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Word Games: What the NSA Means by Targeted Surveillance …

Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:22 am

We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like “collect,” “conversations,” “communications,” and even “surveillance” have suffered tortured definitions that create confusion rather than clarity.

Theres another one to watch: “targeted” v. “mass” surveillance.

Since 2008, the NSA has seized tens of billions of Internet communications. It uses the Upstream and PRISM programswhich the government claims are authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Actto collect hundreds of millions of those communications each year. The scope is breathtaking, including the ongoing seizure and searching of communications flowing through key Internet backbone junctures,[1]the searching of communications held by service providers like Google and Facebook, and, according to the government’s own investigators, the retention of significantly more than 250 million Internet communications per year.[2]

Yet somehow, the NSA and its defenders still try to pass 702 surveillance off as “targeted surveillance,” asserting that it is incorrect when EFF and many others call it “mass surveillance.”

Our answer: if “mass surveillance” includes the collection of the content of hundreds of millions of communications annually and the real-time search of billions more, then the PRISM and Upstream programs under Section 702 fully satisfy that definition.

This word game is important because Section 702 is set to expire in December 2017. EFF and our colleagues who banded together to stop the Section 215 telephone records surveillance are gathering our strength for this next step in reining in the NSA. At the same time, the government spin doctors are trying to avoid careful examination by convincing Congress and the American people that this is just “targeted” surveillance and doesnt impact innocent people.

PRISM and Upstream surveillance are two types of surveillance that the government admits that it conducts under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, passed in 2008. Each kind of surveillance gives the U.S. government access to vast quantities of Internet communications.[3]

Upstream gives the NSA access to communications flowing through the fiber-optic Internet backbone cables within the United States.[4] This happens because the NSA, with the help of telecommunications companies like AT&T, makes wholesale copies of the communications streams passing through certain fiber-optic backbone cables. Upstream is at issue in EFFs Jewel v. NSA case.

PRISM gives the government access to communications in the possession of third-party Internet service providers, such as Google, Yahoo, or Facebook. Less is known about how PRISM actually works, something Congress should shine some light on between now and December 2017.[5]

Note that those two programs existed prior to 2008they were just done under a shifting set of legal theories and authorities.[6] EFF has had evidence of the Upstream program from whistleblower Mark Klein since 2006, and we have been suing to stop it ever since.

Despite government claims to the contrary, heres why PRISM and Upstream are “mass surveillance”:

(1) Breadth of acquisition: First, the scope of collection under both PRISM and Upstream surveillance is exceedingly broad. The NSA acquires hundreds of millions, if not billions, of communications under these programs annually.[7] Although, in the U.S. governments view, the programs are nominally “targeted,” that targeting sweeps so broadly that the communications of innocent third parties are inevitably and intentionally vacuumed up in the process. For example, a review of a “large cache of intercepted conversations” provided by Edward Snowden and analyzed by the Washington Post revealed that 9 out of 10 account holders “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.”[8] The material reviewed by the Post consisted of 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant message conversations, 7,900 documents (including “medical records sent from one family member to another, resumes from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren”), and more than 5,000 private photos.[9] In all, the cache revealed the “daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted [but were] catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”[10] The Post estimated that, at the U.S. governments annual rate of “targeting,” collection under Section 702 would encompass more than 900,000 user accounts annually. By any definition, this is “mass surveillance.”

(2) Indiscriminate full-content searching. Second, in the course of accomplishing its so-called “targeted” Upstream surveillance, the U.S. government, in part through its agent AT&T, indiscriminately searches the contents of billions of Internet communications as they flow through the nations domestic, fiber-optic Internet backbone. This type of surveillance, known as “about surveillance,” involves the NSA’s retention of communications that are neither to nor from a target of surveillance; rather, it authorizes the NSA to obtain any communications “about” the target.[11] Even if the acquisition of communications containing information “about” a surveillance target could, somehow, still be considered “targeted,” the method for accomplishing that surveillance cannot be: “about” surveillance entails a content search of all, or substantially all, international Internet communications transiting the United States.[12] Again, by any definition, Upstream surveillance is “mass surveillance.” For PRISM, while less is known, it seems the government is able to search throughor require the companies like Google and Facebook to search throughall the customer data stored by the corporations for communications to or from its targets.

To accomplish Upstream surveillance, the NSA copies (or has its agents like AT&T copy) Internet traffic as it flows through the fiber-optic backbone. This copying, even if the messages are only retained briefly, matters under the law. Under U.S. constitutional law, when the federal government “meaningfully interferes”with an individuals protected communications, those communications have been “seized” for purposes of the U.S. Constitutions Fourth Amendment. Thus, when the U.S. government copies (or has copied) communications wholesale and diverts them for searching, it has “seized” those communications under the Fourth Amendment.

Similarly, U.S. wiretapping law triggers a wiretap at the point of “interception by a device,” which occurs when the Upstream mechanisms gain access to our communications.[13]

Why does the government insist that its targeted? For Upstream, it may be because the initial collection and searching of the communicationsdone by service providers like AT&T on the governments behalfis really, really fast and much of the information initially collected is then quickly disposed of. In this way the Upstream collection is unlike the telephone records collection where the NSA kept all of the records it seized for years. Yet this difference should not change the conclusion that the surveillance is “mass surveillance.” First, all communications flowing through the collection points upstream are seized and searched, including content and metadata. Second, as noted above, the amount of information retainedover 250 million Internet communications per yearis astonishing.

Thus, regardless of the time spent, the seizure and search are comprehensive and invasive. Using advanced computers, the NSA and its agents can do a full-text, content search within a blink of an eye through billions, if not trillions of your communications, including emails, social media, and web searches. Second, as demonstrated above, the government retains a huge amount of the communicationsfar more about innocent people than about its targetsso even based on what is retained the surveillance is better described as “mass” rather than “targeted.”

So it is completely correct to characterize Section 702 as mass surveillance. It stems from the confluence of: (1) the method NSA employs to accomplish its surveillance, particularly Upstream, and (2) the breadth of that surveillance.

Next time you see the government or its supporters claim that PRISM and Upstream are “targeted” surveillance programs, youll know better.

[1] See, e.g., Charlie Savage, NSA Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S., N.Y. Times (Aug 8, 2013) (The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans e-mail and text communications into and out of the country[.]). This article describes an NSA practice known as about surveillancea practice that involves searching the contents of communications as they flow through the nations fiber-optic Internet backbone.

[2] FISA Court Opinion by Judge Bates entitled [Caption Redacted], at 29 (NSA acquires more than two hundred fifty million Internet communications each year pursuant to Section 702), https://www.eff.org/document/october-3-2011-fisc-opinion-holding-nsa-surveillance-unconstitutional (Hereinafter, Bates Opinion). According to the PCLOB report, the current number is significantly higher than 250 million communications. PCLOB Report on 702 at 116.

[3] Bates Opinion at 29; PCLOB at 116.

[6] First, the Bush Administration relied solely on broad claims of Executive power, grounded in secret legal interpretations written by the Department of Justice. Many of those interpretations were subsequently abandoned by later Bush Administration officials. Beginning in 2006, DOJ was able to turn to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to sign off on its surveillance programs. In 2007, Congress finally stepped into the game, passing the Protect America Act; which, a year later, was substantially overhauled and passed again as the FISA Amendments Act. While neither of those statutes mention the breadth of the surveillance and it was not discussed publicly during the Congressional processes, both have been cited by the government as authorizing it.

[11] Bates Opinion at 15.

[12] PCLOB report at 119-120.

[13] See 18 U.S.C 2511(1)(a); U.S. v. Councilman, 418 F.3d 67, 70-71, 79 (1st Cir. 2005) (en banc).

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Artificial Intelligence in Medicine: An Introduction

Posted: November 23, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Acknowledgement The material on this page is taken from Chapter 19 of Guide to Medical Informatics, the Internet and Telemedicine (First Edition) by Enrico Coiera (reproduced here with the permission of the author). Introduction

From the very earliest moments in the modern history of the computer, scientists have dreamed of creating an ‘electronic brain’. Of all the modern technological quests, this search to create artificially intelligent (AI) computer systems has been one of the most ambitious and, not surprisingly, controversial.

It also seems that very early on, scientists and doctors alike were captivated by the potential such a technology might have in medicine (e.g. Ledley and Lusted, 1959). With intelligent computers able to store and process vast stores of knowledge, the hope was that they would become perfect ‘doctors in a box’, assisting or surpassing clinicians with tasks like diagnosis.

With such motivations, a small but talented community of computer scientists and healthcare professionals set about shaping a research program for a new discipline called Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIM). These researchers had a bold vision of the way AIM would revolutionise medicine, and push forward the frontiers of technology.

