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Church wins Supreme Court case on sign rules

ChurchSign

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a town’s sign regulations must be content-neutral in order to be legal, striking down the rules that had been set up by officials in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, that targeted church signs with more restrictions than signs in other categories.

“The sign code identifies various categories of signs based on the type of information they convey, then subjects each category to different restrictions. One of the categories is ‘Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event,’ loosely defined as signs directing the public to a meeting of a nonprofit group. The code imposes more stringent restrictions on these signs than it does on signs conveying other messages. We hold that these provisions are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive,” the opinion said.

The issue was the town demanded church signs be posted only shortly before a “qualifying event” and removed immediately after, allowing very little time for the churches to let the public know of events.

The case was brought by Pastor Clyde Reed of Good News Community Church when his organization was cited for leaving a sign up too long after a meeting. His congregation rents temporary spaces each week for services, and he uses the signs to let people know where the meetings are being held.

The case was fought on his behalf by the Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF spokesman David Cortman said, “Speech discrimination is wrong regardless of whether the government intended to violate the First Amendment or not, and it doesn’t matter if the government thinks its discrimination was well-intended. It’s still government playing favorites, and that’s unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court today found.”

Get “Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano for a briefing on such constitutional disputes.

The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the town forbids any signs without a permit – but then “exempts 23 categories of signs from that requirement.”

Among the categories are “Ideological Signs,” “Political Signs” and “Temporary Directional Signs Relating to a Qualifying Event.”

Those “events” are any “assembly, gathering, activity, or meeting sponsored, arranged, or promoted by a religious, charitable, community service, educational, or other similar non-profit organization.”

Ideological signs can be 20 square feet with no time limits, while political signs could be 16 square feet and be up 60 days before and 15 days after elections.

But, the opinion said, “The code treats temporary directional signs even less favorable than political signs.”

“Temporary direction signs may be no larger than six square feet. They may be placed on private property or on a public right-of-way, but no more than four signs may be placed on a single property at any time. And, they may be displayed no more than 12 hours before the ‘qualifying event’ and no more than 1 hour afterward.”

That means for a 9 a.m. service, a sign could go up no earlier than 9 p.m., and would lose its effectiveness because of minimal traffic during overnight hours.

The church wanted to display times and locations of services, and would use signs to do that. A dozen or more with the name, location and time were posted on Saturdays and then taken down on Sundays.

The town twice cited the church for violating its sign code, specifically for exceeding time limits. Officials even confiscated one of the signs.

The town responded to the pastor’s concerns by promising “no leniency under the code,” and punishment, including the possibility of jail time, for “future violations.”

The district and intermediate appeals courts sided with the city, but Thomas wrote, “The First Amendment … prohibits the enactment of laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech.’”

He continued, “Content-based laws – those that target speech based on its communicative content – are presumptively unconstitutional and may be justified only if the government proves that they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling state interests.”

He said, “The restrictions in the sign code that apply to any given sign … depend entirely on the communicative content of the sign. If a sign informs its reader of the time and place a book club will discuss John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, that sign will be treated differently from a sign expressing the view that one should vote for one of Locke’s followers in an upcoming election, and both signs will be treated differently from a sign expressing an ideological view rooted in Locke’s theory of government.”

His conclusion, “The sign code is a content-based regulation of speech.”

In a discussion about the case as it developed, ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco explained the real question was whether free speech plaintiffs have to prove the government intentionally discriminated against their speech.

“So what? Well, the problem with requiring proof of discriminatory motive is that motive is notoriously hard to prove. Put simply, if discriminatory intent must be proven a lot more speech will be prohibited,” he explained.

“Make no mistake, not just religious speech but all types of speech would be in serious peril if Gilbert gets its way. … The government isn’t going to voluntarily give the true reason it enacted a law that unlawfully restricts speech. Instead, it’s going to give a lot of other plausible sounding motives to explain away its actions.

“In the end, whether the government’s speech discrimination is intentional or unintentional should not be a reason to allow it to continue. And that is the principal we are fighting to re-establish in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.”

