Why Is Obama’s Administration Chilling Free Speech Yet Again?

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Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project Truthy, a reference to comedian Stephen Colbert’s invention and hilarious use of the word “truthiness.”

The reference to Colbert is cute, and he is a very funny guy; but when the feds get into the business of monitoring speech, it is surely no joke–it is a nightmare. It is part of the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to monitor communication and scrutinize the expressions of opinions it hates and fears.

We already know the National Security Agency has the digital versions of all telephone conversations and emails sent to, from, or within the U.S. since 2005. Edward Snowden’s revelations of all this are credible and substantiated, and the government’s denials are weak and unavailing — so weak and unavailing that many NSA agents disbelieve them.

But the government’s unbridled passion to monitor us has become insatiable. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses broadcasters, threatened to place federal agents in cable television newsrooms so they can see how stories are generated and produced. The FCC doesn’t even regulate cable; yet it threatened to enhance its own authority by monitoring cable companies from the inside.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here, and has been going on since President Obama took office in January 2009, is a government with little or no fidelity to basic constitutional norms. There is no defense under the Constitution to any aspect of the government’s — federal, state, regional, local, or hybrid; or any entity owned or controlled by any government; or any entity that exercises the government’s coercive powers or spends or receives its money — monitoring of the expressive behavior of anyone in the U.S., not in a newsroom, on social media, or anywhere else.

The NSF’s stated purpose of the Truthy squad is to look for errors in speech, particularly errors that fuel hatred or political extremes. This monitoring — this so-called search for error — is totalitarian and directly contradicts well-grounded Supreme Court jurisprudence, for several reasons.

First, for the government to gather information — public or private — on any person, the Constitution requires that the government have “articulable suspicion” about that person. Articulable suspicion is a mature and objective reason to believe that the person has engaged in criminal behavior. Without that level of articulable belief, the government is powerless to scrutinize anyone for any reason.

The articulable suspicion threshold is vital to assure that people in America have the presumption of liberty and are free to choose their behavior unimpeded or threatened by the government. The feds cannot cast a net into the marketplace of ideas and challenge what it brings in. Were they able to do so, the constitutional protections for free expression and the primacy of liberty would be meaningless.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Watch: Pittsburgh Gives Heartfelt Tribute After Terrorist Attack In Ottawa

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On a night when normally only The Star Spangled Banner is sung because it is a game between two American teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins chose to play ‘O Canada’ before a marquis matchup against their intrastate rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, Wednesday.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed Wednesday by a gunman as he was standing as a ceremonial honor guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, near the House of Commons.

Jeff Jimerson led the crowd in ‘O Canada’ prior to the Penguins’ 5-3 defeat at the CONSOL Energy Center Wednesday to show solidarity with Cirillo and all of Canada. Lyrics were shown on the arena’s Jumbotron and the Canadian flag was displayed on the scoreboard and projected on the ice.

Moments of silence were held before games in Anaheim and Edmonton. A game scheduled in Ottawa between the Senators and their intra-provincial rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, was postponed for security reasons.

Some on Twitter expressed their dismay that there was no tribute made at the World Series in Kansas City Wednesday.

 

H/T The Score

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Ebola: A Politically Incorrect Approach

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Bottom line up front:

– The Ebola threat to the United States is mostly dependent on the extent of the epidemic in West Africa, and it is growing

– Travel restrictions from nations with high Ebola infection rates can help stem the spread of the disease and will be needed

– Airport screening will not necessarily prevent Ebola-infected individuals from entering the United States, an expensive and mostly ineffective solution

– American military personnel can be highly effective in delivering short-term humanitarian assistance and may be needed to help contain the spread of the epidemic.

The first cases of the current West African epidemic of Ebola were reported on March 22, 2014, with 49 patients in Guinea.

Up to October 14, 2014, the total number of reported cases is in excess of 9,216; and 4,555 people have died from the disease in five countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and the United States, about a 50% fatality rate.

The current epidemic sweeping across West Africa has rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976 and has now killed more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.

The World Health Organization (WHO) admits the official figures are underestimated and warns there could be as many as 20,000 cases by November.

In agreement with the WHO claims, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention computer simulation estimated a potential underreporting correction factor of 2.5, which predicted an actual number of 21,000 cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone by September 30, 2014. More ominously, reported cases in Liberia are doubling every 15-20 days; and those in Sierra Leone are doubling every 30-40 days.

In a CDC hypothetical scenario, every 30-day delay in increasing the percentage of patients in Ebola Treatment Units to 70% was associated with an approximate tripling in the number of daily cases that occur at the peak of the epidemic.

That is, if efforts to tackle the outbreak are not stepped up, the WHO has estimated that, by early December, there could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa.

There has been much debate in the United States whether to implement a travel ban affecting airline flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Health experts have argued against a travel ban, maintaining that it won’t necessarily stop the spread of the virus and will inhibit the flow of aid and health workers to a region that needs it most.

As shown in a new study and witnessed by the imported cases of the Ebola virus into Nigeria and the US, the potential for further international spread via air travel remains present. Based on current epidemic and international travel conditions, their model projects that up to 3 passengers infected with the Ebola virus will successfully depart from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea every month.

The authors contend that airport screenings don’t change their conclusion because such measures can miss travelers who don’t yet show signs of Ebola. A person can incubate the virus for up to 21 days without exhibiting signs of the disease.

Of additional concern is that the anticipated destinations of more than 60% of travelers departing those three countries are to low-income or lower-middle income countries, where inadequately resourced medical and public health systems might be unable to detect and adequately manage an imported case of Ebola, including possible subsequent community spread via commercial flights, like the situation that occurred in Nigeria.

