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Did Maryland Police Shoot and Kill a Sleeping Man? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 15, 2020

An initial police press release claims “firearms offenses” were involved, but now the authorities are being mum.

Duncan Lemp in 2019 (Courtesy of Lemp family) and stock photo SWAT CLP

“The constitution is dead” was the last tweet ever sent by 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp.  On Thursday morning at 4:30 a.m., a Montgomery County SWAT team killed Lemp during a violent attack on his family’s home in the affluent Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland.

Why did the SWAT team attack the home as Lemp was sleeping? The initial county police press release referred only to “firearms offenses.” County police spokeswoman Mary Davison refused to disclose either the details of Lemp’s alleged offense or the affidavit used to justify the raid.  Instead, she notified me that my press inquiries were being handled under the Maryland Public Information Act which entitles government agencies to delay responding for weeks or months.

Even the search warrant used to justify the raid is reportedly sealed for 30 days. This Blue Wall of Silence is doing nothing to slow the cascade of allegations on social media that Lemp was murdered.

According to Rene Sandler, a former prosecutor who is representing the Lemp family, Montgomery County police fired into the bedroom where Lemp and his pregnant girlfriend were sleeping without warning. The gunfire was followed by two flash-bang grenades.  The Supreme Court of North Carolina last month labeled flash-bangs a “weapon of mass death and destruction,” and a 2019 federal appeals court decision noted that flash bangs are “four times louder than a 12-gauge shotgun blast” with “a powerful enough concussive effect to break windows and put holes in walls.” Criminal defense lawyer Clay Conrad observed in 2010, flash-bangs are “just an assault. These things are designed to blind and deafen… You’re intentionally injuring people.”

And when gunfire and bombs ring out at 4:30 a.m., it is not surprising that someone gets killed in the commotion.  Montgomery County police have offered no explanation for the timing of the raid. Instead, they issued a press release late on the day of the killing announcing a “police-involved shooting” — a weasel phrase preferred by police departments and much of the media nowadays.

After Lemp, who was a software developer, was wounded, the police handcuffed the surviving family members and his girlfriend while conducting an exhaustive search of the house. Lemp was pronounced dead at the scene. On Friday evening, the police department posted photos of five firearms (none of which were apparently illegal in themselves) they seized during the raid but omitted including a photo of Lemp’s bullet-ridden corpse.  The police also modified their story to assert that Lemp had “confronted” the police officers.  But this could simply mean that he stood up after the shooting or took a step towards the window from where shots were entering. The police department has not asserted that Lemp had a firearm or any other dangerous device when he was slain.

Is the version of events that Sanders offers unfair to the police?  SWAT team members were reportedly wearing body cams. The ACLU of Maryland is demanding that the police “must be transparent and release all body camera footage” of the raid on Lemp’s home.  The county government’s refusal to answer questions or to disclose the body cam footage is doing nothing to help its credibility.

Why was Lemp targeted?  Lawyer Sandler said that the search warrant referred to Lemp as a “prohibited person” —meaning that he was prohibited from owning firearms. That could mean simply that he had a permit to use medical marijuana —a violation that would apply to tens of thousands of Maryland gun owners who use marijuana despite federal law prohibiting gunownership combined with pot smoking. A check of Montgomery County court records revealed one offense for Lemp:  a speeding ticket from last year. Court records state that Lemp was only 5′ 8″ and 145 pounds but he was towering enough to terrify a SWAT team into opening fire without warning.

Lemp was apparently a member of some online pro-gun groups and had allegedly expressed interest in joining a militia. His Instagram page shows two photos with the motto “Sic Semper Tyrannis”—the Virginia “Thus Always to Tyrants” state motto, including one photo showing firearms held high. Checking his Facebook page on Friday morning, I was surprised that he and I had seven mutual friends, including a savvy libertarian lawyer lady from California. Did Lemp’s political beliefs or associations have any role on his fatal targeting by the Montgomery County police?

Maryland has a long history of deadly SWAT raids that kill innocent people or dogs — lots of dogs. After Maryland police wrongfully raided a mayor’s house and killed his canines in 2008, the legislature required police to report on every SWAT raid.  Between 2010 and 2014, police in Maryland conducted over 8000 SWAT raids, killing nine people and injuring almost a hundred, as well as killing 14 animals.  Those grim statistics helped spur the Maryland legislature to end SWAT recordkeeping.

Montgomery County police have refused to disclose the name of the police officer or officers who killed Lemp.  Maryland police are protected by the so-called “Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights” that prohibits questioning a police officer for 10 days after any incident in which he used deadly force.  A 2019 George Washington Law Review nationwide survey revealed that 98% of police chiefs believed that delaying interrogations of police after a shooting can impede  investigations but police unions’ clout prevails on this issue. One police chief commented that “showing evidence in advance allows [police] to tailor their lies to fit the evidence,” while another police chief observed that that process simply gives police suspects “time to fabricate a better lie.”

Another barrier against finding the truth out about is the Potomac SWAT raid is that Maryland treats police falsifying evidence as the equivalent of jaywalking. A Baltimore police officer was found guilty in 2018 of “fabricating evidence in a case in which his own body-camera footage showed him placing drugs in a vacant lot and then acting as if he had just discovered them.”  The man who was arrested for those drugs was locked up for six months before the charge was dropped and he was released. The policeman kept his job because, as the Baltimore Sun explained, “Under Maryland law, officers are only removed automatically if convicted of a felony. Fabricating evidence and misconduct in office are both misdemeanors.”  An ACLU lawyer groused that he “cannot imagine a more screwed-up, idiotic way of trying to manage a police department or any other public office” than continuing to employ a cop convicted for fabricating evidence.

Was Duncan Lemp correct that “the constitution is dead”?  One answer will be found in whether Montgomery County police face any consequence for his death. Unfortunately, the legal playing field in Maryland is profoundly tilted in favor of official killers.

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Edward Snowden Responds After Trump DOJ Sues Whistleblower Over New Memoir the US Government “Does Not Want You to Read”

Posted by M. C. on September 19, 2019

By Julia Conley

Citing what First Amendment advocates have called an “unconstitutional” system of controlling what federal employees can and cannot say about their work, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over the publication of his new memoir.

The day the book Permanent Record was released, the DOJ filed its lawsuit claiming Snowden had published without submitting the book for “pre-publication review.”

The DOJ is not seeking to block publication of the book but is instead arguing that Snowden should not profit from the story of his 2013 decision to leak files about the NSA’s phone and email spying program since he didn’t have permission from the government to share the information.

The government wants all proceeds from the book and is asking MacMillan Publishers to keep any revenue from being transferred to Snowden.

Government approval is required of federal employees before they write or speak publicly about their work—a requirement that the ACLU says has kept millions of Americans from being able to speak openly about the government.

Snowden tweeted about the lawsuit shortly after it was reported, including a link to his book’s page on Amazon and the words, “This is the book the government does not want you to read.”

“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and a lawyer for Snowden. “He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.

“This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations,” added Wizner. “Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.”

The Movement for a People’s Party decried the Justice Department for continuing its “war on whistleblowers” targeting Snowden and others who in recent years have publicized government secrets, including war crimes.

The ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute are currently challenging the pre-publication review in court, arguing it violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

“The prepublication process in its current form is broken and unconstitutional, and it needs to go,” Brett Max Kaufman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, said in April when the groups filed suit. “It’s one thing to censor the nuclear codes, but it’s another to censor the same information high schoolers are pulling from Wikipedia. Prepublication review gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that the public has a right to hear.”

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, called the agreement that demands federal workers’ silence a “far-reaching censorship system” that “simply can’t be squared with the Constitution.”

“The government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national-security secrets,” said Jaffer, “but this system sweeps too broadly, fails to limit the discretion of government censors, and suppresses political speech that is vital to informing public debate.”

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Red Flag Laws Spur Debate Over Due Process

Posted by M. C. on September 6, 2019

You know our situation is bad when you have PEW and the ACLU fretting over your gun related rights.

In the year since Florida enacted its red flag law, Kendra Parris has defended nearly 20 clients against risk protection orders that could remove their firearms.

