Scotties Toy Box

March 29, 2012

An interesting article from The Washington Post: GOP blocks Obama’s effort to end tax breaks of $24 billion for Big Oil

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 22:57

GOP blocks Obama’s effort to end tax breaks of $24 billion for Big Oil

President tries to turn blame for high gas prices on Republicans as Democrats force vote in Senate.
Read the entire story here:

An interesting article from The Washington Post: Petula Dvorak: A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 22:55

Petula Dvorak: A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters

Todd Stave, the landlord of a Germantown abortion clinic, has been the target of harassing phone calls and ugly fliers handed out to his neighbors. But he’s come up with a novel way to fight back.
Read the entire story here:

An interesting article from The Washington Post: Super PACs, donors turn sights on judicial branch

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 22:43

Super PACs, donors turn sights on judicial branch

The possibility that a rich benefactor or interest group with endless amounts of money could swoop in, write massive checks and remake an entire court for ideological reasons has prompted judges to prepare for battles they never expected to have to fight.
Read the entire story here:

Good Tip

Filed under: opinion, Pictures — Scottie @ 18:42

Loud and clear

Filed under: Animals, Pictures — Scottie @ 18:40

Follow Awesomephilia for some awesomeness on your dash.

This is true..can’t figure out why? It shouldn’t be this way.

Filed under: News, opinion, Pictures — Scottie @ 17:24

Victory In Tuscaloosa As Schools Allow Gay Couples Into Prom |Gay News|Gay Blog Towleroad

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 16:47

Victory In Tuscaloosa As Schools Allow Gay Couples Into Prom |Gay News|Gay Blog Towleroad.

Victory In Tuscaloosa As Schools Allow Gay Couples Into Prom

ElizabethGarrettElizabeth Garrett caused quite a ruckus at her Tuscaloosa, Alabama, high school in January by wearing a sweatshirt showing her gay pride: “Warning, This Individual Infected With ‘The Gay,’ Proceed With Caution.”

It wasn’t long of course before skiddish administrators told her to remove her hoodie. Soon after, they also announced that same-sex couples are prohibited from attending prom, so the Southern Poverty Law Center got involved and began rattling its litigious sabers.

After months of legal discussions and loads of bad press, the school system now says they will not only allow same-sex couples to prom, but will also let students where pro-equality apparel.

Via the SLPC:

Tuscaloosa County Schools will allow its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students to attend prom with same-sex dates. The school district also has recognized the right of students to wear clothing with slogans expressing acceptance of LGBT people.

“Prom is an occasion that most students look forward to,” Elizabeth said. “I’m happy that I’ll get to go to prom for the first time. Although, I’m not a confrontational person, it was important to stand up for who I am and to speak out for other students.”

Statements supportive of LGBT people, as well as attending the prom with a same-sex date, are protected under the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. This is true even in communities that harbor anti-gay sentiment. LGBT students are increasingly living true to who they are and they deserve the respect and support of their schools.

“School officials should not be quick to ban speech expressing an opinion they simply dislike,” Wolfe said. “Banning such speech is usually a bad answer and can subject a school system to expensive litigation.”

Sadly, this likely won’t stop other schools from discriminating against LGBT, but at least it helps set a cultural precedent.

Read more:

Politically Motivated Border Searches Could Be Unconstitutional, Judge Rules | Threat Level |

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 14:46

Politically Motivated Border Searches Could Be Unconstitutional, Judge Rules | Threat Level |

Politically Motivated Border Searches Could Be Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

An outspoken supporter of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning can continue his lawsuit against the federal government over a border search-and-seizure conducted in 2010 after his return to the U.S. from a Mexico vacation, as a federal court ruled Wednesday that his constitutional rights may have been violated.

A federal judge denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case brought by David Maurice House, an MIT researcher, finding that the government’s search-and-seizure of his electronics may have violated his right to free speech – even if agents have the right to search travelers at the border for no reason.

“Although the agents may not need to have any particularized suspicion for the initial search and seizure at the border for the purpose of the Fourth Amendment analysis, it does
not necessarily follow that the agents, as is alleged in the complaint, may seize personal electronic devices containing expressive materials, target someone for their political association and seize his electronic devices and review the information pertinent to that association and its members and supporters simply because the initial search occurred at the border,” U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper wrote. (.pdf)

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts in May 2011 on House’s behalf, charging that he had been targeted solely for his lawful association with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

“This ruling affirms that the constitution is still alive at the U.S. border,” ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement. “Despite the government’s broad assertions that it can take and search any laptop, diary or smartphone without any reasonable suspicion, the court said the government cannot use that power to target political speech.”

Bradley Manning (

U.S. customs agents met and briefly detained House as he deplaned at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in Nov. 2010. The agents searched House’s bags, then took him to a detention room and questioned him for 90 minutes about his relationship to Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst currently facing a court martial for leaking classified documents to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks. The agents confiscated a laptop computer, a thumb drive and a digital camera from House and reportedly demanded, but did not receive, his encryption keys.

DHS held onto House’s equipment for 49 days and returned it only after the ACLU sent a strongly worded letter.

House was on Manning’s Facebook friends list at the time of Manning’s arrest in May 2010 and was one of several Boston-area friends of Manning who were interviewed by federal agents following the soldier’s arrest. House helped set up the Bradley Manning Support Network, a grassroots group to raise money for Manning’s defense, and had visited Manning in custody at the Marine Corps’ Quantico brig at least three times before falling out with other Manning supporters and being removed from the visitor’s list by Manning’s family in March 2011.

During his detainment in Chicago, agents questioned House about his association with Manning, his work for the Support Network, whether he had any connections to WikiLeaks, and whether he had been in contact with anyone from WikiLeaks during his trip to Mexico. But according to House’s lawsuit, he was not questioned about anything “relating to border control, customs, trade, immigration, or terrorism, and at no point did agents suggest that plaintiff had broken the law or that his computer contained any illegal material.”

Data contained on House’s seized laptop included information concerning the Support Network, such as the complete Support Network mailing list, confidential communications between members of the steering committee about strategy and fund-raising activities, the identity of donors, lists of potential donors and their ability to contribute, and notes on meetings with donors.

Under the “border search exception” of United States criminal law, international travelers can be searched as they enter the U.S. without a warrant. Law enforcement agents have aggressively used this power to search travelers’ laptops, sometimes copying the hard drive before returning a computer to its owner. Courts have ruled that such laptop searches can take place even in the absence of any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

But House’s suit, filed against the Department of Homeland Security, challenges the government’s right to conduct a suspicion-less search and seizure. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare the search an unconstitutional violation of House’s First Amendment rights of speech and political association, and Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and to order the government to destroy its copy of House’s computer files.

The government sought to dismiss the suit on grounds that House was asking the court to “create a new exception for electronic devices from the Government’s authority to conduct routine searches of closed containers at the border.

“There is no basis for the Court to conclude,” the government wrote, “that searches of laptops or other electronic devices at the border should be subjected to a different standard than that for other closed containers. Nor is there a basis for the Court to conclude that Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were violated by the routine search and detention of his devices at the border.”

A graduate of Boston University, House is a computer scientist who works at MIT’s Center for Digital Business as a research software engineer, according to his resume. At BU he founded the campus hacker space for student tinkerers.

House is not the only person to be detained in a border search for his perceived connection to WikiLeaks. Computer security researcher Moxie Marlinspike, whose company Whisper Systems was recently acquired by Twitter, was also detained in Nov. 2010 after returning to the U.S. from a trip to the Dominican Republic.

The agents escorted him to a detention room where they held him for 4 1/2 hours. During that time, a forensic investigator arrived and seized Marlinspike’s laptop and two cellphones, and asked for his passwords to access his devices. Marlinspike refused, and the devices were later returned to him.

Months before Marlinspike’s detention, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum was intercepted at a New Jersey airport and detained in July 2010 after returning on a flight from Holland.

Appelbaum was detain for three hours and questioned about WikiLeaks. Appelbaum, a Seattle-based programmer for Tor, an online privacy protection service, has served in the past as a U.S. spokesman for WikiLeaks. He was reportedly told by the customs agents who detained him that he was randomly selected for a security search.

The 2012 Election: What’s the Big Idea? | Special Series | Big Think

Filed under: opinion — Scottie @ 14:28

Thanks Randy!

The 2012 Election: What’s the Big Idea? | Special Series | Big Think.

Marriage Equality Is a Civil Right

In an interview last year, Focus on the Family head Jim Daly seemed to concedethat same-sex marriage would be legal sooner or later. As I wrote earlier this week, that’s because younger Americans largely support the idea. In his interview, Daly suggested that Christians should focus on what marriage meant within their churches. “The piece of paper that you get at the state to recognize your marriage is worthless,” he said. “It’s like registering your car.”

Daly and I agree on that. Not that a marriage license is worthless from a legal perspective, by any means, but rather that it’s worthless from a spiritual perspective. Whether two people are in a state of holy matrimony is a purely private, religious matter. A government-issued license can do nothing to confer sanctity on a relationship. If a church does not consider a marriage valid in the eyes of God, that’s its business. I don’t have to belong to that church. There’s no sense fighting over whether allowing same-sex couples to legally marry diminishes the sanctity of marriage. Legal statuses aren’t sacred.

But as long as the government is going to confer on willing couples the legal status of marriage—and it certainly makes some sense to treat formally committed couples differently in the law—then all couples should have the right to marry. Requiring same-sex couples to call their relationships “civil unions” does little more than symbolically discriminate against them by creating a special, “separate but equal” status for gay people. Consider how offensive it would be to pass a law saying that African-American couples weren’t allowed to marry, but could only enter into civil unions. It wouldn’t be the same.

As I have argued, the case against allowing same-sex couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples is weak. In a recent essay on Big Think, my colleague Peter Lawler put forward the two strongest arguments in favor of restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. The first is that a heterosexual union is simply what “marriage” has historically meant. The second is that the authors of our Constitution never intended to grant a right to same-sex marriage. Both points are more or less true. But neither really weakens the case for allowing everyone the same legal rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Peter is right to say that for much of history marriage has generally had something to do with heterosexual couples conceiving and raising children. But what does it matter if ancient Greeks or colonial Americans didn’t practice same-sex marriage? Like most human societies, both also allowed slavery and treated women as the political inferiors of men. These were not high-water marks of human morality. I don’t need tradition to tell me that slavery and gender discrimination are wrong.

Nor does the semantic question of the historical meaning of the word “marriage” bear at all on the question of what our rights are. In ancient Athens the function of the institution of marriage may have been to produce children to defend the city against Sparta, but that’s certainly not its role in our society. The fact that same-sex couples can’t biologically conceive children hardly explains opposition to same-sex marriage in our society in any case, since there’s little opposition to allowing elderly or infertile couples to marry. The idea that marriage must be about jointly conceiving children—same-sex couples obviously can and do raise children—is generally invoked only where same-sex marriage is concerned.

Peter is also right to say that the authors of our Constitution did not by and large intend to grant the specific right to marry people of the same gender. But the authors of the Constitution generally articulated broad principles rather than enumerating in detail what we can and cannot do. The principle that we are all entitled to “the equal protection of the laws” is no less important—and no less the law—if the authors of the phrase had not worked out all its implications.

An originalist interpretation of the Constitution makes sense to the extent that the laws should not change merely because we use words differently. But to read the laws as nothing more than the narrow intentions of their authors is to ignore what the laws actually say. By writing that no state “shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment required each generation to use its best judgment about what life, liberty, and property mean, and about what the equal protection of the laws entails. The law was not written to require that we live forever with the limited perspectives of past generations, but rather that we interpret it by our own lights as well as we can.

The idea that the loving relationship of a same-sex couple is in any way inferior strikes me as a profound moral blindness. Every person should have the legal right to marry whoever they want to marry. At the end of his essay, Peter suggests that if a majority decides marriage should be a certain way, we should not subject the institution of marriage “too rigorously to the abstract logic of rights.” But even if a majority favored forbidding same-sex marriage, it would be wrong to do so. My rights as a human being do not diminish no many how many people vote them away. This is the very essence of the idea of human rights. Not everyone will choose to marry or even welcome the opportunity. But everyone should have the choice.

Girl you need…..from Linda

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 10:12

Hugs and Best Wishes,

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