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Current Topic: Current Events

Beijing Casts Net of Silence Over Protest - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 9:57 am EST, Dec 14, 2005

Until Tuesday, Web users who turned to search engines like Google and typed in the word Shanwei, the city with jurisdiction over the village where the demonstration was put down, would find nothing about the protests against power plant construction there, or about the crackdown. Users who continued to search found their browsers freezing. By Tuesday, links to foreign news sources appeared but were invariably inoperative.

But controls like these have spurred a lively commentary among China's fast-growing blogging community. "The domestic news blocking system is really interesting," wrote one blogger. "I heard something happened in Shanwei and wanted to find out whether it was true or just the invention of a few people. So I started searching with Baidu, and Baidu went out of service at once. I could open their site, but couldn't do any searches." Baidu is one of the country's leading search engines.

If you remove the "hl=zh-CN" from that Google news search above you get VERY different results. There are some relevent links in the Chineese web search results right now, but the results seem odd given the amount of press coverage. This news search has relevent information, but its mostly coming from a handful of protesty news sources (peacehall & epoch times), same ones that show up in the google search, and not mainstream media. Its possible that these are approved dissenters. (Although VOA also shows up.) More totally unreliable information here. Stratfor has coverage here.

Beijing Casts Net of Silence Over Protest - New York Times

Comedian Richard Pryor Dies At 65
Topic: Current Events 7:17 pm EST, Dec 10, 2005

Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, died Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. of a heart attack after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

I will miss him.

Comedian Richard Pryor Dies At 65

Shooting Is Defended But Gets Mixed Reviews
Topic: Current Events 11:59 am EST, Dec  8, 2005

"This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations," said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.)

?? It appears they shot an innocent person. There are questions. Where the proceedures followed? Are the proceedures correct? Even if this is the best we can hope for it should not be trumpeted as a success. It is a failure and it deserves critical analysis.

Shooting Is Defended But Gets Mixed Reviews

Topic: Current Events 3:21 am EST, Nov 21, 2005

The justice system is a human system, and so it is inevitable that the justice system fails. The justice system punishes innocent people.

With respect to the death penalty, the execution of innocents may be very rare. However, it is inevitable. So we must understand that if we are to support the death penalty we must accept that innocent people will die as a result, even if only very rarely.

For me to allow the state to proceed with an imperfect system which creates permanent results, I would need to have compelling evidence that the cost was worth the reward in terms of the innocent lives saved. No such evidence exists. In fact there are substantive arguments that the death penalty contributes to the rate of violent crime rather then deterring it. It isn't clear that the death penalty works, and so how can you proceed...

One would hope you would proceed with extreme caution, but the attitude expressed by Alito that the Constitution only provides for reasonable defense and that substantive information about a capital case which was missed by that defense does not warrant retrial advocates a wanton attitude about such grave matters and is precisely likely to contribute to a situation in which innocent people are more likely to be executed.

This isn't acceptable. I'm growing less comfortable with Alito. But I have another problem.

The conservatives are not going to nominate a justice with an intelligent point of view on the death penalty. In light of that do I need to accept this and find other grounds upon which to consider his nomination (which is exactly what I advocated that abortion rights advocates do here)? Perhaps so.

Needless to say, on both counts, moderate Republican voters ought to really think about what they've purchased by re-electing Bush. I remain unconvinced that the impact that this election is having on the court is less important, long term, then the likely differences between a Republican and Democratic strategy on the war on terror going forward. I owe a hat tip for that observation to Rattle.

Alito and the Death Penalty
Topic: Current Events 12:33 pm EST, Nov 20, 2005

The 6th Amendment right to legal representation did not afford everyone "the most resourceful defense attorneys with bountiful investigative support."

"The 6th Amendment is satisfied when [defense] counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance, thereby ensuring that criminal defendants receive a fair trial," he said.

This case is interesting... Muddy... IMHO If the state is going to kill you it ought to consider all of the evidence. The idea that it need not seems ignorant of the finality of death.

Alito and the Death Penalty

Free This Week Only:
Topic: Current Events 7:31 pm EST, Nov  8, 2005

The Wall Street Journal Online is free this week.

Free This Week Only:

Patterico’s Pontifications - Alito’s Dissent in Casey
Topic: Current Events 4:37 pm EST, Oct 31, 2005

Taken together, Justice O’Connor’s opinions reveal that an undue burden does not exist unless a law (a) prohibits abortion or gives another person the authority to veto an abortion or (b) has the practical effect of imposing “severe limitations,” rather than simply inhibiting abortions “‘to some degree’” or inhibiting “some women.”

Looking at previous restrictions that Justice O’Connor had approved, which “almost certainly were substantial enough to dissuade some women from obtaining abortions,” Judge Alito wrote that “it appears clear that an undue burden may not be established simply by showing that a law will have a heavy impact on a few women but that instead a broader inhibiting effect must be shown.”

A number of liberal sources are in full "screaming bloody murder" mode over this guy. I don't get it. I don't see the fire. This is not Janice Rogers Brown.

I don't think the above line of reasoning in unreasonable, for the exact same reason I don't think the 9th circuit was being unreasonable when they struck the pledge requirement. These guys are responsible for applying precident. They are not responsible for reaching the outcome you'd prefer. If you don't like the outcome, you should pressure the legislature unless you can demonstrate that the judge is unreasonable. I haven't seen one commentator argue that his reasoning is flawed or unprofessional. They seem focused on results, not how they were reached, and that seems like so much political bullshit.

If the left really has a problem with this guy they are going to have to provide an explanation that has meat. Until such time my official position on this nomination is: "Did you expect a Republican controlled government to nominate a liberal?"

Patterico’s Pontifications - Alito’s Dissent in Casey

Samuel A. Alito, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Topic: Current Events 2:33 pm EST, Oct 31, 2005

Some information on Alito. Thus far I'm not terribly concerned, but I haven't heard enough yet. The only decision that I've heard of that might be objectional is Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. You can expect a great deal of debate about that in the coming weeks.

My thinking on this is that I agree that there are cases in which women have legitimate reasons for not wanting to notify their husbands that are not covered by the exceptions in this law. I think its a bad law and I'm not troubled that the supreme court struck it down. Even if it were well crafted, I think it puts the state's nose way too far into people's personal business. This is not my kind of law.

However, I do not think its entirely irrational on its face that a husband might have a legitimate interest in notification of his wife's pregnancy. Marriage legally requires shared responsibility. To the degree that society thinks that it ought to put the state's nose into people's business, and it certainly does, left, right and center, I don't think upholding the constitutionality of this law would be way out of line were it well crafted. Certainly, the legislature should not have passed this law. I think this would be better handled with a requirement for counselors to advise spousal notification, but this would not be the first time the government issued a requirement where it should have issued a warning. Its not unconstitutional for the government to do stupid things.

Basically, this is not the smoking gun that makes me opposed to Alito. There is no judge that has never issued a ruling I don't agree with.

I am, however, troubled that the exact same situations that caused the supreme court to call this law "repugnant" exist as well for minors, and yet the supreme court showed absolutely no concern in that context. The idea that the court could claim that constitutional rights are terribly infringed by a notification requirement on the one hand, but not be at all bothered by a consent requirement on the other is bizarly hypocritical. Minors should not be treated as property by the state. If one is unconstitutional the other obviously must be. This point, of course, has nothing to do with Alito.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RE: Text of the draft Iraqi Constitution
Topic: Current Events 1:56 pm EDT, Oct 27, 2005

Acidus wrote:

Article (36): The state guarantees, as long as it does not violate public order and morality:

Morality is left underdined in the Constitution. Persumedly it is left to Islamic law to define morality.

Technically, these two exceptions exist in U.S. law as well, despite the fact that they aren't spelled out in the Constitution. You can be charged inciting a riot (public order) or with obsenity (immoral speech). Of course, violating the public order could easily be defined as criticising official policy. The actual application of these things will be defined over time by the government and the courts. The liberal stance of the Supreme Court in the 60s and 70s is really what allows people in America to say things like "fuck the government" without going to prison. A different time and place would (and did) offer different results from the same law. The nature of Iraq will be defined by Iraqis.... with one huge gapping problem:

The Supreme Federal Court will be made up of a number of judges and experts in Sharia (Islamic Law) and law

I don't think you can have a democracy with an establishment of religion. If the law is the law of god, then to question it is heresy. If you cannot question the law you cannot decide whether or not you agree with it, and you cannot express choices at a ballot box that you are not allowed to make. Maybe it will appear to work in the beginning, as some laws are questioned and others are not. However, over time, the religion will take hold, as in such a state religious justifications for actions are much easier to formulate then political and pragmatic ones, and once reached, nearly impossible to defeat. Theism is the path of least resistance, for both the courts and the government. Eventually the state will resemble nothing we could call democracy.

Of course, I used to think that totalitarianism was incompatible with capitalism. I was wrong. See Singapore...

In many ways Iraq represents exactly the sort of state Conservative Christians in America would like to build. If it is successful, even for a time, look for it to be held up not just as a model for the middle east, but as a model for us as well...

RE: Text of the draft Iraqi Constitution

Star Wars Halloween Masks -
Topic: Current Events 11:38 am EDT, Oct 27, 2005

The out-going Fed chairman has a lot in common with the withered muppet.

This years Forbes Halloween Masks feature Alan Greenspan as Yoda.

"There is another... Skywalker."

Star Wars Halloween Masks -

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