Monday, March 12, 2018

Andrew Napolitano - High Cost of the War on Drugs

Strengthening ASEAN's Role

Legal Perspectives on the Opioid Crisis

Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide | Yuval Noah Harari

The Rise of Populism and the Backlash Against the Elites

Jonathan Haidt: "The Righteous Mind" | Talks at Google

I Have Been to the Mountaintop

Martin Luther King Jr. - Civil Disobedience

Martin Luther King The Three Evils of Society

Martin Luther King Where do we go from Here

I Have a Dream, Martin Luther King Jr.

U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Fourth Geneva Convention

Third Geneva Convention

Second Geneva Convention

Commentary on the Second Geneva Convention

The Human Rights Treaty Body system

The origins of international human rights law

[Wikipedia] Geneva Conventions

The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary

Geneva Conventions


Geneva Conventions

Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics

Backstreet Abortions in the Philippines: Year of Mercy

Philippines: LGBT Kids Need Protection from Bullying at School

ICC Prosecutor opens Preliminary Examination re Duterte's drug war deaths

Rappler's SEC case: Taming the Filipino media?

Duterte vs Rappler: Media on notice in the Philippines

Is Duterte's drug war undermining the rule of law?

Five things about SIM card registration bill

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Five things about SIM card registration bill

Published February 6, 2018 4:55pm


People who value their privacy are put through the wringer whenever the advocacy is in the spotlight and propped up against another important interest of the State, the general public, or both.

They are forced to examine their priorities and choose which one they prefer more. Unfortunately, they are seldom allowed access to all information they need to make a proper choice.

This has to change. If you’re going to ask people to surrender something, they have to know exactly how much they’re giving up, and what they’re giving it up for.

Today, let’s help make that happen regarding one recurring proposal in Congress: SIM card registration.

Last January 23, the Committee on Information Communication and Technology of the House of Representatives approved the substituted bill providing for a SIM Card Registration Act.

A mandatory SIM card registration system is an initiative constantly portrayed by proponents as necessary for national security and law enforcement despite all its negative implications, including the way it tramples on a person’s privacy. In most cases, people only get to hear about how this measure will supposedly help the police catch terrorists and criminals, or at the very least, discourage prank calls and spam text messages.

In truth, that’s not all there is to it. Here are five more things we should know about such a system:
Crime-fighting Myth. The theory that SIM card registration is a boon for law enforcement has consistently been shown to be false by the experience of other countries. As has been demonstrated many times, criminals can circumvent this type of regulation. Worse, in some countries, registration actually causes a spike in the prevalence rate of some crimes (e.g., handset theft) and even facilitates the emergence of black markets (i.e., for stolen SIMs). A proposal to have such a system in Canada was quashed after consultations, when it could not be proven that crime reduction would result after its adoption. Mexico repealed its mandatory registration law after three years of implementation, after seeing no improvement in crime prevention, investigation, and/or prosecution.

Specter of Surveillance. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this system is its potential use for surveillance. A SIM card registration law can essentially erase the possibility to enjoy anonymity of communications. It can enable location-tracking, and make communications surveillance and interception quite easy to carry out. As such, it is a threat to investigative journalists, whistle-blowers, witnesses, marginalized groups, and victims of discrimination and oppression. It is important to note that it becomes an even more potent tool once it is synchronized with a national ID system (but that’s for another article).

Logistical Nightmare. SIM card registration is expensive and extremely difficult to implement not just on the part of mobile service providers, but for the concerned government agencies too. This is especially true for countries like the Philippines that has such a large population, most of whom are mobile phone users. In 2017, there were already around 129.4 million mobile subscriptions in the country, which accounts for 126% of the population. Creating and maintaining a database for these many subscriptions would entail very significant costs. In Nigeria, even after the government and the four telecom operators spent around $128M on their system, the telcos still experienced plenty of problems during implementation.

Disenfranchising the Marginalized. Another lesser known but very relevant issue is how SIM card registration can also arrest and negatively impact legitimate mobile phone use. Logistical difficulties, financial costs, and the privacy risks connected with the registration process is sure to affect people’s purchase and use of SIM cards. This could potentially lead to some sectors or groups getting disincentivized or discriminated upon, as a consequence. Take the case of persons with limited mobility (e.g., handicapped, resident of remote areas, etc.) who will be placed at a clear disadvantage if registration requires personal appearance. Such a system would also exclude those without official identification—a fairly common scenario in developing countries that usually have poor identification systems. For example, in South Africa, mobile operators had their respective customer bases decrease after their mandatory SIM card registration system took effect.

