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Category Archives: First Amendment

Florida education news: First Amendment rights, flu shots and another superintendents struggles – Tampa Bay Times

Posted: November 16, 2019 at 9:44 am

PUBLIC SPACES: Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning takes some heat on his social media accounts, and blocks one of his toughest critics. He reverses himself after being reminded that because he uses the accounts for public business, he cant block the public. The Manatee County School Board faces accusations of discrimination after having a black man removed from its business meeting for refusing to sit down, the Herald-Tribune reports. Video from the Bradenton Herald.

LET THEM PRAY: A federal appeals court reinstates the First Amendment-related lawsuit in which Tampas Cambridge Christian School sued after it was not allowed to use the public address system for prayer at a state high school football championship game, the News Service of Florida reports.

SEEKING SUBSTITUTES: With its substitute teacher fill rate down, the Pasco County school district proposes to increase its pay rate.

FLU SEASON: Hillsborough County schools are experiencing an early outbreak of the flu.

TOP PRINCIPAL: Pasco eSchool founding administrator JoAnne Glenn is named Pasco County 2020 Principal of the Year.

TENSIONS MOUNT: The Marion County School Board will ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to review a report on how superintendent Heidi Maier treated a whistleblower, with an eye toward removing Maier, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. The board and Maier, whose term expires in November 2020, have been fighting an escalating power battle for several months.

FIX IT: Manatee Countys aging Witt Elementary School will get a complete renovation, despite some calls to raze and replace it, the Bradenton Herald reports.

READING RESULTS: The Sarasota County school district releases its latest promotion and retention report, indicating about two-thirds of students were on grade level for reading, the Herald-Tribune reports.

GROWING STRONG: The Santa Rosa County Commission instructs its staff to begin drafting an ordinance to impose school impact fees, just months after saying it didnt have enough information to justify such a move, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. The Lee County school district breaks ground on a new high school as it launches a series of projects to address rising enrollment, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

MAINTENANCE NEEDS: During a battle over a school district sales tax request, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry asked Duval County school employees to tell him about classroom maintenance needs so he could get them fixed. The ideas came, but no work got done, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: An Orange County school district survey indicates most parents do not want to have later high school start times, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TEACHER PAY: Some Alachua County teachers say their salaries dont allow for a stable lifestyle, and a 2 percent raise will do little to help, WUFT reports.

FOOD INSECURITY: The Miami Super Bowl host committee donates breakfast carts to several south Florida schools to help get meals to needing children, the Miami Times reports.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: Citrus County School Board members express dismay with the length of time its taking to get counselors into the schools, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

SCIENCE LESSONS: Sixth graders at a Lake County middle school will help NASA collect data for a study on airplane contrails, the Daily Commercial reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS EVALUATION: The Polk County School Board says its very satisfied with superintendent Jacqueline Byrd, the Ledger reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A Monroe County charter school prepares to relocate as its lease expires, the Key West Citizen reports.

ON BOARD: Miami-Dade County superintendent Alberto Carvalho is reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, Florida Politics reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Gulf County school district is the latest to adopt a required medical marijuana usage policy, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

BAD ACTS: An Orange County charter schools administrator is arrested on accusations he took videos under the skirts of several females at the school, Fox 35 reports.

TODAY: House PreK-12 Appropriations, 9 a.m.

ICYMI: Yesterdays Florida education news roundup

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Florida education news: First Amendment rights, flu shots and another superintendents struggles - Tampa Bay Times

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First Amendment rights are not a one-way street – The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Posted: at 9:44 am

An article in the Nov. 13 Chronicle reports that four students at Bozeman High School objected to the status of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club as an authorized club at BHS.

The students assert that national FCA policies discriminate against gay and lesbian students and that the status of the local FCA club at BHS should be revoked. Those policies support the position that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. The article notes that there is no claim that any of the local members have engaged in any discriminatory practices.

The article reports that the School Board has agreed with the students and has given the local FCA club the choice of disaffiliating with national FCA or losing its club status at BHS. Also, as the article notes, the consequences of losing that status are significant.

Supporters or promoters of gay rights have a protected right to express their views. Those who do not agree with that position are entitled to similar protection. The Supreme Court has said, Discussions regarding matters of political interest are at the core of constitutionally protected rights and that such discussions should be robust. Discussion of gay rights is such a matter.

