Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

“People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it,” Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. “They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.”

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

WikiLeaks’s payment processor, the Icelandic company DataCell ehf, said it would take immediate legal action against the companies to make donations possible again.

“DataCell who facilitates those payments towards Wikileaks has decided to take up immediate legal actions to make donations possible again,” DataCell CEO Andreas Fink said last week. “We can not believe WikiLeaks would even create scratch at the brand name of Visa.”

“It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur,” Fink added.


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Supreme Court says jury selections should be open

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Georgia‘s high court incorrectly upheld a trial judge’s decision that the public could be barred from jury selection in a drug trial, ruling that jury selection in criminal trials is presumptively open and judges must consider alternatives to closure.

The 7-2 majority opinion in Presley v. Georgia, which was remanded to the lower court without oral argument, said that the Constitution guarantees both defendants and the public the right to public jury selections.

“The Sixth Amendment right, as the quoted language makes explicit, is the right of the accused. The Court has further held that the public trial right extends beyond the accused and can be invoked under the First Amendment,” read the majority opinion, which was not signed by any single justice.

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Police increasingly use false wiretapping charges to prevent video recordings

A South Florida model films a cop who is threatening to arrest her son and she gets arrested on felony charges.

An Oregon man films a cop who is roughing up his mentally ill friend and he gets arrested on felony charges.

And a Boston man films a cop arresting a drug suspect and he gets arrested on felony charges.

These are only a handful of people in this country who have been arrested in recent years on felony charges after doing something that is protected under the First Amendment.

Their charges? Illegal wiretapping or eavesdropping, a charge that never fails to get thrown out before reaching court. But by then, the damage is done. Their rights have been trampled on and police rarely get punished for making such unlawful arrests.

An article this week in the Boston Globe highlighted such arrests in the Boston area, but anybody who reads this blog knows these types of arrests occur on too much of a frequent basis around the country.

There are no hard statistics for video recording arrests. But the experiences of Surmacz and Glik highlight what civil libertarians call a troubling misuse of the state’s wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cell phone and video technology make possible.

“The police apparently do not want witnesses to what they do in public,’’ said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, who helped to get the criminal charges against Surmacz dismissed.

The laws on illegal wiretapping vary from state to state, but one thing is clear in all states. A person must have had an expectation of privacy in order to become a victim.

In other words, if you are filming a cop in public, that cop does not have an expectation of privacy. Especially if that cop sees your camera.

For more information, check out the Field Guide to Secret Audio and Video Recordings.

Grannies to Toys’R’Us : War is Not a Game

NEW YORK — On December 4, the Raging Grannies and the Granny Peace Brigade created a wonderful holiday peace event at the crossroads of the world, Times Square. The purpose was to send the message: No more war toys and no more war.

They met near the Recruiting Station where two New York City Police Department officers, polite but not particularly interested in the First Amendment, told them that they had to move on. Debate was futile. So, they moved to the huge Broadway Toys “R” Us where several grannies had entered minutes earlier, got on the three story high Ferris wheel in the store, and unfurled large yellow banners that read “No More War Toys — No More War.”

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Sheriff Joe Walks Out After Interrupted by Singers, Protesters Occupy Lobby

Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio walked out of an interview on Monday. Arizona State University‘s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication held a “First Amendment” forum at which Arpaio faced some hard questions. But he had an even harder time dealing with the people who started singing the “Immigration Rhapsody” and wouldn’t stop.Prior to the song, other anarchists entered the lobby of the building and held a speak-out to share stories of racial profiling. News was shared that the sheriff had been shut down, after which the Haymarket Squares performed a few songs in the lobby before the crowd exited the building.

During the song, sung to the tune of the “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Arpaio walked off stage and wouldn’t continue the interview even though the singers left and there were 12 minutes left of the forum. The song received a lot of press coverage, but the message was not shared adequately.

