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Michael Kroger on free speech
Michael Kroger, a member of the Institute of Public Affairs' board, says section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act restricts free speech and should be rep…

By: Institute of Public Affairs

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Michael Kroger on free speech – Video

Strandfaraskip Landsins “Transport in the Faroe Islands”
Strandfaraskip Landsins is the public transport company of the Faroe Islands. It is owned by the Faroese government and runs ferries (Oyggjaleiir – Island l…

By: Faroe Paradise

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Strandfaraskip Landsins "Transport in the Faroe Islands" – Video

Apr 042014

By Catherine Cooper on April 04th, 2014

By Catharine Cooper.

The effects of rising seawater conjure images of Bangladesh and Greeces Kriti Islands places destined to disappear by the end of the century under encroachment of the sea. But what about here in Laguna? What might a one-foot rise mean for our beaches? A three-foot rise? At what point do preventative mechanisms to protect private property trump the publics right to beach access?

Two current struggles provide a framework for conversation. The first and closest to home is Broad Beach, in Malibu, where as much as 60 of beach had been lost in the past decade. As the sea continued to encroach into the front lawns of the rich and famous, they took matters into their own hands first with a sand berm that caused a huge uproar and finally with a 13 high wall of jetty-like stones.

The net effect has been a temporary solution at best, and one that has rendered what used to be a well-loved beach, unusable. The thin strip of sand in front of the revetment that is exposed during low tide is never dry enough to lay down a towel.

Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Lab, in Pasadena, calls it the Invisible Beach. The protection of a handful of property owners has eliminated access to the public.

On the other side of the country, in Nantucket, homeowners along Baxter Road, which fronts a steep cliff face called Sconset Bluff, are in a face-off that similarly pits the wealthy against the public. A lingering noreaster in March 2013 caused the surf to pound the unprotected bluffs for days. The resulting erosion chewed away at the foot of the slope, and one of the houses on the edge simply fell into the sea.

Remaining homeowners are desperate for a solution and have tried everything from a type of drain pipe buried under the sand to some burrito-shaped barriers of coir and jute.The drain system clogged and was abandoned; the burritos developed into individual islands as the sea simply swept over and around them.

At question are more than just property rights and beach access. The coastal bluff environment is integral to the health of the seas. And while we can slow erosion by extreme measures, it rarely stops it.

Sarah Oktay, vice-chairman of the Nantucket Conservation Commission states, Its a natural process If you take beach bluffs or dunes and you cover them in rocks so it cant go anywhere, then it no longer provides that feeder material to downdrift beaches, so youll lose the beach in front of those rocks and youll lose the beach downdrifts. Its basically telling your neighbors, Well, I want my home more than you want your beach.

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Beaches vs. Homeowners

Apr 022014

Story Created: Apr 1, 2014 at 11:13 PM ECT

Story Updated: Apr 1, 2014 at 11:13 PM ECT

THE recent drowning of 26-year-old Sashell Ross at Bacolet beach once again raises concerns about the safety of those who use our beaches. At present, Tobago is an ideal getaway and place of relaxation for many Trinidadians almost every weekend. Also, many Tobagonians and foreign visitors recognise the importance of a sea bath to their physical well-being. The fact that there are beaches on the island which are relatively free from pollution helps to add attraction for both local and foreign people seeking to enjoy sun, sea and sun. As the old saying goes, the sea has no branches. This means that safety is a priority at all beaches. Whether those beaches are on the Atlantic or Caribbean side of the island, the sea bathers cannot be ignored. Bacolet Beach, for example is a very beautiful and enchanting place to bathe when the water is calm. However, those who are acquainted with the beach, know there is a current pulling from east to west when the water is rough. Also when the inter-island ferry passes in the vicinity of the beach, there is always a vicious ripping of the waves. It means that it would be wise for those in the water to come out and allow the normality of the waves to return. Such native knowledge could well be printed on public notice boards at the beach, because to be forewarned is to be forearmed’. Lifesaving information could also be printed. Even though the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Tourism will have its hands full at present with the upcoming jazz event, it is hoped that the operatives at the Division will ensure later on to remember the safety of the public on our beaches. It is also essential for the well used beaches on the island to have properly trained and fully equipped lifeguards. Also, members of the public must themselves be aware of certain basics when they go to enjoy a sea bath. There must be a limitation on alcohol or drug consumption which can cause an individual to lose his or her sense of judgement. Be careful of what games are played while bathing because in the heat of the moment, one can forget the principle of safety first. The Tobago Hotels Restaurants and Tourism Association is now calling on the Division to provide more lifeguard cover on the popular tourist beaches, like Grafton and Turtle Beach. While it accepts that the Division does put public notices on many unmanned beaches, it is warning that this shouldn’t be a cheap option and that nothing replaces full lifeguard cover, who can often act as first responders to any beach related incident. We believe the Tobago beaches remain one of our island’s primary attractions; we must therefore keep them safe for ourselves and our visiting friends.

