‘See Something, Say Something Online Act’ Punishes Big Tech for Not Snitching

“The legislation says any interactive computer service provider—that means social media giants, small blogs, podcast hosting services, app stores, consumer review platforms, independent political forums, crowdfunding and Patreon-style sites, dating apps, newsletter services, and much more—will lose Section 230 protections if they fail to report any known user activity that might be deemed “suspicious.”

“Suspicious” content is defined as any post, private message, comment, tag, transaction, or “any other user-generated content or transmission” that government officials later determine “commits, facilitates, incites, promotes, or otherwise assists the commission of a major crime.” Major crimes are defined as anything involving violence, domestic, or international terrorism, or a “serious drug offense.”

For each suspicious post, services must submit a Suspicious Transmission Activity Report (STAR) within 30 days, providing the user’s name, location, and other identifying information, as well as any relevant metadata.

Those submitting the user surveillance reports would henceforth be barred from talking about or even acknowledging the existence of them. STARs would also be exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The bill, which comes amid renewed calls to stamp out domestic terrorism after the Capitol riot, is impressive in managing to be both completely invasive and utterly unconcerned with even appearing to be about protection, since the remedy—report within 30 days—would hardly help stop the commission of crimes”

“The bill would set up a massive new system of intense user monitoring and reporting that would lead to more perfectly innocent people getting booted from internet platforms. It would provide the government with a new tool to punish disfavored tech companies, and it would enlist all digital service providers to be cops in the failed post-9/11 war on terror and the drug war.”

“Worse than simply overloading the system, it would make federal agents investigate all sorts of ordinary Americans for harmless comments. It also seems likely to make finding actual terrorists and violent criminals even more difficult.”

13 federal criminal laws that the pro-Trump mob may have violated, explained

“federal law makes it a crime to engage “in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof.” Someone who violates this statute faces a fine and up to 10 years in prison.

It’s also worth noting that this law makes it a crime to incite such a rebellion, and violators “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” Thus, to the extent that a government official was complicit in Wednesday’s riot, they could potentially be stripped of their office.

Second, the law prohibits a “seditious conspiracy” to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States” or to “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” Participants in such a conspiracy could face up to 20 years in prison.

Third, federal law provides that “whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States … by force or violence” may face up to 20 years in prison, and may also be stripped of their ability to be employed by the federal government for up to five years.”

“another statute makes it a crime to conspire “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Thus, to the extent that members of Congress were exercising a “privilege” secured to them by the Constitution while they were disrupted by rioters, those rioters could potentially face criminal charges.”

“Members of the pro-Trump insurrection may have also violated several federal statutes intended to protect the peace.”

“Other criminal laws seek to protect the lives and safety of federal officials. Anyone who attempts to kill a member of Congress, for example, faces life in prison. And anyone who assaults a member of Congress may face 10 years in prison if they do so with a dangerous weapon or if “personal injury results.”
Even a relatively minor assault against a federal lawmaker can be punished by a year in prison.

Additionally, the law prohibits a conspiracy to “prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust, or place of confidence under the United States.” As the purpose of the pro-Trump insurrection appears to be to prevent President-elect Biden from holding the office of president, this statute could apply to members of that insurrection.

Violators of this law face up to six years in prison.”

“Other federal laws make it a crime to damage, rob, or unlawfully occupy federal property.”

All Enforcers Are Cops

“”Every new law requires enforcement; every act of enforcement includes the possibility of violence,” Yale Law School’s Stephen L. Carter wrote in 2014 after New York City cops killed Eric Garner during a confrontation rooted in suspicion that he was illegally selling loose cigarettes.

Every violent enforcement action, I’ll add, involves enforcers acting through a filter of flaws and prejudices.”

This Health Care Law Bars Competition And Drives Up Prices, Even as a Pandemic Rages

“COVID-19 has forced doctors to postpone many types of surgeries, but some things can’t wait. Ophthalmologist Jay Singleton saw one man at risk of permanent blindness on a recent Friday evening in New Bern, North Carolina.

“He had a rare type of glaucoma caused by a large cataract, and the only thing to do was to remove it so the pressure would go down inside the eye,” Singleton says. “We knew it was a very real situation because he already had lost one of his eyes to the same thing.”

Singleton had all the skills and equipment necessary for the job at his state-of-the-art vision center. Unfortunately, the government won’t let him use his space for the vast majority of the surgeries he performs.

North Carolina and many other states impose a regulatory tool called a “certificate of need” (CON), which forces health care providers to prove an unmet need in the market before operating a facility, scaling up, or purchasing major medical equipment. In practice, CON laws block new competition, funneling traffic to big hospital systems—the last thing that should happen during a global pandemic.”

“”You have to pick a side,” Singleton says. “If you treat it like a business, you must allow other people to enter the market and compete with you like every other business. If you treat it like a public partnership, then you can’t enrich yourself on the backs of Medicare patients. You can’t have it both ways.””

“15 states—including California, Colorado, and most recently New Hampshire—have eliminated their CON programs.
None of these states has experienced any negative effects. Indeed, Matthew Mitchell, a researcher at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, says states that got rid of their CON laws have more hospitals and surgery centers per capita, along with more hospital beds, dialysis clinics, and hospice care facilities.

“Forty years of peer-reviewed academic research suggests that CON laws have not only failed to achieve their goals but have in many cases led to the opposite of what those who enacted the laws intended,” he says.”

“Many states, including Connecticut, Georgia, and South Carolina, suspended their CON laws after the pandemic came to America. Other states, such as Rhode Island, rolled back CON laws at hospitals and nursing facilities but not outpatient surgery centers or hospices.

Instead of just being a temporary reprieve, these emergency actions should be expanded and made permanent.”

The Fall of the Roman Republic and the Fall of the American Republic: Sources

Donald Trump On Paying Supporter’s Legal Fees Meet The Press. 3 14 2016. NBC News. A look back at Trump comments perceived by some as inciting violence Libby Cathey and Meghan Keneally. 5 30 2020. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/back-trump-comments-perceived-encouraging-violence/story?id=48415766 Presidents Have Declared Dozens

Will Tennessee Finally Reform Its Draconian Drug-Free School Zone Laws?

“A bill moving through the Tennessee state legislature would reform the state’s harsh drug-free school zone laws, which were the subject of a 2017 Reason investigation.”

“Reason’s data showing that more than a quarter of the state’s total land area within city limits is covered by drug-free zones”

“Tennessee’s laws blanket large swaths of the cities, turning minor drug violations into mandatory sentences that rival—and sometimes exceed—punishments for rape and murder.”

“One such case was Calvin Bryant, who at age 20 was sentenced in 2008 to 17 years in Tennessee state prison—15 of them mandatory—for selling ecstasy to a confidential informant out of his Nashville apartment, which happened to be within 1,000 feet of a school.
If Bryant had been convicted of second-degree murder, he would have been eligible for an earlier release. That crime carries a minimum 15-year sentence but includes a possibility for release within 13.

After serving 10 and a half years in prison, Bryant was released in 2018 after prosecutors struck a deal to release him on time served. Bryant now mentors inner-city youth through a nonprofit organization he started.

“I hold myself accountable for participating in a drug transaction, but do I feel like I should have gotten 17 years?” he testified at Wednesday’s hearing. “I don’t.””

“drug-free school zone offenders were ineligible for classes or other educational programming because of their mandatory minimum sentences.

“There were no chances for me to take classes with this charge because I was serving 100 percent, a mandatory minimum,” Bryant testified. “Due to us not earning good time, we don’t get to participate in classes, so it’s hard to better yourself in that kind of situation.””

There Is No Line

“The lived reality of immigration is much less like a line and much more like the forking paths of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Make the right choices (marry an American, get hired by a U.S. firm at the executive level, win a Nobel Prize, secure an H-1B visa and parlay it into a green card) and you can make a life in the United States! But make just one wrong choice (marry a Canadian, fail to achieve tenure, get hired by a foreign company, don’t have an employer that will sponsor your green card application), and you’re out of luck.

And most people don’t have the opportunity to make any of these choices. A low-education, working-age Mexican male—that staple of blue-collar employment in the American Southwest—does not qualify as a permanent immigrant under any of the visa regimes listed above. There is simply no path for many people in the world.”

America’s weak gun laws enable shootings by terrorists and extremists

“America’s weak gun laws make it much easier to commit shootings like these. This is a widely known fact, including among terrorist groups. Back in 2011, a now-dead American al-Qaeda operative, Adam Gadahn, said as much in a video to supporters”

“Every country is home to extremists and other hateful individuals. People of every country get into arguments and fights with friends, family, and peers. But in the US, it’s much more likely that someone who’s extreme, hateful, or otherwise angry is able to pull out a gun and kill someone — there are so many guns around and few barriers to obtaining the weapons.”

“The research, compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, is also pretty clear: After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not only with homicides but also with suicides”

“the US is not an outlier when it comes to overall crime”

“Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence specifically, driven in large part by the prevalence of guns.”

“Researchers have found that stricter gun laws could help. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tend to be followed by a drop in gun violence, a strong indicator that restricting access to guns can save lives. A review of the US evidence by RAND also linked some gun control measures, including background checks, to lower rates of injuries and deaths. A growing body of evidence from Johns Hopkins researchers further supports the efficacy of laws that require a license to buy and own guns.

That doesn’t mean bigots and extremists will never be able to carry out shootings in places with stricter gun laws. Even the strictest gun laws can’t prevent every shooting.

Guns are not the only contributor to violence, either. Other factors include, for example, poverty, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and the strength of criminal justice systems.”