Regulatory Action Center Review - October 7, 2019   

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Welcome to FreedomWorks Foundation’s nineteenth regulatory review of 2019! Our Regulatory Action Center proudly updates you with our favorite tidbits from the swamp. We want to smash barriers between bureaucracy and the American people by delivering regulatory news straight to FreedomWorks activists. Check back in two weeks for the next edition.

1) Video of the Week: Unsurprisingly, the United States is not the first country to experience ballooning budgets and astronomical deficits. In the mid-1990’s, Canada’s debt grew to as high as 70% of GDP, similar to our current debt situation. In this weeks video, John Stossell sits down with Canadian economist David Henderson to discuss how Canada managed to tackle their debt problem by cutting government spending and reducing waste.

2) Why Is the CDC Still Fostering Potentially Deadly Confusion About Vaping and Lung Disease?: “Media outlets, following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to blame recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers on "vaping" and "e-cigarettes" in general, falsely implying a link to legal nicotine products. This misinformation is fostering public confusion that may lead to more disease and death, both from smoking and from the black-market products that have been implicated in the lung disease cases.” https://reason.com/2019/09/24/why-is-the-cdc-still-fostering-potentially-deadly-confusion-about-vaping-and-lung-disease/

3) FBI using Facebook ads to gather Russian intelligence: report: “The FBI is reportedly using Facebook ads to gather intelligence on Russia, specifically targeting those who may be or know Russian spies. The FBI is running ads in the Washington, D.C., area, CNN reported on Wednesday, that direct to the FBI field office's website that describes its counterintelligence team and encourages visitors to meet "in person." https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/fbi/464069-fbi-using-facebook-ads-to-gather-russian-intelligence-report

4) Federal Court Upholds FCC Decision to Roll Back Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules: “Today, by a 2-1 vote, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided largely with the FCC, upholding the primary regulatory rollback as a valid exercise of its authority. In the nearly 200 page opinion, which is heavy on technical detail, the court wrote that while the challengers raised "numerous objections" aiming to show that the FCC's reclassification is "unreasonable," the judges found them "unconvincing." https://reason.com/2019/10/01/federal-court-upholds-fcc-decision-to-roll-back-obama-era-net-neutrality-rules/

5) Trump to issue executive order ‘protecting’ Americans from ‘Medicare for All’ campaign proposals pushed by Democrats: “The executive order, which he is scheduled to discuss at a speech in Florida later Thursday, is intended to bolster Medicare Advantage, private Medicare insurance for seniors that currently covers 22 million people, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters. The plan would also offer more affordable plan options, increase use of telehealth services and bring payments in Medicare fee-for-service program in line with payments for Medicare Advantage, officials said.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/03/trump-to-issue-executive-order-protecting-americans-from-medicare-for-all.html

6) Treasury to create tool to help people redeem billions in unclaimed savings bonds: “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) on Wednesday said that the Treasury Department will create an online tool to help people redeem billions of dollars in savings bonds. About $26 billion in matured savings bonds are in the U.S. Treasury and have yet to be redeemed. Using the department's forthcoming tool, people will be able to verify against Treasury Department records if they have any savings bonds dated after 1974 that can be redeemed, Kennedy's office said in a news release.” https://thehill.com/policy/finance/464057-senator-treasury-will-create-tool-to-help-people-redeem-billions-of-dollars-in

7) Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown: “The Trump administration is under fire from conservative groups and some GOP lawmakers, who are pushing back over its planned crackdown on e-cigarette flavors. They say the administration is overreaching, and the flavor ban will harm small businesses, a violation of core Republican free market principles.” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/464470-trump-takes-heat-from-right-over-vaping-crackdown


          

David Koch Dies; Conservative Billionaire Helped Reshape U.S. Politics   

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David Koch, who built one of the nation's largest private businesses with his brother Charles and pumped money into conservative groups to help reshape American politics, has died. Charles Koch confirmed the news in a statement on Friday that referenced David's long-running ailment. "Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live. David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result," Charles Koch wrote. No precise cause was given for David Koch's death. He was 79. David Koch helped his brother Charles build Koch Industries into a behemoth that incorporates brands such as Georgia Pacific plywood. The company is one of the biggest ethanol producers in the country. Its Cordura cloth is used to make military uniforms and equipment. The
          

As impeachment looms, GOP revolts against Trump on Syria   

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WASHINGTON – They may have his back on impeachment, but some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies are suddenly revolting against his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria.

