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Freedom Of Speech

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Moroccan state media are reporting that the number of people who were killed after they tried to scale a border fence between Morocco and a Spanish enclave in North Africa has risen to 23. Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco called on both countries to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths. Moroccan authorities said the individuals died as a result of a “stampede” of people who attempted Friday to climb the iron fence that separates the city of Melilla and Morocco. The ministry initially reported five deaths. Local authorities cited by Morocco’s official Television 2M updated the number to 18 and then 23 on Saturday. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead.

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The Arizona Senate’s ethics committee's attorney has submitted a report to the full Senate on a probe of a Republican lawmaker’s online comments that appeared to blame the federal government for a supermarket massacre in Buffalo, New York. The report reaches no conclusions on whether Sen. Wendy Rogers’ comment broke Senate rules. It will be up to the full Senate to decide whether the Flagstaff lawmaker's comment merits discipline. Rogers tweeted: “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo” as news broke about the May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo. Many thought Rogers was saying the federal government was behind the attack. She denied that was her intent.

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Six Oklahomans have filed two federal lawsuits that challenge a state law intended to crack down on protesters and that allege their civil rights were violated when they were arrested in Oklahoma City in 2020. The six say the anti-protest law is unconstitutionally broad and vague. The law passed in 2021 increases the penalties for blocking roadways and grants immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters. The second lawsuit alleges that the constitutional rights of five of the six plaintiffs were violated when they were charged with inciting a riot following a confrontation with police. The charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor. The sixth plaintiff alleges that he was wrongly implicated in the confrontation.

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A Ukrainian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union says she’s “100%” certain all 27 EU nations will approve making Ukraine a candidate for membership in the bloc. In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said the decision could come as soon as Thursday. She says countries that had been skeptical about starting accession talks while Ukraine is fighting Russia’s invasion are now supportive. Granting a country EU candidate status requires unanimous approval from existing member nations. Candidacy is the first step toward membership. It doesn't provide security guarantees or an automatic right to join the bloc.

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A federal appeals court has upheld an Arkansas law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel. The full 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a decision last year by a three-judge panel of the court that found the requirement to be unconstitutional. The Arkansas Times newspaper had sued to block the law, which requires contractors with the state to reduce their fees by 20% if they don't sign the pledge. The court ruled that the requirement does not violate the First Amendment. The Times said a college refused to contract for advertising unless the newspaper signed the pledge.

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The British government has unveiled plans for a Bill of Rights it says will strengthen free speech and the power of Parliament. Critics argue it will rip up human rights protections for ordinary people. The government published the bill on Wednesday, days after courts in the U.K. and Europe, on human rights grounds, stopped Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative administration deporting people seeking asylum in Britain to Rwanda. If approved by Parliament, the legislation will raise the bar for bringing human rights legal claims. It would also give British courts the power to ignore rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Rights groups said the move would undermine the public's ability to hold the powerful to account.

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A proposal being considered by California legislators would require social media companies to make public their policies for removing problem content and give detailed accounts of how and when they remove it. Supporters of the proposal blame online chatter for encouraging violence and undermining democracy. The bipartisan measure stalled last year over free speech concerns. Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel said Tuesday that he hopes to revive his bill by making it clear that lawmakers don’t intend to censor or regulate content. But his bill would require companies to say how they regulate their own content under their social media terms of service.

A proposal being considered by California legislators would require social media companies to make public their policies for removing problem content and give detailed accounts of how and when they remove it. Supporters of the proposal blame online chatter for encouraging violence and undermining democracy. The bipartisan measure stalled last year over free speech concerns. Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel said Tuesday that he hopes to revive his bill by making it clear that lawmakers don’t intend to censor or regulate content. But his bill would require companies to say how they regulate their own content under their social media terms of service.

