• PerspectiveWhy the Guillotine May Be Less Cruel than Execution by Slow Poisoning

    Concerns about the drugs used for executions are being raised again after the federal government announced it will once again execute inmates convicted of capital crimes almost 16 years after the last execution was carried out. while the death penalty is the ultimate punishment meted out by the state, it is not meant to be torture. The guillotine remains a quick method of execution – it takes about half a second for the blade to drop and sever a prisoner’s head from his body. Although the guillotine may be the bloodiest of deaths, it does not cause the prolonged physical torment increasingly delivered by lethal injections. Should the U.S. consider using the guillotine to administer capital punishment?

  • PerspectiveDistrust of Media Doesn't Give Government Permission to Harass Journalists

    In an unsettling, patently ridiculous exchange at Dulles International Airport Thursday, Ben Watson, a news editor at Defense One was held by a passport screening official and repeatedly questioned whether he wrote “propaganda.” The CBP officer refused to return the passport to Ben Watson until Watson responded, “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes,” to the question of whether he was writing “propaganda.” Watson had to repeat that answer several times before he was waved through.

  • Perspective: ClassificationI Helped Classify Calls for Two Presidents. The White House Abuse of the System Is Alarming

    The whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine controversy said White House officials ordered information about President Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky to be removed from the classified server typically used to store such information and placed on a hyper-secure “code word” server. Such special protections are typically reserved for material of the gravest sensitivity: detailed information about covert operations, for example, where exposure can get people killed. Kelly Magsamen, who staffed presidential meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders while she was an NSC staffer during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, writes that “It is difficult to overstate just how abnormal and suspicious treating the call in that manner would be. It strongly suggests White House staff knew of serious wrongdoing by the president and attempted to bury it — a profound abuse of classified systems for political, and possibly criminal, purposes.”

  • PerspectiveNew Domestic Terrorism Laws Are Unnecessary for Fighting White Nationalists

    In the past, incidents of white nationalist violence haven’t garnered the attention they deserve from Congress or federal law enforcement. But after the August 2019 El Paso shooting by a young white supremacist, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Randy K. Weber Sr. (R-TX) introduced two separate bills that would create a new crime of domestic terrorism, citing lethal white nationalist crimes as the justification. Faiza Patel writes for the Brennan Center that while it’s reassuring, and long overdue, for members of Congress to take the threat of white nationalist violence seriously, such legislation is both unnecessary and creates serious risks of abuse.

  • Perspective: Mass shootingsInside a Deadly American Summer

    They were octogenarians shopping at a Texas Walmart. They were family members watching TV in California. They were late-night revelers standing on a crowded Ohio sidewalk. They were casualties of a violent summer. Mitch Smith writes in the New York Times that during the unofficial summer season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states. One massacre followed the next, sometimes on the very same day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for change, but little concrete action. “And the summer ended much as it had begun, with a new round of panicky 911 calls, another set of wrenching vigils, a new wave of pleas for change,” Mitch Smith writes.

  • Perspective: Business & paramilitariesWPB Judge Tosses Suits Accusing Chiquita of Helping Terrorists Kill Colombians

    About 220,000 Colombians were killed in the civil war which raged in Colombia between 1964 and 2016. Most of the victims were killed by two Marxist insurgency groups, the FARC and the ELN. Many, however, were killed by various right-wing paramilitary groups which often coordinated their activities with government forces. A number of Colombians whose relatives were killed by paramilitary violence sued Chiquita Brands International in a Florida court for providing financial assistance to the paramilitary groups. Their hopes for success faded this month when U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra threw out their claims.

  • AsylumMajor Impact Expected from Supreme Court Asylum Decision

    While legal challenges continue to make their way through the nation’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — which includes the southern border states of California and Arizona —  the Supreme Court ruled that, in the interim, the Trump administration could begin denying asylum claims to migrants at the country’s southern border who did not first seek protection in another country along their route. The policy would affect asylum-seekers at the border, who are largely from Central America, as well as an increasing number of migrants from outside the Western Hemisphere.

  • AsylumU.S. Supreme Court Ruling Erodes Protections for Asylum Seekers, UN Says

    The U.N. refugee agency is expressing concern about the negative impact of Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on people seeking asylum in the United States. The ruling affirms the Trump Administration’s policy that denies asylum to anyone who does not seek protection in countries through which they pass before reaching the U.S. border.

  • Migrant childrenU.S. to Allow Indefinite Detention of Migrant Children

    The administration said on Wednesday that it would remove limits on how long migrant children can be detained. The move would allow for migrant families detained at the Mexican border to be held until their asylum case is processed, which can take up to several months. In order to allow for indefinite detention, DHS said it would terminate the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, a legal ruling that barred the government from holding migrant children in detention for more than twenty days.

  • PerspectiveHow Data Privacy Laws Can Fight Fake News

    Governments from Russia to Iran have exploited social media’s connectivity, openness, and polarization to influence elections, sow discord, and drown out dissent. While responses have also begun to proliferate, more still are needed to reduce the inherent vulnerability of democracies to such tactics. Recent data privacy laws may offer one such answer in limiting how social media uses personal information to micro-target content: Fake news becomes a lot less scary if it can’t choose its readers.

  • Mass shootingsWant to Stop Mass Shootings?

    “There are a whole range of things that could play a role in prevention [of gun violence], including better parenting, less racism, better education, more job opportunities,” says Harvard’s David Hemenway. “All of these things might have some effect on reducing shootings in the U.S. We should improve all those things. But the most cost-effective interventions involve doing something about guns. For example, as far as we can tell, virtually all developed countries have violent video games and people with mental health issues. There’s no evidence that I know of that shows that people in the U.S. have more mental health issues, especially violent mental health issues. Compared to other high-income countries we are just average in terms of non-gun crime and non-gun violence. The elephant in the room, the thing that makes us stand out among the 29 other high-income countries, is our guns and our weak gun laws. As a result, we have many more gun-related problems than any other high-income country.”

  • PerspectiveDon’t Ban Assault Weapons—Tax Them

    The United States is debating what to do about assault-style weapons, what gun-rights advocates like to call modern sporting rifles. Gun-rights champions argue that these weapons are in common use, and hence protected by the Second Amendment. Gun-control supporters respond that these weapons have no place on our streets and ought to be banned. But there’s a better solution, and one that avoids the constitutional objections typically raised by gun-rights advocates. Rather than banning these weapons, the time has come to tax them.

  • Perspective: Democracy backslidingPolarization versus Democracy

    When can we realistically expect ordinary people to check the authoritarian ambitions of elected politicians? An answer to this question is key to understanding the most prominent development in the dynamic of democratic survival since the end of the Cold War: the subversion of democracy by elected incumbents and its emergence as the most common form of democratic breakdown.

  • ImmigrationFederal Judge Blocks Trump’s Restrictions on Asylum at U.S.-Mexico Border

    A U.S. federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a directive which disqualifies a significant proportion of mostly Central American asylum-seekers who reach the U.S.-Mexico border. In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California cited multiple concerns about the rule and the way it was issued. Hours before Tigar issued his ruling, a district court judge in Washington, D.C., denied a similar request to block the rule in a separate case.

  • ImmigrationA Framework for a Fair, Humane, and Workable Immigration Policy

    The immigration debate in America today is nearly as broken as the country’s immigration system itself. The other day, the Center for American Progress released a new report which provides a framework to fix both. CAP notes that for many years, conversations about immigration have been predicated on a false choice that says America can either honor its identity as a nation of immigrants or live up to its ideals as a nation of laws by enforcing the current broken immigration system. Tom Jawetz, the report’s author, argues that by accepting these terms of the debate, supporters of sensible immigration policy have ceded powerful rhetorical ground to immigration restrictionists.