games rather than any cognizable principle of constitutional law (quoting Chief Justice Burgers partial dissent in Buckley). Justice Thomas would abandon Buckleys framework and replace it with a strict scrutiny test for limits on both contributions and expenditures. Quite so.

Buckley transmogrified the speech-restrictive post-Watergate Federal Election Campaign Act into something no Congress wouldve passed, also inventing legal standards such that one type of political speech has greater First Amendment protection than another.

Nearly twenty years later, the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC again rewrote a congressional attempt to reform the rules by which people run for office the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also colloquially known as McCain-Feingold shying away from striking down Buckley and producing a convoluted mish-mash. (The Chief Justice delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to miscellaneous BCRA Title III and IV provisions. . . . Justice Breyer delivered the Courts opinion with respect to BCRA Title V504 . . . . Stevens and OConnor, JJ., delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to BCRA Titles I and II, in which Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. . . . [and on and on and on, such that this part of the syllabus explaining who agrees with what jot and tittle is longer than the average Oliver Wendell Holmes opinion].)

Enough! The drip-drip of campaign-finance rulings over the last decade has shown that existing campaign-finance law is as unworkable as it is unconstitutional, serving nobodys interest but the election lawyers who regularly get to bill hours explaining to their clients exactly what type of speech will now get them thrown in jail and how to structure their next political move so as not to provoke Justice Breyer into attaching yet another appendix onto his next dissent.

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Symposium: The First Amendments protection of political speech extends to both donations and spending

Replica bullets and a dud shotgun shell got a man convicted of weapons charges in the nation’s capital, in a case gun rights activists say shows how overzealous authorities are trampling the Second Amendment.

On Friday, just two days after his conviction of attempted possession of unlawful ammunition, Mark Witaschek went to a Washington, D.C., police station to register in the city’s Gun Offenders Registry. The act was part of a sentence meted out after Witaschek lost his two-year legal battle that began when police searched his home and found an inert shotgun shell, a spent shell casing and a box of muzzle-loader bullets.

Im completely outraged by it, Witaschek, who moved to Virginia after he was arrested following the 2012 search, told the Washington Times. This is just a continuation of the nightmare. Just to sit there. I could not believe it.

Witaschek was also handed a $50 fine, punishments he fought as a matter of principle.

“This case is yet another example of D.C. run amok over citizens Constitutional rights,” the National Association for Gun Rights said in a statement. “Its no wonder anyone with the option and half a brain is fleeing D.C. for areas where self-defense is a virtue, and not criminalized.”

The search was in response to a complaint from his estranged ex-wife. The evidence presented against Witaschek included a 12-gauge shell that failed to fire while Witaschek was hunting years ago, a spent .270 Winchester shell casing, and a box of .45 caliber Knight muzzleloader bullets with plastic sabots. The muzzleloader bullets were for use in only antique or replica firearms.

Witaschek is an avid hunter, but says he never kept his guns in Washington D.C., because he know of the city’s strict gun laws.

Witascheks attorney, Howard X. McEachern, vowed to appeal the verdict.

Clearly the judge thought that this was overkill the sentence reflects how he felt about the prosecution of this case, he said when asked for his opinion of the verdict.

The judge never ruled on the shotgun shell itself, which was what the prosecutions case was built around.

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Man gets weapons conviction for replica bullets in DC

Mar 202014

Every year I hear a new chorus of folks claiming that SEO is dead or that SEO has changed so fundamentally that it’s completely different now than it once was. I usually find these statements short sighted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

SEO (still) isn’t dead and won’t be until the day that search engines can no longer drive significant traffic to websites (which won’t be for a long, long time, if ever).

Furthermore, with just a few exceptions, the only thing that has changed about SEO in my opinion is that search engines are getting better at enforcing their own rules. Thus, folks who have been historically using short cuts or tactics that might be considered less than best practices have been forced to adapt. And sad to say, there are a lot of those folks.

Search engine optimization remains an important part of the digital marketing landscape, and the path to long term success is relatively the same as it has always been.

The basic fundamentals of SEO are still important and if done correctly, will still yield favorable results. Here are some SEO basics that have remained relatively unchanged (note this list isn’t intended to be comprehensive):

This list wouldn’t be complete without everyone’s favorite topic: link building (I know people would argue with me that link building has changed dramatically, but please read the rest of the article first).

