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Exclusive: Rep. Devin Nunes Loses Right of Publicity Claim Against @DevinBull (?)

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In Nunes v. Meredith, decided today by Judge Jennifer Thurston (E.D. Cal.), Congressman Devin Nunes sued Ben Paul Meredith for common law misappropriation and stalking, based on “Meredith’s purported pattern of public, negative commentary about Nunes and his political career.” The facts:

Nunes has received criticism from many individuals for his political positions and actions taken pursuant to his role in national politics. He has also filed a myriad of lawsuits across the country in attempts to stop this criticism. His lawsuit against Meredith seeks similar relief and makes broad allegations that Meredith used multiple Twitter accounts to harass and stalk Nunes. Nunes did not submit copies of these posts, nor did he identify the accounts, which he contends Meredith manages as part of his alleged scheme to stalk and harass Nunes.

According to Nunes, Meredith is a sophisticated artificial intelligence data scientist who co-founded a technology company, which creates and delivers artificial intelligence solutions. Nunes further contends that Meredith used this “extensive experience” to launch a campaign of harassment on Twitter, designed “to embarrass Plaintiff, to make Plaintiff’s life miserable, and to instill fear in Plaintiff and others.” Specifically, Nunes makes the following allegations regarding Meredith’s conduct:

  • Operates multiple “anonymous Twitter accounts in a scheme to follow, alarm and harass” Nunes
  • Coordinated with “violent third partiers”
  • “Doxed” Nunes’s locations “dozens of times”
  • “[T]weeted and retweeted thousands of false, threatening, hateful, riotous, profanity-laced, salacious and scandalous statements about Plaintiff”  (emphasis in original)
  • Accused Nunes of various state and federal crimes
  • Used “derogatory, insulting and threatening hashtags within tweets”
  • “[T]hreatened Plaintiff’s life and threated to come after Plaintiff”
  • Used Nunes’s name, photograph, and likeness to sell merchandise and to conduct “professional fundraising” with Meredith’s social media posts

Nunes did not provide any examples of this alleged digital speech with his complaint. With his opposition to the anti-SLAPP motion, Nunes included a website screenshot which states that a woman named Michelle Emmett is responsible for the @devincow Twitter account that was used to “troll Nunes” (i.e., to post Tweets about Nunes). Nunes also provided a screenshot of Emmett’s personal Twitter account. Nunes asserts a connection exists between Emmett and Meredith because Meredith posted many Tweets tagging the Emmett’s personal account and research from “Whitepages” shows the two were married. Nunes provided no further examples, screenshots, or other evidence of the alleged connection….

The court rejected Nunes’s misappropriation claim, which is basically what’s often known as a “right of publicity” claim:

[Cal. Civ. Code §] 3344(d) prohibits a cause of action under the statute for unauthorized use of a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeliness if used “in connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account, or any political campaign.” California courts and the Ninth Circuit apply this statutory exemption to both the statutory and common law causes of action for commercial misappropriation….

According to Nunes’ allegations, Meredith has used Nunes name, photograph, and likeness “for professional fund-raising” and to promote himself and his “multiple anonymous Twitter accounts.” … Nunes does not dispute, however, that the challenged conduct relates to Meredith’s critique of Nunes as a political figure. In fact, Nunes affirmatively alleges Meredith’s intent for appropriating his likeness was to “take advantage of Plaintiff’s reputation, prestige, and known brand in Tulare County.” According to Nunes, Meredith’s scheme of digital speech targets and seeks to disparage Nunes’s reputation as a political figure in the community. Matters of current political issues, such as commentary on the suitability of a political official squarely fall within the § 3344(d) exemptions. Michaels v. Internet Entm’t Grp. (C.D. Cal. 1998) (noting § 3344(d) provides a “complete newsworthiness defense” which includes “discussion of politics and public affairs”). Because the challenged conduct arises in the context of Meredith’s critique of Nunes as a politician, the Court finds § 3344(d) bars Nunes’s claim for misappropriation….

