Victory! Oregon Man Fights Unjust Fine on Free Speech and Wins!

Oregon’s automated enforcement program recently made headlines when a resident claimed that the timing mechanisms in the state’s red-light cameras were flawed. Mats Järlström, a Swedish electronics engineer, studied the mathematical formula being used in the timing of yellow lights and deemed it unjust after his wife received a ticket from a red light camera.

He shared his findings with state officials and local media in an attempt to help them improve their traffic cameras, but the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying accused him of violating a state law that dictates only state-licensed engineers can speak publicly about such technical aspects. Järlström filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of his First Amendment rights. Oregon’s attorney general sided with Järlström.

Over 1,500 StandUnited activists petitioned the Oregon Board of Examiners to rescind this ridiculous fine on free speech. We are happy to see that as of December 4th, this petition is a victory for StandUnited users AND free speech!

Automated Enforcement: Pros vs. Cons

A number of communities around the US currently use automated tools that help to enforce traffic safety laws. Red light cameras (RLC) work by detecting motor vehicles as they pass over sensors after traffic signals toggle red. High-speed cameras are connected to the sensors in an effort to capture photographs of the front of the vehicle when it enters the intersection in addition to the rear of the vehicle as it passes through the intersection.

The photos are then sent to law enforcement officials for review, and citations are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as of December 2017, 422 communities have red light camera programs, and 142 communities have speed camera programs.

According to a study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, automated enforcement systems can be effective and reliable tools to help reduce the number of red light violations and associated crashes. Since patrol officers are often spread too thin across many cities, RLCs can supplement their enforcement efforts. Economic analysts even indicated that RLCs save society $39,000 to $50,000 annually at each intersection where they are installed.

Opponents of automated enforcement are quick to reference their constitutional right for accused persons to confront their accuser, but in the case of RLCs and speed cameras, there is no human being to confront.

5 Petitions that Made a Difference in 2017

2017 was a big year for StandUnited campaigns leading to real change in communities all across America. Americans organized and came together to solve real problems affecting real people. As we prepare for the holidays and the New Year, let’s take a look at some of this year’s biggest campaigns.

Americans Rally to Save Wings of Flight Foundation – The Wings of Flight Foundation, a historical heritage organization in Mesa, Arizona, once housed historic warplanes at a Falcon Field, an airfield in the area. In March 2017, the group received an eviction notice from the city, which had received an offer from a new tenant that wanted to use the property. Mesa residents wearing red shirts attended a city council meeting asking for WOFF to be allowed to stay, and one man even flew his plane over the town with a banner promoting their StandUnited petition. The Foundation eventually lost the hangar, but the petition drive compelled Mesa officials to take the matter seriously and the city did offer an alternative solution instead of just evicting them completely.

Citizens Save Ocotillo Wells Memorial Cross – In 1966, a cross honoring Jim Bruce Wells, an American serviceman killed in Vietnam was installed near Ocotillo Wells, California. In January 2017, San Diego County received a single complaint that the presence of the cross violated the First Amendment’s protection against established religion. Since that time, over 10,000 activists across the country have voiced their opposition to removing the cross, and the monument remains in place.

CNN Drops Kathy Griffin – On May 30, 2017, TMZ obtained photos from a photo shoot by Kathy Griffin showing her holding a bloody model of President Trump’s severed head. Griffin’s photos drew instant backlash, receiving criticism even from Chelsea Clinton. In less than 24 hours, over 16,000 activists demanded that CNN cut ties with Griffin, and the network dropped her from their New Year’s Eve Special completely.

Smithsonian Adds Clarence Thomas Exhibit – In September 2016, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. opened its National Museum of African American History and Culture. When the museum began operations, it had exhibition space dedicated to Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but none for conservative constitutionalist Clarence Thomas. After nearly 20,000 activists signed this petition to include Clarence in the Smithsonian, an exhibit was finally added this past fall.

Davenport, Iowa Re-opens Christian Charity – Timothy’s House of Hope, a ministry of Compassion Church in Davenport, Iowa, provided services and care to impoverished members of the local community. As a consequence of local zoning regulations, the city of Davenport ordered the ministry to cease operations after it moved to a new location. Nearly 200 activists convinced the city to allow the charity to continue providing care to those in need, and Timothy’s House of Hope is active again helping their local homeless population.