On Monday, one chief Trump loyalist in Congress called the move “unnerving to the core.” An influential figure in conservative media condemned it as “a disaster.” And Trump’s former top NATO envoy said it was “a big mistake” that would threaten the lives of Kurdish fighters who had fought alongside American troops for years.

Trump’s surprise move, which came with no advance warning late Sunday and stunned many in his own government, threatened to undermine what has been near lockstep support among Republicans. It also came against the backdrop of a congressional impeachment inquiry in which the backing of Republicans in the Senate is the president’s bulwark against being removed from office.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been among Trump’s most vocal defenders, called the Syria decision “a disaster in the making” that would throw the region into chaos and embolden the Islamic State group.

“I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is,” Graham told Fox News. “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has shrugged off the key allegation in the impeachment inquiry – that Trump pressured foreign powers to investigate a top Democratic rival – tweeted that Trump’s shift on Syria is “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”

And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been more willing than many Republicans to condemn Trump’s calls for foreign intervention in the 2020 election, called the Syria move “a terribly unwise decision” that would “abandon our Kurdish allies, who have been our major partner in the fight against the Islamic State.”

A more frequent Republican Trump critic, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, cast Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal.”

“It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.

Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the United Nations, also cast the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Iraq as a betrayal of a key ally.

“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” she wrote on Twitter.

Former Rubio aide Alex Conant highlighted the risks ahead for a president whose political future depends on Republican support.

“For Trump to make a very controversial move on Syria at the exact moment when he needs Senate Republicans more than ever is risky politics,” Conant said, noting the significance for many Senate Republicans of the United States’ policy in northern Syria, where Kurds would be particularly vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

“They’re not just going to send out a couple of tweets and move on,” Conant said. “At the same time, the White House is going to need these guys to carry a lot of water for them.”

While a number of Republicans criticized Trump’s decision, one of their most important leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was sanguine, offering little concern about Syria or impeachment during an appearance at the University of Kentucky.

“There are a few distractions, as you may have noticed,” McConnell said. “But if you sort of keep your head on straight and remember why you were sent there, there are opportunities to do important things for the country and for the states that we represent.”

After the appearance, McConnell issued a statement warning that Trump’s proposed withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”

“As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal,” McConnell said.

Outside government, leaders of conservative groups backed Trump.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent evangelical leader, said Trump was simply “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars.”

He suggested Trump could easily reengage in the region if the decision backfires.

“The president has got to do what’s best for the country, whether it helps him with this phony impeachment inquiry or not,” Falwell said in an interview.

Former Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett noted that the president has been talking about reducing troop levels in the Middle East since before the 2016 election.

“I understand that they don’t like the policy, but none of them should be shocked by the policy,” Bennett said. “He’s only been talking about this for four or five years now. I think he’s with the vast majority of the public.”

Still, the backlash from other Trump loyalists was intense.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, called it a “misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests.”

And on Fox News, a network where many rank-and-file Trump supporters get their news, host Brian Kilmeade said it was “a disaster.”

“Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?” Kilmeade said on “Fox & Friends.”

Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the controversy reminds him of former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ decision to resign late last year after Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

“Ultimately, Trump reversed himself,” Aliriza said. “The question is whether he will actually reverse himself again in view of the opposition from Capitol Hill led by several of his closest allies.”


          

   

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Man Behind Slogan Promoting French Preservation

"The great replacement has become a household word. I take responsibility for it. I believe in its relevance."

