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Breitbart: Supreme Court Second Amendment Case Could …

Posted: September 20, 2016 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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Should privacy legislation influence how courts interpret the …

Posted: September 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

I recently posted a revised draft of my forthcoming article, The Effect of Legislation on Fourth Amendment Interpretation, and I thought I would blog a bit about it. The article considers a recurring question in Fourth Amendment law: When courts are called on to interpret the Fourth Amendment, and there is privacy legislation on the books that relates to the governments conduct, should the existence of legislation have any effect on how the Fourth Amendment is interpreted? And if it should have an effect, what effect should it have?

I was led to this question by reading a lot of cases in which the issue came up and was answered in very different ways by particularly prominent judges. When I assembled all the cases, I found that judges had articulated three different answers. None of the judges seemed aware that the question had come up in other cases and had been answered differently there. Each of the three answers seemed plausible, and each tapped into important traditions in constitutional interpretation. So you have a pretty interesting situation: Really smart judges were running into the same question and answering it in very different ways, each rooted in substantial traditions, with no one approach predominating and no conversation about which approach was best. It seemed like a fun issue to explore in an article.

In this post Ill summarize the three approaches courts have taken. I call the approaches influence, displacement and independence. For each approach, Ill give one illustrative case. But theres a lot more where that came from: For more details on the three approaches and the cases supporting them, please read the draft article.

1. Influence. In the influence cases, legislation is considered a possible standard for judicial adoption under the Fourth Amendment. The influence cases rest on a pragmatic judgment: If courts must make difficult judgment calls about how to balance privacy and security, and legislatures have done so already in enacting legislation, courts can draw lessons from the thoughtful judgment of a co-equal branch. Investigative legislation provides an important standard for courts to consider in interpreting the Fourth Amendment. Its not binding on courts, but its a relevant consideration.

The Supreme Courts decision in United States v. Watsonis an example of the influence approach. Watson considered whether it is constitutionally reasonable for a postal inspector to make a public arrest for a felony offense based on probable cause but without a warrant. A federal statute expressly authorized such warrantless arrests. The court ruled that the arrests were constitutional without a warrant and that the statute was constitutional. Justice Whites majority opinion relied heavily on deference to Congresss legislative judgment. According to Justice White, the statute authorizing the arrests represents a judgment by Congress that it is not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment for postal inspectors to arrest without a warrant provided they have probable cause to do so. That judgment was entitled to presumptive deference as the considered judgment of a co-equal branch. Because there is a strong presumption of constitutionality due to an Act of Congress, the court stated, especially when it turns on what is reasonable, then obviously the Court should be reluctant to decide that a search thus authorized by Congress was unreasonable and that the Act was therefore unconstitutional.

2. Displacement. In the displacement cases, the existence of legislation counsels against Fourth Amendment protection that might interrupt the statutory scheme. Because legislatures can often do a better job at balancing privacy and security in new technologies as compared to courts, courts should reject Fourth Amendment protection as long as legislatures are protecting privacy adequately to avoid interfering with the careful work of the legislative branch. The existence of investigative legislation effectively preempts the field and displaces Fourth Amendment protection that may otherwise exist.

Justice Alitos concurrence in Riley v. Californiais an example of the displacement approach. Riley held that the government must obtain a search warrant before searching a cellphone incident to a suspects lawful arrest. Justice Alito concurred, agreeing with the majority only in the absence of adequate legislation regulating cellphone searches. I would reconsider the question presented here, he wrote, if either Congress or state legislatures, after assessing the legitimate needs of law enforcement and the privacy interests of cell phone owners, enact legislation that draws reasonable distinctions based on categories of information or perhaps other variables.

The enactment of investigative legislation should discourage judicial intervention, Justice Alito reasoned, because [l]egislatures, elected by the people, are in a better position than we are to assess and respond to the changes that have already occurred and those that almost certainly will take place in the future. Although Fourth Amendment protection was necessary in the absence of legislation, the enactment of legislation might be reason to withdraw Fourth Amendment protection to avoid the very unfortunate result of federal courts using the blunt instrument of the Fourth Amendment to try to protect privacy in emerging technologies.

3. Independence. In the independence cases, courts treat legislation as irrelevant to the Fourth Amendment. Legislatures are free to supplement privacy protections by enacting statutes, of course. But from the independence perspective, legislation sheds no light on what the Fourth Amendment requires. Courts must independently interpret the Fourth Amendment, and what legislatures have done has no relevance.

An example of independence is Virginia v. Moore, where the Supreme Court decided whether the search incident to a lawful arrest exception incorporates the state law of arrest. Moore was arrested despite a state law saying his crime could not lead to arrest; the question was whether the state law violation rendered the arrest unconstitutional. According to the court, whether state law made the arrest lawful was irrelevant to the Fourth Amendment. It was the courts duty to interpret the Fourth Amendment, and what the legislature decided about when arrests could be made was a separate question. History suggested that the Fourth Amendment did not incorporate statutes. And the states decision of when to make arrests was not based on the Fourth Amendment and was based on other considerations, such as the costs of arrests and whether the legislature valued privacy more than the Fourth Amendment required. Constitutionalizing the state standard would only frustrate the states efforts to achieve those goals, as it would mean los[ing] control of the regulatory scheme and might lead the state to abandon restrictions on arrest altogether. For that reason, the statute regulating the police was independent of the Fourth Amendment standard.

Those are the three approaches. The next question is, which is best? Ill offer some thoughts on that in my next post.

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Ai Weiwei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: September 11, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei in 2008

Ai Weiwei (Chinese: ; pinyin: i Wiwi, English pronunciation(helpinfo); born 28 August 1957 in Beijing) is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist. His father’s side’s original surname is Jiang.[1][2][3] Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.[4] As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called “tofu-dreg schools” in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.[5] In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing Capital International Airport on 3 April, he was held for 81 days without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of “economic crimes”.[6]

Ai’s father was the Chinese poet Ai Qing,[7] who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement. In 1958, the family was sent to a labour camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang, when Ai was one year old. They were subsequently exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. Upon Mao Zedong’s death and the end of the Cultural Revolution, the family returned to Beijing in 1976.[8]

In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and studied animation.[9] In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant garde art group the “Stars”, together with Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Zhong Acheng and Qu Leilei. The group disbanded in 1983,[10] yet Ai participated in regular Stars group shows, The Stars: Ten Years, 1989 (Hanart Gallery, Hong Kong and Taipei), and a retrospective exhibition in Beijing in 2007: Origin Point (Today Art Museum, Beijing). In 2014, Ai had a piece named, “Illumination (2014) is housed in the old prison hospital, which looks and feels like the set of a horror film needing no embellishment. For this work, Ai has installed recordings of Tibetan and Native American chants in two psychiatric evaluation rooms, which are tiled chambers created for the observation of mentally ill patients. In these cramped rooms, the rhythmic noisesspiritual, strong, and culturally significantcontrast with the shiny mint-colored walls. The mix of clinical and consciousness is startling, bringing presence to a place that even when it was open and functioning was meant to reduce human to subject. Both haunting and aesthetically delightful, this ambitious exhibition exposes issues of freedom of speech and human rights by creating artistic possibility within and about a broken system. Giving a collective voice to silenced dissidents might just prompt newly sympathetic ears.”[11]

Ai Weiwei came top of Londons paid exhibitions list in 2015 with 4,335 visitors a day at the Royal Academy of Arts.[12]

From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York City.[10] He studied briefly at Parsons School of Design.[14] Ai attended the Art Students League of New York from 1983 to 1986, where he studied with Bruce Dorfman, Knox Martin and Richard Pousette-Dart.[15] He later dropped out of school, and made a living out of drawing street portraits and working odd jobs. During this period, he gained exposure to the works of Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, and began creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects.

Ai befriended beat poet Allen Ginsberg while living in New York, following a chance meeting at a poetry reading where Ginsberg read out several poems about China. Ginsberg had travelled to China and met with Ai’s father, the noted poet Ai Qing, and consequently Ginsberg and Ai became friends.[16]

When he was living in the East Village (from 1983 to 1993), Ai carried a camera with him all the time and would take pictures of his surroundings wherever he was. The resulting collection of photos were later selected and is now known as the New York Photographs.[17]

At the same time, Ai became fascinated by blackjack card games and frequented Atlantic City casinos. He is still regarded in gambling circles as a top tier professional blackjack player according to an article published on blackjackchamp.com.[18][19][20]

In 1993, Ai returned to China after his father became ill.[21] He helped establish the experimental artists’ Beijing East Village and co-published a series of three books about this new generation of artists with Chinese curator Feng Boyi: Black Cover Book (1994), White Cover Book (1995), and Gray Cover Book (1997).[22]

In 1999, Ai moved to Caochangdi, in the northeast of Beijing, and built a studio house his first architectural project. Due to his interest in architecture, he founded the architecture studio FAKE Design, in 2003.[23] In 2000, he co-curated the art exhibition Fuck Off with curator Feng Boyi in Shanghai, China.[24]

Ai is married to artist Lu Qing,[25] and has a son from an extramarital relationship.[26]

In 2005, Ai was invited to start blogging by Sina Weibo, the biggest internet platform in China. He posted his first blog on 19 November. For four years, he “turned out a steady stream of scathing social commentary, criticism of government policy, thoughts on art and architecture, and autobiographical writings.”[27] The blog was later shut down by Sina on 28 May 2009 due to its popularity and Weiwei’s outspoken attitude on events such as the Sichuan earthquake and the Beijing Olympic Games. Since then he has turned to Twitter and writes prolifically over the platform, claiming at least 8 hours online every day. He tweets almost exclusively in Chinese on the account @aiww.[citation needed] As of 31 December 2013, Ai has declared that he would stop tweeting but the account remains active in forms of retweets and Instagram posts.

He also supported the Amnesty petition for Iranian filmmaker Hossein Rajabian and his brother, musician Mehdi Rajabian and released the news on his Twitter pages.[28][bettersourceneeded]

Ten days after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake took place in Sichuan province on 12 May 2008, Ai led a team to survey and film the post-quake conditions in various disaster zones. In response to the government’s lack of transparency in revealing names of students who perished in the earthquake due to substandard school campus constructions, Ai recruited volunteers online and launched a “Citizens’ Investigation” to compile names and information of the student victims. On 20 March 2009, he posted a blog titled “Citizens’ Investigation” and wrote: “To remember the departed, to show concern for life, to take responsibility, and for the potential happiness of the survivors, we are initiating a “Citizens’ Investigation.” We will seek out the names of each departed child, and we will remember them.”[29]

As of 14 April 2009, the list had accumulated 5,385 names.[30] Ai published the collected names as well as numerous articles documenting the investigation on his blog which was shut down by Chinese authorities in May 2009.[31] He also posted his list of names of schoolchildren who died on the wall of his office at FAKE Design in Beijing.[32]

Ai suffered headaches and claimed he had difficulty concentrating on his work since returning from Chengdu in August 2009, where he was beaten by the police for trying to testify for Tan Zuoren, a fellow investigator of the shoddy construction and student casualties in the earthquake. On 14 September 2009, Ai was diagnosed to be suffering internal bleeding in a hospital in Munich, Germany, and the doctor arranged for emergency brain surgery.[33] The cerebral hemorrhage is believed to be linked to the police attack.[34][35]

According to the Financial Times, in an attempt to force Ai to leave the country, two accounts used by him had been hacked in a sophisticated attack on Google in China dubbed Operation Aurora, their contents read and copied; his bank accounts were investigated by state security agents who claimed he was under investigation for “unspecified suspected crimes”.[36]

In November 2010, Ai was placed under house arrest by the Chinese police. He said this was to prevent the planned party marking the demolition of his newly built Shanghai studio.[37]

The building was designed and built by Ai upon encouragement and persuasion from a “high official [from Shanghai]” as part of a new cultural area designated by Shanghai Municipal authorities; Ai would have used it as a studio and to teach architecture courses. But now Ai has been accused of erecting the structure without the necessary planning permission and a demolition notice has been ordered, even though, Ai said, officials had been extremely enthusiastic, and the entire application and planning process was “under government supervision”. According to Ai, a number of artists were invited to build new studios in this area of Shanghai because officials wanted to create a cultural area.[38]

On 3 November 2010, Ai said the government had informed him two months earlier that the newly completed studio would be knocked down because it was illegal. Ai complained that this was unfair, as he was “the only one singled out to have my studio destroyed”. The Guardian reported Ai saying Shanghai municipal authorities were “frustrated” by documentaries on subjects they considered sensitive:[38] two of the better known ones featured Shanghai resident Feng Zhenghu, who lived in forced exile for three months in Narita Airport, Tokyo; another well-known documentary focused on Yang Jia, who murdered six Shanghai police officers.[39]

In the end, the party took place without Weiwei’s presence; his supporters feasted on river crab, an allusion to “harmony”, and a euphemism used to jeer official censorship. Ai was released from house arrest the next day.[40]

Like other activists and intellectuals, Ai was prevented from leaving China in late 2010. Ai suggested that the authorities wanted to prevent him from attending the ceremony in December 2010 to award the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo.[41] Ai said that he had not been invited to the ceremony, and was attempting to travel to South Korea for a meeting when he was told that he could not leave for reasons of national security.[42]

In the evening of 11 January 2011, Ai’s studio was demolished in a surprise move by the local government.[43][44]

On 3 April 2011, Ai was arrested at Beijing Capital International Airport just before catching a flight to Hong Kong and his studio facilities were searched.[45] A police contingent of approximately 50 officers came to his studio, threw a cordon around it and searched the premises. They took away laptops and the hard drive from the main computer; along with Ai, police also detained eight staff members and Ai’s wife, Lu Qing. Police also visited the mother of Ai’s two-year-old son.[46] While state media originally reported on 6 April that Ai was arrested at the airport because “his departure procedures were incomplete,”[47] the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 7 April that Ai was arrested under investigation for alleged economic crimes.[48] Then, on 8 April, police returned to Ai’s workshop to examine his financial affairs.[49] On 9 April, Ai’s accountant, as well as studio partner Liu Zhenggang and driver Zhang Jingsong, disappeared,[50] while Ai’s assistant Wen Tao has remained missing since Ai’s arrest on 3 April.[51] Ai’s wife said that she was summoned by the Beijing Chaoyang district tax bureau, where she was interrogated about his studio’s tax on 12 April.[52]South China Morning Post reports that Ai received at least two visits from the police, the last being on 31 March three days before his detention apparently with offers of membership to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. A staff member recalled that Ai had mentioned receiving the offer earlier, “[but Ai] didn’t say if it was a membership of the CPPCC at the municipal or national level, how he responded or whether he accepted it or not.”[52]

On 24 February, amid an online campaign for Middle East-style protests in major Chinese cities by overseas dissidents, Ai posted on his Twitter account: “I didnt care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!”[53][54]

Analysts and other activists said Ai had been widely thought to be untouchable, but Nicholas Bequelin from Human Rights Watch suggested that his arrest, calculated to send the message that no one would be immune, must have had the approval of someone in the top leadership.[55] International governments, human rights groups and art institutions, among others, called for Ai’s release, while Chinese officials did not notify Ai’s family of his whereabouts.[56]

State media started describing Ai as a “deviant and a plagiarist” in early 2011.[57] The China Daily subsidiary, the Global Times editorial on 6 April 2011 attacked Ai, saying “Ai Weiwei likes to do something ‘others dare not do.’ He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day.”[58] Two days later, the journal scorned Western media for questioning Ai’s charge as a “catch-all crime”, and denounced the use of his political activism as a “legal shield” against everyday crimes. It said “Ai’s detention is one of the many judicial cases handled in China every day. It is pure fantasy to conclude that Ai’s case will be handled specially and unfairly.”[59] Frank Ching expressed in the South China Morning Post that how the Global Times could radically shift its position from one-day to the next was reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.[60]

Michael Sheridan of The Times suggested that Ai had offered himself to the authorities on a platter with some of his provocative art, particularly photographs of himself nude with only a toy alpaca hiding his modesty with a caption (“grass mud horse covering the middle”). The term possesses a double meaning in Chinese: one possible interpretation was given by Sheridan as: “Fuck your mother, the party central committee”.[61]

Ming Pao in Hong Kong reacted strongly to the state media’s character attack on Ai, saying that authorities had employed “a chain of actions outside the law, doing further damage to an already weak system of laws, and to the overall image of the country.”[57] Pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, Wen Wei Po, announced that Ai was under arrest for tax evasion, bigamy and spreading indecent images on the internet, and vilified him with multiple instances of strong rhetoric.[62][63] Supporters said “the article should be seen as a mainland media commentary attacking Ai, rather than as an accurate account of the investigation.”[64]

The United States and European Union protested Ai’s detention.[65] The international arts community also mobilised petitions calling for the release of Ai: “1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei” was organized by Creative Time of New York that calls for artists to bring chairs to Chinese embassies and consulates around the world on 17 April 2011, at 1pm local time “to sit peacefully in support of the artist’s immediate release.”[66][67] Artists in Hong Kong,[68] Germany[68] and Taiwan demonstrated and called for Ai to be released.[69]

One of the major protests by U.S. museums took place on 19 and 20 May when the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego organized a 24-hour silent protest in which volunteer participants, including community members, media, and museum staff, occupied two traditionally styled Chinese chairs for one-hour periods.[70] The 24-hour sit-in referenced Ai’s sculpture series, Marble Chair, two of which were on view and were subsequently acquired for the Museum’s permanent collection.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the International Council of Museums, which organised petitions, said they had collected more than 90,000 signatures calling for the release of Ai.[71] On 13 April 2011, a group of European intellectuals led by Vclav Havel had issued an open letter to Wen Jiabao, condemning the arrest and demanding the immediate release of Ai. The signatories include Ivan Klma, Ji Grua, Jchym Topol, Elfriede Jelinek, Adam Michnik, Adam Zagajewski, Helmuth Frauendorfer; Bei Ling (Chinese:), a Chinese poet in exile drafted and also signed the open letter.[72]

On 16 May 2011, the Chinese authorities allowed Ai’s wife to visit him briefly. Liu Xiaoyuan, his attorney and personal friend, reported that Wei was in good physical condition and receiving treatment for his chronic diabetes and hypertension; he was not in a prison or hospital but under some form of house arrest.[73]

He is the subject of the 2012 documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, directed by American filmmaker Alison Klayman, which received a special jury prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and opened the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, in Toronto on 26 April 2012.[74]

On 22 June 2011, the Chinese authorities released Ai from jail after almost three months’ detention on charges of tax evasion.[75] Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. (Chinese: ), a company Ai controlled, had allegedly evaded taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. State media also reports that Ai was granted bail on account of Ai’s “good attitude in confessing his crimes”, willingness to pay back taxes, and his chronic illnesses.[76] According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he is prohibited from leaving Beijing without permission for one year.[77][78] Ai’s supporters widely viewed his detention as retaliation for his vocal criticism of the government.[79] On 23 June 2011, professor Wang Yujin of China University of Political Science and Law stated that the release of Ai on bail shows that the Chinese government could not find any solid evidence of Ai’s alleged “economic crime”.[80] On 24 June 2011, Ai told a Radio Free Asia reporter that he was thankful for the support of the Hong Kong public, and praised Hong Kong’s conscious society. Ai also mentioned that his detention by the Chinese regime was hellish (Chinese: ), and stressed that he is forbidden to say too much to reporters.[81]

After his release, his sister gave some details about his detention condition to the press, explaining that he was subjected to a kind of psychological torture: he was detained in a tiny room with constant light, and two guards were set very close to him at all times, and watched him constantly.[82] In November, Chinese authorities were again investigating Ai and his associates, this time under the charge of spreading pornography.[83][84] Lu was subsequently questioned by police, and released after several hours though the exact charges remain unclear.[85][86] In January 2012, in its International Review issue Art in America magazine featured an interview with Ai Weiwei at his home in China. J.J. Camille (the pen name of a Chinese-born writer living in New York), “neither a journalist nor an activist but simply an art lover who wanted to talk to him” had travelled to Beijing the previous September to conduct the interview and to write about his visit to “China’s most famous dissident artist” for the magazine.[87]

On 21 June 2012, Ai’s bail was lifted. Although he is allowed to leave Beijing, the police informed him that he is still prohibited from traveling to other countries because he is “suspected of other crimes,” including pornography, bigamy and illicit exchange of foreign currency.[88][89] Until 2015, he remained under heavy surveillance and restrictions of movement, but continues to criticize through his work.[90][91] In July 2015, he was given a passport and may travel abroad.[92]

In June 2011, the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau demanded a total of over 12 million yuan (US$1.85million) from Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd in unpaid taxes and fines,[93][94] and accorded three days to appeal the demand in writing. According to Ai’s wife, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd has hired two Beijing lawyers as defense attorneys. Ai’s family state that Ai is “neither the chief executive nor the legal representative of the design company, which is registered in his wife’s name.”

Offers of donations poured in from Ai’s fans across the world when the fine was announced. Eventually an online loan campaign was initiated on 4 November 2011, and close to 9 million RMB was collected within ten days, from 30,000 contributions. Notes were folded into paper planes and thrown over the studio walls, and donations were made in symbolic amounts such as 8964 (4 June 1989, Tiananmen Massacre) or 512 (12 May 2008, Sichuan earthquake). To thank creditors and acknowledge the contributions as loans, Ai designed and issued loan receipts to all who participated in the campaign.[95] Funds raised from the campaign were used as collateral, required by law for an appeal on the tax case. Lawyers acting for Ai submitted an appeal against the fine in January 2012; the Chinese government subsequently agreed to conduct a review.[96]

In June 2012, the court heard the tax appeal case. Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, the legal representative of the design company, attended the hearing. Lu was accompanied by several lawyers and an accountant, but the witnesses they had requested to testify, including Ai, were prevented from attending a court hearing.[97] Ai asserts that the entire matter including the 81 days he spent in jail in 2011 is intended to suppress his provocations. Ai said he had no illusions as to how the case would turn out, as he believes the court will protect the government’s own interests. On 20 June, hundreds of Ai’s supporters gathered outside the Chaoyang District Court in Beijing despite a small army of police officers, some of whom videotaped the crowd and led several people away.[98] On 20 July, Ai’s tax appeal was rejected in court.[99][100] The same day Ai’s studio released “The Fake Case” which tracks the status and history of this case including a timeline and the release of official documents.[101] On 27 September, the court upheld the 2.4million tax evasion fine.[102] Ai had previously deposited 1.33million in a government-controlled account in order to appeal. Ai said he will not pay the remainder because he does not recognize the charge.[103]

In October 2012, authorities revoked the license of Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd for failing to re-register, an annual requirement by the administration. The company was not able to complete this procedure as its materials and stamps were confiscated by the government.[104]

On 26 April 2014, Ai’s name was removed from a group show taking place at the Shanghai Power Station of Art. The exhibition was held to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the art prize created by Uli Sigg in 1998, with the purpose of promoting and developing Chinese contemporary art. Ai won the Lifetime Contribution Award in 2008 and was part of the jury during the first three editions of the prize.[105] He was then invited to take part in the group show together with the other selected Chinese artists. Shortly before the exhibition’s opening, some museum workers removed his name from the list of winners and jury members painted on a wall. Also, Ai’s works Sunflower Seeds and Stools were removed from the show and kept in a museum office (see photo on Ai Weiwei’s Instagram).[106] Sigg declared that it was not his decision and that it was a decision of the Power Station of Art and the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture.[105]

In May 2014, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a non-profit art center situated in the 798 art district of Beijing, held a retrospective exhibition in honor of the late curator and scholar, Hans Van Dijk. Ai, a good friend of Hans and a fellow co-founder of the China Art Archives and Warehouse (CAAW), participated in the exhibition with three artworks.[107] On the day of the opening, Ai realized his name was omitted from both Chinese and English versions of the exhibition’s press release. Ai’s assistants went to the art center and removed his works.[108] It is Ai’s belief that, in omitting his name, the museum altered the historical record of van Dijk’s work with him. Ai started his own research about what actually happened, and between 23 and 25 May he interviewed the UCCA’s director, Philip Tinari, the guest curator of the exhibition, Marianne Brouwer, and the UCCA chief, Xue Mei.[107] He published the transcripts of the interviews on Instagram.[109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117] In one of the interviews, the CEO of the UCCA, Xue Mei, admitted that, due to the sensitive time of the exhibition, Ai’s name was taken out of the press releases on the day of the opening and it was supposed to be restored afterwards. This was to avoid problems with the Chinese authorities, who threatened to arrest her.[107]

Beijing video works

From 2003 to 2005, Ai Weiwei recorded the results of Beijings developing urban infrastructure and its social conditions.

2003, Video, 150 hours

Beginning under the Dabeiyao highway interchange, the vehicle from which Beijing 2003 was shot traveled every road within the Fourth Ring Road of Beijing and documented the road conditions. Approximately 2400 kilometers and 150 hours of footage later, it ended where it began under the Dabeiyao highway interchange. The documentation of these winding alleyways of the city center now largely torn down for redevelopment preserved a visual record of the city that is free of aesthetic judgment.

2004, Video, 10h 13m

Moving from east to west, Changan Boulevard traverses Beijings most iconic avenue. Along the boulevards 45-kilometer length, it recorded the changing densities of its far-flung suburbs, central business districts, and political core. At each 50-meter increment, the artist records a single frame for one minute. The work reveals the rhythm of Beijing as a capital city, its social structure, cityscape, socialist-planned economy, capitalist market, political power center, commercial buildings, and industrial units as pieces of a multi-layered urban collage.

2005, Video, 1h 6m

2005 Video, 1h 50m

Beijing: The Second Ring and Beijing: The Third Ring capture two opposite views of traffic flow on every bridge of each Ring Road, the innermost arterial highways of Beijing. The artist records a single frame for one minute for each view on the bridge. Beijing: The Second Ring was entirely shot on cloudy days, while the segments for Beijing: The Third Ring were entirely shot on sunny days. The films document the historic aspects and modern development of a city with a population of nearly 11 million people.

2007, video, 2h 32m[118]

This video is about Ai Weiwei’s project Fairytale for Europes most innovative five-year art event Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany in 2007: Ai Weiwei invited 1001 Chinese citizens of different ages and from various backgrounds to Germany to experience their own fairytale for 28 days. The 152 minutes film documents the whole process beginning with project preparations, over the challenge that the participants had to face until the actual travel to Germany, as well as the artists ideas behind the work. This is a work I emotionally relate to. It grows and it surprised me Ai Weiwei in Fairytale.

2008, video, 1h 18m[119]

On 15 December 2008, a citizens investigation began with the goal of seeking an explanation for the casualties of the Sichuan earthquake that happened on 12 May 2008. The investigation covered 14 counties and 74 townships within the disaster zone, and studied the conditions of 153 schools that were affected by the earthquake. By gathering and confirming comprehensive details about the students, such as their age, region, school, and grade, the group managed to affirm that there were 5,192 students who perished in the disaster. Among a hundred volunteers, 38 of them participated in fieldwork, with 25 of them being controlled by the Sichuan police for a total of 45 times. This documentary is a structural element of the citizens investigation.

2009, looped video, 1h 27m[120]

At 14:28 on 12 May 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake happened in Sichuan, China. Over 5,000 students in primary and secondary schools perished in the earthquake, yet their names went unannounced. In reaction to the governments lack of transparency, a citizens investigation was initiated to find out their names and details about their schools and families. As of 2 September 2009, there were 4,851 confirmed. This video is a tribute to these perished students and a memorial for innocent lives lost.

2009, video, 48m[121]

This video documents the story of Chinese citizen Feng Zhenghu and his struggles to return home. The Shanghai authorities rejected Feng Zhenghu, originated from Wenzhou, Jiejiang, China, from returning to the country for a total of eight times in 2009. On 4 November 2009, Feng Zhenghu attempted to return home for the ninth time but the police from Shanghai used violence and kidnapped him to board a flight to Japan. Feng refused to enter Japan and decided to live in the Immigration Hall at Terminal 1 of the Narita Airport in Tokyo, as an act of protest. He relied on food gifts from tourists for sustenance and lived at a passageway in the Narita Airport for 92 days. He posted updates over Twitter, they attracted much concern and led to wide media coverage from Chinese netizens and international communities. On 31 January, Feng announced an end to his protest at the Narita Airport. On 12 February, Feng was allowed entry to China, where he reunited with his family at home in Shanghai. Ai Weiwei and his assistant Gao Yuan, went from Beijing to interview Feng Zhenghu three times at the Narita Airport of Japan on 16 November 20 November 2009 and 31 January 2010, and documented his life at the airport passageway and the entire process of his return to China. No country should refuse entry to its own citizens.

