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The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

Posted: September 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm

I have read a number of accounts dealing with the dispute between the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Minerva over their conflicting claims to the Minerva Reefs, and of the Tongan Governments subsequent occupation of, and claim to, the reefs. Much of this writing has been the product of the grossly over fertile imagination of authors who have never set foot within a thousand miles of Minerva. Here are some examples of this ‘scholarship’. ‘Private Islands Discussion Forum’.

“The Tongans never took too kindly to the micro-nation of Minerva. An army of angry, armed, plus-sized Tongans ready to push the settlers into the sea should be enough to scare anyone”

‘Cabinet’. Issue 18 summer 2005

New Foundlands. George Pendle

“On 21 June 1972, the worlds heaviest monarch, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV of Tonga accompanied by members of the Tongan Defence Force, a convict work detail and a four piece brass band, set sail from his kingdom aboard the royal yacht Olovaha. On the king’s stately mind was one thought, the invasion of the Republic of Minerva”.

Out of such, are myths and legends born!

– Doug Jenkins, Bay of Islands, New Zealand –

What follows is my account of the so called ‘invasion of Minerva’. It was 39 years ago, but memories of this unique experience are still very fresh. I was there. I sailed to Minerva with King Taufa’ahau and his retinue on board the Olovaha. It was the luck of being in the right place at the right time, and it was the fortune of having an understanding boss, who when the opportunity arose for me to join the Olovaha said “go for it, and we’ll cover for you”.

The story was a big one throughout the Kingdom. On 15 June 1972 the ‘Tonga Chronicle’ published the full text of a Royal Proclamation.

PROCLAMATION His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV in council DOES HEREBY PROCLAIM:-WHEREAS the reefs known as North Minerva and South Minerva Reef have long served as fishing grounds for the Tongan people and have long been regarded as belonging to the Kingdom of Tonga has now created on these Reefs two islands known as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga; AND WHEREAS it is expedient that we should now confirm the rights of the Kingdom of Tonga to these islands; THEREFORE we do hereby AFFIRM and PROCLAIM that the islands, rocks, reefs, foreshores and waters lying within a radius of twelve miles (19.31 km) therefore are part of our Kingdom of Tonga.

It was also announced that Taufa’ahau himself, would be sailing south to the reefs to formally claim title

His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV

Prior to the proclamation, rumours had been growing for some time around Nuku’alofa of an international organization of dubious background proposing to create an artificial island on North Minerva by dredging the lagoon of South Minerva for the infill. As wild rumors began to give way to fact, it appeared that a syndicate known as the Ocean Life Research Foundation, conceived by Los Vegas real estate millionaire Michael Oliver, with considerable financial backing, and offices in London and New York, was behind the proposals to build this new micro-nation in the South West Pacific.

Their stated object was to create a libertarian society, with no taxation, no welfare, no subsidies, or any form of state intervention. It would be supported by fishing, tourism, light industry and other commercial activities. The ‘other activities’ were never specified but no doubt would include banking and the registration of ‘off shore companies’. It was envisaged by the group that the nearby Kingdom of Tonga would be happy to supply the labour for both the construction and future servicing of the new Republic of Minerva, to the mutual benefit of both states, (1)

Early in 1971 a visitor to Tonga, claiming the title of the Roving Ambassador for the Republic of Minerva, arrived in Nuku’alofa seeking an audience with the King in order to appraise him of the scheme. The audience was not granted. A senior member of the Prime Minister’s Department however did meet with the ‘Ambassador’ and was shown a documentary film produced by the Pilkington Glass Company. The film was a feasibility study for a ‘sea city’ of 30,000 people that could be constructed on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This was the model upon which Michael Oliver’s organization was basing its plans. Action on the reef by the ‘Republic’ was already underway. Based on legal advice that unclaimed land can be claimed if some practical use was made of it, Oliver’s organization had constructed a steel tower surmounted by a radar reflector, a useful navigation aid, on North Minerva, along with their flag. (2)

International legal experts consulted by the Tongan Government had a different interpretation of the law pertaining to unclaimed lands. According to this interpretation land could not be claimed unless it was permanently above the high tide mark. The claimants could then lay claim not only to the said land but also to all adjacent reefs. As a result of this ruling an ocean going tug and barge, with a work party of prisoners from Tolitoli Prison was dispatched to the reefs. Within a relatively short time they had constructed from coral blocks and concrete two very small islands each resplendent with a flagpole. The islands of Teleki Tokolau and Teleli Tonga were born

At this point I would like to digress for a moment. In my title I make specific mention of the Tonga Shipping Company’s vessel Olovaha. This for good reason. While surfing the net for background on Olovaha I came across an excellent web site, ‘MV Queen of the Isles’. With contributions from ex-crew and passengers this covers the life of a much loved little ship, from her launching at Bristol England in 1964, as a ferry between Penzance and the Scilly Isles as ‘Queen of the Isles’, to Tonga as an inter Island ferry called ‘Olovaha’, to New Zealand as a floating casino called ‘Gulf Explorer’, to the tourist trade of Queensland once more as ‘Queen of the Isles’. Renamed yet again ‘Western Queen’ for work in the Solomon Islands, she sadly ended her days blown ashore by cyclone Justin in 1997.

The one flaw in this account is the sparseness of information on the ships years under the flag of Tonga and no mention at all, of the roll she played in the Minerva Reef saga. This I believe must have been one of the highlights of her 33 year career and deserves to be remembered.

Olovaha sailed from Nuku’alofa at 11.30 pm on a Saturday night. We had to leave before midnight as strict Sunday observance in the kingdom forbade vessels to depart or any work to be done on the Lords Day. On board, His Royal Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, his nobles, his cabinet ministers, his royal fishermen, a platoon of solders, a police contingent, the full police brass band, Olovaha’s officers and crew, a German doctor and his wife, an American lady journalist, myself and my young Tongan companion Suliano Etu. A truly crowded little ship!

The royal entourage occupied the officers and masters quarters on the upper deck, the nobles, cabinet ministers and honorary nobles (all but one!) occupied the observation lounge below the bridge deck, police and military were accommodated in the cargo hold, the fishermen bunked in with the crew and Suliano and I camped on the after deck. On boarding I had been directed to the observation lounge and Suliano to the deck, I insisted on joining him. I preferred to be an ‘honorary commoner’. Having been told to bring our own food, we carried a back pack containing two sleeping bags, a small primus stove, some tined food and some loaves of bread. We went aft, to make camp among the mooring bollards.(3)

The flag of the Republic of Minerva

Ata Island

I slept well that first night under a canopy of brilliant stars, lulled by the rhythmic beat of ships engines and the roll of an ocean swell. I awoke from a dream of heavenly music, as from a male voice choir, opened my eyes and there on the deck before me stood a pair of very large feet in shiny black sandals. From the feet, my eye panned upwards, two brown, muscular and very hairy legs, to a black vala and ta’avala. I looked to the left and to the right, I was surrounded by them. I had awoken in a forest of hairy legs, and what’s more they were singing hymns. The owners of the legs that is. It was Sunday morning and church had convened on the largest open meeting place on board, ‘my’ after deck. Slowly, and I hope unobtrusively, I extracted my self from the sleeping bag, in which fortunately I was wearing shorts and shirt, and joined the congregation. Suliano slept on among the legs. When later I asked how he could manage to sleep through all that singing he confessed to only be pretending to sleep. He was Catholic he said, and had no intention of joining “that Methodist service”

Later that morning land appeared. A small island, very high, caped with forest and cloud, and skirted by imposing and precipitous cliffs. The island of Ata, some 100 nautical miles south of Nuku’alofa.

