Tag Archives: academic freedom

Director of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab Witch-Hunts Temple Journalism Prof

Takes Issue With “Fringe and Debunked Views”

(Updated May 10, 9:50AM EST)

Joshua Benton is a former Dallas Morning News reporter and Director of Harvard’s Niamey Journalism Lab. Image Credit: YouTube

Joshua Benton, the Director of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation-funded Journalism Lab disagreed with some views a commenter left on the organization’s blog, so he did a bit of research, found out who the commenter was, and on May 4 decided to reveal the person’s name and identity in a series of Tweets. The “doxxing,” or “outing” of the commenter has resulted in an ongoing investigation by her academic employer.

Fransesca Viola is an attorney and professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. She set up a Disqus account called “truthseeker” using her Temple email address. The Disqus service allows users to freely comment across a range of websites.

The Nieman Lab’s director identified Viola by seeing the email address attached to her Disqus account. “Ms. Viola voluntarily logged into a commenting service and left a comment on our site using her Temple email address,” Benton said. “All I did was click one link to see all the other comments she had posted using her Temple email address.”

But instead of seeking to personally contact Viola and discuss her views via email, Benton used his personal Twitter account to publicly ridicule several of the comments she left at the Niemen Lab and other sites under her nom de plume. It’s almost beyond question that Benton did this with the intent to create tension between Viola, her academic employer, and the pious liberal sect that require strict adherence to its doctrinal requisites at most every US university.

As of this writing the identity disclosure and attack remain posted on Benton’s Twitter feed and have been archived here.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Viola rightly took issue with Benton and the Nieman Foundation’s decision to publicly identify her. “I dispute the incorrect attributions and specious allegations posted by Joshua Benton on his Twitter feed at Harvard’s Nieman journalism think tank,” she wrote.

I am appalled by his improper ‘doxxing’ and by his flagrant violation of the Twitter, Disqus, Nieman and Harvard’s terms of service, the apparent violation of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act — as well as the ethical and legal standards of journalism. I consider this a personal defamatory attack as well as an attempt to silence academic freedom and people everywhere. Most importantly, as an investigation is now underway, I would ask the community not to assume I am the author of some or all of those comments.

Benton replied in a statement that “no one was doxxed.” This is laughable considering it’s uttered from a man whose professional career is devoted to understanding “online journalism.” For example, here’s the Harvard journalism expert commenting on the industry in 2012.

While none of Viola’s personal information was released, Benton’s actions fit within the very essence of “doxxing,” which involves successful attempts “to tie an anonymous online profile to the true identity of the person behind it and then publicly reveal that person’s real name.”

Viola established her “truthseeker” identity to post comments anonymously and with the belief that webmasters would respect her privacy. Benton exposed her, and the content of his “Tweets” suggest that he did so with great relish.

“I was shocked to see that these comments…were coming from a journalism professor, posting with her Temple email address,” Benton declared in a missive to Temple’s student newspaper.

Everyone is entitled to their political opinions, but I think students and staff should be able to know when someone charged with teaching young people journalism holds these sorts of fringe and debunked views.

In other words, Benton is seeking to convince Viola’s colleagues and students that she is a “conspiracy theorist.” The Harvard staffer’s bio indicates that “he has reported from 10 foreign countries,” suggesting a possible intelligence background.

While it’s improbable that even a reporter with numerous accolades will move in a straight line from the Dallas Morning News to Harvard, Benton has no doubt executed the Agency’s 1035-960 technique against Viola with aplomb.

Viola’s boss, David Boardman, whose Twitter handle Benton included in his Viola Tweetstorm, oversees both Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

“Professor Viola has admitted to writing some but not all of these posts and specifically denies writing the post that is derogatory of Muslim protesters, a comment we find particularly abhorrent,” Boardman remarked in a public statement. “We are troubled by the content of some of the other cited posts but acknowledge that those in the Temple community are entitled to exercise free speech within constitutional parameters.”

Boardman refers to an anti-Muslim comment from “truthseeker” below, which may very well make the author a prime candidate for an officer’s spot in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Recognizing the violation of Viola’s privacy, on May 9 Benton issued an apology of sorts via Twitter for his failure to “adhere to rigorous reporting standards.”

Yet Benton’s actions overall really have nothing to do with journalism or adhering to any set of standards. The Harvard journalism expert saw red when he encountered political views that he didn’t agree with and turned to what are effectively methods of online intimidation (“bullying”) by threatening the individual’s livelihood.

The fear of being called a “conspiracy theorist” or the equivalent has, after all, been the main technique used to keep academics, journalists, and other salaried intellectuals in line for the past half-century.

 

 

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TracyvFAU: “A Very Dangerous Precedent”

By Louis Leo IV and James Fetzer

Attorney Louis Leo IV discusses James Tracy’s pending civil rights lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University with University of Minnesota Professor James Fetzer on GCN’s The Power Hour, Monday,  April 23, 2018. Leo is the lead attorney representing Tracy in the federal civil rights lawsuit against the South Florida-based public university.

The two examine Tracy’s unlawful firing by Florida Atlantic University, the corrupt and fraudulent trial defense conducted by FAU’s corporate attorneys (who received significant aid from the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida), and the implications for public employees’ right of free speech and association in the wake of the decision. Leo and Fetzer also discuss the circumstances that led to Tracy’s termination by FAU officials, which followed a smear campaign by cyber trolls and major news media seeking to defend the Sandy Hook event’s official narrative. 

One day after the interview was recorded, on April 24, US District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg issued a 31-page final order denying all post-trial motions, defending her October 31, 2017 summary judgement rulings in favor of FAU, and asserting that Plaintiff Tracy was provided with a fair trial in her courtroom. With the decisions the case now proceeds to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

For additional information on case and how you can assist in the process, please visit the James Tracy Legal Defense Fund.


Professor Jim Fetzer

James H. Fetzer: My guest for the second hour has distinguished himself by representing James Tracy, who is an Associate Professor of Communications and the Media at Florida Atlantic, who is seeking to protect the American people from an elaborate scam by investigating the aspects of Sandy Hook, in particular, Lenny Pozner’s claim to have a son, Noah, who died there.

James was a skeptic at the time, but he was exercising his diligence and responsibility on behalf of the public to ensure they weren’t take in by a scam which wound up looting the American people of somewhere between $27 and $130 million in donations in the false belief that there’d actually been a shooting massacre, and that these 20 children and six adults had died. Divided by the 26 families that were impersonating the survivors, they split and derived over a million bucks apiece.

I believe this is one of the reasons Lenny Pozner has been so ruthless in going after those of us that have been seeking to expose the truth. James Tracy turned out to be targeted, where Lenny published several articles in the South Florida newspapers, including the Jewish journal, Forward, the Sun-Sentinel and others. Tracy ended up losing his position over this. The university had a flimsy excuse, but none better to address the issues here than Louis Leo IV, who represented him. Louis has a website, peopleoverpolitics.org, and he has authored a brilliant overview of Tracy versus Florida Atlantic, titled, “Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment.” Louis welcome to The Power Hour.

Louis Leo IV: Thanks for having me.

Fetzer: I’m just delighted. Perhaps you’d like to begin with a thumbnail overview of what happened here, and how this American university beat the First Amendment.

Attorney Louis Leo IV

Leo: Well, I can tell you there are a lot of moving parts in this case, but we’re still waiting for the court to rule on post-trial motions, which include a Motion for Judgement as a Matter of Law, as well as a Motion for a New Trial. And, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened. I guess you can say it’s been a long and disturbing ride through the legal system in this case.

Fetzer: I was just going to add that I too am a colleague, a collaborator, with James Tracy, and I was the head of his legal defense fund, and I believe in this man one-hundred-percent. In fact, I can’t imagine a less likely target for an action like this than James Tracy. He is so principled. He is so measured. He is so thoughtful. He is so intelligent. And he was actually undertaking at act of what’s technically known as super arrogation—going beyond the call of duty in an effort to determine the facts of the matter, and protect the American public from fraud.

Leo: Exactly.

Fetzer: They wound up being subjected to a theft by deception, by misrepresenting what had happened there. Lenny Pozner, Neil Heslin and others have defrauded the American people of a vast sum, and have gone on this stupefying campaign for gun control that’s completely one-hundred-percent the opposite of the interests of the American people. Louis, go right ahead.

Leo: I should start by saying that the reason Dr. Tracy lost in this trial is because of deception and fraud in the court, and it’s something that the court sanctioned, using the rules of evidence. This is outlined in our motion that the court made the grave error in excluding from trial evidence that showed just how blatant and pretextual the use of this policy was to terminate a tenured professorship.

Continue reading TracyvFAU: “A Very Dangerous Precedent”

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FAU Faculty Support Academic Freedom (Restrictions Apply)

By James F. Tracy

Are faculty at FAU and universities across America pristine embodiments of integrity and truth? Do they support a flourishing of scholarly perspectives, or are they political ideologues who carefully police their own ranks?

Flashback to Spring 2013: A liberal instructor and Democratic Party activist is under fire by conservative groups for a classroom exercise that at least one student claimed was offensive to his religious faith. He put in a kick and local media leapt on the event. After an outcry in the blogosphere FAU administrators responded apologetically to the student and public, stating instructors would never repeat such an experiment with students. Even Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, ever the opportunist, responded by chiding FAU administrators.

This was the famous, “Stomp on Jesus” incident, where FAU instructor Deandre Poole, an African American, was carrying out an exercise published in a widely-circulated communication studies textbook that asked students to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then see if they could draw themselves to drop the paper to the ground and place their foot over it.

After the incident was called out by conservative groups and Poole received death threats there was an outpouring by progressive left faculty members, students and community members, who placed pressure on the administration to defend Poole by publicly demonstrating in defense of  “academic freedom.”

Continue reading FAU Faculty Support Academic Freedom (Restrictions Apply)

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Through Jaundiced Eyes: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel’s Hardcore Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage

What Would Fair and Balanced Journalism Have Looked Like?

By James F. Tracy

The Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s overall coverage of the December 2017 TracyvFAU trial looks as if it could have been written by the Defendant University’s “Department of Media Relations.” Post and Sun-Sentinel managements recognize how FAU’s multitude of advertising dollars is a key  support in their erroneous and uncritical reportage of complex public events and broader operations. With the trial each outlet skewed its reportage and editorial commentary to heavily favor the school, thereby securing for their client a positive verdict in South Florida’s court of public opinion.

One need look no further than the Post and Sun-Sentinel‘s article titles to gather an overview of the TracyvFAU’s editorial thrust:

-“Trial To Begin for Fired FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy,” Sun Sentinel, November 27, 2017

-“Ex FAU Professor, Conspiracy Theorist James Tracy, Testifies about Firing in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, November 30, 2017

-“FAU Professor James Tracy Claims School Fired Him for Sandy Hook Rants,” Palm Beach Post, November 30, 2017

-“Ex-FAU Prof on Trial Tries To Downplay Attack on Sandy Hook Parents,” Palm Beach Post, December 1, 2017

-“FAU Prof Wasn’t Fired Because of Sandy Hook Blog, FAU Official Testifies,” Sun Sentinel,December 4, 2017

-“Christie: Tracy-vs-FAU More about Arrogance Than Free Speech, Insubordination,” PalmBeachPost.com, December 5, 2017

-“FAU Prof James Tracy’s Firing ‘Wasn’t a Surprise’ to Him, University Officials Say,” Sun Sentinel, December 5, 2017

-“What It Was Like in the Class of FAU’s Conspiracy-Spinning Professor,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Claims against FAU by Sandy Hook Denier Headed To Federal Jury Monday,” Palm Beach Post, December 8, 2017

-“Jury Rules against Fired FAU Prof James Tracy in Free Speech Case,” Sun Sentinel, December 11, 2017

An editorial by Palm Beach Post opinions editor Rick Christie, arguing that the content of Tracy’s speech and disbelief in government-endorsed conspiracy theories make him “arrogant.”