AI in medicine at that time was a largely US-based research community. Work originated out of a number of campuses, including MIT-Tufts, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Rutgers (e.g. Szolovits, 1982; Clancey and Shortliffe, 1984; Miller, 1988). The field attracted many of the best computer scientists and, by any measure, their output in the first decade of the field remains a remarkable achievement.

In reviewing this new field in 1984, Clancey and Shortliffe provided the following definition:

Much has changed since then, and today this definition would be considered narrow in scope and vision. Today, the importance of diagnosis as a task requiring computer support in routine clinical situations receives much less emphasis (J. Durinck, E. Coiera, R. Baud, et al., “The Role of Knowledge Based Systems in Clinical Practice,” in: eds Barahona and Christenen, Knowledge and Decisions in Health Telematics – The Next Decade, IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp. 199- 203, 1994), So, despite the focus of much early research on understanding and supporting the clinical encounter, expert systems today are more likely to be found used in clinical laboratories and educational settings, for clinical surveillance, or in data-rich areas like the intensive care setting. For its day, however, the vision captured in this definition of AIM was revolutionary.

After the first euphoria surrounding the promise of artificially intelligent diagnostic programmes, the last decade has seen increasing disillusion amongst many with the potential for such systems. Yet, while there certainly have been ongoing challenges in developing such systems, they actually have proven their reliability and accuracy on repeated occasions (Shortliffe, 1987).

Much of the difficulty has been the poor way in which they have fitted into clinical practice, either solving problems that were not perceived to be an issue, or imposing changes in the way clinicians worked. What is now being realised is that when they fill an appropriately role, intelligent programmes do indeed offer significant benefits. One of the most important tasks now facing developers of AI-based systems is to characterise accurately those aspects of medical practice that are best suited to the introduction of artificial intelligence systems.

In the remainder of this chapter, the initial focus will thus remain on the different roles AIM systems can play in clinical practice, looking particularly to see where clear successes can be identified, as well as looking to the future. The next chapter will take a more technological focus, and look at the way AIM systems are built. A variety of technologies including expert systems and neural networks will be discussed. The final chapter in this section on intelligent decision support will look at the way AIM can support the interpretation of patient signals that come off clinical monitoring devices.

In his opinion, there were no ultimately useful measures of intelligence. It was sufficient that an objective observer could not tell the difference in conversation between a human and a computer for us to conclude that the computer was intelligent. To cancel out any potential observer biases, Turing’s test put the observer in a room, equipped with a computer keyboard and screen, and made the observer talk to the test subjects only using these. The observer would engage in a discussion with the test subjects using the printed word, much as one would today by exchanging e-mail with a remote colleague. If a set of observers could not distinguish the computer from another human in over 50% of cases, then Turing felt that one had to accept that the computer was intelligent.

Another consequence of the Turing test is that it says nothing about how one builds an intelligent artefact, thus neatly avoiding discussions about whether the artefact needed to in anyway mimic the structure of the human brain or our cognitive processes. It really didn’t matter how the system was built in Turing’s mind. Its intelligence should only to be assessed based upon its overt behaviour.

There have been attempts to build systems that can pass Turing’s test in recent years. Some have managed to convince at least some humans in a panel of judges that they too are human, but none have yet passed the mark set by Turing.

An alternative approach to strong AI is to look at human cognition and decide how it can be supported in complex or difficult situations. For example, a fighter pilot may need the help of intelligent systems to assist in flying an aircraft that is too complex for a human to operate on their own. These ‘weak’ AI systems are not intended to have an independent existence, but are a form of ‘cognitive prosthesis’ that supports a human in a variety of tasks.

AIM systems are by and large intended to support healthcare workers in the normal course of their duties, assisting with tasks that rely on the manipulation of data and knowledge. An AI system could be running within an electronic medical record system, for example, and alert a clinician when it detects a contraindication to a planned treatment. It could also alert the clinician when it detected patterns in clinical data that suggested significant changes in a patient’s condition.

Along with tasks that require reasoning with medical knowledge, AI systems also have a very different role to play in the process of scientific research. In particular, AI systems have the capacity to learn, leading to the discovery of new phenomena and the creation of medical knowledge. For example, a computer system can be used to analyse large amounts of data, looking for complex patterns within it that suggest previously unexpected associations. Equally, with enough of a model of existing medical knowledge, an AI system can be used to show how a new set of experimental observations conflict with the existing theories. We shall now examine such capabilities in more detail.

Expert or knowledge-based systems are the commonest type of AIM system in routine clinical use. They contain medical knowledge, usually about a very specifically defined task, and are able to reason with data from individual patients to come up with reasoned conclusions. Although there are many variations, the knowledge within an expert system is typically represented in the form of a set of rules.

There are many different types of clinical task to which expert systems can be applied.

Generating alerts and reminders. In so-called real-time situations, an expert system attached to a monitor can warn of changes in a patient’s condition. In less acute circumstances, it might scan laboratory test results or drug orders and send reminders or warnings through an e-mail system.

Diagnostic assistance. When a patient’s case is complex, rare or the person making the diagnosis is simply inexperienced, an expert system can help come up with likely diagnoses based on patient data.

Therapy critiquing and planning. Systems can either look for inconsistencies, errors and omissions in an existing treatment plan, or can be used to formulate a treatment based upon a patient’s specific condition and accepted treatment guidelines.

Agents for information retrieval. Software ‘agents’ can be sent to search for and retrieve information, for example on the Internet, that is considered relevant to a particular problem. The agent contains knowledge about its user’s preferences and needs, and may also need to have medical knowledge to be able to assess the importance and utility of what it finds.

Image recognition and interpretation. Many medical images can now be automatically interpreted, from plane X-rays through to more complex images like angiograms, CT and MRI scans. This is of value in mass-screenings, for example, when the system can flag potentially abnormal images for detailed human attention.

There are numerous reasons why more expert systems are not in routine use (Coiera, 1994). Some require the existence of an electronic medical record system to supply their data, and most institutions and practices do not yet have all their working data available electronically. Others suffer from poor human interface design and so do not get used even if they are of benefit.

Much of the reluctance to use systems simply arose because expert systems did not fit naturally into the process of care, and as a result using them required additional effort from already busy individuals. It is also true, but perhaps dangerous, to ascribe some of the reluctance to use early systems upon the technophobia or computer illiteracy of healthcare workers. If a system is perceived by those using it to be beneficial, then it will be used. If not, independent of its true value, it will probably be rejected.

Happily, there are today very many systems that have made it into clinical use. Many of these are small, but nevertheless make positive contributions to care. In the next two sections, we will examine some of the more successful examples of knowledge-based clinical systems, in an effort to understand the reasons behind their success, and the role they can play.

In the first decade of AIM, most research systems were developed to assist clinicians in the process of diagnosis, typically with the intention that it would be used during a clinical encounter with a patient. Most of these early systems did not develop further than the research laboratory, partly because they did not gain sufficient support from clinicians to permit their routine introduction.

It is clear that some of the psychological basis for developing this type of support is now considered less compelling, given that situation assessment seems to be a bigger issue than diagnostic formulation. Some of these systems have continued to develop, however, and have transformed in part into educational systems.

DXplain is an example of one of these clinical decision support systems, developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital (Barnett et al., 1987). It is used to assist in the process of diagnosis, taking a set of clinical findings including signs, symptoms, laboratory data and then produces a ranked list of diagnoses. It provides justification for each of differential diagnosis, and suggests further investigations. The system contains a data base of crude probabilities for over 4,500 clinical manifestations that are associated with over 2,000 different diseases.

DXplain is in routine use at a number of hospitals and medical schools, mostly for clinical education purposes, but is also available for clinical consultation. It also has a role as an electronic medical textbook. It is able to provide a description of over 2,000 different diseases, emphasising the signs and symptoms that occur in each disease and provides recent references appropriate for each specific disease.

Decision support systems need not be ‘stand alone’ but can be deeply integrated into an electronic medical record system. Indeed, such integration reduces the barriers to using such a system, by crafting them more closely into clinical working processes, rather than expecting workers to create new processes to use them.

The HELP system is an example of this type of knowledge-based hospital information system, which began operation in 1980 (Kuperman et al., 1990; Kuperman et al., 1991). It not only supports the routine applications of a hospital information system (HIS) including management of admissions and discharges and order entry, but also provides a decision support function. The decision support system has been actively incorporated into the functions of the routine HIS applications. Decision support provide clinicians with alerts and reminders, data interpretation and patient diagnosis facilities, patient management suggestions and clinical protocols. Activation of the decision support is provided within the applications but can also be triggered automatically as clinical data is entered into the patient’s computerised medical record.

One of the most successful areas in which expert systems are applied is in the clinical laboratory. Practitioners may be unaware that while the printed report they receive from a laboratory was checked by a pathologist, the whole report may now have been generated by a computer system that has automatically interpreted the test results. Examples of such systems include the following.

Laboratory expert systems usually do not intrude into clinical practice. Rather, they are embedded within the process of care, and with the exception of laboratory staff, clinicians working with patients do not need to interact with them. For the ordering clinician, the system prints a report with a diagnostic hypothesis for consideration, but does not remove responsibility for information gathering, examination, assessment and treatment. For the pathologist, the system cuts down the workload of generating reports, without removing the need to check and correct reports.

All scientists are familiar with the statistical approach to data analysis. Given a particular hypothesis, statistical tests are applied to data to see if any relationships can be found between different parameters. Machine learning systems can go much further. They look at raw data and then attempt to hypothesise relationships within the data, and newer learning systems are able to produce quite complex characterisations of those relationships. In other words they attempt to discover humanly understandable concepts.

Learning techniques include neural networks, but encompass a large variety of other methods as well, each with their own particular characteristic benefits and difficulties. For example, some systems are able to learn decision trees from examples taken from data (Quinlan, 1986). These trees look much like the classification hierarchies discussed in Chapter 10, and can be used to help in diagnosis.

Medicine has formed a rich test-bed for machine learning experiments in the past, allowing scientists to develop complex and powerful learning systems. While there has been much practical use of expert systems in routine clinical settings, at present machine learning systems still seem to be used in a more experimental way. There are, however, many situations in which they can make a significant contribution.

Shortliffe EH. The adolescence of AI in medicine: will the field come of age in the ’90s? Artif Intell Med. 1993 Apr;5(2):93-106. Review.

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Terror-funding conviction in San Diego under fire over NSA …

Posted: November 14, 2016 at 11:34 am

In the weeksafter newspapers beganpublishing reportsonU.S. government surveillance programs uncovered by Edward Snowden, law enforcement officialswere under fire.

One congressional hearing in July 2013 centered on the revelation that for years theNational Security Agency had been collecting data on phone calls made and received bymillions of Americans. Lawmakers wanted to know if the programhad produced any results.

Federal officials pointed to a little known case in San Diego. Using the agencys database of phone records, NSA analysts in 2007 linked a cellphone belonging to a Somali immigrant taxi driver to a phone number associated withShabab, a terrorist group in his homeland.

Based on that lead, a top FBI official testified, agents spent months eavesdropping on the mans phone calls, building a case against him and three other Somali men living in the area. The men were convicted of conspiring to aid terrorists and were sent to prison. The cab driver, Basaaly Saeed Moalin, was sentenced to 18 years behind bars.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, Congress did away with the lawthe NSA relied on to justify the bulk collection of phone records and replaced it with more restrictive rules. But Moalin and the other defendants on Thursdayrevived questions about the defunct programslegalitywhen they argued to a federal appeals court that their convictions should be overturned because the governments use of the phone recordswasimproper.

The case marks the first time a challenge to thephone data program has been used to appeal aconviction, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the men.

In filings and at thehearing before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, lawyers for the ACLU and the government offered contrasting views of the case.

Alex Abdo, an attorney for Moalin and the other men, urged the judges to find that the lynchpin of the governments caseagainst the men was its initial reliance on information gathered from the NSAs database of phone records. As such, he argued, the wire tap evidence that FBI agents went on to collect against the men and which was the centerpiece of the case against them should not have been allowedat trial.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Smith challenged the idea that the case against the men had been tainted by the use of the NSA data. The panel, he said,should find the men were convicted in a fair trial and uphold the rulingsof thejudge in thecase, who denied the mens request for a new trial when the NSA program became public andconcludedthe government had investigated the case appropriately.

While the NSAs collection of phone records has been stopped, Abdo argued the case still had significance beyond the fate of the four men since the government has maintained its authority, in general, to conduct bulk collection of data on Americans. A definitive ruling from the judges in favor of the defendants, Abdo said, would serve as deterrence against the government starting up similar surveillance.

Moalin, who was granted asylum in the U.S. in the mid-1990sand later became a U.S. citizen, had maintained close ties to Somalia, which was upended by years of civil unrest and fighting between a transitional government and militias opposed to its rule, including Shabab.

Moalin, a well known figure in San Diegos sizable Somali immigrant community,and the others were accused of sending several thousands of dollars to Shababto help fund the terror network. In phone calls recorded by the FBI and played at the trial, Moalin was heard speaking to a man who prosecutors allegedwas a Shabab commander. In one call, the alleged commandertoldMoalin that it was time to finance the jihad.

Defense attorneys countered thatMoalin and the other men were not aiding Shabab, but were sending money to Moalins struggling home regiontohelp build schools and orphanages.The man heard on the recordings, they said, was not a terrorist commander but alocal police chief talking about the need to help fund local militias in their fighting againstEthiopian forces that had come to the side of the Somali government.

In court filings, Abdo and other defense attorneys argued that the NSAs bulk collection of phone records was not authorized by the Patriot Act, the counterterrorism law that agency officials used to justify the program. Moreover, they said, the search of the database that produced Moalins phone number violated theconstitutions protections against searches and seizures.

JudgeMarsha S. Berzon, who asked nearly all the questions at the hearing Thursday, gave no indication from her line of questioning how the panel might come down in the case.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

For more news on federal courts in Southern California, follow me on Twitter: @joelrubin

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Bible Verses About Golden Rule – King James Bible

Posted: September 29, 2016 at 11:54 am

Bible verses related to Golden Rule from the King James Version (KJV) by Relevance

– Sort By Book Order

Matthew 7:12 – Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Luke 6:31 – And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Galatians 5:14 – For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

James 2:8 – If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Mark 12:31 – And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

1 Peter 3:9 – Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

Matthew 7:1-5 – Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Read More…)

Topics and verses are auto-generated from user searches. If a verse or topic does not belong, please contact us. Some scripture references/categories courtesy of Open Bible .info under CC BY 3.0

Related Bible Dictionary Terms: Golden calf

Search the King James Version (KJV) for more references about Golden Rule…

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EFF: The Playpen Story: Some Fourth Amendment Basics and Law …

Posted: September 25, 2016 at 7:19 am

ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (2015)

by John Wesley Hall Criminal Defense Lawyer and Search and seizure law consultant Little Rock, Arkansas Contact / The Book http://www.johnwesleyhall.com

2003-16, online since Feb. 24, 2003

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fourth Amendment cases, citations, and links

Latest Slip Opinions: U.S. Supreme Court (Home) Federal Appellate Courts Opinions First Circuit Second Circuit Third Circuit Fourth Circuit Fifth Circuit Sixth Circuit Seventh Circuit Eighth Circuit Ninth Circuit Tenth Circuit Eleventh Circuit D.C. Circuit Federal Circuit Foreign Intell.Surv.Ct. FDsys, many district courts, other federal courts, other Military Courts: C.A.A.F., Army, AF, N-M, CG State courts (and some USDC opinions)

Google Scholar Advanced Google Scholar Google search tips LexisWeb LII State Appellate Courts LexisONE free caselaw Findlaw Free Opinions To search Search and Seizure on Lexis.com $

Research Links: Supreme Court: SCOTUSBlog S. Ct. Docket Solicitor General’s site SCOTUSreport Briefs online (but no amicus briefs) Curiae (Yale Law) Oyez Project (NWU) “On the Docket”Medill S.Ct. Monitor: Law.com S.Ct. Com’t’ry: Law.com

General (many free): LexisWeb Google Scholar | Google LexisOne Legal Website Directory Crimelynx Lexis.com $ Lexis.com (criminal law/ 4th Amd) $ Findlaw.com Findlaw.com (4th Amd) Westlaw.com $ F.R.Crim.P. 41 http://www.fd.org FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (2008) (pdf) DEA Agents Manual (2002) (download) DOJ Computer Search Manual (2009) (pdf) Stringrays (ACLU No. Cal.) (pdf)

Congressional Research Service: –Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012) –Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012) –Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012) –Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012) –Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions (2012) ACLU on privacy Privacy Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation NACDLs Domestic Drone Information Center Electronic Privacy Information Center Criminal Appeal (post-conviction) (9th Cir.) Section 1983 Blog

“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn’t, and they don’t.” Me

I still learn something new every day. Pete Townshend, The Who 50th Anniversary Tour, “The Who Live at Hyde Park” (Showtime 2015)

“I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?” Janis Joplin

“Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government.” Shemaya, in the Thalmud

“A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect results, especially if one’s attention is confined to the particular case at bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced.” Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev’d Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).

“The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).

“Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.” Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).

“There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater than it is today.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).

“The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property.” Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)

“It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)

“The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated here, has notto put it mildlyrun smooth.” Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).

“A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the bottom of a turntable.” Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)

“For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. … But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)

Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the Governments purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)

Libertythe freedom from unwarranted intrusion by governmentis as easily lost through insistent nibbles by government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark. United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)

“You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need.” Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

“In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for meand by that time there was nobody left to speak up.” Martin Niemller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]

You know, most men would get discouraged by now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men! —Pep Le Pew

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EFF: The Playpen Story: Some Fourth Amendment Basics and Law …

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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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Should privacy legislation influence how courts interpret the …

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Crystal Ascension

Posted: September 11, 2016 at 5:29 pm

About Us / Contact UsHello … and Welcome to Crystal Ascension! Select the image on the right find out About Us or how to Contact Us, and to see pics of our sales staff. Quartz CrystalsWe have quartz crystals in all shapes and sizes (natural, polished, & spheres), including Brandberg quartz, Elestial quartz (a.k.a. Alligator quartz or Jacare quartz), Faden quartz, Included quartz, Laserwands, Lemurian Seed quartz, Orange River quartz, Rose quartz, Smoky quartz, Spirit quartz, Tibetan quartz & much more! Crystals and MineralsWe also have agate, amber, amethyst, apophyllite, azurite, calcite, carnelian, cavansite, celestite, citrine, chrysocolla, dioptase, fluorite, fossils, garnet, halite, hematite, jasper, kunzite, labradorite, lapis lazuli, malachite, obsidian, okenite, opal, ruby, selenite, septarian, staurolite, stibnite, unakite, uvarovite, vanadinite, & much more! Quartz Singing BowlsWe have chakra tuned quartz crystal singing bowls to balance and harmonize your energy.These 99% pure quartz crystal bowls are available in different sizes, styles, and musical notes. Chakra Tuned Healing Bowls with HandlesWe have lightweight & portable Optically Clear Chakra Tuned Healing Bowls with Handles.These hand-held crystal singing bowls are available in different sizes and musical notes. Quartz Crystal Singing Pyramids CatalogWe have Quartz Crystal Singing Pyramids to balance and harmonize your energy. JewelryWe have a fine selection of enhydro quartz pendants, gemstone nugget necklaces, geode slice pendants, crystal necklaces, and crystal rings. ArtworkWe have original artwork by Christine Kratavil in a variety of styles and subjects, including Egyptian, Native American, animals, metaphysical, spiritual, healing mandalas, and landscapes.Christine also draws custom portraits of your personal Spirit Guides and Animal Totems. Drums and Drum AccessoriesWe have a fine selection of silkscreened hand drums and drum accessories, all beautifully hand-crafted by the folks at Sweet Medicine Drums in Taos, New Mexico. Leather And SuedeWe have a fine selection of hand-crafted genuine leather and suede items, including ceremonial dancing bells, a soft leather hip pouch, large medicine bags, doe skin medicine bags, small medicine bags, and hanging medicine wheels. MusicWe have quartz crystal singing bowl CDs by Crystal Voices, Deborah Van Dyke, James Costello, Crystal Vibrations, Steven Halpern, and Ruth Rousseau to help you balance your energy while you relax and contemplate. What’s New?Select the image on the right to view our What’s New? page, which provides links to the most recently added items in all of the Crystal Ascension catalogs. Site SearchSelect the image on the right to access our Site Search Utility, which provides a basic capability to search our entire site for specific items of interest. Contact UsCan’t find what you’re looking for?Looking for something really special?Have a comment or question?Just want to say “Hi”?Select the image on the right to send us an e-mail. LinksSelect the image on the right to view our Links page, which provides links to other sites of interest and provides a Link Exchange Request Form (just in case you’d like to exchange links with us). Site MapSelect the image on the right to view our Site Map, which contains an overview of the entire Crystal Ascension store and provides direct links to the available catalogs and information pages … or, click the button below to enter the Crystal Ascension store thru the main entrance.

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Crystal Ascension

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Nootropics: Definitive List of 120+ Nootropic Supplements + Drugs

Posted: September 3, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Nootropics are a class of nutrients, supplements, smart drugs, and nutraceuticals that are observed to improve brain performance and health. They may increase memory, learning, reasoning, intelligence, cognitive processing speed, verbal fluidity, attention, focus, motivation, mood and energy.

They work in a variety of different ways, though many share similar mechanisms of action. Some increase the supply of neurtransmitters and other neurochemicals that are involved in intra- and inter-neuron communication as well as brain signalling pathways related to cognition, memory formation and recall.

Some may enhance brain activity by modulating neuroreceptors, increasing the uptake of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients into brain cells or by promoting the underlying health of brain systems. Still other nootropics have been shown to stimulate the development of new neurons ans synapses, increases the overall plasticity of the brain.

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The phrase nootropic was coined by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea following the discovery of a remarkable substance known as Piracetam. His research team first synthesized this compound in 1964 when working at the Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB. His research into Piracetam was initially motivated by the search for a treatment for motion sickness.

However, early trials with Piracetam found that it had a distinct ability to improve memory, mental processing, focus and performance across a battery of cognitive tests. Not only this, it lacked any significant side effects and did not share the pharmacology of typical psychotropic drugs such as nervous system stimulation or depression.

This was truly an unprecedented discovery and it opened the door to developing other cognitive enhancement drugs that could improve mental functioning in healthy adults as well as those suffering from brain disorders. In 1972, Giurgea coined the term nootropic to describe Piracetam and the class of yet-to-be discovered analogs of this substance.

The term itself is of Greek origin, coming from the word nous which means mind and the root tropo- which translates into turning or change. Thus, we can think of nootropics as substances that change the mind in some way. Giurgea laid out a strict set of definitions for the class, requiring that they must enhance learning and memory, exhibit neuroprotective effects and show extremely low toxicity and almost no side effects.

Today, Nootropics are used by a broad range of society and for a broad range of purposes from improving academic performance to boosting productivity to supporting healthy brain function and preventing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. The following is a list of over 120 popular nootropics and related compounds with nootropic properties that contribute to cognitive enhancement.

Beneath each nutrient, supplement or drug you will find a brief description of its chemical classification, mechanisms of action and effects on the brain. You will also find user ratings for each of these compounds in terms of their effects on Memory, Focus and Mood. Please feel free to contribute to these ratings for any supplements that you have tried by clicking on the stars to vote. You can also click on each nootropics name below to learn more about any substance on this list.

Quick Browse: Racetams | Cholinergics | Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors | Ampakines | Smart Drugs | GABAergics | Seretonergics | Dopaminergics | Cognitive Metabolic Enhancers | Nootropic Vitamins | Nootropic Nutrients | Brain Protectants | Natural Nootropics | Neurohormones | Nootropic Drugs | Nootropic Stacks | Stimulants

Racetams are the founding class of Nootropics, based on derivatives of Piracetam. In addition to this archetype, they include Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Pramiracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Nefiracetam, Coluracetam and others. They share similar chemical structures based on a 2-pyrrolidone nucleus composed of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Many of the effects of Racetams are similar as they related to improving brain health, learning, memory and focus. But there is also great diversity within this class in terms of potency and individual characteristics of the supplements listed below. All Racetams seem to be able to increase acetylcholine neurotransmitter activity in the brain and some are also capable of increasing glutamate activity via AMPA and NMDA receptors.

Piracetam also known as 2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide is a cyclic derivative of the neurochemical GABA. This original nootropic is a positive modulator for receptoprs of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter which plays a role in fluid intelligence and short-term working memory capacity. Piracetam is also believed to improve the membrane permeability of neurons which enhances overall neuronal function as it relates to communication, healthy development and synaptic plasticity.

This nootropic is reported by users to improve focus, attentiveness, memory formation and recall, information processing as well as several factors related to mood. It is used as an off-label ADHD treatment and remains to this day the most popular nootropic among first-time users.

Other Names: Nootropil, Nootropyl, Nooracetam

Aniracetam (1(4-methoxybenzoyl)-2-pyrrolidinone) is a derivative of Piracetam that is said to be 5x more potent than its parent compound. Unlike Piracetam, it is fat-soluble which may contribute to its faster onset of effects as well as a shorter half-life. It shares the common Racetam effects of enhancing memory and focus by activating Nicotinic Acetylcholine receptors in the brain. It also stimulates AMPA receptor sites which are implicated in learning as well as memory encoding processes.

This unique mechanism of action has made Aniracetam the model for another class of nootropics known as AMPAkines. Finally, it is believed to activate D2 and D3 Dopamine receptors as well as the 5-HTP(2a) receptor involved in Serotonin processing. This explains why user reviews say Aniracetam is effective as an anti-anxiety and anti-depression treatment in addition to its traditional nootropic benefits.

Other Names: Memotropil, Memodrin, Ampamet, Draganon, Referan

Oxiracetam (RS)-2-(4-hydroxy-2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is both a Racetam and an Ampakine that is said to be 4-6 times stronger than Piracetam. It increases brain activity in cholinergic and glutamatergic pathways and exhibits some stimulant-like effects. Oxiracetam is particularly noted for improving reasoning, verbal processing, spatial learning. logical and mathematical thinking as well as focus and memory.

These attributes are highly correlated with the g-factor of intelligence and Oxiracetam more than any other Racetam is described as boosting intellectual function. It is commonly used as a study aid among students in highly technical subjects such as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.

Pramiracetam N-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl]-2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Piracetam analogue that is 30x more potent. It influences both Glutamate and Acetylcholine neuroreceptors and particularly increases reuptake at ACh receptor sites as well as increasing the efficiency of nerve impulse channels in the hippocampus. This region of the brain is implicated as having a central role in memory formation as well as recall.

Using Pramiracetam produces a great sense of mental clarity and concentration while also improving critical thinking skills and the speed of information processing. Individuals typically take Pramiracetam to improve their memory retention while enabling them to be more productive, attentive, focused and alert.

Other Names: Pramistar

Noopept N-Phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester is not technically a Racetam, though it is derived from this class and use a similar mechanisms of action. It has a different chemical structure which technically makes it a neuropeptide, said to be over 1000x times more concentrated than Piracetam. The effective dosage for Noopept powder is between 10 40 mg which is exceptional small in comparison to other Racetams. Noopept demonstrates very high affinity for ACh, AMPA and NDMA receptors that relate to short-term and long-term memory.

Like Aniracetam, it also activates D2 an D3 receptors for Dopamine as well as selective Serotonin receptors. These systems are involved in mood and motivation which is why Noopept is seen as being effective for disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Noopept further increases Nerve Growth Factor levels which is a hormone involved in the maintenance and repair of healthy brain cells. It is being investigated as a possible treatment for Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative disorders including Age-Related Memory Loss.

Other Names: Neuropept

Phenylpiracetam (RS)-2-(2-oxo-4-phenylpyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide was synthesized by adding a phenyl group molecule to Piracetams chemical structure. This alteration has made it significantly more bioavailable than its progenitor and with a 60x greater potency. It is a positive modulator of acetylcholine and glutamate synaptic receptors and may be able to increase the density of hippocampal NMDA receptors. These receptors are integral to the process of Long-Term Potentiation which is how memories are stored as connections between neurons.

Phenylpiracetam also raises Dopamine and Noradrenalin levels in the brain which gives it both mood-enhancing and mentally stimulating properties. It is described as producing intense focus, mental drive and motivation while also enhancing memory consolidation and physical performance.

Other Names: Carphedon, Phenotropil

Coluracetam N-(2,3-dimethyl-5,6,7,8- tetrahydrofuro[2,3-b] quinolin-4-yl)-2- (2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Racetam compound with 10-20x the potency of Piracetam. It works by increasing the uptake of choline into neurons which leads to an increase in acetylcholine levels and Cholinergic activity. Coluracetam is believed to show a distinct ability to improve Choline uptake in damaged neurons and may offer long-term benefits for memory-impaired individuals.

It also influences areas of the brain that are involved in visual processing and is said to improve eyesight and color perception. Other studies have shown it to be effective in treating General Anxiety Disorder as well as depression.

Nefiracetam N-(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Racetam with a similar chemical structure to Aniracetam. It is believed to increase brain activity by potentiating excitatory neurotransmission through prolonging the opening of calcium channels. It also binds to nicotinic Acetylcholine receptors and enhances communication in GABAergc, Cholinergic, monoaminergic and glutamatergic neuronal systems. Nefiracetam is highly cytoprotective and may be able to treat individuals suffering from cognitive decline as well as Alzheimers and cerebrovascular dementia.

Trials have found it to be more effective for increasing attention span, concentration, memory function, and spatial learning ability compared to other Racetams. It is also considered to be a more powerful anxiolytic than Aniracetam and was shown to be successful in the treatment of clinical depression.

The Cholinergic system refers to those components of the nervous system that use the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to communicate. Acetylcholine (ACh) is an excitatory brain chemical that is involved in many facets of mental function such as attention, synaptic plasticity, wakefulness, and the reward system. Increasing cholinergic activity may lead to improved focus, working memory, alertness, mental clarity and performance across a number of intelligence measurements.

Cholinergic Nootropics are able to increase stimulation of ACh receptors either by raising levels of acetylcholine, preventing the degradation of this neurochemical, or by potentiating or activating these receptors in some way. A direct way to increase acetylcholine levels is by consuming more Choline which is a dietary nutrient used to synthesize this transmitter.

Choline 2-hydroxy-N,N,N-trimethylethanaminium is a water-soluble essential nutrient that was recently named to the B-complex family of vitamins. It is necessary for the development and maintenance of health brain cell membranes to ensure effective signalling, structural integrity and neuronal fluidity. This nutrient is also used alongside acetic acid to synthesizes acetylcholine in neurons. Sources of choline are commonly used alongside the Racetams in nootropic stacks due to their complimentary mechanisms of action.

The American Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get at least 425 550 mg of choline in their diets every day. However, as much as 90% of the population is estimated to be deficient in this nutrient. Increasing choline intake by eating foods such as eggs, chicken, soy lecithin, wheat germ and cod fish may improve mental performance and prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Not all choline sources are made equally and as much as 50% of the choline we eat may be degraded by bacteria in the gut. Some choline supplements marketed today are known to have very low bio-availability with only a small percentage able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Alpha GPC [(2S)-2,3-Dihydroxypropyl] 2-trimethylazaniumylethyl phosphate is a source of choline derived naturally from soy lecithin. It also occurs naturally in the brain as well as in human breast milk and may be a contributing factor to the higher IQ observed in children that have been breast-fed. It has the highest bio-availability of the nootropic Choline supplements and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Once in the brain, it is metabolized into acetylcholine which can then be used for inter-neuronal communication related to short-term memory, learning and attention. Alpha GPC can also slow the process of brain aging as a cognitive anti-oxidant and it is observed to increase Human Growth Hormone levels. Individuals who use Alpha GPC say that it improves memory performance, eliminates brain fog and improves focus.

Other Names: Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine, Choline Alfoscerate, GPC Choline

Citicoline 5-O-[hydroxy({hydroxy[2-(trimethylammonio)ethoxy] phosphoryl}oxy)phosphoryl]cytidine is an acetylcholine precursor with high bio-availability that occurs naturally as an intermediary in the conversion of choline into phosphatidylcholine in the liver. Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that is incorporated into neuronal cell membranes and can be used in acetylcholine synthesis. Citicoline increases the availability of choline in the brain by freeing up quantities of choline that would otherwise be used in the generation of phosphatidylcholine.

It can therefore indirectly increase acetylcholine levels while also improving cell memebrane function in neurons and preventing depletion of phospholipids which can lead to brain damage and mental decline. This supplement also protects against oxidative stress, reduces inflammation in the cerebral cortex, and stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. It is an effective component of nootropic stacks designed to enhance memory, thinking, concentration and mood.

Other Names: CDP Choline, Cytidine Diphosphate Choline

Centrophenoxine 2-Dimethylaminoethyl (4-chlorophenoxy)acetate is an ester of DMAE with a higher bio-availibility. DMAE is sometimes used as a choline source, however new studies show that it is not as effective as was once believed. Centrophenoxine appears much more effective for raising acetylcholine levels because it is better able to cross the Blood-Brain barrier. Research suggests Centropheonxine may improve mood and ADHD via cholinergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways.

It is also a potent brain anti-oxidant and is shown to reduce lipofuscin waste deposits that build up in brain cells as we age. Centrophenoxine is highly synergistic with Racetams in memory-enhancement nootropic stacks and will also boost focus, clarity of thought, mood as well as brain health.

Other Names: Lucidril, Meclofenoxate

Choline Citrate is a supplemental combination of Choline with Citric Acid that you may find marketed in brain supplements. As a source of choline, it can increase available levels of acetylcholine in the brain which supports better memory function and reasoning as well as improved synaptic plasticity. However, this formulation is considered to have low bio-availability and lacks the added nootropic benefits of supplements such as Citicoline and Alpha GPC.

Choline Bitartrate is a supplemental combination of Choline with Tartaric Acid which is a chemical salt added to improve absorption. It is a direct precursor to acetylcholine and is effective in treating a dietary choline deficiency. Studies have shown that this type of choline is significantly degraded in the digestive tract by bacteria and only a fraction will penetrate across the Blood-Brain Barrier. For this reason, nootropic users typically look to the higher quality choline sources listed above which will have a greater net impact on cognitive abilities.

DMAE (2-(Dimethylamino)ethanol) is a primary alcohol which is organically manufactured by the human brain, and is also found in various food sources such as fish. DMAE is a direct pre-cursor for choline. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier, the compound is methylated into acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter related to learning, memory, and brain tissue health. DMAE also binds to brain phospholipids, improving the function, nourishment, and waste removal systems of cell membranes.

DMAE lifts mood, promotes mental energy, develops a sense of alert focus, and replaces stress reactions with feelings of calm. In addition to DMAEs anti-anxiety properties, it has also been shown to reduce visible signs of aging by inhibiting arachidonic acid. DMAE contributes to healthy sleep patterns, and users report it frequently produces states of lucid dreaming.

Other Names: Deanol, DMAE Bitartrate, Dimehylaminothanol

Lecithin is a natural fat compound composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids. Lecithin assists in breaking down other fats and transporting them throughout the body. It also acts as a direct pre-cursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine promotes memory formation, neural structure health, and reasoning skills. Lecithin is also a powerful anti-oxidant which keeps cells healthy by removing toxins and fighting free radical damage.

Lecithin is an effective memory-booster, and can provide neuro-protective benefits against degenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimers disease well into old age. It can also moderately enhance various other cognitive functions, such as managing depression and anxiety symptoms. Due to low bio-availability, most nootropic users prefer other choline supplements like Alpha GPC or Citicoline for stronger results.

Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a hydrophobic lipid derived from Lecithin which incorporates choline, one of the B vitamins. In addition to assisting in fat metabolism, Phosphatidylcholine also helps maintain and repair neurons and brain cells. The choline in Phosphatidylcholine is a key mental health nutrient which is the pre-cursor to acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine helps promote the development of synapses between neurons and improves communication in both healthy and aging minds.

Phosphatidylcholine improves metabolism, lowers cholesterol and protects the liver against disease. Taken as a nootropic, it enhances the formation and easy retrieval of memories. Its ability to foster new growth of synapses makes it a powerful neuroprotective supplement and a possible therapy for Alzheimers disease. Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine is a stronger nootropic alternative to this nutrient.

Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors are a class of compounds that restrict the action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme, if left unchecked, will break down and reduce the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a powerful neurotransmitter which is essential to various cognitive functions. It promotes learning, improves logical and verbal reasoning, enhances memory formation, increases sensitivity to stimuli, and spurs the healthy growth of neural structures.

Nootropic acetylcholinesterase inhibitors allow for safe increases in the available levels of this neurotransmitter. The benefits of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors include immediate gains in memory and learning functions, as well as long term neuro-protective benefits, such as the prevention of Alzheimers disease.

Huperzine A is an organic sesquiterpene alkaloid compound, found in Huperzia Serrate moss, which has been used as treatment for Alzheimers disease. Huperzine A enhances the ability of neurons to communicate with one another, through increased synaptogenesis. Huperzine is also an NMDA receptor antagonist. Through this action, it promotes the growth of nerve cells via the production of Nerve Growth Factor.

Huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it prevents the breakdown of the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft of the brain. The resulting raise in acetylcholine levels promotes better memory function, enhanced learning, and stronger mental focus. Huperzine A also exhibits many neuro-protective qualities, resulting in improved plasticity of brain cells.

Huperzia Serrata is a Southeast Asian fir moss plant which is the organic source of the alkaloid Huperzine A, a powerful memory-boosting nootropic. Huperzine As main nootropic effect is as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This compound from Huperzia Serrata prevents an enzyme from braking down acetylcholine once it is released in the brain. It maintains healthy levels of this important neurotransmitter and leads to greater stimulation of cholinergic receptors.

This action improves short term memory function and long term memory formation, and can be a potent therapy for memory deficits that accompany age-related disorders like Alzheimers disease. Huperzine Serrata is also a powerful anti-oxidant and can reduce oxidative stress in cholinergic neurons, boosting the effectiveness of choline in the body and leading to more pronounced cognitive enhancements.

Galantamine is a medicinal alkaloid which is derived from the leaves of the Galanthus Caucasius plant. It is traditionally prescribed for sensory and motor disorders like myasthenia. Galantamine regulates enzyme activity in the brain. As an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, Galantamine maintains levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

It also activates the brains nicotinic receptors, making them better able to process acetylcholine and other neurochemicals. User benefits include improved memory function, better reasoning ability, and enhanced reaction sensitivity to stimuli. Galantamine has shown promise as a therapy for and protection against the severe cognitive decline related to aging, such as in cases of Alzheimers disease.

Ampakines are a class of compounds which activate glutamatergic AMPA receptors in order to promote alertness, mental energy, greater attention span, and memory. AMPA receptors are responsible for regulating synaptic transmission. By interacting with these receptors, Ampakines create stimulant effects as well as nootropic benefits, without traditional stimulant side effects. By enhancing this synaptic communication, Ampakines promote the growth of neurons and the formation of long term memories.

This action creates a sense of mental focus which can be of enormous therapeutic value to patients with hyperactivity disorders like ADHD. Ampakines such as Sunifiram and Unifiram, considered the strongest among the entire class of compounds, can even be used to treat and protect against degenerative mental disorders associated with aging like Alzheimers disease and dementia.

Sunifiram (1-benzoyl-4-propanoylpiperazine) is an AMPA agonist and a member of the Ampakine class of compounds. It is known to deliver similar yet vastly more potent effects as Piracetam and is cited as 1000x stronger than this original Racetam. Sunifiram activates AMPA receptors, firing synaptic growth and facilitating communication between neurons. This produces dramatic memory and learning effects as well as powerful stimulant-like effects.

For this reason, it is often taken for symptoms of ADHD. Sunifiram does not however carry any of the typical side effects associated with stimulant drugs like Adderall. Sunifiram benefits include powerfully sharpened mental focus, heightened concentration, motivation and ambition.

Unifiram (alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) is an Ampakine compound which positively modulates AMPA receptors. Unifiram encourages strong communication between neurons by stimulating glutamate synaptic receptors. It also stimulates production of acetylcholine. Higher levels of both glutamate and acetylcholine facilitate better brain health and improved signaling.

This translates into benefits for memory formation and retrieval, heightened concentration, better reasoning abilities, and a powerful state of alert energy. Attention span is heightened, especially when a cognitive hyperactivity imbalance such as ADHD is present. Unifiram has energizing stimulant-like effects without the jittery side effects associated with caffeine or Ritalin.

Ampalex (CX-516) is an Ampakine compound nootropic. Ampalex is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate AMPA receptors. These receptor sites control communication between neurons across synapses, and once Ampalex binds with them, signaling is dramatically enhanced. Ampalex is also an NMDA agonist for the neurotransmitter glutamate which communicates excitatory transmissions between synapses.

Overall, Ampalex use leads to better concentration and mental focus. While its half-life is too short to be considered for use as an Alzheimers therapy, Ampalex can create dramatic memory effects in healthy minds, in addition to very stimulating effects like mental alertness and physical energy.

Other Names: CX-516

A smart drug is any natural or synthetic pharmaceutical or nutraceutical that is consumed for the purpose of improving cognitive functions. These functions include memory, reasoning ability, mental focus, or motivation. Smart drugs, sometimes also referred to as cognitive enhancement agents, interact with natural neurochemicals, such as hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. Individual physical processes and reactions are impacted according to the specific chemistry of each medication.

These types of drugs can be of great benefit for symptoms related to serious cognitive disorders like ADHD, anxiety, or even Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. For healthy minds, smart drugs can provide a substantial boost to normal thinking, learning, memory, and focus. Smart Drugs are typically considered as separate from nootropics since they may use stimulatory mechanisms of action and may carry a greater risk of side effects.

Adrafinil ((RS)-2-benzhydrylsulfinylethanehydroxamic acid) is a part of a class of drugs known as eugeroics. These compounds foster wakefulness and alert mental states, but do not carry the side effects of common psychostimulants. Adrafinil affects the adrenergic system by stimulating catecholamine hormones, like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Not only do these hormones create fight or flight responses in the body, they also promote heightened attention span, motivation, and mental stamina.

Adrafinil is the pre-cursor to Modafinil in the body. While it has previously been formally prescribed as a treatment for narcolepsy, Adrafinil has gained popularity as a nootropic supplement for improving cognitive function and fostering intense concentration abilities in users. It is available in the United States without a prescription, making it a popular alternative to Modafinil and Armodafinil.

Other Names: Olmifon

Modafinil (2-[(diphenylmethyl) sulfinyl] acetamide) is a eugeroic compound which is sold as a prescription wakefulness and vigilance drug. Modafinil is a central nervous system stimulant, also known as an analeptic drug. It stimulates the release of CNS histamines to promote wakefulness. The drug is primarily prescribed for patients with severe sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, or obstructive sleep apnea.

For healthy nootropic users without these conditions, Modafinil can promote a state of intense concentration and mental focus, making detail-oriented time intensive tasks easy to perform at peak productivity. While powerful states of mental acuity are generated, normal sleep cycles are typically not interfered with, making this compound popular with students and businesspeople alike. Modafinil was depicted in the movie Limitless as the fictional drug NZT-48.

Other names: Provigil, Modiodal, Modvigil, Modasomil, Vigicer, Alertex, Modavigil, Modapro, Modalert

Armodafinil (()-2-[(R)-(diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl]acetamide) is a derivative form of the eugeroic drug Modafinil, known as an enantiopure variation. This stronger and more potent form of the wakefulness drug is created by isolating the right enantiomer of Modafinils molecular isomers, and is considered to be purer and more potent. Armodafinil boosts CNS histamine levels to create arousal in the central nervous system. This response triggers fight or flight reactions including heightened awareness of sensory stimulus, greater mental acuity, and elevated heart rate.

While stimulating, these effects do not interfere with normal sleep cycles. These benefits are considered off-label, as Armodafinil is technically only prescribed for patients with sleep disorders like narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Taken as a nootropic supplement, Armodafinil can promote intensely heightened concentration and the ability to work and study with maximum efficiency and focus.

Other Names: Nuvigil, Waklert

Adderall (Ampheta S/Combo) is a prescription psychostimulant drug which combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts. Adderall stimulates the adrenergic system and activates the catecholamine hormones to trigger the spiked release of neurotransmitters like Norepinephrine, Dopamine, and Serotonin. This action creates a heightened state of mental focus and concentration.

Adderall is widely prescribed to bring mental balance to sufferers of hyperactivity disorders like ADD and ADHD, especially but not limited to children. Its stimulating effects can also promote wakefulness, significant appetite suppression, weight loss and a sense of euphoria. As an amphetamine, Adderall does come with some major side effects including possible heart problems and serious dependency risk.

Other Names: Ampheta

Ritalin (Methylphenidate) is a prescription psychostimulant medication and smart drug which affects the central nervous system. Ritalins main mechanism of action is preventing the re-uptake of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for mental energy and sensations of motivation and desire. In addition to blocking the proteins which cause the absorption of dopamine, Ritalin also enhances the function of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This area is known to relate to impulse control, motivation, and mental clarity.

While Ritalin is primarily prescribed for people suffering from attention disorders like ADD and ADHD, its off-label benefits include improved mental focus, reduced lethargy, and weight loss from enhanced metabolism.

Cylert ((RS)-2-amino-5-phenyl-1,3-oxazol-4(5H)-one) is an oxazoline stimulant drug designed for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD. This drug has been classified as a Schedule IV narcotic and is no longer easily available to the public. Cylert impacts the central nervous system by imitating the effects of dopamine, a characteristic known as dopamimetic. While not affecting actual levels of dopamine, it is able to stimulate many of dopamines functions in the brain, including heightened energy and mental focus.

It also has been shown to be a catalyst conductor in the brain. This means it increases the speed of memory formation and access, while dramatically lengthening attention span and concentration. In light of serious side effect concerns, the FDA has recently issued directives asking physicians not to prescribe this medication to children suffering from ADHD.

Other Names: Pemoline

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Nootropics: Definitive List of 120+ Nootropic Supplements + Drugs

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New law review article: The Original Fourth Amendment by …

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (2015)

by John Wesley Hall Criminal Defense Lawyer and Search and seizure law consultant Little Rock, Arkansas Contact / The Book http://www.johnwesleyhall.com

2003-16, online since Feb. 24, 2003

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fourth Amendment cases, citations, and links

Latest Slip Opinions: U.S. Supreme Court (Home) Federal Appellate Courts Opinions First Circuit Second Circuit Third Circuit Fourth Circuit Fifth Circuit Sixth Circuit Seventh Circuit Eighth Circuit Ninth Circuit Tenth Circuit Eleventh Circuit D.C. Circuit Federal Circuit Foreign Intell.Surv.Ct. FDsys, many district courts, other federal courts, other Military Courts: C.A.A.F., Army, AF, N-M, CG State courts (and some USDC opinions)

Google Scholar Advanced Google Scholar Google search tips LexisWeb LII State Appellate Courts LexisONE free caselaw Findlaw Free Opinions To search Search and Seizure on Lexis.com $

Research Links: Supreme Court: SCOTUSBlog S. Ct. Docket Solicitor General’s site SCOTUSreport Briefs online (but no amicus briefs) Curiae (Yale Law) Oyez Project (NWU) “On the Docket”Medill S.Ct. Monitor: Law.com S.Ct. Com’t’ry: Law.com

General (many free): LexisWeb Google Scholar | Google LexisOne Legal Website Directory Crimelynx Lexis.com $ Lexis.com (criminal law/ 4th Amd) $ Findlaw.com Findlaw.com (4th Amd) Westlaw.com $ F.R.Crim.P. 41 http://www.fd.org FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (2008) (pdf) DEA Agents Manual (2002) (download) DOJ Computer Search Manual (2009) (pdf) Stringrays (ACLU No. Cal.) (pdf)

Congressional Research Service: –Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012) –Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (2012) –Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012) –Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping (2012) –Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions (2012) ACLU on privacy Privacy Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation NACDLs Domestic Drone Information Center Electronic Privacy Information Center Criminal Appeal (post-conviction) (9th Cir.) Section 1983 Blog

“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn’t, and they don’t.” Me

I still learn something new every day. Pete Townshend, The Who 50th Anniversary Tour, “The Who Live at Hyde Park” (Showtime 2015)

“I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?” Janis Joplin

“Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government.” Shemaya, in the Thalmud

“A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect results, especially if one’s attention is confined to the particular case at bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced.” Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev’d Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).

“The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).

“Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.” Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).

“There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater than it is today.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).

“The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property.” Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)

“It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)

“The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated here, has notto put it mildlyrun smooth.” Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).

“A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the bottom of a turntable.” Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)

“For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. … But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)

Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the Governments purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)

Libertythe freedom from unwarranted intrusion by governmentis as easily lost through insistent nibbles by government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark. United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)

“You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need.” Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

“In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for meand by that time there was nobody left to speak up.” Martin Niemller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]

You know, most men would get discouraged by now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men! —Pep Le Pew

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New law review article: The Original Fourth Amendment by …

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Space Exploration: Crazy Far – Pictures, More From …

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

On the edge of a parking lot at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, stands a relic from a time when our future as a spacefaring species looked all but inevitable, as clear and grand as a rocket ascending over Cape Canaveral.

This is not a model, NASA physicist Les Johnson says as we gaze at the 35-foot-tall assemblage of pipes, nozzles, and shielding. This is an honest-to-goodness nuclear rocket engine. Once upon a time, NASA proposed to send a dozen astronauts to Mars in two spaceships, each powered by three of these engines. Marshall director Wernher von Braun presented that plan in August 1969, just two weeks after his Saturn V rocket delivered the first astronauts to the moon. He suggested November 12, 1981, as a departure date for Mars. The nuclear engines had already passed every test on the ground. They were ready to fly.

Thirty years after the Mars landing that never was, on a humid June morning, Johnson looks wistfully at the 40,000-pound engine in front of us. He heads a small team that assesses the feasibility of advanced concepts in space technologyand NERVA, the old nuclear engine, just might qualify. If were going to send people to Mars, this should be considered again, Johnson says. You would only need half the propellant of a conventional rocket. NASA is now designing a conventional rocket to replace the Saturn V, which was retired in 1973, not long after the last manned moon landing. It hasnt decided where the new rocket will go. The NERVA project ended in 1973 too, without a flight test. Since then, during the space shuttle era, humans havent ventured more than 400 miles from Earth.

All of which might seem to make the question Johnson and I have spent the morning discussingwill humans ever travel to the stars?sound a little out of touch.

Why did it seem more reasonable half a century ago? Of course we were crazy in a way, says physicist Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In the late 1950s Dyson worked on Project Orion, which aimed to build a manned spacecraft that could go to Mars and the moons of Saturn. Instead of using nuclear reactors to spew superheated hydrogen, as NERVA did, the Orion spacecraft would have dropped small nuclear bombs out the back every quarter of a second or so and surfed on the fireballs. It would have been enormously risky, says Dyson, who planned to go to Saturn himself. We were prepared for that. The mood then was totally different. The idea of a risk-free adventure just didnt make sense. A few years after Orion ended, Dyson outlined in Physics Today how a bomb-powered spacecraft might travel to a star.

These days its easier to outline why well never go. Stars are too far away; we dont have the money. The reasons why we might go anyway are less obviousbut theyre getting stronger. Astronomers have detected planets around many nearby stars; soon theyre bound to find one thats Earthlike and in the sweet spot for life, and in that instant theyll create a compelling destination. Our technology too is far more capable than it was in the 1960s; atom bombs arent cutting-edge anymore. In his office that morning, Les Johnson handed me what looked like a woven swatch of cobwebs. It was actually a carbon-fiber fabric sample for a giant spaceship sailone that might carry a probe beyond Pluto on rays of sunlight or laser beams. Be very careful with it, Johnson said. This is a material that might help us get there.

To get to the stars, well need many new materials and engines but also a few of the old intangibles. They havent vanished. In fact, they almost seem to be bursting forth again in the imaginative space vacated by the space shuttle, which in 2011 joined the Saturn V as a museum exhibit. In the conversation of certain dreamer-nerds, especially outside NASA, you can now hear echoes of the old aspiration and adventurousnessof the old craziness for space.

Last spring, three weeks before I met with Johnson, SpaceX, a private company based near Los Angeles, used one of its own rockets to launch an unmanned capsule that docked with the International Space Station. SpaceX leads several other companies in the race to replace the shuttle as the space stations supply ship. A month before that, a company called Planetary Resources, backed by billionaire investors such as Googles Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, announced plans to use robotic spacecraft to mine asteroids for precious metals. Working with Virgin Galactic, a company whose main business is space tourism, Planetary Resources expects within the next year or two to launch a lightweight telescope into low Earth orbit. We hope by the end of the decade that we will have identified our initial targets and begun prospecting, says Peter Diamandis, the firms co-founder.

Were going to look back at this decade as the dawn of the commercial space age, says Mason Peck, NASAs chief technologist. Its about companies large and small finding ways to make a market out of space. The energy we see nowthe economic motivation to go into spacewe havent seen that before.

Economics has long spurred exploration on Earth. Medieval merchants risked the hazards of the Silk Road to reach the markets of China; Portuguese caravels in the 15th century sailed beyond the bounds of the known world, searching less for knowledge than for gold and spices. Historically, the driver for opening frontiers has always been the search for resources, says Diamandis. Science and curiosity are weak drivers compared with wealth generation. The only way to really open up space is to create an economic engine, and that engine is resource extraction.

One resource he and co-founder Eric Anderson have their eyes on is platinum, so rare on Earth that it currently fetches $1,600 an ounce. Sending robots a million miles or more to extract and refine ore on asteroids in near-zero gravity, or to tow an asteroid closer to Earth, will require technology that doesnt yet exist. Theres a significant probability that we may fail, Anderson said at the press conference in April. But we believe that attempting this and moving the needle for space is important. Of course we hope to make a lot of money.

Elon Musk, the 41-year-old founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, has already made a lot of money, and he is devoting a sizable portion of that fortune to his own space program. The new rocket SpaceX is developing, the Falcon Heavy, will be capable of carrying twice the payload of the space shuttle, he says, for about one-fifth the price. His goal is to reduce launch costs by a further factor of 50 or 100, to $10 to $20 a pound, by developing the first fully reusable rockets. This is extremely difficult, and most people think its impossible, but I do not, Musk says. If airplanes had to be thrown away after every flight, no one would fly.

For Musk, its all part of a much grander plan: establishing a permanent human colony on Mars. NASA has had enormous success on Mars with unmanned rovers, most recently Curiosity, but has repeatedly pushed back a manned mission. Musk thinks SpaceX could land astronauts on Mars within 20 yearsand then keep landing them for decades after that.

The real thing thats needed is not to send one little mission to Mars, he says. Its ultimately to take millions of people and millions of tons of equipment to Mars to make it a self-sustaining civilization. It will be the hardest thing humanity has ever done, and its far from certain that it will occur.

I should emphasize this is not about escaping Earth. Its about making life multiplanetary. Its about getting out there and exploring the stars.

The fastest spacecraft ever builtthe Helios 2 probe, launched in 1976 to monitor the sunattained a top speed of 157,000 miles an hour. At that rate, a spacecraft headed to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, would take more than 17,000 years to make the 24-trillion-mile journey, a temporal span equal to the one that separates us from Cro-Magnon cave painters. Those inescapable facts lead even some of the staunchest advocates of human spaceflight to conclude that interstellar travel, aside from robotic probes, will remain forever in the realm of science fiction. Its Mars or nowhere, says Louis Friedman, an astronautics engineer and one of the founders of the Planetary Society, a space-exploration advocacy group.

Some scientists, however, find the prospect of eternal confinement to two small planets in a vast galaxy just too depressing to contemplate. If we start now, and we have started, I believe we can achieve some form of interstellar exploration within a hundred years, says Andreas Tziolas. A physicist and former NASA researcher, Tziolas is a leader of Icarus Interstellar, a nonprofit organization that aims, as its mission statement says, to realize interstellar flight before the year 2100. It is now collaborating with former shuttle astronaut Mae Jemison. In early 2012 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded her $500,000 for something called the 100 Year Starship project. Our task is not to launch a starship but to make sure the technologies and abilities exist within the next hundred years to do that, Jemison says.

Tziolas thinks we could develop a starship engine that harnesses nuclear fusion, the energy source of stars and hydrogen bombs. When the nuclei of small atoms such as hydrogen fuse, they release enormous energymuch more than is released by the nuclear fission of large atoms such as uranium, the energy source of nuclear power plants and of the old NERVA. While physicists have built fusion reactors, they havent yet found a way to make one that yields more energy than it consumes. I have faith in our ingenuity, Tziolas says. Only seven decades elapsed between the discovery of subatomic particles and NERVA, he points out; by 2100, he thinks, we should be able to create a fusion engine that could propel a starship to a top speed of 15 to 20 percent of the speed of light.

That would allow it to reach the nearest star in another few decadesif its machinery could last that long. Twenty years is getting near the upper limit for how long you can design a spacecraft to reliably operate, says Les Johnson. NASA asked Johnson to look into a 20-year mission, not to a star but to the edge of interstellar spaceto the region known as the heliopause, several times as far as Pluto, where the suns influence is balanced by that of other stars. The thought was, you dont want to immediately start talking about going to the nearest star, says Johnson. Its over four light-years away. Its just … daunting, unfathomable. Johnsons task was to plan a realistic mission with a technology thats at least close to existinga first small step toward the stars.

Right now, fusion engines arent close to existing; a nuclear engine like NERVA would be too expensive; chemical rockets might reach the heliopause but could never carry enough fuel to reach a star in a reasonable amount of time. (The Voyager spacecraft, were it headed the right way, would drift by Proxima Centauri in 74,000 years.) In the end Johnsons team settled on the most evocative technology: a solar sail. Sunlight, like all light, consists of particles called photons, which exert pressure on everything they touch. At Earths distance from the sun, the pressure is only about a tenth of an ounce spread over a football field. But a large, thin sheet of reflective fabric, unfurled in the vacuum of space, will feel this gentle force and will slowly accelerate.

NASA launched a 110-square-foot light sail in 2010 that survived for several months in low Earth orbit. It hopes to launch a sail in 2014 that measures a bit under a third of an acre and weighs just 70 pounds. Movable vanes on the corners will allow ground control to maneuver the Sunjammer, which on its yearlong mission will tack some two million miles upwind toward the sun. A 16-billion-mile mission to the heliopause would require a disk-shaped sail 1,500 feet in diameter. After a year or two of sailing, the spacecraft would exceed 100,000 miles an hour.

Proxima Centauri lies 1,500 times farther still. To sail to another star, Johnson says, well need a sail the size of Alabama and Mississippi combined. We dont know how to build that yet. Whats more, sunlight alone couldnt push the sail to the star within a human lifetime, or even many lifetimes; youd need powerful space-based lasers. If you take the total energy output of humanity and put it in a laser on a satellite, says Johnson, then you could get trip times of a few decades to Proxima Centauri. And thats to send a robot the size of Johnsons desk.

What about humans, with their need for 24/7 life support? Johnson throws up his hands. When you start thinking about what it takes to supply people, he says, and how big the spacecraft would have to be and how much energy it would have to have, you enter the realm of science fiction.

To build a starship, you first have to build a future that converts fiction into fact, and that takes a lot more than rocket science. The task isnt figuring out right now how to design a starship; its continuing to build the civilization that will one day build a starship. Framed like that, more expansively, it begins to seem less impossible. But its a 100-year project or maybe a 500-year project, depending on your craziness level. Johnsons level is lowish.

I dont know what the world will be like in 500 years, he says. If we have fusion power plants, and space-based solar panels beaming energy down, and were mining the moon and have an industrial base in low Earth orbitmaybe a civilization like that could do it. Well have to be a civilization that spans the solar system before we can think about taking an interstellar voyage.

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Space Exploration: Crazy Far – Pictures, More From …

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