THOUGH the writer had already lived in his castle for a quarter of a century, it was only three years ago that he finally restored it to its original purpose as a fortress.

The writer, Renaud Camus, rebuilt the top 10 feet of the 14th-century tower, giving him an even more commanding view of his surroundings: the village of 40 souls below; the Pyrenees, faintly visible some 100 miles south despite the midsummer haze; and, in every direction, the peaceful, rolling hills of the “eternal France” that he describes as under assault from what he calls hordes of immigrants.

Up in his castle, the France that Mr. Camus imagines has made him one of the most influential thinkers on the far right in his own country and elsewhere. In his writings, he describes an ongoing “invasion” of France by immigrants bent on “conquest” of its white, European population. To him, the immigrants are “colonizing” France by giving birth to more children and making its cities, towns — and even villages — unlivable.

Others have espoused similar ideas. But Mr. Camus’s portrayal of demographic change — le “grand remplacement,” or the supposed “great replacement” of France’s original population by newer arrivals, mostly from Africa — has become an extremist talking point, cited by mass killers in distant parts of the world.

“It’s a slogan that dramatizes the situation, talking of great replacement the same way we speak of the great barbarian invasions,” said Rudy Reichstadt, an expert on political extremism at the Fondation Jean-Jaurès research institute in Paris. “Now, if you go to a horse race betting bar and talk politics, and you mention the great replacement, people will understand what you mean.”

The idea of the great replacement has directly influenced French politicians and thinkers. Interpreted and repackaged across the internet, it has resonated widely beyond France, including in white supremacist circles.

The men held in two recent mass shootings — at a Walmart in El Paso and at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand — both referred to the “great replacement” and the need to defend white populations against invading outsiders.

While decrying the killings, Mr. Camus said he had no regrets about coming up with the term.

“The great replacement has become a household word,” he said. “I take responsibility for it. I believe in its relevance.”

Stroking his white beard, Mr. Camus, who is not related to the 20th-century writer Albert Camus, sat in his expansive study — half the top floor of his castle filled with books and a handful of African masks. In contrast to the harsh words he chooses to describe France’s immigrants, he spoke softly, and sometimes with the mannerisms of another era. He and his partner of two decades, Pierre, addressed each other as “vous,” though they said they sometimes slipped into the informal “tu.”

Ensconced in his castle in southern France, in a village an hour’s drive across country roads from the nearest train station, Mr. Camus, 73, is perhaps an unlikely source of inspiration for the world’s far right and white supremacists. Until a few years ago, Mr. Camus was known, mainly by other French writers, as a novelist and a pioneering writer of gay literature. An early book about his sexual experiences, called “Tricks,” remains his most translated work.

Growing up in a conservative rural town in central France, Mr. Camus went to Paris in the 1960s and found a niche in the capital’s literary and artistic scene. He befriended Roland Barthes, who wrote the preface for “Tricks.” As a member of the Socialist Party, he became active in politics on the left.

Still, Mr. Camus longed to return to the countryside. He sold his Paris apartment and, in 1992, used the money to buy and restore the castle in Plieux, fulfilling a lifelong fantasy.

A few years after moving to Plieux, he had what he calls an epiphany that would shape his political views. While visiting a 1,000-year-old village in southern France, he said he saw a group of veiled women milling around a fountain.

“And in the ancient windows — beautiful, paired gothic windows — veiled women would appear all of a sudden,” he said. “It was really the population of eternal France that was changing.”

THAT led to the formation in 2002 of his own political party, l’In-nocence, which calls for an end to all immigration and promotes sending immigrants and their children back to their countries of origin.

But it was a decade later, when he publicly began using the term “great replacement” and wrote a book with the same title, that his influence in France began to be felt.

The great replacement, he wrote, indicates the “replacement of a people, the indigenous French people, by one or others; of its culture by the loss of its cultural identity through multiculturalism.”

He says he sees no contradiction between his earlier life as a gay writer on the left and his current role as an ideological beacon for the right, including violent extremists. He contends he has always told “the hard truths.”

