• GunsThe loaded history of self-defense

    After the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, Harvard historian Caroline Light felt compelled to explore the roots of the American right to self-defense, which has helped turned the United States into a country with more guns than people. In her new book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Light traces the development of the notion of self-defense from English common law to contemporary stand-your-ground gun laws.

  • Water securityWhy farmers and ranchers think the EPA Clean Water Rule goes too far

    By Reagan Waskom and David J. Cooper

    President Trump issued an executive order 28 February directing federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Framers and ranchers are particularly worried that the Clean Water Rule could expand federal regulations that impact their private property rights. However, regulatory agencies and the regulated community need to know the limits of the Clean Water Act’s reach so they can take appropriate measures to protect water resources. If the rule is scrapped, we still will need to know which water bodies require protection under the law. If the Trump administration withdraws or weakens the Clean Water Rule, it is likely to leave regulators interpreting case by case whether tributaries and adjacent waters are covered, as they have been doing since 2006, and land and water owners guessing about what they can do with their resources. So in the end, repealing the rule won’t answer the underlying question: how far upstream federal protection extends.

  • TerrorismWhy the time is right to set up an international terrorism court

    By Ignacio De La Rasilla Del Moral

    The global toll of terrorism is rising at an alarming rate. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, terrorist incidents claimed 3,329 lives in 2000 but 32,685 in 2014, and the economic costs of terrorism skyrocketed at least tenfold during the same period. As a result, certain governments are proposing that the UN establish a new court with a specific remit to prosecute international terrorist crimes. The court, I sablished, would join the growing ranks of international courts and tribunals that have been rapidly proliferating since the end of the Cold War. Of the more than 37,000 legally binding judgements passed by these international courts, some 90 percent have come down since 1990.The problems and risks of creating such a court are all too apparent, and go some way to explaining why the court has never been set up.

  • Border securitySupreme Court considering case of Mexican boy killed by Border Patrol agent shooting across border

    The Supreme Court appears to be evenly divided about the question of whether the Mexican parents of a teenager who was shot dead by a Border Patrol officer could use American courts to sue the Border Patrol agent who fired across the U.S.-Mexican border and killed their son. Lower courts dismissed the parents’ lawsuit – but the Supreme Court has taken up the case in order to determine whether non-citizens who are injured or killed outside the United States — by actions of an American from inside the United States — can pursue their case in American courts.

  • GunsAssault weapons not protected by Second Amendment: U.S. appeals court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth circuit ruled 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s ban on assault weapons, ruling that assault weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote. “Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” he wrote.

  • European securityEU’s counterterrorism laws are Orwellian: Amnesty

    Sweeping new laws are driving Europe into a deep and dangerous state of permanent securitization, Amnesty International said on the publication of a comprehensive human rights analysis of counter-terrorism measures across fourteen EU member states. Amnesty International says that its latest report — Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe — reveals how a deluge of laws and amendments passed with break-neck speed, is undermining fundamental freedoms and dismantling hard-won human rights protections.

  • Populism resurgent“Authoritarian populism” becoming driving force in Western democracies

    The election victory of Donald Trump, Brexit,the rise of former fringe parties like UKIP and France’s Front National are part of a political trend which could define the next decade, according to research by polling firm YouGov. YouGov’s polling found that “authoritarian populism” was a force driving many voters across Europe and the United States, sharing notions such as opposition to immigration; suspicion of international coalitions, treaties, and organization; and reluctance to use national power for goals which are termed “globalist” – like human rights or nation-building.

  • Populism resurgentThe seeds of the alt-right, America’s emergent right-wing populist movement

    By George Michael

    In recent months, far-right activists – which some have labeled the “alt-right” – have gone from being an obscure, largely online subculture to a player at the very center of American politics. Long relegated to the cultural and political fringe, alt-right activists were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. To its critics, the alt-right is just a code term for white nationalism, a much-maligned ideology associated with neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The movement, however, is more nuanced, encompassing a much broader spectrum of right-wing activists and intellectuals. Unlike old-school white nationalist movements, the alt-right has endeavored to create a self-sustaining counterculture, which includes a distinct vernacular, memes, symbols, and a number of blogs and alternative media outlets. Now that it has been mobilized and demonstrated its relevance (just look at the number of articles written about the movement, which further publicizes it), the alt-right is likely to grow, gaining a firmer foothold in American politics.

