KBC, Sunrise win dismissal of adverse legal settlement

A federal judge has thrown out a legal settlement that would have allowed the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to review whether a Southern Baptist foster home uses state funds to proselytize children.

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In Legislative Upset, Missouri Anti-BDS Bill Fails

A five-month grassroots campaign led by human rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri celebrated a win on May 18, 2018, when the Missouri legislative session ended, failing to pass legislation that would have denied state contracts worth over $10,000 to businesses and organizations boycotting Israel over its subjugation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. The legislation was widely predicted to pass, enjoying widespread support by right-wing Missouri legislators with House Bill 2179 sponsored by GOP Speaker of the House Todd Richardson; and Senate Bill 849 co-sponsored by Majority Floor Leader, Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, and Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp.

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Amazon’s ‘Rekognition’ real time facial recognition software is being used by police in Orlando and Oregon’s Washington County, privacy advocates reveal

Daily Mail | The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates are hitting out at Amazon after it was revealed that it sold facial recognition tech to police.

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What the legal process looks like for an immigrant child taken away from his parents

There’s been an avalanche of grim news centered on young immigrants apprehended at the border with Mexico. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union published a report documenting abusive encounters between young people and border agents during …

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ACLU: Border agents physically abused migrant childrenThe Hill

A blistering report released this week alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents neglected and abused more than 100 migrant children who were in their custody. The report, from the American Civil Liberties Union and the University of Chicago Law School International Human Rights Clinic, is based on thousands of pages of records detailing accusations from 116 unaccompanied minors, many of whom were asylum-seekers, while in temporary detention centers.

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Parkland Kids And The Corruption Of Power

David Hogg likes to talk a big game. Earlier this week, he stumbled on something that actually made a little sense, something I could completely agree with him on. It was the idea that the media shouldn’t be turning mass shooters into celebrities by plastering their names on every television in the country.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before he was back to his anti-gun zealotry. Now, though, he’s graduated to political extortion.

It started with these, that we noted in the above-linked story.

These are, of course, just what we’ve come to expect from Hogg. However, now he’s upping the ante by going trying extortion as a tactic.

In other words, pay us or else.

The problem here is simple. David Hogg has gotten a taste of power and, like the old saying goes, power corrupts. Now, granted, Hogg started off down a dark path by trying to destroy people’s civil liberties, but he’s young. The young are often so idealistic that they don’t really think through things. He may well have believed that all the things he’s proposed would make the world better.

Yet now he’s trying to intimidate a corporation into donating a significant sum of money to a cause he supports.

That’s extortion.

Oh, Hogg and his followers can easily justify it. After all, everything is justifiable if you don’t really have hard and fast principles.

It was one thing when Hogg was calling for boycotts. While that was laughable too, at least it was consistent not just with free speech but the law as a whole.

What he’s doing now is arguably a crime. It certainly would be if you changed the context. If you told someone to pay out a million bucks or face potential damage to your business, you’d get arrested…

…unless you’re a political advocate, apparently.

Granted, I don’t want to see Hogg locked up. But I do want him to get the message that there are lines that even he doesn’t get to cross. Threatening businesses because they support a particular candidate unless they pay a lot of money is way on the other side of those lines.

But the adults around Hogg don’t seem to care. They, like Hogg, are so enmeshed in the idea that the ends justify the means that they don’t see this for what it is, a shakedown. It’s the kind of thing they’d never tolerate if directed at one of their own.

Imagine, for a moment, that Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams had a campaign contributor who was told to either pay $1,000,000 to the NRA or else they’d be the subject of massive protests all because of their support of Abrams. Can you picture the outrage, the shock?

I sure can.

But Hogg has tasted power, and he’s being more and more corrupted by it, and despite his youth, the supposed adults are taking their cues from him. To make matters worse, success only breeds more of this kind of behavior.

If Hogg wants to be vilified, he should keep this up. And I don’t mean vilified by gun-rights advocates, either. I’m talking about the rest of the population.

The question is, will the rest of the Parkland Kids follow suit?


The post Parkland Kids And The Corruption Of Power appeared first on Bearing Arms.

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California’s ‘Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act’ Resulted in Less Transparency, Fairness for Taxpayers

It’s a rule of thumb. One should always expect the opposite result of whatever any government agency promises. The War on Poverty created a permanent underclass that perpetuated poverty throughout generations. The War on Drugs did much to erode our civil liberties, but mainly has emboldened the drug cartel. The examples go on and on.

That brings us to California’s taxing authorities. After scandals at the Board of Equalization—the Orwellian-named agency that had collected sales, use and special taxes—the Legislature gutted it and largely replaced its functions with two new bureaucracies. The 2017 legislation was called the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act. As you might have guessed, since its implementation a few months ago, the state’s tax proceedings have become less transparent and less fair to taxpayers.