Previous generations of European immigrants had been drawn by “love” for France, he wrote. But the newer arrivals since the 1970s — mostly from France’s former colonies in the Maghreb and in sub-Saharan Africa — didn’t come “as friends.” Instead, he declared, they came as conquerors, filled with hatred and a desire to punish France.

He singled out Muslims for “not wanting to integrate” into French society.

According to government data, immigrants now make up about 10 percent of France’s population, many of them nonwhite, up from about 7 percent in the 1970s, or 5 percent in 1946, the year of Mr. Camus’s birth — a steady rise, though far from the overwhelming one described by Mr. Camus…

Mr. Camus’s ideas — and his subsequent call to support Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Rally party — turned him into a pariah in France’s literary and media circles.

His longtime publishers dropped him, forcing him to publish on his own. “The Great Replacement” was never translated into English. Invitations from mainstream news shows dried up. Lifelong friendships came to an end.

But even as Mr. Camus became toxic, his phrase gained traction, first on French farright websites, like “Observatoire de Grand Remplacement.” Politicians on the right and far right, including Ms. Le Pen, used the term.

Then “great replacement” slipped into the right-wing mainstream. While Mr. Camus’s books went largely unsold, best-selling writers, like Eric Zemmour, have expounded on the idea.

Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far right at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, said that the author of “The Great Replacement” viewed the world from the perspective of a novelist and aesthete without recognition of realworld consequences.

“He should become aware that in our universe, where everything happens in real time, what you say from the position of an aesthete or a writer, can instantly be transformed into a gun and bullets,” said the expert, who is not related to Renaud Camus.

Isolated in his castle, Mr. Camus grew even more removed from the actual France he purported to describe — one filled, he believes, with people of Arab and African descent burning with hatred for France and plotting its conquest. In fact, he acknowledged that his understanding of such people was based mainly on Twitter and Facebook.

He said he almost never read newspapers or watched television.

“Distance is very, very necessary for observation,” he said.

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My Book Defending Free Speech Has Been Pulled

James Flynn

I recently completed a book defending free speech. Emerald Press scheduled it for publication but then decided not to proceed. Here’s what it said about the book in Emerald’s September 2019 catalogue:

In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor
Author James R. Flynn, University of Otago, New Zealand

Synopsis: The good university is one that teaches students the intellectual skills they need to be intelligently critical—of their own beliefs and of the narratives presented by politicians and the media. Freedom to debate is essential to the development of critical thought, but on university campuses today free speech is restricted for fear of causing offence. In Defense of Free Speech surveys the underlying factors that circumscribe the ideas tolerated in our institutions of learning. James Flynn critically examines the way universities censor their teaching, how student activism tends to censor the opposing side and how academics censor themselves, and suggests that few, if any, universities can truly be seen as ‘good.’ In an age marred by fake news and social and political polarization, In Defense of Free Speech makes an impassioned argument for a return to critical thought.

I was notified of Emerald’s decision not to proceed by Tony Roche, Emerald’s publishing director, in an email on 10th June:


"I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. By the nature of its subject matter, the work addresses sensitive topics of race, religion, and gender. The challenging manner in which you handle these topics as author, particularly at the beginning of the work, whilst no doubt editorially powerful, increase the sensitivity and the risk of reaction and legal challenge. As a result, we have taken external legal advice on the contents of the manuscript and summarize our concerns below.

There are two main causes of concern for Emerald. Firstly, the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. For example, one test is merely whether it is “likely” that racial hatred could be stirred up as a result of the work. This is a particular difficulty given modern means of digital media expression. The potential for circulation of the more controversial passages of the manuscript online, without the wider intellectual context of the work as a whole and to a very broad audience—in a manner beyond our control—represents a material legal risk for Emerald.