None of these things has changed that significantly enough over the last few years that they would make me say SEO is a completely new exercise compared to what it used to be.

Sure, there is less data to look at (thanks, Google) and there are changes in how the engines deal with some of the technical issues like canonical tags, rel=alternate syntax, and schema mark up to name a few, but it’s really no different than how we used to have to check to see if folks were using hyphens instead of underscores, 301 redirects instead of 302 redirects (I still recommend this by the way), and worrying about JavaScript not being indexed (which it still isn’t in some cases).

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So… You Think SEO Has Changed?

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a law banning ‘encouraging’ or ‘advising’ suicide violates the free-speech rights. The court reversed the conviction of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the convictions of a former nurse accused of encouraging two people whom he met online to kill themselves.

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The court ruled that the language in the state’s assisted-suicide law that pertains to “encouraging” suicide is unconstitutional. It violates the right to free speech. However, the court upheld the part of the law that bans “assisting” suicide.

“We conclude that the State may prosecute Melchert-Dinkel for assisting another in committing suicide, but not for encouraging or advising another to commit suicide. Because the district court did not make a specific finding on whether Melchert-Dinkel assisted the victims suicides, we remand for further proceedings consistent with his opinion,” wrote Justice G. Barry Anderson in the majority opinion.

His 360-day jail sentence had been on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

Melchert-Dinkel, 51, was convicted on two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of two people: Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005; and Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008.

His attorney argued that he was exercising his right to free speech, and that the law which states that anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life” is guilty of a crime was too broad.

In addition to his free speech claim, Melchert-Dinkel argued that he had no influence on either person’s actions. But prosecutors say his speech wasn’t protected and that he played an integral role in the deaths, including giving step-by-step instructions.

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'Encouraging' suicide allowed by US constitution, says Minnesota Supreme Court

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming ebook titled When Money Speaks: The McCutcheon Decision, Campaign Finance Laws & The First Amendment (Top Five Books) by Ronald Collins and David Skover. It is the first in the SCOTUS Books-in-Brief series. The ebook will be available shortly after the Supreme Court issues its ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC.

In 2013 the American Civil Liberties Union did not file an amicus brief in McCutcheon v. FEC, the First Amendment campaign finance case now awaiting a decision in the Supreme Court. But the group had not always been silent on the issue. Quite the contrary; it had once been quite vocal in its First Amendment opposition to many campaign finance laws.

For decades the ACLU had been at the forefront of this controversial issue, filing merits and amicus briefs in support of First Amendment claims in such landmark campaign finance cases as Buckley v. Valeo (1976) (Joel Gora, counsel of record) and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) (Steven R. Shapiro, counsel of record), among many other Supreme Court cases. That changed, however, after Citizens United came down. At that pinpoint in time, the past ceased to be prologue.

The Nixon years

The ACLU story in this fight goes back forty-plus years to a time when Richard Nixons Justice Department used the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to silence and punish its critics. At first, the ACLUs role was that of providing free legal counsel to those critics for example, there was the district court case titled United States v. National Committee for Impeachment, 469 F.2d 1135 (2d. Cir. 1972). Soon enough, the group took a bolder stand it decided to be a named plaintiff in a case contesting certain provisions of FECA. That case: American Civil Liberties Union, Inc. v. Jennings, 366 F. Supp. 1041 (D.D.C. 1973), vacated sub nom., Staats v. ACLU, 422 U.S. 1030 (1975). (Aside: Floyd Abrams filed an amicus brief in that case on behalf of the New York Times.) Those two cases marked the beginning of a long legal journey for the ACLU, one in which it was an ardent defender of First Amendment rights. It all began with opposition to the Nixon Administration.

Three old-time dissenters came to the ACLU offices in New York with an incredible story, recalled Professor Gora in a 1997 article. In September of 1972 the group had run a two-page advertisement in the New York Times advocating the impeachment of President Richard Nixon for the bombing of Cambodia and praising those few hardy and clearly identified members of Congress who had sponsored an Impeachment Resolution. The advertisement was turgid, wordy, legalistic, and not very slick, but it embodied the essence of what the First Amendment stands for: the right of citizens to express their opinion about the conduct of their government, free from fear of sanctions or reprisals from that government, noted Gora. Nonetheless, before the ink on the advertisement was barely dry, the federal government had hauled the group into federal court.

All of this occurred despite the fact that such speech would otherwise seem to be protected by the Courts landmark First Amendment rulings in New York Times, Inc. v. Sullivan (1964) and Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), both of which offered considerable protection for those who criticized government officials. Those rulings notwithstanding, Richard Nixons Justice Department tapped FECA to wage war on the Administrations liberal critics.

Using campaign finance laws to silence liberals

The government, Gora added, claimed that the expenditure of funds on the advertisement was for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the elections, thus rendering these individuals a political committee. The government threatened them with injunctions against further speech unless they complied with the law, filed reports with the government, and disclosed their contributors and supporters. All of this was for simply sponsoring an advertisement publicly criticizing the president of the United States on a crucial issue of the day.

In order to test the use of FECA to censor political speech, in September 1972 the ACLU submitted to the New York Times a proposed political ad expressing its stern disapproval of the Nixon Administrations opposition to court-ordered busing. Fearful of criminal prosecution under FECA, the Times declined to run the ad, whereupon the ACLU went to the federal district court in the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The court granted the motion for a preliminary injunction, which allowed the Times to publish the ad. That case was American Civil Liberties Union, Inc. v. Jennings.

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Book excerpt: Before McCutcheon The ACLU position in the early years

Liberty Teamtage by Friendly (My Part)
This was an edit I did for Part 1 of the Liberty Teamtage. In my opinion this is one of the best edits I've ever made. Drop a Like if you enjoyed, and commen…

By: Friendly

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Liberty Teamtage by Friendly (My Part) – Video

Michael Jordan Illuminati 23 Sirius P3
A Truthiracy Film Production – Educational Research Truthiracy House of Wisdom All material is the opinion of Christopher Lord of Truthiracy Films (for legal…

By: Felice Laforgia

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Michael Jordan Illuminati 23 Sirius P3 – Video

This Wednesday I stumbled upon an article in Richmonds Style Weekly magazine covering the Feb. 8 convention of the Libertarian Party of Virginia. According to the articles author Tom Nash, this convention was the biggest and most important for Virginia Libertarians for quite some while. Given the recent relative success of the partys gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis (who made his mark by running a seemingly honest, intellectual campaign and winning 6.5 percent of the vote), Nash contends that the party hopes to maintain this momentum by having as many Libertarians as possible on the upcoming ballots.

Apparently, the tactic to achieve this involves inviting everyone on the partys email list to run for office, even if they have no chance of winning. One person who received this invitation was a high school student from the Maggie L. Walker Governors School for Government and International Studies. The student told Nash that he would consider running for office after finishing college.

Anyone who knows me also knows that my politics tend to fall so far left that they occasionally slip off the scale into an alternate universe where the gender binary has been all but eradicated, socialism reigns and everyone is free to sip tea and play with their cats in a borderless world of total equality.

Needless to say, libertarianism is not always consistent with these ideals. I do, however, hold a soft spot in my heart for the well-intentioned rationality of the party, so Nashs article made me wonder how many capable, up-and-coming young people might be drawn into politics by what is essentially a power vacuum in the Libertarian party.

One member of the University of Richmonds chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, Kelly Farley, WC17, said she planned on pursuing business as a career, but could easily see herself in politics: Libertarians are the party of the individual, liberty and, in my opinion, self-responsibility. I would be honored and proud to represent the libertarian opinion some day.

Another UR student, Martha Ashe, WC15, said that although she identified with the Libertarian party philosophically, she chooses to vote Republican because she is fiscally conservative and the party has more traction. She said, While I dont think I would ever run for politics, if I did, it would be hard for me to run as a Libertarian because I dont think the party has as much traction at this time. Ashe added, however, that she is confident we are trending toward a greater support of libertarianism: I do believe that most young people in my generation are Libertarian, whether they realize it or not, and that as my generation matures, the libertarian party will start to gain popularity.

While the upper levels of the two dominant parties in this country can seem like private clubs that require 80 percent networking and 20 percent underhanded dealing to gain entry, it might be that all it takes in Virginias Libertarian party right now is to show up.

Since the platform tends to attract a mixture of young people who are intelligent, ambitious or radical (and occasionally all three), I can happily picture a future where the party is dominated not by gun- and flag-toting old men, but by recent college graduates with clear plans for a more free country. Whether or not I support the whole ideology, I would rather have a relevant faction of young, educated people than not.