One Idea Too Late. Finally, there is the future of telecommunications wherein SIM cards themselves become obsolete. Telcos often point out that, given the way technology is developing right now, we may all be heading towards a future wherein phones and other related communication devices would no longer need a SIM card to operate. This prospect, they say, is almost already here. If this is true, we would all be investing on an elaborate and expensive system that’s anchored on something that may not be around for much longer.

These issues will hopefully make it to subsequent discussions in Congress. Responsible legislators should see to that. Those behind the current proposal, including law enforcement and the armed forces, should address them directly. Meanwhile, agencies like the National Privacy Commission and the Commission on Human Rights should be clear on where they draw the line. As part of the government, it is to be expected that they will concede some points and compromise. Nonetheless, their primary mandates demand that they stand firm in fighting for the rights of the people, particularly against any excesses that their peers in government may be guilty of.

Finally, one should remember that a good policy on a specific subject can only be hammered out if it is preceded by a balanced and comprehensive discussion of all issues among the different stakeholders involved. It should take into account every possible scenario it can give rise to, surface any latent problems, and provide for remedies and solutions, if negative consequences are unavoidable. Few policies get to do all these, of course. But rather than take it as a foregone conclusion, we should all see it as a challenge waiting to be overcome.

For additional information about this issue, you may also check out a briefing paper here.

Jamael Jacob is a lawyer specializing in the field of law, ICT, and human rights. He is currently the Director of the University Data Protection Office of the Ateneo de Manila University, and Policy and Legal Advisor to the Foundation for Media Alternatives. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the organizations he is currently affiliated with.

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President Duterte orders soldiers to shoot women in the vagina

Rappler Talk Sereno speaks out on grudges, reforms and her staying power

Rappler Talk: Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales

JBC's interview with Assoc. Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

Rappler Talk: Making China follow the rule of law

The Philippines' Drug Problem: Hitmen, Dealers And Duterte’s War On Addicts

Rappler's Pia Ranada questions Harry Roque re: ban vs. Rappler

Early Edition: Monsod, "Implement reforms first before Cha-Cha"

[Right Of Way] The fault in our signs, part 1

[Right Of Way] The fault in our signs, part 2

[Right Of Way] The fault in our signs, part 3

Bayan Ko -- Lea Salonga

Cardinal Tagle delivers homily at Walk for Life 2018


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Imagine Being Locked Up in Prison because of Bad Forensics | Regan Hines

See - Imagine Being Locked Up in Prison because of Bad Forensics | Regan Hines 

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Imagine Being Locked Up in Prison because of Bad Forensics

How many more innocent Americans must be imprisoned before we get junk science out of the courtroom?

by Regan Hines
In 1978, a cab driver was robbed and killed in front of his home. Police recovered a stocking mask near the scene of the crime and an FBI analyst testified that hairs found on the mask matched the hair of seventeen-year-old suspect Santae Tribble. He had half a dozen alibi witnesses, but the strength of this testimony and the prosecutor exaggerating that there was perhaps “one chance in ten million” that the hair could have belonged to anyone other than Tribble was enough for the jury to convict him of murder.

In 2012, DNA testing proved none of the hairs were Tribble’s, and one of the 13 hairs wasn’t even human but came from a dog. Sandra K. Levick, Tribble’s lawyer wrote, “Such is the true state of hair microscopy, two FBI-trained analysts could not even distinguish human hairs from canine hairs.”
This Is Not Unusual

Santae Tribble served three decades in prison and is one of the over 2,000 people that have been wrongfully convicted since 1989 according to The National Registry of Exonerations. This number grows every year and 2016 set another record with 166 exonerations. Many believe this is just the tip of the iceberg because in most cases there is no DNA or other new evidence available to prove innocence. Radley Balko, a journalist at the Washington Post who has covered this topic extensively, breaks this down, writing:

“The percentage of all cases in which DNA testing conclusively proves or disproves guilt is small — 10 percent at most. But the flaws in the system that DNA exposed in those 10 percent of cases almost certainly persist throughout the system, and likely at about the same rates. Today, provided that it’s done correctly (by no means a given, because human beings will always be doing the collecting), DNA testing can make us reasonably certain that the system will get it right nearly all the time for that 10 percent of cases. But if we don’t correct the problems DNA testing originally exposed in those 10 percent of cases, those problems will continue to plague the remaining 90 percent of cases.”