Secondly, there are many instances in the manuscript where the actions, conversations and behavior of identifiable individuals at specific named colleges are discussed in detail and at length in relation to controversial events. Given the sensitivity of the issues involved, there is both the potential for serious harm to Emerald’s reputation and the significant possibility of legal action. Substantial changes to the content and nature of the manuscript would need to be made, or Emerald would need to accept a high level of risk both reputational and legal. The practical costs and difficulty of managing any reputational or legal problems that did arise are of further concern to Emerald.

For the reasons outlined above, it is with regret that Emerald has taken the decision not to publish your manuscript. We have not taken this decision lightly, but following senior level discussions within the organization, and with the additional benefit of specialist legal advice. I realize that this decision will come as a disappointment to you and hope that you will be able to find an alternative publisher with whom to take the work to publication."


If the book is sober and responsible, and if Emerald’s letter is correct, that poses a question: Does Britain have free speech? The above letter inspired me to change the title from “In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor” to “A Banned Book: Free speech and universities.” I hope that some publishers will contact me (jim.flynn@otago.ac.nz), so they can decide whether the book is worthy of publication and whether it runs afoul of any of the U.K.’s laws. If a journalist gets in touch, I can also send them the text for their eyes only. Let me give an outline of its contents.

The benefits of free speech

First, I give a general defense of free speech and criticize Jason Stanley and Jeremy Waldron insofar as their views differ from my own. I then use the case of Charles Murray being denied a platform at Middlebury College to show what students and staff miss out on when they refuse to hear or read those who offend them:

[My] dividends from reading Arthur Jensen, Richard Lynn, and Charles Murray: a plausible case that genetic differences between the major races are unlikely to confer an advantage or a handicap for desirable personal traits; a far better understanding of black America; a method that sheds light on personal development and leaves room for personal autonomy; an understanding of how differently males and females respond to formal education; a case that genetic differences between the genders seem cognitively trivial; a somewhat better understanding of the Chinese both at home and in America; a case for affirmative action that does not depend on racial bias; and most of all, a better understanding of the dynamics of a truly humane and egalitarian society.

This is the sad fate that the mob at Middlebury wanted to save me from. If I had not read these “discredited” scholars, I would still have a half-educated mind full of passion about race and gender and class and not much else.

A history of oppression

I then chart the history of the sins of universities against free speech with an emphasis on the McCarthy era (when conservatives barred or fired those they considered suspect), through the transitional period of Vietnam, to the present (when many on the “left” do much the same, particularly student protest groups). I detail the use of speech codes, and trigger warnings, and departments that have a party line (“Walden codes”) to discipline, expel, fire, and, above all, to defend indoctrination rather than education.

I include among the latter some African American studies departments that will not assign books or papers by conservative thinkers, some women’s studies departments that reject incontrovertible social science that runs counter to the official feminist ideology, and some (almost all) education departments that define their purpose as sending out “missionaries” to convert schools to their vision of an egalitarian society. I also provide a history of America’s schoolteachers, tracing how the low status of their profession has made the schools susceptible to adopting a missionary role.

Finally, I criticize the failure of universities to provide their students with the critical intelligence they need to be autonomous human beings and good citizens, despite the fact that they all state this as their chief objective.

Is this book worth reading?

Well, it will not be read unless it is published. To discuss a point made in Emerald’s letter, every reference to a person is documented by citations of published material or material in the public domain. At present, I can only cite the testimony of distinguished scholars. Some of the following were referees who sent their opinions to Emerald and some read it to give me an informal assessment.

This book is an education in itself…It is a brilliant and courageous book.
—Thomas Bouchard

That’s shocking [the rejection] even by the standards of contemporary restrictions on free speech, and especially ironic given the subject of your book.
—Steven Pinker

It is ironic that a book critical of restrictions on free speech should itself be rejected by a publisher who is worried about the book falling afoul of UK laws on incitement to racial hatred.  In fact this is doubly ironic, given that the book is by Jim Flynn, after whom the “Flynn effect” is named, because the Flynn effect is all about the difference that culture and environment — rather than genes — makes to IQ scores. The draft I have seen has the potential to be an important and controversial work that will be very widely discussed.
—Peter Singer