Here Olovaha dropped anchor on the southern side, between the pinnacles and the island. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, when it is normally prohibited, the King gave permission for fishing to commence, on the condition that all catches were to go into the royal larder. Suddenly fishing lines appeared, it seemed with every one, from noble to common sea man, all had come prepared except for Suliano and my self. The fishing was exciting but not very profitable. Most of the catch being sharks, and most of the sharks lost while hauling them up the high ships sides. While anchored off Ata a minor coincidence occurred. In 1965 six Tongan youths, in a stolen fishing boat, were shipwrecked on Ata and marooned for 13 months. They were discovered and rescued by the Australian fishing boat Just David, owned by Sydney businessman and entrepreneur, Peter Warner.(4)

Just David returned the boys, first to Nuku’alofa and then to their home islands in Ha’apai. While in Tongan waters Warner was impressed by the fishing potential and as a result established a fishing and fish processing enterprise in Nuku’alofa. He named the first vessel built for this venture Ata, for the island from which the boys had been rescued. Shortly before we were about to leave Ata for Minerva that day, a vessel made its appearance from behind the island and moved to anchor alongside us. It was Peter Warner’s long line fishing vessel Ata.

Some of the ships complement on Teleki Tokolau

Seeing the Royal Standard flying from our mast, gifts were immediately hoisted aboard for His Majesty, three large tuna and three large turtles. These were laid side by side on the deck, three of the men from Ata sat cross legged on one side, while three nobles, representing the king sat facing them across the gifts. An elaborate formal presentation then took place. Ceremonial over the fishermen returned to their boat. Both vessels retrieved their anchors and proceeded on their respective journeys, Ata, north to Nuku’alofa with her catch and Olovaha south, toward the Minervas’.

Late the following afternoon, out of what seemed an endless ocean, a line of broken water appeared on our horizon. We had reached North Minerva. Olovaha pitched and rolled heavily as we negotiated the narrow gap of rapidly shoaling water but within a few minutes every thing became still. We were in a comparative mill pond surrounded by a rolling ocean, a strange feeling. We made a turn to port, toward the deeper anchorage on the northern edge of the lagoon and there, before us lay Tel’eki Tokelau Island, much smaller than I had envisaged, surmounted by her flag pole. Near by lay the boilers and engine of one of the many wrecks that are scattered about the reef. Before sleep that night I lay wondering what the next day would bring, there were so many of us on this boat, and that Island looked so very small, there was no way that we could all fit ashore. Would Suliano and I even get the chance to land? After all we were among the least important of those on board.

Come morning and my concerns were answered. For the ceremony, the King would remain onboard (in fact he did not go ashore at all) along with the brass band. The soldiers, armed with 303 lee-enfields for firing the salute, also remained on the Olovaha. There was room for us.

As this was an important royal occasion all were dressed in their best finery. Police and military in dress uniform, ministers of religion in their robes, nobles and cabinet ministers, and Suliano, in their best valas and ta’avalas. For the occasion even I had taken shoes and socks, long trousers and a tie. The ships life boats were swung out, we scrambled aboard, and set off. Then there came a problem. On reaching the edge of the coral it was discovered that Olovaha’s boats drew to much water to be able to cross the reef, and we still had about 100 yards to go to reach our destination. It was over the side we all went in all our finery to wade ashore at times in chest deep water. What a sight we made on reaching the island.

And so the ceremony began. A member of the defense force, with hand held radio, coordinated what was taking place on the island with the activities onboard Olovaha. Hymns were sung and prayers were prayed. The proclamation was read. Police and military stood stiffly to attention. A soldier knelt before a minister of the church with the neatly folded flag on his outstretched arms for it to be blessed. A bugle sounded, and to the strains of the national anthem coming across the water from the ship, the red and white ensign of Tonga was slowly hoisted. This was followed by the salute, fired from ‘Olovaha’s guns’. Throughout all of this we all stood, dripping wet in our finery.

Olovaha at North Minerva

My feelings that day were to say the least, an unusual mixture. Was I partaking in some strange farce, played out in the middle of the ocean? In many ways the whole scene was quite Gilbertian. We could well have been the rehearsing cast for HMS Pinafore or the Pirates of Penzance. There were times when I could have laughed at the weird performance in which I was participating, and yet, for much of the ceremony I was considerably moved. I was being involved in history. I was participating in a ceremonial the likes of which had probably not occurred since Cook raised the flag in New Zealand, claiming the land for His Majesty King George III. Here I was, with King Tafu’ahau IV, raising the flag over a new land. Such an occurrence may never happen again in the history of mankind. This may seem rather an extreme hyperbole, but in fact it was just how I felt.

The following day Suliano and I left the ship and swam to the reef with fins and goggles, to explore the coral. After a time we noticed one of the ships boat’s approaching. Ashore came the whole contingent of nobles and with them a large Kava bowl. We swam to within a short distance of the island, and being inappropriately dressed to go ashore sat with just our heads above water and watched. We were privileged to witness at first hand a full noble kava ceremony. Normally, a rare sight, but even more so in such an unusual setting.

Early the next morning anchor was weighed and we left for South Minerva. It was as well that the formal ceremonies had taken place on North Minerva as the weather now began to deteriorate. After negotiating the entrance to South Minerva, we crossed the lagoon to Tele’ke Tonga. Here the island had been constructed near the remains of the Japanese fishing boat that had provided shelter to the crew and passengers of the ill fated Tongan cutter Tuaikaepau in 1962. A number of Tuaikaepau’s complement died and were buried on the reef so sadly adding a more emotive aspect to Tonga’s claims. (5) Wind and seas were rising and rain squalls scuttled across the lagoon as one of the boats was quickly lowered. A party of soldiers was ferried ashore, and the flag was raised. Returning to Olovaha the boat was hoisted aboard, the anchor retrieved and we made our way through the gap toward the open sea. The course was set for home.

Two days later Olovaha steamed into Nuku’alofa. One of the highlights of my four years in the Kingdom had come to an end. Over the years I have related this story many times. Listeners to my tale have often said that I should put it on paper, now, 39 years later, I have done just that. Some minor aspects of the occasion I have no doubt have been eroded by the mists of memory and time but basically this is a true account of what I remember of that event in Tongan history. I was there.

Foot Notes

The vessel as Queen of the Isles I. This was her appearance while operating in Tongan waters.

Olovaha as Queen of the Isles II after the refit. Note the extended boat deck, and narrower funnel.

The rest is here:

The Queen & the Republic of Minerva

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Mars Colonization: Elon Musks Plans And SpaceX …

Posted: at 7:46 pm

First Posted: Sep 22, 2016 06:04 AM EDT

In less than a week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is reportedly going to explain his colonization plans for Mars, a goal close to his heart and one that he has championed for many years. According to speculations, Musk will talk about the technologies and vehicles needed to transport people to the Martian surface, and create a settlement there.

The Tesla cofounder is going to talk about his plans on September 27. Incidentally, the announcement coincides with an awkward time for SpaceX, after the company faced a major debacle when one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded in the Cape Canaveral launch pad. However, going by Musk’s talk schedule, it doesn’t seem like the plan to discuss his Mars vision next week has changed.

“I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen,”Elon Musk had stated previously in 2014. However, the CEO of SpaceX has never absolutely cleared what his plans for Mars entail. Based on periodic information released by Musk and SpaceX, regarding various technologies, here is what can be gathered about the Mars colonization plan as of now, until the real picture is presented by the man himself.

The plan to reach the red planet, as forwarded by Musk, is based on two main elements that comprise of a rocket booster and a giant spaceship that will transport people and cargo. After being launched by the booster, the spaceship will continue on its long journey to Mars. The two vehicles have been referred to as the Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT); however last week the name was changed to Interplanetary Transport System, because Musk believes the vehicles can also make a journey beyond Mars. Over the past few years, Musk has indicated that rocket used to propel the spaceship will be reusable, and he hopes to launch the first manned spaceship in 2024. However, a test to launch a person into space has still not been conducted by SpaceX.

A key part of the rocket and spaceship will be the Raptor, a huge engine that the company has been working on since 2009. According to Musk, the Raptor will be capable of 500,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff, which implies it will be as strong as the main engines of the space shuttle. The component will reportedly be fueled with liquid methane, unlike the kerosene dependent Merlin engines used for powering the Falcon 9 rockets. Furthermore, a whole group of such raptors will power the Interplanetary Transport System, though their precise numbers are still unclear at the moment. Incidentally, the first full-scale Raptor was transported to the SpaceX testing facility in Texas earlier this year.

Musk had also revealed SpaceX’s plan to launch a series of Red Dragon missions, starting in 2018 whose sole purpose will be to see if the vehicle can drop off supplies to the Martian surface to set up the framework of hardware and equipment in preparation for the people journeying from Earth. In addition, Musk has also revealed that his spaceship will be brought back to Earth and won’t be on a one way journey like the Mars One project. “These spaceships are expensive, okay, they’re hard to build. You can’t just leave them there. So whether or not people want to come back or not is kind of – like they can jump on if they want, but we need the spaceship back,” Elon Musk has stated.

At the moment, it is not clear how the spaceship is going to make a return journey or where exactly will the people, who travel to Mars, live. The details will only be revealed once Musk talks about his plans next week.

TagsMars, Elon Musk, spacex

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Mars Colonization: Elon Musks Plans And SpaceX …

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Annotation 1 – First Amendment – FindLaw

Posted: at 7:46 pm


An Overview

Madison’s original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ”The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.” 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, . . .” 3 It was in the conference committee of the two bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was written with its some what more indefinite ”respecting” phraseology. 4 Debate in Congress lends little assistance in interpreting the religion clauses; Madison’s position, as well as that of Jefferson who influenced him, is fairly clear, 5 but the intent, insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who voted for the language and those in the States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation.

Scholarly Commentary .–The explication of the religion clauses by the scholars has followed a restrained sense of their meaning. Story, who thought that ”the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice,” 6 looked upon the prohibition simply as an exclusion from the Federal Government of all power to act upon the subject. ”The situation . . . of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.” 7

”Probably,” Story also wrote, ”at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.” 8 The object, then, of the religion clauses in this view was not to prevent general governmental encouragement of religion, of Christianity, but to prevent religious persecution and to prevent a national establishment. 9

This interpretation has long since been abandoned by the Court, beginning, at least, with Everson v. Board of Education, 10 in which the Court, without dissent on this point, declared that the Establishment Clause forbids not only practices that ”aid one religion” or ”prefer one religion over another,” but as well those that ”aid all religions.” Recently, in reliance on published scholarly research and original sources, Court dissenters have recurred to the argument that what the religion clauses, principally the Establishment Clause, prevent is ”preferential” governmental promotion of some religions, allowing general governmental promotion of all religion in general. 11 The Court has not responded, though Justice Souter in a major concurring opinion did undertake to rebut the argument and to restate the Everson position. 12

Court Tests Applied to Legislation Affecting Religion .–Before considering the development of the two religion clauses by the Supreme Court, one should notice briefly the tests developed by which religion cases are adjudicated by the Court. While later cases rely on a series of rather well-defined, if difficult-to-apply, tests, the language of earlier cases ”may have [contained] too sweeping utterances on aspects of these clauses that seemed clear in relation to the particular cases but have limited meaning as general principles.” 13 It is well to recall that ”the purpose [of the religion clauses] was to state an objective, not to write a statute.” 14

In 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in which he declared that it was the purpose of the First Amendment to build ”a wall of separation between Church and State.” 15 In Reynolds v. United States, 16 Chief Justice Waite for the Court characterized the phrase as ”almost an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.” In its first encounters with religion-based challenges to state programs, the Court looked to Jefferson’s metaphor for substantial guidance. 17 But a metaphor may obscure as well as illuminate, and the Court soon began to emphasize neutrality and voluntarism as the standard of restraint on governmental action. 18 The concept of neutrality itself is ”a coat of many colors,” 19 and three standards that could be stated in objective fashion emerged as tests of Establishment Clause validity. The first two standards were part of the same formulation. ”The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. That is to say that to withstand the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.” 20 The third test is whether the governmental program results in ”an excessive government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of degree . . . [T]he questions are whether the involvement is excessive, and whether it is a continuing one calling for official and continuing surveillance leading to an impermissible degree of entanglement.” 21 In 1971 these three tests were combined and restated in Chief Justice Burger’s opinion for the Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 22 and are frequently referred to by reference to that case name.

Although at one time accepted in principle by all of the Justices, 23 the tests have sometimes been difficult to apply, 24 have recently come under direct attack by some Justices, 25 and with increasing frequency have not been applied at all by the Court. 26 While continued application is uncertain, the Lemon tests nonetheless have served for twenty years as the standard measure of Establishment Clause validity and explain most of the Court’s decisions in the area. 27 As of the end of the Court’s 1991-92 Term, there was not yet a consensus among Lemon critics as to what substitute test should be favored. 28 Reliance on ”coercion” for that purpose would eliminate a principal distinction between establishment cases and free exercise cases and render the Establishment Clause largely duplicative of the Free Exercise Clause. 29

Justice O’Connor has suggested that it is inappropriate to try to shoehorn all Establishment cases into one test, and has called instead for recognition that different contexts may call for different approaches. Supp.1 For example, the Justice proposes that cases involving government ”speech” on religious topics be judged by an endorsement test that would invalidate government actions only if a reasonable observer would perceive the action as an endorsement or disapproval of religious belief. Supp.2

Government Neutrality in Religious Disputes .–One value that both clauses of the religion section serve is to enforce governmental neutrality in deciding controversies arising out of religious disputes. Schism sometimes develops within churches or between a local church and the general church, resulting in secession or expulsion of one faction or of the local church. A dispute over which body is to have control of the property of the church will then often be taken into the courts. It is now established that both religion clauses prevent governmental inquiry into religious doctrine in settling such disputes, and instead require courts simply to look to the decision-making body or process in the church and to give effect to whatever decision is officially and properly made.

