Religion in China: Cracks in the atheist edifice - "Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China's Christian population the largest in the world. Mr Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire." [more inside]
Reuters: EU court rules against requirement to keep data of telecom users [different news sources: BBC, The Register] Considerably more detail is available in the ECJ press release (pdf) and the full judgement but the Court has invalidated Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC and struck a very clear blow against metadata storage in national law as the authority of the directive will soon cease to exist. This has a particular impact for UK MeFites, as UK law was based on the Directive and crucially passed through Parliament via the European Communities Act and thus skipped some review steps but is founded on the validity of the directive being implemented. Remaining national law would of course also be open to challenge on the same grounds. [more inside]
Being gay was considered a mental disorder by psychiatry - until 1973 - when the battle lines were drawn. Reporter Alix Spiegel continues the gripping story that spurred a radical rethink. It's the story of a closeted cartel of powerful, gay psychiatrists; of confrontations with angry activists; a shrink dressed in a Nixon mask, and a pivotal encounter in a Hawaiian bar. [more inside]
In a 5-4 decision in the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Supreme Court has ruled that suspects must explicitly assert their right to remain silent under the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision. [more inside]
A bunch of writers (42 to be exact), having decided civil liberties are important, have launched a website with poems, essays, and short stories protesting the extension of the pre-charge detention period in the UK from 28 to 42 days. Of course, Not everyone thinks it's a good idea. [more inside]
The Government are clear that there should be no unnecessary restrictions on people's right to protest and it is right to review provisions which have generated such concern. Two years ago, the British government effectively removed the right to spontaneous peaceful protest around the UK Parliament. Now, that legislation is under review, with a public consultation open until mid-January. [more inside]
"KNOCKING opens the door on Jehovah's Witnesses. They are moral conservatives who stay out of politics and the Culture War, but they won a record number of court cases expanding freedom for everyone. They refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, but they embrace the science behind bloodless surgery. In Nazi Germany, they could fight for Hitler or go to the concentration camps. They chose the camps." View Trailer for KNOCKING, a surprisingly well-reviewed documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses, which airs tonight in most cities on PBS's Independant Lens. ..Filmmaker Q&A
The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist, was asked to give a Fourth of July speech while slavery still existed. His fiery talk is what this section is about: People within America recognizing that the American promises ring hollow. Bush tells CBC he's 'unfamiliar' with Voting Rights Act Also see: LCCR Disappointed that House Failed to Vote on Voting Rights Act Reauthorization Bill "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have." George W. Bush
U.S. Can Detain Padilla Indefinitely. President George W. Bush was handed a major victory on Friday in his effort to assert sweeping presidential powers in the war on terrorism as a US appeals court upheld his authority to imprison indefinitely a US citizen captured on American soil.
Under an agreement signed between Ireland and the US last week, US investigators, including CIA agents, will be allowed to interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil in total secrecy. Suspects will also have to give testimony and allow property to be searched and seized even if what the suspect is accused of is not a crime in Ireland.
The Truro (Cape Cod) murder and DNA sweep was discussed here earlier. Well, the DNA sweep worked....Sort of.
Worthington's alleged killer was no mystery man, as the prosecutor has so often implied. Christopher McCowen was hiding in plain sight. Police interviewed him within weeks of the slaying because of his regular visits to the victim's home as a trash collector. He lived on the Cape. He had a criminal record. He had been accused repeatedly, in restraining orders on file in the local courts, of threatening other women.Will police and prosecutors use this case as proof that general sweeps work, and in turn come to favor them over conventional investigative methods?
John Perry Barlow's trial commences and is commented upon by Seth David Schoen. A most interesting paragraph was: "First follow-up question: If you think a bottle contains an improvised explosive device, is it appropriate to shake it? No, that's almost the worst thing you can do. Second: Is it appropriate to open the bottle? No, that's the worst thing you can do. The defense then argued that Ms. Ramos could not really have believed that the ibuprofen bottle in question contained an improved[sic] explosive device, because she had testified that, on removing it from Barlow's bag, she became suspicious of it, then shook it, and then opened it. These actions were the most dangerous actions she could possibly have taken if she really believed that the bottle might contain explosives..." Followup for this post.
A thorough analysis of the Patriot Act's effects on civil liberties by author Elaine Scarry. "Ashcroft dismissed the idea that the Justice Department could conceivably care about librarians or library records... [however,] a University of Illinois study... found that by February of 2002 (four months after the Patriot Act was passed) 4 percent of all U.S. libraries, and 11 percent of all libraries in communities of more than 50,000 people had already been visited by FBI agents requesting information about their patrons' reading habits." [via Harper's magazine]
We libertarians can be forgiven for suspecting that legal sanctions against vice are not the concern of normal, healthy human beings. They are the concern of busybodies. And busybodies, for the record, are people who spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what other people do in private. They hatch plans to catch their victims, engage in voyeurism as they peep into windows, and then break into homes and businesses to arrest their prey with the help of professional“busybody enablers”(pdf) called vice cops.
Keep off the grass These days in London it's okay to smoke grass but not okay to walk on grass. Perhaps it's not all that surprising given that there's been a material breach. Any other current examples of civil liberties being eroded quite so outrageously where you live?
Say goodbye to personal liberty if this bill gets passed. A bill aimed at fighting drugs on and off line will limit your freedom of speech, allow police to enter your house with a warrant but not telling you what it's for. One step closer to the Police state. And one heck of a supreme court case in the wings.