  • TransitionsWhen dictators die of natural causes, their regimes remain intact

    A dictator’s death of natural causes rarely leads to regime change, according to a new study that comes as the remaining fifty-five authoritarian rulers currently in power are at least seventy years old and in various stages of declining health. The researchers have studied all seventy-nine cases of dictators dying in office between 1946 and 2012 and found the ruling regime remained intact through the following year 87 percent of the time.

  • Hate groupsWidespread anti-Semitic harassment of journalists perceived as critical of Donald Trump: Report

    A new report released earlier today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) details a troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate targeting journalists on Twitter, with data showing that the harassment has been driven by rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign. The anti-Semitic tweets have been directed at 800 journalists, both conservative and liberal, who wrote critically about Trump. The tweet writers are disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the “alt-right,” a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists. There were 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets in the first six months of 2016, and the words that appear most frequently in the bios of the 1,600 most prolific anti-Semitic Twitter attackers are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white.” “To be clear,” ADL stresses, “this does not imply that the Trump campaign supported or endorsed the anti-Semitic tweets, only that certain self-styled supporters sent these ugly messages.”

  • GunsReport finds strong link between strength of states’ gun laws and rates of gun violence

    A new report has found a strong correlation between the strength of state gun laws and levels of gun violence. The report, which analyzes ten specific indicators of gun violence in all fifty states, found that the ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have levels of gun violence that are more than three times higher than the ten states with the strongest gun laws. The ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have three times more gun violence than the ten states with the strongest gun laws.

  • Classified informationHow did classified information get into those Hillary Clinton e-mails?

    By Jeffrey Fields

    FBI director James Comey publicly rebuked Hillary Clinton for being “extremely careless” in handling classified information while she was secretary of state. Were the secretary of state and her aides careless with such information? And how can they maintain that they did not knowingly mishandle classified information? To answer these questions, we need to understand two facts about the classification of information and its transmission. First, the determination of what information is classified is subjective, meaning that reasonable people can disagree about the relative sensitivity of particular information. In fact, different agencies disagree about issues like this all the time. Second, Clinton has not shared classified documents, and this is not something she is accused of. It is extremely difficult to share a classified document electronically over e-mail, because most government agencies, including the State Department, maintain separate systems precisely to make it all but impossible to electronically pass information between classified and unclassified systems. This is partly why Clinton and her aides say so assuredly that they did not knowingly e-mail classified materials. The issue is thus whether she and her aides should have known that matters discussed in e-mails were classified or sensitive.

  • TerrorismU.S. terror victims file suit against Facebook for failing to block Palestinian incitement

    The families of five Americans recently killed or injured by Palestinian terrorists have filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allowing the terrorist group Hamas to incite violence on its network. The plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in punitive damages under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows American citizens who are victims of overseas terrorist attacks to sue in U.S. federal courts.

  • GunsSupreme Court: Domestic violence perpetrators can be banned from buying, owning guns

    The supreme court has ruled that individuals convicted of a domestic violence “misdemeanor” can be prohibited from owning or purchasing a gun. Previous law stated that only those convicted of intentional abuse would be barred from owning weapons, but a “reckless” assault could be pardoned. In the United States, around five women a day are shot to death by current or former intimate partners. At least 52 percent of American women murdered with guns every year are killed by intimate partners or family members.

  • VeilsVeils, headscarves may improve observers' ability to judge truthfulness

    Judges in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have ruled that witnesses may not wear the niqab, which covers everything but the eyes, when testifying, in part because they believe that it is necessary to see a person’s face to detect deception. Contrary to the opinions of these courts, it is easier to determine the truthfulness of a woman wearing a headscarf or even a veil that leaves only her eyes exposed than a woman wearing no head covering at all, according to new research.