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Human Genetics Alert – The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Human Genetics Alert – The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering
Jul 282015
 

David King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Human Genetics Alert – The Threat of Human Genetic Engineering

Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Apr 142015
 

The Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a term limit for election to the office of President of the United States. Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947. It was ratified by the requisite number of states on February 27, 1951.

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.

Historians point to George Washington’s decision not to seek a third term as evidence that the founders saw a two-term limit as a bulwark against a monarchy, although his Farewell Address suggests that he was not seeking re-election because of his age. Thomas Jefferson also contributed to the convention of a two-term limit when he wrote in 1807, “if some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life.”[1] Jeffersons immediate successors, James Madison and James Monroe, adhered to the two-term principle as well. In a new political atmosphere several years later, Andrew Jackson continued the precedent.

Prior to Franklin D. Roosevelt, few Presidents attempted to serve for more than two terms. Ulysses S. Grant sought a third term in 1880 after serving from 1869 to 1877, but narrowly lost his party’s nomination to James Garfield. Grover Cleveland tried to serve a third term (and second consecutive term) in 1896, but did not have enough support in the wake of the Panic of 1893. Cleveland lost support to the Silverites led by William Jennings Bryan, and declined to head the Gold Democrat ticket, though he did endorse the Gold Democrats. Theodore Roosevelt succeeded to the presidency upon William McKinley’s assassination and was himself elected in 1904 to a full term, serving from 1901 to 1909. He sought to be elected to a (non-consecutive) term in 1912 but lost to Woodrow Wilson. Wilson himself tried to get a third term in 1920,[citation needed] by deadlocking the convention. Wilson deliberately blocked the nomination of his Secretary of the Treasury and son-in-law, William Gibbs McAdoo. However, Wilson was too unpopular even within his own party at the time, and James M. Cox was nominated. In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the only president to be elected to a third term; supporters cited the war in Europe as a reason for breaking with precedent.

In the 1944 election, during World War II, Roosevelt won a fourth term but suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in office the following year. Thus, Franklin Roosevelt was the only President to have served more than two terms. Near the end of the 1944 campaign, Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey, the governor of New York, announced support of an amendment that would limit future presidents to two terms. According to Dewey, “Four terms, or sixteen years, is the most dangerous threat to our freedom ever proposed.”[2]

The Republican-controlled 80th Congress approved a 22nd Amendment in March 1947;[3] it was signed by Speaker of the House Joseph W. Martin and acting President pro tempore of the Senate William F. Knowland.[4] Nearly four years later, in February 1951, enough states ratified the amendment for its adoption. While excluded from the amendment’s restrictions, then-President Harry S. Truman ultimately decided not to seek another term in 1952.[3]

The Congress proposed the Twenty-second Amendment on March 24, 1947.[5] The proposed amendment was adopted on February 27, 1951. The following states ratified the amendment:

Ratification was completed on February 27, 1951. The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:

In addition, the following states voted to reject the amendment:

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Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution

Pence signs 'fix' for religious freedom law

 Freedom  Comments Off on Pence signs 'fix' for religious freedom law
Apr 082015
 

Top Indiana Republican lawmakers overhauled their week-old religious freedom law Thursday with a follow-up measure intended to ease concerns driven by businesses that it could lead to discrimination. Gov. Mike Pence then signed it into law.

The changes appear to have tamped down some of the criticism — but in doing so Pence and lawmakers infuriated social conservative activists and set the stage for a bigger fight next year over expanding Indiana’s anti-discrimination law to cover gays and lesbians.

Republican legislative leaders unveiled their series of changes Thursday morning to the law that triggered intense backlash from businesses, sports associations, pro-LGBT groups and even fiscally-focused conservatives when Pence signed it last week.

The GOP-dominated House and Senate approved a legislative fix, which was added into an unrelated bill, on Thursday, sending it to Pence’s desk almost immediately.

Despite last-minute lobbying from conservative groups like Indiana Right to Life to get Pence to veto the fix, the governor signed it Thursday evening.

