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[VIDEO] The FBI Won’t Accept Your Emailed Freedom of Information Act Requests Anymore

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal to make things on their end more efficient. But, FOIA advocates say this puts a lot of burden on the requester.

Hey millennial FOIA nuts: Time to familiarize yourselves with the concept of a paper jam.

“The goal seems to be ‘creating a lot of extra burden. Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it’.”

— Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal, FBI eFOIPA.

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The goal seems to be “creating a lot of extra burden,” says Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it.”

The FBI says the move will help the agency expedite its backlog, which was estimated at 2,614 requests in 2015. Agency spokesperson Jillian Stickels told the Daily Caller that using an online portal will automate the processing of requests and “increase efficiency.”

But does the FBI really want to make the process more efficient? And its decision to continue accepting faxes and standard mail seems to only create headaches for requesters, who might run out of toner or have their transmission signal interrupted when someone picks up the line.

“Most mail that goes to a federal agency has to go through a screening process,” says Marshall. “Sometimes they irradiate it to make sure that there isn’t anthrax or other things in it […] So, it can take a long time for your mail to get from you to the FOIA officer who’s going to open it up and read it.” Yet the law says that the agency is required to provide a response to a FOIA request within 20 business days.

A beta version of the online portal required users to provide personal information about themselves and limited requests to one per day. The FBI backed away from these rules in response to public pressure from Muckrock and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), but the system still imposes a 3,000-character restriction. Also, the FBI says that not all types of requests can be fulfilled through the portal, though which types the agency won’t say.

There are other bureaucratic hurdles: The FBI has multiple computerized filing systems for documents. Typically, if a requester doesn’t specify which records system to search, the Bureau only queries its Central Records System (CRS) and then might fail to locate a document that it actually has on file. Marshall finds these multiple record systems “incredibly confusing” even though understanding them, he says, is part of his job. Read the rest of this entry »

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UPDATE: Houston Voters Uphold Conventional Restroom Arrangement, Reject Mandatory Gender-Blending Ordinance

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No Men in Women’s Bathrooms: Those Crazy, Unfair, Radical, Houston Gender Traditionalists!

HOUSTON — Juan A. Lozano reports: An ordinance that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston failed to win approval from voters on Tuesday.

[Also see — The Bathroom, Locker Room, and Shower Wars and the 2016 Presidential Election at The Corner]

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was rejected after a nearly 18-month battle that spawned rallies, legal fights and accusations of both religious intolerance and demonization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Supporters of the ordinance had said it would have offered increased protections for gay and transgender people, as well as protections against discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion and other categories. Read the rest of this entry »


New York Times Hit With Age, Gender Discrimination Suit

Inside the New York Times

The suit claims that in September 2013, 30 employees were targeted for dismissal, mostly older and minority employees. They were replaced ‘in virtually every case by a white employee under the age of 40,’ the suit claims.

Keith J. Kelly reports: The New York Times Co. and its chief revenue officer are being sued by a former ad executive with nine years of service for “age, gender and race” discrimination after she got a new boss.

Tracy Quitasol, a 51-year-old Asian-American woman, was let go in January 2014 by Meredith Levien, who was a high-profile hire from Forbes two years ago and is now the chief revenue officer of the NYT Co.

Quitasol had been heading the Idea Lab, designed to come up with new digital ad programs, and was the executive director of product marketing and ad platform innovation.

The most explosive claim in the suit is the allegation that Levien, in a downsizing that took place in September 2013, let go predominantly older and minority employees.

A Times spokeswoman pointed out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has passed on taking action on Quitasol’s complaints and said, “We plan to mount a vigorous defense against this suit.”

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

On the personal front, Quitasol claims in the Manhattan federal court suit that her problems began when Levien — then the executive vice president of advertising — along with the company’s human resources department failed to curb a junior-level staffer who refused to follow her instructions.

Quitasol claims it was a case of “gender discrimination” by the male employee — who, the suit claims, would only respond to instructions from male superiors. She brought the problem to the attention of Levien and HR who, the suit alleges, failed to take action. Read the rest of this entry »


In 5-4 Vote, Supreme Court OKs Liability for Unintentional Housing Discrimination

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Under the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 holding in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, you can be held liable for housing discrimination even if you never intended to discriminate.

“Stop calling it fair housing law. If it was ever a matter of fairness, it isn’t now,” writes catoinstitute Senior Fellow Walter Olson.

Learn more


Mona Charen: ‘The Less Racist the South Gets, the More Republican it Becomes’

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Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History

Mona Charen writes: Here’s what the former president of the United States had to say when he eulogized his mentor, an Arkansas senator:

We come to celebrate and give thanks for the remarkable life of J. William Fulbright, a life that changed our country and our world forever and for the better. . . . In the work he did, the words he spoke and the life he lived, Bill Fulbright stood against the 20th century’s most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes.

So spoke President William J. Clinton in 1995 of a man was among the 99 Democrats in Congress to sign the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956. (Two Republicans also signed it.) The Southern Manifesto declared the signatories’ opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Educationand their commitment to segregation forever. Fulbright was also among those who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That filibuster continued for 83 days.

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Senator Robert Byrd

“As recently as 2010, the Senate’s president pro tempore was former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.). Rather than acknowledge their sorry history, modern Democrats have rewritten it.”

Speaking of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let’s review (since they don’t teach this in schools): The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)

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“The Democrats have been sedulously rewriting history for decades.”

When he was running for president in 2000, Vice President Al Gore told the NAACP that his father, Senator Al Gore Sr., had lost his Senate seat because he voted for the Civil Rights Act. Uplifting story — except it’s false. Gore Sr. voted against the Civil Rights Act. He lost in 1970 in a race that focused on prayer in public schools, the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court.

[Read the full story here, at National Review Online. Follow Mona Charen on Twitter]

Al Gore’s reframing of the relevant history is the story of the Democratic party in microcosm. The party’s history is pockmarked with racism and terror. The Democrats were the party of slavery, black codes, Jim Crow, and that miserable terrorist excrescence, the Ku Klux Klan. Republicans were the party of Lincoln, Reconstruction, anti-lynching laws, and the civil rights acts of 1875, 1957, 1960, and 1964. Were all Republicans models of rectitude on racial matters? Hardly. Were they a heck of a lot better than the Democrats? Without question. Read the rest of this entry »


Former NAACP Official James Wilburn: Rachel Dolezal ‘Has Very Self-Serving Motives’

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SPOKANE, Wash. (CBS Seattle) — The nation was both shocked and engrossed at the narrative of Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the NAACP Spokane chapter who was outed as a white woman pretending to be black after her parents went public with the information.

The varying degrees of Dolezal’s family history, work for the NAACP, and choice of identification started a whirlwind debate drawing criticism, confusion, and concern from both the public and those who personally know her.

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“People can identify with another race but it doesn’t change their racial heritage. You inherit your race but to be transgender or transsexual you do not inherit. It is not passed down from your parents.”

— former Spokane NAACP chapter President James Wilburn

For many, the saga prompted a discussion of how Dolezal’s “passing” deception opens the conversation on race in America and if her actions may have damaging consequences to race relations on some levels.

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“Many people felt that her story was so outrageous that it sensationalized the issue of race. Rachel’s  reality is not the true African-American experience. It took us off the real discussion and issues concerning racial discrimination and victimization.”

— Former Spokane NAACP chapter President JamesWilburn

“Many people felt that her story was so outrageous that it sensationalized the issue of race. Rachel’s  reality is not the true African-American experience. It took us off the real discussion and issues concerning racial discrimination and victimization. Black men are losing their lives left and right because of the real color of their skin that they can’t put on Rebecca-Carrolland take off at will,” former Spokane NAACP chapter President James
Wilburn tells CBS Seattle.

“What strikes me as the most perverse and pathological aspect of this story is Dolezal’s relationship to and ultimate identity-theft of her black adoptive siblings, or at least her perception of what their identities mean to them and the world…”

The concept of race being fluid and being something that can be “claimed” is worrisome to many. On the opposite side of the argument, some have defended Dolezal by comparing the choice of race to the choice of gender. This defense itself is problematic for many fighting for civil rights.

“…Not least of all because I could not, at any given point in my life, despite having grown up in a white family, with no black people within a 15-mile radius, suddenly choose to present myself as a white woman.”

— Rebecca Carroll, Director of Digital Media & Marketing at Scenarios USA

“People can identify with another race but it doesn’t change their racial heritage. You inherit your race but to be transgender or transsexual you do not inherit. It is not passed down from your parents,” Wilburn says.

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“I believe she needs professional help. Someone with the appropriate training in mental health would need to assess her and make the appropriate diagnosis so she can get the help she needs.”

— former Spokane NAACP chapter President James Wilburn

Rebecca Carroll, Director of Digital Media & Marketing at Scenarios USA, notes that Dolezal’s lies shed light on important issues regarding her family relations and transracial (when a child of one race is adopted by the family of another) adoptees. Read the rest of this entry »


Teacher Accused of Freaking Out 3rd Graders by Showing ‘Devil Doll’ Video Resigns

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 23:  Antique porcelain doll heads are seen in the New York Doll Hospital Hospital October 23, 2003 in New York City. The hospital opened in 1900 and repairs thousands of dolls and teddy bears each year. "Nobody dies in this hospital" says third-generation owner Irving Chaise.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(CBS Houston) – A New Home teacher who showed her third gradpanic-bettye class a video about a “devil doll” has resigned, according to KCBD.

Heather Anderson gave her resignation after a series of parental complaints and school board meetings about her showing of the six-minute video “Annabelle the Devil Doll” to her third grade students in March.

The video portrayed a murderous doll possessed by a demon.

Parents argued that students were having trouble sleeping and one parent even said their child had to see a counselor following the viewing.

Those in support of Anderson believe that the video was shown on accident as it played automatically after the first video ended; however, Superintendent of New Home ISD Leland Zant said in a statement that the video was shown to two different classes taught by Anderson. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Christian Printer Who Was Punished By the Government for Refusing to Print Gay Pride T-Shirts Just Scored a Major Victory

Hands-On

 reports: A Christian printer who was previously found guilty of discrimination for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride parade won big on Monday after a court ruled that he can decline to print messages that run in opposition to his religious views.

“In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions. America should not be a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote groups like theWestboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.”

— Adamson‘s co-counsel Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC

The Fayette County Circuit Court’s ruling overturned a previous decision by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, finding that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, a printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, was within his rights when he declined to make shirts for the Lexington Pride Parade, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.

“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.” 

— Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom

The court found that Adamson did not violate the law in citing his religious convictions as the reason for the refusal, and that his decision was based on his personal freedom not to be forced or coerced to print messages that contradict his views.

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“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way,” Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.

He added, “In short, [Hands On Originals’] declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of [Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington] and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members.”

As TheBlaze previously reported, Adamson’s case began when he refused service to the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington and the organization subsequently filed a complaint against Hands on Originals in March 2012, alleging that he had discriminated based on sexual orientation.

But Adamson and his attorneys consistently argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views presented on the T-shirts — which advertised a gay pride festival — violated his religious beliefs; these arguments were initially dismissed. Read the rest of this entry »


Salon Champions Violent Hatred: Memories Pizza ‘Getting Exactly What It Deserved’

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Liberal clickbait factory Salon.com wants to let you know that Memories Pizza, the pizzeria supportive of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act that was forced to close after constant abuse and death threats, got “exactly what it deserved.”

[Also see – Owners Of Indiana Pizzeria Opposed To Gay Marriage Receive Death Threats]

In a now-deleted tweet, Salon’s Twitter account gloated over the closure of “anti-LGBT” pizza shop:

Pizza

The link in the body of the tweet goes to a very brief Salon article which reports on Memories Pizza’s closure, but omits any mention of the death threats:

The owners of a small-town pizza shop who showed support for Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act have announced that they will be closing indefinitely, after facing mounting protests outside the physical establishment and online. Memories Pizza owner Kevin O’Connor told Fox News on Wednesday that due to an inability to differentiate between real and fake orders, he and his family would be taking a break. Read the rest of this entry »


With Extra Cheese: Indiana Pizzeria Owners Go Underground as Donations Near $1 Million

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The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.

The Associated Press reported Crystal O’Connor and her family have taken refuge in an undisclosed location after saying earlier this week that Memories Pizza would not cater gay weddings.
Gofundme account launched for the Walkerton, Ind., restaurant has brought in more than $750,000. The flood of support comes as the O’Connors vow to reopen Memories despite backlash over their business practices.
At issue is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday signed a fix he feels corrects the perception that it lets businesses discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The law’s latest version now prohibits business discrimination against protected groups like the gay community. It also forbids using the law as a legal defense in situations where such discrimination may have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »


Arsonists For Tolerance: Indiana Coach Suspended After Threatening to Burn Down Christian-Owned Pizzeria

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Hysterical Media Whipping Up the Next Ferguson? 

The head coach of an Indiana high school girl’s golf team has been suspended after apparently threatening to burn down a Christian-owned pizzeria.

Jess Dooley, a coach at Concord High School of Elkhart, Indiana allegedly struck out at the owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, IN who made news on Tuesday by saying that she would not cater a wedding if a gay couple tried to hire her for the job, after the state passed its own Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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“We are a Christian establishment,” pizza shop owner told the media.

On the heels of the news from the pizza shop, coach Dooley allegedly took to Twitter to say, “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me? Agree with #FreedomofReligion bill? “That’s a lifestyle they CHOOSE” Ignorant.” Read the rest of this entry »


Tim Cook Needs to Do Some Homework

620x349“Apple’s Gay CEO Tim Cook Wants to Boycott Indiana for Its Allegedly Anti-Gay RFRA, But Will Gladly Sell You an iPhone At Its Boutique in Riyadh, Where They’ll Stone You to Death For Being Gay.”

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Ponnuru

 writes: Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, is spreading misinformation about a new religious-freedom law in Indiana. That law and similar ones, he writes in the Washington Post, “say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.” He goes on to claim that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

“What these religious-freedom laws say is that government can require people to violate their religious beliefs only when it is pursuing a compelling interest, and must do so in the least intrusive manner possible. Thus the Supreme Court recently ruled under a federal religious-freedom law that a Muslim prisoner doesn’t have to shave his beard.”

Discrimination against gay customers or employees is what opponents of the law are especially concerned about. But that’s a strange argument to make in the context of Indiana, which lacks any state nondiscrimination law on sexual orientation for people to resist. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal almost everywhere in the state, and was before this religious-freedom law passed.

“Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the ‘wave of legislation’ that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years…”

[Read the full text here, at bloombergview.com]

Cook may not be aware of this point or others that cut against his argument because reporting on this controversy has been abysmal. Cook may also be unaware that the “wave of legislation” that he fears has largely already happened. A very similar religious-freedom law has been on the federal books for 22 years, and that law itself codified a Supreme Court doctrine that had been in place for most of the previous few decades. Nineteen states besides Indiana have similar laws. Read the rest of this entry »


Religious Freedom Laws: True & False

Sarah TorreTorre_Sarah_TDS_lo1 writes: The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

RFRAFacts

….By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection….(read more)

The Daily Signal


The Left Doesn’t Believe in Dr. King’s Colorblind Dream

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Jennifer Gratz  writes:  Martin Luther King is an American icon whose legacy has become part of the American ethos – the guiding beliefs that characterize our national identity.

Just as Thomas Jefferson is best known for authoring the Declaration of Independence, King’s contribution to this ethos is inseparable from his “I Have A Dream” speech, which articulated a future to which America continues to aspire. King’s portrait of a nation where individuals are judged on their actions and character without regard to their race remains the ideal for the vast majority of Americans.

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day, we honor his condemnation of racism, we commemorate his stand against government-sponsored discrimination, and we look forward to a day when colorblind society is a reality.

Read the rest of this entry »


J’ACCUSE! French Restaurants Seating Customers Based on Good Looks? Sacré Bleu!

, from Paris, reports: Two trendy Parisian restaurants have been accused of seating guests according to how good-looking they are, to raise the tone of the establishments.

   “not showing my breasts enough”

      (reason one hostess was scolded)

Former hostesses have claimed that Thierry and Gilbert Costes — brothers whose group owns hotels, cinemas, restaurants and cafes in the French capital — have introduced a highly discriminatory selection procedure for guests of Le Georges, in the Pompidou Centre, and Café Marly, overlooking the Louvre.

“The good-looking ones are led to the good places, where they can be easily seen,” they told Le Canard Enchaîné, an investigative and satirical weekly. “As for the non good-looking ones, it is imperative that they be dispatched to the corners of the room.” Read the rest of this entry »