Nunes also sued under the California stalking statute, but the court concluded that Nunes had not sufficiently alleged the details of what was said:

[A] factual dispute exists regarding the circumstances of the alleged threat to Nunes’s life and whether it constitutes a “true threat.” … Assuming Nunes’s allegations made in the complaint are true—that Meredith was responsible for a threatening post and did so with serious intent to inflict harm on Nunes—the complaint has sufficiently pled facts to overcome a First Amendment defense because a true threat does not fall under First Amendment protection….

[Nonetheless, under the California stalking statute], “the plaintiff shall be required to support his or her allegations with independent corroborating evidence.” … Nunes did not provide any corroborating evidence such to satisfy this element of the civil stalking statute. Despite alleging that Meredith posted thousands of statements disparaging and threatening Nunes on Twitter, a public and freely accessible platform, Nunes did not provide any of these allegedly offending posts to the Court. Nunes did not submit any communications or statements by Meredith to corroborate his allegation that Meredith posted thousands of Tweets disparaging Nunes.

The only documentary evidence that Nunes attached, undermines rather than corroborates his claim. With his opposition to the motion to dismiss, Nunes submitted a screenshot from a website, purportedly identifying Michelle Emmet as the owner of the @devincow Twitter account used to “troll Nunes.” Nunes also included a screenshot of Michelle Emmett’s personal Twitter page. Nunes contends he reviewed Emmett’s Tweets which revealed “she was tagged by Meredith in innumerable tweets about [Nunes].” Nunes, however, did not submit any of these “innumerable” Tweets.

Nunes also claims the “Whitepages” indicated Emmett was married to Meredith. {The Court fails to see the relevance of this fact. To the extent that Nunes intends to convey that Meredith is responsible for Emmett’s Tweets because he was married to her, the Court rejects that notion as unfounded at this time; Nunes has cited no case law suggesting that the actions of an individual can be imputed to their spouse as a matter of law or fact in these circumstances.} Nunes likewise failed to provide this alleged evidence.

Considering only the evidence Nunes has submitted, the website and Emmett’s Twitter page indicates Emmett, not Meredith, is responsible for the alleged harassment and stalking of Nunes on Twitter. Nothing in the record links Meredith to Emmett’s accounts. While the 12(b)(6) standard requires the Court to take facts in the light favorable to the plaintiff and make reasonable inferences, it does not require the Court to make illogical leaps. Accordingly, none of the documentary evidence provided by Nunes connects Meredith to the alleged harassment or stalking. Thus, Nunes has failed to sufficiently plead all explicit elements of [a California] stalking claim ….

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{Nunes identifies another incident for which he provided no evidence or logical basis to attribute it to Meredith. Nunes claims that Meredith was associated with a political activist who “harassed” Nunes on plane. According to Nunes, Meredith endorsed the incident by posting photos of it. However, Nunes did not provide screenshots of Meredith’s alleged posts. Although Meredith submitted a copy of a news article reporting the incident with his motion, nothing in this article implicates Meredith’s involvement. Therefore, this potential evidence suffers from the same defect as the @devincow Twitter page because it shows no connection to an action or statement by Meredith.} …

The court did, however, leave room for the stalking claim to be revived if the complaint is properly amended:

[If Nunes] can submit with his amended complaint, independent corroborating evidence …, Nunes may sufficiently state a claim and a probability of success to overcome the anti-SLAPP motion at the motion to dismiss stage [as to stalking].

Congratulations to Brian D. Whelan of the Whelan Law Group, who represents Meredith.

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Exclusive: World Leaders Denounce Supreme Court Ruling – TalkOfNews.com

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Compelling Television

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“Several female world leaders denounced the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as a setback in the global push for gender equality,” the New York Times reports.

“The United States is one of the few countries to restrict access to abortion in the past two decades, while dozens of other countries have expanded access.”

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Exclusive: Sovereign-citizen scam artists bolster their audiences by adding QAnon beliefs to their mix – TalkOfNews.com

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Bobby Lawrence

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The Anti-Defamation League has been warning about this coalescence since January, with Lawrence and his cohort David Straight, who have been holding these seminars around the country and, thanks to the fresh appeal of absorbing QAnon beliefs into the similarly conspiracy-fueled worldview of sovereign citizens, have increasingly been packing them in.

As their backgrounder explained:

Lawrence teaches sovereignty with a QAnon bent, urging his followers to become “American State Nationals” before Trump is reinstated as president. “American State National” is one of many terms that sovereign citizens use to distinguish themselves from citizens under the jurisdiction of the illegitimate, de facto government. “Trump is working on the ‘Fall of the Cabal’ which will allow our Constitutional Republic to Rise again, however the newly partially restored Constitutional Republic will need We The People of restored status via ‘The Great Awakening’ to fill and function in the newly partially restored Constitutional Republic,” Lawrence posted to Telegram in October 2021. “This will only be accomplished via We The People reclaiming our Birthright by becoming American State Nationals… As the number of American State Nationals and one of the People increases, so will the Function of the [sic] our Constitutional Republic. It will start at the absolute local level (you and your neighbors) and then grow and grow and grow.”

Sovereign-citizen and QAnon beliefs meld together almost seamlessly, as the ADL explains, because their fundamental worldviews involving a massive global cabal nefariously conspiring to enslave mankind are so similar. The sovereign movement’s belief that the current U.S. government is illegitimate serves to support their view of the Biden presidency as fraudulent, as well as the means for “freeing” themselves from such “tyranny.”

Lawrence primarily promotes a version of sovereign-citizen beliefs called “Redemption Theory,” which deals with the core concept that everyone who is an American citizen is designated a “strawman” corporate entity at birth, making them subsidiary properties of America Inc. “Redemption” is the process by which they split the strawman from the flesh-and-blood human, and its purpose is two-fold. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) explains:

Once separated from the corporate shell, the newly freed man is now outside of the jurisdiction of all admiralty laws. More importantly, by filing a series of complex, legal-sounding documents, the sovereign can tap into that secret Treasury account for his own purposes. Over the last 30 years, there have been hundreds of sovereign promoters packaging different combinations of forms and paperwork, attempting to perfect the process. While no one has ever succeeded, of course, they know with the religious certainty of a true cult believer that they’re close. All it will take is the right combination of words, say the promoters of the redemption scam.

Lawrence regularly regales his audiences with his version of the “redemption” scam, but with a powerful QAnon flavor. At an April 21 “Patriots Arise” event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—where he shared the stage with Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano—Lawrence launched to into a rant that manifested that commingling two conspiracist universes produces twice the crackpottery.

He explained how modern births and the birth-certificate process are actually satanic rituals:

Fred read a quote from [Woodrow Wilson adviser] Edward Mandell House where they talk about this construct, where they’re gonna make slaves of us all, through a system of pledging, where we pledge our children as surety through something called a birth certificate, and a satanic ritual that takes place. …

So I’m gonna walk you through a satanic ritual that takes place, and it started with the birth certificate, which was actually chartered under the Department of Transportation. And everything is Admiralty. We all live under the water, and what is law, and where does law come from? Where does the word “law” come from? Land, air, and water. And where the founders of this nation thought about what law was, was the Bible, the Geneva Bible, the King James Version 1611 edition, where we got the word law from. And land, air, and water was in Genesis Chapter 1, verse 24 through 28, “and God created the heaven and the earth.” And God giveth man dominion over the earth, and God giveth man dominion over the land, and all the creatures that walk and creepeth. And God giveth man dominion over the air, and all the birds that fly, and God giveth man dominion over the water, and all the fish that swimmeth. And this is law.

Lawrence then repeated stock sovereign-citizen beliefs (all every bit as risibly false as his etymology for the word “law”) that there are three tiers of law: Canon law, common law, and Admiralty law, each reflecting rule over air, land, and water respectively. Then he went on:

So how do they get you to pledge your child, and how did our parents and our grandparents pledge us as property, as surety, in our personification, all capital names? It was through an evil, satanic ritual called the birth of a child.

You see, a mother goes into a foundling center, and she goes to see the doc—tor; a tor is a bill of lading when a ship arrives at the dock—and the mother puts her feet up on the stirrups and the mother’s water breaks, and the child comes out of the water through the birth canal, like you berth a ship, into the air, into the hands of the dock—tor. And then, historically speaking, a satanic ritual would take place—a child was smacked on the butt, turned upside down, cried out in fear and pain. And then before the child could put their feet on the land and take the breath of God as a free creation of God, a legal bond document came out. It’s on bond paper because it’s a banking instrument, it’s a surety bond.

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And the child’s soul was taken on the back of that document. It was called the soul print. And then the umbilical cord and the afterbirth was thereby dead and abandoned by the mother, because that was part of your birth, part of your being born. The construct, the evil says that now that is dead, a part of you died and now you are a dead vessel, you are an all-capital legal fiction. They called you a person. If you look at your driver’s license, if you look at every document that government or any business sends you, it’s in your all-capital name. Your personification. Now the Bible tells us not to take on the persona, not to take on the person.

Lawrence also harkened to the stock radicalization belief in “red-pilling”: “We are living in Babylon right now,” he said. “It’s a corporate construct. It’s a Matrix. Keanu Reeves has said publicly that The Matrix is a documentary of how we are living our lives. Your money’s not real, you don’t own anything.”

And near the end, he wrapped it all up with a classic QAnon-style claim that Donald Trump is secretly One Of Them:

Yes, President Trump has done many things for us. And I won’t go into a lot of them, because quite frankly a lot of folks aren’t ready for it. And it’s hard to verify. But Donald Trump has told you all, if you go back to his speeches, he’s told you that when he comes back, he’s gonna be little letters, lower case. Look to his speech in 2021 at CPAC in Texas. He said when we go back to the White House this time it’s going to be in little letters. He told you at another rally that people are sovereign. He told you at another rally that you’re all millionaires. He told you in another rally that you’re the elite. And they’re the scoundrels. He told you at another rally that the Bar Association is corrupt. He tells you on and on—he might talk for two hours, but only four sentences are for those who are awake. And there’s a huge difference between being woke and awake, is it not?

Lawrence has formed close associations with leading QAnon influencers such as Ann Vandersteel, Allen and Francine Fosdick, the Pennsylvania-based hosts of the QAnon show Up Front in the Prophetic, and David Straight.

Vandersteel posted proudly announced on Gab that she was “officially an American State National,” meaning she no longer was beholden to the U.S. government. She touted the supposed benefits of becoming an “American state national,” such as freedom from paying federal taxes to getting to “vote as a delegate, which has the power of four votes,” in an appearance on “The Conservative Daily Podcast,” hosted by Joe Oltmann and Max McGuire.

She said she had been introduced to these ideas by Lawrence, who ran for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in 2018. Vandersteel indicated that Lawrence was radicalized afterward through his contacts with David Straight, a sovereign citizen activist who also promoted QAnon theories. Vandersteel claimed that Straight was a “commissioner on President Trump’s child sex-trafficking commission.”

ADL analyst Mark Pitcavage explained Lawrence’s rant on Twitter, noting that “redemption theory” originated with a sovereign-citizen guru named Roger Elvick back in 1999, and it became widespread within the movement.

“Basic redemption theory is something like this: In 1933, the US went off the gold standard and could therefore no longer pay its debts to the international bankers.  To get around this, the government turned humans into collateral by converting birth certificates into stock,” he wrote. “They did this in part by creating fictional duplicates of every person (dubbed ‘strawmen’).  You can tell when a document refers to the straw man instead of the flesh and blood person because the name will be in all caps, not upper and lower case.”

He also noted that much of the talk is devoted to explaining the sovereign-citizen belief that the conspiracy which infiltrated and subverted and replaced the original, legitimate government with a de facto tyrannical government had done so by replacing constitutional law with inferior “maritime” or “admiralty” law.

“Finally,” he noted, “the Satanic references thrown in there are derived from QAnon and presumably designed to make these theories more palatable to QAnoners.”

Given the size of Lawrence’s audiences now, and the regularity and breadth of “American State Nationalist” training sessions, the ADL’s January warning—“Given the flexibility of the sovereign citizen movement and its pseudo-legal tactics, it is quite possible that increasing numbers of QAnon adherents will find sovereign citizen ideas attractive in the future”—seems more than prescient. It may, in fact, prove to be understated.

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Exclusive: Politico Reporter: Two Democrat Lawmakers Privately Admit ‘Nobody Gives A Bleep About January 6’ – TalkOfNews.com

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Politico Reporter: Two Democrat Lawmakers Privately Admit ‘Nobody Gives A Bleep About January 6’

#Politico #Reporter #Democrat #Lawmakers #Privately #Admit #Bleep #January

Politico correspondent Betsy Woodruff Swan revealed at least two Democrat lawmakers speaking with her privately have admitted: “Nobody gives a bleep about January 6,” referring to the Democrat’s spectacle-laden committee investigating the Capitol riot.

Swan’s comments came during a panel discussion with NBC News anchor Chuck Todd.

Todd referenced a poll that indicated an ideological divide between those who think former President Donald Trump truly believes in his claims of election fraud and those who say he’s deliberately spreading lies.

“Which brings me to the all-important question, Betsy: Does the Jan. 6 hearing break through at all? Is this more proof that it does not?” Todd asked.

Her answer will be a major blow to the anti-Trump representatives who have used the select committee’s public hearings to peacock in front of the nation.

“I don’t think it does,” Swan responded.

RELATED: Texas GOP Passes Resolution Stating Biden ‘Not Legitimately Elected’

Nobody Gives a Bleep About January 6

Swan replied that the public hearings on the Capitol riot aren’t making a dent with voters and cited a pair of Democrat lawmakers who said people in their districts just don’t care.

“I’ve talked to two separate Democratic members of Congress over the last couple of weeks about Jan. 6, obviously can’t say who, and both of them have said offhandedly, nobody gives a bleep about January 6 when they’re talking about their districts and the way that elections play out,” she said.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise, given the meltdown of the American economy.

Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, who have used the hearings as an audition for a post-congressional career with either CNN or MSNBC, will be hardest hit by that news.

Still, Swan expressed the importance of the committee’s work.

“The reality is – obviously, it’s a very important issue … It’s important, it’s a key part of understanding American history and the democratic trajectory that this country is on,” said Swan.

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That would be true if the committee weren’t absolutely overloaded with panelists who have already drawn their own conclusions and vehemently despise the former President. It’s as biased a committee as Pelosi could possibly have selected.

Swan went on to note that the current economic hellscape in America is preventing people from being able to devote time to caring about the hearings.

“Top-tier issues are material concerns,” she said. “How are people paying their mortgages? How much does it cost to get milk and bread? How much does it cost to get gas?”

RELATED: One Of The January 6 Committee’s Conspiracy Theories About Riot Debunked By Capitol Police

Democrats Had Hoped It Would Be a Politically Useful Tool

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Democrats were hoping the public hearings would help them in the upcoming midterm elections.

“With their control of Congress hanging in the balance, Democrats plan to use made-for-television moments and a carefully choreographed rollout of revelations over the course of six hearings to remind the public of the magnitude of Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election, and to persuade voters that the coming midterm elections are a chance to hold Republicans accountable for it.”

Cue the sad trombone now that some of their colleagues have admitted ‘nobody gives a bleep about January 6.’

The media have been touting the ratings for these hearings as some sort of bonanza for Democrats though the numbers, taken into context, show a very mundane drawing and on one network at least, even struggling to compete with a program called “Young Sheldon.”

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Perhaps the panel could do a parody bit during their hearing called Young Adam. That’ll likely draw more eyeballs.

The January 6 committee on Thursday announced that they were postponing their next round of hearings into July in order to further examine “important” information.

They only had 17 months prior to do that.

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