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The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment

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Oct 032015

Participants consoling each other during a candlelight vigil for the nine people who were killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday. The gunman also was killed. Credit photograph by Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The tragedy happensyesterday at a school in Oregon, and then as it will againexactly as predicted, and uniquely here. It hardly seems worth the energy to once again make the same essential point that the Presidenthis growing exasperation and disbelief moving, if not effective, as he serves as national mournerhas now made again: we know how to fix this. Gun control ends gun violence as surely an antibiotics end bacterial infections, as surely as vaccines end childhood measlesnot perfectly and in every case, but overwhelmingly and everywhere that its been taken seriously and tried at length. These lives can be saved. Kids continue to die en masse because one political party wont allow that to change, and the partywont allow it to change because of the irrational and often paranoid fixations that make the massacre of students and children an acceptable cost of fetishizing guns.

In the course of todays conversation, two issues may come up, treated in what is now called a trolling tonepretending to show concern but actually standing in the way of real argument. One is the issue of mental health and this particular killers apparent religious bigotry. Everyone crazy enough to pick up a gun and kill many people is crazy enough to have an ideology to attach to the act. The pointthe only pointis that, everywhere else, that person rants in isolation or on his keyboard; only in America do we cheerfully supply him with military-style weapons to express his rage. As the otherwise reliably Republican (but still Canadian-raised) David Frum wisely writes: Every mass shooter has his own hateful motive. They all use the same tool.

More standard, and seemingly more significant, is the claimoften made by those who say they recognize the tragedy of mass shootings and pretend, at least, that they would like to see gun sanity reign in Americathat the Second Amendment acts as a barrier to anything like the gun laws, passed after mass shootings, that have saved so many lives in Canada and Australia. Like it or not, according to this argument, the Constitution limits our ability to control the number and kinds of guns in private hands. Even the great Jim Jeffries, in his memorable standup on American madness, says, Why cant you change the Second Amendment? Its an amendment!as though further amending it were necessary to escape it.

In point of historical and constitutional fact, nothing could be further from the truth: the only amendment necessary for gun legislation, on the local or national level, is the Second Amendment itself, properly understood, as it was for two hundred years in its plain original sense. This sense can be summed up in a sentence: if the Founders hadnt wanted guns to be regulated, and thoroughly, they would not have put the phrase well regulated in the amendment. (A quick thought experiment: What if those words were not in the preamble to the amendment and a gun-sanity group wanted to insert them? Would the National Rifle Association be for or against this change? Its obvious, isnt it?)

The confusion is contemporary. (And, let us hope, temporary.) It rises from the younger-than-springtime decision D.C. v. Heller, from 2008, when Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a 54 majority, insisted that, whether he wanted it to or not, the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own a weapon. (A certain disingenuous show of disinterestedness is typical of his opinions.)

This was an astounding constitutional reading, or misreading, as original as Citizens United, and as idiosyncratic as the reasoning in Bush v. Gore, which found a conclusive principle designed to be instantly discardedor, for that matter, as the readiness among the courts right wing to overturn a health-care law passed by a supermajority of the legislature over a typo. Anyone who wants to both grasp that decisions radicalism and get a calm, instructive view of what the Second Amendment does say, and was intended to say, and was always before been understood to say, should read Justice John Paul Stevenss brilliant, persuasive dissent in that case. Every person who despairs of the sanity of the country should read it, at least once, not just for its calm and irrefutable case-making but as a reminder of what sanity sounds like.

Stevens, a Republican judge appointed by a Republican President, brilliantly analyzes the history of the amendment, making it plain that for Scalia, et al., to arrive at their view, they have to reference not the deliberations that produced the amendment but, rather, bring in British common law and lean on interpretations that arose long after the amendment was passed. Both keep arms and bear arms, he demonstrates, were, in the writers day, military terms used in military contexts. (Gary Wills has usefully illuminated this truth in the New York Review of Books.) The intent of the Second Amendment, Stevens explains, was obviously to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. The one seemingly sound argument in the Scalia decisionthat the people in the Second Amendment ought to be the same people referenced in the other amendments, that is, everybodyis exactly the interpretation that the preamble was meant to guard against.

Stevenss dissent should be read in full, but his conclusion in particular is clear and ringing:

The right the Court announces [in Heller] was not enshrined in the Second Amendment by the Framers; it is the product of todays law-changing decision. . . . Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia. The Courts announcement of a new constitutional right to own and use firearms for private purposes upsets that settled understanding . . .

Justice Stevens and his colleagues were not saying, a mere seven years ago, that the gun-control legislation in dispute in Heller alone was constitutional within the confines of the Second Amendment. They were asserting that essentially every kind of legislation concerning guns in the hands of individuals was compatible with the Second Amendmentindeed, that regulating guns in individual hands was one of the purposes for which the amendment was offered.

So there is no need to amend the Constitution, or to alter the historical understanding of what the Second Amendment meant. No new reasoning or tortured rereading is needed to reconcile the Constitution with common sense. All that is necessary for sanity to rule again, on the question of guns, is to restore the amendment to its commonly understood meaning as it was articulated by this wise Republican judge a scant few years ago. And all you need for that is one saner and, in the true sense, conservative Supreme Court vote. One Presidential election could make that happen.

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The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment

Fourth Amendment – National Constitution Center

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Sep 302015

The Fourth Amendment

Imagine youre driving a car, and a police officer spots you and pulls you over for speeding. He orders you out of the car. Maybe he wants to place you under arrest. Or maybe he wants to search your car for evidence of a crime. Can the officer do that?

The Fourth Amendment is the part of the Constitution that gives the answer. According to the Fourth Amendment, the people have a right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. This right limits the power of the police to seize and search people, their property, and their homes.

The Fourth Amendment has been debated frequently during the last several years, as police and intelligence agencies in the United States have engaged in a number of controversial activities. The federal government has conducted bulk collection of Americans telephone and Internet connections as part of the War on Terror. Many municipal police forces have engaged in aggressive use of stop and frisk. There have been a number of highly-publicized police-citizen encounters in which the police ended up shooting a civilian. There is also concern about the use of aerial surveillance, whether by piloted aircraft or drones.

The application of the Fourth Amendment to all these activities would have surprised those who drafted it, and not only because they could not imagine the modern technologies like the Internet and drones. They also were not familiar with organized police forces like we have today. Policing in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was a responsibility of the citizenry, which participated in night watches. Other than that, there was only a loose collection of sheriffs and constables, who lacked the tools to maintain order as the police do today.

The primary concerns of the generation that ratified the Fourth Amendment were general warrants and writs of assistance. Famous incidents on both sides of the Atlantic gave rise to placing the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution. In Britain, the Crown employed general warrants to go after political enemies, leading to the famous decisions in Wilkes v. Wood (1763) and Entick v. Carrington (1765). General warrants allowed the Crowns messengers to search without any cause to believe someone had committed an offense. In those cases the judges decided that such warrants violated English common law. In the colonies the Crown used the writs of assistancelike general warrants, but often unbounded by time restraintsto search for goods on which taxes had not been paid. James Otis challenged the writs in a Boston court; though he lost, some such as John Adams attribute this legal battle as the spark that led to the Revolution. Both controversies led to the famous notion that a persons home is their castle, not easily invaded by the government.

Today the Fourth Amendment is understood as placing restraints on the government any time it detains (seizes) or searches a person or property. The Fourth Amendment also provides that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The idea is that to avoid the evils of general warrants, each search or seizure should be cleared in advance by a judge, and that to get a warrant the government must show probable causea certain level of suspicion of criminal activityto justify the search or seizure.

To the extent that a warrant is required in theory before police can search, there are so many exceptions that in practice warrants rarely are obtained. Police can search automobiles without warrants, they can detain people on the street without them, and they can always search or seize in an emergency without going to a judge.

The way that the Fourth Amendment most commonly is put into practice is in criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court decided in the mid-twentieth century that if the police seize evidence as part of an illegal search, the evidence cannot be admitted into court. This is called the exclusionary rule. It is controversial because in most cases evidence is being tossed out even though it shows the person is guilty and, as a result of the police conduct, they might avoid conviction. The criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered, declared Benjamin Cardozo (a famous judge and ultimately Supreme Court justice). But, responded another Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis, If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law.

