Archive for the ‘Amendments’ Category
Americans have a well-established constitutional right to record police officers as they publicly perform their duties. Yet cops across the country continue to harass and arrest people for exercising that right, using bogus charges such as wiretapping, resisting arrest, and interfering with police. Yesterday yet another federal judge issued a clear message to those cops: Cut it out.
The case was brought by Antonio Buehler, an Austin, Texas, activist who has had several run-ins with camera-shy cops. The first incident occurred on January 1, 2012, when Buehler pulled into a 7-11 in Austin to refuel his truck and observed a traffic stop during which police dragged a screaming passenger from a car and knocked her to the ground. After Buehler took out his phone and began taking pictures of the encounter from a distance, Officer Patrick Obosrki manhandled him and arrested him for “resisting arrest, search, or transportation.”
Buehler filed a complaint about the incident with the Austin Police Department but never received a satisfactory response. The experience led him to start the Peaceful Streets Project, which aims to help “individuals understand their rights and hold law enforcement officials accountable.” The organization routinely records police encounters “to prevent and document police brutality.” That work led to two more arrests of Buehler, both for “interference with public duties,” on August 26, 2012, and September 21, 2012. The third arrest again involved Oborski. On both occasions police took Buehler’s camera and never returned it.
In response to Buehler’s federal lawsuit, Oborski and several other officers claimed they did not realize he had a right to record them. But according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, they really should have. In yesterday’s decision, which allowed the lawsuit to proceed, Lane cites “a robust consensus of circuit courts of appeals”—including the 1st, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th—that “the First Amendment encompasses a right to record public officials as they perform their official duties.” He also notes two decisions in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas, “seems to assume, without explicitly stating, that photographing a police officer performing his official duties falls under the umbrella of protected expression.”
So what does it all mean? At root, this isn’t really about people like Thomas. It’s mostly about everybody else. It’s all about changing you and your self-concept. As fringy as they may sound, injecting such lies into our language—“the pregnant man” and the push to separate the word “pregnancy” from the word “woman”—are clear signals that we are moving steadily towards erasing all gender distinctions in the law.
And why should we care? Because erasing gender distinctions, especially as they apply to childbearing and rearing, would serve to legally un-define what it means to be human. A new legal definition of human—as neither male nor female—would apply to you whether you like it or not. Already, there is social pressure for everyone to comply with the gender theory notion that biological facts are mere “social constructs.”
We should especially care because we are well on the way to enacting such laws already. In November, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The law is based on the assumption that one’s perceived “gender identity” does not always “match” your sex “assigned” or “designated” at birth. So, the thinking goes, the law should allow a more ambiguous array of gender identities: male, female, both, neither, or something else entirely. It’s not an overstatement to say that ENDA is a huge step, mostly under the radar, to codify a new definition of humanity.
How else to describe a crusade with such far-reaching consequences for First Amendment rights? The legal destruction of gender distinctions will inevitably dissolve family autonomy, thereby uprooting freedom of association. Free expression becomes “hate speech” if one doesn’t fall into line with the directives of the transgender lobby or its pronoun protocol. Freedom of religion takes a direct hit any way you look at it.
Looking to lead the GOP into the future, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is trying to steer the party away from part of its not-too-distant past, arguing that incarceration is not the best way to help non-violent drug offenders get back on their feet.
The blunt-talking governor first declared the “war on drugs” a failure in 2011 and has since couched the argument in pro-life terms, saying treatment is more effective than tossing people in prison, as he looks to lay the foundation for a 2016 presidential campaign.
Governor Jerry Brown had requested a 20 percent decrease in statewide water use in his emergency drought declaration in January; according to the Sacramento Bee, state residents fell “well short” of that goal, cutting water use by just five percent between January and May of this year.
So, desperate for relief from the drought, California has invested $1 billion on statewide water recycling efforts, which means the state will essentially recycle waste water into drinking water. The method is actually much more cost-effective than desalination and can provide more water faster. However, according to the National Journal, people face a “psychological” challenge when drinking waste water.
“The problem with recycled water is purely psychological. Despite the fact that the water is safe and sterile, the ‘yuk factor’ is hard to get over, even if a person understands that the water poses no harm.”
Still, drinking recycled toilet water seems to be the best option for the state at this point. According to Slate, Orange County will tack on a $142 million extension to a water recycling plant that will bring in an additional 30 million gallons of drinkable recycled water when it opens in 2015. That means that Orange County “will soon produce twice as much water for less than one-third of the average cost of San Diego County’s desalination plant.”
Ohio’s Jim Jordan has become key oversight figure in exposing Washington’s worst messes
“There are lots of jobs that are hard. I don’t pretend to think my jobs are any harder than a farmer putting his crop out … or moms and dads trying to save to put kids in college,” he explains.
His work on the oversight committee, where he chairs the panel’s subcommittee on economic growth, job creation, and regulatory affairs, remains a priority. Benghazi, he adds, is still crucial, as is the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
He said he has spent the bulk of his time over the last year focused on getting to the truth of how the IRS treated certain Tea Party groups, including some in his district.
“This is one of the most fundamental of all the rights — your ability to speak out against your government, your political speech rights. This is as basic as it gets. For us not to get to the truth would be a complete disservice to our jobs as members of Congress,” Jordan said.
Jordan also worries about where the nation stands in the world. He has visited Israel with his wife three times in the past four and half years.
“One thing you hear there, they will tell you that the best thing the U.S. can do for Israel is for America to stay strong. When America is stronger, we are safer,” he said.
Saying the foundations of democracy are threatened, Senate Democrats took the first step Tuesday to rewrite the First Amendment, holding a hearing to rally support for their proposed constitutional change that would give government the power to ban all spending on political campaigns.
The effort drew vows of resistance from Republicans, who harangued Democrats for abandoning free speech rights for political gain. Republican lawmakers said the solution was for Democrats to improve their arguments, not to silence their critics in an assault on fundamental freedoms.
As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy.
FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions.
Critics, however, question the need for such a “vast database” for simple reporting purposes.
In a May 15 letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt and CFPB Director Richard Cordray, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, charged, “this expansion represents an unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of ordinary Americans.”