The Orlando-based lawyer has long represented people who might be subject to the state’s involuntary mental health treatment provision. But when this new law, meant to protect against people who might be a harm to themselves or others, passed in the aftermath of the February 2018 Parkland mass shooting, she saw yet another opportunity for the state to potentially deprive certain people of their civil liberties.

“It’s almost like a shiny new toy for law enforcement,” Parris said, “filing them left and right.”

Since the law’s adoption, Florida courts have approved around 2,500 risk protection orders, according to an August count by NPR.

Since Parkland, at least six states and the District of Columbia have passed red flag laws, which allow law enforcement agencies that have gotten a court order to remove guns from people considered a harm to themselves or others. In the wake of high-profile shootings this summer in Ohio and Texas, including one that killed eight people in Midland-Odessa this past weekend, more state lawmakers are considering such laws, as are some members of Congress.

Many law enforcement officials firmly believe the laws save lives, and lawmakers say they can craft legislation that won’t infringe on civil liberties.

But for two decades, since the first such law was enacted in Connecticut, civil and gun rights advocates have protested that the seizures violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee — meaning residents have a right to fully argue their case in court.

“Rather than find clear and convincing evidence, [courts are] basically saying, ‘Better safe than sorry,’” Parris said.

Most red flag laws are vague on what constitutes a “significant danger,” which gives courts broad discretion to seize firearms, Parris said. And in some states, respondents are not guaranteed representation in court, since these are civil and not criminal matters.

Many defense lawyers say respondents fare much better with legal representation. Of Parris’ seven cases that have gone to a hearing, she has won five — which she said is a “vastly higher” success record than when someone represents themselves.

Due Process Concerns

Seventeen states and D.C. have laws on the books that allow law enforcement or family members to petition courts to remove weapons from people who may be dangerous and prevent them from buying other weapons for up to a year. In many of these states, bipartisan groups of lawmakers led the drive to pass the legislation.

States define “red flags” differently, but they largely follow the same process for taking away somebody’s guns.

If someone is showing signs of erratic behavior or expressed some intent to hurt themselves or others, they might be subject to an extreme risk protection order. In most states with red flag laws, family or community members can petition a court for those orders. But in Florida, Rhode Island and Vermont, law enforcement officials are the only ones who can petition to remove firearms.

If there is an immediate risk of harm, a court can issue a temporary ex parte order to seize guns from people for up to 14 days in most states. Other states range from two days to 45 days. At those hearings, a judge can issue the order by listening to evidence from the petitioner.

In many cases, the subject of a petition can’t present a defense until the final hearing. But that’s where the process gets legally dubious to some critics.

Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, a Denver-based libertarian think tank, said states have taken the same approach President Donald Trump spoke in favor of in March 2018: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

When it comes to seizing guns through a temporary order, the standards that a judge uses should be high, Kopel said. Vermont, he believes, has a fair system, which requires “specific facts” that show “an imminent and extreme risk.”

The situation becomes even more precarious when loved ones can petition for the removal of firearms, he said. Spurned former partners or family members seeking revenge might “weaponize” this tool, he said. Because of that, he argues, there should be a penalty for maliciously false accusations, which several states have adopted…

In Rhode Island, the American Civil Liberties Union originally came out against the state’s 2018 measure until the legislature tightened the standard for granting a petition, created penalties for providing false evidence of a threat, allowed only law enforcement to file petitions, required specific evidence and granted the right to legal counsel in hearings…

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Alabama Expands Law Allowing Private Police Forces — And the Opposition Goes Nuts | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2019

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security.

Some colleges in PA have their own police force. What about private security guards/firms?

Government. Power and control over you.

Recently, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses, which are used by 2,000 students and faculty, as well as 4,000 parishioners. The legislation is to take effect in the fall. The church’s attorney who drafted the legislation, Eric Johnston, said that they have traditionally hired off-duty police officers to patrol their campuses, but they are not always available, and therefore the church would like to have its own dedicated sworn peace officer. The bill’s language is similar to that found in the Alabama Code, Section 16-22-1, which lists various educational institutions (including private ones) that may hire their own police officers who are charged with all the duties and powers of police officers, trained in the use of non-lethal weaponry, and certified by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. Johnston stated that it would not involve a jail or other facilities, but basically an officer and an official car and “If there is an arrest on campus, the local jurisdiction would be called and they would come pick the person up.”