There are at least three First Amendment rights at issue: free speech, religious freedom and the right to assemble. These rights do not provide support for a position I may take but not for an opposing position.

The action by the School Board discriminates against the FCA students, is not reasonable and should be reversed.

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First Amendment conference explored diminishing local news as a ‘crisis of democracy’ – The Daily Tar Heel

Posted: at 9:44 am

He said the last few years have shown people that the primary source of information about the world, government and communities is produced by journalists who are struggling.

Social media and other forms of sharing digital information have increased, Ardia said, but the same high-quality information is becoming harder to find.

These are issues that are very difficult, Ardia said. There needs to be a multi-disciplinary conversation, because the challenges we face are multi-disciplinary.

The conference brought together a variety of scholars and media professionals.

Among these professionals were author and journalist Robert Kaiser and Leonard Downie Jr., a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

When introducing Kaiser and Downie as keynote speakers for the first day of the conference, Ardia said they have a combined 90 years of experience at The Washington Post.

In addition to their extensive bios, Kaiser and Downie co-wrote The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril in 2002 and are working on a follow-up to the book.

Kaiser and Downie discussed the challenges facing journalism today, the transition to online journalism and the impact of social media.

Downie said the different technological ways that large news organizations work to sustain themselves are not always possible for local news organizations. The potentially promising news, he said, is the increase of non-profit news organizations throughout the country.

This collaboration amongst news organizations, nonprofit and for-profit, is also very important for the future of journalism, Downie said.

Ardia said the conference is about what the government, journalists and individuals should do to address the needs of American democracy. He said Americans have seen a decline in the trust of the news.

I think journalists have not been willing in the past to talk about why their work in important, Ardia said. We need to educate the public on why journalism is important.

He said people have a short attention span, and its getting shorter as a result of social media.

Why it is important we understand what goes on in our state government? Why is it important we understand what goes on in our courts? Why is it important that these issues are reported, that we get access to the information?" Ardia said. "I think journalists, especially young journalists today can make that case to convince fellow students and others that this work is important.

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First Amendment conference explored diminishing local news as a 'crisis of democracy' - The Daily Tar Heel

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The ‘Evil’ First Amendment – The American Conservative

Posted: at 9:44 am

Imagine a progressive elite boot on the neck of journalists forever (Photo by Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

First, let me quote to you something from The Captive Mind, Polish dissident writer Czeslaw Miloszs 1951 classic exploring the mentality of intellectuals who submitted to Communism:

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divigations had no effect on reality. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. therefore the great intellectual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few individuals understood the causes and probably consequences of this general indifference.

The more general point here is that ordinary people had better pay attention to what intellectual elites say and do. It is very, very unwise to laugh them off as living in an ivory tower. The lightning-fast movement of what was once ultra-fringe discussions about gender and sexuality from graduate student seminars to the center of American culture is a clear and unmistakable sign and a warning. What happens at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and other elite universities does not stay there. The people those universities educate become the American elites, and move into leadership positions throughout US society.

I mentioned this summer being in Poland, and talking with Poles who work for the Polish branches of US and Western Europe-based multinationals. Those companies are bringing LGBT Pride policies and initiatives into their Polish workplaces. The Poles with whom I spoke are Catholics whose religious convictions rebel against having to affirm LGBT especially the T in the workplace. But they badly need those jobs, so theyre torn. In this way, US and Western European corporate elites are compelling a cultural revolution. If they succeed in changing the views of Eastern European elites, then they will change those countries. What started in American universities will have made its way down to everyday life in Poland and countries like it. It never would have occurred to Polish workers that the abstruse theories of, say, Judith Butler would have anything to do with their jobs, but thats exactly what is happening, right now, all over the world.

Similarly, in a fantastic history Im reading now, Yuri Slezkines The House Of Government, it is clear that the ideas that led to the Bolshevik Revolution, and ultimately the deaths of 20 million, began in fervent reading groups of messianic young Marxist intellectuals. People who do not pay attention to what intellectual and cultural elites say, or who dismiss it as eggheaded nonsense, are fools.

I say that as background to the latest insanity from Harvard, as reported by The Harvard Crimson:

Harvards Undergraduate Council voted to pass a statement at its meeting Sunday in support of immigration advocacy group Act on a Dreams concerns about The Harvard Crimsons news policies and made recommendations to make reporting policies more transparent.