These are only five of the many StandUnited campaigns from across the country that petitioned both locally and nationally. With 2018 just around the corner, Americans will have many more opportunities to make their voices heard.

How will YOU make a difference next year?

Monday Morning Memo – Wildfires, Ivanka, Weinstein, Kaepernick

California Wildfires

As of today, 40 people have died in the wildfires engulfing the Napa Valley region. 400 people are still missing. As firefighters tackle the blaze, local authorities have lifted the mandatory evacuation orders for several local neighborhoods.

One survival story is a heartwarming moment in the midst of devastation. Jack Weaver was walking through his mother’s burned yard in Windsor, California. Weaver’s mother was unable to evacuate with her dog, and the family feared that Izzy – a 9 year old Bernese mountain dog – perished in the blaze. Instead, Izzy came bounding towards Weaver. She was unharmed, slightly dehydrated, but now back with her loving family.

Ivanka Launches Businesswoman’s Fund

Ivanka Trump launched a new women’s entrepreneurship fund in partnership with the World Bank. Called the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi), the program will help women in impoverished countries gain access to financial tools such as seed funding and low-interest loans. The program has already received $350 million in donor committments. WeFi will be vital resource for women living in places that deny women access to traditional banks.

Weinstein Scandal Snowballs

After an explosive New York Times report on Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of sexual harassment, more victims have come forward to share their stories. British actress Lysette Anthony has become the latest woman to accuse Weinstein of rape. More than two dozen women have come forward and said that Weinstein harassed or assaulted them. As the stories spill out into the public sphere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to terminate Weinstein as a member.

Feinstein to Face Primary Challenger

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will face a primary challenger in her bid for reeelection next year. Kevin De Leon, a current California State Senator, wants to replace Feinstein. Feinstein has been moderate in her criticisms of President Trump. She has not supported calls for impeachment, and has asked for patience in waiting for Trump to come around to the Democrats’ political agenda. De Leon pitches himself as more progressive than Feinstein, and tougher against Donald Trump.

Kaepernick Challenges NFL

Colin Kaepernick has reportedly filed a grievance with the NFL, accusing team owners of colluding. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers at the end of last season. No team has picked him up, despite his fairly strong record as a quarterback. Kaepernick was the first NFL player to start kneeling during the national anthem.

Big Government Horror Stories from Friday the 13th

This month, we asked our StandUnited Facebook fans to share their big government horror stories. And wow, did you deliver! We’ll be sharing more of these scary and true stories on Halloween. In the meantime, check out these…

Personal Experiences

“We can see our hospital out our living room window, but Obamacare wouldn’t allow my wife to go to that hospital. Instead, we had to drive to a hospital 50 miles away.” – David

“I had an insulin pump and my diabetic numbers were wonderful. Enter Obamacare, they took away my pump. We have tried numerous pill and injection combinations, but so far, nothing is working. I am praying for a repeal and that I, along with others, can have pumps back.” – Janie

“Before Obamacare, my health insurance went up an average of 3% per year for 30 years. Then, when the ACA was passed, the cost of that same exact insurance policy went up 247% in just 3 years. Then, I called the exchange on August 2nd to drop my wife’s coverage, because she became eligible for Medicare. They dropped her coverage a month sooner than I told them to, and told me they couldn’t change it back, even though it was their mistake. I waited to drop my coverage until I became eligible for Medicare, and they told me that the change wouldn’t take effect for 15-30 days, and I would still be responsible for payments until then!” – James

“Bought Obamacare, it was cancelled, and they told me they didn’t cover in my area. I could not enroll again until the open enrollment period. In the meantime, I was uninsured and a tumor in my neck cost me about $15,000.00 out of our savings. When I enrolled, our insurance company stated that our town was in their area. Later, they called and said it wasn’t. Of course, we received no refunds on the premiums we had already paid.” – Donna

“Someone I know is now over half a million dollars in debt with medical bills because Obamacare messed up her original heath insurance.” – Karen

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Do you have a terrifying tale of big government? We want to hear from you. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for the next chance to submit your story!