A proposal being considered by California legislators would require social media companies to make public their policies for removing problem content and give detailed accounts of how and when they remove it. Supporters of the proposal blame online chatter for encouraging violence and undermining democracy. The bipartisan measure stalled last year over free speech concerns. Democratic Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel said Tuesday that he hopes to revive his bill by making it clear that lawmakers don’t intend to censor or regulate content. But his bill would require companies to say how they regulate their own content under their social media terms of service.

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed amendments to the state budget have met a mixed fate. Some cleared the General Assembly Friday and others such as his push for a gas-tax holiday were voted down on a bipartisan basis. Friday's session comes as the governor and General Assembly are creeping toward a June 30 deadline to pass the two-year spending plan. It would take effect July 1. The governor did not seek changes to many of the budget provisions that would offer families and working people a range of tax relief, including one-time rebates.

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The British government has approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face spying charges. WikiLeaks said it would appeal. The government said Friday that Home Secretary Priti Patel had signed the extradition order. It follows a British court ruling that he could be sent to the U.S. The Home Office said in a statement that “the U.K courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.”   The decision is a big moment in Assange’s years-long battle to avoid being sent to the U.S. — though not necessarily the end of the tale. Assange has 14 days to appeal.

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A California doctor who is a leading figure in the anti-vaccine movement has been sentenced to 60 days in prison for storming the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington, D.C., also on Thursday sentenced Dr. Simone Gold to 12 months supervised release and ordered her to pay a fine of $9,500. Gold said she deeply regrets entering the Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, She pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Gold, a former emergency room physician, said she didn’t intend to get involved in an event that was “so destructive to our nation.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is seeking several dozen changes to the budget legislation lawmakers sent him earlier this month, including an amendment that would suspend the state tax on gasoline for three months. Youngkin also wants to limit the use of earned-sentence credits that allow inmates to reduce their time behind bars. And after protests outside the Virginia homes of some U.S. Supreme Court justices, he's proposing a new felony related to picketing and demonstrations. The amendments were shared with reporters Wednesday, and the divided General Assembly will consider the governor’s proposals when they convene Friday.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has reasserted his country's support for Russia on issues of sovereignty and security in a phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. State media say Xi told Putin that China is “willing to work with Russia on issues concerning core interests and major concerns." He added that “all parties should responsibly push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis.” China has refused to criticize Russia's invasion of Ukraine or even to refer to it in such terms. Weeks before the Russian attack, Putin and Xi met in Beijing and oversaw the signing of an agreement pledging that relations between the sides would have “no limits."

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The Arizona Supreme Court says state courts can keep juror identities secret even if they provide no reasoning for the decision. Tuesday's ruling rejected a challenge from a southern Arizona journalist who argued that the right to observe trials included access to the names of jurors who decide the fate of people charged with crimes. The unanimous ruling written by Vice Chief Justice Ann Scott Timmer turned away arguments made by attorneys for the publisher of the Cochise County Record. David Morgan said that withholding identities during the jury selection process without a compelling reason violated the First Amendment. The decision continues an ongoing movement in some American courts toward allowing the identities of jurors who traditionally been named to be kept secret.

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A federal judge has declined to order an upcoming meeting of the Tennessee Judicial Conference to be opened to the public. That ruling came after a hearing Tuesday in which an attorney for the state testified that the group would not be making any policy decisions. The emergency hearing was called after the editor of a national news website filed a lawsuit seeking access to Wednesday's planned meeting. The lawsuit by The Center Square Executive Editor Dan McCaleb claims that the public has a First Amendment right of access to the meetings. Although the judge declined to issue an emergency order, the lawsuit will continue.

A federal judge in Nebraska has removed a major obstacle for activists who want to legalize medical marijuana via a ballot campaign, ruling that petition circulators no longer have to gather signatures from at least 5% of voters in 38 or more counties. U.S. District Judge John Gerrard issued an order to temporarily bar the state from enforcing the requirement, which is enshrined in Nebraska’s constitution to guarantee at least some buy-in from rural voters before an issue can appear on the statewide ballot. The ruling comes at a critical time for medical marijuana supporters, who have until July 7 to submit at least 87,000 valid signatures on each of two petitions to Nebraska’s secretary of state.