One problem that continues to plague the justice system is the use of unreliable forensic evidence. Out of the 351 cases in which the Innocence Project used DNA to exonerate wrongfully convicted defendants, flawed forensic evidence contributed in nearly half.

Many Americans, especially those who think shows like Forensic Files and CSI accurately represent real life, believe that forensic evidence presented in criminal trials must be valid. But we have known for yearsthat many forensic evidence techniques are highly subjective and unreliable. This is especially true of the pattern-based methods like hair and bite-mark comparisons.

An NPR article outlines a particularly tragic example demonstrating this phenomenon:

“Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer are Mississippi men who spent a combined 30 years in prison for crimes they didn't commit. They were separately charged with sexually assaulting and murdering two 3-year-old girls — in two separate crimes — two years apart.

Dr. Steven Hayne, the pathologist who conducted both autopsies, said he suspected the girls had been bitten. A forensic dentist, Dr. Michael West, testified in both trials that the teeth marks found on both girls matched those of Brooks and Brewer.

After an investigation led by the Mississippi Innocence Project, Brooks and Brewer were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2008. The lab that cleared the men also generated a DNA profile of a new suspect — Justin Albert Johnson. He confessed to both crimes and is currently awaiting trial.”

It gets worse. The marks were likely not caused by human bites at all but from “routine decomposition or fish, turtle and insect activity in the water where the bodies were found,” according to an expert panel hired by the Innocence Project.
Bad Methods and Shoddy Science

Erroneous bite-mark evidence has contributed to over twenty wrongful convictions. There is no scientific evidence backing the validity of bite-mark analysis. And yet this kind of testimony is routinely deemed admissible in courtrooms across the country. In fact, not one court has ever rejected it.

Even with less subjective methods like fingerprint analysis, confirmation bias can lead to errors. In the 2004 Madrid train bombings, FBI examiners definitively declared that a fingerprint found on a bag containing explosives used in the attack matched a lawyer from Oregon named Brandon Mayfield. He was on a terrorism watch list and the FBI felt he was their best suspect. It later turned out the FBI examiners got it wrong. Spanish authorities matched the prints to an Algerian national named Ouhnane Daoud.

Mark Godsey writes about this case in his book Blind Injustice,

“Later, the FBI acknowledged that confirmation bias played a role in the misidentifications. Indeed, three different FBI fingerprint examiners — and Mayfield’s own defense expert — may have succumbed to the bias and erroneously declared a match as a result. This happened despite clear discrepancies between Mayfield’s print and the bomber’s, ones obvious to the Spanish experts. The biases of the American experts did not allow them to see those discrepancies. The experts saw only what they expected to see, and their minds did not register anything else.”

Despite countless examples and an extensive body of research demonstrating the extraordinary power of confirmation bias, most crime labs don’t actively safeguard against its influence. Godsey describes his experience as a federal prosecutor in New York City:

“In my days as a prosecutor, we routinely told experts examining our evidence what outcome we needed… It was run-of-the-mill for us. If it were a ballistics test, we might say, ‘Confirm that the bullets came from the defendant’s gun,’ or, ‘We believe these are from the defendant’s gun, so please run the test to confirm.’”

An expert in any other field conducting an experiment or analysis with this kind of blatant disregard for basic scientific standards would be denounced and their findings promptly dismissed.

If that’s not enough to undermine confidence in the work of crime labs, Godsey goes on to write,

“In some jurisdictions, it gets even worse — lab technicians are not only told the “right” answer before they begin, but they have a financial incentive to provide that answer to law enforcement. Indeed, some jurisdictions provide the lab with an additional fee — taken out of the defendant’s court costs! — which kicks in only if the defendant is convicted.”
Failure to Reform

Several scientific bodies have looked at this issue and found a lack of standards and routine use of unreliable forensic methods in criminal trials.

Countless stories and scientific reports have exposed the disastrous state of forensic science in American courtrooms.

In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a scathing report titled, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. This report outlined shortcomings in forensic techniques and made several recommendations for reform. Most significantly, it urged the creation of a National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS) to “remove all public forensic laboratories and facilities from administrative control of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices.” And it advised that NIFS should “develop standard operating procedures… to minimize, to the greatest extent reasonably possible, potential bias and sources of human error in forensic practice.”

Sadly, eight years later, this advice has largely gone unheeded. And just last year, another report, this time from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), reiterated the shortcomings of forensic science and urged reforms. But then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch demurred, saying, “While we appreciate their contribution to the field of scientific inquiry, the department will not be adopting the recommendations related to the admissibility of forensic science evidence.”

In 2013, the Justice Department did adopt one recommendation from the NAS report, creating the National Commission on Forensic Science, but Jeff Sessions ended support for it and allowed its charter to expire this year, leaving much of its work unfinished.

No justice system is perfect, but countless stories and scientific reports have exposed the disastrous state of forensic science in American courtrooms. The least we can do is learn from these tragic cases and implement common-sense reforms to prevent more wrongful convictions based on junk science.

Regan Hines is a filmmaker and partner at Life Is My Movie Entertainment. His latest film is the feature-length documentary Incarcerating US.

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Why Are Cops Unaccountable? (with Clark Neily an...

"Jay Schweikert and Clark Neily join us for a conversation on law enforcement and accountability. We also discuss qualified immunity and how technology is helping to combat police misconduct."

Saguisag warns threats to democracy remain 32 years after EDSA

Filipinos 'threatened by something worse than Martial Law'

"President Trump can levy tariffs without Congress" by Patrick Gillespie, @CNNMoney January 23, 2017

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Here are three of the ways Trump can go after other countries on his own.

1. Trump's biggest weapon: Unlimited tariffs 'during time of war'

Trump could invoke the "Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917" to hit a nation with tariffs as high as he wants. Under the law, the president can restrict all types of trade "during time of war." That definition is very loose though.

America doesn't have to be at war with a particular nation -- it just has to be "at war" somewhere in the world in order to apply tariffs against other countries.

Experts believe U.S. special forces in Syria and Libya would suffice to meet that requirement for Trump to hit countries such as China and Mexico with tariffs.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon used this act to impose a 10% import tariff (not directed at any particular nation) citing the Korean War, which had ended nearly two decades prior. Technically, America was still in a state of emergency which had not lifted.

All to say: the excuse of war has a very loose interpretation that the President can use.

2. Trump's next best weapon: unlimited tariffs during 'national emergency'

If that law sounds too outdated for Trump to use, there's another -- the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.

It gives the president authority to use tariffs on another country during a "national emergency." Again, defining an emergency is vague. Losing manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China would suffice as one. Also, courts have never rejected a president's reasoning.

The big difference between this Act and the one from 1917 is that Trump can't seize assets using this one. But that's not his aim anyway.

This law has been invoked against Nicaragua, Panama, Sierra Leone and Somalia. It was used "in circumstances that few observers would characterize as an unusual or extraordinary threat," says Hufbauer.

3. Trump's limited options: hit specific industries or low tariffs on everyone

Trump can also rely on the Trade Act of 1974, Section 122. It gives him authority to impose across-the-board tariffs.

Trump just needs to find "an adverse impact on national security from imports." Lost jobs could qualify.

The caveat: There is a cap on the tariffs of 15% and it's only good for 150 days. Then Congress needs to approve it. So, it's a blunt rule that could have a severe short term impact but it expires after five months, unless it is extended by Congress.

Trump can also use the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Ronald Reagan used this one. It allows Trump to slap targeted tariffs on certain industries, like steel. It's not as broad, but Trump can raise tariffs as high as he wants on specific things.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Constitution in Practice: From Liberty to Leviathan

Our Republican Constitution (with Randy E. Barnett)

How American Politics Went Insane (with Jonathan Rauch)

Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government

How New Technology Is Changing Law Enforcement

The Fight for Free Speech in the Courts (with Paul Sherman)

Hume and the Politics of Enlightenment

Skepticism About Distributive Justice

How Well Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?

Natural Rights and the Moral Foundations of Libertarianism

Red Herring - Critical Thinking Fallacies

Autonomous Weapons Ban or Regulate ?