Of course, there has been the expected knee-jerk reaction regarding the desirability of such an arrangement. Randall Marshall of the Alabama ACLU, for instance, says the law will help the church cover-up criminal activity that occurs on its campuses, and that it is a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause because “It establishes a singular religion that is favored above all others in the state of Alabama and it gives them the authority of state government.”

It is interesting to note, however, that the functions the church wants the police to perform would not require sworn peace officers. Various media accounts of the story (for example, see here, here, and here), emphasize that the proposed police force would have the power to arrest people committing crimes on campus property, as if this would be a major power grab. However, in comparing the arrest powers of private citizens in Alabama (AL Code § 15-10-7) to those of a sworn officer without a warrant (AL Code § 15-10-3), one sees striking similarity.

Here is the statute on arrests by private persons:

 Section 15-10-7 Arrests by private persons.

(a) A private person may arrest another for any public offense:

(1) Committed in his presence;

(2) Where a felony has been committed, though not in his presence, by the person arrested; or

(3) Where a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.

(b) An arrest for felony may be made by a private person on any day and at any time.

(c) A private person must, at the time of the arrest, inform the person to be arrested of the cause thereof, except when such person is in the actual commission of an offense, or arrested on pursuit.

(d) If he is refused admittance, after notice of his intention, and the person to be arrested has committed a felony, he may break open an outer or inner door or window of a dwelling house.

(e) It is the duty of any private person, having arrested another for the commission of any public offense, to take him without unnecessary delay before a judge or magistrate, or to deliver him to some one of the officers specified in Section 15-10-1, who must forthwith take him before a judge or magistrate.

And here is the section on arrests by sworn officers without a warrant: 

Section 15-10-3 (abridged) Arrest without warrant — Generally; written report; protection orders.

(a) An officer may arrest a person without a warrant, on any day and at any time in any of the following instances:

(1) If a public offense has been committed or a breach of the peace threatened in the presence of the officer.

(2) When a felony has been committed, though not in the presence of the officer, by the person arrested.

(3) When a felony has been committed and the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed the felony.

(4) When the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested has committed a felony, although it may afterwards appear that a felony had not in fact been committed.

(5) When a charge has been made, upon reasonable cause, that the person arrested has committed a felony.

(6) When the officer has actual knowledge that a warrant for the person’s arrest for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor has been issued, provided the warrant was issued in accordance with this chapter. However, upon request the officer shall show the warrant to the arrested person as soon as possible.

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security. Regardless, the church finds having sworn officers provide security, with the concomitant costs of getting the state to allow it and the promised litigation by the ACLU, to be preferable to hiring non-sworn personnel. Without speaking to the church leadership directly, one can only speculate why this is the case.

Despite the insignificant legal change, there is a strange asymmetry with which power in the hands of a state actor is treated compared to the same (apparent) power in the hands of a non-state actor. No doubt the writer of the CBS News article on the subject meant the following to sound ominous:

Some of the restrictions of the church’s police force would include: no jail, police activity would be limited to church property, officers would answer to the church and if you had a complaint, you’d have to complain it [sic] to the church.

To most ears, the idea of complaining to the church about its own police force seems ludicrous. How could they be an impartial arbiter? And yet, for most municipal police departments, the recourse if one has a complaint is to complain to the department directly. It is not clear why we should expect better outcomes in the latter case.

Others question whether the church police force will be properly transparent and accountable, saying, “Most police forces serve public entities, so ultimately they are accountable to the community they serve.” If we grant such an incredibly naïve and tautological view of government accountability some degree of plausibility, I can see no reason why the same idea would not apply to a church campus serving 4,000 parishioners and 2,000 students, numbers on par with a rather small municipality. Unlike a city government, the parishioners and parents of students choose whether to give money to the church and can more easily switch churches than cities. Even if one thinks that an individual parishioner or parent will have little influence over church governance, it is absurd to think that their influence over municipal government will be any stronger. The only way to come to the conclusion that a municipal police force has any advantage in terms of accountability over a 2-man church police force patrolling a privately-owned campus is to not have thought about the issue at all.