The statement, passed 15-13-4, comes after The CrimsoncoveredAct on a Dreams Abolish ICE protest in September. After the protest, Crimson reporters contacted a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson for comment. More than 900 people and several student groups have since signed an Act on a Dream petitioncondemningThe Crimsons decision to reach out for comment.

The councils vote approved its own statement regarding the issue to be sent out to students in its weekly email.

The Undergraduate Council stands in solidarity with the concerns of Act on a Dream, undocumented students, and other marginalized individuals on campus, the statement reads. It is necessary for the Undergraduate Council to acknowledge the concerns raised by numerous groups and students on campus over the past few weeks and to recognize the validity of their expressed fear and feelings of unsafety.

Members of several campus groups including Act on a Dream and the Harvard College Democrats have instructed their members not to speak to The Crimson unless it changes its policies.

You see whats happening here? These Harvard students, and part of the Harvard student government, do not want the campus newspaper to practice basic journalism. It condemns the newspaper simply for seeking comment from people the students dislike. The agents of ICE are non-persons people so horrible that they do not deserve to be heard, because they cause members of favored groups to experience feelings of unsafety.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. It is perhaps understandable (though not defensible) that elite Harvard students would oppose freedom of religion. But freedom of the press? If theyre against basic journalistic standards, this is a terrible sign for the future, and for all the First Amendment freedoms. A couple of weeks ago, a poll came out showing that 60 percent of young Americans want the First Amendment rewritten to restrict free speech and freedom of the press. (And yes, I am aware that Donald Trumps appalling populist rhetoric about the press is adding to this hatred of the First Amendment.)

The book Im writing now talks about the cult of Social Justice, and the messianic, militant utopianism of this new generation of progressives, who are marching through the institutions of American life. Im thinking hard right now of this other line from Miloszs book, about the insufficiency of making better arguments than the enemies of liberty. The Messiah he mentions here is Communism:

One does not defeat a Messiah with common-sense arguments.

UPDATE: At Northwestern University, home of one of the countrys leading journalism schools, the campus newspapers leadership has capitulated to the SJWs. In this editorial, they apologize to the campus for reporting on a public event (a speech given on campus by former AG Jeff Sessions). Excerpt:

We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night along with how we plan to move forward.

One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed. We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe [emphasis mine RD] and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry.

Some students also voiced concern about the methods that Daily staffers used to reach out to them. Some of our staff members who were covering the event used Northwesterns directory to obtain phone numbers for students beforehand and texted them to ask if theyd be willing to be interviewed. We recognize being contacted like this is an invasion of privacy, and weve spoken with those reporters along with our entire staff about the correct way to reach out to students for stories.

It goes on. Its a signed editorial, which I suppose gives future employers a heads-up about these young fraidy-cats complete lack of moral courage and journalistic professionalism.

UPDATE.2: A young journalist quotes the signatories of the editorial and warns about whats coming when this generation (his own) takes institutional power:

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The 'Evil' First Amendment - The American Conservative

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First Amendment website launching by end of November – University Star

Posted: at 9:44 am

The Division of Student Affairs is launching a new constitution-based website this month focusing on FAQs surrounding freedom of speech and the First Amendment.

According to Vice President of Student Affairs Joanne Smith, the website is meant to educate and inform students on their rights and what free speech entails.

Sometimes there can be confusion about what the First Amendment protects and what it does not protect; (the website is) an education tool, Smith said.

The site is currently in the works and expected to launch by Thanksgiving break, but no day has been set, according to Smith.

The target audience is primarily students but will be public and accessible to anyone. Smith said she believes the website is beneficial to anyone who visitsparticularly organizations and groups affiliated with the school.

Part of this is making sure people understand what the guidelines (for free speech and student protest) are as a university through Texas law, Smith said. Our goal as a university is to educate people about what is free speech and what is not free speech.

According to Smith, the First Amendment site will outline and define terms like hate speech. President of College Democrats at Texas State Trevor Newman thinks the implementation of a free speech and First Amendment information site will educate people on their rights and keep improving discourse and relationships among student activists and political groups on campus.

I think this site will help with political tension on campus if people go to that site and understand what people are (protesting), Newman said.

Newman believes the new site will aid the organizations members in understanding what they do as activists. Newman sees the website as having the potential to increase both positive and negative interactions when students are informed about how to use their First Amendment right on campus.