I must admit I was shocked. Well, anyway, they have given you material for another chapter!
—John C. Loehlin

This is in-[expletive]-credible…Your book should not be considered even close to the fringes of politically correct discourse. If publishers are scared of your book, the censorship problem is a few orders of magnitude worse than I realized.
—Charles Murray

Homily

Discussing why free speech should extend to questions of race and gender necessarily involves presenting views (such as those of Jensen, Murray, and Lynn), if only for purposes of rebuttal, which upset those who believe that racial and sexual equality is self-evident. If upsetting students or staff or the public is a reason for banning speech, all such discussion is at an end. I end the book by quoting from George Orwell’s original preface to Animal Farm, which was itself rejected by Faber and Faber for being too critical of Stalin: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

James R. Flynn is an intelligence researcher who gave his name to the Flynn Effect. He is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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As Fundraising Shoots Up, Lawsuits Threaten Southern Poverty Law Center
  
The embattled far-left Southern Poverty Law Center flew past the half-billion-dollar mark in assets for the first time, ending the last tax year with $518.3 million in assets—after raking in $122.9 million that year, according to a newly disclosed IRS filing.

To provide a sense of scale, $518.3 million is more in assets than either the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Inc. ($452.8 million) or Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. ($446.3 million) had at the end of 2017.

Critics say the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm whose founder, Morris Dees, and president, Richard Cohen, were ousted earlier this year amid accusations of racial discrimination and employee abuse, unfairly tars conservatives as racist as a matter of policy, treats all opposition to illegal or legal immigration, open borders, and multiculturalism as hate, and all political expression of those views as hate speech.

The SPLC, critics also say, deliberately lumps together all sorts of groups on America’s political right in order to intimidate and “de-platform” non-leftists. Conservative, libertarian, anti-tax, immigration reductionist, and other groups are all viewed as legitimate targets for vilification.

The group has its defenders in the media who take its work seriously. For example, in Rolling Stone, Amelia McDonell-Parry wrote that “the SPLC has developed a reputation for being an authority on extremist hate groups, monitoring and exposing their activities to the public, media and law enforcement.”

The Center appears to have brought in donor dollars by blaming something it calls the “Trump Effect” for thousands of cases of alleged “prejudice,” “bullying,” and “hate crimes” in the nation’s schools. Within weeks of President Donald Trump’s election, the group released the results “of a new survey, answered by more than 10,000 teachers across the country detailing the negative effect the election has had on school climates.”

The SPLC called on the president-elect “to immediately and forcefully publicly denounce racism and bigotry and to call on Americans to stop all acts of hate” even though there was little evidence from across the country that Trump supporters had done anything wrong. To the contrary, media reports at the time were bursting with stories of Trump supporters and Make America Great Again hat-wearers being violently set upon by angry liberals and progressives.

As part of its mission, the SPLC brings civil rights lawsuits that attack school choice, tracks so-called hate groups, publishes newsletters, and provides educational materials and grant money to teachers in hopes of reaching young minds.

Among the conservative groups that the SPLC has labeled “hate groups” are the Center for Security Policy, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, and Christians and Jews United for Israel. SPLC official Mark Potok has said, “I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, completely destroy them.”

Some groups resist the label. In June 2018, the SPLC paid more than $3 million as part of a legal settlement to former Muslim extremist Maajid Nawaz for wrongfully placing him and his London-based counter-extremism group, Quilliam, on an anti-Muslim hate list.

Although a federal judge recently dismissed a racketeering lawsuit brought by the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) against SPLC leaders for blacklisting it as a “hate group,” other lawsuits appear to be in the making.

Liberty Counsel and 60 other organizations are considering filing defamation lawsuits against the SPLC, according to PJMedia.

In a lawsuit already filed, a federal judge in Missouri refused in July to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought against the SPLC by Craig Nelsen a former heroin addict, who created the Robinson Jeffers Boxing Club (RJBC), a 13-week residency “life treatment” program for men with opioid addictions or other serious problems.