More text, photos and videos at Why We Sang Sheriff Joe off the Stage and Anarchists, students, and pissed off people come out swinging at Arpaio’s ASU appearance

CCR Files Opening Brief in First Supreme Court Case to Challenge Patriot Act

Obama Administration Defending Law that Makes Speech Advocating Human Rights a Terrorist Crime

November 17, 2009, New York – Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the first brief in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the first case to challenge a portion of the Patriot Act before the Supreme Court. The case, originally brought in 1998 on behalf of a human rights group, a retired federal administrative judge, a doctor, and several nonprofit groups, challenges the constitutionality of the law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to groups the administration has designated as “terrorist.”  In particular, the plaintiffs charge that the law goes too far in making speech advocating lawful, nonviolent activity a crime.  The lower courts have unanimously declared several provisions of the law – including one added by the Patriot Act – unconstitutionally vague because they encompass speech and force citizens to guess as to their meaning.

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Virginia drops plan for anonymous juries

The Supreme Court of Virginia has withdrawn a controversial proposal that would have automatically withheld the identities of jurors in all criminal cases, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Several open government organizations, including the Virginia Press Association and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, opposed the rule. The Reporters Committee filed comments noting that courts have found that the First Amendment creates a presumption of access to juror identities, which can be overcome in cases where a judge believes that jurors are at risk.

In 2008 the General Assembly enacted a law that required courts to find “good cause” for secrecy before hiding the identities of jurors. But the proposed court rule, which was billed as an implementation of the 2008 Virginia law, required that all criminal jurors in Virginia be assigned a number and “at all times during the course of the trial … the court, counsel for the parties, and the jurors, shall refer to jurors by number and not by name.”

The blanket secrecy was an attempt, the proposal said, “to avoid any implication that this anonymous procedure is being undertaken in any specific case because of the dangerousness of that specific defendant.”

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Invention Secrecy at Highest in a Decade

The total number of invention secrecy orders that the U.S. government imposed on patent applications rose again this year, reaching 5,081 by the end of last month, the highest figure since 1996.

Under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, U.S. government agencies may restrict the disclosure of a patent application whenever its publication is deemed “detrimental to the national security.”  In Fiscal Year 2009, 103 new secrecy orders were issued, while 45 existing orders were rescinded.  The overall number of orders in effect increased by about 1% over the year before, according to statistics from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that were released to Secrecy News under the Freedom of Information Act.

The most vexing secrecy orders, known as “John Doe” secrecy orders, are those that are imposed on private inventors who are not government contractors so that the government has no property interest in the invention.  In Fiscal Year 2009, there were 21 new John Doe secrecy orders, according to the latest statistics.  An argument could be made that secrecy orders in such cases are infringements on an inventor’s First Amendment rights, but such an argument has never been tested in court.

In general, however, challenges or complaints concerning the operation of the patent secrecy system seem to be rare.  Most secrecy orders originate at defense agencies, with the U.S. Navy in the lead this year with 39.  (The National Security Agency issued 12 secrecy orders in FY 2009.)  In such cases, the most likely customers for the inventions are the military agencies themselves, not commercial enterprises, and so the secrecy orders may have no adverse impact on the inventors.    For other resources on invention secrecy, see here.

Banned Books Week organizers remind public of freedom of speech

The arguments over whether to allow Temecula schools to teach the book “Speak” with its themes of date rape, underage drinking and depression still echo as national Banned Book Week begins Saturday.

The annual campaign, from Saturday to Oct. 3, is organized by the American Library Association. It is intended to remind Americans not to take for granted their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press.

Every year in the United States, hundreds of people demand that books be removed from libraries or schools because of their content, according to library association records.

“What stands behind that is our First Amendment right to consider all kinds of ideas rather than anyone telling us what to read or think,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, acting director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom within the library association. “There are always censors that would like to take books out of libraries or removed from classrooms.”

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Do You Have the Right to Flip Off a Cop?

David Hackbart was mad, and he wanted to show it, but he didn’t think he would end up in federal court protecting his right to a rude gesture and demanding that the city of Pittsburgh stop violating the First Amendment rights of its residents.