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Recruiting the next generation of political leaders

Published February 16, 2014

A Nevada grammar school violated students right to free speech in mandating they wear a school uniform with its motto, Tomorrows Leaders, emblazoned on it, a federal court has ruled.

The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. 9th Circuit Court unanimously ruled on Friday in favor of one parents legal objection to Roy Gomm Elementary Schools uniform policy. The school is located in Reno.

The “policy compels speech because it mandates the written motto, ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders,’ on the uniform shirts,” Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen reportedly said in her decision, in which she was joined by the other two judges on the three-judge panel that ultimately rendered the opinion.

The Reno school reportedly enacted the uniform policy in 2011, but exempted students who donned the uniforms of national youth organizations, like the Boy Scouts of America, or Girl Scouts of the USA.

The court also found this exemption problematic, in writing, “The exemption explicitly favors the uniforms of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts over all other uniforms . . . and favors the uniforms of ‘nationally recognized’ youth organizations over those of locally or regionally recognized youth organizations.”

The Times reports that in the ruling, the judges cited legal precedent, and specifically a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that ruled a New Hampshire law unconstitutional that mandated state motorists use license plates with the state motto, Live Free or Die.

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California schools uniform regulation violates free speech, court rules


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Second Amendment: Gun Confiscation? I doubt it.
This is my opinion on the notion that the United States Military would be the ones to fight Americans in order to confiscate their guns. I really don't see t…

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Second Amendment: Gun Confiscation? I doubt it. – Video


The most interesting criticisms of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, have come from libertarians who are closest to the economic views the pope denounced.

In this document, Francis did not mince words. He condemned “trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and nave trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” He warned against laissez-faire adherents who “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.” The pope chastised “the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”

“Speaking for libertarians, my objection to what the pope wrote derives from two things,” the Cato Institute’s Marian Tupy said in an interview with NCR. “First, there is the factual statement. The pope says the world is becoming worse, but that can be measured. In almost 200 pages, he never cites a single study, a single number, to support his claim.” Tupy, who wrote an article encapsulating his objections in The Atlantic, cites a host of statistics to support his claim that “capitalism, compared to other systems, does very well at bringing people out of poverty.”

Tupy’s second objection has to do with the lens through which he and the pope view the prevailing economic situation. “The pope compares the world to a future utopia,” Tupy said. “I look to the past and find data to support my views.” Francis would, no doubt, plead guilty to the charge, but he would be unlikely to use the word “utopia.” In the language of the Catholic church, that future to which Catholics are called is “the kingdom of God.”

“My factual disagreement with the pope has no bearing on my respect for the man nor on my belief that everyone has a moral duty to help the poor,” Tupy said. But, he sticks by his conclusion in his Atlantic article: “Pope Francis has a big heart, but his credibility as a voice of justice and morality would be immeasurably improved if he based his statements on facts.”

A similar critique of Evangelii Gaudium came from the pro-market Acton Institute, which is run by a Catholic priest, Fr. Robert Sirico. In a video discussing Evangelii Gaudium, Sirico posed a series of questions: “Where are these unhampered markets?” he asked. “Where is the market absolutely autonomous?” Sirico seems to be suggesting that the pope was creating straw men and attacking them, and expresses the hope that future exhortations will confront the economic questions Sirico poses.

Francis has not been lacking in defenders. “The Catholic apologists for libertarianism — and, sadly, there are a few who try to do this — always begin with condescension,” said Stephen Schneck, director of The Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies. “The pope’s pity for the poor is understandable, they say, but he’s naive about the miracle of the market. Baloney. Not only are such remarks patronizing, they’re proof that the apologists don’t understand the papal teachings. Pope Francis is not telling Christians to stoop to pity the poor. He’s saying private charity, however wonderful and holy it is, can never be enough. He’s saying that the poor also need justice. They need social justice, distributive justice, redistributive justice. He’s saying that private charity by itself can never provide that justice given the moral deficiency of economic and social systems governed only by heartless invisible hands.”

Lew Daly, a fellow at the secular think tank Demos in New York, thinks Francis hit the nail on the head in Evangelii Gaudium. “Pope Francis is not an innovator of church teaching in any way,” Daly told NCR. “The innovation, compared to other voices in the Catholic church, is in his correct and properly urgent analysis of what is wrong in the church’s eyes. Capitalism is not just ‘broken’; it is inherently out of control, in a late phase of development, because a libertarian creed with mistaken precepts about human nature has infected political institutions, economic elites and even the church.”