The first such case was Watson v. Jones, 30 which was decided on common-law grounds in a diversity action without explicit reliance on the First Amendment. A constitutionalization of the rule was made in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 31 in which the Court held unconstitutional a state statute that recognized the autonomy and authority of those North American branches of the Russian Orthodox Church which had declared their independence from the general church. Recognizing that Watson v. Jones had been decided on nonconstitutional grounds, the Court thought nonetheless that the opinion ”radiates . . . a spirit of freedom for religious organizations, and independence from secular control or manipulation–in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” 32 The power of civil courts to resolve church property disputes was severely circumscribed, the Court held, because to permit resolution of doctrinal disputes in court was to jeopardize First Amendment values. What a court must do, it was held, is to look at the church rules: if the church is a hierarchical one which reposes determination of ecclesiastical issues in a certain body, the resolution by that body is determinative, while if the church is a congregational one prescribing action by a majority vote, that determination will prevail. 33 On the other hand, a court confronted with a church property dispute could apply ”neutral principles of law, developed for use in all property disputes,” when to do so would not require resolution of doctrinal issues. 34 In a later case the Court elaborated on the limits of proper inquiry, holding that an argument over a matter of internal church government, the power to reorganize the dioceses of a hierarchical church in this country, was ”at the core of ecclesiastical affairs” and a court could not interpret the church constitution to make an inde pendent determination of the power but must defer to the interpretation of the body authorized to decide. 35

In Jones v. Wolf, 36 however, a divided Court, while formally adhering to these principles, appeared to depart in substance from their application. A schism had developed in a local church which was a member of a hierarchical church, and the majority voted to withdraw from the general church. The proper authority of the general church determined that the minority constituted the ”true congregation” of the local church and awarded them authority over it. The Court approved the approach of the state court in applying neutral principles by examining the deeds to the church property, state statutes, and provisions of the general church’s constitution concerning ownership and control of church property in order to determine that no language of trust in favor of the general church was contained in any of them and that the property thus belonged to the local congregation. 37 Further, the Court held, the First Amendment did not prevent the state court from applying a presumption of majority rule to award control to the majority of the local congregation, provided that it permitted defeasance of the presumption upon a showing that the identity of the local church is to be determined by some other means as expressed perhaps in the general church charter. 38 The dissent argued that to permit a court narrowly to view only the church documents relating to property ownership permitted the ignoring of the fact that the dispute was over ecclesiastical matters and that the general church had decided which faction of the congregation was the local church. 39

Thus, it is unclear where the Court is on this issue. Jones v. Wolf restated the rule that it is improper to review an ecclesiastical dispute and that deference is required in those cases, but by approving a neutral principles inquiry which in effect can filter out the doctrinal issues underlying a church dispute, the Court seems to have approved at least an indirect limitation of the authority of hierarchical churches. 40


[Footnote 1] 1 Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).

[Footnote 2] The committee appointed to consider Madison’s proposals, and on which Madison served, with Vining as chairman, had rewritten the religion section to read: ”No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.” After some debate during which Madison suggested that the word ”national” might be inserted before the word ”religion” as ”point[ing] the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent,” the House adopted a substitute reading: ”Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 729-31 (August 15, 1789). On August 20, on motion of Fisher Ames, the language of the clause as quoted in the text was adopted. Id. at 766. According to Madison’s biographer, ”[t]here can be little doubt that this was written by Madison.” I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800 at 271 (1950).

[Footnote 3] This text, taken from the Senate Journal of September 9, 1789, appears in 2 B. Schwartz (ed.), The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History 1153 (1971). It was at this point that the religion clauses were joined with the freedom of expression clauses.

[Footnote 4] 1 Annals of Congress 913 (September 24, 1789). The Senate concurred the same day. See I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800, 271-72 (1950).

[Footnote 5] During House debate, Madison told his fellow Members that ”he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 730 (August 15, 1789). That his conception of ”establishment” was quite broad is revealed in his veto as President in 1811 of a bill which in granting land reserved a parcel for a Baptist Church in Salem, Mississippi; the action, explained President Madison, ”comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.”’ 8 The Writings of James Madison (G. Hunt. ed.) 132-33 (1904). Madison’s views were no doubt influenced by the fight in the Virginia legislature in 1784-1785 in which he successfully led the opposition to a tax to support teachers of religion in Virginia and in the course of which he drafted his ”Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments” setting forth his thoughts. Id. at 183-91; I. Brant, James Madison–The Nationalist 1780-1787, 343-55 (1948). Acting on the momentum of this effort, Madison secured passage of Jefferson’s ”Bill for Religious Liberty”. Id. at 354; D. Malone, Jefferson the Virginian 274-280 (1948). The theme of the writings of both was that it was wrong to offer public support of any religion in particular or of religion in general.

[Footnote 6] 3 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 1865 (1833).

[Footnote 7] Id. at 1873.

[Footnote 8] Id. at 1868.

[Footnote 9] For a late expounding of this view, see T. Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States 224-25 (3d ed. 1898).

[Footnote 10] 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). Establishment Clause jurisprudence since, whatever its twists and turns, maintains this view.

[Footnote 11] Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 91 (1985) (then-Justice Rehnquist dissenting). More recently, dissenters, including now-Chief Justice Rehnquist, have appeared reconciled to a ”constitutional tradition” in which governmental endorsement of religion is out of bounds, even if it is not correct as a matter of history. See Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2678, 2683-84 (1992) (Justice Scalia, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices White and Thomas, dissenting).

[Footnote 12] Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2667 (1992) (Justice Souter, joined by Justices Stevens and O’Connor, concurring).

[Footnote 13] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970).

[Footnote 14] Id.

[Footnote 15] 16 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 281 (A. Libscomb ed., 1904).

[Footnote 16] 98 U.S. 145, 164 (1879).

[Footnote 17] Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 16 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 , 212 (1948); cf. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 317 (1952) (Justice Black dissenting). In Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 614 (1971), Chief Justice Burger remarked that ”the line of separation, far from being a ‘wall,’ is a blurred, indistinct and variable barrier depending on all the circumstances of a particular relationship.” Similar observations were repeated by the Chief Justice in his opinion for the Court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 673 (1984) (the metaphor is not ”wholly accurate”; the Constitution does not ”require complete separation of church and state [but] affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any”).

[Footnote 18] Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Justice Goldberg concurring); Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 694 -97 (1970) (Justice Harlan concurring). In the opinion of the Court in the latter case, Chief Justice Burger wrote: ”The course of constitutional neutrality in this area cannot be an absolutely straight line; rigidity could well defeat the basic purpose of these provisions, which is to insure that no religion be sponsored or favored, none commanded, and none inhibited. The general principle deducible from the First Amendment and all that has been said by the Court is this: that we will not tolerate either governmentally established religion or governmental interference with religion. Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference.” Id. at 669.

[Footnote 19] Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 249 (1968) (Justice Harlan concurring).

[Footnote 20] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 (1963).

[Footnote 21] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 -75 (1970).

[Footnote 22] 403 U.S. 602, 612 -13 (1971).

[Footnote 23] E.g., Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 653 (1980), and id. at 665 (dissenting opinion); Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 40 (1980), and id. at 43 (dissenting opinion).