2009, video, 1h 19m[122]

Ai Weiwei studio production Laoma Tihua is a documentary of an incident during Tan Zuorens trial on 12 August 2009. Tan Zuoren was charged with inciting subversion of state power. Chengdu police detained witnessed during the trial of the civil rights advocate, which is an obstruction of justice and violence. Tan Zuoren was charged as a result of his research and questioning regarding the 5.12 Wenchuan students casualties and the corruption resulting poor building construction. Tan Zuoren was sentenced five years to prison.

2010, video, 3h[123]

In June 2008, Yang Jia carried a knife, a hammer, a gas mask, pepper spray, gloves and Molotov cocktails to the Zhabei Public Security Branch Bureau and killed six police officers, injuring another police officer and a guard. He was arrested on the scene, and was subsequently charged with intentional homicide. In the following six months, while Yang Jia was detained and trials were held, his mother has mysteriously disappeared. This video is a documentary that traces the reasons and motivations behind the tragedy and investigates into a trial process filled with shady cover-ups and questionable decisions. The film provides a glimpse into the realities of a government-controlled judicial system and its impact on the citizens lives.

2010, video, 2h 6m[124]

The future dictionary definition of crackdown will be: First cover ones head up firmly, and then beat him or her up violently. @aiww In the summer of 2010, the Chinese government began a crackdown on dissent, and Hua Hao Yue Yuan documents the stories of Liu Dejun and Liu Shasha, whose activism and outspoken attitude led them to violent abuse from the authorities. On separate occasions, they were kidnapped, beaten and thrown into remote locations. The incidents attracted much concern over the Internet, as well as wide speculation and theories about what exactly happened. This documentary presents interviews of the two victims, witnesses and concerned netizens. In which it gathers various perspectives about the two beatings, and brings us closer to the brutal reality of Chinas crackdown on crime.

2010, voice recording, 3h 41m[125]

On 24 April 2010 at 00:51, Ai Weiwei (@aiww) started a Twitter campaign to commemorate students who perished in the earthquake in Sichuan on 12 May 2008. 3,444 friends from the Internet delivered voice recordings, the names of 5,205 perished were recited 12,140 times. Remembrance is an audio work dedicated to the young people who lost their lives in the Sichuan earthquake. It expresses thoughts for the passing of innocent lives and indignation for the cover-ups on truths about sub-standard architecture, which led to the large number of schools that collapsed during the earthquake.

2010, video, 1h 8m[126]

The shooting and editing of this video lasted nearly seven months at the Ai Weiwei studio. It began near the end of 2007 in an interception organized by cat-saving volunteers in Tianjin, and the film locations included Tianjin, Shanghai, Rugao of Jiangsu, Chaoshan of Guangzhou, and Hebei Province. The documentary depicts a complete picture of a chain in the cat-trading industry. Since the end of 2009 when the government began soliciting expert opinion for the Animal Protection Act, the focus of public debate has always been on whether one should be eating cats or not, or whether cat-eating is a Chinese tradition or not. There are even people who would go as far as to say that the call to stop eating cat meat is “imposing the will of the minority on the majority”. Yet the “majority” does not understand the complete truth of cat-meat trading chains: cat theft, cat trafficking, killing cats, selling cats, and eating cats, all the various stages of the trade and how they are distributed across the country, in cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Rugao, Wuhan, Guangzhou, and Hebei. This well-organized, smooth-running industry chain of cat abuse, cat killing and skinning has already existed among ordinary Chinese folks for 20 years, or perhaps even longer. The degree of civilization of a country can be seen from its attitude towards animals.

2011, video, 1h 1m[127]

This documentary is about the construction project curated by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. One hundred architects from 27 countries were chosen to participate and design a 1000 square meter villa to be built in a new community in Inner Mongolia. The 100 villas would be designed to fit a master plan designed by Ai Weiwei. On 25 January 2008, the 100 architects gathered in Ordos for a first site visit. The film Ordos 100 documents the total of three site visits to Ordos, during which time the master plan and design of each villa was completed. Until today, the Ordos 100 project remains unrealized.

2011, video, 54m[128]

As a sequel to Ai Weiweis film Lao Ma Ti Hua, the film So Sorry (named after the artists 2009 exhibition in Munich, Germany) shows the beginnings of the tension between Ai Weiwei and the Chinese Government. In Lao Ma Ti Hua, Ai Weiwei travels to Chengdu, Sichuan to attend the trial of the civil rights advocate Tan Zuoren, as a witness. In So Sorry, you see the investigation led by Ai Weiwei studio to identify the students who died during the Sichuan earthquake as a result of corruption and poor building constructions leading to the confrontation between Ai Weiwei and the Chengdu police. After being beaten by the police, Ai Weiwei traveled to Munich, Germany to prepare his exhibition at the museum Haus der Kunst. The result of his beating led to intense headaches caused by a brain hemorrhage and was treated by emergency surgery. These events mark the beginning of Ai Weiweis struggle and surveillance at the hands of the state police.

2011, video, 2h 22m[129]

This documentary investigates the death of popular Zhaiqiao village leader Qian Yunhui in the fishing village of Yueqing, Zhejiang province. When the local government confiscated marshlands in order to convert them into construction land, the villagers were deprived of the opportunity to cultivate these lands and be fully self-subsistent. Qian Yunhui, unafraid of speaking up for his villagers, travelled to Beijing several times to report this injustice to the central government. In order to silence him, he was detained by local government repeatedly. On 25 December 2010, Qian Yunhui was hit by a truck and died on the scene. News of the incident and photos of the scene quickly spread over the internet. The local government claimed that Qian Yunhui was the victim of an ordinary traffic accident. This film is an investigation conducted by Ai Weiwei studio into the circumstances of the incident and its connection to the land dispute case, mainly based on interviews of family members, villagers and officials. It is an attempt by Ai Weiwei to establish the facts and find out what really happened on 25 December 2010. During shooting and production, Ai Weiwei studio experienced significant obstruction and resistance from local government. The film crew was followed, sometimes physically stopped from shooting certain scenes and there were even attempts to buy off footage. All villagers interviewed for the purposes of this documentary have been interrogated or illegally detained by local government to some extent.

2011, video, 1h 1m[130]

Early in 2008, the district government of Jiading, Shanghai invited Ai Weiwei to build a studio in Malu Township, as a part of the local government’s efforts in developing its cultural assets. By August 2010, the Ai Weiwei Shanghai Studio completed all of its construction work. In October 2010, the Shanghai government declared the Ai Weiwei Shanghai Studio an illegal construction, and was subjected to demolition. On 7 November 2010, when Ai Weiwei was placed under house arrest by public security in Beijing, over 1,000 netizens attended the “River Crab Feast” at the Shanghai Studio. On 11 January 2011, the Shanghai city government forcibly demolished the Ai Weiwei Studio within a day, without any prior notice.

2013, video, 1h 17m[131]

This video tells the story of Liu Ximei, who at her birth in 1985 was given to relatives to be raised because she was born in violation of Chinas strict one-child policy. When she was ten years old, Liu was severely injured while working in the fields and lost large amounts of blood. While undergoing treatment at a local hospital, she was given a blood transfusion that was later revealed to be contaminated with HIV. Following this exposure to the virus, Liu contracted AIDS. According to official statistics, in 2001 there were 850,000 AIDS sufferers in China, many of whom contracted the illness in the 1980s and 1990s as the result of a widespread plasma market operating in rural, impoverished areas and using unsafe collection methods.

2014, video, 2h 8m[132]

Ai Weiweis Appeal 15,220,910.50 opens with Ai Weiweis mother at the Venice Biennial in the summer of 2013 examining Ais large S.A.C.R.E.D. installation portraying his 81-day imprisonment. The documentary goes onto chronologically reconstruct the events that occurred from the time he was arrested at the Beijing airport in April 2011 to his final court appeal in September 2012. The film portrays the day-to-day activity surrounding Ai Weiwei, his family and his associates ranging from consistent visits by the authorities, interviews with reporters, support and donations from fans, and court dates. The Film premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 23 January 2014.

2015, video, 30m[133]

This documentary on the Fukushima Art Project is about artist Ai Weiweis investigation of the site as well as the project’s installation process. In August 2014, Ai Weiwei was invited as one of the participating artists for the Fukushima Nuclear Zone by the Japanese art coalition ChimPom, as part of the project Dont Follow the Wind . Ai accepted the invitation and sent his assistant Ma Yan to the exclusion zone in Japan to investigate the site. The Fukushima Nuclear Exclusion Zone is thus far located within the 20-kilometer radius of land area of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 25,000 people have already been evacuated from the Exclusion Zone. Both water and electric circuits were cut off. Entrance restriction is expected to be relieved in the next thirty years, or even longer. The art project will also be open to public at that time. The three spots usable as exhibition spaces by the artists are all former residential houses, among which exhibition site one and two were used for working and lodging; and exhibition site three was used as a community entertainment facility with an ostrich farm. Ai brought about two projects, “A Ray of Hope” and “Family Album” after analyzing materials and information generated from the site. In “A Ray of Hope”, a solar photovoltaic system is built on exhibition site one, on the second level of the old warehouse. Integral LED lighting devices are used in the two rooms. The lights would turn on automatically from 7 to 10pm, and from 6 to 8am daily. This lighting system is the only light source in the Exclusion Zone after this project was installed. Photos of Ai and his studio staff at Caochangdi that make up project “Family Album” are displayed on exhibition site two and three, in the seven rooms where locals used to live. The twenty-two selected photos are divided in five categories according to types of event spanning eight years. Among these photos, six of them were taken from the site investigation at the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake; two were taken during the time when he was illegally detained after pleading the Tan Zuoren case in Chengdu, China in August 2009; and three others taken during his surgical treatment for his head injury from being attacked in the head by police officers in Chengdu; five taken of him being followed by the police and his Beijing studio Fake Design under surveillance due to the studio tax case from 2011 to 2012; four are photos of Ai Weiwei and his family from year 2011 to year 2013; and the other two were taken earlier of him in his studio in Caochangdi (One taken in 2005 and the other in 2006).

Ai’s visual art includes sculptural installations, woodworking, video and photography. “Ai Weiwei: According to What,” adapted and expanded by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden from a 2009 exhibition at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, was Ai’s first North American museum retrospective.[134] It opened at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. in 2013, and subsequently traveled to the Brooklyn Museum, New York,[135] and two other venues.

More recent works address his investigation into the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake and responses to the Chinese government’s detention and surveillance of him.[136]

In 2002, he was the curator of the project Jinhua Architecture Park.

In 2006, Ai and HHF Architects designed a private residence in upstate New York.[137] According to the New York Times, the Tsai Residence is divided into four modules and the details are “extraordinarily refined”.[137][138] In 2009, the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design selected the home for its International Architecture Awards, one of the world’s most prestigious global awards for new architecture, landscape architecture, interiors and urban planning.[139] In 2010, Wallpaper magazine nominated the residence for its Wallpaper Design Awards category: Best New Private House.[140] A detached guesthouse, also designed by Ai and HHF Architects, was completed after the main house and, according to New York Magazine, looks like a “floating boomerang of rusty Cor-Ten steel.”[141]

In 2008, Ai curated the architecture project Ordos 100 in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia. He invited 100 architects from 29 countries to participate in this project.[142]

Ai was commissioned as the artistic consultant for design, collaborating with the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, for the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, also known as the “Bird’s Nest.”[143] Although ignored by the Chinese media, he had voiced his anti-Olympics views.[3] He later distanced himself from the project, saying, “I’ve already forgotten about it. I turn down all the demands to have photographs with it,” saying it is part of a “pretend smile” of bad taste.[144][145] In August 2007, he also accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said “It’s disgusting. I don’t like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment.”[146] In February 2008, Spielberg withdrew from his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics.[147][148] When asked why he participated in the designing of the Bird’s Nest in the first place, Ai replied “I did it because I love design.”[149]

In summer 2012, Ai teamed again with Herzog & de Meuron on a “would-be archaeological site [as] a game of make-believe and fleeting memory” as the year’s temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens.[150][151]

On 24 October 2012, Ai went live with a cover of Gangnam Style,[152] the famous K-pop phenomenon by South Korean rapper PSY, through the posting of a four-minute long parody video on YouTube. The video was an attempt to criticize the Chinese government’s attempt to silence his activism and was quickly blocked by national authorities.

On 22 May 2013, Ai debuted his first single Dumbass over the internet, with a music video shot by cinematographer Christopher Doyle. The video was a reconstruction of Ai’s experience in prison, during his 81-day detention, and dives in and out of the prison’s reality and the guarding soldiers’ fantasies.[153] He later released a second single, Laoma Tihua, on 20 June 2013 along with a video on his experience of state surveillance, with footage compiled from his studio’s documentaries.[154] On 22 June 2013, the two-year anniversary of Ai’s release, he released his first music album The Divine Comedy.[155] Later in August, he released a third music video for the song Chaoyang Park, also included in the album.[156]

Ai is the Artistic Director of China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), which he co-founded in 1997. This contemporary art archive and experimental gallery in Beijing concentrates on experimental art from the People’s Republic of China, initiates and facilitates exhibitions and other forms of introductions inside and outside China.[157] The building which houses it was designed by Ai in 2000.[158]

On 15 March 2010, Ai took part in Digital Activism in China, a discussion hosted by The Paley Media Center in New York with Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter) and Richard MacManus.[159] Also in 2010 he served as jury member for Future Generation Art Prize, Kiev, Ukraine; contributed design for Comme de Garcons Aoyama Store, Tokyo, Japan; and participated in a talk with Nobel Prize winner Herta Mller at the International Culture festival Litcologne in Cologne, Germany.