Nelsen said the program was “designed to address the specific challenges unique to white males in the United States, [but that] the program was open to, and would benefit, men in distress of any race.” True to form, the SPLC claimed Nelsen was a neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant, and racist, and that his club was for whites only.

Conservatives—and more than a few leftists—have long complained that the SPLC perennially hypes and exaggerates incidents involving racism in America in order to promote its radical agenda and raise a mountain of money.

JoAnn Wypijewski wrote in The Nation magazine that “No one has been more assiduous in inflating the profile of [hate] groups” than the center’s founder, Morris Dees.

The SPLC “spends most of its time—and money—on a relentless fundraising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate,” Ken Silverstein wrote in Harper’s magazine.

The $518.3-million figure for SPLC assets for the year ended Oct. 31, 2018, was up $41.3 million from $477 million the year before.

The Montgomery, Alabama-based SPLC also beefed up its workforce, reporting having 360 employees and 514 volunteers, compared to 302 employees and 197 volunteers the year before. As a result of the workforce expansion, the group paid out $29.2 million in salaries and benefits, compared to $23.9 million the year before, according to a Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (IRS Form 990) signed by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s secretary-treasurer, Teenie Hutchison on Jan. 31, 2019.

The SPLC acknowledges in the IRS filing that it “has ownership in several foreign corporations,” indirectly owns “several passive foreign investment companies,” and has financial dealings in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven in the Caribbean.

The SPLC famously ignited controversy when it labeled a conservative group, Family Research Council, a “hate group” because it opposes homosexuality on religious grounds. Liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called it “absurd” for the SPLC to place FRC, which he called “a mainstream conservative thinktank,” “in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.”

But gay rights activist Floyd Lee Corkins acknowledged he acted based on the dubious hate group report, shooting up FRC national headquarters in 2012, nonfatally wounding building manager Leo Johnson before he was subdued. Corkins said he wanted to kill as many FRC employees as possible, after which he planned to rub Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces as they died. Chick-fil-A became a target of LGBT protests in 2012 when its CEO, Dan T. Cathy, acknowledged he was “guilty as charged” of supporting anti-gay-marriage initiatives.

The SPLC has tried to spread its radical views to the education sector through its Teaching Tolerance program, which critics say is a means of ideologically indoctrinating students.

In late 2017, the group started handing out money as part of its Educator Grants program “to support projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy.” The grants “support social justice work at the classroom, school and district level.”

“Teachers and administrators know best how to come up with innovative ways to teach their students to fight bigotry and hate,” Maureen Costello, director of Teaching Tolerance said. “We want to help them turn those ideas into projects that will have a big impact on the way students see themselves and how they view and treat others.”

“Our hope is to build, over time, a network of educators who are enthusiastic about learning from each other and who will share their experiences fighting injustice in their schools with the broader Teaching Tolerance community,” Costello says. “Instead of allowing prejudice and hate to fester in the minds of our young people, we want to cultivate future generations with greater empathy, kindness and understanding for one another.”

On its IRS form, the Center disclosed having given more than $600,000 in grants.

What are educators doing with the money?

Grant recipient Amy Dickerson worked with her students in New Orleans on what should replace Confederate statues.

“We started the project with reflecting on our own identity and generating adjectives to describe ourselves,” Dickerson said. “Students studied the artist Nick Cave, who creates wearable pieces of art called Soundsuits that express his identity and views on social justice.”

In Boston, a grant was used to “empower” “black and brown girls” to “practice self-love, self-advocacy and sisterhood.” Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council, addressed the crowd. Pressley, a far-left Democrat, is now a U.S. representative from Massachusetts who is a member of the radical so-called Squad headed up by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist from New York.

Teaching Tolerance embraced the Global Climate Strike protest event Sept. 20.

“From the civil rights movement to recent youth-led movements to stop gun violence, we have asked educators to learn from young people’s activism and to instill students with an understanding of their power and value.”