In fact, the papers pulled their reporters from the courtroom entirely when crucial testimony was given by Professor Tracy’s colleagues and fellow union officers giving the lie to the central argument of FAU’s million-dollar defense—that Tracy consciously violated a school policy rigorously adhered to by all other faculty and employees.

Continue reading Through Jaundiced Eyes: Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel’s Hardcore Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage

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Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment

… and Got Away With It

By Louis Leo IV Esq.
People Over Politics
Florida Civil Rights Coalition

In 2016, former Florida Atlantic University (“FAU”) Professor James Tracy filed a civil rights lawsuit against FAU following the termination of his tenured employment. If one relies on mainstream press reports of his firing they may conclude the action was justified because of Tracy’s alleged “harassment” of Sandy Hook parents, and/or his failure to comply with the school’s “outside activities” policy.

James Tracy with attorneys Steven Blinkensderfer (left) and and Louis Leo IV (right). Image Credit: Palm Beach Post

Yet at its heart, Tracy’s case has grave implications for the First Amendment rights of virtually every US academic and government employee. Through their own repeated admissions FAU administrators justified Tracy’s termination by arguing that Tracy failed to “disclose” his constitutionally protected political speech for university approval under a vague and confusing school policy.

If this precedent stands unchallenged it will allow virtually any government agency to police employees’ extracurricular speech or political activities, and accordingly discipline workers whose views are deemed objectionable.

What do you know about the James Tracy case?

If you get your news and information from “mainstream” media outlets and their affiliates and partners in fake news around the globe, you probably know nothing about the case.

Or if anything, you might think you know some crazy teacher said nobody died at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and lost his job. So what?

Well, if you think Professor Tracy is crazy, or was out of line in his blog postings about Sandy Hook, Tracy is far from alone in casting doubt about the official story. In fact, 24% of Americans surveyed in 2016 acknowledged the massacre may have been faked to promote gun control—a number which will undoubtedly grow as more and more Americans discover the vastly censored body of research and documentaries like “We Need To Talk About Sandy Hook”.

Notwithstanding the truth about Sandy Hook, or other government conspiracies, what if I told you that Professor Tracy didn’t do anything wrong?

What if I told you that government officials at FAU broke their own rules, and the First Amendment when they disciplined Professor Tracy?

For those who don’t care about freedom of speech, you need read no further.

For those who understand and appreciate the fact that FAU, a major American public university, isn’t the NFL, and that its government officials aren’t allowed to conspire to beat the First Amendment and fire a government employee because of what they say as a private citizen about a matter of public concern, please keep reading.

Professor James Tracy, who has a Ph.D. in mass communications, was an award-winning, tenured communications professor at a government-run university. He was a good teacher who received outstanding and excellent annual evaluations from his supervisors while teaching at FAU for over a decade.

Don’t take my word for it. Read his FAU performance evaluations.

Continue reading Legalizing Pretext: How an American Public University Conspired to Beat the First Amendment

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Watch Your Words, Professor

The Case of Edward A. Ross

Editor’s Note: University professors in the United States today seldom engage in public speech that may even remotely threaten their employment. This is partly due to the fact that close to three-quarters of teaching faculty are non-tenured contract workers, and thus readily recognize their lack of tenure protections. Yet the many who have earned tenure regard it as more of a guaranteed sinecure than a guard against potential administrative retaliation for personal beliefs and/or public statements. 

In fact, the institution of tenure in American higher education is largely rooted in the controversy surrounding Stanford University’s dismissal of Professor Edward A. Ross in 1900 for his public speech. Ross was a highly-regarded economist, sociologist, and even an early mass media critic. Jane Stanford, widow of railroad magnate and university founder Leland Stanford, was disturbed by Professor Ross’ political views, evident in the popular faculty member’s enthusiastic public support of the Populist Party’s “free silver” platform of the 1890s, and his subsequent condemnation of “Chinese cheap labor.” Following these remarks Ms. Stanford successfully pressured university president David Starr Jordan to terminate Ross’ employment. 