I think when you give students an open door to the First Amendment, and say, hey you can say whatever you want to on a college campus, it gives the possibility for positive and negative communication, Newman said.

Cameron Davis, accounting freshman, said he believes it is important for the university to introduce a website about free speech because of the factual and constitutional answers it can provide students. Davis said he sees the website being used for double-checking whether or not organizations are in line with what is featured on the site.

This site would create more discussion among students and as long as the information is constitutional, I see this as being an effective improvement to the school, Davis said.

While the site is not yet finished, it should be finalized near the end of November 2019 and accessible through the Student Affairs webpage at

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LTTE: We all have business exercising our First Amendment rights – Rocky Mountain Collegian

Posted: at 9:44 am

Editors Note:All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

To the Editor,

Last week, Katrina Leibee, a Collegian columnist, wrote an article discussing the inappropriateness of protesting/having Mass outside of Planned Parenthoods around the country. The article asserts that because of the many other services Planned Parenthood provides, protesting outside in opposition to abortion is liable to drive away people who have no intention of getting one and making innocent people feel guilty.

Leibee then asserts that it would be equally inappropriate to do STD testing and breast exams outside of a church, but we can envision a situation where some form of mobile clinic near a church on public property, as long as privacy of the patients was maintained, would be a perfectly acceptable public service. In addition, the nature of medical procedures is a private one, but the nature of protest is inherently public.

On Oct. 22, CSU hosted Charlie Kirk on campus for an event at the University Center for the Arts. Present were hundreds of protesters and thousands of hopeful attendees. From the eye of an onlooker, the beauty of American free speech as it relates to the First Amendment was made manifest.

Most would agree that the protesters were doing nothing wrong. Sure, the people attending the event found their plight contrived but nonetheless were glad to see active participation in the American political sphere. Although contention was present, many valuable conversations were had, and the perspectives of the other side were challenged.

To limit the exercise of religious liberty in any way, regardless of ones own opinion of its veracity, is to ignore a major part about what makes Americas cultural dialogue and rights to such so unique and valuable.

Many attendees were not even supporters of Kirk but were simply interested in participating in the dialogue. The rhetoric of Charlie Kirk was opposed by some and supported by others, but all had the right to either attend or protest his presence at CSU.

This is exactly what was intended by our founding fathers when they opened the doors for personal liberty, and it ought to stay that way. Also included within the scope of the First Amendment is the right to freedom of religion. To limit the exercise of religious liberty in any way, regardless of ones own opinion of its veracity, is to ignore a major part about what makes Americas cultural dialogue and rights to such so unique and valuable.

At the end of the day, even though making up only about 3% of Planned Parenthood services, 332,757 abortions were performed by Planned Parenthood in the 2017-18 fiscal year. With approximately 600 clinics nationwide, that averages out to around 1.5 abortions per day, per clinic.

As a community organization that remains a topic of consistent contention, the Planned Parenthood at Shields and Elizabeth provides a valuable space to engage in conversation about a topic that is extremely important to have, regardless of whether or not you support abortion.


Matt Weis, CSU junior, agricultural business

Lauren Flores CSU sophomore, history

The Collegians opinion desk can be reached To submit a letter to the editor, pleasefollow the guidelines at

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"The Case Against Free Speech: The First Amendment, Fascism, And The Future Of Dissent" – WAMC

Posted: at 9:44 am

P. E. Moskowitz is the author of "How to Kill a City." A former staff writer for Al Jazeera America, they have written for publications including the Guardian, New York Times,, New Republic, Wired, Slate, Buzzfeed, Splinter, and Vice.

Their most recent book is "The Case Against Free Speech: The First Amendment, Fascism, and the Future of Dissent."

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Trump Attack on Envoy During Testimony Raises Charges of Witness Intimidation – The New York Times

Posted: at 9:44 am

WASHINGTON President Trump on Friday attacked Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine he summarily removed this year, even as she testified in the impeachment inquiry about how she felt threatened by Mr. Trump.

Did his behavior amount to witness tampering?

If the question is what could be charged in court, the answer is probably not. But impeachment is not limited to ordinary crimes. As House Democrats weigh bringing articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump including one potentially based on his obstruction of congressional investigations the presidents Twitter onslaught may well have handed them more fodder.