“In the midst of this furious debate, I have prayed earnestly for wisdom and compassion, and I have felt the prayers of people across this state and across this nation. For that I will be forever grateful,” Pence said in a statement.

“There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, ‘What is best for Indiana?'” he said. “I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.”

The changes prohibit businesses from using the law as a defense in court for refusing “to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing” to any customers based on “race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.”

It doesn’t accomplish what the law’s critics wanted most: Adding sexual orientation to the list of categories protected by Indiana’s anti-discrimination law.

But that debate, GOP legislators acknowledged, is coming soon. House Speaker Brian Bosma said the backlash against the religious freedom law has “opened many perspectives” and that the anti-discrimination law “needs to be discussed.”

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Pence signs 'fix' for religious freedom law

Hip Hop Illuminati 101 Part 2 BEYONCE AND JAY Z – Video

 Illuminati  Comments Off on Hip Hop Illuminati 101 Part 2 BEYONCE AND JAY Z – Video
Apr 012015
 



Hip Hop Illuminati 101 Part 2 BEYONCE AND JAY Z
Rebecca Holly Hood Scott Amazon Top-Selling Author, Speaker, Activist Rebecca Holly Hood Scott Amazon Top-Selling Author, Speaker, Activist http:/. Rebecca Holly Hood Scott Amazon Top-Selling…

By: Prher Pro

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Hip Hop Illuminati 101 Part 2 BEYONCE AND JAY Z – Video

Torontos Green Lotus Celebrates the Launch of their SEO Tools with a Party

 SEO  Comments Off on Torontos Green Lotus Celebrates the Launch of their SEO Tools with a Party
Mar 312015
 

Toronto, Ontario (PRWEB) March 31, 2015

Officially launched on March 10, 2015 Green Lotus SEO Tools is a suite of tools designed to help entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketing professionals develop and manage online brand presence and search engine optimization.

With a simple, user-friendly dashboard and an extensive do-it-yourself SEO Checklist, Green Lotus SEO Tools provide users with an easy to follow SEO strategy in the form of tasks. On-Site Audits, Keyword Research and Content Optimization tools help users begin to optimize their websites, and ensure they are search engine friendly.

Green Lotus SEO Tools also provide a platform for conducting competitor research. Competitor data can be insanely helpful when it comes to keyword selection, landing page optimization and link building. With the Competitor Backlink Spy Tool users can view all links to competitors and start developing their own link building strategy. Competitor Content Analysis and Rank Spy Tools provide the ability to track keywords, rankings, paid advertisements and vertical metrics (including news, videos, images, etc), and help users remain competitive online.

Social metrics have become an important factor to consider in search engine optimization. Green Lotus SEO & Social Media Tools collect brand social data and provide an easy to view chart tracking social metrics over time with the Social Monitoring Tool, and online branding with the Web Buzz Monitoring Tool.

Combined, the 30+ SEO Tools are a perfect suite of tools for businesses focused on managing their own search engine optimization. A complimentary SEO Tools 30 Day Trial is available to the public, no credit card required!

Green Lotus Tools provide exceptional value at a low cost! Starting at $20 /month on annual packages, these tools are not only insightful but affordable.

More about Green Lotus: Bassem Ghali is the driving force behind Green Lotus and has a knack for creating innovative online marketing strategies for small, medium and large businesses. Bassem is a Toronto Search Engine Marketing Strategist and Speaker with more than 8 years of experience managing online marketing strategies for some of Canadians largest corporations including Canadian Tire, Direct Energy, and Toronto Star – New in Homes.

Demonstrated success in online marketing has led to speaking engagements at various events including Search Engine Strategies (SES) Toronto, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, American Marketing Association, SOHO Business Expo, Online Revealed Canada Conference, Newmarket Chamber of Commerce and more.