It is true that while Francis’ speaking and writing style is more accessible than that of his predecessors, the content of what he says exhibits deep continuity with previous doctrinal statements. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the first major papal statement on socioeconomic issues and he warned against the excesses of both capitalism and socialism. In 1931, Pope Pius XI wrote, “Just as the unity of human society cannot be founded on an opposition of classes, so also the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching.” And, just one year ago, in his World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI stated, “It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism.”

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Libertarians become vocal critics of exhortation

The decision on Monday by federal judge Edmond Chang in Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers v. Chicago to throw out Chicagos ban on gun sales comes as no surprise, but it illustrates the continuing efforts of the citys political leadership, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to deny the Second Amendment rights of its residents and to evade a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Judge Chang of the Northern District of Illinois declared unconstitutional municipal ordinances that banned virtually all sales and transfers of firearms inside the Citys limits with the exception of those received through inheritance and that prohibited the construction and operation of gun stores (the judge stayed his opinion while the decision is appealed). This was just the latest skirmish in the judicial war being waged in Chicago (and Illinois) over the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court invalidated Chicagos ban on the ownership of handguns four years ago in McDonald v. City of Chicago. In 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs in another case against the city, Ezell v. City of Chicago, were entitled to an injunction against part of the new Chicago gun ordinance that the city council passed only four days after the McDonald decision. It required one hour of range training as a prerequisite to lawful gun ownership, yet prohibited all gun ranges in the city. The range ban was deemed a serious encroachment on the right to maintain proficiency in firearm use, an important corollary to the meaningful exercise of the core right to possess firearms for self-defense.

In 2012, the Seventh Circuit was forced to act again in Moore v. Madigan, when it threw out as unconstitutional an Illinois state ban on carrying a weapon outside of a home or business. The court held that the Second Amendments core right of armed self-defense extends past the four walls of the home and into the public. This was the last ban on concealed carry in the nation.

Judge Chang recognized that one of the fundamental duties of government is to protect its citizens. But on the other side is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside of governments reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment. As anyone with any common sense would agree (except, it seems, some legislators in Chicago), that Second Amendment right must also include the right to acquire a firearm.

The judge found that all the reasons the city used to justify the ban on gun sales and gun dealers did not support the claim that such a ban was necessary to protect the public or reduce gun violence. In fact, the judge systematically took apart all of the citys arguments, concluding that Chicagos lack of compelling justifications for these ordinances rendered them unconstitutional.

The fact that law-abiding residents could travel outside the city to acquire a firearm did not make the ordinance constitutional, any more than abridgement of the First Amendment right to speak in a particular location is acceptable just because it may be exercised in some other place.

The real question now is whether the city has finally learned its lesson and will stop implementing unreasonable roadblocks to legitimate gun ownership. It is time for the city to acknowledge the Second Amendment rights of its residents and quit wasting taxpayer money on preventing them from protecting themselves.

– Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department.

Will Chicago’s Latest Gun Ban Being Thrown out Finally Teach the City a Lesson?

Dec 302013

Are you ready for 2014?

Todays column marks the third and final entry in my annual SEO Playbook. Part 1 primarily focused on what Hummingbird will mean for marketers in 2014, especially as it relates to content and authority. Part 2 took an updated look at on-page SEO factors, including content, HTML and architecture.

In Part 3, Ill discuss off-page factors that SEOs will need to consider as we enter the new year. Enjoy!

There is a lot to be said about links. Google is going to continue its trend of getting more discerning and aggressive with penalties in 2014. Quite frankly, their link analysis keeps getting better and the confidence of the search and spam teams that they will not unjustly targets innocent websites keeps growing stronger.

One mantra from 2013 is that link building is dead. I wouldnt go that far. There is a lot you can do to encourage links without resorting to artificial means or straight out begging. I see link building programs being folded into influencer marketing programs and becoming more networking oriented. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with sending out an e-mail notifying your network about your new content, as long as the decision of whether to link or not is ultimately up to them.

Diversity i.e., links from a variety of sources is also important. If all of your links are coming from your network or the same websites over and over, you could be in trouble. You cannot put your content on autopilot and check off tick boxes in your editorial calendar. You really need to be actively promoting your content, enough to grow a real audience. When you do this, link diversity tends to take care of itself.