As Ms. Yovanovitch was telling the House Intelligence Committee about the devastation and fear she felt this year when she was targeted first by Mr. Trumps allies and later by the president himself during a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Mr. Trump fired off a tweet denigrating her anew.

Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Mr. Trump wrote, assailing her on Twitter to his 66 million followers.

Early in her career, Ms. Yovanovitch was a low-level diplomatic officer stationed in Somalia as that country was starting to slide toward the civil war that would leave it a failed state.

A few minutes after the presidents tweet, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, interrupted Ms. Yovanovitchs testimony to read it and ask her what the effect the presidents attack on her would have on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing.

She appeared momentarily uncertain how to respond.

Its very intimidating, she said. She then paused, searching for words. I cant speak to what the president is trying to do, but the effect is to be intimidating.

Mr. Schiff responded in a stern tone: Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.

In a statement, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, denied that Mr. Trumps denigration of Ms. Yovanovitch rose to that level.

The tweet was not witness intimidation, Ms. Grisham said. It was simply the presidents opinion, which he is entitled to. This is not a trial, it is a partisan political process or to put it more accurately, a totally illegitimate, charade stacked against the president.

Mr. Trump has a history of using his platform to excoriate people who are in a position to serve as witnesses to his own potential wrongdoing, using Twitter and statements at his political rallies to criticize less well-known people by name, in humiliating and sometimes threatening ways.

The targets of his verbal assaults have included Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, who testified that Mr. Trump violated campaign-finance laws and fraudulently manipulated the value of his assets in financial forms; Donald F. McGahn II, his former White House lawyer, a key witness to several obstruction episodes in the special counsels report; and James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, who testified that Mr. Trump privately pushed him to shut down a criminal investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

The tactic functions not just as an attempt to discredit his critics, but as a warning to deter others from coming forward.

At a minimum, it can unleash a cascade of abuse online and harassing messages from Mr. Trumps supporters, which can be especially unsettling for people who are not accustomed to being in the public eye.

But it can also raise fears that some unhinged person may go further: This year, a fervent Trump supporter, Cesar A. Sayoc Jr., was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing bombs to people and organizations that Mr. Trump had criticized, including prominent Democrats and journalists.

Federal witness tampering law, which is part of a broader obstruction of justice statute, makes it a felony, under some circumstances, to try to dissuade or hinder witnesses from attending or testifying in an official proceeding.

The presidents tweet on Friday did not threaten Ms. Yovanovitch. But the law covers not just threats and intimidation, which are punishable by 20 years in prison, but mere harassment as well, a lesser but still serious offense punishable by three years in prison.

Still, even viewed as mere harassment, Mr. Trumps attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch on Friday would be challenging to prosecute under the witness tampering statute. Prosecutors would be hard pressed to convince a jury that he was trying to dissuade her, at least, from attending the hearing and testifying because he waited to lash out until after she was already in the hearing room and in the midst of testifying.

A hypothetical prosecution under that law would face severe constitutional challenges, as well. The Justice Department has taken the view that the Constitution makes sitting presidents temporarily immune from prosecution, and Mr. Trumps lawyers could argue that he had a First Amendment right to criticize her.

In fact, the president himself raised the issue at the White House on Friday afternoon when asked if he was guilty of witness intimidation, denying the charge and saying, I want freedom of speech.

To the extent that Mr. Trumps targeting of Ms. Yovanovitch was less about shutting her up and more about making other government officials watching what she is going through think twice about defying the White Houses direction not to cooperate with Congress, the witness tampering statute was not clearly written to cover that situation.

But when deciding what amounts to an impeachable offense, Congress is not limited to violations of ordinary criminal statutes. Lawmakers may also impeach a president for actions that are lawful, yet still constitute abuses of power.

House Democrats are already considering articles of impeachment focused on obstruction of Congress, including for Mr. Trumps efforts to push witnesses to defy subpoenas, and obstruction of justice, including for attempting to tamper with witnesses in the Russia investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

For example, Mr. Muellers report recounted how Mr. Trump bullied Mr. McGahn in an attempt to get him to write a memo falsely denying that Mr. Trump had earlier sought to have Mr. Mueller fired. Mr. McGahn had already given a deposition about that earlier episode, so writing such a memo which he refused to do would have contradicted his account an and discredited him as a witness.

The Mueller report also recounted how Mr. Trump and his proxies had dangled the prospect of pardons in front of several potential witnesses in the special counsel investigation, while urging them not to flip on him and cooperate with prosecutors.

