German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Free Speech Not “For Free”

This week Angela Merkel, a German-Polish Marxist who has served as the Federal Republic of Germany’s chancellor since 2005, warned against the “propagation of hate”, cautioning those who may tend to speak their minds, that freedom of speech is not “for free.'”

Echoing the rhetoric of a public relations campaign underway throughout the West against “hate speech,” Merkels’ comments came in an address to the German Parliament on November 27.

Merkel came under fire in 2016 for agreeing with Turkish President Erdoğan to prosecute a German comedian for publicly reciting a poem satirizing Recep Erdoğan in a performance that sought to illustrate the limits of free speech in Germany.

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US Police Introduce “Terrifying” Robot Dog Into Their Ranks

Four-legged robot “Spot” resembles a metal dog without a head.

Elias Marat
The Mind Unleashed

(November 26, 2019)

(TMU) — Police in the United States have quietly begun integrating advanced robots into officers’ ranks, raising alarm among civil liberties advocates and police watchdogs in the country.

Video of Boston Dynamics robots climbing stairs, carrying boxes, and doing basic parkour have long circulated around the internet, creeping out viewers with the lifelike motion of its humanoid robot model and it’s semi-autonomous four-legged robot “Spot”—a customizable bot which resembles a metal dog without a head that, understandably, some people call “terrifying.”

And now, radio station WBUR and the ACLU have discovered that the Massachusetts State Police have been leasing one of the Boston Dynamics’ robot dogs for use in its bomb squad.

Spot’s integration into the state police, which began in August, marks the very first time that such advanced robotics have been deployed within a civilian police force.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has been seeking official public records on the use of Spot in the police arsenal. The group believes that the robotic dogs, which can carry out such tasks like opening doors and clearing obstacles in high-risk environments, have already been put to use in live incidents.

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Citing First Amendment, Indiana University Refuses to Fire Controversial Professor

Editor’s Note: A major US research university has refused to terminate a tenured professor’s employment for exercising his constitutionally-protected right to free speech. The university’s ostensible respect for the First Amendment elicited positive reactions from “students, academics and lawyers, many of whom praised the provost for publicly excoriating the professor’s opinions while respecting one of the nation’s basic freedoms,” the New York Times observes.

There is notably no mention by the “newspaper of record” of the TracyvFAU First Amendment case where in 2015 a Florida public university successfully sidestepped the First Amendment by firing a tenured academic for questioning his university administration’s efforts to censor his similarly protected speech.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
New York Times

(November 22, 2019)

A provost at Indiana University has earned praise for harshly condemning a professor’s views while respecting the First Amendment.

The provost did not mince her words about the opinions of a professor on her campus. His views were racist, sexist and homophobic, she wrote in a statement this week. They were “vile and stupid,” she said, and “more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st.”

But the provost, Lauren Robel of Indiana University Bloomington, was equally clear on another point: The First Amendment prohibited the university from firing the professor, Eric Rasmusen, for expressing those views. “That is not a close call,” wrote Professor Robel, who also teaches at the law school. 

The unusually candid statement quickly drew attention from students, academics and lawyers, many of whom praised the provost for publicly excoriating the professor’s opinions while respecting one of the nation’s basic freedoms. 

Conflicts over academic freedom and private speech have long been mainstays of college campuses. There was the case of Steven Salaita, the professor whose job offer was revoked by the University of Illinois in 2014 over his criticism of Israel. And John McAdams, the professor who was reinstated by a Wisconsin court last year after Marquette University suspended him for criticizing a graduate student on his personal blog.

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Why Are So Many Players in the Impeachment Trial Jewish?

Yonat Shimron
Religious News Service

(November 13, 2019)

(RNS) — Public hearings in the presidential impeachment inquiry began Wednesday (Nov. 13), as witnesses marched to a congressional office building to offer televised testimonies on whether President Donald Trump linked military aid for Ukraine with a promise to investigate one of his political opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden.

As readers following the saga may have already gleaned, there’s a disproportionate number of Jewish actors in this drama. At least one — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council director for European affairs — is scheduled to testify next week.  (Vindman told congressional investigators last month that he heard Trump’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine and reported it to his superiors because he was concerned about a quid pro quo.)

Behind the scenes there are others, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian-American business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. (The two were allegedly involved in helping Trump remove Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine.) And then, of course, there’s Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was asked by Trump to investigate Biden in a July 25 phone conversation —  the foundation for the impeachment inquiry. Parnas, Fruman and Zelensky are also Jewish. 

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British MP Kicked Out of Labor Party Over Religious Beliefs

Catholic News Agency
(November 22, 2019)

London, England, Nov 22, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- A former member of parliament has spoken out after being deselected as a candidate for the U.K.’s Liberal Democrat Party because of his Catholic faith and views on same-sex marriage and abortion. 

Image credit: Rob Flello

Robert Flello sat as a Labour Party MP in the House of Commons for over a decade, representing Stoke-on-Trent from 2005 until 2017. In 2019, he switched parties to the Liberal Democrats and was selected as their candidate for his former constituency. Flello, a practicing Catholic, was informed on Nov. 12–just 36 hours after his selection as a candidate–that he had been de-selected and would not be permitted to represent the Lib Dems in the election. 

Flello is now calling for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom to “start speaking out” and defend its social teaching, and for Catholics in the U.K. to question their local candidates about their thoughts on religious freedom. 

Robert Fell speaks on redefining traditional marriage in 2013. Earlier this month he was deselected as a candidate for the U.K.’s Liberal Democrat Party because of his religious beliefs.

“However they try to dress it up, the simple fact is that you can’t be a practicing Catholic and a Lib Dem Candidate,” wrote Flello in an op-ed published on Nov. 20 in the Catholic Herald magazine. He said that “someone, somewhere” objected to him within the party and officials “got worried and pulled the plug.” 

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