In 2011, Ai sat on the jury of an international initiative to find a universal Logo for Human Rights. The winning design, combining the silhouette of a hand with that of a bird, was chosen from more than 15,300 suggestions from over 190 countries. The initiative’s goal was to create an internationally recognized logo to support the global human rights movement.[98] In 2013, after the existence of the PRISM surveillance program was revealed, Ai said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”[99]

In 2012, Weiwei interviewed a member of the 50 Cent Party, a group of “online commentators” (otherwise known as sockpuppets) covertly hired by the Chinese government to post “comments favourable towards party policies and [intending] to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums”.[160] Keeping Ai’s source anonymous, the transcript was published by the British magazine New Statesman on 17 October 2012, offering insights on the education, life, methods and tactics used by professional trolls serving pro-government interests.

Ai designed the cover for 17 June 2013 issue of Time magazine. The cover story, by Hannah Beech, is “How China Sees the World”.[161] TIME Magazine called it “the most beautiful cover we’ve ever done in our history.”[162]

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Ai Weiwei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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What is Freedom – Holistic Politics

Posted: September 10, 2016 at 5:25 am

What is Freedom?

Freedom. We sing about it in our patriotic songs. We teach it to our children in school. Hollywood and Madison Avenue glorify it. Here in the United States, freedom is the civic religion.

But if freedom is our civic religion, why is the libertarian movement in the U.S. so small? Why is government so big and our jails so full? Is all our talk of freedom mere lip service? Are we a nation of sheeple duped by the powers that be?

To some degree, yes. But these are not the major reasons why the libertarian movement is so small. Pure libertarians lack credibility with the masses because they dont necessarily offer liberty. Abolish the government willy nilly and reduced liberty is the likely result. The power vacuum left by vanished government is likely to be filled by feudal warlords, a military junta and/or invading armies. Anarchy with liberty may be possible but it is not automatic. The People are prudent to refuse the risk.

What about moderate libertarians? What about those who would like to shrink the federal government to its Constitutional bounds? Why havent freedom lovers joined their banners en masse? Well, some did, for Ron Pauls recent run for President, but not nearly enough to win the Republican nomination, much less elect a President. This is supposed to be the Land of the Free. What gives?

It took me years to figure it out, but I believe I have the answer. It is an answer most active libertarians will not like to hear. Pragmatic libertarians do indeed offer liberty, but liberty is not the same thing as freedom!

By liberty I mean what my libertarians friends mean by liberty: liberty is the absence of coercion. It is a state of being where transactions are voluntary, where all constraints are the result of honest contracts. I like liberty. I wish we had more of it, here and in other parts of the world. I even have a series on libertarian strategy in the the hope that libertarians become more successful in increasing liberty. But liberty is not the same thing as freedom. Freedom is something bigger.

So what is freedom?

You can pull out a dictionary for a stilted definition. I will define it simply: freedom is being able to do what you want to do. Free speech and free beer both speak of freedom. Free speech is a freedom that comes directly from liberty. Free beer, however, requires more than mere permission to drink fermented barley. It requires that someone has gone through the trouble to brew the beer and is willing to give it out. If no one is so inclined brew beer and give it away, the ideal of Freedom as in Free Beer contains a conflict. Free beer for you means beer servitude for someone else.

This is why freedom-loving Vulcans stick to promoting liberty. They see the potential conflict inherent in free beer freedoms as a contradiction. Liberty can be granted to all who respect the liberty of others or at least thats the ideal. (In practice we run up against a few conflicts or even contradictions.) So many libertarians would define freedom down to mere liberty, and thus wall off from their minds the messy business of balancing trade-offs.

I say mere liberty because for many people more liberty need not translate into more freedom. A marginal increase in liberty can result is subtantially less freedom, especially in the short run. This, I submit, is why libertarianism has limited popularity here in the Land of the Free. For millions of people liberal and conservative ideas offer more increments freedom than many libertarian ideas.

Consider a single mom who has to put in 50 hour weeks at Dennys to support her children. A cuddly fascist offering government childcare and socialized medicine along with his program of censorship of naughty TV and conquering Bolivia for no good reason offers more freedom to this mother than a smaller government libertarian. This is but one illustration. I give others elsewhere.

Libertarianism has limited popularity for good reason.

This is not a libertarian site. It is a pro-freedom site. Here, we attempt to balance several freedoms, including:

Back when I was a libertarian and active in the Libertarian Party, I spent thousands of dollars and hours promoting the party and the cause. Converts and recruits were few and far between. Today, I am mostly out of the game, playing Candy Land with my young daughter instead of placing signs, dropping leaflets, working booths and attending meetings. Yet I have well over a hundred people lining up to join my nonexistent new political party proposed elsewhere on this site.

Freedom is popular here in the Land of the Free.

What is not popular is knowledge of how to be more free. Many liberals call for mass bureaucracy because they know no other way to achieve freedom from the boss. If that is you, or you wish to persuade such liberals otherwise, see the red titles on the sidebar. Likewise, many environmentalists believe we have to abride economic freedom and/or our prosperous way of life in order to preserve nature. For you I have the green article series. For those of you who desire a safe and moral place to raise your children, there are the blue articles.

If you are ready to dive in and look at specific proposals, feel free to jump to the relevant article series. On the other hand, if you are a top down thinker, or a libertarian/small government conservative who has a hard time grokking the distinction between liberty and freedom, please continue with this series.

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What is Freedom – Holistic Politics

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Serendipity: 9/11, the Ukraine, NSA spying, the Iraq War …

Posted: September 8, 2016 at 6:42 am

This website is based on a libertarian (in the sense of J.S.Mill) perspective and is opposed to Fascism, Capitalism, Zionism, the Anglo-Zionist Empire, the Surveillance State and all who secretly work to cause wars for their own advantage and profit. It has over 250 pages concerned with the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers and the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11 and the subsequent so-called “war on terror”, and over 900 pages on other subjects, including theCIA, theNSA, the Lockerbie bombing, the Waco massacre, the neo-Nazi revolution in the Ukraine, censorship, theIraqwar, the murder of Princess Diana, Wikileaks, religion, psychedelics and the so-called “warondrugs”, plus pages on notable people such as George W.Bush, Maria Callas, Ganesh Baba, Ernst Zndel, Nick Sand and theDalaiLama.

This website asserts the natural right of people everywhere to pursue their lives, interests and pleasures free from harmful social conditioning, from exploitation and domination by covert political and economic forces which seek to enslave them and from repressive authoritarian governments, rapacious capitalist corporations, mendacious religious organizations, fraudulent international bankers and the unholy alliance among all of these which works to deprive the common people of all countries of their freedom, health, happiness and the full realization of their spiritual potential. Whensomeone (or your government) next offers you disinfo, lies and deceit, JustSayNo, or more eloquently, Shoveit!

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Serendipity: 9/11, the Ukraine, NSA spying, the Iraq War …

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What Happens When We All Live to 100? – The Atlantic

Posted: at 6:31 am

For millennia, if not for eonsanthropology continuously pushes backward the time of human originlife expectancy was short. The few people who grew old were assumed, because of their years, to have won the favor of the gods. The typical person was fortunate to reach 40.

Beginning in the 19th century, that slowly changed. Since 1840, life expectancy at birth has risen about three months with each passing year. In 1840, life expectancy at birth in Sweden, a much-studied nation owing to its record-keeping, was 45 years for women; today its 83 years. The United States displays roughly the same trend. When the 20th century began, life expectancy at birth in America was 47 years; now newborns are expected to live 79 years. If about three months continue to be added with each passing year, by the middle of this century, American life expectancy at birth will be 88 years. By the end of the century, it will be 100 years.

Viewed globally, the lengthening of life spans seems independent of any single, specific event. It didnt accelerate much as antibiotics and vaccines became common. Nor did it retreat much during wars or disease outbreaks. A graph of global life expectancy over time looks like an escalator rising smoothly. The trend holds, in most years, in individual nations rich and poor; the whole world is riding the escalator.

Projections of ever-longer life spans assume no incredible medical discoveriesrather, that the escalator ride simply continues. If anti-aging drugs or genetic therapies are found, the climb could accelerate. Centenarians may become the norm, rather than rarities who generate a headline in the local newspaper.

Pie in the sky? On a verdant hillside in Marin County, Californiahome to hipsters and towering redwoods, the place to which the Golden Gate Bridge leadssits the Buck Institute, the first private, independent research facility dedicated to extending the human life span. Since 1999, scientists and postdocs there have studied ways to make organisms live much longer, and with better health, than they naturally would. Already, the institutes researchers have quintupled the life span of laboratory worms. Most Americans have never heard of the Buck Institute, but someday this place may be very well known.

Buck is not alone in its pursuit. The University of Michigan, the University of Texas, and the University of California at San Francisco are studying ways to slow aging, as is the Mayo Clinic. Late in 2013, Google brought its trove of cash into the game, founding a spin-off called the California Life Company (known as Calico) to specialize in longevity research. Six months after Calicos charter was announced, Craig Venter, the biotech entrepreneur who in the 1990s conducted a dramatic race against government laboratories to sequence the human genome, also founded a start-up that seeks ways to slow aging.

Should research find a life-span breakthrough, the proportion of the U.S. population that is elderlyfated to rise anyway, considering declining fertility rates, the retirement of the Baby Boomers, and the continuing uplift of the escalatormay climb even more. Longer life has obvious appeal, but it entails societal risks. Politics may come to be dominated by the old, who might vote themselves ever more generous benefits for which the young must pay. Social Security and private pensions could be burdened well beyond what current actuarial tables suggest. If longer life expectancy simply leads to more years in which pensioners are disabled and demand expensive services, health-care costs may balloon as never before, while other social needs go unmet.

With each passing year, the newly born live about three months longer than those born the prior year.

But the story might have a happy ending. If medical interventions to slow aging result in added years of reasonable fitness, life might extend in a sanguine manner, with most men and women living longer in good vigor, and also working longer, keeping pension and health-care subsidies under control. Indeed, the most-exciting work being done in longevity science concerns making the later years vibrant, as opposed to simply adding time at the end.

Postwar medical research has focused on specific conditions: there are heart-disease laboratories, cancer institutes, and so on. Traditional research assumes the chronic later-life diseases that are among the nations leading killerscardiovascular blockage, stroke, Alzheimersarise individually and should be treated individually. What if, instead, aging is the root cause of many chronic diseases, and aging can be slowed? Not just life span but health span might increase.

Drugs that lengthen health span are becoming to medical researchers what vaccines and antibiotics were to previous generations in the lab: their grail. If health-span research is successful, pharmaceuticals as remarkable as those earlier generations of drugs may result. In the process, society might learn the answer to an ancient mystery: Given that every cell in a mammals body contains the DNA blueprint of a healthy young version of itself, why do we age at all?

Here in our freezers we have 100 or so compounds that extend life in invertebrates, says Gordon Lithgow, a geneticist at the Buck Institute. He walks with me through labs situated on a campus of modernistic buildings that command a dreamlike view of San Pablo Bay, and encourage dreamlike thoughts. The 100 compounds in the freezer? What we dont know is if they work in people.

The Buck Institute bustles with young researchers. Jeans and San Francisco 49ers caps are common sightsthis could be a Silicon Valley software start-up were not microscopes, cages, and biological-isolation chambers ubiquitous. The institute is named for Leonard and Beryl Buck, a Marin County couple who left oil stocks to a foundation charged with studying why people age, among other issues. When the institute opened, medical research aimed at slowing aging was viewed as quixoticthe sort of thing washed-up hippies talk about while sipping wine and watching the sunset. A mere 15 years into its existence, the Buck Institute is at the bow wave of biology.

In one lab, researchers laboriously tamper with yeast chromosomes. Yeast is expedient as a research subject because it lives out a lifetime before an analysts eyes, and because a third of yeast genes are similar to human genes. Deleting some genes kills yeast; deleting others causes yeast to live longer. Why deleting some genes extends life isnt knownBuck researchers are trying to figure this out, in the hope that they might then carry the effect over to mammals. The work is painstaking, with four microscopes in use at least 50 hours a week.

Buck employs Lilliputian electrocardiogram machines and toy-size CT scanners to examine the internal organs of mice, since the goal is not just to make them live longer but to keep them healthy longer, with less cancer or heart disease. Researchers curious about aging mainly work with mice, worms, flies, and yeast, because they are small and easily housed, and because they dont live long, so improvements to life expectancy are quickly observable. Twenty years ago it was a really big deal to extend the life span of worms. Now any postdoc can do that, says Simon Melov, a Buck geneticist. Experiments funded by the National Institute on Aging have shown that drugs can extend a mouses life span by about a quarter, and Buck researchers have been able to reverse age-related heart dysfunction in the same animal. Think how the world would be upended if human longevity quickly jumped another 25 percent.

The rubber will meet the road with human trials. We hope to find five to 10 small molecules that extend healthy life span in mice, then stage a human trial, says Brian Kennedy, the Buck Institutes CEO. A drug called rapamycinbeing tested at the institute and elsewhereseems closest to trial stage and has revolutionary potential. But in addition to being ethically fraught, human trials of a life-extension substance will be costly, and might take decades. The entry of Googles billions into the field makes human trials more likely. Calico is tight-lipped about its plansthe company agreed to let me visit, then backed out.

Anti-aging research is not without antecedents, some of which offer notes of caution. A generation ago, Linus Pauling, a winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, proposed that megadoses of vitamin C would retard aging. It turned out that at megadoses, vitamins can become toxic. If you take vitamins, swallow the amounts recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.

A decade ago, a biotech start-up called Sirtris sought to devise drugs that mimic the supposed health-giving properties of red wine. GlaxoSmithKline bought Sirtris for $790 million in todays dollars, money the company may wish it had back: Sirtris experiments have yet to lead to any practical product.

About 15 years ago, Bruce Ames, an accomplished scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, proposed that acetylcarnitine, which regulates the mitochondria of cells, combined with an antioxidant, might retard aging while treating mild Alzheimers. Antioxidant has become a buzzword of supplement marketing and Dr. Ozstyle quackery. Too much antioxidant would be unhealthy, since oxidation is essential to the bodys respiration. Ames thought he had found a compound that safely moderates the pace at which cells use themselves up. He began dosing himself with acetylcarnitine, and continues to work at Berkeley, at age 85; whether he would have enjoyed such longevity anyway is unknowable. Pharmaceutical companies have shown little interest in Amess ideabecause it occurs naturally, acetylcarnitine cannot be patented, and, worse from Big Pharmas standpoint, the substance is inexpensive.