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Safety on our beaches

Senator the Hon. Scott Ryan on free speech
Victorian Senator and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education, the Hon. Scott Ryan, explains why freedom of speech is essential to political li…

By: Institute of Public Affairs

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Senator the Hon. Scott Ryan on free speech – Video

Giant Cinema – Freedom in Telecommunication
Giant Cinema is Free TV and Movies, but there is much more to it than giving the public free entertainment. This is a shift in our telecommunication industry…

By: Joyce Belnap

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Giant Cinema – Freedom in Telecommunication – Video

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

Daisy Hilton's Dance of Freedom
The conjoined twin dreams of movement without her sister – from the public domain movie Chained For Life. Read more about The Intimate Loves Lives of the H…

By: Michael AManAndAMouse

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Daisy Hilton’s Dance of Freedom – Video

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.

Shine a light on government

Mexico hails day of liberty archival newsreel stock footage www PublicDomainFootage com

By: newsfootage100

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Mexico hails day of liberty archival newsreel stock footage www PublicDomainFootage com – Video

Epic Score – Flight of Freedom
Track: Flight of Freedom Album: Journey Beyond the Sky Company: Epic Score This album is available to the public on the following sites: iTunes: https://itun…

By: SubZero90EpicMusic

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Epic Score – Flight of Freedom – Video

From Public Squares to Platforms: Free Speech in the Networked World
November 30, 2011 From local issues like the BART protests to national and international movements like Occupy and the…

By: Business

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From Public Squares to Platforms: Free Speech in the Networked World – Video

Off Book with “Beaches” Author and Playwright Iris Rainer Dart
Signature at the Library recorded Feb. 3, 2014 at the Shirlington Branch Library in Arlington VA The world premiere of “Beaches” is on stage at Signature fro…

By: Arlington VA Public Library

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Off Book with "Beaches" Author and Playwright Iris Rainer Dart – Video

Both the Government and the public respect and treasure Hong Kong’s free speech and freedom of the press.

The Government made the statement today in response to the public procession held by some media groups.

It noted the Chief Executive publicly stated that both the Government and he himself has attached great importance to these freedoms and will continue to do so.

The Government will strive to safeguard these core values as they are the major elements to sustaining Hong Kong’s status as an international metropolis, and its continuous development.

On community concern expressed over staff changes in media organisations in recent years, the Government said it cannot interfere with the editorial freedom, independent operation and internal management of these organisations.

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Free speech and press treasured

If the FCC goes forward, it’s not clear what will happen to news organizations that fall short of…

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no lawabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation’s newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public’s “critical information needs.” Those “needs” will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government’s standards could face an uncertain future. It’s hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment.

The initiative, known around the agency as “the CIN Study” (pronounced “sin”), is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. “This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced,” says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC’s five commissioners (and one of its two Republicans). “I’ve never had any input into the process,” adds Pai, who brought the story to the public’s attention in a Wall Street Journal column last week.

Advocates promote the project with Obama-esque rhetoric. “This study begins the charting of a course to a more effective delivery of necessary information to all citizens,” said FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn in 2012. Clyburn, daughter of powerful House Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, was appointed to the FCC by President Obama and served as acting chair for part of last year. The FCC, Clyburn said, “must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation — be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other.” (The FCC decided to test the program with a trial run in Ms. Clyburn’s home state, South Carolina.)

