March 23, 2015
Gotta Draw The Line
Sure, you can have all the guns and marijuana you want and you can use your computer like an 8-lane highway for porn, but our gummint still wants to protect you from your TV. As I interpret this news report, WDBJ in Virginia pointed a camera for three seconds at the website of a woman who was volunteering for the rescue squad. The station's staff failed to note a little video ad for porn videos somewhere on the edge of the screen.
The FCC has proposed a fine of $325,000.
For the sake of clarity the FCC report includes this helpful description: "the Station broadcast an image of sexual activity involving the graphic display of an erect penis being stroked during a news report about a former adult film star who had joined a local volunteer rescue squad."
But that's not entirely all. The FCC has described some other things that could be seen in that news report, including "other images of the woman who is the subject of the story displayed at various times during the report, including one in which she appears to be sitting on a bed, wearing a bra." Oh no! Where is Chicken Little to spread the word!
March 16, 2015
The Free Market
In libertarian wet dreams, free markets mean a greater supply, higher quality and lower price - generally. And sometimes that happens. Like, frinstance, marijuana. A couple of legal states plus lots of medical marijuana states means the market is a little freer than it was. And now, the United States may become an EXporter of marijuana. The Mexicans are in a buying mood.
March 10, 2015
L.A. Sheriff Deputies Are No Longer Empowered To Be Photo Critics
The LAPD, Long Beach police and the LA County Sheriff had adopted guidelines saying that taking photos with "no aesthetic value" was sufficient to stop a photographer for questioning. I would dearly have liked to sit in on the class where every cop in those agencies were trained to appreciate the aesthetic value of photos they couldn't even see. But now, L.A. County has come to a settlement with the ACLU in which they agree to stop doing that. The ACLU will provide training material for the Sheriff.
The training, supplied through a newsletter detailing the LASD policy and given to all new recruits and to all deputies assigned to patrol, states that members of the public "have a First Amendment right to observe, take photographs, and record video in any public place where they are lawfully present" and prohibits deputies from "interfering, threatening, intimidating, blocking or otherwise discouraging" photographers from taking photos or video unless they are violating a law.
September 28, 2014
iPhone 6 Encryption
The new iPhone 6 will encrypt "emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone's user." "Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take 'more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.'" That, of course, would be a brute force method, and I'm pretty sure the NSA and FBI have more sophisticated techniques than that.
The FBI objects to this.
At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have "back doors" for American intelligence and law enforcement.
August 17, 2014
The Effectiveness Of DUI Checkpoints
The numbers for the three checkpoints combined are
DUI: 7 (0.4%); Invalid/No/Suspended License: 50 (2.5%); Other arrests 8 (0.4%); "Clean" 1,920 (96.7%).
June 30, 2014
More About The FAA's Rules On Drones
June 21, 2014
U.S. Congress Chipping Away At Anti-Medical Marijuana Actions
A brief article about Senator Rand Paul's introduction of a budget amendment that would bar the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana operations in any state where it's legal. The House has already approved a similar measure.
Also, Senator John Walsh of Montana has introduced an amendment that would block ATF from using federal funds to violate the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana patients. Here's the text of Walsh's amendment:
SA 3285. Mr. WALSH submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 4660, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
At the appropriate place, insert the following:
Sec. __. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms , and Explosives may be used, with respect to registered medicinal marijuana patients in the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to enforce the provisions of subsection (d)(3) or (g)(3) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code, against a registered medicinal marijuana patient based on either the status of the patient as a registered medicinal marijuana patient or the lawful use of medicinal marijuana under the laws of the State in which the patient resides.
He has listed the states where medical marijuana was legal when he proposed the amendment on the 18th. This seems an odd way to do it. Why not just say "where it is legal." New York state is on the verge of legalizing medical marijuana. Will the Senate re-write the amendment or will the medical marijuana patients in New York be left to the meager mercy of the ATF?
I find the strange jargon of the Senate to be interesting. The appropriations bill "was ordered to lie on the table." Then it "was ordered to get up and dance, dance if you value your life!"
April 24, 2014
Freedom To Sweep Nevada
Hell's Angels, the Gay Men's Chorus of L.A. and no toilets! Just try to keep me away!
If you don't like the message from the long-haired hippie wing, maybe you'll prefer this one:
April 22, 2014
Meanwhile In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's Attorney General has wisely refused to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriage, so the office of Governor Corbett (a Republican) took on that task. But the defense is no defense. The Governor's office has said they will call no expert witnesses and they will not dispute any of the specific harms caused to the plaintiffs by the marriage ban. Essentially, then, this would seem to be like the Oregon suit - defenseless. But it's got one advantage over Oregon because there is a nominal defendant. The defendant (the Commonwealth) agrees with the plaintiffs that there is no need for a trial so they will not be going through the motions. Both sides are filing requests for summary judgement.
Governor Corbett is to be commended for saving taxpayers' money and minimizing everyone's misery while still staying faithful to what he thinks he has to do as Governor.
Judge John E. Jones III who will be making the decision is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush in 2002. He is a native of Pennsylvania. He ruled in 2005 that a school district's mandate to teach "intelligent design" was unconstitutional. Thereupon, he was attacked by Phyllis Schlafly and Bill O'Reilly; O'Reilly calling him a fascist activist judge. He has defended himself saying that his duty is to the Constitution, not special interests.
OTOH, when he was the Chairman of the state Liquor Control Board he banned the sale of Bad Frog Beer after determining that the frog on the label was giving the finger. Anyone who looks at the label will see that the frog has only 4 toes on both front feet and all 4 toes are extended on both feet. IMO "the finger" was in the mind of the beholder. But even if it was flipping off the drinker, it would seem to be a free speech issue.
January 8, 2014
National Review Tepidly Supports Legalization of Marijuana
National Review Online says "It is perhaps a little dispiriting that of all the abusive overreaches of government to choose from, it is weed that has the nation’s attention, but it is a victory nonetheless." And "One of the worst consequences of marijuana use is the development of saucer-eyed arguments about the benefits of legalizing it."
The payoff is not in tax revenue gained but in losses avoided. A great many people will avoid being convicted of crimes for a relatively benign recreational indulgence — and those criminal convictions often have much more severe long-term consequences on pot-smokers’ lives than marijuana does. The business of policing covert marijuana dealers has been replaced with the relatively straightforward business of regulating them in the open. A large and fairly nasty criminal enterprise has lost its raison d’être, at least so far as the Colorado market is concerned.