This is not to argue that Briarwood Presbyterian Church’s upcoming police force should be thought of as an ideal arrangement; granting certain parties privileges to use coercive force is inherently suspect. However, if one is concerned about Briarwood’s police force, they ought to be hysterical over pretty much any police force in the United States. Somehow, the state seems to get a pass in areas where non-state entities are treated with suspicion.

One final thought: advocates of community-oriented policing should be Briarwood’s champions. Briarwood a well-defined and organized community with specific problems they want the police to solve, and will itself be involved in the co-production of security. The Briarwood police will be more accountable to community leadership than the typical municipal police force, who in addition to the tax money they extract from locals also receive federal “community-oriented policing services” grants to purchase SWAT equipment. Yet I would be surprised if any policing scholar who has written in support of community policing will come to the defense of Briarwood, or see it as an example of what they purport to support. If I am right, there ought to be no doubt left that community policing is truly rhetoric over reality.

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Top Execs of 180 Companies: Abortion Necessary to Be Successful in Business

Posted by M. C. on June 11, 2019

The US did pretty well for 200 years without it. Oddly, things don’t look so good anymore.


The top executives of more than 180 companies have signed a letter that says abortion is essential in order for people to be successful in their businesses.

“When everyone is empowered to succeed, our companies, our communities and our economy are better for it,” the executives say in the letter posted on a newly launched website titled “Don’t Ban Equality.”

“Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers,” they said, adding:

Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.

A full list of the companies who signed the letter can be found here. They include:

  • Slack Technologies
  • Bloomberg LP
  • MAC Cosmetics
  • H&M
  • Yelp
  • Square, Inc
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Atlantic Records & Warner Music Group
  • Hint, inc.
  • The Body Shop US

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, signed the letter for his other company, digital payment platform Square.

The letter appeared as a full-page ad in the New York Times Monday, reported CNN.

The abortion lobby, led by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU formed the coalition of business executives as more states are passing restrictions on abortion.

Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s president, said her abortion advocacy group is praising the executives for “taking a stand on behalf of their employees, customers, and communities.”

“We encourage the entire business community to join us in protecting access to reproductive health care in the critical months and years to come,” she said.

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FBI arrests leader of armed group stopping migrants in New Mexico

Posted by M. C. on April 22, 2019

“Today’s arrest by the FBI indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not armed vigilantes,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement of Hopkins’s arrest.

The problem is trained law enforcement officials (ie government) aren’t doing the job.

TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) – The FBI on Saturday said it had arrested Larry Hopkins, the leader of an armed group that is stopping undocumented migrants after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border into New Mexico.

The arrest came two days after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the group of illegally detaining migrants and New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered an investigation.

Hopkins, 69, also known as Johnny Horton, was arrested in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on a federal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement…

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DHS wants to ramp up use of facial recognition at airports from just 15 to almost all in 4 years | Daily Mail Online

Posted by M. C. on April 20, 2019

According to the DHS, the technology is not only scalable, but also extremely accurate.

That makes me feel better. From ACLU about Amazon’s scanning technology misidentifying members of congress.From ACLU about Amazon’s scanning technology misidentifying members of congress.

By James Pero For


  • Facial recognition software could soon be standard in airports across the U.S.
  • The tool would be used to track people coming in and out of the country
  • Photos of passengers would be run against a database of visas and passports 
  • DHS’ interest in facial recognition comes amidst rising human rights concern

Despite concerns over facial recognition’s impact on civil liberties, public agencies have continued to apply the tool liberally across the U.S. with one of the biggest deployments coming to an airport near you.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that it plans to expand its application of facial recognition to 97 percent of all passengers departing the U.S. by 2023, according to the Verge.

By comparison, facial recognition technology is deployed in just 15 airports, according to figures recorded at the end of 2018.

In what is being referred to as ‘biometric exit,’ the agency plans to use facial recognition to more thoroughly track passengers entering and leaving the country.