 

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Jeb Bush slow jams news on ‘Tonight Show’

(HOLLYWOODREPORTER) — “Whoa, hold the telefono. I know you just got back from Miami, but I didn’t realize I was interviewing Governor Pitbull.”

Jeb Bush stopped by The Tonight Show on Tuesday night to “slow jam the news.”

The Republican presidential candidate made his first-ever late-night appearance in the Tonight Show’s signature bit, in which he spoke over R&B beats while host Jimmy Fallon threw in his signature “oh yeah” phrases and echoes.

“We’re a nation of immigrants, and I believe everyone should have the chance to achieve the American dream,” said the former Florida governor before repeating the sentence in Spanish “to translate that for all your Spanish-speaking viewers.”

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She Warned the World about Hitler

By Lawrence W. Reed

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Some people can smell a rat a mile away. Others don’t notice even when the odor wafts right under their noses.

Olfactory proficiency by itself doesn’t make you a hero. But if you’re among the first to pick up the scent and warn others, and then you put your political future on the line to save society, you’ve got something that makes you heroic. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Magician’s Nephew, “What you see and hear (and smell) depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.”

Katharine Margory Ramsey combined courage and character with a great nose for rats. She had principles and the guts to stand by them.

Born of Scottish noble blood in Edinburgh in 1874, “Kitty” (as she was known to close friends) was an accomplished composer and pianist. She became the Duchess of Atholl after her husband succeeded his father as the Duke of Atholl in 1917. Author Lynne Olson, in her superb 2007 book, Troublesome Young Men (about the Tory upstarts in the 1930s who challenged their elder and leader, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain), describes her as a “diminutive woman with large, expressive blue eyes … cultured, diffident, and unworldly, with little interest in calling attention to herself.”

At the urging of her husband and former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the Duchess stood for a seat in Parliament in 1924. She won. Only two other women had ever before been elected to the House of Commons. She became the first Conservative Party MP to hold ministerial office when Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin appointed her to a junior post in education.

Who was this Scottish Cassandra who dared so publicly to question the subsidies coming their way from the government of her own party?

The men in government assumed Atholl would be quiet and do the womanly thing: whatever she was told. Even Winston Churchill snubbed her at first, telling her directly, “I find a woman’s intrusion into the House of Commons as embarrassing as if she burst into my bathroom.” Many now think of Churchill as the sage who bravely opposed Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing Hitler, but Kitty Atholl was one of those few who worked to stiffen Churchill’s spine when it was still pliable. Churchill later came to appreciate her greatly.

As her years in Parliament wore on, Atholl’s principles deepened, and her courage blossomed. In 1935, she resigned from the leadership position of whip for the Conservative Party because of what she derisively labeled the government’s “national socialist tendencies” in its domestic agenda. She was, in her own way, a precursor to Margaret Thatcher, who was just 10 years old at the time.

The first big rat to catch Atholl’s attention was ensconced in Moscow. Less than a decade after the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet experiment had attracted naïve acolytes in the West. Reporter Lincoln Steffens famously wrote after his 1919 visit to the USSR, “I have been to the future and it works.”

One of the worst of what Lenin would term “useful idiots” was New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, who, at the height of the Stalin-induced famine in Ukraine that killed millions, denied there was a hunger problem. The Duchess of Atholl was no such fool.

In 1931, Atholl published a 200-page book titled The Conscription of a People. It was a blistering, well-documented indictment of the savage collectivization of life in the Soviet Union. Her investigations revealed that

Russia has carried through revolution on a scale which knows no parallel, and which, even after thirteen years, is as ruthless as in its early days. She has undermined marriage and is rapidly breaking up family life. She wages ceaseless war on all religion. She is responsible for the most comprehensive and continuous experiment in the nationalization of industry, banking and trade that has ever been seen.

