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Who Owns the Moon? A Space Lawyer Explains

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony?


Most likely, this is the best-known picture of a flag ever taken: Buzz Aldrin standing next to the first U.S. flag planted on the Moon. For those who knew their world history, it also rang some alarm bells. Only less than a century ago, back on Earth, planting a national flag in another part of the world still amounted to claiming that territory for the fatherland. Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony?

When people hear for the first time that I am a lawyer practicing and teaching something called “space law,” the question they ask most frequently, often with a big smile or a twinkle in the eye, is: “So tell me, who owns the moon?”

Of course, claiming new national territories had been very much a European habit, applied to non-European parts of the world. In particular the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French and the English created huge colonial empires. But while their attitude was very Europe-centric, the legal notion that planting a flag was an act of establishing sovereignty quickly stuck and became accepted worldwide as part and parcel of the law of nations.

Obviously, the astronauts had more important things on their mind than contemplating the legal meaning and consequences of that planted flag, but luckily the issue had been taken care of prior to the mission. Since the beginning of the space race the United States knew that for many people around the world the sight of a U.S. flag on the Moon would raise major political issues. Any suggestion that the moon might become, legally speaking, part of U.S. backwaters might fuel such concerns, and possibly give rise to international disputes harmful to both the U.S. space program and U.S. interests as a whole.

By 1969, decolonization may have destroyed any notion that non-European parts of the world, though populated, were not civilized and thus justifiably made subject to European sovereignty – however, there was not a single person living on …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Anti-Gay Congressman’s Bill Would Ban US Embassies from Flying LGBT Pride Flag

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Some U.S. embassies have continued the tradition of honoring LGBT Pride even during the Trump years.


A Republican U.S. Congressman from South Carolina wants to make sure America's embassies around the world don't promote equality or recognize Pride month. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina has filed a bill that would ban U.S. embassies from flying the LGBT pride flag.

During the Obama administration many U.S. embassies around the world opted to fly the rainbow flag during June, the official month of LGBT Pride. President Donald Trump for two years in a row has refused to issue any declarations honoring Pride month.

“The United States flag is the single greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known, and there’s no reason for anything but Old Glory to be flying over our embassies and posts around the globe,” Duncan said in a statement, the Washington Examiner reports.

Some U.S. embassies have continued the tradition of honoring LGBT Pride even during the Trump years, prompting Rep. Duncan, an ardent anti-gay activist, to file his bill.

Rep. Duncan has ties to the far right wing of the Republican party, and even accepted an award from an anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council.

Duncan is on record as opposing same-sex marriage and even claims that state laws supersede federal laws on marriage, which is false. He also believes those who hold anti-gay positions should be federally protected.

The South Carolina Republican Congressman was roundly mocked earlier this year when he falsely claimed the First Amendment applied to Facebook, and demanded conservatives' free-speech rights be “restored.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's Team Is Terrified He Sabotaged His Mueller Defense Strategy by Cozying Up to Putin: Report

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Even many Republicans criticized the president's performance.


President Donald Trump's supplicatory performance with the Russian president at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday did nothing to help his argument that he's not in Vladimir Putin's pocket — and a new report from CNN found that his legal team fears it may have done him real damage on the legal front.

According to the report, the president's team has felt confident about his standing in recent weeks against special counsel Robert Mueller as public support for the Russia investigation has dropped. But after Trump's widely panned meeting with Putin, he's likely on shakier ground with the former FBI director.

“[One] source with knowledge of legal team thinking says it's now legitimate to fear that Trump's erratic behavior at the Helsinki summit, coupled with last week's indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers, could be an inflection point in the whole process — one that could potentially make Trump less sympathetic and conceivably embolden Mueller,” reporter Dana Bash and Gloria Borger wrote.

The president's team continues its negotiations about whether Trump will sit for an interview, but it's not clear the two sides have really made any progress. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said the president is only willing to meet if the scope of the questioning is narrowed — and he has repeatedly expressed concern that Trump will commit perjury.

Mueller may eventually decide to subpoena president, which could trigger a major legal battle over constitutional matters.

But the special counsel hasn't pulled the trigger yet.

“One question being raised inside Trump's team is whether Mueller is now slow-walking the interview talks as he rolls out indictments, as he did last week against a dozen Russian nationals,” according to CNN. “The thought is that maybe Mueller wants to show they have more of an established record before moving in any way on Trump.”

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Roger Stone Ally 'Manhattan Madam' Kristin Davis Is Reportedly Being Subpoenaed by Mueller

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The Russia investigation appears to be zeroing in on Roger Stone.


Kristin Davis, a long-time associate of Roger Stone known as the “Manhattan Madam,” is being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to multiple reports.

TMZ first reported the news, and NBC News later confirmed it.

Davis told NBC that she knows nothing about the special counsel’s Russia investigation, though she admitted to having ties to Stone, who was an ally of Trump during the 2016 election.

Other associates of Stone have been subpoenaed by the Mueller team, including Sam Nunberg, who worked on the Trump campaign. Nunberg has said he believes Mueller is going after Stone.

Stone has said he has not yet been interviewed by Mueller, which legal experts believe indicates he is likely a target of the ongoing investigation. Stone has admitted to being in contact during the campaign with Guccifer 2.0, who Mueller’s team revealed to be a false identity for Russian intelligence officers who hacked Democrats’ emails and intervened in the 2016 election.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Russia Was Just the Beginning: Here's How Social Media Became Infested with 'Computational Propaganda' Designed to Control Society

July 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“Social media manipulation is big business.”


While much of the world's attention is currently centered on efforts by Russian operatives to sow discord among the American electorate with fake social media posts and “troll farms” during the 2016 presidential election, an Oxford Internet Institute study published Friday found that use of social media by governments looking to “spread junk information and propaganda to voters” has become a global phenomenon.

“Social media manipulation is big business,” the researchers found. “We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are being spent on social media manipulation campaigns, involving tens of thousands of professional staff.”

While there is nothing new about political parties and governments using disinformation to manipulate elections at home and abroad, the Oxford researchers note that the massive, easily accessible, and lightly regulated platforms offered by Facebook and Twitter have become enormously powerful tools in the hands of political actors, who have used social media to kick their propaganda campaigns into overdrive and cast doubt on science and public institutions.

“Although closely related to some of the  dirty tricks and negative campaigning we might expect in close races (and which have always played a part in political campaigning ), what makes this phenomenon unique is the deliberate use of computational  propaganda to manipulate voters and shape the outcome of elections,” the study notes.

In 30 of the 48 countries examined, Oxford researchers discovered “evidence of political parties using computational propaganda during  elections or referenda. In emerging and Western democracies, sophisticated data analytics and political bots are being used to poison the information environment, promote skepticism and distrust, polarize voting constituencies, and undermine the integrity of democratic processes.”

Despite recent efforts by Facebook, Twitter, and governments to rein in the proliferation of fake stories on social media, Oxford researchers found that the use of bots to quickly spread disinformation is growing exponentially.

“We actually found 38 countries used bots last year, compared with 17 in the year before,” Philip Howard, director of the Oxford Internet Institute and co-author of the new study, told McClatchy.

“Social media have gone from being the natural infrastructure for sharing collective grievances and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Birthright Citizenship: An American Idea That Works

July 20, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

The 14th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution 150
years ago in July of 1868. Among other things, it enshrined our
traditional common law practice of granting citizenship to those
born in the United States who are subject to its laws-specifically
it guaranteed that the recently freed slaves and their descendants
would be citizens. The 14th Amendment also applied to the children
of immigrants, as its authors and opponents understood at the
time.

President Trump’s immigration position paper, however,
famously endorsed an end to birthright citizenship.
Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump
administration as well as a lecturer and researcher at Hillsdale
College, pushed such a move recently in the Washington Post. Anton argued that
President Trump should use his pen and his phone to exclude the
children born here to noncitizens, with little thought of what
would happen were such a policy enacted.

Taking Anton’s advice would do grievous harm to our
country, destroy one of the finest legacies of the Republican
Party, and overturn centuries of Anglo-American common law in
exchange for a citizenship system that would slow assimilation.

Regardless of migration
levels, allowing immigrant children to assimilate under the 14th
Amendment has proven a sensible idea.

There is little legal debate over the citizenship clause of the
14th Amendment that reads: “All persons born or naturalized
in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are
citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they
reside.” In the 1898 case of United States v. Wong Kim
Ark
, the Supreme Court ruled that children born to non-citizen
Chinese immigrants are citizens.

It did not matter that Chinese immigration was illegal at the
time or that they were not allowed to naturalize-being born here
conferred citizenship. That’s because immigrants, both legal
and illegal, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States
government, jurisdiction being a fancy legal word for
“power.” Any other interpretation would mean that the
U.S. government didn’t have legal power over tourists or
illegal immigrants here, a crazy notion. (Jurisdiction does not
apply to diplomats or other employees of foreign governments who
are working here in an official capacity-those covered by
diplomatic immunity-as the Wong Kim Ark decision makes
clear.)

During the debate over the passage of the 14th Amendment, both
sides understood that the new law would extend citizenship to the
children of immigrants who were legally barred from naturalization
and, later, immigration. Republican Senator Jacob Howard of
Michigan introduced the citizenship clause and said it “will
not, of course, include persons in the United States who are
foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families …read more

Source: OP-EDS