Green Lotus: 1 Yonge Street – Suite 1801. Toronto, Ontario M5E 1E5. Toll Free: 1 800-878-1667

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Torontos Green Lotus Celebrates the Launch of their SEO Tools with a Party

Hasse Carlsson om varfr han valt att vara medlem i Talarfreningen NSA Sweden – Video

 NSA  Comments Off on Hasse Carlsson om varfr han valt att vara medlem i Talarfreningen NSA Sweden – Video
Mar 132015
 



Hasse Carlsson om varfr han valt att vara medlem i Talarfreningen NSA Sweden
Hasse berttar varfr han valt att vara medlem i Talarfreningen National Speaker Association of Sweden.

By: Talarfreningen National Speakers Association of Sweden

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Hasse Carlsson om varfr han valt att vara medlem i Talarfreningen NSA Sweden – Video

House Freedom Caucus hires first staffer

 Freedom  Comments Off on House Freedom Caucus hires first staffer
Mar 132015
 

The House Freedom Caucus, the nascent group of conservative lawmakers whove frustrated GOP leaders, has hired its first staff member as it gears up for upcoming spending battles.

Steve Chartan will serve as executive director of the Freedom Caucus, the group saidFriday.

Steves experience on the Senate Steering Committee makes him an ideal executive director for the House Freedom Caucus,the groups chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

His relationships on and off the Hill will help HFC to successfully promote common-sense solutions that benefit the countless Americans who feel that they are forgotten by Washington.

Chartans hiring is yet another sign that the Freedom Caucus, which launched in January, is taking additional steps to organize ahead of looming fights within the GOP over the budget, lifting the debt ceiling and whether the Export-Import Bank should be renewed.

The Freedom Caucus, which Jordan described to The Wall Street Journalas an agile, active group of about 40 Republicans devoted to limited-government principles, helped derail Speaker John Boehners GOP plan to extend funding for the Homeland Security Department for three weeks.

House Republicans failure to pass the bill meant Boehner, an Ohio Republican like Jordan, was forced to rely on Democrats to prevent a shutdown at the agency, raising more questions about the Speakers political vulnerabilities.

The invite-only group is seen as a rival to the much larger, more inclusive Republican Study Committee, which is closer to Boehner and his team. Majority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) had served as RSC chairman before stepping down to take the No. 3 job in leadership. And current RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas) has expressed a willingness to work with leadership behind the scenes.

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House Freedom Caucus hires first staffer

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Crash Course with Andreas …

 Cryptocurrency  Comments Off on Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Crash Course with Andreas …
Feb 072015
 

The Jefferson Club, Silicon Valley

Website: https://www.jeffersonclub.org

Meetup.com: https://www.meetup.com/Jefferson-Club…

The Jefferson Club is for anyone interested in making sound and informed long term, strategic decisions in view of the current economic, social, and political climate. Our goal is to better understand the direction of the economy, society, and politics, both in terms of trends and surprises. If you seek a better understanding of what’s happening in the world and how it will impact you and your family, then join us.

——————————————————- Information About The Speaker: Andreas Antonopoulos

Website: https://antonopoulos.com

Bio: Former co-founder of Nemertes Research an Industry Analyst firm, Andreas is a broad-reaching technologist, who is well-versed in many technology subjects. He is a serial tech entrepreneur, having launched businesses in London, New York, and California, in the Bay Area. He has earned degrees in Computer Science, Data Communications and Distributed Systems. With experience ranging from hardware and electronics to high level business and financial systems technology consulting and decades as CTO/CIO/CSO in many companies he combines authority and deep knowledge with an ability to make complex subjects easy to understand. He often brings a fresh perspective to a topic with surprising insights and his ability to identify underlying principles and connections between different topics. More than 200 of his articles on security, cloud computing and data centers have been published in print and syndicated worldwide. His many expertise include Bitcoin, crypto-currencies, Information Security, Cryptography, Cloud Computing, Data Centers, Linux, Open Source and robotics software development. He also has been CISSP certified for 12 years.