Monday Morning Memo

The weekend’s top news stories, brought to you by StandUnited:

Horror in Las Vegas

At an outdoor concert on Sunday night, 64 year old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd. He killed at least 50 people and injured hundreds more. This is now the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. President Trump called the attack “an act of pure evil.” 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, and even alleged that Paddock had converted to Islam. However, as of Monday morning there is no proof of Paddock having any connection to ISIS. Paddock stayed at the Mandalay Bay hotel for several days leading up to the attack. Police found him shot dead, likely self-inflicted, when they raided his hotel room.

Please join with the StandUnited staff today in thinking of the victims, their families, and first responders.

Terror Abroad

A terrorist stabbed two women in Marseille, France, on Sunday. According to the French Interior Minister, the man “had several identities.” French military police shot and killed the man shortly after the stabbings. ISIS has claimed responsibility, calling the attacker “a soldier of the Islamic State.”

Two car attacks took place in Edmonton, Canada. One terrorist drove a car into a police officer and then stabbed him. A second terrorist, possibly an accomplice, plowed a car into a crowd of pedestrians. At least 4 people are injured. Canadian authorities have announced that one of the suspects is a Somali refugee who was previously known to authorities.

Trump vs. Yulin Cruz

Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, gave several television interviews slamming President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria. Wearing a shirt that said “help us we are dying,” Yulin Cruz accused Trump of ignoring the devastation in Puerto Rico. Viewers noticed that, during the video, Yulin Cruz is shown standing in front of pallets of supplies. Trump fired back on Twitter, accusing her of trying to score political points and having unreasonable demands.

Yulin Cruz’s narrative began unraveling on Sunday. A mayor of a neighboring town told the press that Yulin Cruz has not attended a single meeting with FEMA officials, though they have repeatedly invited her.

Conditions on the ground improved greatly over the weekend. According to FEMA assessments:

  • 59 of 69 hospitals are now open
  • Most gas stations are now open
  • Roughly half of gas stations are now open.

The Juice is Loose

O.J. Simpson walks free once again, following his release from prison on Sunday. The former football star served 7 years in a Nevada prison for kidnapping and armed robbery.

State officials have announced that O.J. will live near Las Vegas while under monitoring by a parole officer. For now, O.J. is beginning to enjoy life on the outside. His first meal as a free man? McDonald’s.

Chaos in Spain

The province of Catalonia held an independence referendum this weekend. Spanish authorities tried to shut down polling places, using riot gear and violence to intimidate voters. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused to acknowledge the referendum.

Anthem-Kneelers Want to Save THIS Statue

…and no, it’s not a Confederate statue. The very same group protesting the existence of Confederate monuments desperately wants to save a statue of Ray Lewis.

A statue of football star Ray Lewis stands outside of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis, a former Ravens linebacker, now works as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Before the Ravens game in London last Sunday, Lewis walked onto the sideline and knelt during the anthem.

Calls to Remove Statue

Some Ravens fans and NFL watchers have called on M&T Bank Stadium to remove the statue of Ray Lewis. Plenty of others support keeping the statue. The Ravens organization has not yet commented on the issue, but the Maryland Stadium Authority already fears vandalism. The governing body for Maryland sports arenas has stepped up security near the statue. This security will likely continue at least through the Ravens-Steelers game this Sunday.


Not a Protest?

“I dropped on two knees — both knees — so I can simply honor God in the midst of chaos,” Lewis said of his actions. He has previously advised Colin Kaepernick to “let [his] play speak for itself,” rather than drown it out with politics.

7 Facts You Never Knew About Melania Trump

Melania Trump brings her unique upbringing and interests to the role of the First Lady. This week, she made a speech at the United Nations about ending cyberbullying. Most people think of Melania as a former model turned First Lady, but her life includes so much more than meets the eye.

7 Facts About Melania Trump

1. Melania is the first FLOTUS in American history to have grown up outside of the United States. Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London, but her father was American and raised his daughters as Americans. Melania moved to America at age 26.

2. A love for fashion runs in her family. Melania’s mother, Amalija Knavs, worked as a patternmaker for a children’s clothing manufacturer. As a child, Melania would sketch clothing designs that her mother Amalija would then sew.

3. If she hadn’t chosen to pursue modeling, Melania might have been an architect. She studied architecture at the University of Ljubljana for one year.

4. Barron Trump can thank his mother for his middle name. Donald Trump picked out “Barron” for his first name, and Melania chose “William” for his middle name.

5. Melania’s modeling career landed her a spot in one of America’s most famous ad campaigns. In 2005, she appeared in an Aflac commercial.

6. Though she stays quiet about political controversies in public, Melania isn’t shy about sharing her opinions with the President. She told US Weekly, “I’m not political in public, I’m political at home.” Melania also challenges the President occasionally. She says, “Do I agree with everything he says? No. I have my own opinions too, and I tell him that. Sometimes he takes it in and listens, and sometimes he doesn’t.”

7. Melania speaks several languages, though sources disagree on how many she speaks fluently. She speaks English, of course, as well as German and her native Slovenian. Some outlets report that she also speaks Italian, French, and Serbo-Croation. Melania has passed the gift of multilingualism on to her son. As a child, Barron reportedly learned basic Slovenian from his mother.

Trump Speaks at UN General Assembly

President Trump made his United Nations debut this morning, with a speech that charted the course for American involvement in the UN. He hammered North Korea for its increased nuclear aggressions. Calling Kim Jong Un “rocket man,” Trump named North Korea “an existential threat.”

“Rocket Man” on Notice

“If it [the US] forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said. The President also mentioned the American military members who gave their lives not only to defend America, but to defend freedom in many of the UN member countries.

The United States funds 22% of the UN’s budget, far more than any other country. China contributes less than 8%, and India does not even pay a full 1% of the UN’s costs.

Global Community

Trump called for “a great re-awakening of nations” to usher in strong leadership. The alternative,

Though many heads of state bristled at Trump’s “America first” message, at least one praised Trump’s leadership. “In my more than 30 years at the UN, I have never heard such a brave and clear speech. President Trump told the truth about the world’s lurking dangers, and called for them to be addressed with fortitude, to ensure the future of humanity,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

9/11 Hero “Man In Red Bandana” Documentary Debuts

Welles Crowther lost his life while rescuing total strangers during the September 11th attacks. The former college athlete was working as a securities trader in the South Tower. When terrorists struck the building, he called his mother and left her one last message: “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m okay.”

A Hero In Crisis

Next, Crowther recalled the volunteer firefighter training he had received as a teenager. He started ushering people down and out of the building, even carrying one person who was badly injured. Crowther tied his red bandanna – the one item he always carried – around his face to keep from inhaling the smoke and debris. He ran back up inside the tower. According to 9/11 survivors, Crowther reached the 78th floor where he started putting out fires and administering first aid. He then brought that group of people downstairs, and started back up the staircase.

The South Tower collapsed with Crowther among those victims still inside. His body was found in the stairwell, along with the bodies of several FDNY first responders. Crowther was 24 years old.

A Family In Shock

Crowther’s grieving parents and two little sisters knew nothing of his last hours, save for the voicemail he left for his mother. They may have never known of their son and brother’s heroism if not for two survivor accounts printed in the New York Times on May 26, 2002. Two women who survived the attacks – Ling Young and Judy Wein, who had never met one another – credited “a man in a red bandanna” with saving their lives.

Young and Wein put the pieces together and contacted the Crowther family. More survivors emerged who also had stories of being saved by “a man in a red bandanna.” All told, Welles Crowther saved an estimated 18 lives.

In Wein’s words, “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

Documentary Tells the Story

Crowther’s life, especially the tragedy and heroism of his last day, is the subject of a new documentary. Fittingly titled “Man In Red Bandana,” the movie traces Crowder’s steps and shows the tremendous impact he had by saving total strangers. The documentary runs through September 14th in select theaters. The film’s tag line says it all: “He went up, so others could come down.”


Jennifer Lawrence Blames Harvey and Irma on Trump

While promoting her new movie, Mother!, Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence implied that the recent devastating hurricanes are a result of Trump’s presidency.

She said, “You know, you’re watching these hurricanes now, and it’s really hard, especially while promoting this movie, not to feel Mother Nature’s rage and wrath.”

Party of Science?

Lawrence, an outspoken environmentalist, seems to have forgotten that Atlantic hurricane season runs from April to November each year. The actress’ statement also implies that weather can change course based on political events. And yet, Hollywood Elites claim that climate change skeptics are the ones ignoring scientific facts.

Later in the interview, Lawrence called the election of Donald Trump “really startling.” She spoke out against Trump during campaign season, and maintains that his administration disturbs her.

“You know, I’ve heard things and seen things on TV in my own country that devastate me and make me sick, and it’s just really confusing,” she said.