Today, lab results show a clear relationship between a restricted-calorie diet and longevity in mice. That eating less extends the life spans of small mammals is the strongest finding of anti-aging research to this point. A restrictive diet seems to put mouse cells into a state vaguely similar to hibernation; whether caloric restriction would work in people isnt known. A campaign against calories might seem to possess broad practical appeal, since whats recommendedeating lesscosts nothing. But if the mice are any indication, one would need to eat a lot less, dropping caloric intake to the level at which a person feels hunger pangs throughout the day. Caloric restriction is a fad diet in Northern California, Melov told me. We had a caloric-restriction group come in to visit the institute. They did not look at all healthy.

Recently, separate teams at Harvard, Stanford, and UC San Francisco reported that transferring the blood of adolescent mice into old, declining mice had a rejuvenating effect on the latter. The thought of the old rich purchasing blood from the young poor is ghoulish on numerous levels. The research goal is to determine what chemical aspect of youthful blood benefits mature tissue. Perhaps compounds in adolescent blood excite dormant stem cells, and a drug could be developed that triggers the effect without transfusion.

The Buck Institute and other labs have been looking for health-span DNA that may exist in other mammals. Whales are a lot less likely than people are to get cancer. Polar bears consume an extremely high-fat diet yet dont develop arterial plaque. If the biological pathways for such qualities were understood, a drug might be designed to trigger the effect in people. Mimicking what nature has already developed seems more promising than trying to devise novel DNA.

In worms, genes called daf-2 and daf-16 can change in a way that causes the invertebrates to live twice as long as is natural, and in good vigor. A molecular biologist named Cynthia Kenyon, among the first hires at Calico, made that discovery more than two decades ago, when she was a researcher at UC San Francisco. By manipulating the same genes in mice, Kenyon has been able to cause them to live longer, with less cancer than mice in a control group: that is, with a better health span. The daf-16 gene is similar to a human gene called foxo3, a variant of which is linked to exceptional longevity. A drug that mimics this foxo3 variant is rumored to be among Calicos initial projects.

A long time has passed since Kenyons eureka moment about worm genes, and shes still far from proving that this insight can help people. But the tempo of the kind of work she does is accelerating. Twenty years ago, genetic sequencing and similar forms of DNA research were excruciatingly time-consuming. New techniques and equipment have altered that: for instance, one Silicon Valley lab-services firm, Sequetech, advertises, Go from [cell] colony to sequence in a day. The accelerating pace of genetic-information gathering may come in handy for health-span research.

The Buck Institute became cautiously optimistic about rapamycin when its life-extension properties were noticed in yeast. Lab mice dosed with rapamycin are dying off more slowly than they would naturally, and many of the old mice appear energetic and youthful. Devised to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, rapamycin seems to alter some chemistry associated with cellular senescence. (More on that later.) If the drug turns out to delay aging in people, it would be the greatest off-label pharmaceutical use ever. But dont ask your doctor for a prescriptionhealth-span therapy based on rapamycin is years away, if it ever happens. Kennedy, the Buck Institute CEO, does not dose himself with rapamycin, whose side effects are not understood.

Researchers at the Buck Institute are lean: societys obesity problems are not in evidence there. Everyone takes the stairs; elevators are viewed as strictly for visitors. If there is a candy machine on the 488-acre grounds, it is well hidden. I met some researchers for lunch in a glass-and-chrome conference room (Bucks buildings were designed by I. M. Pei and fairly shout Give me an architecture award!). Lunch was an ascetic affair: water and a small sandwich with greens; no sides, soda, or cookies. Kennedy says he seldom eats lunch, and runs up to 20 miles weekly. Yet, even doing everything right by the lights of current assumptions about how to stave off aging, at age 47, Kennedy has wrinkle lines around his eyes.

Except with regard to infectious diseases, medical cause and effect is notoriously hard to pin down. Coffee, salt, butter: good, bad, or neither? Studies are inconclusive. Why do some people develop heart disease while others with the same habits dont? The Framingham Heart Study, in its 66th year and following a third generation of subjects, still struggles with such questions. You should watch your weight, eat more greens and less sugar, exercise regularly, and get ample sleep. But you should do these things because they are common sensenot because there is any definitive proof that they will help you live longer.

The uncertainty inherent in the practice of medicine is amplified when the subject is longevity, because decades might pass before anyone knows whether a particular drug or lifestyle modification does any good. Scrutinizing the very old has not been the gold mine some researchers hoped it would be. Lifestyle studies of centenarians can be really puzzling, Kennedy says. They smoke more and drink less than we might guess. Few are vegetarians. Nothing jumps out as a definitive cause of their long lives.

Among the first wide-scale efforts to understand gerontology was the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, begun by federal researchers in 1958 and ongoing. Its current director, Luigi Ferrucci, says, The study has determined that disabilities among the elderly often have warning signs that can be detected in youth, and this insight might lead to early-life interventions that decrease late-life chronic disease. But on some of the big questions, such as whether longevity is caused mainly by genes or mainly by lifestyle and environment, we just have no idea at all.

Studies of twins suggest that about 30 percent of longevity is inherited. This is one of the factors that make researchers optimisticif 30 percent of longevity is inherited, perhaps laboratories can design a compound that causes anyones blood chemistry to mimic what happens in the bodies of those who were born with the DNA for long life. But when we sequence the genome, only 1 percent seems linked to longevity, Ferrucci told me. The other 99 percent of the presumed genetic effect is unexplained.

At medical conferences, Ferrucci likes to show physicians and researchers an elaborate medical profile of an anonymous patient, then ask them to guess her age. Guesses are off by as much as 20 years too high or low, he says. This is because medically, we do not know what age is. The sole means to determine age is by asking for date of birth. Thats what a basic level this research still is at.

Aging brings with it, of course, senescence. Cellular senescence, a subset of the overall phenomenon, is a subject of fascination in longevity research.

The tissues and organs that make up our bodies are prone to injury, and the cells are prone to malfunctions, cancer being the most prominent. When an injury must be healed, or cancerous tissue that is dividing must be stopped, nearby cells transmit chemical signals that trigger the repair of injured cells or the death of malignant ones. (Obviously this is a simplification.) In the young, the system works pretty well. But as cells turn senescent, they begin to send out false positives. The bodys healing ability falters as excess production of the repair signal leads to persistent inflammation, which is the foundation of heart disease, Alzheimers, arthritis, and other chronic maladies associated with the passage of time. Cars wear out because they cannot repair themselves; our bodies wear out because they lose the ability to repair themselves. If the loss of our ability to self-repair were slowed down, health during our later years would improve: a longer warranty, in the auto analogy.

If we can figure out how to eliminate senescent cells or switch off their secretions, says Judith Campisi, who runs the Buck Institutes research on this topic, then we could prevent or lessen the impact of many chronic diseases of aging. Its not a coincidence that incidence of these chronic diseases increases sharply after the age of 50, a time when senescent cells also increase in number. If you believe, as many scientists do, that aging is a prime cause of many chronic diseases, it is essential that we understand the accumulation of senescent cells. Rapamycin excites longevity researchers because it seems to switch off the repair signal mistakenly sent by senescent cells. Mayo Clinic researchers are studying other substances that dampen the effects of cellular senescence; some have proved to keep mice fit longer than normal, extending their health span. Many elderly people decline into years of progressive disability, then become invalids. If instead most people enjoyed reasonable vigor right up to the end, that would be just as exciting for society as adding years to life expectancy.

Big medical efforts tend to be structured as assaults on specific conditionsthe war on cancer and so on. One reason is psychological: a wealthy person who survived a heart attack, or lost a parent to one, endows a foundation to study the problem. Another reason is symbolic: we tend to view diseases as challenges thrown at us by nature, to be overcome one by one. If the passage of time itself turns out to be the challenge, interdisciplinary study of aging might overtake the disease-by-disease approach. As recently as a generation ago, it would have seemed totally crazy to suppose that aging could be cured. Now curing aging seems, well, only somewhat crazy.

The life-expectancy escalator has for nearly two centuries risen about three months a year, despite two world wars, the 1918 influenza pandemic, the AIDS epidemic, and the global populations growing sevenfoldthe latter deceptively important, because crowded conditions are assumed to more readily communicate disease. Will life-span increases continue regardless of what may happen in biotech? The yea position is represented by James Vaupel, the founder of Germanys Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research; the nay by Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In 2002, Vaupel published an influential article in Science documenting the eerily linear rise in life expectancy since 1840. Controversially, Vaupel concluded that reductions in mortality should not be seen as a disconnected sequence of unrepeatable revolutions but rather as a regular stream of continuing progress. No specific development or discovery has caused the rise: improvements in nutrition, public health, sanitation, and medical knowledge all have helped, but the operative impetus has been the stream of continuing progress.

Vaupel called it a reasonable scenario that increases will continue at least until life expectancy at birth surpasses 100. His views havent changed. The data still support the conclusions of the 2002 paper. Linear rise in life expectancy has continued, Vaupel told me earlier this year. In a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the age-adjusted U.S. death rate declined to a record low in 2011. Today the first four causes of death in the United States are chronic, age-related conditions: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower-respiratory diseases, and stroke. As long as living standards continue to improve, Vaupel thinks, life expectancy will continue to increase.

On the opposite side of this coin, Olshansky told me the rise in life expectancy will hit a wall soon, if it hasnt already. He noted, Most of the 20th-century gains in longevity came from reduced infant mortality, and those were onetime gains. Infant mortality in the United States trails some other nations, but has dropped so muchdown to one in 170that little room for improvement remains. Theres tremendous statistical impact on life expectancy when the young are saved, Olshansky says. A reduction in infant mortality saves the entire span of a persons life. Avoiding mortality in a young personsay, by vaccinesaves most of the persons life. Changes in medicine or lifestyle that extend the lives of the old dont add much to the numbers. Olshansky calculates that if cancer were eliminated, American life expectancy would rise by only three years, because a host of other chronic fatal diseases are waiting to take its place. He thinks the 21st century will see the average life span extend another 10 years or so, with a bonus of more health span. Then the increase will slow noticeably, or stop.

Whether human age may have a biological limit does not factor into this debate. A French woman who lived from 1875 to 1997, Jeanne Calment, had the longest confirmed life span, at 122. Shes obviously an outlier, and while outliers dont tell us much, they do hint at whats possible. Her age at death was well beyond the average life span that either Vaupel or Olshansky are contemplating in their analyses. And in any case, various experts, at various times across the past century, have argued that life span was nearing a ceiling, only to be proved wrong.

Diminishing smoking and drunk driving have obviously contributed to declining mortality. Homicide has fallen so muchshootings arent necessarily down, but improved trauma response saves more victimsthat murder is no longer among the top 15 causes of death in the United States. Other health indicators seem positive as well. All forms of harmful air and water emissions except greenhouse gases are in long-term decline. Less smog, acid rain, and airborne soot foster longevitythe old are sensitive to respiratory diseasewhile declining levels of industrial toxins may contribute to declining cancer rates. Life expectancy can be as much as 18 years shorter in low-income U.S. counties than in high-income counties, but Obamacare should correct some of that imbalance: Romneycare, enacted in 2006 and in many ways Obamacares precursor, reduced mortality in low-income Massachusetts counties. These and many other elements of Vaupels stream of continuing progress seem to favor longevity. So does climate change: people live longer in warm climates than cold, and the world is warming.

Popular attention tends to focus on whether what we gulp down determines how long we live: Should people take fish oil and shop for organic probiotic kefir? The way our homes, families, and friendships are organized may matter just as much. Thomas Perls, a professor at Boston Medical Center who analyzes the genomes of centenarians, notes that Seventh-Day Adventists enjoy about a decade more life expectancy than peers of their birth years: They dont drink or smoke, most are vegetarians, they exercise regularly even when old, and take a true weekly day of rest. But what really strikes Perls about Seventh-Day Adventists is that they maintain large social groups. Constant interaction with other people can be annoying, but overall seems to keep us engaged with life.

For years, the American social trend has been away from constant interaction with other peoplefewer two-parent homes, fewer children per home, declining participation in religious and community activities, grandparents living on their own, electronic interaction replacing the face-to-face in everything from work to dating. Prosperity is associated with smaller households, yet the large multigeneration home may be best for long life. There are some indications that the Great Recession increased multigeneration living. This may turn out to boost longevity, at least for a time.

The single best yardstick for measuring a persons likely life span is education. John Rowe, a health-policy professor at Columbia University and a former CEO of Aetna, says, If someone walked into my office and asked me to predict how long he would live, I would ask two things: What is your age, and how many years of education did you receive?

Jay Olshanskys latest research suggests that American women with no high-school diploma have experienced relatively small life-span increases since the 1950s, while the life expectancy of highly educated women has soared since then. Today the best-educated Americans live 10 to 14 years longer than the least educated, on average. Nothing pops out of the data like the link between education and life expectancy, Olshansky says. The good news is that the share of the American population that is less educated is in gradual decline. The bad news is that lack of education seems even more lethal than it was in the past.

Education does not sync with life expectancy because reading Dostoyevsky lowers blood pressure; college is a proxy for other aspects of a persons life. Compared with the less educated, people with a bachelors degree have a higher income, smoke less, are less likely to be overweight, and are more likely to follow doctors instructions. College graduates are more likely to marry and stay married, and marriage is good for your health: the wedded suffer fewer heart attacks and strokes than the single or divorced.

Many of the social developments that improve longevitybetter sanitation, less pollution, improved emergency roomsare provided to all on an egalitarian basis. But todays public high schools are dreadful in many inner-city areas, and broadly across states including California. Legislatures are cutting support for public universities, while the cost of higher education rises faster than inflation. These issues are discussed in terms of fairness; perhaps health should be added as a concern in the debate. If education is the trump card of longevity, the top quintile may pull away from the rest.

Society is dominated by the oldold political leaders, old judges. With each passing year, as longevity increases, the intergenerational imbalance worsens. The old demand benefits for which the young must pay, while people in their 20s become disenchanted, feeling that the deck is stacked against them. National debt increases at an alarming rate. Innovation and fresh thinking disappear as energies are devoted to defending current pie-slicing arrangements.

This isnt a prediction about the future of the United States, but rather a description of Japan right now. The Land of the Rising Sun is the worlds grayest nation. Already the median age is 45 (in the U.S., by comparison, it is 37), and it will jump to 55 by 2040. As Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute, has noted, median age in the retirement haven of Palm Springs, California, is currently 52 years. Japan is on its way to becoming an entire nation of Palm Springs residents.