As a bitcoin entrepreneur, Andreas has founded three bitcoin businesses and launched several community open source projects. He often writes articles and blog posts on bitcoin and is a permanent host on Let’s Talk Bitcoin and prolific public speaker at technology events and was a recent speaker/presenter at this year’s San Jose Bitcoin 2013 Conference

Video Produced by Come Correct Media http://www.comecorrectmedia.com http://www.youtube.com/comecorrectmedia

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Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Crash Course with Andreas …

Does the First Amendment need a New Deal?

 Misc  Comments Off on Does the First Amendment need a New Deal?
Jan 272015
 

Lindsay France

Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, delivers a 2015 Frank Irvine Endowed Lecture (FIELS), “A New Deal for the First Amendment?”

The terrorist attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine in Paris, sparked a heated debate on the freedom of speech around the world. In America, this new dialogue was a continuation of a much longer, equally passionate debate on the First Amendment rights, one that has been taking place in the Supreme Court.

Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, discussed the First Amendment in A New Deal for the First Amendment? at Cornell Law School Jan. 22.

Liptak began his talk with a 2011 Supreme Court case, Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., which determined the legality of selling a doctors prescription information. The case was decided using the First Amendment, causing Justice Stephen Breyer to accuse the court of Lochnerism, a reference to the contentious 1905 Lochner v. New York decision based on the amendment. The Lochner case, Liptak explained, is often placed in the anti-canon of Supreme Court cases, along with other notorious decisions such as Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson.

What made the Sorrell and Lochner cases so controversial, Liptak continued, is how the law was interpreted and applied. In Sorrell, prescription information was a form of speech, which could be protected, but it was also an economic activity, which could be regulated. A similar duality existed in Lochner. Reconciling this duality led to the controversy: The state legislatures tried to impose economic regulations and the contradicting court decision was dismissed as judicial activism.

Liptak mentioned another possible consideration in applying the law: If judging is, as he phrased it, weighing competing interests and putting a thumb on the scale in favor of marginalized speech, then should a deciding factor in applying the First Amendment be the relative power of the speaker? Though Liptak did not have an answer to this question, an audience member raised the possibility that a power-based consideration could lead to influential organizations, like major newspapers, being censored.

This brought Liptak to the dangers of applying the First Amendment liberally. I practiced First Amendment law for 14 years, and I drank the Kool-Aid, he said, describing his previous faith in the amendment. Over the years, many important decisions have been made using it, including allowing protestors near funerals and decriminalizing flag burning. However, he added, There is something troubling we should think about: economic regulations being struck down on the basis of free speech.

The Lochner era, which was characterized by such decisions, ended in the 1930s with the New Deal. To end our modern era of First Amendment law, Liptak suggested, a new New Deal is needed.

The lecture was presented by the Law Schools Frank Irvine Endowed Lecture Series.

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Does the First Amendment need a New Deal?

John Boehner: NSA program helped foil U.S. terror plot – Video

 NSA  Comments Off on John Boehner: NSA program helped foil U.S. terror plot – Video
Jan 162015
 



John Boehner: NSA program helped foil U.S. terror plot
House Speaker John Boehner reveals that the NSA surveillance program FISA helped stop an Ohio man's terror plot against the U.S. Capitol.

By: CNN

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John Boehner: NSA program helped foil U.S. terror plot – Video

Crowd calls for prayer and justice at Freedom Corner

 Freedom  Comments Off on Crowd calls for prayer and justice at Freedom Corner
Jan 052015
 

They came by the dozens, totaling upward of 300, some carrying signs bearing Together We Can and Justice for All, most wearing their Sunday best, many holding hands or raising them in supplication.

The members of the 19 churches of the Hill District Ministers Alliance turned out Sunday afternoon, the first Sunday of the new year, at the historic Freedom Corner in the Hill District to get the ear not only of elected officials but of God, said organizer Victor Grigsby, chairman of the alliance and pastor of the Central Baptist Church in the Hill District.

There was stirring talk and singing. Mostly, there was prayer.