The BOE, which dates back to the second California Constitution in 1879, is the only tax-collection agency in the nation that’s administered by elected officials. It is run by four elected board members plus the state controller. After last year’s law, the four elected officials no longer have much to do even though the board still has a few functions.

As with any elected body, it has for decades been plagued by scandals ranging from allegations of nepotism to accusations of misspending. Governors from both parties have for years tried to gut the agency. Expressing a common sentiment, columnist Dan Walters complained that the “agency has become steadily more politicized, with the board’s four directly elected seats treated as either well-paid sinecures or stepping stones to higher office.” Controversies including elected officials “interfering with pending tax cases” have been going on for decades, he wrote.

Those criticisms have some validity. But isn’t it a good thing that politicians get involved given that they typically intervene to help the taxpayer? There’s no reason that the state couldn’t have audited the agency and implemented reforms. Every agency (even the Legislature itself) has controversies. Instead, the Legislature gutted the board and the results are discouraging.

Let’s look at taxpayer “fairness.” Since the new process has gone into effect, not one of the more than 20 income-tax-appeal cases has gotten a single vote in the taxpayers’ favor. The BOE used to hear 10 to 20 sales- and use- and special-tax appeals at each board meeting, but the new Office of Tax Appeals has yet to hear any of those tax cases. The Legislature hammered the BOE for its backlog, but now it’s worse. The BOE would make a decision the same day by vote. Now it can take up to 100 days while interest and penalties add up.

How about transparency? The old Board of Equalization would televise its hearings and archive them so anyone can view the proceedings. That way everyone, including reporters, can see whether a business is being treated fairly or getting the bureaucratic back of the hand. Those proceedings can also be used if the case ends up in court. The new tax-appeal agency posts transcripts, but has yet to televise or archive the hearings, so it’s no longer fully transparent.

There are many stories of business owners who felt like they were getting a raw deal or being treated in a heavy-handed manner by the board, yet who were able to get help from their elected representative on the BOE. That was a reasonable way to level the playing field.

The Board of Equalization also had the incentive to solve vexing tax-policy problems. For instance, legal marijuana dispensaries are required to pay taxes, but because of federal laws they are not allowed to have bank accounts. But they weren’t typically allowed to haul sacks of cash into BOE offices, either. BOE’s officials worked with the dispensaries to help them safely pay their bills in cash. These practical solutions are more likely to be driven by an elected board with constituents than a bureaucracy with subjects.

The main reason the BOE had been a target is obvious. State officials are tasked with maximizing revenue to assure that tax collections match state spending. Anything that reduces that tax flow is a bad thing, from their perspective. Because elected officials need votes and often have their eyes on higher office, they have an incentive to help taxpayers, which means that sometimes the board would reduce the size of the tax payments.

By the way, the new tax authorities have significantly increased their own administrative budgets from the old BOE days. The Department of Finance gives reasonable explanations for some of the growth (standard increases in pay and benefits, new IT and other start-up costs, artificially deflated final year spending for the BOE as its powers were reduced), but we see the spending trajectory. It’s going up, now that the administrators are in charge.

Bottom line: A reform designed to boost transparency and taxpayer fairness has reduced both of those things. No one should be surprised.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at [email protected]. This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

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Betsy DeVos Stirs Uproar by Saying Schools Can Call ICE on Undocumented Kids

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos provoked an outcry Tuesday when she said schools can choose to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement on potentially undocumented students.

“I think that’s a school decision, it’s a local community decision,” DeVos told the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate. I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this.”

DeVos was responding to a question from Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) about whether she thinks school leaders should call ICE on students or their parents.

Advocacy groups immediately protested her answer, pointing out that under the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, all children ― undocumented or not ― are entitled to a free public education. {snip}

Elizabeth Hill, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, provided HuffPost with a clarification of DeVos’ remarks on Wednesday. “Her position is that schools must comply with Plyler and all other applicable and relevant law,” said Hill.


MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, issued a statement saying that DeVos should resign for “abject incompetence” if she does not “issue an immediate clarification that emphasizes the holding in Plyler.” The organization also said it “stands ready to hold accountable through legal challenge anyone in public education who attempts to report a student to ICE.”


The American Civil Liberties Union also blasted DeVos’ comments at the hearing.

“Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status{snip} ,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the ACLU, in a statement,

The post Betsy DeVos Stirs Uproar by Saying Schools Can Call ICE on Undocumented Kids appeared first on American Renaissance.

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ACLU report says detained immigrant children abused by agents

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has called the report ‘unfounded and baseless.’ In a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), documents released to the organization assert that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) abused …

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Law School clinic co-authors report with ACLU on abuse of migrant children

A report released May 23 by the University of Chicago Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Border Litigation Project reveals evidence of rampant child abuse by U.S. Customs and Border Protection …

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