Human Shield

Protecting Refugees: It's a Human Rights Issue

Human Shields and the regulation of armed conflict

Armed Conflict Survey 2017

United States Drone Strikes Defy International Law

Is the Just War Theory Still Relevant? - Howard Zinn

Jus Cogens , Peremptory norms explained

Universal jurisdiction

Speedy Trial Rights

Burma: Methodical Massacre at Rohingya Village

California's marijuana muddle

What Is Martial Law And How Does It Work?

Why Does America Love Guns?

What Is A Coup d'État And How Common Are They?

What Is A War Crime?

The collapse of Venezuela, explained

The Truth About Medical Marijuana

The Truth on Why Cannabis IS Illegal.

Legalizing Pot

What’s next for marijuana legalization

Legalizing Marijuana: The Public Health Pros and Cons

Marijuana: The Latest Scientific Findings and Legalization

Climate Change: Health and Disease Threats

Marijuana Policy in the Trump Era

The Domestic Violence Crisis

Ethics of Organ Donation and Transplantation

Race, Criminal Justice and Health | The Forum at HSPH

HRW/ACLU: Decriminalize Drug Possession

Let's quit abusing drug users

Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure

How The War On Drugs Betrayed America

Police States and Private Markets | by Jeff Deist

The State's Worst Atrocity | by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

On Equality and Inequality | by Ludwig von Mises

You Didn't Consent to be the State's Victim | by Walter Block

Why the Cost of Government Is Higher Than You Think | by Gary Galles

"If the present administration is sleeping on their job, it's our duty to wake them up and to tell them to protect our sovereign rights," said Carpio. "Once we lose our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, we can never get it back... China will never return it."

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — China's continued militarization in disputed islands in the South China Sea is a national threat, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Thursday.

"Every military and security analyst I know here and abroad agree that those military structures are designed to enforce the nine-dash line as China's national boundary," Carpio said on CNN Philippines' The Source. "In other words, [they're] there to grab the (exclusive economic zone) of the Philippines."

Carpio was responding to President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that China's military bases were developed to counter the United States.

"It's really intended against those who the Chinese think will destroy them, and that is America. Wala tayong kasali diyan [We're not involved]," Duterte said.

Duterte then reiterated that the Philippines could not afford to go to war. Under his term, the country has had warmer relations with the eastern giant, with Philippine officials refusing to raise the arbitral tribunal ruling that favors Philippine claims over the islands.

Carpio said that the dispute between China and the U.S. was about freedom of navigation and overflight, and China's presence on the disputed islands was for a different purpose.

He said the bases were "daggers pointed at our national security."

"From those islands, fighter jets can reach Palawan in less than 20 minutes. Radar facilities in those islands can detect any aircraft that lands or takes off from Palawan," said Carpio.

"They can easily send patrols to the Reed Bank to stop us from getting the gas," he added.

The Associate Justice recalled an incident in 2011 when a seismic surveying ship from the Philippines was blocked access to Reed Bank, a feature within the Philippines' EEZ.
Possible action points for PH

Carpio had three main proposals for how to assert the Philippines' rights over the disputed territory. One of these is a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia and Vietnam.

"By signing a sea boundary agreement with them, we are fortifying the ruling, [which] states there are no EEZs from those islands in the Spratly's. If there are no EEZs, there are no overlapping EEZs with Vietnam [and] Malaysia," said Carpio.

The justice also said the Philippines should file an extended continental shelf claim off the coast of Luzon.

"The only country that can oppose is China. If China does not oppose, then it will be awarded to us by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, just like Benham Rise," Carpio explained.

He said that if China would counter the Philippines' claim, it could no longer use the argumentation of the nine-dash line, which the arbitral tribunal invalidated.

Carpio's last suggestion was to send seismic survey vessels to Reed Bank, and to take the case to the arbitral tribunal if they were blocked from the area.

The Philippines should argue that it was suffering damages by not being able to access the natural gas, Carpio said. The Philippines is anticipating an energy shortage within the decade, and Reed Bank is one of the alternative sources.

"If China stops our seismic vessel, we can go to [the] UNCLOS tribunal... Then we can demand actual damages," he said.

Carpio added that if the Philippines is filing diplomatic protests, they have to make this public for the people's information.

"If the present administration is sleeping on their job, it's our duty to wake them up and to tell them to protect our sovereign rights," said Carpio. "Once we lose our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, we can never get it back... China will never return it."

Watch The Source's full interview with Carpio here.
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Rodrigo Duterte - The Philippines’ Divisive President