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U.S. Supreme Court declines to rule whether social media feeds are free speech | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Kenneth Schrupp | – 2024-07-01 15:31:00

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a ruling but unanimously vacated the judgments of and remanded a set of cases regarding social media moderation and algorithms back to federal appellate courts. The court also ordered lower courts to more closely examine the laws' application beyond curated feeds and suggested they explore how the laws could still apply to other features, such as direct messaging.

Florida and Texas both passed laws limiting social media content moderation and algorithmic sorting — which the court says was in response to a feeling “feeds [were] skewed against politically conservative voices” — and requiring notification detailing exactly why any posts are in violation of content moderation rules. District courts, following suits by trade association NetChoice, issued injunctions against both, with the Eleventh Circuit Court upholding the injunction against Florida's law, and the Fifth Circuit Court — which ruled social media companies are “common carriers” like mobile phone service providers that can't discriminate — reversing the injunction against Texas' law.

By remanding and vacating both the appellate courts' decisions, the Supreme Court did not definitely rule on the matter, but suggested, especially with regard to the Fifth Circuit, how the lower courts should move forward this time around. 

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“This Court has many times held, in many contexts, that it is no job for government to decide what counts as the right balance of private expression—to “un-bias” what it thinks biased, rather than to leave such judgments to speakers and their audiences. That principle works for social-media platforms as it does for others,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan in the court's opinion. “Contrary to what the Fifth Circuit thought, the current record indicates that the Texas law does regulate speech.” 

The court then went on to say the Fifth and Eleventh Circuit Courts should more broadly consider First Amendment implications of Florida and Texas rules in social media beyond the content feeds, such as in direct messaging or determining the order in which online reviews are shown to consumers. 

“Curating a feed and transmitting direct messages, one might think, involve different levels of editorial choice, so that the one creates an expressive product and the other does not,” wrote Kagan. “If so, regulation of those diverse activities could well fall on different sides of the constitutional line.” 

This means lower courts could expand consumers' speech protections to less-curated products such as direct messages, but free speech legal experts say it's unlikely.

“Having attended the oral argument in the NetChoice cases, I think the court was more really just trying to explore how regulations would apply to different functions,” said Robert Corn-Revere, chief counsel at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. “Parsing out direct messages where the platform doesn't have any involvement in the message from others could be used as part of that argument, but I don't think you can reach that conclusion just from that one off-hand remark from Kagan.”

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The cases now go back to the Fifth and Eleventh District Courts for new rulings under the Supreme Court's instructions.

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The Center Square

Texas Congressional candidates have different visions for economy | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Christopher Gerlacher | contributor – 2024-07-20 09:05:00

(The Center Square) – The economy is a complicated issue with many moving parts. Consequently, Texas' 15th Congressional District candidates have different views about how to manage it.

Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, offers four bullets on her campaign website regarding her plans for the economy:

  • Cut wasteful Washington spending that is driving inflation
  • Lower taxes on working families and small businesses
  • Making energy affordable and “Made in the USA”
  • Hold Communist China accountable for undermining American workers

The De La Cruz campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Economists have found that stimulus payments under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden caused inflationary pressures. The large increase in inflation from 1.4% in January 2021, when Biden first took office, to 9.1% in June 2022 was caused increased government spending and printing of money, federal government bowrrowing, oil and gas disruption following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and lingering supply chain issues following COVID's disruptions.

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Democratic challenger Michelle Vallejo supports addressing supply chain issues by creating new manufacturing jobs in the United States. Her campaign website states:

“In addition, Michelle knows we need to strengthen our supply chain by bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. We can lower costs and put Americans to work by keeping those jobs here instead of in other countries. Wages must also keep up with inflation. Therefore, Michelle supports raising the minimum wage and tying it to inflation so Americans' incomes aren't slashed by inflation.”

Vallejo's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

De La Cruz' position on China is tied to her position on synthetic drug smuggling across the U.S./Mexico border.

The precursors of fentanyl are produced in China and shipped to Mexican ports, where Mexican cartels manufacture fake prescription pills to look like real ones and lace them and other drugs with fentanyl, The Center Square has reported. Mexican cartels, their operatives and gang affiliates then smuggle the illicit drugs across the US-Mexico border, fueling the opioid crisis.

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In a February 2023 hearing, De La Cruz questioned Treasury Department officials about the ties between Mexican drug cartels and Chinese money laundering. A June 2024 indictment accused the Sinola Cartel in Mexico and Chinese money launderers of exchanging over $50 million in drug proceeds.

Additionally, the Biden administration raised tariffs on Chinese goods in response to unfair trade practices in May 2024. The unfair practices included China's theft of American companies' intellectual property and “flooding the global markets with artificially low-priced exports,” according to the White House.

Vallejo is focused on unfair trade agreements that she says resulted in jobs moving from her South Texas district to Mexico, as she states on her campaign website:

“Unfair trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) shifted good paying, union jobs south of the border for sweatshop wages, including South Texas and the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone. We will fight for trade deals that protect workers, the environment, and human rights while ensuring bad actors are held accountable when violating labor and environmental laws.”

Both candidates have supported lowering taxes on small businesses. De La Cruz made it one of the bullets on her campaign site. In an interview with KRGV, Vallejo said she supported lowering taxes on small business and property owners. To make up the shortfall, she would support tax increases on the wealthiest 1% of earners in the United States. Her campaign website states:

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“Michelle strongly opposes Republican budget cuts to our schools, veterans' care and Medicare and Social Security, and believes that we shouldn't reduce the deficit on the backs of working families when the most privileged in our society aren't pulling their weight.”

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The Center Square

Texas OLS surpasses 516,000 apprehensions of illegal border crossers | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-19 15:23:00

(The Center Square ) – Texas' border security mission, Operation Lone Star, has surpassed more than 516,000 apprehensions of illegal border crossers since it began in early 2021.

As of Friday, OLS officers have apprehended more than 516,300 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 45,300 criminal arrests, with more than 39,400 felony charges reported.

Texas law enforcement officers statewide have also seized more than 505 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill the entire populations of the United States and Mexico combined.

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“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps created by the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “Every individual who is apprehended or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Joe Biden's open border policies.”

On Wednesday night, Abbott urged Americans to secure the border by voting for former President Donald Trump in November. Abbott spoke about Texas' border security efforts at the Republican National Convention, saying, “The president's most sacred duty is to protect our country,” which President Trump did, he said and “Joe Biden deserted his duty.”

The greatest number of illegal border crossers have entered the U.S. while Biden's been in office of over 12 million, including two million who evaded capture, known as gotaways, The Center Square first reported.

Under Biden, the number of people who have been apprehended illegally entering the U.S. total more than the populations of 44 individual states and 155 countries.

Last month, more than 205,000 illegally entered the U.S., The Center Square reported, bringing the total number to more than 2.4 million in fiscal 2024 through June, with apprehensions at the northern border setting another record.

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“Biden has welcomed into our country rapists, murderers, even terrorists and the price we have paid has been deadly,” Abbott said. “Among the many victims was 12-year-old Jocelyn from Houston, raped and murdered” by two Venezuelans released into the country through a parole program created by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

When the president and “‘border czar” Vice President Kamala Harris “refused to come to Texas to see the border crisis they created, I took the border to them,” Abbott said, by busing illegal border crossers to Washington, D.C. and sanctuary cities nationwide. “Those buses will continue to roll” until the border is secure, he said.

So far, Texas has bused more than 120,000 foreign nationals north who were unlawfully released into Texas by the Biden administration, he argues. Texas has sent the most to New York City, of nearly 46,000, followed by nearly 37,000 to Chicago, more than 19,200 to Denver, more than 12,500 to Washington, D.C., more than 3,400 to Philadelphia, and more than 1,500 to Los Angeles, according to the latest updated data released on Friday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has also added two fugitives to “Texas' 10 Most Wanted Criminal Illegal Immigrant List,” two Mexican nationals in the country illegally.

All of the men on the list are Hispanic men wanted for violent crimes. Not soon after the list was announced last month, two repeat offenders were apprehended, The Center Square reported.

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The latest two added to the list include 25-year-old Mexican Fabian Martinez Toribio, who has ties to Travis County, in Austin and Pflugerville, DPS said. In April 2018, he was arrested and convicted of Entry Without Inspection and subsequently removed from the U.S. He illegally entered the U.S. again and by October 2023, was arrested again, this time by Manor police officers for Resisting Arrest/Search and possession of a controlled substance. He subsequently bonded out of jail. On Jan. 30, 2024, the Austin Police Department issued a warrant for his arrest for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. On Feb. 27, 2024, a warrant was issued out of Travis County for his arrest for possession of a controlled substance.