Theres an urgency in our community. We felt a strong need to voice our concerns. We wanted to talk about injustice. We wanted to pray, as a community, Rev. Grigsby said. Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay and Cmdr. Eric Holmes attended. Im here because I support anything that brings community together [to support peace,] Cmdr. Holmes said.

Recent national incidents involving the deaths of African-American citizens during encounters with police sparked the rally for justice and against violence, which began at 1:30 p.m. with a march down Centre Avenue to Freedom Corner, where speakers took turns at the microphone.

The precipitating factors were [shootings in] Ferguson [Mo.] and Brooklyn, New York, but this is the way we wanted to begin 2015, the first Sunday in 2015, in a peaceful voicing of our concerns, Rev. Grigsby said.

Speaker after speaker asked the group to join in prayer for government leaders, for funding of programs to benefit the community, for police, for peace.

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180.

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Crowd calls for prayer and justice at Freedom Corner

Keynote Speaker: Ken Banks Presented by SpeakInc Freedom from Money – Video

 Freedom  Comments Off on Keynote Speaker: Ken Banks Presented by SpeakInc Freedom from Money – Video
Dec 112014
 



Keynote Speaker: Ken Banks Presented by SpeakInc Freedom from Money
Mobile Technology Social/Environmental Change Expert Where Technology Meets Anthropology, Conservation and Development Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net, devotes himself to the …

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Keynote Speaker: Ken Banks Presented by SpeakInc Freedom from Money – Video

Freedom of Religion Shouldnt Be Unconditional

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom of Religion Shouldnt Be Unconditional
Dec 112014
 

TIME Ideas faith Freedom of Religion Shouldnt Be Unconditional

Rabbi Miller is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world.

Have you ever heard of a rabbi who was against religious freedom? I certainly hadnt until last week when I became one. Well, Im not really against religious freedom per se, but I am against the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA). That bill, known as HB 5958, was passed by the Michigan House of Representatives on December 4 and could soon be passed by Michigans Senate and then signed into law by the Governor. I am concerned.

It would seem that any congressional bill that advocated for religious freedom would be a good thing. After all, I believe that one of the most cherished benefits of living in a democracy like the United States is that we all have the right to practice our own faith. However, this bill, if signed into law, would have many negative consequences. (A similar bill was ultimately vetoed by the Governor in Arizona.)

HB 5958 seeks to limit governmental action that substantially burdens a persons exercise of religion, which includes an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief. This language would allow individuals to choose not to service other individuals on the basis of their religious beliefs. Imagine if a bakery owner was asked to produce a wedding cake for two homosexual men who were getting married. Claiming that his deeply held religious beliefs forbid homosexuality and therefore gay marriage, the bakery owner would be able to legally refuse to sell this couple a cake. In other words, his bigotry would be upheld by state law.

Another example would be a Jewish pharmacist who refuses to fill a medicine prescription for a fellow Jew with gelatin capsules on the basis that selling non-kosher pills to another Jew violates a religious law he follows. Perhaps a Catholic pharmacist would refuse to fill a prescription for birth control pills or an abortion pill. How about a Muslim shopkeeper who could, under HB 5958, refuse to sell a bottle of wine to a fellow Muslim, citing his own Islamic beliefs.

A few years ago I debated this topic while leading a seminar for second-year medical students. The question posed to the group was whether it was ethical for a Jehovahs Witness health care worker to refuse to perform blood transfusions based on religious belief. Could they simply request that another health care worker perform such a procedure, or might this lead to a situation in which each medical employee of a hospital would have the ability to refuse certain procedures based on their own religious affiliation, causing chaos and confusion, not to mention risking the patients health?

The intent of HB 5958 is to protect the religious rights of Michigans citizens. But it would actually allow for religious tenets to be used for discrimination against individuals. In defense of this legislation, Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger cited an example of a Jewish mother who does not want an autopsy performed on her deceased son because Jewish law forbids autopsies. Working as a hospital chaplain 15 years ago, I know how simple the process is for a Jewish family to request an autopsy be avoided on religious grounds. This bill is not necessary for that.