Atholl’s book was one of the earliest and most detailed critiques of the communist regime from a high-level British official. Forced labor, the liquidation of the kulaks, mass seizures of property, an extensive secret police network, and an unprecedented diversion of resources to the military meant one thing: the Bolsheviks were a menace to their own people and a growing threat to world peace.

The Duchess decried the British government’s extension of credit to Moscow. “Can those in any country who value liberty regard such a position with equanimity?” she asked. “Are the citizens of the United Kingdom in particular to tolerate any longer the guaranteeing by taxpayers’ money of a system so utterly repugnant to British traditions?”

The rats in Moscow were alarmed at Atholl’s denunciations. Who was this Scottish Cassandra who dared so publicly to question the subsidies coming their way from the government of her own party? (In The Fall of Troy by Quintus Smyrnaeus, Cassandra desperately tried to warn the Trojan people about the peril of a certain large wooden horse.)

After 1933, Atholl’s wrath turned against the rats in Berlin. When she read Hitler’s Mein Kampf in 1935, she entertained no illusions about where he was headed. “Never can a modern statesman have made so startlingly clear to his reader his ambitions,” she noted. She was now on her way to becoming, in Olson’s words, “the boldest Tory rebel of all.”

Even more vigorously than Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain kowtowed to the Nazi dictator. Those “troublesome young men” in his Conservative Party — such as Churchill, Antony Eden, and Harold McMillan — formed an opposition to appeasement, but at first they focused exclusively on Hitler. They sought to placate Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain. Atholl saw all fascist dictators the same way she saw all communist dictators: as evil men not to be trusted, let alone subsidized. She was a constant thorn in the side of men in power who wanted to cut deals with unsavory thugs of any stripe.

In September 1938, the infamous Munich conference gave Hitler a green light to forcibly incorporate the Sudetenland (a Czech region along the border with Germany) into the Third Reich. The hopelessly naïve Chamberlain famously waved the agreement on the tarmac on returning to London. “Peace in our time,” he declared. War seemed to be averted. As much of the world breathed a sigh of relief, Atholl was strongly advised by her husband and others to endorse the Munich accord. She not only refused to do so; she wrote and widely distributed a pamphlet that castigated it.

The prime minister reacted furiously. He strong-armed the local Conservative Party officials in Scotland to select a new candidate for Parliament to replace Atholl, who then resigned from the party and announced she would run as an Independent in the special by-election set for December 1938. The country’s attention was riveted on the fierce campaign that ensued. The prime minister saw to it that Atholl’s opponent received showers of cash and endorsements.

Cowed by Chamberlain, the male anti-appeasement MPs of the party wouldn’t go to Scotland to campaign for the Duchess. Churchill first accepted and then, under pressure, rescinded his approval of an invitation to speak on her behalf. As reported in Olson’s book, he at least sent a letter of endorsement that she distributed before the voting. Churchill wrote,

You are no doubt opposed by many Conservatives as loyal and patriotic as yourself, but the fact remains that outside our island, your defeat at this moment would be relished by the enemies of Britain and of freedom in every part of the world. It would be widely accepted as another sign that Great Britain … no longer has the spirit and willpower to confront the tyrannies and cruel persecutions which have darkened this age.

She lost by a heartbreakingly slim margin. Chamberlain was delighted, but after all the pressure and resources he had brought to bear against her, the verdict was no ringing endorsement of his appeasement policy. When Hitler invaded Poland less than nine months later, Kitty Atholl was vindicated. A humiliated Chamberlain sulked through the remaining few months of his tenure. Out of government, Atholl spent the war years working mightily to relieve the awful conditions of European refugees. She died in 1960 at age 85.

Katharine Atholl had smelled danger and said so, years before the elite of her own political party mustered similar courage. How different might history have been if there were more people like her?

For further information, see:

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Wish

By Rebecca Aronson

I want to lie down like a tiny birch canoe,
sewn with red thread, afloat in the street
in the rushing aftermath

of a good spring rain. To curl in the y of a desert willow
at sundown when its pink blossoms
are a thousand distant lanterns strung

among the branches. At night
I prop my sleeping body like a shield.
I fly myself like a volley of arrows

toward the glowing eye of sleep’s center.
I circle its edges, closing in. I call sleep’s name
into closets and empty drawers and listen for its echo.

I want to lay my body into the palm
of my love’s hand and diminish there,
a chip of ice. I want sleep to vanish me

in its secret chamber, its magician’s hat,
where I’ll lie curled in the dark
like an unhatched bird, dreaming as my egg tooth sharpens.

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How Moms Both Challenge and Confirm Standard Economic Theory

By Sarah Skwire

Last winter, I was getting ready to put insulating plastic on all of my windows to keep the cold out. I quizzed my Facebook friends to see if they could use the economic way of thinking to predict which room’s windows I would insulate first. They had some good suggestions. Maybe the coldest room? Maybe the kitchen, because it gets the most use? Maybe the room with the largest windows?

They were all wrong, and they were wrong because I don’t really do economics. I do momonomics. Momonomics is the particular kind of economic thinking engaged in by parents. (All parents use momonomics, even dads. I just think momonomics sounds better than parentonomics.) If you practice momonomics, you know that the windows that get covered in plastic first are the ones in the kids’ rooms, because you can do that in the half an hour the kids are spending watching Phineas and Ferb and then get the rest done while they’re in bed and not in the way. Also, the children are tiny and cold, and you feel sorry for them.

The factor that makes momonomics different from other economic ways of thinking is that children are the primary binding constraint.

The factor, in other words, that makes momonomics different from other economic ways of thinking is that children are the primary binding constraint. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Economics says that all goods have substitutes, but momonomics knows this is nonsense. Momonomics says that sometimes you’re going to have to turn the car around and drive two hours back to the hotel where you stayed last night in order to rescue one very special doll from the hotel laundry. (Thanks, btw, Mom and Dad. I still have her.) Economics says that a blanket may have a substitute, but momonomics says that the blanket does not. Sometimes demand curves are vertical, and price is infinite.

Economics takes preferences as given and explains why actors behave the way they do. Momonomics knows that preferences are mysterious and behavior cannot be explained, especially when the actor is under three feet tall. In fact, the job of the momonomist is often to restructure given preference sets and to alter behavior. We want you to eat your vegetables first, even if they don’t taste as good as tater tots.

Sometimes momonomics helps to reveal hidden economic secrets. We all know economics values efficiency. So some people might think that because the gas station is between the office and the day care, you should stop for gas on the way to pick the kids up. Momonomics knows this doesn’t make sense if the kids go out of their minds if they aren’t picked up at their usual time, and they really like to help put gas in the car. So momonomics schedules that trip in a way that makes momonomic sense and that, once the constraints are fully understood, makes better economic sense as well.

Economics thinks expressed preferences are important, but often mysterious. People want strawberry Pop-Tarts after natural disasters because they do. It’s not particularly important why. Momonomics can help unpack those preferences, reminding us that strawberry Pop-Tarts are a kid-friendly food that provide a burst of energy and a comforting familiarity; also, they don’t require any cooking, and they don’t make a mess.

Just as frequently as momonomics challenges economic theory, momonomics helps to confirm the practical applicability of economic thinking.

Economics reminds us that we live in an environment of scarcity. Momonomics agrees and says that because your sister finished the cinnamon Life cereal, you have to have peanut butter Cheerios for breakfast.

Economics reminds us that, just like every other resource, time is subject to scarcity constraints. Momonomics agrees, and wouldn’t sell you the hours between kid bedtime and grown-up bedtime for a gold nugget.

Economics knows that because time is a resource, sometimes the order in which you use other resources matters. Momonomics agrees. That’s why we’re having salad for dinner tonight, and frozen peas at the end of the week. And take a banana for a snack while you’re at it — they’re starting to get brown.

Economics knows that capital is heterogeneous. So does momonomics. That’s why if you don’t take the banana today, there will be banana bread tomorrow.

And when it comes time to slice up and share that banana bread, momonomics agrees with economics. You cut it up, but your brother gets to pick his slice first. (Momonomics comports to some degree with Rawlsian political philosophy). And don’t forget to wrap the leftovers in foil.

There’s a more serious point behind all this silliness. People who don’t know any technical economics use economic and momonomic ways of thinking every day to make decisions, both large and small. Lenore Skenazy is doing an excellent job of demonstrating the good things that can happen when moms start thinking about risk and uncertainty the way that economists do. And economists in classrooms everywhere are using momonomics examples to clarify arcane principles and connect economics to their students’ lives.

We would all make better decisions if moms thought more about economics and economists thought more about moms.

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Supreme Court rejects binational-marriage plea

(U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday against strengthening marriage rights for binational couples who wish to live together in the United States.

Justices found in Kerry v. Din that naturalized U.S. citizen Fauzia Din cannot force greater explanation about or overturn in court the rejection of her Afghan husband Kanishka Berashk’s visa application.

The couple married in 2006. A year later, Din became an American citizen and Berashk requested a U.S. visa to join her. But his prior work in the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan apparently derailed the plan.

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HUD spends big bucks on worker relocations

Moving

Housing and Urban Development employees have generous relocation benefits, thanks to taxpayers.

Taxpayers have shelled out about $2.9 million to pay the relocation costs of 125 Housing and Urban Development workers since 2013, a Politico analysis found.

And that’s just a little more than half of what HUD set aside for relocation expenses for workers during that time frame.

Politico, via a Freedom of Information Act request, discovered the agency reserved $5.5 million for the relocation costs of its employees – including money for storage, airline tickets and even home sales’ offsets so transferring workers wouldn’t lose money on mortgages they held that were worth more than market values.

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The $2.9 million in 2013 figures out to about $23,000 in moving costs per person, Politico said.

“When the taxpayers look at this they see the dysfunction of the federal government in very stark relief,” said Leslie Paige, the vice president of policy for Citizens Against Government Waste, in Politico.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro is generally regarded as a rising Democratic Party star, and potential vice presidential running mate for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He actually refused a $14,000 relocation subsidy by HUD for himself, calling it too generous.

“I said, ‘I don’t need that,’” Castro said to Politico at the time, in reference to HUD’s money offer to only “hold our stuff for one or two nights somewhere.”

Still, Republicans have been targeting HUD’s annual $50 billion budget for cuts, fueled in part by various taxpayer watchdog reports.

“When you look at some real estate expenses, you have to question how these are justified,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Politico reported. “In the constrained fiscal climate created by the budget caps, every agency must evaluate their spending decisions.”

 

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Fake black activist’s ‘hate crime’ cases suspended

(Gateway Pundit) Spokane police suspended all reported hate crimes against fake black activists Rachel Dolezal on Friday. Investigators said the controversial letters did not have a post office stamp or barcode and therefore were most likely placed into the box by someone with a key.

It’s time to cut through the left’s nonsense on race relations and race politics: “Negrophilia: From Slave Block to Pedestal – America’s Racial Obsession.”

Rachel Dolezal said she was disappointed the investigation did not produce any arrests.

She told KXLY News, “As a mother of two black sons I would never terrorize my children.”

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Huge sections of California sinking due to drought

(Curbed) California’s epic statewide drought has lead to mandatory water restrictions and a new state pastime, droughtshaming, but less-discussed is the fact that the drought is SINKING THE STATE.

The Center for Investigative Reporting looked into just how bad the sinking has gotten and found that there’s not a lot being done to monitor the phenomenon at a statewide level, and equally little money being put toward studying it, despite the fact that it’s causing infrastructural problems across California and will continue to do so. CIR also found that key elements for studying the dangerously accelerated sinking of the state aren’t accessible to scientists because “California allows agriculture businesses to keep crucial parts of their operations secret.”

The cause of the sinking is known, and it’s happened in California before. Once, it was even as bad as geologists think it might be now. Back then, it took more than $1 billion just to repair some of the damage.