Hackbart, 34, was looking for a parking space on busy Murray Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on April 10, 2006. Spotting one, he attempted to back into it, but the driver of the car behind him refused to back up and give him sufficient room. Hackbart responded in the classic way. “I stuck my hand out the window and gave him the finger to say ‘Hey, jerk, thanks,’ ” says Hackbart. “That’s all I was trying to say — ‘Thanks, thanks a lot.’ “

At that moment, a voice rang out telling Hackbart not to make the rude gesture in public. “So I was like, How dare that person tell me? They obviously didn’t see what happened. Who are they to tell me what to say?” he says. “So I flipped that person off. And then I looked, and it was a city of Pittsburgh cop in his car right next to me.”

That turned out to be police sergeant Brian Elledge, who happened to be passing in the other direction in his cruiser. Elledge whipped around and pulled Hackbart over, citing him under the state’s disorderly-conduct law, which bans obscene language and gestures. And here’s where the problem lies, says state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director Witold (Vic) Walczak: the middle finger and equivalent swear words are not legally obscene. In fact, courts have consistently ruled that foul language is a constitutionally protected form of expression. A famous 1971 Supreme Court case upheld the right of a young man to enter the Los Angeles County Court House wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “F___ the Draft.” (Read about how disorderly conduct is often a cop’s call.)

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Freedom From Religion Foundation files lawsuit

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – It will soon be up to a judge to decide if the city interfered and contributed to the removal of a billboard at Archibald Avenue and Foothill Boulevard that displayed the message “Imagine No Religion.”

The lawsuit will go to court on Nov. 16.

Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Riverside, claiming Rancho Cucamonga and Redevelopment Director Linda Daniels violated the group’s free-speech rights.

The billboard was supposed to be up for a month, but was removed almost a week after it went up, according to the foundation, which advocates for the separation of church and state.

On Wednesday, the foundation filed transcripts with the court that document what they contend occurred leading up to the removal of the billboard, said Annie Laurie Gaylor, vice president of the Madison, Wis.-based foundation.

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Drug Control Becomes Speech Control

When the government accuses a doctor of running a “pill mill,” prosecutors portray every aspect of his practice in a sinister light. Prescribing painkillers becomes drug trafficking, applying for insurance reimbursement becomes fraud, making bank deposits becomes money laundering, and working with people at the office becomes conspiracy.

When Siobhan Reynolds thinks a doctor has been unfairly targeted for such a prosecution, she tries to counter the official narrative by highlighting the patients he has helped and dramatizing the conflict between drug control and pain control. But now the government has turned its reinterpretive powers on Reynolds, portraying the pain treatment activist’s advocacy as obstruction of justice and thereby threatening the freedom of anyone who dares to suggest there is more than one side to a criminal case.

In December 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wichita unveiled a 34-count indictment against Haysville, Kansas, physician Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, a nurse who worked in his clinic. It charged Schneider with “illegally distributing prescription drugs to his patients, directly causing the deaths of at least four of them.”

Convinced the Schneiders were innocent, Reynolds and her group, the Pain Relief Network (PRN), publicly disputed the charges. In January 2008, PRN announced a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of using the federal Controlled Substances Act to regulate the practice of medicine, traditionally a state function. PRN also tried to stop the state medical board from suspending Schneider’s license, arguing that doing so would harm his patients.

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Censorship in California: Marijuana Ad Campaign Rejected by TV Stations

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) kicked off a TV ad campaign aimed at gaining support for a California marijuana legalization bill in the legislature on Wednesday, but ran into problems with several TV stations around the state, which either rejected the ad outright or just ignored MPP efforts to place it. Still, the spots are up and running on other Golden State stations.

Playing on California’s budget crisis — the state is $26 billion in the hole and currently issuing IOUs to vendors and laying off state workers — the 30-second spots feature middle-aged suburban Sacramento housewife Nadene Herndon, who tells the camera:

“Sacramento says huge cuts to schools, health care, and police are inevitable due to the state’s budget crisis. Even the state’s parks could be closed. But the governor and the legislature are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes. We’re marijuana consumers. Instead of being treated like criminals for using a substance safer than alcohol, we want to pay our fair share. Taxes from California’s marijuana industry could pay the salaries of 20,000 teachers. Isn’t it time?”

As Herndon finishes speaking, the words “Tax and regulate marijuana” appear on the screen, as well as a link to Clicking on that link actually takes you to MPP’s “MPP of California” web page.

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Officers Lack First Amendment Right to Complain About Supervisors

Complaints by police officers about their supervisors’ conduct are not protected by the First Amendment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, writing for a divided panel that affirmed a judgment in favor of the city of San Bernardino, said the dispute was an intradepartmental matter and not a subject of public concern.

Judge Pamela Ann Rymer agreed, while dissenting Judge Kim M. Wardlaw argued that matters involving “the performance, functioning, and mismanagement of government agencies” may implicate employee free speech rights.

The plaintiffs in the case, Michael Desrochers and Steve Lowes, are among four SBPD sergeants who filed an internal grievance against a lieutenant in April 2006. While the other two accepted an informal resolution, Desrochers and Lowes formally accused their superior of criticizing them in front of others and acting unprofessionally in other ways, including placing the department in a negative light by making critical comments in meetings with officers from other agencies.

The pair claimed that it was in retaliation for that grievance that Desrochers was transferred over his objection from the Homicide Unit that he had headed to the Robbery Unit, and that Lownes was suspended for two weeks. They also claimed that then-Chief Michael Billdt and the assistant chief failed to take appropriate corrective action in response to their grievance.

Billdt retired earlier this year, following a plebiscite in which three-quarters of the officers indicated a lack of confidence in his leadership, and was replaced by former Bell Gardens Chief Keith Kilmer.

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ACLU seeks data on border laptop searches

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a FOIA request for records on laptops searched by border officials, PC Magazine reported. ACLU says these searching practices raise questions concerning First and Fourth Amendment rights because “they involve highly intrusive governmental probing into a traveler’s most private information.” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to release updated guidelines regarding these border laptop searches in the next few months.

How many laptops have border officials searched at U.S. borders? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to know.

The group filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Homeland Security Department requesting any and all records dating back to January 1, 2007.

“Disclosure of the requested information … will further public understanding of the government’s expansive exercise of search authority over all travelers, including U.S. citizens, passing through the country’s international borders,” the letter reads.

More here.


A guy walks into a bar in Ramona…By Greg Moran

…and after a few minutes, a dozen different kinds of cross-eyed ugly breaks out. Allegedly.

That’s the gist of a rather hair-raising complaint filed in federal court this week by Allen Baker of Ramona and James Playford. They sued the county, the sheriff’s department and five deputies for using excessive force, assault and civil rights violations all stemming from an incident at Molly Malone’s bar last July. Baker said he had seen deputies at the bar several times a week, fraternizing with women and sometimes handcuffing them and placing them in the back of the squad car. For fun. Apparently. Photos were taken and one of the young women even posted it on her MySpace page, according to the complaint, and captioned it “Bong loads in a cop car.”

Well, Baker approached two members of the local constabulary, deputies Colby Hodge and Jeffrey Guthrie, and asked if they were there to pick up girls. They told him to shut up or he would be arrested, which triggered a First Amendment defense kind of response from Baker (“Plaintiff Baker asked Hodge and Guthrie if freedom of speech is illegal” the suit dryly recounts.) Baker says he was put under arrest, there in the bar, and then the suit contends things went from bad to very much worse very quickly.

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Reporters Committee releases summary of Sotomayor decisions

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has released a report summarizing the First Amendment and freedom of information opinions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The report notes that while Sotomayor has an abundance of judicial experience, “it is surprising to see that no clear standard on First Amendment issues has emerged from her many cases.” However, this is primarily due to the small number of such cases that she has heard. When confronted with the question of public and press access to the judicial system, she has favored the right of access. But her Freedom of Information Act cases tend to favor withholding records from requesters.