The other is 32-year-old Mexican Octavio Cruz Hernandez with ties to Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties, including the cities of Austin, Kyle, Dripping Springs and Cedar Creek, according to DPS. In September 2019, he was convicted in Travis County of driving while intoxicated with child under 15 years of age. Within one month, he was removed from the U.S. At some point, he illegally reentered the U.S., and was arrested in July 2022, this time by Kyle police officers. He was next charged, tried and convicted of driving while intoxicated. On April 8, 2024, a warrant was issued for his arrest out of Bastrop County for sex abuse of a child continuous: victim under 14.

“Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-8477 or submit a tip here,” Abbott said. “Working together, we'll put these dangerous criminals behind bars.”







TCS operation lone star border crisis Texas top 10 most wanted list



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The Center Square

Abbott urges Americans to secure the border by returning Trump to White House | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-17 22:10:00

(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday night urged Americans to secure the border by returning former President Donald Trump to the White House as president.

“As the governor of the largest border state,” Abbott said, “America needs a president who will secure our border. America needs Donald J. Trump.”

“The president's most sacred duty is to protect our country,” which President Trump did, he said. Under Trump, “we had the lowest illegal border crossings in about four decades.

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“By contrast, Joe Biden deserted his duty. On his first day in office, he gutted President Trump's policies. The result has been catastrophic.”

The greatest number of illegal border crossers have entered the U.S. while Biden's been in office of over 12 million, including two million who evaded capture, known as gotaways, The Center Square first reported.

Under Biden, the number of people who have been apprehended illegally entering the U.S. total more than the populations of 44 individual states and 155 countries.

Last month, more than 205,000 illegally entered the U.S., The Center Square reported, bringing the total number to more than 2.4 million in fiscal 2024 through June, with apprehensions at the northern border setting another record.

“Biden has welcomed into our country rapists, murderers, even terrorists and the price we have paid has been deadly,” Abbott said. “Among the many victims was 12-year-old Jocelyn from Houston, raped and murdered” by two Venezuelans released into the country through a parole program created by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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Mayorkas' parole programs have been linked to violent crimes committed nationwide against Americans by criminals released into the country, The Center Square reported.

On Tuesday night, a Maryland resident shared how his sister was raped and strangled to death by a Salvadoran in the country illegally. Maryland resident Michael Morin said his sister, Rachel's, death “was preventable. The monster arrested for killing Rachel entered the U.S. unlawfully after killing a woman in El Salvador. Joe Biden and his designated ‘border czar' Kamala Harris opened our borders to him and others like him, empowering them to victimize the innocent. Yet to this day, we have not heard from Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. They never apologized.

“When Rachel was killed, President Trump called my family to offer his condolences. He wanted to meet with us. He cared. That is leadership. And we need real leadership back in the White House.”

“To make matters even worse, Biden is fighting tooth and nail to stop Texas and other Republican states from defending our border,” Abbott said. Texas has sued the Biden administration over 75 times, with dozens of lawsuits over border security.”

Abbott first deployed Texas National Guard troops to the border in 2021 and launched Operation Lone Star, Texas' border security mission, to do what the president refused to do, he's argued. To fund it, the Texas legislature has allocated nearly $12 billion, more than multiple state fiscal year budgets and more than what the Trump administration allocated to federal border security efforts in Texas, The Center Square first reported.

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From March 2021 through the end of June this year, OLS officers have apprehended nearly 515,000 illegal border crossers and made more than 44,600 criminal arrests, with more than 38,900 felony charges reported. They've also seized more than 504 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill everyone in the U.S. and Mexico combined.

After Texas constructed hundreds of miles of razor wire to stop illegal crossings, the president ordered that the wires be cut and removed and sued Texas to stop building them. In response, Abbott ordered the National Guard to build triple the amount of razor wire barriers. A lawsuit over the razor wire barriers, and other border lawsuits, are pending in federal court.

When the president “took 50 acres of Texas border property to illegally process” up to 5,000 illegal foreign nationals a day to release them into the U.S., Abbott directed the Texas National Guard “to take back our land and wire it shut,” reducing the number of illegal border crossing to an average of one a day, he said.

When the president and “‘border czar” Harris “refused to come to Texas to see the border crisis they created, I took the border to them,” Abbott said, by busing illegal border crossers to Washington, D.C. and sanctuary cities nationwide. “Those buses will continue to roll” until the border is secure, he said.

So far, Texas has bused nearly 120,000 illegal foreign nationals to six cities, according to the latest data from the governor's office.

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“I see hope on the horizon,” Abbott said, “because on November 5, Joe Biden will be fired and Donald Trump will once again become the president of the United States of America.” Trump will restore order at the border and “rid our streets of crime and chaos.”

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