Washington DC Tour Guides Take License Fight to Court of Appeals, Citing First Amendment Violations

The Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering a First Amendment case brought before it by a group of city tour guides today. Bill Main and Tonia Edwards, owners of Segs in the City, a D.C.-based tour service that specializes in historical and cultural tours of the capital region, say that D.C. city regulations requiring all tour guides be licensed in order to work legally run directly against the ideals of freedom of speech put forth in the First Amendment. “We are being told that we have to have a license to speak,” Main commented in an interview with local news service WTOP.

The case was first brought before the U.S. District Court in 2010. However, after that body upheld D.C.’s licensing regulations, Main and Edwards, along with attorney Robert McNamara, pushed the fight before the Court of Appeals. In addition to arguing the legislation is unconstitutional, they’ll also point out the inconsistency in licensing, given that city bus drivers, who the group argues are tour guides, require no such licensing.

Not the First Time Licensing Has Been Allowed to Stand in the Way of American Civil Liberties

This certainly isn’t the first time a cry of unconstitutionality has been brought before the American legal system. Increasingly staunch regulations over when and how Americans can protest, yet another right guaranteed by the First Amendment, has raised questions over abridgment in recent years. More specifically, fees and the need to seek permits before highly controversial events, from the G8 summit to presidential debates, is seen by law professionals and ordinary American citizens as a similar barrier to their being able to fully exercise their First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, these fees and licenses have been held up as perfectly constitutional when brought before the courts.

Could Arguing Under Employment Protections of Free Speech Be the Way to Go?

Given that challenges to licensing have been struck down so unceremoniously before, it admittedly does not look good for Washington D.C.’s tour guide community. However, there is another tactic they could try. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that public employees speaking in the interest of public good were exercising a protected action guaranteed to them by the First Amendment. In this, neither employers nor government could punish or otherwise limit speech. While Segs in the City is a private organization, taking the angle of offering a service invaluable to the public good could help sway the courts in their favor. Whether or not this tactic and others employed in the suit will amount to anything will be made clear as the case is decided this summer.

What’s Putin’s Next Move? It’s Anyone’s Guess, Experts Say

The result of Crimean referendum was already expected in Russian favor but does anyone know what would be the Putin’s next move? Experts hold the opinion that “All eyes are set over Putin and it is he who has to decide -whether to annex Crimea through steps- or to simply recognize the demand of Crimean through formal annexation.

It is said that if the recognition is done through steps by steps, it would take more than 2 weeks to complete, on the other hand, West is mounting more and more pressure on Russia to withdraw its forces from the Crimean peninsula.

It goes without saying, in the recent diplomatic meeting held at London, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei Lavrov said to his U.S counterpart John Kerry that “Putin would decide what to do with Crimea after the referendum and he made this statement repeatedly in the entire meeting”.

Contrary to this, 28 members of European Union are planning to vote for embarking sheer sanctions against Russia. It is said that those sanctions will include; banning of Visa, seizure of European bank accounts and frozen of assets.

Besides, editor of Russian quarterly “Russia in Global Affairs,” Fyodor Lukyanov says that “Putin has already decided to annex with Crimea and no sanctions from west will deter him ,Putin does not care about what other say”.

Last but not the least, it is speculated that Crimea will undoubtedly be a part of Russia in few weeks to come but will Putin end at Crimea or will he go on subjugating eastern parts of Ukraine under the pretext of safeguarding the interest Russian speaking population?

Testing Time for Putin and Obama relationship

Ukraine crisis has escalated serious words of war between President of Russian and United States. It is for the first time since cold war crisis that both states have tensed relations. Few years ago when Obama met with the then Prime Minister of Russia said that “we believe our relationship is going to be much stronger than before and I do not think that we would agree on most of things”. Besides he said that “our tone should be of mutual respect and consultation as it would serve the citizens of both countries”.

But, three years later when Obama and Putin met for the first time, it was appearing from the body language that both of these leaders will face rocky relationship in few years to come. And, the speculations of foreign policy experts were quite obvious.

It goes without saying, when both leaders were asked for a photo shoot in G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, they displayed enough anguish against each other. Exactly, they were not glancing over each other and displaying enough anger from their behavior.

Besides, White House had already told to media reporters that they should not focus over the body language of these leaders and do not speculate anything bad about them.  On the other hand, in the last G8 summit the same scenario had been observed that was noticed in the G20 summit. Media Gurus noticed that President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin do not like to take photos together.

Apart from this, in the last few days, the relationship between both leaders has remained quite tense. The lengthy phone calls and series of warnings clearly paint the picture of US-Russian relationship. And, the media experts hold the opinion that unless the Ukraine tensions are not plummeted, the relationship between Obama and Putin would remain standstill.


Barack Obama on Ukraine Crisis

The world should support Ukraine as it is moving towards election in May and it is the path of escalation, says President of United States Barack Obama.

In his recent press conference, the President of United States said “we are going to punish Russia for its invasion and we have placed bans over visa process for Crimean region”. He clarified in his press briefing that all the Russian backed people operating in the region would not be able to get US visa for traveling and said that the referendum in the Crimea is against the Ukraine constitution and International Law.

Furthermore, he told to media that “United States is going to sanction a loan of 1$ billion to Ukraine for stabilizing its economy and the recent Russian invasion has united the entire world on this front”. Contrary to this, the lawmakers of Crimea region think to hold a referendum determining the future of the region.

On this move, the President said that “To hold a referendum, it is necessary to have legitimate government in the power and this is not good to take such a big decision during the crisis”. Besides, he has also issued an executive order against the groups and individuals responsible for destabilizing the region.

Apart from this, he said “if the violation of Ukraine territory continues, the results would be United States, Its allies and the world will remain firm”.  Last but not the least, he said that we would continue to help Ukraine for the sake of global security and said that the Ukraine crisis should be resolved through dialogue not through war.

Kerry Says Situation in Ukraine is better than Yesterday

Though Foreign ministers of the world could not make a deal yet John Kerry Secretary of United States says “we would solve the Ukraine issue through dialogue not through fight”.

After holding series of meetings with foreign ministers of United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia, John Kerry told to reporters that “we all have agreed to solve Ukraine issue amicably and through dialogue”.

Besides, John Kerry said that these meetings were more or less “Olive branch- the beginning of period of thaw” and they were undoubtedly constructive. Though, finding a quick solution of this issue is very difficult yet I consider today as better than yesterday.

On the other hand, the foreign minister of France Laurent Fabius said that “It was for the first time that something has moved with good pace and we are optimist for a constructive solution”. Besides, Russian foreign ministry said that “Kerry did not mention in his statements that we had reached over the solution of transition of power in Ukraine”.

Contrary to this, Ukraine officials said that “Russia has sent a big number of troops in the Crimean region and it was absolute violation of international law”. The Ukraine interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said CNN that “I am worried, what would happen if the diplomatic talks fail to reach to any solution”?  He further said, I have directly spoken to Russian Prime minister and put forward two opinions – political and military.

Besides, John Kerry said “It is up to Russia now whether it withdraws forces from the region and calls for international observers to monitor the region or not”. He further adds, the violation of Ukraine territorial integrity has united the whole world on this front and Russia knows the very well. Lastly, it was the first top notch meeting since the beginning of Crimea crisis and states are serious monitoring the Ukraine issue.


Russia Occupies Ukraine

Finally, Russia has occupied the Crimean region and deployed a big number of military men to monitor and control the crisis. But, it has not been made public that what military strength have Putin deployed in the region. The president of Russia Vladimir Putin dismissed all the warnings leveled from world leaders and escalated serious crisis in the whole region.

On the contrary, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discharged the allegations and said that “Moscow has not decided yet when to deploy forces”. In addition, the Russian upper house (parliament) has approved the request of Putin for deployment of forces in the Ukraine and gave the green signal for military force to fullest extent.
Putin had informed the parliament that Russian people living in the Crimea region were being inhumanly treated and Russia should forward to protest the rights of its citizen. On the other hand, the Ukraine leaders denied the Russia blame of mistreating its people and said that it was being pampered to launch onslaught over the territory of Ukraine.

The invasion of Russia escalated more problems in the world politics. President Obama made a call to Russian president and spoke with him more than 90 minutes to know the gravity of the tension. It is said that Putin had categorically said to President Obama that it was Russian right to safeguard the rights of its citizen living in the Crimean region.

On the other hand, according to White House press release, President Obama said that “Russia’s continuous violation of territorial integrity and Ukraine Sovereignty would grossly affect its image at world level”. Besides, after the message of Obama to Russia, all the senior members of Army and senate asked for the prompt reply to the Russian move and said that Russian must be informed that what repercussions it will face for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine.