Tag Archives: right

The Right to Bear Arms

Posted: July 12, 2016 at 6:19 am

Miller was subject to two possible interpretations. One, that the Second Amendment is an individual right, but that the right only extends to weapons commonly used in militias (the defendants in Miller were transporting sawed-off shotguns). The second–broader–view of Miller is that the Amendment guarantees no rights to individuals at all, and the defendants lost the case as soon as it was obvious that they were not members of a state militia.

In 2008, the U. S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia vs. Heller, struck down a Washington, D.C. ban on individuals having handguns in their homes. Writing for a 5 to 4 majority, Justice Scalia found the right to bear arms to be an individual right consistent with the overriding purpose of the 2nd Amendment, to maintain strong state militias. Scalia wrote that it was essential that the operative clause be consistent with the prefatory clause, but that the prefatory clause did not limit the operative clause. The Court easily found the D. C. law to violate the 2nd Amendment’s command, but refused to announce a standard of review to apply in future challenges to gun regulations. The Court did say that its decision should not “cast doubt” on laws restricting gun ownership of felons or the mentally ill, and that bands on especially dangerous or unusual weapons would most likely also be upheld. In the 2008 presidential campaign, both major candidates said that they approved of the Court’s decision.

Heller left open the question of whether the right to bear arms was enforceable against state regulation as well as against federal regulation? In 1876, the Supreme Court said the right–if it existed–was enforceable only against the federal government, but there was a wholesale incorporation of Bill of Rights provisions into the 14th Amendment since then. In 2010, in the case of McDonald v Chicago, the U. S. Supreme Court held (5 to 4) that the 2nd Amendment right has been incorporated through the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause and is fully enforceable against the states. The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Alito, proceeded to strike down Chicago’s gun regulation insofar as it prohibited the private possession in the home of handguns for self-defense. Justice Thomas, concurring, would have held the right to bear arms to be a right protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment, an approach to applying Bill of Rights protections against the states first rejected in the 19th-century Slaughter-House Cases and never used since.

Cases United States vs. Miller (U.S. 1939) District of Columbia vs Heller (U.S. 2008) McDonald v Chicago (U.S. 2010)

Justice Antonin Scalia, for the majority in District of Columbia v Heller (U. S. Supreme Court 2008)

The Supreme Court votes 5 to 4 to strike down a Washington, D. C. ban on the private possession of handguns. Justice Scalia authors majority opinion.

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Second Amendment Basics | Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Posted: July 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution

Does the Second Amendment prevent effective gun regulations? What is the right to bear arms? Second Amendment litigation has become a critical battleground since the U.S. Supreme Court held, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. This decision created a radical shift in the meaning of the Second Amendment, but it doesnt prevent smart gun regulations. In fact, since Heller, courts nationwide have found a wide variety of firearms laws constitutional because they can help prevent gun deaths, injuries, and crimes in communities across the country.

The Law Center not only tracks the extensive Second Amendment litigation currently happening nationwide, but also analyzes the trends, to bring you the latest developments in the courts.

Learn more about the 2008 DC vs Heller decision.

Learn more about the 2010McDonald v. City of Chicago decision.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court singlehandedly inserted the judicial system into the ongoing national debate over gun laws in America. In a 5-4 decision inDistrict of Columbia v. Heller, the Court invalidated the District of Columbias handgun ban and firearm storage law, stating for the first time that the Second Amendment protects a responsible, law-abiding citizens right to possess an operable handgun in the home for self-defense.

Heller was unquestionably a radical decision, overturning the Courts previous ruling that the Second Amendment was tied to state militia service. For almost seventy years, lower federal and state courts nationwide had relied on that pronouncement to reject hundreds of Second Amendment challenges.

The Heller decision immediately drew strong criticism from a wide array of legal scholars, historians, advocates and legislators, including a particularly scathing rebuke from respected conservative judge Richard Posner, who noted that, The only certain effect of the Heller decision will be to increase litigation over gun ownership.

In fact, new litigation started almost immediately. The day that Heller was announced, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the City of Chicagos handgun ban, with a second suit filed the next day. Other suits emerged soon after, escalating once the Supreme Court confirmed that the Second Amendment also applied to state and local laws in 2010s McDonald v. City of Chicago decision. After that case, the number of lawsuits challenging gun laws nationwide skyrocketed.

Thankfully, despite the explosion of litigation, courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller. Gun rights advocates and criminal defendants across the country have sought to expand the Second Amendment to invalidate almost every gun law on the books today. In siding with us and the majority of Americans who support sensible gun laws, courts are finding that smart laws arent just constitutionaltheyre also critical to keeping our communities safe from gun violence.

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The Automation Conference

Posted: at 12:14 pm

Thank you to our attendees, GE Digital, Kepware Technologies, our tabletop exhibitors and sponsors for helping to create a sold-out event. We hope to see you all next year!

The Automation Conference & Expo is the leading peer-to-peer educational and networking event for industrial automation professionals. As an attendee, youll learn why todays automation innovations are critical for your operation. This years knowledge exchange took place May 24-25 at the Chicago Marriott OHare, offering technology end-users the ability to:

– get tips on automation implementation from industrys leading companies – choose from over two dozen educational sessions – network with experts and automation thought leaders – access practical insights from experienced practitioners

Our program is designed for automation professionals in the process industries, discrete manufacturing and packaging, and includes general and track sessions; in-depth Technology Workshops and tabletop exhibits, staffed by solutions experts.

The 2016 conference program explored todays hottest manufacturing trends and challenges:

Our pre-conference event, Machine Technology Day, covered these issues:

Download our event brochure

Who should attend:

To receive event alerts, please contact Ashley Friedman.

Learn more about collaborative robotics at this year’s Automation Conference & Expo. Demands from a range of industries are driving the rapid development of cage-free robots that work alongside humans. Heres a look at some of the latest developments.Read more

Next gen HMIs and PackML will be featured at this years event. Heres a recent article about how OEMs balance flexibility with familiarity in the human machine interface and the value of PackML. Read more

The Automation Conference & Expo 2016 (AC&E) will explore trends and technologies that drive increased efficiency, profits and safety for manufacturers across all industries. Practical applications of IIoT, collaborative robotics, cybersecurity and other technologies will be featured May 24-25 in Chicago.Read more

Its only been about four years now since the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) really began to pick up steam. Read more

If you are a U.S. manufacturer, you already know this fact: skilled people are hard to find. From production line workers, to skilled trade people, technicians, and engineers, finding the right skillsets to support your production is a significant challenge… Read more

The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) is offering a PackML Workshop in conjunction with Machine Technology Day, May 23 in Chicago. This half-day training focuses on distinct PackML implementation tasks for packaging end-users, integrators, and OEMs.Read more

Annual industrial automation conference, May 24-25 in Chicago, offers discounted registration rate for women in manufacturing.Read more

“Networking opportunities were tremendous.”

“This is a formidable conference. Great presentations, event organization and the right number and quality of attendees.”

“Great conference-well worth it thank you!”

“Great chance to meet with a wide variety of people in the automation industry.”

“Networking opportunities were very good due to the quality of attendees.”

“Chance to meet other professionals and discuss the common issues we all feel.”

“Real world examples…hearing about others’ successes and failures.”

“Learned the latest developments, found trends and future directions.”

“Love this event.”

Thanks to our TAC sponsors, who help fund this educational scholarship, awarded during The Automation Conference.

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Libertarian Party of Florida

Posted: June 25, 2016 at 11:01 am

The Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) is the third largest political party in the nation, and is the only true alternative to the Republican/Democrat stranglehold on our economic freedom and individual liberty.

The LPF recognizes that you own your life, and that you are free to pursue happiness in your own way, with extremely limited interference from government. The Libertarian Party of Florida promotes and defends the following principles:

We are building the structure to ensure historic electoral victories in 2016 and beyond. We have the right legislative plan to ensure that government is beholden to the We the People. And we have the right platform to repair the economy and restore our freedoms. We have the candidates on the local, county and state level who will actually uphold and defend the Constitutionnot just talk about it during campaign season.

The LPF has new leadership, a bold vision, and a renewed determination to achieve these goals. All we need now is you!

Become a part of the Libertarian revolution. Join the Libertarian Party of Florida today. Support your local Libertarian candidates. Invest you time to our noble and worthy cause. Donate as much money as you can so that we have the resources to defeat the political ruling class.

With your help, we can ensure our children inherit a State, and a Nation, that would make our Founding Fathers proud.

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Conservative vs Liberal – Difference and Comparison | Diffen

Posted: June 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Social Issues

In terms of views on social issues, conservatives oppose gay marriage, abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Liberals on the other hand, are more left-leaning and generally supportive of the right of gay people to get married and women’s right to choose to have an abortion, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v Wade.

With regard to the right to bear arms, conservatives support this right as it applies to all US citizens, whereas liberals oppose civilian gun ownership – or at the very least, demand that restrictions be places such as background checks on people who want to buy guns, requiring guns to be registered etc.

The different schools of economic thought found among conservatives and liberals are closely related to America’s anti-federalist and federalist history, with conservatives desiring little to no government intervention in economic affairs and liberals desiring greater regulation.

Economic conservatives believe that the private sector can provide most services more efficiently than the government can. They also believe that government regulation is bad for businesses, usually has unintended consequences, and should be minimal. With many conservatives believing in “trickle-down” economics, they favor a small government that collects fewer taxes and spends less.

In contrast, liberals believe many citizens rely on government services for healthcare, unemployment insurance, health and safety regulations, and so on. As such, liberals often favor a larger government that taxes more and spends more to provide services to its citizens.

See Also: Comparing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Tax Plans

Some good examples of this policy split are the Environmental Protection Agency, which liberals think is vital and some conservatives want to abolish or scale down, and the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which liberals want to expand and conservatives believe should be partially or completely privatized through a voucher system connected to private health insurers.

In the early part of the twentieth century, liberals – especially those in Britain – were those who stood for laissez fair capitalism. In more recent times, however, the nomenclature seems to have reversed. The exception to this is found in Australia, where the mainstream conservative party is called the Liberal Party and the mainstream non-conservative party is called the Labour Party.

Political liberals believe that parties motivated by self-interest are willing to behave in ways that are harmful to society unless government is prepared- and empowered to constrain them. They believe regulation is necessitated when individuals-, corporations-, and industries demonstrate a willingness to pursue financial gain at an intolerable cost to society–and grow too powerful to be constrained by other social institutions. Liberals believe in systematic protections against hazardous workplaces, unsafe consumer products, and environmental pollution. They remain wary of the corruption- and historic abuses–particularly the oppression of political minorities–that have taken place in the absence of oversight for state- and local authorities. Liberals value educators and put their trust in science. They believe the public welfare is promoted by cultivating a widely-tolerant and -permissive society.

Political conservatives believe commercial regulation does more harm than good–unnecessarily usurping political freedoms, potentially stifling transformative innovations, and typically leading to further regulatory interference. They endorse the contraction of governmental involvement in non-commercial aspects of society as well, calling upon the private sector to assume their activities. Conservatives call for the devolution of powers to the states, and believe locally-tailored solutions are more appropriate to local circumstances. They promulgate individual responsibility, and believe a strong society is made up of citizens who can stand on their own. Conservatives value the armed forces and place their emphasis on faith. Conservatives believe in the importance of stability, and promote law and order to protect the status quo.

Liberals believe in universal access to health care–they believe personal health should be in no way dependent upon one’s financial resources, and support government intervention to sever that link. Political conservatives prefer no government sponsorship of health care; they prefer all industries to be private, favour deregulation of commerce, and advocate a reduced role for government in all aspects of society–they believe government should be in no way involved in one’s healthcare purchasing decisions.

Jonathan Haidt, a University of Virginia psychology professor, has examined the values of liberals and conservatives through paired moral attributes: harm/care, fairnesss/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, purity/sanctity. He outlines the psychological differences in the following TED talk:

Haidt has also written a book, The Righteous Mind, based on his studies conducted over several years on liberal and conservative subjects. Nicholas Kristof, an avowed liberal, offered an unbiased review of the book and cited some interesting findings such as:

Liberals should not be confused with libertarians. Libertarians believe that the role of the government should be extremely limited, especially in the economic sphere. They believe that governments are prone to corruption and inefficiencies and that the private sector in a free market can achieve better outcomes than government bureaucracies, because they make better decisions on resource allocation. Liberals, on the other hand, favor more government involvement because they believe there are several areas where the private sector — especially if left unregulated — needs checks and balances to ensure consumer protection.

The primary focus of libertarians is the maximization of liberty for all citizens, regardless of race, class, or socio-economic position.

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Ascension of Jesus – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: June 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm

The Ascension of Jesus (anglicized from the Vulgate Latin Acts 1:9-11 section title: Ascensio Iesu) is the Christian teaching found in the New Testament that the resurrected Jesus was taken up to Heaven in his resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of his apostles, occurring 40 days after the resurrection. In the biblical narrative, an angel tells the watching disciples that Jesus’ second coming will take place in the same manner as his ascension.[1]

The canonical gospels include two brief descriptions of the ascension of Jesus in Luke 24:50-53 and Mark 16:19. A more detailed account of Jesus’ bodily Ascension into the clouds is then given in the Acts of the Apostles (1:9-11).

The ascension of Jesus is professed in the Nicene Creed and in the Apostles’ Creed. The ascension implies Jesus’ humanity being taken into Heaven.[2] The Feast of the Ascension, celebrated on the 40th day of Easter (always a Thursday), is one of the chief feasts of the Christian year.[2] The feast dates back at least to the later 4th century, as is widely attested.[2] The ascension is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection.[3][4]

By the 6th century the iconography of the ascension in Christian art had been established and by the 9th century ascension scenes were being depicted on domes of churches.[5][6] Many ascension scenes have two parts, an upper (Heavenly) part and a lower (earthly) part.[7] The ascending Jesus is often shown blessing with his right hand directed towards the earthly group below him and signifying that he is blessing the entire Church.[8]

The canonical gospels include two somewhat brief descriptions of the Ascension of Jesus in Luke 24:50-53 and Mark 16:19.[9][10][11]

In the Gospel of Mark 16:14, after the resurrection, Jesus “was manifested unto the eleven themselves as they sat at meat; …”. At the meal, Jesus said to them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) Following this the Ascension is described in Mark 16:19 as follows:[9]

However, based on strong textual and literary evidences, biblical scholars no longer accept Mark 16:9-20 as original to the book.[12] Rather, this section appears to have been compiled based on other gospel accounts and appended at a much later time. As such, the writer of Luke-Acts is the only original author in the New Testament to have referred to the ascension of Jesus.

In Luke, Jesus leads the eleven disciples to Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. Luke 24:50-52 describes the Ascension as follows:[9][10]

The blessing is often interpreted as a priestly act in which Jesus leaves his disciples in the care of God the Father.[10] The return to Jerusalem after the Ascension ends the Gospel of Luke where it began: Jerusalem.[11]

The narrative of the Acts of the Apostles begins with the account of Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection and his Ascension forty days thereafter in Acts 1:9-11.[10][11] Acts 1:9-12 specifies the location of the Ascension as the “mount called Olivet” near Jerusalem.

Acts 1:3 states that Jesus:

After giving a number of instructions to the apostles Acts 1:9 describes the Ascension as follows:

Following this two men clothed in white appear and tell the apostles that Jesus will return in the same manner as he was taken, and the apostles return to Jerusalem.[11]

A number of statements in the New Testament may be interpreted as references to the Ascension.[13]

Acts 1:9-12 states that the Ascension took place on Mount Olivet (the “Mount of Olives”, on which the village of Bethany sits). After the Ascension the apostles are described as returning to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, within a Sabbath day’s journey. Tradition has consecrated this site as the Mount of Ascension. The Gospel of Luke states that the event took place ‘in the vicinity of Bethany’ and the Gospel of Mark specifies no location.

Before the conversion of Constantine in 312 AD, early Christians honored the Ascension of Christ in a cave on the Mount of Olives. By 384, the place of the Ascension was venerated on the present open site, uphill from the cave.[16]

The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem today is a Christian and Muslim holy site now believed to mark the place where Jesus ascended into heaven. In the small round church/mosque is a stone imprinted with what some claim to be the very footprints of Jesus.[16]

Around the year 390 a wealthy Roman woman named Poimenia financed construction of the original church called “Eleona Basilica” (elaion in Greek means “olive garden”, from elaia “olive tree,” and has an oft-mentioned similarity to eleos meaning “mercy”). This church was destroyed by Sassanid Persians in 614. It was subsequently rebuilt, destroyed, and rebuilt again by the Crusaders. This final church was later also destroyed by Muslims, leaving only a 12×12 meter octagonal structure (called a martyrium”memorial”or “Edicule”) that remains to this day.[17] The site was ultimately acquired by two emissaries of Saladin in the year 1198 and has remained in the possession of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem ever since. The Russian Orthodox Church also maintains a Convent of the Ascension on the top of the Mount of Olives.

The Ascension of Jesus is professed in the Nicene Creed and in the Apostles’ Creed. The Ascension implies Jesus’ humanity being taken into Heaven.[2]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Item 668) states:[18]

Referring to Mark 16:19 (“So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”) Pope John Paul II stated that Scripture positions the significance of the Ascension in two statements: “Jesus gave instructions, and then Jesus took his place.[19]

John Paul II also separately emphasized that Jesus had foretold of his Ascension several times in the Gospels, e.g. John 16:10 at the Last Supper: “I go to the Father, and you will see me no more” and John 20:17 after his resurrection he tells Mary Magdalene: “I have not yet ascended to the Father; go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.[20]

In Orthodox, Oriental non-Chalcedonian, and Assyrian theology, the Ascension of Christ is interpreted as the culmination of the Mystery of the Incarnation, in that it not only marked the completion of Jesus’ physical presence among his apostles, but consummated the union of God and man when Jesus ascended in his glorified human body to sit at the right hand of God the Father. The Ascension and the Transfiguration both figure prominently in the Orthodox Christian doctrine of theosis. In the Chalcedonian Churches, the bodily Ascension into heaven is also understood as the final earthly token of Christ’s two natures: divine and human.[21]

The Westminster Confession of Faith (part of the Reformed tradition in Calvinism and influential in the Presbyterian church), in Article four of Chapter eight, states: “On the third day He arose from the dead, with the same body in which He suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.”[22]

The Second Helvetic Confession addresses the purpose and character of Christ’s ascension in Chapter 11:[23]

New Testament
scholar Rudolph Bultmann writes, “The cosmology of the N.T. is essentially mythical in character. The world is viewed as a three-storied structure, with the Earth in the center, the heaven above, and the underworld beneath. Heaven is the abode of God and of celestial beingsangels… No one who is old enough to think for himself supposes that God lives in a local heaven.”[24]

The Jesus Seminar considers the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ ascension as inventions of the Christian community in the Apostolic Age.[25] They describe the Ascension as a convenient device to discredit ongoing appearance claims within the Christian community.[25]

The Feast of the Ascension is one of the great feasts in the Christian liturgical calendar, and commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, the fortieth day from Easter day. However, some Roman Catholic provinces have moved the observance to the following Sunday. The feast is one of the ecumenical feasts (i.e., universally celebrated), ranking with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost.

The Ascension has been a frequent subject in Christian art, as well as a theme in theological writings.[6] By the 6th century the iconography of the Ascension had been established and by the 9th century Ascension scenes were being depicted on domes of churches.[5][26] The Rabbula Gospels (c. 586) include some of the earliest images of the Ascension.[26]

Many ascension scenes have two parts, an upper (Heavenly) part and a lower (earthly) part. The ascending Christ may be carrying a resurrection banner or make a sign of benediction with his right hand.[7] The blessing gesture by Christ with his right hand is directed towards the earthly group below him and signifies that he is blessing the entire Church.[8] In the left hand, he may be holding a Gospel or a scroll, signifying teaching and preaching.[8]

The Eastern Orthodox portrayal of the Ascension is a major metaphor for the mystical nature of the Church.[27] In many Eastern icons the Virgin Mary is placed at the center of the scene in the earthly part of the depiction, with her hands raised towards Heaven, often accompanied by various Apostles.[27] The upwards looking depiction of the earthly group matches the Eastern liturgy on the Feast of the Ascension: “Come, let us rise and turn our eyes and thoughts high…”[8]

The 2016 film, Risen, depicts Jesus’ ascension in a more understated tone. The film depicts Jesus giving his final address to his disciples while in front of the Sun as it rises on daybreak, and rather than himself physically ascending, Jesus turns and walks into the glare of the Sun and disappears into its light as the Sun itself ascends into the sky.

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Yeah, About That Second Amendment

Posted: at 2:25 pm

Source: Jim Jesus / YouTube.com

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

While there have been countless debates, tests and judgments that have defined and re-defined how to interpret this amendment, the current prevailing interpretation and belief in America is that individual gun ownership is a constitutional right. As a result, America has seen a steady and consistent stream of deregulation around gun ownership, even as mass shootings appear to be on the rise. As progressives get increasingly concerned about the gun culture in America, as a tactic, they try to make their case by comparing gun ownership to other safety-related, common-sense laws:

While certainly humorous while making a practical point, this tweet burn completely misses the larger point: people don’t have a constitutional right to buy Sudafed. You simply cannot compare a constitutional right to anything else not on the fundamental rights playing field.

This lack of focus on the constitutional argument is where progressives have lost their way. They have been so focused on the practical utility of public policy that they end up losing the larger fights that define America. Constitutional interpretation lends itself to a more strategic (and philosophical) debate platform than arguing the facts and stats on how laws can and should protect people. Constitutional theory is the debate platform that conservatives have been playing on for decades while progressives get frustrated and lose ground.

The remarkable irony is that the wording and intent within the Second Amendment is actually on progressive’s side. In fact, the Second Amendment is a progressive’s dream: the third word in the amendment is “regulated” for heaven’s sake.

No matter the interpretation of every other word and phrase after the first three words, the entire context of the amendment is that it will be a regulated right. Through this lens, the Second Amendment is barely even comparable to the First Amendment in terms of what rights it enables. There is simply no language in the First Amendment that regulates the right to free speech… and yet we still regulate speech despite the unassailable strength of the the First Amendment constitutional language

The upshot? Even in today’s hardcore gun rights environment and culture, the Constitution itself provides the guidance — and mandate — to not just regulate militia (i.e., groups of people) and arms, but to regulate them well.

How our culture defines “well” can and will certainly evolve over time, but we shouldn’t let gun rights ideologues and arms industry special interests continue to convince the public that they’re the only ones who have the Constitution on their side in this debate.

Yes, current Supreme Court interpretation is that every citizen has the right to bear arms. But it’s also constitutionally mandated that we regulate these armed people (i.e., militia) and their arms well. Seeing as the right to bear arms has been implemented pretty effectively in America, perhaps now it’s time to start implementing regulation well too, as the Constitution also mandates.

