Bill of Rights

Some people think that Bill Gates looks like me.


Genetic Engineering

I wondered why anyone would be against labeling foods that are genetically engineered. It seems to me that any consumer ought to be able to make an informed choice about the foods [s]he eats. Then I read the remainder of the article:

The full text of the bill reads:

  1. A local government may not impose a requirement for the disclosure or display of information on a food label.
  2. If a food is subject to a federal requirement for disclosing or displaying information on the label, a state agency may not impose a labeling requirement regarding the same information that is more stringent than the federal requirement.

Now it's looking like a states rights issue, where the state is voluntarily bowing to the national government.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have the Dillon Rule (or rule of statutory construction). It limits the powers of the counties and cities to all and only those delegated to them by the General Assembly. Clause 1 appears to be the Oregon legislature asserting its right in that regard.

The Dillon Rule might prevent counties, cities, and towns from inflicting tyranny on their citizens but it doesn't prevent the Commonwealth from doing the same. For example, no municipality in Virginia may extend domestic partner benefits to the same-sex couples. Arlington County passed a law permitting it in 2002 only to have the court strike it under the Dillon Rule.

I think I'd rather take my chances with local tyranny than have the Dillon Rule remain the law of Virginia. There are ways such as local elections and the court system to combat local tyranny. Those avenues are open at the state level, to be sure, but it's harder to work because of the greater inertia of the state system.

For more about the Dillon Rule, see or

Regarding clause 2, why would a state voluntarily deny itself the right to require more stringent laws than the federal government? Is it an issue of commerce in the case of food? Would fewer companies ship their products to Oregon if they had to label in accordance with Oregon's stricter-than-national law? Or is it to avoid a morass of state laws, no two alike, that could lead to more label than product if taken to its logical extreme?

Source: Global Indymedia Newswire
posted at 14:12:16    #    comment []    trackback []

Librarians Join the Fight Against The Patriot Act

Go librarians!

According to the Patriot Act, public libraries must surrender information about their patrons to the FBI on request. It is a felony for them to refuse or to inform a patron that his records have been given to the FBI.

The "New York Times" article referenced on "Slashdot" tells of the actions of the Santa Cruz, CA, libraries: they are shredding discarded paperwork such as written requests to the reference desk and logs of computer users. Furthermore, they are informing patrons of the Library's responsibilities under Patriot Act.

The article doesn't say when a patron's borrowing record is purged. Fairfax County Public Library, my local library, has a public policy of the confidentiality of patron records. They destroy the borrowing records the books are returned.

A couple of the Slashdotters provided some interesting links in their comments on the Times article.

You might want to visit the American Library Association.

Source: Slashdot
posted at 13:55:12    #    comment []    trackback []

5th UK Big Brother Awards

The UK Big Brother awards were announced today. They are presented each year by Privacy International to the people and groups which have done the most to invade personal privacy. There is also a lifetime menace award for those with long histories of invading privacy.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was awarded a Lifetime Menace award this year.

The 2003 US BBAs will be announced on April 3, 2003 at Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in New York City.

Who do you nominate?

posted at 12:59:28    #    comment []    trackback []

The Alien and Sedition Acts

Texts from the Yale Law School.

These acts are part of John Adams' legacy. I though that Abraham Lincoln used them in the Civil War to suspend the writ of habeascorpus ( summary on ) , but after a brief and superficial search, I haven't found evidence to support that claim.

For more on habeas corpus, see , , and Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the US Constitution .

posted at 10:17:20    #    comment []    trackback []

PBS: Civil Liberties after 9/11: Timeline

A history of attempts to curb civil liberties in the US.

As I post this, the link is slow, as if the site has been slashdotted .

posted at 09:59:12    #    comment []    trackback []

Independent Media

Speak truth to power, teach the ignorant, report the news in your neighborhood. Be an independent journalist through your local Independent Media.

Source: Global Indymedia Newswire
posted at 14:20:32    #    comment []    trackback []

Mitchell Kapor Leaves Groove Over TIA

This man has integrity.

The usual NY Times "free registration" applies. You can use John Gilmore's cypherpunks login scheme if you don't want to register in your own name: use the userid cypherpunks (or as much as will fit) and the password cypherpunks. In the case of the New York Times web site, try cypherpunks + some digits as the userid and either cypherpunks or cypherpunks + the same digits as the password. cypherpunks39 works for me.

Source: Slashdot
posted at 13:52:48    #    comment []    trackback []

Anti-War Arrests

The incident about the man arrested for wearing a peace t-shirt happened in Guilderland, NY, near my home down, Delmar . I never expected to read anything like this.

Source: Global Indymedia Newswire
posted at 15:53:20    #    comment []    trackback []
May 2005
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It's about your right to be left alone, to follow your conscience in a responsible manner, to air your unpopular political views, to practice your obscure religion, to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights without fear of persecution.


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© 2005, David Talmage