In fact, this bill would lead to more bigotry rather than less. A common example mentioned by opponents of HB 5958 is that a landlord could evict a gay tenant simply by arguing that a strict reading of his faith opposes homosexuality. While such a case would likely be thrown out of court, the innocent tenant would have the hassle of fighting for his rights against an opponent with state law on his side.

In support of this bill, Bolger said, People simply want their government to allow them to practice their faith in peace. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, however, allows individuals to put their religious beliefs above civil law and cause hardship for other individuals.

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Freedom of Religion Shouldnt Be Unconditional

Are Facebook rants threats or free speech? Supreme Court takes up case. (+video)

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Are Facebook rants threats or free speech? Supreme Court takes up case. (+video)
Dec 022014
 

Washington The US Supreme Court grappled on Monday with the thorny issue of how far the First Amendment stretches to protect offensive and frightening speech when the speaker claims his statements are meant in jest and delivered in the form of rap lyrics.

The case is potentially important because it could test the outer boundaries of First Amendment protection of threatening communications that put others in fear for their safety.

It is also important because it arises in the context of comments posted on Facebook. It provides the justices with their first opportunity to examine free speech issues that are increasingly arising in the fast-paced world of social media, where careless or malicious comments can achieve vast circulation in an instant.

The issue arises in the case of Pennsylvania man Anthony Elonis, who was convicted of writing a series of threatening posts on his Facebook page. The posts included menacing comments directed at his estranged wife and at an FBI agent who came to his home to investigate the Facebook posts.

Mr. Elonis maintains that his posts were protected speech because, as rap lyrics, they were artistic expression. He also argues that he never intended that his comments would be taken as an actual threat that would put others in fear for their lives.

The Facebook site included repeated notices that the content was strictly for entertainment and that the posts were not meant to pose a threat to anyone, Washington appellate lawyer John Elwood told the justices.

But some members of the court seemed skeptical.

This sounds like a road map for threatening a spouse and getting away with it, Justice Samuel Alito said.

The question in the case is when menacing comments cross the line separating free speech that is protected under the First Amendment from true threats that can be prosecuted as a crime.

Although the First Amendment protects a wide swath of speech, Americans are not free to say anything they like. For example, it is illegal to falsely yell Fire! in a crowded theater. It is illegal to make false, malicious statements about someone with the intent to harm their reputation. And Congress passed a law making it illegal to deliver true threats that place someone in fear.

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Are Facebook rants threats or free speech? Supreme Court takes up case. (+video)

Supreme Court Weighing Limits Of Internet Free Speech

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Supreme Court Weighing Limits Of Internet Free Speech
Dec 012014
 

WASHINGTON (AP) Anthony Elonis claimed he was just kidding when he posted a series of graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent.

But his wife didn’t see it that way. Neither did a federal jury.

Elonis, who’s from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was convicted of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person.

In a far-reaching case that probes the limits of free speech over the Internet, the Supreme Court on Monday was to consider whether Elonis’ Facebook posts, and others like it, deserve protection under the First Amendment.

Elonis argues that his lyrics were simply a crude and spontaneous form of expression that should not be considered threatening if he did not really mean it. The government says it does not matter what Elonis intended, and that the true test of a threat is whether his words make a reasonable person feel threatened.

One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The case has drawn widespread attention from free-speech advocates who say comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be hasty, impulsive and easily misinterpreted. They point out that a message on Facebook intended for a small group could be taken out of context when viewed by a wider audience.

“A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed,” said a brief from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

But so far, most lower courts have rejected that view, ruling that a “true threat” depends on how an objective person perceives the message.

For more than four decades, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has been careful to distinguish threats from protected speech such as “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks.”

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Supreme Court Weighing Limits Of Internet Free Speech

Supreme Court to Consider Free Speech on Social Media Today, Thanks In Part to Eminem

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Supreme Court to Consider Free Speech on Social Media Today, Thanks In Part to Eminem
Dec 012014
 

The Supreme Court is weighing the free-speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other social media.

The justices will hear arguments Monday in the case of a man who was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for posting graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent.

Anthony Elonis of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, says he was just venting his anger over a broken marriage and never meant to threaten anyone.

But his wife didn’t see it that way, and neither did federal prosecutors. A jury convicted Elonis of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person. A federal appeals court rejected his claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment.

Lawyers for Elonis argue that the government must prove he actually intended his comments to threaten others. The government says it doesn’t matter what Elonis intended; the true test of a threat is whether his words make a reasonable person feel threatened.

One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The case has drawn widespread attention from free-speech advocates who say comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be hasty, impulsive and easily misinterpreted. They point out that a message on Facebook intended for a small group could be taken out of context when viewed by a wider audience.

“A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed,” said a brief from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

So far, most lower courts have rejected that view, ruling that a “true threat” depends on how an objective person perceives the message.

For more than four decades, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has been careful to distinguish threats from protected speech such as “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks.”

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Supreme Court to Consider Free Speech on Social Media Today, Thanks In Part to Eminem

When is an online threat illegal and when is it free speech?

 Misc  Comments Off on When is an online threat illegal and when is it free speech?
Nov 302014
 

WASHINGTON – Anthony Elonis claimed he was just kidding when he posted a series of graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent.

But his wife didn’t see it that way. Neither did a federal jury.

Elonis, who’s from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was convicted of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person.

In a far-reaching case that probes the limits of free speech over the Internet, the Supreme Court on Monday was to consider whether Elonis’ Facebook posts, and others like it, deserve protection under the First Amendment.

Elonis argues that his lyrics were simply a crude and spontaneous form of expression that should not be considered threatening if he did not really mean it. The government says it does not matter what Elonis intended, and that the true test of a threat is whether his words make a reasonable person feel threatened.

One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The case has drawn widespread attention from free-speech advocates who say comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be hasty, impulsive and easily misinterpreted. They point out that a message on Facebook intended for a small group could be taken out of context when viewed by a wider audience.

“A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed,” said a brief from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

But so far, most lower courts have rejected that view, ruling that a “true threat” depends on how an objective person perceives the message.

For more than four decades, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has been careful to distinguish threats from protected speech such as “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks.”

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When is an online threat illegal and when is it free speech?

FREE SPEECH OR HATE? Internet chatter next issue on high courts agenda

 Free Speech  Comments Off on FREE SPEECH OR HATE? Internet chatter next issue on high courts agenda
Nov 302014
 

FILE – This Nov. 18, 2014, file photo shows the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, as seen from the roof of the U.S. Capitol. In a case before the court, Anthony Elonis claims he was just kidding when he posted a series of graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON Anthony Elonis claimed he was just kidding when he posted a series of graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent.

But his wife didn’t see it that way. Neither did a federal jury.

Elonis, who’s from Bethlehem, Pa., was convicted of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person.

In a far-reaching case that probes the limits of free speech over the Internet, the Supreme Court on Monday was to consider whether Elonis’ Facebook posts, and others like it, deserve protection under the First Amendment.

Elonis argues that his lyrics were simply a crude and spontaneous form of expression that should not be considered threatening if he did not really mean it. The government says it does not matter what Elonis intended, and that the true test of a threat is whether his words make a reasonable person feel threatened.

One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The case has drawn widespread attention from free-speech advocates who say comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be hasty, impulsive and easily misinterpreted. They point out that a message on Facebook intended for a small group could be taken out of context when viewed by a wider audience.

“A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed,” said a brief from the American Liberties Union and other groups.

– lyrics posted by Anthony Elonis

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FREE SPEECH OR HATE? Internet chatter next issue on high courts agenda

Twenty-Five Years of Freedom Through the Eyes of Czech and American Envoys – Video

 Freedom  Comments Off on Twenty-Five Years of Freedom Through the Eyes of Czech and American Envoys – Video
Nov 192014
 



Twenty-Five Years of Freedom Through the Eyes of Czech and American Envoys
Welcome Remarks The Hon. Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University Keynote Address H.E. Jan Hamek, Speaker of the Chamber.

By: AtlanticCouncil

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Twenty-Five Years of Freedom Through the Eyes of Czech and American Envoys – Video

Would an Anti-Catcalling Law Afflict the Powerful or the Weak?

 Misc  Comments Off on Would an Anti-Catcalling Law Afflict the Powerful or the Weak?
Nov 072014
 

Magdalena Roeseler/Flickr

Earlier this week, I argued that verbal street harassment is a serious problem worth addressing but that criminalizing it would do far more harm than good. I also made brief mention of an article by Professor Laura Beth Nielsen, who argued in The New York Times that when the Supreme Court upheld a ban on cross-burning it set a precedent that should inform the catcalling debate.

What follows is correspondence from Nielsen, who was good enough to contact me about our disagreements. Her focus was free speech and who it empowers:

We tend to think of free speech as something that protects the little guy and his unpopular opinions. There is a rich history of that in the United States. But First Amendment jurisprudence as it stands now embodies power inequalities worth exploring. In the context of uninvited speech between strangers in public, we have full protection for the pervasive racial epithets that 81 percent of people of color report hearing on the street every day or often and the sexually harassing speech that 60 percent of women report hearing every day or often. In both examples, the First Amendmentour very Constitutionprotects the powerfuls privilege to harass minority group members.

Maybe thats okay because it is the price we pay to keep our First Amendment strong. But consider that the Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on whether begginganother form of unsolicited street speechis constitutionally protected. Restrictions on begging often are upheld by the appellate courts. When laws prohibiting begging are upheld it is often justified as necessary so commuters can get where they are going without being harassed. So when members of powerful groups in society want free (if annoying, harassing, or subordinating) speech in public, they get to do it. And when powerful members of society want to be able to walk down the street without the inconvenience of being asked for money by people living in poverty, they get that too. This is not about consistent constitutional standards for street speech, it is about the power of the speaker and the spoken to.

Can we at least agree we favor principled consistency?

When can speech be limited without violating the First Amendment? Lots of times! When it is conspiracy to commit a crime, when it incites a mob, when it is obscene, when it is a cigarette advertisement, and when the speech is done with the intent to intimidate. The case that established that rule is Virginia v. Black. The intent to intimidate must be proved to a judge or jury. You may not like that First Amendment jurisprudence, but that is the rule. And yes, that case is about cross-burning which seems very different to ordinary people than mere words but for purposes of our constitution is speech, just like any other speech. And the fundamental First Amendment prohibition is to treat different kinds of speech differently. So if racist hate speech can be restricted when done with the intent to intimidate, so can sexist speech. Can we at least agree we favor principled consistency?

Would this law be enforced? Not much. It would be extremely hard to prove, hard to know who was doing the harassing (as it is often quickly and quietly accomplished or yelled from far away preventing identification), and most women arent going to report this. But the lawour lawshould stand for equality. Would a law be differentially racially enforced? Most certainly. Racial bias in policing is a serious problem that we must remedy. Rather than making this a racism vs. sexism debate, why not try to promote equality in both arenas?

Id start with drug laws. The speech/power dynamic works out in other areas of the First Amendment jurisprudence as well. When campaign dollars were determined to be speech in Citizens United, which invalidated bipartisan campaign-finance laws, the wealthy gained a lot of political power.

While I do passionately expect justice from our law, these First Amendment contradictions are not what drive my zeal to end street harassment. When I began researching street harassment more than 20 years ago, I did not expect to see a vigorous debate about the topic in my lifetime. My lived experience of being viciously, repeatedly harassed and sexualized as a young girl taught me what most Americans know and what The Atlantic article says: Street harassment is a social problem, not just an annoyance. It is an exclusionary tactic.

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Would an Anti-Catcalling Law Afflict the Powerful or the Weak?




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism