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CEOs of Nearly 150 Major Corporations Demand More Gun COntrol

“Simply Unacceptable”

Andrew Ross Sorkin
New York Times

(September 12, 2019)

In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation’s best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger “red flag” laws. 

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the heads of nearly 150 companies, including Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, say in the letter, which was shared with The New York Times.

The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.

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DID FAU Find the ‘Winning Metaphor’ TO Defeat the First Amendment?

Appeals Court to Decide

It all began in January 2013 when a media firestorm ensued over a handful of blog posts Florida Atlantic University Professor James Tracy wrote discussing the anomalous news coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The controversy reached a crescendo when CNN’s Anderson Cooper sent reporters to FAU’s Boca Raton campus to pursue Tracy, then fumed incredulously over Tracy’s comments on his primetime news show.

Following FAU’s termination of Tracy in 2016 the fired professor requested his complete personnel file from the public university. Among the several hundred documents were a collection of notes hand-written by Tracy’s supervisor and dean, Heather Coltman, which were taken during administrative meetings addressing “JT”.

As Cooper took to the airwaves, Coltman joined top FAU administrators and attorneys to discuss ways to discipline or terminate Tracy. This presented a particularly thorny situation because the professor’s blog was protected by the First Amendment. Could Tracy’s speech be considered “misconduct”? “When was [the] disclaimer put on” his blog? How else could the professor’s speech activities be construed as a “violation of the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement]”?

After reading his blog and conferring with him briefly, Coltman concluded that Tracy was “not going to stop publishing”. The group thus resolved that he would somehow have to be reprimanded without attracting the public attention that might raise the ire of civil rights groups and FAU’s faculty union.

As the group continued to strategize it became evident that Tracy’s blog clearly fell under the First Amendment’s purview. “[A]cademic freedom,” was not at issue “because this was not academic”, Coltman wrote. A “hobby is diff[erent] from work at a univ[ersity]” and FAU officials didn’t want to be publicly perceived as “police[ing] people’s private lives.”

One way to get around the “1st Amendment,” was to “find winning metaphors,” that might create an avenue for terminating Tracy while providing “talking points” for FAU once they finally dropped the hammer.

During discovery and at trial FAU officials were loathe to acknowledge these incriminating documents. Although Coltman was “able to explain away all of the other notes she had recorded from her meetings in 2013,” attorney Louis Leo IV writes in his comprehensive overview of the TracyvFAU case, “Legalizing Pretext,”

Dean Coltman suffered selective memory loss when questioned at deposition and at trial about her note, “1st Amendment – finding winning metaphors”.

While FAU officials may not have wanted to remember or acknowledge what the note meant, anyone with common sense knows what it means. Government officials were looking for a pretext to retaliate against Professor Tracy for his protected speech.

So, what was the winning metaphor? In this case, it was a vague, confusing and selectively enforced school policy called the “Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities” Policy. It goes by many other names at FAU, including most often used “Outside Employment”, “Outside Business” or “Outside Activities” Policy.

Prior to Professor Tracy’s termination in January 2016, the Policy had never before been used to discipline, let alone terminate, a tenured faculty member for failing to report uncompensated online speech.

FAU’s million dollar legal team maintains that Tracy was merely terminated for insubordination because he failed to disclose his blogging to school officials for approval. This theme was dutifully parroted by South Florida news media, Weeks before trial the federal judge accepted this argument and nullified most of Tracy’s pleadings of their First Amendment challenges in her October 31, 2017 summary judgement order.

Before the US Court of Appeals FAU continues to hold that Tracy’s termination cannot be understood through a First Amendment lens. Consequently FAU still applies an “unconstitutionally-vague, content-restrictive” policy that at any time can be enforced as a prior restraint on any FAU professor or employee’s speech or activity that administrators for any reason deem undesirable. According to FAU, this practice does not present a civil rights concern and should remain immaterial under the US Constitution and federal rule of law.

This Thursday September 19 both sides will argue before a panel of 11th Circuit appellate judges whether FAU’s “Outside Activities Policy” was in fact the “winning metaphor” used to defeat the First Amendment.

Additional information on the oral argument venue is available here.

Related Posts:

James Tracy Files Reply Brief in Free Speech Appeal

Federal Appeal Filed Challenging FAU’s Unconstitutional ‘Outside Activities Policy’

Palm Beach Post ‘Spins” TracyvFAU Appeal

Principal Brief of James Tracy to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (8/6/18)

Principal Brief for Florida Atlantic University to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (10/18/18)

Reply Brief of Appellant James Tracy to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (11/16/18)

US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Notice Granting Oral Argument/Request For Additional Docs/Counsel’s Response, (6/18,/19)

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RFK Was Assassinated By Thane EUgene Cesar, Declares RFK Jr

RFK, Jr shared a lengthy Instagram post implicating Thane Eugene Cesar in the death of his father

Irish Central
Irish Central Staff
(September 13, 2019)

[This post replaced an earlier UK Daily Mail article excerpt on this story with Irish Central’s below. -Ed.]

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr says there is “compelling evidence” that Thane Eugene Cesar, and not Sirhan Sirhan, killed his father Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

Just hours after Cesar died in the Philippines on September 12, RFK, Jr shared an Instagram post with a lengthy caption that began: “Thane Eugene Cesar died today in the Philippines. Compelling evidence suggests that Cesar murdered my father.”

Robert F Kennedy, Jr (at the front) was one of the pall bearers at his father's funeral (Getty Images)

Robert F Kennedy, Jr (at the front) was one of the pall bearers at his father’s funeral (Getty Images)

On June 5, 1968, as Senator Robert F. Kennedy was in the midst of his presidential campaign, he had just concluded a speech responding to his primary win in California when he was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

RFK, Jr was 14 years old at the time.

24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan was promptly arrested and charged in the politician’s death. He was handed the death penalty, which was later switched to life in prison after California abolished capital punishment.

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Palm Beach Post Files TracyvFAU Appeal Story Under “Crime”

Who Does the Newspaper Truly Serve & ‘Report’ To?

FAU Professor James Tracy has occupied a unique position from which to critique dishonest, lazily-produced, and thinly-veiled propaganda presented as “news.” He has been a prime target of national news media for his controversial views and analyses of public events. More recent coverage has been addressed at some length on this site (e.g. here, here and here).

Now the Palm Beach Post has upped the ante, actually classifying Tracy’s civil rights battle against FAU as “crime.”

In August 2018, Tracy filed an appeal of the lower court’s TracyvFAU with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which will be heard before a panel of judges on September 19, 2019. The final appeal brief was filed the following November.

While South Florida news media provided florid, wall-to-wall coverage of the TracyvFAU trial taking place in West Palm Beach in late 2017, there has been scant reporting of the important appeal in the same media. The Palm Beach Post has carried one story upon the federal appeal filing, while the South Florida Sun-Sentinel hasn’t even mentioned the action, with its presumably final story noted that the pro forma appeal for a retrial in the lower court was denied.

In a recent review of the Post‘s single story, it’s notable that the paper’s editors classify the important civil rights appeal as a “crime.” That’s right, the staff actually filed the report in the news outlet’s online crime section.

According to the newspaper’s editors, a professor questioning FAU’s unconstitutionally vague “Outside Employment/Activities Policy” is a criminal. The Post‘s Crime News page is the same blue collar crime department that carries reports of murders, rapes, and car-jackings, accompanied by police mugshots of the alleged perpetrators.

This is likely no mistake. The Palm Beach Post now believes it’s a crime for any individual to question the news media’s often confusing reportage of complex events–particularly a college professor who might be given some measure of public credibility.

By failing to accept the court’s conclusions in TracyvFAU, and having the temerity to ask for a higher court’s review, James Tracy, in the judgement of South Florida’s corporate news media, has committed a “crime.”

Further, the Post‘s story title, “Fired FAU Professor Declares It’s His Right to Call Sandy Hook a Hoax,” is clearly misleading and inflammatory, as is the sloppy reporting itself.

For example, Court reporter Jane Musgrave writes,

University administrators and others might not like his views that the school shooting and other tragedies, such as the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings, were staged by the government to promote gun control. But Tracy has a constitutional right to express them, [his attorney] said.

Any observer of the proceedings by now knows Tracy never made any claims or inferences that the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings were “staged by the government to promote gun control.” In fact, he’s even been consistently careful not to affirm the notion that “nobody died at Sandy Hook.” Perhaps this is a reason Vice interviewed him for several hours in early 2018, but then failed to air even a few seconds of the interview.

Was it something he said? 🤔🤬

Posted by Justice For James Tracy on Saturday, October 13, 2018

In fact, none of the appeal briefs even mention the Oklahoma City or Boston Marathon bombings. But as far as Musgrave and Post editors are concerned, anything goes when seeking to further defame Tracy and “his ongoing quest to get his job back.”

This form of hype and flagrant inaccuracy suggests the newspaper management’s contempt not only Tracy’s “quest,” but also for its readership’s intelligence and discernment.

In its service to power the Post and Sentinel have predictably turned a blind eye to other unlawful acts that Tracy has sought to shed light on, specifically FAU police officers accessing his private driver’s license information.

In the end these escapades shouldn’t be surprising. One can certainly make the argument that the Post‘s coverage isn’t even intended to satisfy the informational needs of its readership. As the end of the day its publisher and staff are keenly aware of the powerful area interests they must placate. Its reportage thus plays to the very select “gallery” of Palm Beach County’s most powerful and affluent individuals.

With the aid of South Florida “journalists” these parties and their ilk will apparently do anything to deprive a “conspiracy theorist” of his tenured public university post.

FAU President John Kelly (left) alongside Christine Lynn and Richard Schmidt, FAU’s most prominent donors. “The 25 Most Powerful People in Palm Beach County,” Jupiter Magazine, September 2018.

See Related Posts:

Palm Beach Post Spins TracyvFAU Appeal

Palm Beach Post Reporter Admits Bias in TracyvFAU Coverage

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

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Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House

Daniel Lippman
Politico

(September 12, 2019)

The U.S. government concluded within the past two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cellphone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cellphones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. POLITICO reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cellphone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cellphone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cellphone hardened against intrusion.)

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Illinois School District Allows Students to Opt Out of “Active Shooter Drills”

Parents Fear of Children Being Traumatized

Illinois Public Media
(September 10, 2019)

A Champaign Illinois school district is allowing students to be excused from school to avoid experiencing “active shooter drills” held on school grounds.

“The Champaign Unit 4 Board of Education clarified how parents can opt their students out of active shooter drills” at a September 9 meeting, Illinois Public Media reports

A new state law requires students participate in at least one active shooter drill during the first 90 days of the school year. The law allows school staff to exempt certain students from the drill at their discretion. 

Unit 4 board members opted to take the advice of the district’s legal counsel, and allow parents to take their children out of school during the drills, exempt students who are already exempted from fire and tornado drills, and provide accommodations for students with individualized education plans.

Parents at the meeting expressed concerns that the drills could traumatize both students and staff. Dianne Gordon, a Unit 4 parent, told board members that her seven-year-old daughter was “hysterical” following a hard lockdown drill at her elementary school last year. 

Orlando Thomas, director of achievement and student services at Unit 4, explained that parents would be informed ahead of time when the drills would occur at each school building. 

“I think we’ve done a lot to try to help the adults ease their reservation about the training,” Thomas said.

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No laughing matter: PC policing would make ‘Monty Python’ and other comedies ‘crimes’ today

Neil Clark
RT

The classic British comedy series ‘Monty Python’ is 50 years old this month, but the sobering fact is that it, along with other shows of the era, would not be made today due to politically correct policing.

The Spanish Inquisition was a series of sketches in a 1970 episode of ‘Monty Python.’ Whenever a character said “I didn’t expect a Spanish Inquisition,” the Spanish Inquisition would turn up with the words “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” The thing is today, all comedy writers do expect the PC Police Inquisition, so they self-censor. Which is why modern comedy is nowhere near as inventive, or funny, as it was 50 years ago.

There are so many things modern comedy writers can’t say, for fear of being branded ‘racist/anti-Semitic/sexist/homophobic/genderist/misogynistic – or a combination of the aforementioned. Even the mildest joke could get you into serious trouble. And that’s a big problem. As Python John Cleese has said: “All humor is critical. If you start to say ‘We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,’ then humor is gone.”  

The Pythons didn’t so much think outside of the box, for them – to quote the zany comedy character Professor Bob Kazinski – there was no box. In his book ‘Very Naughty Boys,’ Robert Sellers notes that Python Graham Chapman was known for his ‘eccentric’ behavior. “Once, when presented with a show-business award at some swish function by Lord Mountbatten, Chapman crawled to the stage on all-fours, clasped the prize between his teeth, squawked, and then returned to his table.” Alas, they don’t make them like Chapman any more. 

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