The Irish Times – Wed, Apr 29, 2009 – Crime of blasphemous libel proposed for Defamation Bill

tell me this is a joke… Please!

NASA gets cold feet on Moon base plan • The Register

I will be bitterly disappointed if the moonbase isn’t built. We need to build the telescope there (in the Aitken crater) so that we can spot the signs of the alien intelligence in the Large Magellanic Cloud. For further details, you’ll have to read the first part of Resurrection

Army officer tossed laptops into the sea • The Register

under Trusted Surveillance, this officer’s conduct would automatically be a criminal offence and any complaints made against him would be automatically upheld in favour of the plaintiff.

Belgium Declares Pope Public Enemy | CarnalNation

Ra Ra Ra Belgium!

Major defeat for Bush/Obama position on secrecy – Glenn Greenwald –

Major Fail.

Major illustration of the need for Trusted Surveillance. There may indeed be good reasons why whatever is involved in these cases cannot be permitted to be heard in open court. However, as I’ve been arguing with regard to the Torture issue, we certainly cannot trust ANYONE except We The People to make such a judgement on our behalf.

The only democratically acceptable way to handle such cases is for the experts to make their case to a Jury of a couple of hundred randomly selected (from a security vetted pool) citizens. That Jury will have unlimited access to all the Data and to alternative experts in the relevant fields who can provide independent analysis of the State case. If such a Jury concludes that secrecy is genuinely necessary, I for one, would be somewhat more comfortable about accepting it.

That said, it still doesn’t prevent a court case. There is no earthly reason why that can’t take place – under the supervision of the same Jury – entirely in secret. Again, I’m prepared to trust a large, randomly selected Jury with that kind of Authority. Nothing less.

Baxter To Develop Swine Flu Vaccine Despite Bird Flu Scandal

yeah, but try finding a major pharmaceutical company capable of doing work on this scale and at the required speed which ISN’T corrupt…

U.S. Senate: Art & History Home & People & Senators & Senate Salaries since 1789

pork barrel politics. Any questions?

one of Russell’s best…

Last Few Republican Senators Form Roman Tortoise | The Onion – Americas Finest News Source


Three Torture Myths

Excellent counterargument (to this) sent to me my Justin Simonsen. And I’ve had a couple of other responses suggesting that there are NO circumstances under which they would condone torture. I have asked each of them “Do you have kids?”

Almost every parent I’ve ever asked admits that they would certainly torture a kidnapper who, for example, had hidden their kids underground with a limited air supply. The kids need to be found within a limited time and the kidnapper boasts that he knows where they are.

If you argue that there are NO circumstances under which you would condone torture, you have to answer the question how far would you go if you were that Parent.

This, however, does not detract from the point Cloonan is making, which is that this “ticking bomb” scenario doesn’t happen in real life. I’m happy to take his word for that. It is one of the reasons we need Trusted Surveillance. It will prove whether or not Cloonan is right. If he’s right, we’ll never need to authorise torture. Which would be wonderful. If he’s wrong, we’ll know exactly why.

The Daily Dorkmonger: Time to Prosecute for Torture

Spacetart’s own comprehensive summary of the Torture debate…

this needs a good blogging… someone send me a day or two if you can spare em… but for an intro, you could check out my reply to the single comment I got on The Authoritarians

The point is that even if we accept that there may be some ends which justify virtually any means, we do not, or rather should not accept that, when We The People are held up as the principle beneficiaries of extreme and otherwise unacceptable behaviour, that ANYBODY OTHER than We The People should be given the unlimited Authority to make such decisions on our behalf. (and particularly NOT slime like Richard Cheney)

THAT is a decision of such gravity that ONLY We The People can be permitted to authorise such an action. Naturally, we can’t hold a referendum on such a sensitive issue. But we can randomly select a couple of hundred Jury members to represent us on this single matter.

Furthermore, if that Jury authorises torture, assassination or whatever, it must also ensure that a full audit trail is kept of every decision made and the implementation. They will remain responsible for the integrity and security of that data and will make all the decisions on how much of that data can or should be made public.

It should be emphasised that extreme actions – whether or not Democratically approved as above – can never be argued to be ethical. The best we’ll ever be able to argue is that we are collectively committing a criminal act because we have been convinced that if we don’t, an even more serious act will follow. And we will nearly always have to accept the possibility that we are making the wrong decision and torturing or killing an innocent victim.

That is about as serious an exercise of Authority and Power over other human beings as it is possible to imagine. That is exactly why we can NEVER justify delegating such authority. If it’s going to be done at all, WE must authorise it and witness the consequences. Decisions like this are the most serious function of Participatory Democracy.

Anything less, is Dictatorship…

Iceland tries to flush crisis away | FP Passport