The risk of spread by commercial air or other types of travel beyond 3 persons per month will likely increase as the total number of infected individuals increases. The spread of Ebola beyond its current boundaries could expose additional Americans to the disease and potentially present a national security threat to the United States.

Finally, there is ample evidence of the Defense Department’s capability to provide effective humanitarian assistance. As an Army Reservist, I participated in a successful delivery of healthcare services to West Africa in 2007. With the proper protection and procedures, US military personnel could help stop the epidemic at its source, especially by deploying the needed Ebola Treatment Units and prevent possible further appearance of the disease on the US mainland.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama Gets Desperate, Turns To RoboDoc To Save America From Ebola

Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr)

On November 7, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will host a conference that holds lifesaving potential for thousands of Americans.

The idea being presented at the conference is simple yet profound: If humans keep contracting deadly diseases from other humans, why not lessen people’s involvement in the patient care process?

Better yet, why not replace them with technology?

Here’s how Obama, along with a team of experts, plans to do just that…

Robot Protection

The White House has teamed with Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and the University of California, Berkeley to hold what’s known as the “Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers” conference.

During the meeting, they’ll discuss how robots can stop the spread of Ebola in its tracks. You see, though there are only three confirmed cases in the United States, this pandemic is highly contagious and extremely deadly.

In fact, the current Ebola outbreak has infected more than 10,000 people in West Africa; and more than 4,400 have died from the disease. Liberia itself has had more than 4,200 cases, with 2,400 confirmed deaths.

That’s why both wheeled robots and telepresence robots are being considered to help fight the disease. And though the solution may sound a little futuristic, it’s also feasible and could be very effective.

You see, there’s almost nothing that a human can do (task-wise) that robo-replacements can’t: food and medicine delivery, body burials, even disinfecting contaminated areas.

The wheeled robots would come along with attached sprayers to decontaminate equipment. And telepresence robots would allow the sick to have contact with their loved ones (as well as healthcare workers) while under quarantine.

Facing Fears Head On

The upcoming conference is likely to be the first of many meetings about Ebola prevention. According to Robin Murphy, a Professor of Robotics at Texas A&M, robotics experts want to learn how best to assist aid workers.

She told Computerworld: “The workshop is for us to shut up… and listen to them… and take what we hear them say, and use it. They’ll talk about what they need, and then we can talk about what we can offer.”

Not surprisingly, though, the upcoming conference is fostering some logical concerns, such as, “Will things become too impersonal in the way Ebola patients are handled?”

Taskin Padir, an Assistant Professor of WPI, assures: “Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact. We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola.”

But Murphy also presented another cultural-religious hump to get over…

She confessed, “My fear was, there are a lot of construction robots, like the little bots that scooped up debris and covered things with dirt in Fukushima, but that would be horrible – disrespectful. That was a person. We’re not just going to bulldoze them into a grave. And there are cultural sensitivities. There are local burial customs, and people need to say ‘good-bye’ to their loved ones.”

You see, in West Africa, the Islamic societies are most prone to spreading the disease because they’re required by Sharia law to wash the bodies of their deceased family members and prepare them for burial.

This is concerning, of course, because patients are most contagious at the time of death and in the days after. Scientists, therefore, are hoping that the Islamic faithful will allow robots to handle the bodies of the deceased in order to end the constant retransmission of Ebola to family members.

Whether robot assistance will ultimately help remains to be seen. Regardless, Obama has taken at least one positive stride toward stopping this deadly pandemic.

 

This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission

Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Look What Phil Robertson Has Just Done In Defense Of Houston Pastors Targeted By Mayor

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Despite the attempt by Houston officials to calm the uproar, momentum is building behind the faith community’s push-back against the city’s “intimidation” of five Houston-area pastors.

Not only is a massive event planned in the Texas city to show support for the clergymen whose sermons were subpoeaned by the government, but now a federal civil rights official has jointed the fray. This federal official calls the action by the administration of Houston’s mayor “an abuse of government power.”

Via The Washington Times:

A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in a letter Wednesday called Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s subpoena of church pastors “an abuse of government power” and urged the mayor to withdraw the court documents.

Commissioner Peter Kirsanow said that the subpoenas, even after being amended to remove a request for church sermons, still appear to be “a blatant attempt to punish these pastors for expressing their religiously based political views.”

By clicking here, you can see Western Journalism’s coverage of the Houston controversy that essentially pits the demands of an aggressive government against the religious freedoms of a principled clergy. At the center of the controversy is a gay-rights-oriented city ordinance championed by Houston’s first-ever lesbian mayor, Annise Parker.

On November 2nd, two days before election day, a rally to support religious liberty is planned at Grace Community Church in Houston. And just announced as a guest speaker — Duck Dynasty’s own Phil Robertson.

From the istandsunday.com website:

Hosted by Family Research Council and other partners, speakers from across the nation will gather at Grace Community Church in Houston, Texas to focus on the freedom to live out our faith, free of government intrusion or monitoring.

We will stand with pastors and churches in Houston, Texas who have been unduly intimidated by the city’s Mayor in demanding they hand over private church communication.

It was previously announced that Mike Huckabee will also be a featured speaker at the “I Stand Sunday” event. From washingtontimes.com:

Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister who now hosts a popular show on Fox News, said at a teleconference that the Houston mayor’s effort to subpoena the pastors has alerted the public to the potential threat to freedom of religion by government officials pushing “gender-neutrality.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom