Archive for Freedomworks

KTBS News ‘On Your Side’ Exclusive on Rev CL Bryant, Radio Show & Ferguson MO

FreedomWorks Senior Fellow Rev. C.L. Bryant’s great work in conservative activism was featured on KTBS News On Your Side in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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"What’s the Big Deal? It’s just Metadata."

The Obama administration has continuously defended the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata on Americans. President Obama says that it’s not that big of a deal. “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he says. The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper equates it to simply reading the Dewey Decimal System on the cover of a library book.

“The call-records program is not surveillance,” writes Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration.”

So, what’s the big fuss?

At first, the collection of telephone metadata may not sound that invasive. But it’s actually shocking how much personal information that it can reveal about a person.

Metadata can potentially reveal:

  • Medical conditions
  • Financial and legal connections
  • Whether you have a gun
  • Religious affiliation
  • Romantic relationships
  • Your close friends
  • Political affiliation
  • Any drug or alcohol addictions
  • And more personal information

There’s a lot you can infer about someone by only looking at phone numbers of calls placed, the time, and the length.

In a study published by Sanford University, Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler used a smartphone app to collect metadata from 546 volunteers. They wanted to see how much personal information they could find out about people making the calls by only analyzing metadata. Before they conducted the study, they didn’t anticipate finding much.

“We were wrong,” the authors write. “We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more, using solely phone metadata.”

In total, the 546 volunteers contacted 33,688 unique phone numbers during the time of the study. Using public directories, the researchers were able to identify the person on the other end of the line in 18 percent of the calls.

They found out that 57 percent of participants made at least one medical call, 40 percent made a financial services call, 30 percent called a pharmacy, 10 percent called legal services, 8 percent called a religious organization, 7 percent called a firearms seller, and 4 percent called a political officer holder or campaign.

“The degree of sensitivity among contacts took us aback,” Mayer writes. “Participants had calls with Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, NARAL Pro-Choice, labor unions, divorce lawyers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, a Canadian import pharmacy, strip clubs, and much more. This was not a hypothetical parade of horribles. These were simple inferences, about real phone users, that could trivially be made on a large scale.”

Here are some specific examples from the study:

Participant A communicated with multiple local neurology groups, a specialty pharmacy, a rare condition management service, and a hotline for a pharmaceutical used solely to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis.

Participant B spoke at length with cardiologists at a major medical center, talked briefly with a medical laboratory, received calls from a pharmacy, and placed short calls to a home reporting hotline for a medical device used to monitor cardiac arrhythmia.

Participant C made a number of calls to a firearm store that specializes in the AR semiautomatic rifle platform. They also spoke at length with customer service for a firearm manufacturer that produces an AR line.

In a span of three weeks, Participant D contacted a home improvement store, locksmiths, a hydroponics dealer, and a head shop.

Participant E had a long, early morning call with her sister. Two days later, she placed a series of calls to the local Planned Parenthood location. She placed brief additional calls two weeks later, and made a final call a month after.

Clearly, the government collecting telephone metadata is a big deal. It’s possible to deduce a lot of sensitive information about someone from their phone calls even without listening to the content of the communication. Frankly, it’s none of the government’s business.

That’s why FreedomWorks is supporting the USA Freedom Act to put an end to the bulk collection of metadata. Take action below!

Tell Your Senators to Support the USA Freedom Act

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FreedomWorks Activists at NC Fracking Hearing

My name is Mary Allison Page and I live in Gibsonville, North Carolina. This year, I will be a rising sophomore at Western Alamance High School. On Wednesday morning, I addressed the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission to express my support for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. I attended the hearing with FreedomWorks activists from all across North Carolina.

The hearing was held to allow citizens the opportunity to express their opinions about the rules that the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission has proposed. These rules would be the guidelines for how fracking will work in our state. FreedomWorks activists spoke in favor of fracking as a whole and in support of the rules as they have been proposed.

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Louisiana Judge's Common Core Ruling Serves as Judicial Activism

Providing an excellent example of baseless judicial activism is Judge Todd Hernandez from the 19th Judicial District Court in Louisiana. In a decision starved of legal grounding and reasoning, Judge Hernandez prohibited Gov. Bobby Jindal from halting the implementation of the Common Core educational standards with executive orders BJ 2014-6 and BJ 2014-7 and the Office of Contractual Review’s retraction of the contract with DRC (Data Recognition Corporation) to assist with the introduction of Common Core.

In his ruling, Hernandez details many reasons as to why such actions may inconvenience the state’s attempt for uniform education standards, but not once in his five page opinion does he invoke a legal or Constitutional objection to the enforcement of Louisiana’s efforts to stop Common Core.

As a basis for his decision, Hernandez relies on early developments of Common Core standards in Louisiana. He notes that Jindal supported Common Core implementation and worked with the Board of Education to improve and reform education by adopting Common Core and PARCC testing. Because Jindal changed his mind, he rules “irreparable harm” has been caused to those who have been prepping for Common Core and PARCC, and therefore, Jindal’s actions must be stopped.

Never mind the faltering support for Common Core, even among teachers unions. And never mind the truism that circumstances change over time, and people adjust their opinions with a more accurate understanding of reality. Apparently, Hernandez feels that once you decide something, you cannot go back on it even if doing so is legally permissible:

“While the judicial branch should rarely, if ever, enjoin the executive branch of government claiming to be acting within its statutory authority, the court does in fact have the authority and should exercise such authority to enjoin the executive branch when the evidence submitted to the court supports the finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the conduct sought to be enjoined causes irreparable harm”

Indeed, as the ruling indicates, Gov. Jindal’s executive order has caused “irreparable harm” to those who have invested time and money to prepare for Common Core initiatives. As a result, testing standards remain uncertain for this school year, leading to a “state of chaos” and the “possibility of teachers, schools and students suffering.”

“With each passing day,” Hernandez pens, “teachers and parents lose time preparing students for high stakes testing, and there is a lot riding on the student’s successful performance.” It is clear that Hernandez’ ruling primarily operates from policy preference for what Common Core brings to the table rather than any real legal objection.

Perhaps high stakes testing is where the problem lies. Instead of focusing students only on standardized tests, perhaps local teachers should be autonomous and encouraged to develop each student’s unique creativity, skill and thirst for knowledge rather than restricted inside the parameters of national benchmarks. We saw the failure of centrally sanctioned education reform with No Child Left Behind, and we are beginning to see it again with Common Core. Maybe Hernandez should consider the real and emerging perception that the threat of irreparable harm to public education is the Common Core standards themselves.

Gov. Jindal is certainly pondering those questions, which is what led to this case in the first place. “We’re very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from parents and educators,” said Jindal. “Common Core has not been fully implemented yet in Louisiana, and we need to start the process over. It was rushed in the beginning and done without public input.” He continued: “We can certainly have high standards without giving up control of Louisiana’s education system to the federal government. If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice. But education is a primary responsibility of states, and we will not cede this responsibility to the federal government.”

Hernandez himself even admits the Office of Contractual Review was not acting out of line by putting the contract with DRC under review: “While the Office of Contractual Review may have the statutory authority to review, approve and audit state contracts, the collective action of the defendants have caused considerable harm to the public education system in Louisiana.” In other words, while the OCR’s action is entirely legitimate, it reverses all the hard work that has been done to prepare for Common Core implementation, which is wrong and can’t happen because I say so. With this line of logic, the start of any government initiative means it should never be rescinded, no matter how detrimental that action may turn out to be.

While the fallibility of common core remains up for debate, Judge Hernandez took matters into his own hands with his ruling on this particular issue. His legislating from the bench on education reform is void of any legal foundation and shows judicial activism at its worst.

Sign the Petition to Stop Common Core

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How North Carolina Pushed Back On Common Core

I’m a mom. I also blog. I’m very much in tune with how my children operate and am very plugged into their lives. I have two children, my oldest is school aged and my fight against Common Core began with them in Kindergarten. This was my first time in the public school round-up since I had been in the system as a student. Both my child and I were excited for this next chapter of his life. I joined the PTA, I got involved in volunteering and thought things were going well. I thought wrong.

About a month or two in, I noticed papers coming home stamped with COMMON CORE on them. An array of letters and numbers often followed that stamp. I was curious. What was Common Core and why was it asking my child to write a four sentence opinion piece in Kindergarten? Being a blogger, I fired up the computer and got to searching. It troubled me that I had not heard of Common Core before now being that I blogged daily and was dialed in to local and national news.

What I found disturbed me. A flashy website and sets of standards that read like stereo instructions. No curriculum behind them, just line items. I pulled up the Kindergarten ones and found they weren’t really matching up with the skill sets or developmental stages kids of that age range should be expected to do or know. The First grade standards were not much better. In fact, most of the elementary ones appeared to be pushing skill sets down several grades below where they should be.

Then I found the data collecting, the testing consortiums and the endless about of corporate money behind the standards. It was from there that I tripped down the Common Core rabbit hole and supporters have been yelling “Off with her head!” at me ever since. It frustrated me that for as long as I can remember, education officials were encouraging and even chiding parents to be more involved. Then, when we got involved suddenly we were being told to shut up and sit down. It worked on some parents, but not me as evidenced in my taking part in Glenn Beck’s Common Core Call To Action, We Will Not Conform.

My child is bright and that’s not just me bragging. I won’t go into details but the impact Common Core has had on my child was significant. Parents out there might know what I mean by impact, but for those who don’t I am referring to increased sensitivity, lack of enthusiasm for reading (which he used to love to do) and in general, a desire not to go to school. It was like watching the wind go out of his sails in slow motion and storm clouds moving in. From where I sit, Common Core is a brutal beat down of our youngest learners.

At any rate, that’s my story in a nutshell. There are dozens upon dozens of other citizens out there who stood shoulder to shoulder with me in this fight. I can’t tell you how instrumental networking with people from every walk of life has been to this fight. The legislators we worked with became our champions and they continue to fight. It’s a fight that sucked two years of my life away that I will never get back, but it has been worth every moment. My children are worth every moment. So are yours.

To understand how North Carolina got to the point of breaking away from Common Core via a bill in our legislature, it is important to look at the timeline of how North Carolina became ensnared in Common Core to begin with.

January 14, 2010
NCDPI complete the Race To The Top Application – Inserts Common Core as a brand name into it. Dr. Atkinson and Former Governor Perdue sign it.

June 2, 2010
NCDPI’s Atkinson and Governor Perdue sign off on SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) MOU, locking our testing into Common Core.

June 3rd, 2010
NC Board of Education adopts Common Core at the behest of Dr. Atkinson.

June 10, 2010
Common Core is released by the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers), NGA (National Governors Association) and Achieve, Inc.

March 2011
NCGA brings Common Core in via S724, SL2012-77. It is inserted in Edition 3 of the bill and makes it through to ratification. Common Core. as a brand name, is placed in our state’s statutes.
Fall 2012
Common Core implemented in North Carolina Schools (K-12).

April 11, 2013
NCGA cuts the funding on the SBAC tests with HB 755.

May 15, 2013
NCGA begins to question Common Core and SBAC with HB 718.

October 19, 2013
A Common Core Legislative Research Committee is authorized.

Fall 2013
Dr. Atkinson is made President Elect of the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers).

May 2014 – Present
Common Core LRC produces a report which is critical of Common Core and suggests replacement. One original draft of a replacement bill is entered into the report, authored by Senator Tillman. This initial bill draft becomes SB 812. The House also creates a bill, HB 1061. The language in 1061 is stronger and a tug of war ensues. In the end, SB 812′s language wins out. The conference version of 812 passes both houses after exiting a Conference Committee and is sent to Governor McCrory, who signs it on July 22nd, 2014.


I announced this signing of SB 812, live, on We Will Not Conform. I am told by fellow fighters that thunderous applause erupted in the theaters where they were watching when I announced Governor McCrory signed the bill. I’m glad they had that moment of triumph but the fight is far from over.

The Standards Commission needs to be appointed. The chance of a rebrand is strong. One can be sure that Dr. Atkinson and the Chamber of Commerce are using all their pull to make sure they have as many of their Common Core supporters appointed as possible.

This is why I am calling on citizens across this state to pay close attention to every move this Commission makes – including who is appointed. If we don’t, a rebrand is sure to be the result.

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FreedomWorks, Legislators, and Local Activists to Meet for Strategy Session to Defeat Common Core in West Virginia

WHAT: School board members, legislators, and community members will meet to discuss West Virginia’s Common Core state standards, which have been re-branded as “WV Next Generation Standards.”

FreedomWorks will join West Virginians Against Common Core and the Hampshire County Tea Party to host a Town Hall Forum on Common Core. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an expert on educational standards and former member of the Common Core Validation Committee, will present information to the community and answer questions.

WHEN: Sunday, August 24, from 6–8:00 pm ET.

WHERE: Courtyard Marriott, 30 Shaner Drive, Bridgeport, WV 26330.

WHY: FreedomWorks activists are continuing the fight to stop Common Core in every state and to return education control to local communities and families. This event will bring together community leaders, educators, and concerned citizens across West Virginia to discuss the harms of a federal education takeover, and to discuss best practices to defeat the program.

ABOUT: FreedomWorks is a grassroots service center to a community of over 6.6 million activists who believe in individual liberty and constitutionally-limited government. For more information, please visit www.FreedomWorks.org or contact Jackie Bodnar at JBodnar@FreedomWorks.org.

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FreedomWorks Slams Louisiana Common Core Decision as Judicial Activism

Washington, DC- Following news that a Louisiana District judge overruled Governor Jindal’s attempt to overturn Common Core for reasons of “irreparable harm” to those who have been preparing for the changes, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe released the following statement:

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe:

“This ruling makes about as much sense as a Common Core math problem. The judge established no legal basis to rule that Governor Jindal doesn’t have the authority to overturn Common Core. Instead, he chose to save a failed program because he liked the policy. It’s judicial activism at the expense of our kids, and it’s appalling.”

FreedomWorks is a grassroots service center to a community of over 6.6 million activists who believe in individual liberty and constitutionally-limited government. For more information, please visit www.FreedomWorks.org or contact Jackie Bodnar at JBodnar@FreedomWorks.org.

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Mississippi Activists Denied Access to Senator's Office

Today, we went to Senator Thad Cochran’s office here in Jackson, Mississippi to deliver letters from grassroots activists. As his constituents, we wanted to make it clear that we DO NOT support the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank. The government wastes millions of dollars in crony capitalism and flying executives around the world. A seemingly simple statement from voters to their representative. But, to our surprise, Sen. Cochran’s staff refused us access to our very own Senator’s office to deliver these letters. Check out the photo gallery of our protest.

Mike Bostic is theVolunteer State Coordinator for FreedomWorks in Mississippi.

Let the Ex-Im Bank Expire

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Tell Your Senators: Support the FAIR Act and Uphold the 5th Amendment

As one of our more than 6.6 million FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to contact your senators today and ask them to support Senator Rand Paul’s Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, S. 2644 and to co-sponsor the bill if they have not already done so.

State and federal law enforcement agencies have been jointly complicit in a procedure known as civil asset forfeiture, in which the agencies confiscate the property of individuals suspected (but not necessarily convicted) of a crime. The property is then sold off, and the proceeds split between the federal and state governments. Worse, states often invoke federal law in these cases, in order to bypass state laws and regulations that protect confiscated property.

The FAIR Act addresses this egregious abuse of property rights and due process by requiring that the government produce clear and compelling evidence before assets may be considered “forfeited”. It also requires states to only follow their own laws regarding forfeiture, and reduces the incentive for the federal government to get involved with asset forfeiture by assigning proceeds from forfeited goods to the General Fund instead of the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund.

Altogether, the FAIR Act is a simple yet effective measure that would vastly rein in a widespread abuse of citizens’ Fifth Amendment rights. I hope that you will contact your senators and ask them to join Senator Paul and co-sponsor the FAIR Act and to support efforts to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.

Sincerely,

Matt Kibbe

President and CEO,

FreedomWorks

Call your Senators

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The Ex-Im Bank Wastes Millions on Travel

Ex-Im executives are jetting around the world on your dime.

As Americans become increasingly aware of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and what it does, calls for its dissolution have increased. The public tolerance for corporate cronyism is at an all-time low, and the Ex-Im Bank’s primary mandate – providing taxpayer loans to companies that are too risky to be secured on the open market – runs directly counter to our instincts for what is right and fair.

Defenders of the Bank argue that it creates jobs by helping out companies. That assumes that the Bank’s budget wouldn’t be put to better use in the hands of taxpayers, who have to worry about little things like risk and solvency when managing their personal investments. These are things commonly ignored by a government gambling with other people’s money.

Adding to the indignation of blatant government favoritism for well-connected firms is the recent report from the Hill that the Ex-Im bank has exceeded its travel budget by $3 million over the last three years.

The obvious follow-up question is: Why are government banking executives spending so much on travel? Surely, it must be in service of the much ballyhooed job creation, or to lend support to those allegedly beleaguered companies who just can’t survive without the government’s help, right?

Wrong.

It turns out, the Ex-Im Bank has been overspending on travel primarily for the purposes of PR.

It seems that the bankers are getting nervous, as the uselessness of their jobs, largely ignored by the public since the Bank’s inception in 1934, has become common knowledge. This year, the Bank faces a very real possibility of not being reauthorized and seeing its funding dry up. The bureaucrats in charge therefore took it upon themselves to spend millions in an effort to convince people that what they do is actually valuable and worth paying for.

Like the fabled Ouroboros eating its own tail, the Bank is engaging is a perverse cycle of spending taxpayer money in order to continue to spend taxpayer money. On and on it goes while bureaucrats and executives at favored companies get rich at the expense of the rest of us. It would be almost funny if it weren’t so sickening.

If Congress does nothing, the Ex-Im Bank will expire on October 1st. Just like in most legislative issues, the best thing our senators can do is sit on their hands or stay home. But there are powerful interests that are working hard to get the Ex-Im Bank reauthorized. We need to make sure they don’t succeed.

Please contact your senators and ask them to stop giving your money to private companies. It’s time to let the Ex-Im Bank expire for good.

Let the Ex-Im Bank Expire

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