The report is available on the committee’s Web site.

No free press during war time (which is always)

A former United States Army Lieutenant Colonel who worked for military intelligence is calling for the military to attack and kill “partisan media.” Before reading his comments recall that the First Amendment protects freedom of the press, treason is defined in the Constitution as an “overt act” of “aiding the enemy,” and also realize that an “enemy” only exists when Congress has declared a war. Additionally, the Supreme Court has agreed that the Constitution applies equally in times of war and peace. Now, considering all of the facts about our Constitution, read the un-American and anti-liberty comments of former Colonel, Ralph Peters:

Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

So, journalists (and presumably bloggers and the alternative media) who are critical of the imperial state during a time of war (which is constantly, according to supporters of the regime) should be considered “combatants”!? And you know how the government views non-uniformed combatants–they are considered “unlawful enemy combatants” who can be stripped of their citizenship, tortured, and held indefinitely without a trial.

Military attacks on the media that don’t spout the government propaganda (which he calls “patriotic”). Wow.

Welcome to the new America.

California student journalist seeks shield law protection

A student journalist who witnessed a killing in San Francisco is trying to use California’s shield law to protect his work., the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The 22-year-old San Francisco State University photojournalism student was working on his senior project in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood when he witnessed the killing of Norris Bennett, according to the Chronicle. The newspaper did not identify the student because he is afraid for his safety. The student was following Bennett, a 21-year-old business student at City College of San Francisco, as part of his project. Bennett was shooting dice April 17 in the neighborhood where he grew up when he was killed.

Police attempted to interview the student journalist at the scene, but he declined, according to the Chronicle. Police obtained a search warrant for his home and DNA, and several items were seized.

A First Amendment attorney, Jim Wagstaffe, who teaches part-time in the San Francisco State journalism department, is representing the student for free, the Chronicle reported. He is challenging the validity of the search warrant based on California’s shield law.

“The shield law is designed to allow reporters to cover events without becoming witnesses,” Wagstaffe told the Chronicle.

The California shield law protects people who are employed by or connected with newspapers, magazines, and other periodical publications. The Chronicle reported that the student journalist had blogged about his senior project prior to the shooting.

Religious lyrics bring school more trouble

Attorneys are seeking to halt teaching of a song they call a “blatantly sectarian and proselytizing religious song” to third-graders at The Webster School of St. Augustine, FL, until the case can go to court.

This is the second time in less than a month that attorneys asked the United States District Court in Jacksonville for a preliminary injunction to stop a song at Webster.

School district officials said they knew nothing about the amended complaint until contacted by The St. Augustine Record Tuesday evening.

“Our attorney (Frank Upchurch) had not heard of it. No one knew about it,” said Margie Davidson, spokeswoman for the St. Johns County School District.

Attempts to reach Superintendent Joe Joyner were unsuccessful.

The amended complaint, filed Tuesday, comes less than a week after a federal judge ruled the School District, a school principal and two teachers violated two students’ First Amendment rights by making them choose between practicing what he called a “proselytizing” and “sectarian” country music song for an end-of-the-year assembly or sitting out the performance.

The song was “In God We Still Trust,” released in 2005 by Diamond Rio. Two parents and their third-graders filed a lawsuit in protest in March.

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Judge gags reporter

“At the end of the day, editors decide what goes into the newspaper, not judges.” Peter Scheer, executive director of California First Amendment Coalition.

VICTORVILLE • A local judge on Monday ordered a Daily Press reporter not to print the name of a witness who testified in open court – a move that legal experts said is patently against the law.

During a preliminary hearing for Richard Jay Swank, a former substitute teacher charged with repeatedly sexually abusing his son, Judge Bridgid McCann called a Daily Press reporter and the defense and prosecution attorneys to the bench. She then told reporter Patrick Thatcher not to print the last name of Swank’s son, the victim that testified.

Several First Amendment experts say ordering a news publication not to print information obtained legally is unconstitutional prior restraint.