For websites that already have a lot of low quality links out there (and I would absolutely suggest an audit to find this out, especially if youve ever used a link building service), you have a difficult choice ahead of youif your site has not already been hit with a Penguin penalty. Do you engage in a link-cleaning program because you fear the future algorithm update may strike your site, or do you do nothing and wait out?

This can be a difficult judgment call, one where professional counsel is in order. I would suggest attempting to remove the most egregious links and engaging in a wider campaign if more than 40% of your links are of low quality. For full disclosure, 40% is not a scientific number; it is a guesstimate. Lets just say that if I looked at the website and saw that 40% or more of its offsite links were low quality, my skin would start to crawl.

Even if you are not under a penalty, copiously log your link cleanup efforts. Should you be hit with a manual penalty in the future, this log can help to demonstrate that youve already made efforts toward rehabilitation and may speed up the reconsideration process.

Another concern is when too many offsite links use the same anchor text. This can occur quite naturally when other sites link to your pages using the article title or title tag. That is generally fine. The real concern comes from unnatural repetition of individual keywords or key phrases. To date, Google shows little interest in grandfathering old links, so be certain to include anchor text as part of your link spam analysis.

See original here:
2014 SEO Playbook: Off-Page Factors

Dec 272013

Arts and Entertainment television was out of line for suspending Phil Robertson for a recent statement that the network executives did not appreciate. They may not have liked his Bible quote but he was stating his personal belief and not speaking on behalf of the network. I realize that he is employed by the network, but that should not prohibit him from stating his opinion.

Every American in most circumstances has an opinion and many will disagree or agree depending on the subject. Because someone states something does not mean that it is reality, except in that person’s mind. However, there are many circles of shared belief throughout our world. I happen to believe some are right but some are also wrong…in my opinion.

My opinion is based on my background, upbringing, Bible reading, education, personal studies, media, folktales and even common sense.

I don’t like everything I see on television, read in the paper or hear on the radio. However, I have yet to eliminate any of the three from my life. I don’t like everything I see and hear in church but I still go. Yet, I believe in the freedom of religion just like I believe in the freedom of people to state their opinions and quote their favorite books whether it’s the Bible or Reader’s Digest.

As a free society our task is to muddle through the free speech and make a sensible determination. Free speech encourages or offends people. However the goal of speech should never be to limit human rights to anyone. A worthy goal for us all is to use our free speech to make America better even though words can burn as in the case of Robertson’s statements. Again, just because somebody makes a statement does not mean that it is reality, except in the mind of the person who made the statement. The statement simply is a window into that person’s soul.

I may not agree with what you say or even like it but let’s please preserve the First Amendment. A good America is a free America and a free America means free speech.

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist read in all fifty states.

Go here to read the rest:
Keep free speech in America

‘Wilson is singularly under-credentialled when it comes to what’s really going on in the free-speech marketplace.’ Photo: Wayne Taylor

Chris Berg must be livid.

He’s the man who’s done the heavy lifting on free speech at the Institute of Public Affairs and authored the official text, In Defence of Freedom of Speech (subtitle: From Ancient Greece to Andrew Bolt).

Instead, Attorney-General George Brandis appoints Tim Wilson, the institute’s policy director, to the Human Rights Commission with particular focus on free speech and everyone’s right to hold opinions.


Well, here’s my opinion.

Wilson is singularly under-credentialled when it comes to what’s really going on in the free-speech marketplace. His utterances since his appointment was announced show a slender grasp of the issues at stake and his outpourings beforehand are a collection of corporate-inspired outrages about government trying to protect the health and welfare of society.

He decries restrictions on cigarette advertising and the plain packaging legislation (a free-speech issue for the tobacco industry), attempted regulations on poker machines, taxes on alcohol, moves to control the intake of fatty and sugary foods, and banning tanning beds.

All of this, in Wilson’s view, is paternalistic nonsense, along with global warming and the tax on carbon. Let the market rip and allow people to gamble, smoke, drink, get fat and artificially tanned until frizzled. No doubt these views are genuinely and passionately held and, entirely coincidentally, they are held by the corporate sponsors of the Institute of Public Affairs.

We don’t know for sure, because the institute is so keen on free speech that it won’t share with us who is paying the piper, but it seems to run along the lines of a massive cash-for-comment machine.

Continue reading here:
Tim Wilson’s appointment to Human Rights Commission has nothing to do with ‘rebalancing’

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