[Footnote 24] The tests provide ”helpful signposts,” Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973), and are at best ”guidelines” rather than a ”constitutional caliper;” they must be used to consider ”the cumulative criteria developed over many years and applying to a wide range of governmental action.” Inevitably, ”no ‘bright line’ guidance is afforded.” Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 677 -78 (1971). See also Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 761 & n.5, 773 n.31 (1973); Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 662 (1980), and id. at 663 (Justice Blackmun dissenting).

[Footnote 25] See, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 636 -40 (1987) (Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting) (advocating abandonment of the ”purpose” test); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 108 -12 (1985) (Justice Rehnquist dissenting); Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 426 -30 (1985) (Justice O’Connor, dissenting) (addressing difficulties in applying the entanglement prong); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 -69 (Justice White concurring in judgment) (objecting to entanglement test). Justice Kennedy has also acknowledged criticisms of the Lemon tests, while at the samed time finding no need to reexamine them. See, e.g., Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 655 -56 (1989). At least with respect to public aid to religious schools, Justice Stevens would abandon the tests and simply adopt a ”no-aid” position. Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 671 (1980).

[Footnote 26] See Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding legislative prayers on the basis of historical practice); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2655 (1992) (rejecting a request to reconsider Lemon because the practice of invocations at public high school graduations was invalid under established school prayer precedents); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1 (1993) (upholding provision of sign-language interpreter to deaf student attending parochial school); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481 (1994) (invalidating law creating special school district for village composed exclusively of members of one religious sect). The Court has also held that the tripartite test is not applicable when law grants a denominational preference, distinguishing between religions; rather, the distinction is to be subjected to the strict scrutiny of a suspect classification. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 -46 (1982).

[Footnote 27] Justice Blackmun, concurring in Lee, contended that Marsh was the only one of 31 Establishment cases between 1971 and 1992 not to be decided on the basis on the Lemon tests. 112 S. Ct. at 2663, n.4.

[Footnote 28] In 1990 Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Scalia, proposed that ”neutral” accommodations of religion should be permissible so long as they do not establish a state religion, and so long as there is no ”coercion” to participate in religious exercises. Westside Community Bd. of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 260 -61. The two Justices parted company, however, over the permissiblity of invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies, Justice Scalia in dissent strongly criticizing Justice Kennedy’s approach in the opinion of the Court for its reliance on psychological coercion. Justice Scalia would not ”expand[ ] the concept of coercion beyond acts backed by threat of penalty.” Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2684 (1992). Chief Justice Rehnquist has advocated limiting application to a prohibition on establishing a national (or state) church or favoring one religious group over another. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 98 , 106 (1985) (dissenting).

[Footnote 29] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 -23 (1963). See also Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 248 -49 (1968); and Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 689 (1971); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2673 (Justice Souter concurring) (”a literal application of the coercion test would render the Establishment Clause a virtual nullity”).

[Footnote 1 (1996 Supplement)] Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet,114 S. Ct. 2481, 2498-99 (1994).

[Footnote 2 (1996 Supplement)] Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (concurring); Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 625 (1989) (concurring); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481, 2500 (1994) (concurring).

[Footnote 30] 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679 (1872).

[Footnote 31] 344 U.S. 94 (1952). Kedroff was grounded on the Free Exercise Clause. Id. at 116. But the subsequent cases used a collective ”First Amendment” designation.

[Footnote 32] Id. at 116. On remand, the state court adopted the same ruling on the merits but relied on a common-law rule rather than the statute. This too was struck down. Kreshik v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 363 U.S. 190 (1960).

[Footnote 33] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447 , 450-51 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367 (1970). For a similar rule of neutrality in another context, see United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (denying defendant charged with mail fraud through dissemination of purported religious literature the right to present to the jury evidence of the truthfulness of the religious views he urged).

[Footnote 34] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 449 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God of Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367, 368 (1970). See also id. at 368-70 (Justice Brennan concurring).

[Footnote 35] The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Dionisije Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 697, 720 -25 (1976). In Gonzalez v. Archbishop, 280 U.S. 1 (1929), the Court had permitted limited inquiry into the legality of the actions taken under church rules. The Serbian Eastern Court disapproved of this inquiry with respect to concepts of ”arbitrariness,” although it reserved decision on the ”fraud” and ”collusion” exceptions. 426 U.S. at 708 -20.

[Footnote 36] 443 U.S. 595 (1979). In the majority were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Stevens. Dissenting were Justices Powell, Stewart, White, and Chief Justice Burger.

[Footnote 37] Id. at 602-06.

[Footnote 38] Id. at 606-10. Because it was unclear whether the state court had applied such a rule and applied it properly, the Court remanded.

[Footnote 39] Id. at 610.

[Footnote 40] The Court indicated that the general church could always expressly provide in its charter or in deeds to property the proper disposition of disputed property. But here the general church had decided which faction was the ”true congregation,” and this would appear to constitute as definitive a ruling as the Court’s suggested alternatives. Id. at 606.

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Bitcoin is money, U.S. judge says in case tied to JPMorgan …

Posted: at 7:45 pm

NEW YORK Bitcoin qualifies as money, a federal judge ruled on Monday, in a decision linked to a criminal case over hacking attacks against JPMorgan Chase & Co and other companies.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to his alleged operation of, which prosecutors have called an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.

Murgio had argued that bitcoin did not qualify as “funds” under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.

But the judge, like her colleague Jed Rakoff in an unrelated 2014 case, said the virtual currency met that definition.

“Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term,” Nathan wrote. “Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment.”

The decision did not address six other criminal counts that Murgio faces, Nathan wrote.

Brian Klein, a lawyer for Murgio, said he disagreed with the decision.

“Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial,” he added.

Prosecutors last year charged Murgio over the operation of, and in April charged his father Michael with participating in bribery aimed at supporting it.

Authorities have said was owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli man who, along with two others, was charged with running a sprawling computer hacking and fraud scheme targeting a dozen companies, including JPMorgan, and exposing personal data of more than 100 million people.

That alleged scheme generated hundreds of millions of dollars of profit through pumping up stock prices, online casinos, money laundering and other illegal activity, prosecutors have said.

Shalon has pleaded not guilty, and is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He hired new lawyers last month and is seeking permission to replace lawyers who joined the case in June, a Monday court filing showed.

The case is U.S. v Murgio et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00769.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Diane Craft)

WASHINGTON Tesla Motors Inc Thursday sued Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials in federal court over the state’s refusal to allow the Palo Alto, California automaker to sell vehicles directly to consumers.

FRANKFURT Samsung Electronics aims to re-launch its flagship Note7 smartphone across Europe well before year-end, but it could well be 2017 before the company fully rebounds from a global product recall tied to defective batteries, a regional executive said on Thursday.

Gaming and gambling are among potential growth areas for Formula One as the sport’s new owners seek to develop largely untapped digital markets, Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei said on Thursday.

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Singularitarianism – Lesswrongwiki

Posted: September 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Wikipedia has an article about

Singularitarianism refers to attitudes or beliefs favoring a technological singularity.

The term was coined by Mark Plus, then given a more specific meaning by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his Singularitarian principles. “Singularitarianism”, early on, referred to an principled activist stance aimed at creating a singularity for the benefit of humanity as a whole, and in particular to the movement surrounding the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.