The system functions by taking a picture of passengers before they depart and then cross-referencing the image with a database containing photos of passports and visas.

According to the DHS, the technology is not only scalable, but also extremely accurate.

In its current iteration, a summary states that the technology has scanned more than 2 million passengers with a near-perfect match rate of 98 percent.

In its limited deployment, the DHS says that it has helped to identify 7,000 passenger overstays since being introduced in 2017 as well as six passengers attempting to use identification not belonging to them…

Among the most unlikely voices of caution against the widespread deployment of facial recognition has been Microsoft — one of the biggest and most sophisticated purveyors of facial recognition software.

This month the company announced that it denied lending its software to an unnamed California law enforcement agency who planned to use the tool to scan the faces of people the agency pulled over, so that it could be checked against a database.

The reason behind the decision, according to Microsoft President, Brad Smith, is that the company felt the software — artificial intelligence systems that use machine learning to improve its capabilities — would disproportionately affect people of color and women…

One of the most vocal critics, the ACLU, has argued that scanning someone’s face skirts laws involving probable cause and could be used for mass government surveillance…

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Your Alternative to Facial Recognition





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New Gun Bill Would Require Buyers To Reveal Social Media History

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2019

Didech says his bill is a less intrusive version of a similar measure that’s been proposed in New York state. That version allows police to recover a gun license applicant’s entire browsing history. Even Didech says that goes too far.

The reality of social media and it’s originators. FB, Google, Twitter would fall over each other to hand over your history.

Like the ad says-the possibilities are endless. Any innocent comment can be interpreted by some rabid anti-fill in the blank bureaucrat so as to ruin you and your reputation.

The good thing is even the virulently anti-gun ACLU doesn’t like this idea. So far.

New Gun Bill Would Require Buyers To Reveal Social Media History

By Derrick Blakley

That’s why Didech is proposing gun buyers reveal their public social media accounts to Illinois police before they’re approved for a firearm license.

“A lot of people who are having mental health issues will often post on their social media pages that they’re about to hurt themselves or others,” Didech said. “We need to give those people the help they need.”

Pro-gun groups are outraged.

“When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account or Twitter account will be incensed or should be,” said Richard Pearson with the Illinois State Rifle Association.

But the ACLU is opposed as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Resistance to US laws censoring criticism of Israel goes mainstream | The Electronic Intifada

Posted by M. C. on December 26, 2018

In response to Amawi’s lawsuit, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that “Texas stands with Israel. Period.”

What about US?

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Anti-BDS bills are designed to suppress Palestine rights activism in the US. (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)

Opposition to laws muzzling Americans who criticize Israel has gone mainstream.

Two separate lawsuits were filed this week against a Texas law requiring state contractors to certify they will not boycott Israel.

Another lawsuit was filed by a local newspaper in Arkansas, which refused to sign a similar pledge in order to win an advertising contract.

Meanwhile, senators Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein, and The New York Times editorial board, have condemned efforts to rush through federal legislation aimed at silencing Israel’s critics.

On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, a speech pathologist in Texas, who refused to sign a contract to renew her job with the Austin public school district.

The contract included a clause that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that country.

Amawi says this requirement violates her First Amendment rights. Read the rest of this entry »

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Possible Congressional move on Israel Anti-Boycott Act alarms activists – Mondoweiss

Posted by M. C. on December 12, 2018

Because we know who really runs the show.

Pro-Palestine and free speech activists who have been mobilizing against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act are sounding an alarm about rumors of a secret attempt this week to slip the legislation, which the ACLU has declared unconstitutional even in its revised form, into the must-pass House spending bill.

Despite having 292 House cosponsors and 58 in the Senate, Congressional leaders have not brought the IABA to a vote during the 115th Congress. Now, with just days before Democrats take control of the House, and with numerous cosponsors leaving office due to retirements and midterm losses, time could be running out.

The declining chances for the passage next year of the IABA, a longtime AIPAC priority, may account for machinations like the rumored attempt to slip it into the appropriations bill. A newsletter from Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) warns:

Read the rest of this entry »

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