See also: Ex-educator pleads not guilty to sex abuse of son

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Anti-Loitering Bill Called Unconstitutional

A bill criminalizing gatherings of more than two people in DC is drawing outrage and opposition from community and labor activists, as well as civil rights advocates.

“This is a clear and blatant violation of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right of the American people to assemble,” said Metro Council President Jos Williams. “That it’s been introduced in the nation’s capitol is a travesty of justice and common sense,” Williams added.

The Hot-Spot No-Loitering bill, recently introduced by Councilmember Jim Graham, would empower the DC police to declare a “hotspot zone” at any time, making it a crime to gather with two or more people on public property and giving the police the power to arrest people in the targeted zone with a $300 fine and/or 180 days in jail.

“This law would give the police the power to arrest day laborers waiting for work on a street corner, residents passing the time by socializing or protesting workers,” said Ruth Castel-Branco, organizer with DC Jobs with Justice. “Rather than more policing and incarceration, the City Council would serve the city better by focusing resources on creating good jobs and job training programs for DC residents.”

A public hearing on the bill will be held Wednesday at 10A; Contact JWJ at for details. - photo by Chris Garlock: Hotspot, yes, loitering, no: activists demonstrate last week outside a Fenty fundraiser

Media Need Not Reveal Web Posters’ Identities

Operators of newspaper Web sites, blogs and chat rooms that allow readers to post anonymous comments using pseudonyms do not have to readily reveal the posters’ identities in defamation suits, Maryland’s highest court ruled yesterday, further shaping an emerging area of First Amendment law in the Internet age.

The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and ordered that, an online forum run by Independent Newspapers, does not have to disclose the identities of forum participants who engaged in an online exchange about the cleanliness of a Dunkin’ Donuts shop in 2006.

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Professor Called Police After Student Pro-CCW Presentation

For Central Connecticut State University student John Wahlberg, a class presentation on campus violence turned into a confrontation with the campus police due to a complaint by the professor.

On October 3, 2008, Wahlberg and two other classmates prepared to give an oral presentation for a Communication 140 class that was required to discuss a “relevant issue in the media”. Wahlberg and his group chose to discuss school violence due to recent events such as the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred in 2007.

Shortly after his professor, Paula Anderson, filed a complaint with the CCSU Police against her student. During the presentation Wahlberg made the point that if students were permitted to conceal carry guns on campus, the violence could have been stopped earlier in many of these cases. He also touched on the controversial idea of free gun zones on college campuses.

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Sealing of Postmus warrant questioned

SAN BERNARDINO – A judge may have violated the First Amendment when he sealed a search warrant involving the San Bernardino County assessor without any explanation, an attorney for a free-speech advocacy group said Monday.

“You need to provide a reason,” said Rachel Matteo-Boehm, an attorney for the California First Amendment Coalition, of which The Press-Enterprise is a member.

On Jan. 14, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Douglas Elwell signed a search warrant authorizing authorities to raid 10 locations, including Assessor Bill Postmus‘s apartment in Rancho Cucamonga.

Postmus, 37, a former San Bernardino County supervisor, was arrested the next day after investigators said they found suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his home. He posted bail the same day and no charges have been filed.

In his order to seal the document, Elwell stated only that good cause had been shown. The Press-Enterprise obtained a portion of Elwell’s order that included that language.

Matteo-Boehm said that to seal a document, judges must find an “overriding interest” that supersedes the public’s right to know under the First Amendment.

See also:

San Bernardino County Assessor Postmus arrested

Welcome back, Bill Postmus

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Freedom of the press as a foreign concept

Yes, we reporters might get stuck covering the late shift or — egad! — a parade. When disaster strikes or a source calls back on deadline, the nights can be long. Newspaper layoffs and hard economic times can cast a pall over just about everything we do.

But those concerns seem a piffle every time I read dispatches from around the world about journalists who, fighting for the story, also must fight for their lives.

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Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag Provisions Unconstitutional

NEW YORK – A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI‘s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First Amendment.

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