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Japan’s parliament has approved tougher penalties for criminal defamation in a move prompted by a bullied wrestler’s suicide and that is raising free speech concerns. Discussions on toughening the law followed the suicide of Hana Kimura at age 22. She was bullied on social media in 2020 after appearing on “Terrace House,” a reality show on Japan's Fuji TV and Netflix about people temporarily living at a shared house in Tokyo. Her mother was a driving force behind the amended law and said she has faced insults and accusations of allegedly using her daughter’s name to make money. The amended law will add a prison term of one year with an option of forced labor, a change from only short-term detention.

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A federal judge in Texas has dismissed the bankruptcy protection case of Infowars and two other companies controlled by Alex Jones. The ruling on Friday was the result of an agreement between lawyers for the conspiracy theorist and parents of some of the children slain in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The dismissal allows the parents’ defamation lawsuits against Jones for calling the shooting a hoax to continue in Texas and Connecticut. Judges in both states found Jones and his companies liable for damages to the families. Trials are pending on how much he should pay them.

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Republicans are pushing an anti-Big Tech message in the midterm campaigns as they look to tap into the resentment toward large technology companies that increasingly courses through their party. For voters confronting everything from inflation to gun violence, it’s unclear whether concerns about the role of large technology companies will resonate broadly. But it does feed a sense of animosity among some of the GOP’s most loyal voters. In Nevada, Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt knocks “censorship of speech” as “one of the most onerous threats to our free democracy.” In Ohio, Senate Republican nominee JD Vance has warned Big Tech companies are going to ​“destroy our nation.”

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Former President Donald Trump, his namesake son and his daughter Ivanka have agreed to answer questions under oath next month in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices. That's unless their lawyers persuade the state’s highest court to step in. A Manhattan judge signed off Wednesday on an agreement that calls for the Trumps to give depositions starting July 15. The agreement comes after a series of setbacks for Donald Trump’s efforts to put a stop to state Attorney General Letitia James’ three-year investigation. Wednesday’s ruling acknowledges that Trump can appeal to New York’s top court, called the Court of Appeals.

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The City Council in Vancouver, Washington, has passed a measure that would make it illegal to picket outside the homes of city employees and elected officials. Opponents of the move called it an unconstitutional violation of free speech rights. Protests targeting public officials at their homes have become increasingly popular as a tactic in recent years. City leaders in nearby Portland, Oregon, have seen protests at their homes or while out at restaurants. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the Vancouver City Council on Monday prohibited what it calls “targeted picketing or protesting.” The decision follows several recent protests — mainly against measures to quell COVID-19 — outside homes and schools in Clark County.

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The former top leader of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and other members have been charged with seditious conspiracy for what federal prosecutors say was a coordinated attack on the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former Proud Boys chairman, and four others linked to the group are charged in the latest indictment against them. All five were previously charged with different conspiracy counts. They are scheduled to stand trial in August in Washington, D.C.’s federal court. An attorney for Tarrio says his client “is going to have his day in court.”

A lawsuit claiming that New Mexico county commissioner and Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin engaged in “viewpoint” discrimination could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a test-case for free speech rights on social media platforms. Chaplain and local Democratic Party leader Jeff Swanson lost a federal appeals court ruling in February in a lawsuit claiming he was blocked by Griffin from social media discussions about public county business on Griffin’s Facebook page. Swanson says he was silenced in a discriminatory fashion after criticizing Griffin about the upkeep of a courthouse.  Swanson’s attorney confirmed the petition to the Supreme Court.

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Elon Musk threatened Monday to call off his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about spam bot accounts. Here’s a look at some of what’s transpired between the billionaire Tesla CEO and the social media platform.

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