From: email@example.com (Johann Opitz)
Harvard Law plan on speech causes stir
A Harvard Law School committee announced plans yesterday to draft a speech code that would ban harassing, offensive language from the classroom, a highly unusual step for a law school and a move that runs counter to a national trend against interfering with campus speech. ... Harvard's Black Law Students Association and some faculty have been pressing since last spring for a speech code that would punish offending students and professors. The law school community was ruptured at that time by a series of racial incidents - most notably one student's use of the word ''nig'' in an online course notebook, a professor's defense of that student, and another professor's comment that feminism, Marxism, and black studies have ''contributed nothing'' to tort law. Yet while law school officials have taken steps to soothe campus tensions since then, their primary action - forming the Committee on Healthy Diversity, which said it plans to draft the proposed speech code - has created a !
new wave of concern. At a law school known for its champions of the First Amendment, from the Supreme Court of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis to today's campus of Alan Dershowitz, Randall Kennedy, and Laurence Tribe, the notion of a speech code is noxious to some professors and students and unsettling to many others. ... At yesterday's meeting, tensions were still evident from last spring's controversies. They boiled over into the open when Dershowitz, one of the diversity committee's members, questioned the arguments for greater racial diversity and for a speech code, and sparred aggressively with some of the 150 students and professors in the audience. Dershowitz, the constitutional law expert who is well known for defending O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, first challenged the idea that the law school should recruit more minority students as a way of improving the diversity of opinions on campus. ''When I hear blacks saying I want more blacks, or liberals saying !
I want more liberals, that doesn't seem like diversity - that sounds like self-serving pleading,'' Dershowitz said.
A Vote for Less Tech at the Polls
In the national debate over upgrading election infrastructure, Peter Neumann is an unlikely defender of the low-tech approach. As principle scientist at Stanford Research Institute's Computer Science Laboratory, Neumann has spent the last 20 years studying how intrusion detection systems, cryptography and advanced software engineering can improve the reliability and security of computer systems. But get him talking about how to run an election, and Neumann becomes an outspoken advocate of the paper ballot. He's also a sharp critic of
computerized touch-screen voting machines. "Some of them have lovely human interfaces, but if there's no assurance your vote goes through, it's irrelevant," said Neumann, who is
concerned that in the fervor to embrace new voting technology, many jurisdictions will compromise the integrity of the election process.
Study supports forest thinning as firefighting aid
A study of six major wildfires in 2001 found that the federal government could save money by fighting forest fires more effectively, but could save much more by thinning forests and taking other preventative measures. The yearlong study by the National Academy of Public Administration, an independent, nonprofit research organization chartered by Congress, comes after a 2002 wildfire season in which federal agencies spent $1.4 billion to fight fires that burned 6.7 million acres.
CA: Nights spent by comfy fire may be numbered
The sound of soft crackling from a fire burning in the fireplace is as comforting as the warmth it generates, but it may also be a sound that will soon become extinct. If new regulations proposed by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District take effect next year, burning wood may eventually become a thing of the past.
Marijuana Rights Group Wants to Sue Drug Czar
Backers of drug reform policy say White House officials overstepped their bounds by using taxpayer funds to actively campaign against statewide ballot initiatives in the last election. One group says the federal government might have broken the law and is considering a lawsuit to bring to light what they say are unethical activities by the White House. Bruce Merkin, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said any formal suit would target the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Drug Czar John Walters, who made trips to Ohio, Nevada and Arizona in the last year to lobby against state ballot initiatives there. "There are legal, and frankly, moral questions here, particularly when you consider that he went through some effort in his campaign to demonize those who were running these initiatives while he runs his own campaign with an open checkbook of taxpayer money," Merkin charged.
Homeowners Fight Back Against Property Taxes
Financial crises in many states have led local and state legislatures to return to an easy source of revenue: increased property taxes on the nation's homeowners. But homeowners - and some politicians - are steaming mad and in one town, they have decided to revolt. Homeowners in Millburn Township, N.J., have decided they would rather secede to a neighboring county where taxes are lower than to face hikes in property taxes that could reach $3,000 per household. Thomas McDermott, the mayor of Millburn, said something is seriously wrong with the government's solutions when homeowners are forced to resort to this kind of measure.
Retaliation Threat on Commuter Tax
New Jersey legislators are struggling to find ways of derailing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposed tax on commuters to New York City, including threatening retaliatory taxes on commuters to New Jersey. Even as New York's commuter tax plan found some potent new opposition in Albany, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a resolution today that urged New York legislators to "resist imposing a New York City wage tax on nonresidents."
TX: Grand jury to consider Kmart sweep
A Harris County grand jury today will begin considering whether police handling of a mass arrest -- which already has led to lawsuits against the city of Houston and the suspension of 13 police supervisors -- also deserves criminal indictments. ... The grand jury today will begin reviewing the arrests and how the raid was carried out to determine whether any officers broke the law, said Tommy LaFon, a prosecutor with the district attorney's police integrity division. Grand jurors also will review the findings of an independent investigation by the district attorney's office, said District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. ...
MA: Black market for fake documents thrives among illegal immigrants
The dream of a better life in the United States is pushing illegal immigrants to buy fake documents on the black market in order to drive and hold a job. Some are paying up to $2,000 for phony Social Security numbers, according to sources in the local Brazilian community. The illegal activity comes to light at Framingham District Court, where as many as five people a day are cited for driving without a license. Most of them drive with international or out-of-state driver's licenses or with none at all. Massachusetts law requires a Social Security number to issue a driver's license. Undocumented immigrants cannot get a Social Security number because they have no legal residency or permission to work, so they go to the black market or fall prey to Internet scams selling worthless international driver's licenses. ... In MetroWest, home to a large immigrant population, state and federal officials have investigated three cases in the past two years involving immigrants selling !
phony Social Security and immigration "green cards."
Repeal the abominable 16th Amendment!
What are we to make of the idea Washington is floating of replacing tax on income with a national sales tax? The Cato Institute has described it as "simpler, more efficient, pro-growth and fairer to taxpayers." And I must be missing something because I thought we already paid taxes on products and services. In addition to states where a sales tax already exists, sizeable portions of the prices we pay are taxes. The quandary as to whether an indirect consumption tax is better than taxes on income masks what's probably in the offing. Once a tax is pushed through it seldom disappears. Last I looked, government at all levels was consuming approximately 47 percent of the national income and growing. A reversal of the trend is almost unheard of among developed nations. To keep the State in style, consumption taxes will have to go through the roof. On the plus side, the consumer can opt out, something he can't do with a tax on income. On the downside, should he "choose" not to pu!
rchase, the consumer may starve or be destined to a rather austere life. In all likelihood, "tax reform" will leave us with the income tax in addition to more consumption taxes. Hopes realistically must be much more modest. Let the idea of a tax reform, for once, engender a discussion about First Principles, the kind Americans of the 19th century had and were capable of having.
Walter Williams: Family secrets
Airing the "family's" dirty laundry in public can qualify one for less-than-flattering descriptions. That's particularly applicable to a black person, and even more so when he questions the civil-rights gospel that the problems black people encounter are rooted in racial discrimination and a legacy of slavery. To argue that most of the problems black people confront today have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination risks being labeled everything but a child of God, not to mention accusations of having "sold out" and "letting white people off the hook." One need not deny the existence of racial discrimination to ask the policy-relevant question: How much of what we see can be explained by discrimination? The black illegitimacy rate is close to 70 percent. Less than 40 percent of black children live in two-parent families. This produces devastating socioeconomic consequences, but is it caused by racial discrimination? Or, might it be a legacy of slavery? In the e!
arly 1900s, black illegitimacy was a tiny fraction of today's rate. Roughly 75 percent, and in New York City 85 percent, of black children lived in two-parent households. The fact of lower illegitimacy and more intact families, at a time when blacks were much closer to slavery and faced greater discrimination, suggests that today's unprecedented illegitimacy and weak family structure have nothing to do with discrimination and slavery. It's explained better by promiscuity and irresponsibility, and as such it's not a civil-rights problem. To point out that black people are the primary victims of violent crimes is OK. Some of the statistics are staggering. FBI reports on arrest data show that blacks committed half of all homicides, nearly half of rapes, 59 percent of robberies and 38 percent of aggravated assaults. Suggestions about causes and solutions can get you into trouble.
Artifact: No Go Logo
Creepy agency casts evil eye on Planet Earth
Suppose you're devising a logo for a new wing of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an office charged with developing intelligence tools and integrating the government's existing surveillance networks. Suppose that it has a vaguely sinister name-say, the Information Awareness Office-and that it's to be run by a former Iran-contra conspirator. What would your design be? If you work for the actual Information Awareness Office, created earlier this year with one-time National Security Adviser John Poindexter at its helm, you'd depict a Masonic eye-in-the-pyramid blasting a sci-fi death ray across the globe. If you wanted to play on the fears of every paranoiac in the country, you couldn't do much better than the IAO's logo, on display at the Office's site. ... Another agency may be trying to outdo the IAO. The Patent and Trademark Office's symbol for homeland security is an eyeball floating behind a keyhole, with an upside-down flag in the background. If a disside!
nt Web site put up a picture like that, it would be accused of fomenting panic. Semiotically speaking, this is the most inept administration in years. Either that, or its art department is trying to tell us something.
Military Hospitals Probed
Investigators checking patient records at one military hospital discovered that 41 of their patients had been listed as dead by the Social Security Administration the year before they were treated at the hospital. The Social Security numbers of another 225 patients at the same hospital also turned up in the death records, but with different names or birth dates. Congressional investigators said those could have resulted from simple clerical errors or from individuals "fraudulently using a deceased person's identification to receive prescriptions and treatment at no cost." The prospect of hundreds of people using Social Security numbers of dead people to obtain free medical care was disclosed Tuesday in a General Accounting Office review that turned up faulty record keeping at military hospitals in Georgia, Virginia and Texas. The GAO said the hospitals also are losing millions of dollars by not pursuing insurance payments for patients who have such coverage but also are en!
titled to free military medical care. And investigators uncovered potentially fraudulent uses of government credit cards at the hospitals and inadequate records of prescription drug inventories and usage.
Not paranoid? You're not paying attention then
Paul Craig Roberts: Liberal democracy's final hour?
When the Soviet Union collapsed a decade ago, neoconservatives proclaimed "the end of history," by which they meant the emergence of an ecumenical world organized by liberal democracy. Noting China's ambitions and the re-emergence of Islam, skeptics regard the neoconservative thesis as little more than an expression of hope. China and Islam aside, powerful developments within the West itself are leading away from liberal democracy. These developments are both intellectual and political. For example, multiculturalism and the emergence of group rights based on victim status are eroding equality in law, freedom of conscience and free speech. As these are the historic achievements of liberal democracy, how can the future belong to a system that is undergoing meltdown at its core? Both the United States and Europe now have crimes of opinion, a defining feature of Oceania in George Orwell's "1984." Americans and Europeans are subject to arrest and imprisonment for words judged o!
ffensive by the therapeutic state. This frightening departure from Western tradition is justified in the name of curtailing hate and advancing human rights.
DOJ Posts Al Qaeda Training Manual (PDF files)
The attached manual was located by the Manchester (England) Metropolitan Police during a search of an Al Qaeda member's home. The manual was found in a computer file described as "the military series" related to the "Declaration of Jihad." The manual was translated into English and was introduced earlier this year at the embassy bombing trial in New York. The Department is only providing the following selected text from the manual because it does not want to aid in educating terrorists or encourage further acts of terrorism.
Who is It?
NIST faces up to a big test
The National Institute of Standards and Technology this month will release large-scale test results for 14 vendors' facial-recognition systems. P. Jonathon Phillips, an electronic engineer in NIST's Visual Image Processing Group, said he has been evaluating such products since 1992, when the Defense Department's Counterdrug Technology Development Program Office set up its Face Recognition Technology program. More recently, NIST has been conducting the Face Recognition Vendor Test 2002 under a mandate in the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Phillips and his colleagues completed a test protocol, specifications and data sets in April. By the end of May, 14 vendors had signed up to be evaluated.
UK: Writing on the wall for graffiti
Police stop and search powers are to be extended to allow officers to deal with people suspected of carrying paint spray cans or marker pens to write graffiti, the Home Office announced yesterday. Ministers believe that the power will help in their pledge to crack down on anti-social behaviour, despite figures showing stop and search has been used disproportionately against people from the Afro-Caribbean and Asian communties. ... Critics said the overhaul marked another government extension of police powers, with the time a suspect could be held in custody being extended from 24 to 36 hours. ... The government says the proposal will help officers tackling street robbery when problems with identification can make the limit of 24 hours too short to complete an investigation, especially when the suspect is a juvenile and a social worker has to be found. ... The proposal will see stop and search extended to offences of criminal damage. Police can arrest if they see someone car!
rying out a graffiti attack, believe they have done so, or believe they are about to. ...
Johann Opitz <firstname.lastname@example.org> RKBA!
"Throughout recorded history, without exception, it has been the sole accomplishment of organized government to deprive their populations of liberty and of their property." -- John C. Calhoun