The term has since sometimes been used differently, without it implying the specific principles listed by Yudkowsky. For example, Ray Kurzweil’s book “The Singularity Is Near” contains a chapter titled “Ich bin ein Singularitarian”, in which Kurzweil describes his own vision for technology improving the world. Others have used the term to refer to people with an impact on the Singularity and to “expanding one’s mental faculties by merging with technology”. Others have used “Singularitarian” to refer to anyone who predicts a technological singularity will happen.

Yudkowsky has (perhaps facetiously) suggested that those adhering to the original activist stance relabel themselves the “Elder Singularitarians”.

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Breitbart: Supreme Court Second Amendment Case Could …

Posted: at 7:08 pm

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER WASHINGTONFor the first time in U.S. history, a federal appeals court on Friday struck down a federal gun-control law for violating the Second Amendment, meaning that next year the Supreme Court will hear a case that includes the opportunity to abolish citizens right to bear arms by overruling the Courts famous Heller precedent.

Clifford Tyler is a law-abiding and peaceful citizen living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1985, his wife of 23 years was having an adulterous affair. She ran off with the other man and took all of Cliffords money with her. His daughters found him so upset and depressed, banging his head on the floor, that they called the authorities, fearing he might harm himself.

Tyler was taken before a Michigan judge, who ruled there was sufficient reason to be concerned about the distraught man to commit him to a facility for psychiatric evaluation. A couple weeks later the doctors released him with a clean bill of health, saying that he was a perfectly normal person who had a really horrible day. Tyler continued to be a good citizen, a good employee, got remarried, has been a good father, and eventually even repaired his relationship with his unfaithful ex-wife.

Hes now age 74, and wanted to buy a handgun to keep at home for self-defense. But the government told him that federal law bars him from ever owning a gun, so he went to court to assert his Second Amendment rights.

In 2008, the Supreme Court inDistrict of Columbia v. Hellerone of the most famous decisions ever written by Justice Antonin Scaliaheld that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and as such does not allow the federal government to bar law-abiding and peaceable American citizens from keeping a handgun in their home. Heller was a 5-4 decision, and left other gun-rights questions for future cases.

Heller specified that it was not weighing in on certain issues, including laws that prohibit certain people from owning guns. Federal law in 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4) is one of these gun-control laws, providing that no one who has been committed to a mental institution can own firearms.

In 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed an NRA-supported law advancing Second Amendment rights, including 18 U.S.C. 925(c), which empowers the Justice Department to restore gun rights if the attorney general finds a particular person to be safe and sane. But Congress stopped funding that program in 1992, canceling out that Reagan-era protection for Americas 90 million gun owners.

So in 2007 Congress passed a new law empowering states to set up their own review process to restore gun rights. Most states have established such a program, but some statesincluding Michigan, where Tyler liveshave not.

The federal district court in Michigan ruled against Tyler, but a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed. The Obama administration petitioned the Sixth Circuit to rehear the case en banc, meaning all the judges on the courtin this case, 16 judgeswould reconsider the case.

The petition was granted, and on Sept. 15, by a 10-6 vote in Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriffs Department the full Sixth Circuit struck down 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4) as a violation of the Second Amendment, and remanded the case back down to the district court for more hearings. The court noted that Heller said laws that kept mentally ill people from getting guns were allowed under the Second Amendment, but held that Section 922(g)(4) went too far by mandating that any person who has ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institutioneven for a single daycan never own a gun for the rest of his or her life.

Writing the lead opinion for six judges of the en banc court (which is less than a majority, but still the controlling opinion in this case), Judge Julia Gibbons explained that similar to several other appeals courts, the Sixth Circuit had recently adopted a two-step process for Second Amendment cases. The first step asks whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right, as historically understood, she wrote. If it does, then the government bears the burden of justifying the constitutionality of the law under a heightened form of scrutiny.

Specifically, these judges decided that intermediate scrutinya term invented decades ago by the Supreme Courtshould apply to this type of gun-control law. As Judge Gibbons wrote, intermediate scrutiny requires (1) the governments stated objective to be important and (2) a reasonable fit between the challenged regulation and the asserted objective. This standard is less stringent than strict scrutiny, which is another judge-made test.

The lead opinion noted that the Justice Department in this case failed to cite historical material or other evidence supporting Section 922(g)(4). In the absence of such evidence, it would be odd to rely solely on Heller to rubber stamp the legislatures power to permanently exclude individuals from a fundamental right based solely on a past involuntary commitment.

Judge Gibbons continued, Some sort of showing must be made to support Congresss adoption of prior involuntary commitments as a basis for a categorical, permanent limitation on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The judges thought this principle applied with special force in this case. Tylers [lawsuit and evidence] suggest that Tyler is thirty years removed from a brief depressive episode and that he has no intervening mental health or substance abuse problems since that time.

None of the governments evidence squarely answers the key question at the heart of this case: Is it necessary to forever bar all previously institutionalized persons from owning a firearm?, the court reasoned. Then noting Congresss own restoration program in Section925(c) and the 2007 law allowing for state restoration programs, added, But the biggest problem for the government is Congresss most recent answer to this very question: No, it is not.

Thus, the court concluded that since the Obama administration presented no evidence supporting this statute, There is no indication of the continued risk presented by people who were involuntarily committed many years ago and who have no history of intervening mental illness, criminal activity, or substance abuse.

The Sixth Circuit thereby invalidated this federal law, holding, As we see it, the government may justify 922(g)(4) in one of two ways: (1) with additional evidence explaining the necessity of 922(g)(4)s lifetime ban or (2) with evidence showing that 922(g)(4) is constitutional as applied to Tyler because he would be a risk to himself or others were he allowed to possess a firearm.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote a separate opinion, joined by several judges, as to why this federal law must be struck down.

Keep in mind that Tyler is not demanding a gun today, he wrote. He is demanding only what Congress used to permit and what most States still permit: an opportunity to show that he is not a risk to himself or others.

After a lengthy discussion, Judge Sutton continued, If there is one thing clear in American law today, it is that the government may not deny an individual a benefit, least of all a constitutional right, based on a sky-high generalization and a skin-deep assumption stemming from a long-ago diagnosis or a long-ago institutionalization.

Tyler has presented plenty of evidence that he is just fine, Judge Sutton concluded.

Judge Karen Moorea Clinton-appointed liberal who is a perfect example of the sort of judge Hillary Clinton would be expected to nominate to the Supreme Courtwrote an energetic dissent, joined by several other liberal judges. In it, she argued that Tyler should never be allowed to own a gun, and that Congress has all the power it needs to ban gun ownership by many other types of Americans as well.

Judge Moore also argued for the dissenting judges that Heller should be interpreted as saying that the Second Amendment does nothing to block federal gun-control power here, a reading that is utterly incompatible with what Justice Scalia actually wrote.

Although the Cincinnati-based appeals court reached the right result, it did not do so for the right reasons.

In fact, the only judge who followed Justice Scalias famous originalist approach in Hellerthe method of interpreting the Constitution and all laws according to the original meaning of their words, a method always followed by Justice Clarence Thomas, and often followed by Justice Samuel Alito as wellwas Judge Alice Batchelder.