The number of Americans 65 or older could reach 108 million in 2050. Thats like adding three more Floridas, inhabited entirely by seniors.

Japans grayness stems from a very low fertility ratenot enough babies to bring down the average ageand strict barriers against immigration. The United States remains a nation of immigrants, and because of the continual inflow of young people, the U.S. median age wont go haywire even as life expectancy rises: the United Nations World Population Prospects estimates that the U.S. median age will rise to 41 by mid-century.

Nonetheless, that Japan is the first major nation to turn gray, and is also the deepest in debt, is not encouraging. Once, Japan was feared as the Godzilla of global trade, but as it grayed, its economy entered a long cycle of soft growth. In 2012 the centrist Democratic Party of Japan, then holding the Diet, backed a tax whose goal was not to pay down what the country owes but merely to slow the rate of borrowing. The party promptly got the heave-ho from voters. Last year Japans public debt hit $10 trillion, twice the nations GDP.

Sheila Smith, a Japan specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me, Young people in Japan have some of the worlds worst voter-participation rates. They think the old have the system so rigged in their favor, theres no point in political activity. The young dont seem excited by the future. News accounts of young Japanese becoming so apathetic that theyve lost interest in having sex sound hard to believe, but may bear some truth.

Young urban Japanese surely are aware that their elders are ringing up bills to be handed to them, but theyre also aware that if funding for the retired is cut, Grandma may want to move into their very small apartment. As life expectancy rises, a Japanese person entering the happy-go-lucky phase of early adulthood may find that parents and grandparents both expect to be looked after. Because the only child is common in Japans newest generation, a big cast of aging people may turn to one young person for financial support or caregiving or both. Acceding to public borrowing may have become, to young Japanese, a way to keep older generations out of the apartmenteven if it means crushing national debt down the road.

That America may become more like Japansteadily older, with rising debt and declining economic growthis unsettling. From the second half of the George W. Bush administration until 2013, U.S. national debt more than doubled. The federal government borrowed like there was no tomorrow. The debt binge, for which leaders of both political parties bear blame, was a prelude to the retirement of the Baby Boomers. Tomorrow has a way of coming.

Suppose the escalator slows, and conservative assumptions about life expectancy prevail. In a 2009 study, Olshansky projected future demographics under the hit a wall scenario. The number of Americans 65 or older, 43 million today, could reach 108 million in 2050that would be like adding three more Floridas, inhabited entirely by seniors. The oldest old cohort, those 85 and older, may increase at least fivefold, to more than 6 percent of the U.S. citizenry. Olshansky projected that by 2050, life expectancy will extend three to eight years past the age used by the Social Security Administration to assess the solvency of its system, while forecasting that by 2050, Medicare and Social Security will rack up between $3.2 trillion and $8.3 trillion in unfunded obligations. (State and local governments have at least another $1 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.) These disconcerting numbers flow from the leading analyst who thinks that the life-span increase is slowing down.

When President Obama took office, Social Securitys trustees said the current benefits structure was funded until 2037. Now the Congressional Budget Office says the year of reckoning may come as soon as 2031. States may be funding their pension obligations using fuzzy math: New York issues promissory notes; Illinois and New Jersey sell debt instruments distressingly similar to junk bonds. Many private pension plans are underfunded, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which on paper appears to insure them, is an accident looking for a place to happen. Twice in the past three years, Congress has voted to allow corporations to delay contributions to pension plans. This causes them to pay more taxes in the present year, giving Congress more to spend, while amplifying problems down the road. Social Securitys disability fund may fail as soon as late 2016. Medicare spending is rising faster than Social Security spending, and is harder to predict. Projections show the main component of Medicare, its hospital fund, failing by 2030.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the next decade, all federal spending growth will come from entitlementsmainly Social Security and Medicareand from interest on the national debt. The nonpartisan think tank Third Way has calculated that at the beginning of the Kennedy presidency, the federal government spent $2.50 on public investmentsinfrastructure, education, and researchfor every $1 it spent on entitlements. By 2022, Third Way predicts, the government will spend $5 on entitlements for every $1 on public investments. Infrastructure, education, and research lead to economic growth; entitlement subsidies merely allow the nation to tread water.

If health span can be improved, the costs of aging-related disability may be manageable. Not that long ago, vast sums were spent on iron lungs and sanitariums for treatment of polio: preventing the disease has proved much less expensive than treating it. If chronic ailments related to aging can be prevented or significantly delayed, big-ticket line items in Medicare might not go off the rails.

But if health span does not improve, longer life could make disability in aging an economic crisis. Today, Medicare and Medicaid spend about $150 billion annually on Alzheimers patients. Absent progress against aging, the number of people with Alzheimers could treble by 2050, with society paying as much for Alzheimers care as for the current defense budget.

Many disabilities associated with advanced years cannot be addressed with pharmaceuticals or high-tech procedures; caregivers are required. Providing personal care for an aged invalid is a task few wish to undertake. Already many lists of careers with the most job openings are headed by caregiver or nurses aide, professions in which turnover is high.

As longevity increases, so too does the number of living grandparents. Families that once might have had one oldest old relative find themselves with three or four, all expecting care or money. At the same time, traditional family trees are being replaced with diagrams that resemble maps of the London Underground. Will children of blended families feel the same obligation to care for aging stepparents as they feel for biological parents? Just the entry of the phrase birth parent into the national lexicon suggests the magnitude of the change.

With Japan at the leading edge of lengthening life expectancy, its interest in robotics can be eerie. Foxconn, the Asian electronics giant, is manufacturing for the Japanese market a creepy mechanized thing named Pepper that is intended to provide company for the elderly. More-sophisticated devices may be in store. A future in which large numbers of very old, incapacitated people stare into the distance as robot attendants click and hum would be a bad science-fiction movie if it didnt stand a serious chance of happening.

As the population ages, so do the political powers that beand theyre aging in place. Computerized block-by-block voting analysis and shameless gerrymanderingMarylands new sixth congressional district is such a strange shape, it would have embarrassed Elbridge Gerrylock incumbents into power as never before. Campaign-finance laws appear to promote reform, but in fact have been rigged to discourage challengers. Between rising life expectancy and the mounting power of incumbency, both houses of Congress are the oldest theyve ever been: the average senator is 62 years old; the average representative, 57.

A graying Congress would be expected to be concerned foremost with protection of the status quo. Government may grow sclerotic at the very time the aging of the populace demands new ideas. Theres already a tremendous advantage to incumbency, one experienced political operative told me. As people live longer, incumbents will become more entrenched. Strom Thurmond might not be unusual anymore. Many from both parties could cling to power too long, freezing out fresh thinking. It wont be good for democracy. The speaker was no starry-eyed radical: he was Karl Rove.

Now think of the Supreme Court as life expectancy increases. The nine justices on the first Court sat an average of nine years; the last nine to depart, an average of 27 years. John Paul Stevens, the most recent to retire, was a justice for 35 years. If Clarence Thomas lives to the actuarial life expectancy of a male his current age, he could be a Supreme Court justice for 40 years.

The Framers would be aghast at the idea of a small cadre of unelected potentates lording it over the body politic for decades. When the Constitution was written, no one could have anticipated how much life span would increase, nor how much power the Supreme Court would accrue. If democracy is to remain vibrant as society ages, campaign laws must change to help challengers stand a chance versus incumbents, and the Constitution must be amended to impose a term limit on the Supreme Court, so confirmation as a justice stops being a lifetime appointment to royalty.

In 1940, the typical American who reached age 65 would ultimately spend about 17 percent of his or her life retired. Now the figure is 22 percent, and still rising. Yet Social Security remains structured as if longevity were stuck in a previous century. The early-retirement option, added by Congress in 1961start drawing at age 62, though with lower benefitsis appealing if life is short, but backfires as life span extends. People who opt for early Social Security may reach their 80s having burned through savings, and face years of living on a small amount rather than the full benefit they might have received. Polls show that Americans consistently underestimate how long they will livea convenient assumption that justifies retiring early and spending now, while causing dependency over the long run.

James Vaupel has warned that refusing to acknowledge longevitys steady march distorts peoples decisions about how much to save and when to retire and gives license to politicians to postpone painful adjustments to Social Security. Ronald Reagan was the last president to push through legislation to account for life-span changes. His administration increased the future eligible age of full Social Security benefits from 65 to 66 or 67, depending on ones birth year. Perhaps 99 percent of members of Congress would agree in private that retirement economics must change; none will touch this third rail. Generating more Social Security revenue by lifting the payroll-tax cap, currently $117,000, is the sole politically attractive option, because only the well-to-do would be impacted. But the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded that even this soak-the-rich option is insufficient to prevent insolvency for Social Security. At least one other change, such as later retirement or revised cost-of-living formulas, is required. A fair guess is that the government will do nothing about Social Security reform until a crisis strikesand then make panicked, ill-considered moves that foresight might have avoided.

Americans may decry government gridlock, but they cant blame anyone else for their own decisions. Peoples retirement savings simply must increase, though this means financial self-discipline, which Americans are not known for. Beyond that, most individuals will likely need to take a new view of what retirement should be: not a toggle switchno work at all, after years of full-time laborbut a continuum on which a person gradually downshifts to half-time, then to working now and then. Lets call it the retirement track rather than retirement: a phase of continuing to earn and save as full-time work winds down.

Widespread adoption of a retirement track would necessitate changes in public policy and in employers attitudes. Banks dont think in terms of smallish loans to help a person in the second half of life start a home-based business, but such lending might be vital to a graying population. Many employers are required to continue offering health insurance to those who stay on the job past 65, even though they are eligible for Medicare. Employers premiums for these workers are much higher than for young workers, which means employers may have a logical reason to want anyone past 65 off the payroll. Ending this requirement would make seniors more attractive to employers.

Many people may find continuing to work but under the lower-stress circumstances of part-time employment to be preferable to a gold watch, then idleness. Gradual downshifting could help ease aging people into volunteer service roles, where theres never any end of things to do. The retirement track could be more appealing than traditional retirement. A longer health span will be essential to making it possible.

Understanding the evolutionary biology of aging might help the quest for improved health span. Each cell of the body contains DNA code for a fresh, healthy cell, yet that blueprint is not called on as we grow old. Evolutionists including Alfred Russel Wallace have toyed with the idea of programmed deaththe notion that natural selection wants old animals to die in order to free up resources for younger animals, which may carry evolved genetic structures. Current thinking tends to hold that rather than trying to make older animals die, natural selection simply has no mechanism to reward longevity.

Felipe Sierra, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging, says, Evolution doesnt care about you past your reproductive age. It doesnt want you either to live longer or to die, it just doesnt care. From the standpoint of natural selection, an animal that has finished reproducing and performed the initial stage of raising young might as well be eaten by something, since any favorable genetic quality that expresses later in life cannot be passed along. Because a mutation that favors long life cannot make an animal more likely to succeed at reproducing, selection pressure works only on the young.

A generation ago, theorists suspected that menopause was an evolutionary adaptation exclusive to the Homo genuswomen stop expending energy to bear children so they can care longer for those already born, as mothers and grandmothers. This, the theory goes, increases childrens chances of survival, allowing them to pass along family genes. Yet recent research has shown that animals including lions and baboons also go through menopause, which increasingly looks more like a malfunction of aging cells than a quality brought about by selection pressure. As for the idea that grandparents help their grandchildren prosper, favoring longevitythe grandmother effectthis notion, too, has fared poorly in research.

The key point is: if nothing that happens after a person reproduces bears on which genes flourish, then nature has never selected for qualities that extend longevity. Evolution favors strength, intelligence, reflexes, sexual appeal; it does not favor keeping an organism running a long time. For example, a growing body needs calcium, so nature selected for the ability to metabolize this element. In later life, calcium causes stiffening of the arteries, a problem that evolution has no mechanism to correct, since hardened arteries do not occur until its too late for natural selection to side with any beneficial mutation. Testosterone is essential to a youthful man; in an aging man, it can be a factor in prostate cancer. Evolution never selected for a defense against that.

Similar examples abound; the most important may be senescent cells. Natural selection probably favors traits that reduce the risk of cancer, because cancer can strike the young before reproductive age is reached. Senescence doesnt occur until evolution is no longer in play, so natural selection has left all mammal bodies with a defect that leads to aging and death.

If senescence could be slowed, men and women hardly would become immortal. Violence, accidents, and contagious disease still would kill. Even if freed of chronic conditions, eventually our bodies would fail.

But it is not credulous futurism to suppose that drugs or even genetic therapy may alter the human body in ways that extend longevity. Brian Kennedy, of the Buck Institute, notes, Because natural selection did not improve us for aging, theres a chance for rapid gains. The latest BMWs are close to perfect. How can an engineer improve on them? But the Model T would be easy to improve on now. When young, genetically we are BMWs. In aging, we become Model Ts. The evolutionary improvements havent started yet.

In the wild, young animals outnumber the old; humanity is moving toward a society where the elderly outnumber the recently arrived. Such a world will differ from todays in many outward aspects. Warm-weather locations are likely to grow even more popular, though with climate change, warm-weather locations may come to include Buffalo, New York. Ratings for football, which is loud and aggressive, may wane, while baseball and theatergoing enjoy a renaissance. The shift back toward cities, initiated by the educated young, may give way to another car-centric suburban and exurban growth phase.

The university, a significant aspect of the contemporary economy, centuries ago was a place where the fresh-faced would be prepared for a short life; today the university is a place where adults watch children and grandchildren walk to Pomp and Circumstance. The university of the future may be one that serves all ages. Colleges will reposition themselves economically as offering just as much to the aging as to the adolescent: courses priced individually for later-life knowledge seekers; lots of campus events of interest to students, parents, and the community as a whole; a pleasant college-town atmosphere to retire near. In decades to come, college professors may address students ranging from age 18 to 80.

Products marketed to senior citizens are already a major presence on television, especially during newscasts and weathercasts. Advertising pitched to the elderly may come to dominate the airwaves, assuming there still is television. But consumerism might decline. Neurological studies of healthy aging people show that the parts of the brain associated with reward-seeking light up less as time goes on. Whether its hot new fashions or hot-fudge sundaes, older people on the whole dont desire acquisitions as much as the young and middle-aged do. Denounced for generations by writers and clergy, wretched excess has repelled all assaults. Longer life spans may at last be the counterweight to materialism.

If health span extends, the nuclear family might be seen as less central. Bearing and raising children would no longer be the all-consuming life event.

Deeper changes may be in store as well. People in their late teens to late 20s are far more likely to commit crimes than people of other ages; as society grays, the decline of crime should continue. Violence in all guises should continue downward, too. Horrible headlines from Afghanistan or Syria are exceptions to an overall trend toward less warfare and less low-intensity conflict. As Steven Pinker showed in the 2011 book Better Angels of Our Nature, total casualties of combat, including indirect casualties from the economic harm associated with fighting, have been declining, even as the global population has risen. In 1950, one person in 5,000 worldwide died owing to combat; by 2010, this measure was down to one person in 300,000. In recent years, far more people have been killed by car crashes than by battle. Simultaneously, per capita military expenditure has shrunk. My favorite statistic about the world: the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that, adjusting to todays dollars, global per capita military spending has declined by one-third in the past quarter century.

The end of the Cold War, and the proxy conflicts it spawned, is an obvious influence on the subsiding of warfare, as is economic interconnectedness. But aging may also be a factor. Counterculture optics notwithstanding, polls showed that the young were more likely to support the Vietnam War than the old were; the young were more likely to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq, too. Research by John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, suggests that as people age, they become less enthusiastic about war. Perhaps this is because older people tend to be wiser than the youngand couldnt the world use more wisdom?

Older people also report, to pollsters and psychologists, a greater sense of well-being than the young and middle-aged do. By the latter phases of life, material and romantic desires have been attained or given up on; passions have cooled; and for most, a rich store of memories has been compiled. Among the core contentions of the well-being research of the Princeton University psychologist Daniel Kahneman is that in the end, memories are all you keepwhats in the mind matters more than what you own. Regardless of net worth, the old are well off in this sense.

Should large numbers of people enjoy longer lives in decent health, the overall well-being of the human family may rise substantially. In As You Like It, Jaques declares, Man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. The first five embody promise and powerinfant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, and success. The late phases are entirely negativepantaloon, a period as the butt of jokes for looking old and becoming impotent; then second childishness, a descent into senile dependency. As life expectancy and health span increase, the seven ages may demand revision, with the late phases of life seen as a positive experience of culmination and contentment.

Further along may be a rethinking of life as better structured around friendship than around family, the basic unit of human society since the mists of prehistory. In the brief life of previous centuries, all a man or woman could hope to accomplish was to bear and raise children; enervation followed. Today, life is longer, but an education-based economy requires greater investments in childrencontemporary parents are still assisting offspring well into a childs 20s. As before, when the child-rearing finally is done, decline commences.

But if health span extends, the nuclear family might be seen as less central. For most people, bearing and raising children would no longer be the all-consuming life event. After child-rearing, a phase of decades of friendships could awaitpotentially more fulfilling than the emotionally charged but fast-burning bonds of youth. A change such as this might have greater ramifications for society than changes in work schedules or health-care economics.

Regardless of where increasing life expectancy leads, the direction will be into the unknownfor society and for the natural world. Felipe Sierra, the researcher at the National Institute on Aging, puts it this way: The human ethical belief that death should be postponed as long as possible does not exist in naturefrom which we are now, in any case, diverging.

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What Happens When We All Live to 100? – The Atlantic

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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

William P. Ruger

William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.

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Freedom in the 50 States 2015-2016 | Overall Freedom …

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Offshoring – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:31 am

Offshoring is the relocation of a business process from one country to anothertypically an operational process, such as manufacturing, or supporting processes, such as accounting. Typically this refers to a company business, although state governments may also employ offshoring.[1] More recently, offshoring has been associated primarily with the outsourcing of technical and administrative services supporting domestic and global operations from outside the home country (“offshore outsourcing”), by means of internal (captive) or external (outsourcing) delivery models.[2]

India has emerged as a key offshoring destination over the past 15 years. The term is in use in several distinct but closely related ways. It is sometimes used broadly to include substitution of a service from any foreign source for a service formerly produced internally to the firm. In other cases, only imported services from subsidiaries or other closely related suppliers are included. A further complication is that intermediate goods, such as partially completed computers, are not consistently included in the scope of the term.[3]

Offshoring can be seen in the context of either production offshoring or services offshoring. After its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the People’s Republic of China emerged as a prominent destination for production offshoring. Another focus area has been the software industry as part of global software development and developing global information systems. After technical progress in telecommunications improved the possibilities of trade in services, India became a country leading in this domain,[citation needed] though many parts of the world are now emerging as offshore destinations.

The economic logic is to reduce costs, sometimes called labor arbitrage, to improve corporate profitability. Jobs are added in the destination country providing the goods or services (generally a lower-cost labor country), but are subtracted in the higher-cost labor country. The increased safety net costs of the unemployed may be absorbed by the government (taxpayers) in the high-cost country or by the company doing the offshoring. Europe experienced less offshoring than the United States due to policies that applied more costs to corporations and cultural barriers.[4]

Offshoring is defined as the movement of a business process done at a company in one country to the same or another company in another, different country. Almost always work is moved because of a lower cost of operations in the new location. More recently, offshoring drivers also include access to qualified personnel abroad, in particular in technical professions, and increasing speed to market.[2] Offshoring is sometimes contrasted with outsourcing or offshore outsourcing. Outsourcing is the movement of internal business processes to an external organizational unit. Outsourcing refers to the process by which an organization gives part of its work to another firm / organization and makes it responsible for most of the applications as well as the design of the enterprise business process. This process is done under restrictions and strategies in order to establish consistency with the offshore outsourcing organizations. Many companies nowadays outsource various professional areas in the company such as e-mail services, payroll and call center. These jobs are being handled by other organizations that specialize in each sector allowing the offshoring company to focus more on other business concerns . However, subcontracting in the same country would be outsourcing, but not offshoring. A company moving an internal business unit from one country to another would be offshoring or physical restructuring, but not outsourcing. A company subcontracting a business unit to a different company in another country would be both outsourcing and offshoring.

Related terms include nearshoring, which implies relocation of business processes to (typically) lower cost foreign locations, but in close geographical proximity (e.g., shifting United States-based business processes to Canada/Latin America); inshoring, which means picking services within a country; and bestshoring or rightshoring, picking the “best shore” based on various criteria. Business process outsourcing (BPO) refers to outsourcing arrangements when entire business functions (such as Finance & Accounting, Customer Service, etc.) are outsourced. More specific terms can be found in the field of software development – for example Global Information System as a class of systems being developed for / by globally distributed teams.

A further term sometimes associated with offshoring is bodyshopping which is the practice of using offshored resources and personnel to do small disaggregated tasks within a business environment, without any broader intention to offshore an entire business function.

Production offshoring, also known as physical restructuring, of established products involves relocation of physical manufacturing processes to a lower-cost destination. Examples of production offshoring include the manufacture of electronic components in Costa Rica, production of apparel, toys, and consumer goods in China, Vietnam etc.

Product design, research and the development process that leads to new products, are relatively difficult to offshore. This is because research and development, in order to improve products and create new reference designs, require a skill set that is harder to obtain in regions with cheap labor. For this reason, in many cases only the manufacturing will be offshored by a company wishing to reduce costs.

However, there is a relationship between offshoring and patent-system strength. This is because companies under a strong patent system are not afraid to move work offshore because their work will remain their property. Conversely, companies in countries with weak patent systems have an increased fear of intellectual property theft from foreign vendors or workers, and, therefore, have less offshoring.

A major incentive for physical restructuring arrived when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) made it easier for manufacturers to shift production facilities from the US to Mexico. This trend later shifted to China, which offered cheap prices through very low wage rates, few workers’ rights laws, a fixed currency pegged to the US dollar, (currently fixed to a basket of economies) cheap loans, cheap land, and factories for new companies, few environmental regulations, and huge economies of scale based on cities with populations over a million workers dedicated to producing a single kind of product. However, many companies are reluctant to move high value-added production of leading-edge products to China because of lax enforcement of intellectual property laws.[5] CAFTA has increased the velocity at which physical restructuring is occurring.

The growth of IT-enabled services offshoring is linked to the availability of large amounts of reliable and affordable communication infrastructure following the telecommunication and Internet expansion of the late 1990s. This was seen all the way up to the year 2000. Coupled with the digitization of many services, it was possible to shift the actual production location of services to low-cost countries in a manner theoretically transparent to end-users. Services include administrative services, such as finance and accounting, HR, and legal; call centers; marketing and sales services; IT infrastructure; application development; and knowledge services, including engineering support, product design, research and development, and analytics. General criteria for choosing IT outsourcing development partner commonly include: communication and language proficiency (both oral and written), previous work experience in client’s industry, expertise in defined technologies needed, cost-effectiveness of offshore web development services, clients that are similar in size to the client’s company, company longevity, company time zone.[6]

India first benefited from the offshoring trend, as it has a large pool of English speaking people and technically proficient manpower.[7] India’s offshoring industry took root in low-end IT functions in the early 1990s and has since moved to back-office processes such as call centers and transaction processing. This spawned the neologism Bangalored, used to indicate a layoff, often systemic, and usually resulting from corporate outsourcing to lower wage economies derived from Bangalore in India, where some of the first outsource centers were located.[8]

Currently, India’s low-cost labor has made it an offshoring destination for global firms like HP, IBM, Accenture, Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, Cisco, SAP, and BEA[disambiguation needed].

Because of inflation, high domestic interest rates, robust economic growth and increased IT offshoring, the Indian IT sector has witnessed 10 – 15% wage growth in the 21st century. Consequently, Indian’s operations and firms are concerned that they are becoming too expensive in comparison with competition from the other offshoring destinations. To maintain high growth rates, attempts have been made to grow up the value chain and diversify to other high-end work in addition to software and hardware engineering. These jobs include research and development, equity analysis, tax-return processing, radiological analysis, medical transcription, and more.

The choice of offshoring destination is often made according to cultural concerns. Japanese companies are starting to outsource to China, where large numbers of Japanese speakers can be found particularly in the city of Dalian, which was Japanese-occupied Chinese territory for decades (this is discussed in the book The World is Flat). German companies tend to outsource to Eastern European countries, such as Ukraine, where the most number of IT professionals in CEE work (90000 IT specialists in 2016),[9]Poland and Romania, where proficiency in German is common.[10] French companies outsource to North Africa for similar reasons. For Australian IT companies, Indonesia is one of the major choice of offshoring destination. Near-shore location, common time zone and adequate IT work force are the reasons for offshoring IT services to Indonesia.

Other offshoring destinations include Mexico, Central and South America, the Philippines, South Africa and Eastern European countries.

The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) made nearshoring more attractive between the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic and the US.

Once companies are comfortable with services offerings and started realizing the cost savings, many high-tech product companies, including some in Silicon Valley, started offshoring innovation work to countries like Belarus, South Africa, India, China, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine. Accessing the talent pools in these countries has the potential to cut costs or even shorten product lifecycles. Developing countries like India are also involved in this practice.

When offshoring knowledge work, firms heavily rely on the availability of technical personnel at offshore locations. In order to secure access to talent, Western firms often establish collaborative relationships with technical universities abroad and thereby customize university programs to serve their particular needs. Examples include universities in Shanghai, such as Tong-Ji University, where German firms and scholars co-sponsor labs, courses, and provide internships. Similar examples of collaborative arrangements can be found in Eastern Europe, e.g. Romania.[10] Additionally, EU companies looking for IT innovation often setup collaboration with universities in countries such as Belarus and Ukraine, which have a high percentage of ICT graduates and overall a very skilled IT labor.[11]

“Re-shoring”, also known as “backshoring”[12] or “inshoring”[13] is offshoring that has been brought back onshore.[14]

John Urry (distinguished professor of sociology at Lancaster University) argues that the concealment of income, the avoidance of taxation and eluding legislation relating to work, finance, pleasure, waste, energy and security may be becoming a serious concern for democratic governments and ordinary citizens who may be adversely affected by unregulated, offshore activities. Further, the rising costs of transportation could lead to production nearer the point of consumption becoming more economically viable, particularly as new technologies such as additive manufacturing mature [15]

Offshoring is often enabled by the transfer of valuable information to the offshore site. Such information and training enables the remote workers to produce results of comparable value previously produced by internal employees. When such transfer includes protected materials, as confidential documents and trade secrets, protected by non-disclosure agreements, then intellectual property has been transferred or exported. The documentation and valuation of such exports is quite difficult, but should be considered since it comprises items that may be regulated or taxable.

Offshoring has been a controversial issue spurring heated debates among economists, some of which overlap those related to the topic of free trade. It is seen as benefiting both the origin and destination country through free trade, providing jobs to the destination country and lower cost of goods and services to the origin country. This makes both sides see increased gross domestic product (GDP). And the total number of jobs increases in both countries since those workers in the origin country that lost their job can move to higher-value jobs in which their country has a comparative advantage.

On the other hand, job losses and wage erosion in developed countries have sparked opposition to offshoring. Experts argue that the quality of any new jobs in developed countries are less than the jobs lost and offer lower pay. Economists against offshoring charge that currency manipulation by governments and their central banks causes the difference in labor cost creating an illusion of comparative advantage. Further, they point out that even more educated highly trained workers with higher-value jobs such as software engineers, accountants, radiologists, and journalists in the developed world have been displaced by highly educated and cheaper workers from India and China. On May 1, 2002, Economist and former Ambassador Ernest H. Preeg testified before the Senate committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that China, for instance, pegs its currency to the dollar at a sub-par value in violation of Article IV of the International Monetary Fund Articles of Agreement which state that no nation shall manipulate its currency to gain a market advantage.[16] Traditionally “safe” developed world jobs in R&D and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are now perceived to be endangered in these countries as higher proportions of workers are trained for these fields in developing nations. Economists such as Paul Craig Roberts claim that those economists who promote offshoring misunderstand the difference between comparative advantage and absolute advantage.