Editor’s note: On 6/18, I revised the article to include people (i.e., militia)” as well as arms, because I originally mistakenly linked regulation only to arms, not the people who have the right to own them

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Genetic Engineering | Greenpeace International

Posted: June 17, 2016 at 4:55 am

While scientific progress on molecular biology has a great potential to increase our understanding of nature and provide new medical tools, it should not be used as justification to turn the environment into a giant genetic experiment by commercial interests. The biodiversity and environmental integrity of the world’s food supply is too important to our survival to be put at risk. What’s wrong with genetic engineering (GE)?

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.

These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non ‘GE’ environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.

Their release is ‘genetic pollution’ and is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.

Because of commercial interests, the public is being denied the right to know about GE ingredients in the food chain, and therefore losing the right to avoid them despite the presence of labelling laws in certain countries.

Biological diversity must be protected and respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival. Governments are attempting to address the threat of GE with international regulations such as the Biosafety Protocol.

April 2010: Farmers, environmentalists and consumers from all over Spain demonstrate in Madrid under the slogan “GMO-free agriculture.” They demand the Government to follow the example of countries like France, Germany or Austria, and ban the cultivation of GM maize in Spain.

GMOs should not be released into the environment since there is not an adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health.

We advocate immediate interim measures such as labelling of GE ingredients, and the segregation of genetically engineered crops and seeds from conventional ones.

We also oppose all patents on plants, animals and humans, as well as patents on their genes. Life is not an industrial commodity. When we force life forms and our world’s food supply to conform to human economic models rather than their natural ones, we do so at our own peril.

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ThinkBeyond.us | What Is Transhumanism?

Posted: June 16, 2016 at 5:43 pm

transhumanism, n.

trans hu man ism

an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

Wikipedia

That’s the definition of “transhumanism” the Web offers up. It’s true in a sort of reductionist sense, but I’m not sure it’s a terribly useful definition.

If I were to define transhumanism, I’d say that it’s an idea whose premise is that human nature is not some fixed quantity, forever unalterable; it’s something that is a consequence of our biology and our environment, and it can be changed. Furthermore, advances in technology and in our understanding of biology, chemistry, and physics, give us the power to change it as we wish–to take evolution from a blind, undirected process to a process that we can make choices about. It’s predicated on the idea that we can, if we so desire, choose what it means to be human.

A great deal of conventional thought has always held on to the idea that “human nature” is something that’s a fundamental part of who we are, forever unalterable. Certain aspects of the human condition, from mortality to aggression, from disease to territoriality, have always been thought of as fixtures of the human condition; no matter how our society changes, no matter what we learn, these things have been assumed to be an immutable part of us.

Transhumanist thought holds that this isn’t so. We are physical entities, whose nature comes from an extraordinarily complex dance of biochemical processes happening in our bodies. The way we respond to stress, the way we behave, the way our bodies suffer gradually increasing debility, all these things are the consequence of the physical processes happening inside our bodies and brains.

And they can change. Improved diet has made us qualitatively different from our neolithic ancestors–taller, longer-lived. Thousands of generations living in large numbers have made us more able to function in complex social environments; we have, in a sense, domesticated ourselves.

Right now, advances in biotechnology offer to revolutionize our view of who we are. What if aging and death were no longer inevitable? What if we could invent ways to repair genetic disorders? What if the human brain, which is a physical organ, could be modeled inside a computer? What if we could develop techniques to make our brains operate more efficiently? These sound like science fiction to a lot of people, but every single one of them is the subject of active research in labs around the world right now.

Transhumanism is a highly rationalist idea. It rejects the notion that human beings are corrupt, doomed to suffer and die as a result of a fall from grace. Rather, it postulates that the things that make us who we are are knowable and comprehensible; that the state of being human is a fit subject for scientific inquiry; and that as we learn more about ourselves, our ability to shape who we are increases.