Judge Batchelder faulted both the lead opinion and the dissenting opinion for failing to give adequate attention to the Second Amendments original public meaning in defining the contours of the mental health exception. And it is that meaning, informed as it is by the history and tradition surrounding the right, that counts.

She continued that the other opinions debate over strict and intermediate scrutiny gives little more than a nod to the originalist inquiry. This shortchanging of the Supreme Courts approach in Heller (and many other cases) thereby radically marginalizes the role played by the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, and it replaces them with a thoroughly modern (and judge empowering) regime of heightened-scrutiny review.

The appeals courts taking such a course here is a forbidden peregrination from the actual meaning of the Constitution into the realm of judicial policymaking. Instead of fixating on strict or intermediate scrutiny with only a glance at history, the Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald put the historical inquiry at the center of the analysis, not at the margin.

Judge Batchelder then explored sources from the time of the Constitutions writing, examining what they said about mental illness, including the relevant factor here of when a person is unable to distinguish good from evil, and could be deprived by the law of certain rights.

She then noted that such deprivations were not once-for-all, and cited numerous sources from the time the Second Amendment was adopted to show that if a person regained their reason and sense of morality, they were no longer regarded as mentally ill.

Judge Batchelder then concluded:

As has been mentioned many times today, the dangers presented by guns are real, frightening, and obvious. Those realities will continue to factor heavily in the scrutiny analysis. Less obvious to the contemporary judicial mind are the Founding-era fears of tyranny and defenselessness that provided the impetus behind the Second Amendment. Whether the Founding generation struck a wise balance in ratifying that amendment is perhaps debatable. What is not debatable is that we federal judgesare neither philosopher kings empowered to fix things according to the dictates of what we fancy is our superior insight, nor rubber stamps, approving whatever laws the legislatures of this country happen to pass. We are bound, rather, by our oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and we must therefore show restraint when that document restrains us and be active when it commands action.

As important as the Sixth Circuits Tyler decision is, that is not the most newsworthy aspect of this case. Because now a federal appeals court has struck down an Act of Congress on constitutional grounds.

That means the Obama administrations solicitor general will now petition the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari to review this case. Under these rare circumstances, it is virtually 100 percent certain that the justices will grant review and hear the case.

That means that the Second Amendment will be back before the Supreme Court in 2017, after a ninth justice has been confirmed to replace Scalia. The Second Amendment has survived twice at the Supreme Court over the past decade, both by only 5-4 votes.

One of the ways that the justices could rule in favor of the federal government would be to overrule Heller, and hold that the Second Amendment does not apply at all to private citizens. [The leftist view of the Second Amendment is that its only meaning is that the federal government cannot stop state governments from arming their National Guard (i.e., militia) units with guns.]

So declarations from Donald Trump and Mike Pence that gun rights are in danger is no longer hypothetical. It is now certain. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the Second Amendment can be effectively erased from the U.S. Constitution.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.

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Space travel – Dune – Wikia

Posted: September 18, 2016 at 8:30 am

Original Dune This article or section refers to elements from Original Dune.

Space travel played a major role in the evolution and expansion of humanity throughout the known universe. Two forms of space travel existed: faster than light space travel, and conventional space travel.

For several thousand years, faster than light travel (or space-folding) was conducted exclusively by the Spacing Guild, using Spacefolder vessels piloted by Guild navigators that folded space-time and moved almost immeasurable distances in the blink of the eye.

This form of travel, while extremely expensive, was also not safe as one in ten ships that used space folding engine disappeared, at least during the early years of the technology’s use before the advent of Navigators. It was utilized for both commercial and military purposes. Space-folding made use of two key factors:

Eventually, at some point between the fall of the Atreides Empire and the discovery of the Dar-es-Balat hoard, Ixian navigation machines broke the guild monopoly on foldspace by providing a means of safely navigating foldspace without a navigator.[1][2]

The old FTL conventional space travel was used mainly for travel within the confines of a star system (not for interstellar travel). However, before the discovery of the new faster-than-light travel method, it was also used for long-distance space travel. The old method was described as “outraceing photons”. Even after space-folding became the primary means of interstellar travel, many Imperial warships still kept their old FTL drives as an alternative to the much faster but less reliable Holtzmann engines.

The connection between faster than light travel and the Holtzman Effect is not explicitly mentioned by Frank Herbert. It is a connection made in the prequel novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

In the ‘Legends of Dune’ trilogy, the pair describe the time shortly before and during the discovery of space-folding. In these works the discovery of space-folding is attributed to Norma Cenva, who goes on to become the first prescient folded space navigator. Prior to this, although described in ‘The Machine Crusade’ as “outracing the old faster than light method”, vessels still took weeks or months to cross between even the closest stars.

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Journal of Human Genetics – Nature Publishing Group

Posted: at 8:09 am

The The Journal of Human Genetics is the official journal of the Japan Society of Human Genetics, publishing high-quality original research articles, short communications, reviews, correspondences and editorials on all aspects of human genetics and genomics. It is the leading genetics journal based in the Asia-Pacific region.

*** Announcing Open ***

The Journal of Human Genetics offers authors the option to publish their articles with immediate open access upon publication. Open access articles will also be deposited in PubMed Central at the time of publication and will be freely available immediately.

The Journal of Human Genetics recently received an Impact Factor of 2.487* – submit to The Journal of Human Genetics and benefit from:

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*Data is taken from the 2015 Journal Citation Report, Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2016)

Cardiovascular Genetics

Genetics studies help elucidating mechanisms of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs). The new JHG web focus features CVDs with 11 special articles introducing latest studies around CVDs. Topics such as genetics of congenial heart disease, hereditary large vessel diseases and cardiomyopathy are discussed.

Announcing the winners of 2015 JHG Young Scientist Award

JSHG – Journal of Human Genetics Young Scientist Award identifies articles that have made a significant contribution to the Journal of Human Genetics, using the judgment criterion of scientific excellence and impact in the field of human genetics.

Shinji Ono Mutations in PRRT2 responsible for paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesias also cause benign familial infantile convulsionsFREE

Surakameth Mahasirimongkol Genome-wide association studies of tuberculosis in Asians identify distinct at-risk locus for young tuberculosisFREE

Web Focus: Reviews in JHG

Welcome to the JHG Reviews collection – a selection of recently published Reviews on various topics in Human Genetics studies. This collection is freely available until January 2016 and features some important articles from the past collection of reviews on pharmacogenomics and epidemiology, or comprehensive review on the impact of whole-exome sequencing.

Editor’s Choice- Highly-Influential Articles in Human Genetics

This Editor’s Choice web focus presents a range of research papers and review articles on popular topics in human genetics, including next generation sequencing (NGS), the molecular basis of genetic diseases, and population genetics all drawn from the pages of the Journal of Human Genetics (JHG).

JHG Commentaries and commented articles

The Journal of Human Genetics is delighted to feature Commentaries, which provide narratives of interpretation, evaluation and opinion from area experts about the topics discussed in articles appeared in the same or recent issues of the journal. This web focus provides you with free access to a selected set of commentary and commented articles published from recent issues. You are invited to view full text of these articles and check how research experts have described and commented on these original articles, and how their comments may differ from your own thoughts and opinions.