Against that backdrop, Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that Mr. Trumps attacks on Ms. Yovanovitch amounted to clear witness tampering that could be cited in a forthcoming article of impeachment.

The president chose to respond to a patriotic and superb public servant with lies and intimidation. Vintage Donald Trump, Mr. Himes said in a text. Her boss disparaged and intimidated her not after, but during her testimony.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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Trump Attack on Envoy During Testimony Raises Charges of Witness Intimidation - The New York Times

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Facebook has a political fake news problem. Can we fix it without eroding the First Amendment? – NBC News

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm

It might have surprised you when you heard that 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., WAS working on legislation that would increase taxes on every American family and eventually force 30 percent of those families to file for bankruptcy. You may also have read social media comments by people calling her a dangerous socialist.

The problem is, none of this is true. Warren is not working on legislation that would raise taxes on all Americans and there is no evidence her proposals would lead to such an increase in bankruptcy filings. But politicians can and do post lies on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. And those companies do not have to delete those lies.

Politicians (and anyone, really) can post lies on social media like Facebook and Twitter. And those companies do not have to delete those lies.

In the abstract, it feels like such lies should be easy to disprove. People will simply point out the lie, and the truth will come out. In the abstract, people will not base their opinions and votes on false information they read on social media.

But we dont live in the abstract. We live in reality. And in reality, what you read on social media can affect your views and votes. That is exactly why candidates, who tend not to like to throw money away, are increasingly spending money on advertisements on social media. Some of these candidate-funded ads are filled with truths, others with lies.

These political lies poison and erode our democracy. But we have two main options to combat them. First, we can exert enormous pressure on social media platforms to prevent or delete false campaign statements. This would be the cleanest way to implement change, but this is extremely unlikely to happen. Second, the government can step in and force social media companies to set up some basic protocols to guard against the posting of campaign lies. This would be a whole new frontier for the government, and regulation of online speech is tricky to say the least.

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And that is why Warren posted an admittedly false Facebook ad earlier in October. In the fake ad, Warren alleged that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, had endorsed Trumps re-election campaign. She then quickly admitted that allegation was false. Her point was to argue that politicians can lie on Facebook, and spend money on ads that are patently false.

The impetus behind the ad, at least in part, was a Trump campaign ad which falsely claims that former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden offered to pay people in the Ukraine $1 billion to help his son. Some, but not all, television stations refused to air the spot.

Not everyone gets to blatantly lie in Facebook ads. That is a special privilege largely reserved for politicians. Facebook treats ads from politicians as different from other ads largely because there are other considerations when it comes to political speech, which is often deemed newsworthy. If these ads were not posted by politicians, they would be subject to a review by Facebooks independent fact-checkers and content rules.

Twitter, similarly, has an exemption for accounts run by military or government entities. Those accounts are not subject to Twitters prohibitions against things like specific threats of violence. In addition, Twitter will typically let stand any posts it views as newsworthy, even if false or misleading. And it is easy to see why anything posted by the president of the United States is newsworthy.

To be fair, social media corporations are in a difficult position. If they start policing lies, it means a person or group of people will have to act as the truth police. It means social media corporations will be subject to claims of censorship and political bias. It is much easier for these corporations to just take a step back and let politicians post whatever they want. This may be why, in the face of Warrens attacks on Facebook and its policies, Zuckerberg has stated in no uncertain terms that Facebook has no plans to police ads that constitute political speech.

Here is the next problem democracy is difficult and messy. And social media corporations have provided a platform that dirties up already dirty campaigns.

Social media platforms like Facebook are the new town squares. The days of politicians and voters meeting in the center of town to debate candidates and issues are mostly gone. But the days of politicians posting, liking and sharing their views on social media are here to stay, at least until the next big technological invention.

It is time to clean up the town square. Lets pick up the false flyers and the patently deceitful pamphlets.

Because media corporations appear to have no appetite to regulate this political speech, it may be up to the government to ensure that our marketplace of ideas is not corrupted by lies and deceit.

We do have a loose blueprint to follow. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent government agency, regulates television and radio. The general rule is that the FCC cannot regulate the content that is aired on television and radio stations because that would be censorship and would run afoul of the First Amendment. But there are significant exceptions to that rule. For instance, the FCC can regulate obscene and indecent programming in order to protect children. In addition, the FCC has a prohibition against broadcasting false information that causes substantial public harm. But this prohibition applies to comments about crimes or catastrophes. Not all false campaign statements fall within that bucket.

Even if this prohibition against false speech was applied more broadly, the big hurdle is that the FCC can only regulate content over television and radio because the government grants individual radio and television stations licenses in order to broadcast. The broadcast spectrum is viewed as owned by the people, and so the government can regulate it.

A professor at Duke University, Philip M. Napoli, has tried to find a way over that hurdle. He has argued that we should view user data as a public resource. And therefore, because social media is using a public resource, the FCC could regulate that resource, as it regulates individual television and radio stations. This is a smart and novel argument, and one that would allow the FCC to regulate some speech without trampling on the First Amendment.

But another word for novel is untested. In our current political climate, it seems unlikely that we would agree to vastly expand the purview of the FCC and charge it with regulating even the most egregious campaign lies. This option also presents practical problems, as social media corporations like Facebook do not currently control the content of the ads that politicians post.

In the long run, either social media corporations must start self-policing or the government must find a way to do it for them. In the short term, the best Band-Aid we have against lies is ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to be vigilant about what we see posted on social media. As voters, we owe it to our democracy to question campaign speech, even when it comes from the campaign itself. Our government is relying on us to be fact-checkers. We must try.

Jessica Levinson is a professor and the director of the Public Service Institute at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on election law and governance issues.She is the former president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

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Facebook has a political fake news problem. Can we fix it without eroding the First Amendment? - NBC News

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The Panhandling Problem: When public safety clashes with the 1st Amendment – WCJB

Posted: at 3:03 pm

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- If you've driven through Gainesville in the past three years, you've seen the problem multiply - panhandlers, dangerously close to cars, sitting in intersections, and walking through traffic.

The domino effect started with Supreme Court ruling Reed v. Town of Gilbert in 2015. A city's sign-restriction ordinance went up against First Amendment, and the First Amendment won.

Cities across the country started having their panhandling ordinances struck down.

In North Central Florida, Gainesville Police and Alachua County Sheriffs Deputies were told they can no longer enforce their respective rules soon after.

The countys solution was not to regulate people or what they are saying, but instead to regulate the place.

You can solicit or panhandle from the sidewalk. You can't do it in the median, said ASO's Lt. of Patrol Operations Jayson Levy.

Alachua County's Public Safety Ordinance" went into effect in Feb. 2018.

Panhandling is perfectly legal in the unincorporated areas of the county, but standing in medians or stepping into traffic, no matter what you're doing it for, is not.

So far, deputies have only given one citation in year and a half they have been enforcing it.

"Its like writing somebody a ticket that has a suspended license, Levy said. How am I going to pay my ticket for a suspended license if I can't pay for my license in the first place?"

County leaders say the problem areas are all within city limits. Gainesville city leaders say theyre working on a solution, too.

They also say it wont be a quick fix.

Very preliminary, in discussion stages, said Gainesvilles City Communications Director Shelby Taylor. (Were) examining what has worked in other communities."

They say they have been working on an answer following a crash that killed a panhandler in April of 2019.

Commissioner Harvey Ward is one of the people working to draw up a new city ordinance. He said mimicking the countys approach isnt an option.

We need a better way of thinking about this, Ward said. "A different way of thinking about this. The county has an ordinance, but to my understanding is that it isn't necessarily legally defendable."

The ACLU and Southern Legal Council sent a letter to county officials just over a year ago, saying the same thing, but Alachua County has not backed down.

Our attorney's office did a great deal of research, looked at ordinances from other communities and was convinced this one would stand the constitutional test, said Alachua Countys Communications Director Mark Sexton.

SLC members now say the way the county has enforced the ordinance has not been problematic, and they are not pursuing a lawsuit

Still, Gainesville leaders aren't convinced, and are looking for their own unique solution.

As a part of that process, public works has been very careful to go out and measure intersections and think, maybe this median is one that's unsafe, but maybe other medians are safer for that sort of thing, Ward said.

But as to what will be done, or when, there's no clear answer yet.

I'd like to think we're maybe getting close, but I can't give you a date on when that might come around, Ward said.

Stay with TV20 as we continue to follow this story in Gainesville, Alachua County, and North Central Florida.

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The Panhandling Problem: When public safety clashes with the 1st Amendment - WCJB

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