The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy to do a study defining what information is “critical” for citizens to have. The scholars decided that “critical information” is information that people need to “live safe and healthy lives” and to “have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities,” among other things.

The study identified eight “critical needs”: information about emergencies and risks; health and welfare; education; transportation; economic opportunities; the environment; civic information; and political information.

It’s not difficult to see those topics quickly becoming vehicles for political intimidation. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t. For example, might the FCC standards that journalists must meet on the environment look something like the Obama administration’s environmental agenda? Might standards on economic opportunity resemble the president’s inequality agenda? The same could hold true for the categories of health and welfare and “civic information” — and pretty much everything else.

“An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics,” says Pai. “The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them.”

The FCC awarded a contract for the study to a Maryland-based company called Social Solutions International. In April 2013, Social Solutions presented a proposal outlining a process by which contractors hired by the FCC would interview news editors, reporters, executives and other journalists.

“The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected,” the Social Solutions report said, adding that news organizations would be evaluated for “station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

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New Obama initiative tramples First Amendment protections

February 13, 2014 2:00 AM

Feb. 10 To the Editor:

We are writing with regard to Article 23, which will be on the ballot at the Town of Rye election on March 11. The article proposes beach activity permits for commercial activities on Rye’s beaches.

We are in favor of public access to these beaches, but to ensure access, safety and enjoyment of the beaches for everyone, there has to be some town control over commercial beach activities. No controls on commercial beach usage will only increase the negative impact on everyone’s safe enjoyment of the beaches. At Jenness State Beach and at Wallis Sands State Beach, the state of New Hampshire requires a special use permit for anyone seeking to use those beaches for commercial activity. If this is something that the state requires, and it has worked, why can’t the town of Rye have a similar requirement?

The town of Rye, like all other towns, has an extensive list of controls for what can and cannot be done in town. There are zoning regulations, speed limits, parking restrictions, limits on the numbers of people that are permitted in public spaces, permit requirements for road and bicycle races, and even for fires on the beach. Zoning regulations, for instance, are not in place to prohibit persons from building in town; but when they do want to build, the restrictions are in place to set parameters as to what can be built in order to preserve the beauty of the town, enhance safety and not encroach on the rights of others. These other restrictions or permit requirements are not in place to prohibit the public from doing any of the above but to ensure that when they do choose to do one of these things, they must do so safely and not interfere with others.

Similar to the above examples, Article 23 would require a permit for commercial activities on Rye town beaches. Its purpose is not to prohibit all commercial activities on the beach; rather, its purpose is to ensure that when commercial activities are conducted, they will be done in a manner that does not interfere with the safe, enjoyable use of the beaches for everyone. The article only deals with commercial activity; it contains no restrictions whatsoever on the right to surf on Rye’s beaches.

Proponents of Article 23, including us, are not attempting to put any commercial activities out of business. Instead, what we do advocate is for the town of Rye to have a minimum amount of control as to what commercial businesses can and cannot do on Rye’s beaches. A permitting process will greatly help to ensure that the public’s right to access and enjoy the beaches will not be hampered. We encourage Rye voters to vote for Article 23 on March 11.

Brenda and Frank McDermott


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We support permits for commercial activity at Rye beaches

One of the most difficult times for the public image of the First Amendment is when its protection for freedom of expression means sheltering speech that most people find offensive, degrading or vile.

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A time for more speech in the face of bias, bigotry

Freedom of Public Space and Art: Gary Yarbrough at TEDxTerryTalks 2013
Gary Yarbrough speaks about the power of street art and public space and its effect on humanity to spark reflection and its ability to transcend socio-econom…

By: TEDxTalks

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Freedom of Public Space and Art: Gary Yarbrough at TEDxTerryTalks 2013 – Video

The Marine Conservation Society is asking for help from the public in cleaning litter from Scotland's beaches.

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Plea for help cleaning dirty beaches

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?

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