JHG Archive 1977-2005

We are happy to announce that the archive of the The Journal of Human Genetics from 1977-2005 is now freely available in our Archive.

Research Diversity web focus

The Journal of Human Genetics (JHG) is pleased to presents fine articles and reviews on various aspects of human genetics on the JHG research diversity. Selected papers include the first genome-wide association study on anorexia nervosa, review and article on recent progress in asthma genetics, articles on new associations with schizophrenia, hair thickness etc.

Editor’s choice

The Journal of Human Genetics is proud to present a collection of top reviews from recent years, as chosen by the editor. This collection covers a range of topics, including the functional analysis of disease-causing genes, polymorphisms of disease-associated genes, statistical genetics, pharmacogenetics, medical genetics and the genetics of multifactorial disease. Complementing this collection, the January issue also includes the latest reviews and articles on various aspects of human genetics.

New to NPG

From January 2009, Nature Publishing Group begins publishing the Journal of Human Genetics on behalf of the Japan Society of Human Genetics.

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Journal of Human Genetics – Nature Publishing Group

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DNA, genes and chromosomes University of Leicester

Posted: September 16, 2016 at 5:21 am


DNA (or deoxyribonucleic acid) is the molecule that carries the genetic information in all cellular forms of life and some viruses. It belongs to a class of molecules called the nucleic acids, which are polynucleotides – that is, long chains of nucleotides.

Each nucleotide consists of three components:

The backbone of the polynucleotide is a chain of sugar and phosphate molecules. Each of the sugar groups in this sugar-phosphate backbone is linked to one of the four nitrogenous bases.

Strand of polynucleotides

DNA’s ability to store – and transmit – information lies in the fact that it consists of two polynucleotide strands that twist around each other to form a double-stranded helix. The bases link across the two strands in a specific manner using hydrogen bonds: cytosine (C) pairs with guanine (G), and adenine (A) pairs with thymine (T).

Double strand of polynucleotides

The double helix of the complete DNA molecule resembles a spiral staircase, with two sugar phosphate backbones and the paired bases in the centre of the helix. This structure explains two of the most important properties of the molecule. First, it can be copied or ‘replicated’, as each strand can act as a template for the generation of the complementary strand. Second, it can store information in the linear sequence of the nucleotides along each strand.

DNA helix showing nitrogenous bases

It is the order of the bases along a single strand that constitutes the genetic code. The four-letter ‘alphabet’ of A, T, G and C forms ‘words’ of three letters called codons. Individual codons code for specific amino acids. A gene is a sequence of nucleotides along a DNA strand – with ‘start’ and ‘stop’ codons and other regulatory elements – that specifies a sequence of amino acids that are linked together to form a protein.

So, for example, the codon AGC codes for the amino acid serine, and the codon ACC codes for the amino acid threonine.

There are a two points to note about the genetic code:

The enzyme helicase breaks the hydrogen bonds holding the two strands together, and both strands can then act as templates for the production of the opposite strand. The process is catalysed by the enzyme DNA polymerase, and includes a proofreading mechanism.

The gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. It consists of a specific sequence of nucleotides at a given position on a given chromosome that codes for a specific protein (or, in some cases, an RNA molecule).

Genes consist of three types of nucleotide sequence:

The structural components of a gene

Read more about gene expression and regulation

A human being has 20,000 to 25,000 genes located on 46 chromosomes (23 pairs). These genes are known, collectively, as the human genome.

The label eukaryote is taken from the Greek for ‘true nucleus’, and eukaryotes (all organisms except viruses, Eubacteria and Archaea) are defined by the possession of a nucleus and other membrane-bound cell organelles.

The nucleus of each cell in our bodies contains approximately 1.8 metres of DNA in total, although each strand is less than one millionth of a centimetre thick. This DNA is tightly packed into structures called chromosomes, which consist of long chains of DNA and associated proteins. In eukaryotes, DNA molecules are tightly wound around proteins – called histone proteins – which provide structural support and play a role in controlling the activities of the genes. A strand 150 to 200 nucleotides long is wrapped twice around a core of eight histone proteins to form a structure called a nucleosome. The histone octamer at the centre of the nucleosome is formed from two units each of histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4. The chains of histones are coiled in turn to form a solenoid, which is stabilised by the histone H1. Further coiling of the solenoids forms the structure of the chromosome proper.

Each chromosome has a p arm and a q arm. The p arm (from the French word ‘petit’, meaning small) is the short arm, and the q arm (the next letter in the alphabet) is the long arm. In their replicated form, each chromosome consists of two chromatids.

Chromosome unraveling to show the base pairings of the DNA

The chromosomes – and the DNA they contain – are copied as part of the cell cycle, and passed to daughter cells through the processes of mitosis and meiosis.

Read more about the cell cycle, mitosis and meiosis

Human beings have 46 chromosomes, consisting of 22 pairs of autosomes and a pair of sex chromosomes: two X sex chromosomes for females (XX) and an X and Y sex chromosome for males (XY). One member of each pair of chromosomes comes from the mother (through the egg cell); one member of each pair comes from the father (through the sperm cell).

A photograph of the chromosomes in a cell is known as a karyotype. The autosomes are numbered 1-22 in decreasing size order.

Karyotype of a human male

The prokaryotes (Greek for ‘before nucleus’ – including Eubacteria and Archaea) lack a discrete nucleus, and the chromosomes of prokaryotic cells are not enclosed by a separate membrane.

Most bacteria contain a single, circular chromosome. (There are exceptions: some bacteria – for example, the genus Streptomyces – possess linear chromosomes, and Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, has two circular chromosomes.) The chromosome – together with ribosomes and proteins associated with gene expression – is located in a region of the cell cytoplasm known as the nucleoid.

The genomes of prokaryotes are compact compared with those of eukaryotes, as they lack introns, and the genes tend to be expressed in groups known as operons. The circular chromosome of the bacterium Escherichia coli consists of a DNA molecule approximately 4.6 million nucleotides long.

In addition to the main chromosome, bacteria are also characterised by the presence of extra-chromosomal genetic elements called plasmids. These relatively small circular DNA molecules usually contain genes that are not essential to growth or reproduction.

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DNA, genes and chromosomes University of Leicester

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Family Tree DNA – Customer Sign In

Posted: September 14, 2016 at 1:08 am

We encourage you to search for a family surname in our SURNAMES DATABASE. Our database contains family names of clients who have already ordered a DNA profile from Family Tree DNA.

After you have searched for the surname that interests you, the name will appear in the result screen with a number after the name, e.g. Bowling (62). This indicates that the name Bowling is in our database and that 62 people with that surname (or a derivative) have already ordered a DNA sample tested. It is possible that not all 62 Bowlings have been added yet to our Recent Ancestral Origins (RAO) Database as we may be awaiting the analysis from the Lab for some of them.

A link will be provided for you to order a genetic test below the result screen. If the surname you desire is not located in our database, you will receive a message entitled “Name not found,” and a form will be provided below the message to enable you to order a test kit for that surname.

Posting and updating to our database is instant. After you have registered your surname, you can search again to find the name in the updated database. Happy relative hunting!

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Family Tree DNA – Customer Sign In

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