Educators were encouraged to “introduce students to young people around the world who have truly been at the forefront of the fight for environmental justice—and made a difference in the face of apathy. Perhaps most famously, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has helped inspire global action and conversation through her activism.”

Educators “should consider introducing students to the diverse coalition of young people calling for climate justice.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center did not respond to a request for comment.

SOURCE 






Australia: Abortion is decriminalised in New South Wales after weeks of contentious debate and heated protests

This is a storm in a teacup.  Abortion has been decriminalized in NSW for years -- ever since the Heatherbrae case. The 1971 case of R v Wald ruled that abortions do not contravene the laws in certain circumstances.

That case involved a criminal trial of five people – most of whom were health care professionals. The five defendants were involved in performing an abortion at the Heatherbrae clinic in Bondi. All were charged under section 83 of the Crimes Act.

The trial judge found that an abortion is lawful if there is an ‘economic, social or medical ground or reason’ upon which the doctor could honestly and reasonably believe that an abortion could avoid a ‘serious danger to the pregnant woman’s life or her physical or mental health.’

All five defendants were ultimately found ‘not guilty’ on that basis – and the ruling opened the doors to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy for reasons such as financial disadvantage or instability, or fears of social stigma and judgment – factors which may negatively affect a woman’s mental wellbeing.

The judgment also affirmed that abortions do not need to be performed in hospitals – paving the way for women’s health clinics around the state.


NSW parliament has passed laws decriminalising abortion following a marathon debate and weeks of protest. There was applause in the lower house on Thursday as the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 passed its final hurdle.

It comes after the controversial bill passed the upper house 26 votes to 14 on Wednesday night following nearly 40 hours of discussion - making it the third longest debate in the state's house of review.

The bill, presented to parliament in August by Independent MP Alex Greenwich, takes abortion out of the criminal code and allows terminations up to 22 weeks.

'Thank you to all members for the role you have played in this historic reform ... we can feel proud that part of our legacy will be the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW,' the Member for Sydney said. 

An amendment passed in the upper house recognised doctors performing abortions after 22 weeks could seek advice from a multi-disciplinary team or hospital advisory committee.

'With the passing of this bill, our parliament affirms that we trust women,' Labor MP and bill co-sponsor Jo Haylen said just before the final vote. 'We trust women to make decisions about their own lives and about their own bodies.'

The legislation was opposed by religious groups, anti-abortion activists and several MPs who raised concerns about late-term and sex-selective abortions, conscientious objection and the way the bill was introduced. 

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, and former prime minister Tony Abbott were both outspoken in their opposition of the bill.

Joyce described it as the 'slavery debate of our time,' while Abbott accused the NSW government of putting forward 'the most radical abortion laws in this country.'

Liberal and Labor MPs were allowed a conscience vote on the bill.

Tensions in the government reached a climax last week when Liberal MPs Tanya Davies, Mathew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato said they would move a leadership spill motion against Premier Gladys Berejiklian over her handling of the bill.

The rebel MPs, who ultimately withdrew the motion, said it had been made clear that 'at an absolute minimum' four key amendments were required to ensure continued Liberal Party membership.

Ms Davies on Thursday supported amendments made to the bill, saying they created more safeguards and brought the bill to a better place.  

Abortions after 22 weeks are allowed with the approval of two 'specialist medical practitioners.'

All terminations after 22 weeks will now have to be performed in a public hospital.

'Many of us within the Parliament, and also outside in our communities, had concerns with the original bill ... concessions, amendments, changes to the original bill were moved through both houses of Parliament and that is a good thing,' she said.

The legislation that passed on Thursday is more conservative than the initial bill that Greenwich introduced after changes were made following opposition.

Labor MP Penny Sharpe, who is one of 15 co-sponsors of the bill, on Wednesday night said the vote was 119 years in the making.

'The current law has meant women and doctors have a threat of 10 years in jail for making this decision and that not okay,' she told parliament. 'This is a massive step forward for women in this state.'

SOURCE  

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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