"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan
Why Facebook Data Tends to Condemn You in Court | Wired Business | Wired.com
3:16 pm EST, Jan 8, 2013
Facebook rebuffed the defense attorney’s subpoena seeking access to the conversation, citing the federal Stored Communications Act, which protects the privacy of electronic communications like e-mail – but which carves out an exemption for law enforcement, thus assisting prosecutors. “It’s so one-sided … they cooperate 110 percent anytime someone in the government asks for information,” one Oregon attorney told the Portland Oregonian, citing a separate case in which Facebook withheld conversations that could have disproved a rape charge, but turned over the same conversations when the prosecution demanded them.
This imbalance in the stored communications act is noteworthy.
Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy on the Second Amendment
7:13 pm EST, Jan 2, 2013
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
NRA fingerprints in landmark health-care law - The Washington Post
7:16 pm EST, Jan 1, 2013
The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.
Addressing the statutory bans on medical research into firearms injuries should be higher on the political agenda than banning large capacity magazines or assault rifles. There need to be facts upon which decisions can be made - we cannot tolerate a point of view that collecting factual data is bad.
Ironically, paranoid people who've been led to believe that this data collection is part of some UN conspiracy are going to under report, which means that the data on firearm injuries will look worse than it otherwise would because the control set will be under represented.
Steven Strauss: 10 Reasons Stricter Gun Regulation Will Be Difficult to Achieve in America
7:10 pm EST, Jan 1, 2013
3. Americans Increasingly Live in Belief Communities - As the Pew Research data illustrates, Americans are deeply divided on gun issues. But these two groups of Americans don't talk with each other. They often live in very different regions, and (in many cases) exist in sub-cultures where they only talk with, and get news from, people who share their beliefs. This separation of our society into different Belief Communities, on issues such as gun rights, makes it difficult for our political leaders to find effective compromises.
This is the most important problem.
The Internet is part of this problem.
The problem produces this kind of thinking:
7. The NRA Feeds, and Is Fed by, GOP Paranoia -- I believe many Americans who voted for Romney were nonetheless appalled by the tone of the NRA statement endorsing Romney-Ryan: "Today, we live in an America that is getting harder to recognize every day led by a President who mocks our values, belittles our faith, and is threatened by our freedom."
Further, the NRA claims President Obama is part of a conspiracy (involving the United Nations) to confiscate all of America's guns.
8. A Fight Over Gun Control Is Exactly What the NRA Wants -- The NRA is a gun rights advocacy group. Its major basis for fundraising is its claim that gun rights are threatened. It thrives on conflict, not on compromise. The NRA will, no doubt, feature its opposition to any proposed gun control legislation in fund-raising appeals to its base.
This is an interesting hypothesis - that mass shootings are good for NRA - that their donations go up. Its not out of the question.
Gun Plans Don’t Conflict With Justices’ ’08 Ruling - NYTimes.com
10:17 am EST, Dec 22, 2012
In a speech to the Brady Center in October, former Justice John Paul Stevens, who dissented in Heller and retired in 2010, said the decision was wrong but limited.
“Even as generously construed in Heller,” he said, “the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado and Arizona in recent years. The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies in the future cannot be blamed on the court’s decision in Heller.”
I'm sure that Steven's misuse of the word "automatic" in that statement wins him no favor with gun rights advocates, but his statement is otherwise essentially correct.
The conception of the Second Amendment in Heller (with reference to Miller) is the notion of a militia formed of citizens bearing arms that are "in common use" for lawful purposes. In other words, you've got a right to keep and bear arms for whatever reason you want. However, there can be restrictions on the types of arms. Although the Second Amendment isn't about duck hunting, weapons that have nothing to do with duck hunting, personal self defense, or other normal, lawful purposes aren't within scope, because the militia isn't an army - its a organization of individual citizens bearing common place arms. Arms that are "dangerous and unusual" can still be prohibited.
That conception provides a way to ban nuclear weapons, and explicitly mentioned in the Heller decision: automatic weapons. On plain consideration it would also seem that most of the weapons construed as "assault weapons" can be banned under this conception.
I think the hardest challenge to that idea which gun rights advocates can raise is the notion that "assault weapons" are needed to defend one's home and property in the event of mass insurrection or chaos. People are often quoted saying there is "no legitimate use" for these weapons. Protecting your home in the Rodney King riots would be a legitimate use.
Here is former Texas state rep Suzanna Hupp making an impassioned plea along such lines in the debate over the original "assault weapons" ban:
(Most of her testimony is about concealed carry restrictions. That is truly a policy issue, not a constitutional issue, and it really had nothing to do with the "assault weapons" ban. Its clear that narrowly defined "gun free zones" are not unconstitutional (regardless of what you think of their wisdom), anymore than restrictions on where protest rallies can be held violate the First Amendment. However, a blanket ban on carry in Chicago was recently overturned and I think that decision will be upheld - a blanket ban is probably not constitutional.)
Ultimately, I think "assault weapons" will be found to be just outside the scope of what the Second Amendment protects. Although Hupp's argument about the Rodney King Riots is challenging, at the end of the day I think that guns needed only for that sort of unusual circumstance will be outside the scope of what is meant by arms "in common use."
We can't live with a Second Amendment that allows people to own nukes. The "in common use" conception provides us with a way to draw lines without throwing the whole Amendment out of the window. Ultimately this gets us to an understanding of the Second Amendment that is rooted in the text and the history that we can also live with in our modern world.
RE: 3-mile-wide asteroid to buzz planet Earth tonight
Topic: Current Events
10:21 pm EST, Dec 20, 2012
w1ld wrote: The near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which is about 3 miles wide, will zoom within 4.3 million miles of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning, Dec. 12.
Slooh will webcast Toutatis views from a scope in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa beginning at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Dec. 11. Another show will follow at 10 p.m. EST tonight (0300 GMT Wednesday), with footage from an instrument in Arizona. You can watch them at Slooh's website: http://www.slooh.com.
I like how this website is currently counting down till the "EOW" solar/pole reversal on dec 21st!
Asia Unbound » Five Trends to Watch for in Chinese Cybersecurity in 2013
7:58 pm EST, Dec 20, 2012
After a steady stream of announcements from U.S. officials that Chinese hackers were engaged in the widespread theft of American intellectual property, cybersecurity is now a topic of discussion at almost all high-level bilateral meetings. It was on the agenda at the 2012 Security and Economic Dialogue and was raised during Secretary Clinton’s meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dialogue with Defense Minister General Liang Guangjie.