The Economist reported in January 2013 that: “High levels of unemployment in Western countries after the 2007-2008 financial crisis have made the public in many countries so hostile towards offshoring that many companies are now reluctant to engage in it.”[17] Economist Paul Krugman wrote in 2007 that while free trade among high-wage countries is viewed as win-win, free trade with low-wage countries is win-lose for many employees who find their jobs offshored or with stagnating wages.[18] Two estimates of the impact of offshoring on U.S. jobs were between 150,000 and 300,000 per year from 2004-2015. This represents 10-15% of U.S. job creation.[19] U.S. opinion polls indicate that between 76-95% of Americans surveyed agreed that “outsourcing of production and manufacturing work to foreign countries is a reason the U.S. economy is struggling and more people aren’t being hired.”[20][21]

The increased safety net costs of the unemployed may be absorbed by the government (taxpayers) in the high-cost country or by the company doing the offshoring. Europe experienced less offshoring than the U.S. due to policies that applied more costs to corporations and cultural barriers.[4]

Japanese companies often exploits the foreign labors, particularly Chinese and Vietnamese, by violating the Employment Security Act, and Labor Standard Act set by ministry of health and labors in Japan using the name of offshoring.

Article 44 of Employment Security Act in Japan implicitly bans the domestic/foreign workers being supplied by unauthorized companies regardless of their operating locations. Law will apply if at least one party of suppliers, clients, labors reside in Japan, and if the labors are the integral part of the chain of command by the client company, or the supplier.

No person shall carry out a labor supply business or have workers supplied by a person who carries out a labor supply business work under his/her own directions or orders, except in cases provided for in the following Article.

Employment Security Act

Those deemed to violate will be punished with

A person who falls under any of the following items shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than one year or a fine of not more than one million yen

Employment Security Act states, Article 64

as well as the punishment defined by the article 6 of Labor Standards Act in Japan,

Unless permitted by act, no person shall obtain profit by intervening, as a business, in the employment of other

Victims can lodge a criminal complaint against the CEO of the suppliers and clients in the Labor Standards Inspection Office (only applicable to Labor Standards Act) or Public Prosecutor’s Office of the respective company location. Due to the risk of the CEO’s arrest, Japanese company accustoms to the private settlement with financial package in the range between 20 and 100 million JPY (200,000 – million USD).

With the offshoring of call-center type applications, debate has also surfaced that this practice does serious damage to the quality of customer service and technical support that customers receive from companies who do it. Many companies have caught much public ire for their decisions to use foreign labor for customer service and technical support, mostly because of the apparent language barrier that it creates. While some nations have a high level of younger, skilled workers who are capable of speaking English as one of their native languages, their English skills have caused debate in North America and Europe.[citation needed]

Criticisms of outsourcing from much of the American public have been a response to what they view as very poor customer service and technical support being provided by overseas workers attempting to communicate with Americans.

Some claim that companies lose control and visibility across their extended supply chain under outsourcing, creating increased risks. A 2005 quantitative survey of 121 electronics industry participants by Industry Directions Inc and the Electronics Supply Chain Association (ESCA) found that 69% of respondents said they had less control over at least 5 of their key supply chain processes since the outsourced model took hold, while 66% of providers felt their aggregate risk with customers was high or very high.[citation needed] 36% of providers responded that they felt an increased risk of uncertainty compared to their uncertainty risk before the rise to prominence of the outsourced model.[citation needed] 62% of respondents described as “problematic” at least two core trading partner management practices, which included performance management and simple agreement on results.[citation needed] 40% of all respondents encountered resistance to sharing risk in outsourced partnership agreements, according to the research.[citation needed]

The transfer of knowledge outside a country may create competitors to the original companies themselves. Chinese manufacturers are already selling their goods directly to their overseas customers, without going through their previous domestic intermediaries that originally contracted their services. In the 1990s and 2000s, American automakers increasingly turned to China to create parts for their vehicles. By 2006, China leveraged this know-how and announced that they will begin competition with American automakers in their home market by selling fully Chinese automobiles directly to Americans. When a company moves the production of goods and services to another country, the investment that companies would otherwise make in the domestic market is transferred to the foreign market. Corporate money spent on factories, training, and taxes, which would otherwise be spent in the market of the company is then spent in the foreign market. As production increases in the foreign market, qualified and experienced domestic workers leave or are forced out of their jobs, often permanently leaving the industry. At some point, dramatically fewer domestic workers are left who are qualified to perform the work. This makes the domestic market dependent on the foreign market for those goods and services, thereby strategically weakening the “hollowed-out” domestic country. In effect, offshoring creates and strengthens the competitive industries of the foreign country while strategically weakening the domestic country.[dubious discuss]

However, employment data has cast doubt on this claim. For example, IT employment in the United States has recently reached pre-2001 levels[23][24] and has been rising since. The number of jobs lost to offshoring is less than 1 percent of the total US labor market.[25] According to a study by the Heritage foundation, outsourcing represents a very small proportion of jobs lost in the US. The total number of jobs lost to offshoring, both manufacturing and technical represent only 4 percent of the total jobs lost in the US. Major reasons for cutting jobs are from contract completion and downsizing.[26] Some economists and commentators claim that the offshoring phenomenon is way overblown.[26]

One solution often offered for domestic workers displaced by offshoring is retraining to new jobs. Some displaced workers are highly educated and possess graduate qualifications. Retraining to their current level in another field may not be an option because of the years of study and cost of education involved. Anecdotal evidence also suggests they would be rejected for being overqualified.

According to classical economics, the three factors of production are land, labor, and capital. Offshoring relies heavily on the mobility of two of these factors. That is, how offshoring affects economies depends on how easily capital and labor can be repurposed. Land, as a factor of production, is generally seen to have little or no mobility potential.

The effects of capital mobility on offshoring have been widely discussed. In microeconomics, a corporation must be able to spend working capital to afford the initial costs of offshoring. If the state heavily regulates how a corporation can spend its working capital, it will not be able to offshore its operations. For the same reason the macroeconomy must be free for offshoring to succeed. Generally, those who favor offshoring support capital mobility, and those who oppose offshoring call for greater regulation.

Labor mobility also plays a major role, and it is hotly debated. When computers and the Internet made work electronically portable, the forces of free market resulted in a global mobility of work in the services industry. Most theories that argue offshoring eventually benefits domestic workers assume that those workers will be able to obtain new jobs, even if they have to obtain employment by downpricing themselves back into the labor market (by accepting lower salaries) or by retraining themselves in a new field. Foreign workers benefit from new jobs and higher wages when the work moves to them.

In the developed world, moving manufacturing jobs out of the country dates to at least the 1960s[27] while moving knowledge service jobs offshore dates to the 1970s [28] and has continued since then. It was characterized primarily by the transferring of factories from the developed to the developing world. This offshoring and closing of factories has caused a structural change in the developed world from an industrial to a post-industrial service society.

During the 20th century, the decreasing costs of transportation and communication crossed with great disparities on pay rates made increased offshoring from wealthier countries to less wealthy countries financially feasible for many companies. Further, the growth of the Internet, particularly fiber-optic intercontinental long haul capacity, and the World Wide Web reduced “transportation” costs for many kinds of information work to near zero.[29]

With the development of the Internet, many new categories of work such as call centres, computer programming, reading medical data such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, medical transcription, income tax preparation, and title searching are being offshored.

Before the 1990s, Ireland was one of the poorest countries in the EU. Because of Ireland’s relatively low corporate tax rates, US companies began offshoring of software, electronic, and pharmaceutical intellectual property to Ireland for export. This helped create a high-tech “boom” and which led to Ireland becoming one of the richest EU countries.[29]

In 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. As concerns are widespread about uneven bargaining powers, and risks and benefits, negotiations are often difficult, such that the plan to create free trade areas (such as Free Trade Area of the Americas) has not yet been successful. In 2005, offshoring of skilled work, also referred to as knowledge work, dramatically increased from the US, which fed the growing worries about threats of job loss.[29]

By sector:

Link:

Offshoring – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Were Russians Involved in NSA Hack? – NBC News

Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:08 am

Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he delivers a speech during the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark, June 28 2016. Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen / Scanpix Denmark via Reuters

In clumsily worded English, the Shadow Brokers also boasted online that they were saving their best stolen material for a public auction, to be sold to the highest bidder.

Since then, many cybersecurity experts — including some former NSA officials — have come to believe the material posted by the Shadow Brokers is indeed “exploits” and other specially constructed pieces of malware created by the NSA to break into the computers and communications devices of governments like Iran and China, as well as companies and individuals, and to either steal or manipulate the data they contain.

Snowden, the self-described superhacker spy, took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he thinks the public posting of what he described as NSA cybertools may be part of a broader influence operation by Russia.

The U.S. intelligence community believes Russia is behind numerous hacks of entities and people associated with the Democratic Party over the past year, and federal authorities are investigating them and the subsequent release of information via WikiLeaks and other outlets. Many U.S. officials believe those hacks are part of an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to help his favored candidate, Republican Donald Trump, and hinder his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

But so far, the Obama administration hasn’t formally accused Russia or taken steps to publicly confront it or issue sanctions. And Snowden speculated that Russia may be using the weekend disclosures to warn the White House against taking such actions.

In one tweet, Snowden noted that the “undetected hacker squatting on this NSA server lost access in June 2013,” suggesting the hackers have been sitting on the material for three years.

“Why did they do it? No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack,” Snowden tweeted. He also said the weekend postings “may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks. This leak looks like a somebody [sic] sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast.”

The NSA leaker also said any U..S. action against Russia could result in the public disclosure of embarrassing information about cyber-operations of its own: “Here’s why that is significant,” Snowden said. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”

Such a disclosure could have huge foreign policy consequences, Snowden said, especially if it shows that NSA hackers were targeting U.S. allies. “Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections,” he said.

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment, but when asked if the agency had been hacked, one NSA official told NBC News that, “I don’t have anything for you on that.”

NSA expert James Bamford said the hack appeared to be significant, but he cautioned against pointing the finger at Russia, especially the government, given how many different groups of hackers routinely target NSA servers.

“There are so many unknowns here, and a lot of people in the hacking community don’t think this is the Russian government,” said Bamford, the author of three books about the NSA who has also visited Snowden in Russia and interviewed him there.

“I don’t know how Snowden would have any idea who did this, sitting there in an apartment in Moscow,” Bamford said. “Even the NSA probably doesn’t know who did this.”

In recent days, other security experts also have come to believe that the computer code comes from the NSA and that Russia is behind its theft and release.

Former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker told NBC News that “there is a lot of consensus among technical experts” that the cybertools were indeed stolen from the NSA, most likely from an external command and control server created to launch hacking operations that couldn’t be traced back to the U.S.

“The more disastrous and less likely scenario is that someone has hacked U.S. infrastructure and extracted large files,” said Baker, a prominent international cybersecurity lawyer.

Either way, the weekend postings are cause for dismay, Baker said, noting that “the assumption that it is Russian intelligence is a good first estimate, as it’s one of a half dozen leaks of information directly hostile to the U.S. government and U.S. institutions.”

“It shows how very sophisticated the spy-vs-spy game in cyberspace has become,” he said. “What we are now seeing is an example of one spy agency trying to compromise the infrastructure of another spy agency and how that it is happening at an almost unfathomably sophisticated level.”

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Trump foes miss the mark on Clinton’s Second Amendment …

Posted: at 4:08 am

Donald Trump keeps saying that Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. But the media fact checkers are having none of it. Last week, CNN called his accusation persistent and false. At the same time, a Washington Post editorial also called the claim absurd.

In his analysis for CNN, Eric Bradner acknowledges Clintons support for many different types of gun control — a 25 percent tax on handguns, an assault weapons ban, repeal of laws allowing permitted concealed handguns, and background checks on the private transfer of guns. Clinton also has supported increased fees and a variety of regulations that her husband imposed. Thanks to Bill Clintons regulations, the number of licensed firearms dealers from 248,155 in 1992 to 67,479 in 2000 — a 73 percent reduction.

The media picks and chooses when to take Clinton at her word. CNN pointed to a recent Fox News Sunday appearance where Hillary Clinton claimed: “I’m not looking to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not looking to take people’s guns away.” The Washington Post noted a statement from her campaign website about how gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities.

But in June, ABCs George Stephanopoulos pushed Clinton twice on whether people have a right to own guns. But that’s not what I asked. I said do you believe that their conclusion that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right? Clinton could only say: If it is a constitutional right . . . .

Similarly, in New York Cityin the fall, she told donors: The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, and I am going to make that case every chance that I get. In Maryland in April, Chelsea Clinton promised that her mom would appoint to the Supreme Court justices who would overturn past decisions that struck down gun-control measures. But the only lawsthat the Supreme Court evaluated were complete gun bans and a law that made it a crime to use a gun.

Washington, D.C., had a complete handgun ban in place until 2008. It was also a felony, punishable by five years in prison, to put a bullet in the chamber of a gun. This amounted to a complete gun ban on using guns for self-defense. The U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller struck down that ban.

Clinton told Stephanopoulos her opinion of this ruling: I think that for most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice Scalia. She continued, There was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulation.

Clinton went on to talk about her push for expanded background checks, an issue that was irrelevant to Scalias decision in Heller. Instead, the question is why was D.C.s local gun ban a reasonable regulation. Why should people be imprisoned for five years for defending their families?

In McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent: “I can find nothing in the Second Amendments text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as fundamental insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor signed on to Breyers opinion.

Breyer and Ginsburg were both appointed by President Bill Clinton. Sotomayor was Obamas first nominee to the Supreme Court. Obamas second nominee, Elana Kagan, would clearly have voted the same way had she been on the court at the time of McDonald. Indeed, Kagan served in Bill Clintons administration and helped lead the Presidents gun control initiatives.

The Washington Post dismisses all this talk about the Supreme Court by saying that appointing Justices to the court would not be anything like abolishing an amendment, which no court can do. And it is true that the court cant simply remove the amendment from the Constitution. But the media is appearing to be deliberately obtuse. If the court reverses Heller and McDonald and changes its interpretation of the Second Amendment as Hillary promises, what will really be left of the Second Amendment?

The media might not like to admit it, but The War on Guns is real. If Hillary wins in November, she will appoint Scalias successor and the Supreme Court will overturn the Heller and McDonald decisions. Make no mistake about it, the government will again be able to ban guns. Her claim that she isn’t looking to take people’s guns away is not consistent with her promise to overturn existing Supreme Court decisions.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist forFoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of nine books including “More Guns, Less Crime.” His latest book is “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies (August 1, 2016). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.

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Trump foes miss the mark on Clinton’s Second Amendment …

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