The implications of these ideas are deeply profound. Transhumanist philosophy is built from the notion that things like indefinite lifespan, brain modeling, and improvement of human physical and intellectual capacity are both possible and desirable. Transhumanism, therefore, is profoundly optimistic.

It is not, however, Utopian. Like all new technologies, these things all have potential consequences whose outlines we can’t see clearly yet. Therefore, transhumanism tends to be concerned not only with the possibility of biomedical technology but also its ethics; the study of transhumanism is, in large part, the study of bioethics. Who controls the direction of new, disruptive biomedical technology? What does it mean to be a “person;” is an artificial intelligence a person? How should new biomedical technology be introduced into society? How can it be made available democratically, to everyone who wishes it? What role is available to people who for whatever reason don’t choose to benefit from new advances in medical understanding?

At its core, transhumanism is deeply pragmatic. Since it seems likely that biotechnology is going to improve over time whether we think about the implications of it or not, transhumanists think about things like bioethics, immortality, and the nature of consciousness in concrete, real-world terms, rather than as philosophical exercises. One of the things I most like about transhumanism is its drive to ask questions like “How can we maximize the benefit of what we are learning while maintaining human agency, dignity, and the right to choose?” Transhumanists are invited to be skeptical about everything, including the premises of transhumanism. It is quite likely that whatever views of the future we dream up will be flawed, as most prognostication tends to be. But by getting into the habit of examining these ideas now, and of considering the moral and ethical dimensions of our accelerating understanding of biology, we can at least train ourselves to get into the habit of asking the right questions as new breakthroughs come.

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Libertarianism legal definition of Libertarianism

Posted: April 29, 2016 at 8:43 pm

A political philosophy that advocates free will, individual rights, and voluntary cooperation.

The core doctrine of libertarianism begins with the recognition that people have certain natural rights and that deprivation of these rights is immoral. Among these natural rights are the right to personal autonomy and property rights, and the right to the utilization of previously unused resources. These two basic assumptions form the foundation of all libertarian ideals.

Libertarianism can be traced back to ancient China, where philosopher Lao-tzu advocated the recognition of individual liberties. The modern libertarian theory emerged in the sixteenth century through the writings of Etienne de La Boetie (15301563), an eminent French theorist. In the seventeenth century, John Locke and a group of British reformers known as the Levellers fashioned the classical basis for libertarianism with well-received philosophies on human nature and economics. Since the days of Locke, libertarianism has attracted pacifists, utopianists, utilitarianists, anarchists, and fascists. This wide array of support demonstrates the accessibility and elasticity of the libertarian promotion of natural rights.

Essential to the notion of natural rights is respect for the natural rights of others. Without a dignified population, voluntary cooperation is impossible. According to the libertarian, the means to achieving a dignified population and voluntary cooperation is inextricably tied to the promotion of natural rights.

Libertarianism holds that people lose their dignity as government gains control of their body and their life. The Abdication of natural rights to government prevents people from living in their own way and working and producing at their own pace. The result is a decrease in self-reliance and independence, which results in a decrease in personal dignity, which in turn depresses society and necessitates more government interference.

Thus, the libertarian views government as both the cause and the effect of societal ills. Government is the cause of crime and prejudice because it robs people of their independence and frustrates initiative and creativity. Then, having created the sources of crime and prejudice by depriving individuals of their natural rights, government attempts to exorcise the evils with more controls over natural rights.

Libertarians believe that government should be limited to the defense of its citizens. Actions such as murder, rape, Robbery, theft, Embezzlement, Fraud, Arson, Kidnapping, Battery, Trespass, and Pollution violate the rights of others, so government control of these actions is legitimate. Libertarians acknowledge human imperfection and the resulting need for some government deterrence and punishment of violence, Nuisance, and harassment. However, government control of human activity should be limited to these functions.

Boaz, David. 1997. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: Free Press.

Otsuka, Michael. 2003. Libertarianism Without Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Anarchism; Independent Parties; Natural Law; Utilitarianism.

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Libertarianism legal definition of Libertarianism

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