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Opportunistic Reversal or Just Politics?

The Obama administration shocked a lot of people — including this author — when an advisor announced Sunday that taxing medical insurance benefits is on the table as part of its so-called “health care reform” initiative. White House Open to New Tax on Health Benefits [washingtonpost.com]. The explanation, namely that everything is negotiable, rings very […]

Iran May Not Be Like Poland, the Philippines and Ukraine

Pat Oliphant’s editorial cartoon today captures the disconnect between global geopolitics and the people-powered “almost revolution” going on in Iran these days. Diplomacy and NGOs like the United Nations will remain basically unchanged no matter what. Sadly true. I am afraid the demonstrators are on their own and it seems a vicious crack-down is coming […]

Face of a Social Media-Powered Revolution?

This weekend’s events in Iran were stirring, scary and historic. More about the impact of social media and technology later, but for now just look at this near real-time photo posted via TwitPic from Tehran as of Monday afternoon. It has all the qualities to become an iconic image of these protests and what increasingly […]

The Real Action In Iran is In the Streets

As Mike Madden writes today in Salon, of course “social media is documenting the Iranian revolution — not leading it.” But that still requires media exposure, coordination and communication, all of which Twitter supplies in spades. No, social media will not bring down Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people can only do that. Imagine if Tom Paine […]

France is Different, Really

This post illustrates that even countries with legal traditions very different from that of the United States can teach Americans something about values. In France, criminal investigations follow the “j’accuse” model, under the Code pénal, where a single judge — known as the Juge d’Instruction — controls investigation and charging of suspects, and under which […]

Congress Clips TSA’s “Virtual Strip Search” Wings

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to restrict TSA from conducting what have become known as “virtual strip-searches.” House Restricts “Strip-Search Machines” [WashingtonWatch.com]. The bill provides, among other things, that:

Whole-body imaging technology may not be used as the sole or primary method of screening a passenger under this section. Whole-body imaging technology may […]

DNA, CODIS and Liberty

Last week, a federal district court ruled that mandatory DNA collection for all people facing federal felony charges is constitutional, dealing a setback to civil liberties. U.S. District Judge Gregory G. Hollows upheld the DNA Fingerprint Act, a 2006 statute which allows federal law enforcement agencies to collect DNA from individuals “arrested, facing charges, or […]

Social Media, Freedom & Revolution

It was 20 years ago today (thanks, John & Paul…) that China sent its military into Tienanmen Square to put down a student-led uprising devoted to inculcating Western democratic values into the PRC. The photos of that young man standing in front of a row of tanks will never lose their place among the most […]