The retaliatory firing of Ross became known as the “Ross case” and is historically recognized as a principal motivating factor in Professors John Dewey and Arthur O. Lovejoy’s founding of the American Association of University Professors that advocated for tenure across the US higher ed landscape.

As the following article from Stanford’s alumni publication (somewhat tepidly) chronicles,

At the time of her death in 1905, Mrs. Stanford was still associated with the Ross Affair. An obituary in the New York Times called it “the only serious cloud that ever lowered over Stanford University.”

By Brian Eule
Stanford
(January/February 2015)

In 1900, Jane Stanford forced out a respected faculty member. Was he a martyr to academic freedom or a racist gadfly who deserved what he got?

Department of Special Collections and University Archives (right); Image D-07548 Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON in November 1900, Edward Alsworth Ross gathered several student reporters in his campus office. Ross, 33 years old and a Stanford economics professor of seven years, had joined the university just two years after its opening. He was a captivating sight, 6-foot-5 and nattily dressed in a suit that favored his athletic physique.

Ross was popular with students and esteemed in his field. David Starr Jordan, the university’s first president, had recruited him not once but twice. Plucked from Jordan’s former home at Cornell, Ross was emerging as a scholarly star. Now, his time at Stanford was coming to an abrupt end.

Ross held a lengthy written statement he had prepared for the San Francisco newspapers. He handed it to the students.

“Well, boys,” he said, “I’m fired.”

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, the reasons for Ross’s departure remain in dispute. The matter was precipitated by a series of public pronouncements Ross had made on political matters between 1896 and 1900, a practice that put him at odds with university co-founder Jane Stanford. Was he forced out because of his outspoken opinions or because he broke rules prohibiting partisan advocacy? What is not in dispute is that Mrs. Stanford insisted that Ross be sacked despite the vigorous objections of Jordan, who finally relented.

Ross’s dismissal drove a wedge between Stanford faculty and the administration and resulted in a spate of resignations by other professors. More broadly, it galvanized efforts to codify protection of academic freedom and indirectly led to the establishment of tenure. As it turned out, that hastily arranged press conference in Ross’s office was a seminal moment in the history of higher education.

LONG BEFORE HIS NAME became synonymous with academic freedom controversies, Edward Ross was an enigmatic figure. Born to a farmer and a schoolteacher in Illinois, and orphaned at age 10, he was taken in by neighbors on a nearby Iowa farm. His new family viewed him as a prodigy, praising him so extravagantly that some boys in the area thought him pampered.

More…

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The Death of Academic Freedom

Prof James Tracy Denied First Amendment Rights by Federal Court

By Vivian Lee*

Global Research
American Herald Tribune
JamesFetzer.Blogspot &
OffGuardian

On December 11, 2017, in a serious miscarriage of justice, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, ruled unanimously in favor of Florida Atlantic University and against former Media Studies Professor James Tracy, who was suing for reinstatement after his firing in 2016. The jury found that Tracy’s “controversial” articles on Memory Hole Blog were not a “motivating factor” in his firing, the only question they were required to consider. Of course, Tracy’s posts at “his conspiracy theory blog” were indeed the reason he was fired, but the jury was convinced otherwise by FAU’s legal team with assistance from the judge. The case centered around Tracy’s writings on the anomalies found in the reporting on the Sandy Hook “massacre” of December 14, 2012. His skepticism about the event was not to the liking of the university.

Palm Beach PostJames Tracy with his attorney Louis Leo IV arriving at federal court. Image: Palm Beach Post.

FAU maintained that Tracy was not fired from his tenured position because of his blog posts, but because he did not follow the “rules” set out by “his bosses” at the government-run institution. FAU attorney G. Joseph Curley insisted that Tracy was not denied his First Amendment rights, but that he simply did not follow university procedure. “Professor Tracy doesn’t follow the rules,” Curley told the jury. “They’re rules that everyone else follows. He doesn’t play by the rules.” FAU cast the case as one of a “belligerent,” rebellious,” and “nonconformist” employee being let go for “insubordination,” instead of that of a tenured professor exercising his right to free speech.[1]

Atty G Joseph Curley Palm Beach PostFAU attorney G. Joseph Curley: “I could not be happier for FAU.” Image: Palm Beach Post.

FAU’s current “rules” require that faculty submit forms listing “outside activities” to be vetted for administrative approval, whether the activities are compensated or not. Tracy and other professors at FAU had argued that the policy is vague and confusing, constituting a form of prior restraint forbidden by the First Amendment, and leading to a climate of “fear and uncertainty” among the faculty. Aside from the fact that “outside activities” can reach into all aspects of a professor’s life and therefore be difficult if not impossible to list, such activities must not be subject to bureaucratic approval. And certainly, no tenured professor can be fired for not filling out a form, even at Florida Atlantic University.[2]

Continue reading The Death of Academic Freedom

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Thought Crimes of a Tenured Academic

Defamatory Campaign Unleashed As Prof Increasingly Questioned 9/11, “War on Terror”

This is the first of a two-part edition of Real Politik featuring Canadian Professor Anthony Hall, Dr. Kevin Barrett, and Jeremy Rothe-Kushel. The discussion focuses on the targeting of Hall by organized pro-Israeli pressure groups and mass media that led  University of Lethbridge administrators to suspend him from his tenured academic post.

hall-lethbridge
Dr. Hall is an accomplished scholar of political economy and globalization studies whose work centers on the history of indigenous North Americans. A faculty member at Lethbridge since the early 1990s.He has taken  courageous public stances on geopolitical issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 9/11 and the US-led “war on terror.”

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B’NAI BRITH SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANTHONY HALL REFLECTS WORSENING THREAT TO ACADEMIC FREEDOM

By Craig McKee
Truth and Shadows

anthony-hall
Hall on the campus of the University of Lethbridge shortly after learning of his suspension.

Over his long and impressive academic career, Professor Anthony Hall has helped us all better understand how crises can be manufactured to manipulate public perception of narratives that serve the interests of established power.

Now, he is the victim of one of those contrived crises.

In the latest of a growing list of glaring assaults on academic freedom, Hall has been suspended without pay from his tenured teaching position at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada where he has taught for 26 years. As the result of an obviously faked and planted Facebook post, he has become the focus of a smear campaign by the Jewish lobby group B’nai Brith Canada, which is accusing him of being an “anti-Semitic Holocaust denier.”

Continue reading B’NAI BRITH SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANTHONY HALL REFLECTS WORSENING THREAT TO ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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Questioning an Official Story Is Not Hate Speech, It is Free Speech

False Flag Weekly News
No Lies Radio
October 7, 2016

Special Guest Today: Jeremy Rothe-Kushel

false-flag-weekly-news2

The False Flag Weekly News anchored by Dr. Kevin Barrett and Prof. Tony Hall looks behind the headlines and main stream media stories to get at what’s really going on in the world. From violations of international law to initiating WWIII, you don’t want to miss what they and their guests have to say about the stories behind the stories. This weekly news show is broadcast live on YouTube and No Lies Radio every Friday morning 8am Pacific/11am Eastern.

Thousands watch the show every week and rely upon us to reveal the naked truth behind national and world events that the main stream media is covering up. We take a no holds bar investigative reporter attitude even in our coverage of controversial events such as 9/11, the Boston Bombing, Sandy Hook, the Ukraine, the Paris Charlie Hebdo event, ISIS, and the more recent Paris and San Bernadino attacks.

TODAY’S NEWS STORIES AND THEIR SOURCE LINKS

Continue reading Questioning an Official Story Is Not Hate Speech, It is Free Speech

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