One of the difficult questions today is what constitutes a search? If the police standing in Times Square in New York watched a person planting a bomb in plain daylight, we would not think they needed a warrant or any cause. But what about installing closed circuit TV cameras on poles, or flying drones over backyards, or gathering evidence that you have given to a third party such as an Internet provider or a banker?

Another hard question is when a search is acceptable when the government has no suspicion that a person has done something wrong. Lest the answer seem to be never, think of airport security. Surely it is okay for the government to screen people getting on airplanes, yet the idea is as much to deter people from bringing weapons as it is to catch themthere is no cause, probable or otherwise, to think anyone has done anything wrong. This is the same sort of issue with bulk data collection, and possibly with gathering biometric information.

What should be clear by now is that advancing technology and the many threats that face society add up to a brew in which the Fourth Amendment will continue to play a central role.

In the Supreme Courts decisions interpreting the Fourth Amendment, there are a lot of cross-cutting arguments.

The biggest challenge ahead for the Fourth Amendment is how it should apply to computers and the Internet.

What the Fourth Amendment Fundamentally Requires by Barry Friedman

In the Supreme Courts decisions interpreting the Fourth Amendment, there are a lot of cross-cutting arguments.

For example, sometimes the Justices say that there is a strong preference for government agents to obtain warrants, and that searches without warrants are presumptively invalid. At other times they say warrants are unnecessary, and the only requirement is that searches be reasonable. At times the Justices say probable cause is required to support a search; at others they say probable cause is not an irreducible minimum.

This is your Fourth Amendment. It describes [t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. It is important for each American to focus on some basics and decideseparate and apart from what the Justices saywhat this vital amendment means.

People say that the Fourth Amendment protects privacy, but that trivializes it. In this world you give up a lot of privacy, whether you wish to or not. Internet cookies, or data stored in web browsers, are just one example. But the Internet companies are not going to come take you away. The government might. What the Fourth Amendment protects is the right of the people to be secure. The Fourth Amendment is the means of keeping the government out of our lives and our property unless it has good justification.

In evaluating how the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted, it is essential to bear in mind the vast changes in policing since the time it was ratified. Whereas policing once was reactive, tasked with identifying and catching criminals, today it has become proactive and is based in deterrence. Before, policing was mostly based on suspicion, it was aimed at people for whom there was cause to believe they had violated or were about to violate the law. Today, policing is aimed at all of usfrom red light cameras to bulk data collection by intelligence agencies to airport security.

There are some basic principles that should govern searches and seizures.

First, no member of the Executive branch should be permitted to intervene in our lives without the say-so of at least one other branch. This is fundamental, and all the more important when that Executive actor engages in surveillance of the citizenry and can use force and coercion against them.

Second, a central purpose of the Fourth Amendment is preventing arbitrary or unjustified intrusions into the lives and property of citizens.

In light of these basic principles, certain interpretations of the Fourth Amendment follow:

No search or seizure is reasonable if it is not based on either legislative authorization or pursuant to rules that have some form of democratic say in their making. The police can write rulesall other agencies of executive government dobut absent a critical need for secrecy those rules should be public and responsive to public wishes.

Second, warrants are to be preferred. Policing agencies are mission-oriented. We want them to bethey have a vital role protecting public safety. But because they are mission-oriented, warrants should be obtained in advance of searching whenever possible so that a neutral judge can assess the need to intrude on peoples lives.

Third, we should distinguish between searches aimed at suspects and those aimed at society in general. When there is a particular suspect, the protections of a warrant and probable cause apply. But those protections make no sense when we are all the target of policing. In the latter instance the most important protection is that policing not discriminate among us. For example, at airport security all must be screened the same unless and until there is suspicioncause to single someone out.

Finally, often todays policing singles out a particular group. Examples include profiling (based on race, religion, or something else) or subjecting only workers in some agencies to drug tests. When policing is group-based, the proper clause of the Constitution to govern is the Equal Protection Clause. When discriminatory searching or seizing occurs, the government should have to prove two things: that the group it is selecting for unfavorable treatment truly is more likely to contain people worthy of the governments attention, and that the incidence of problematic behavior is sufficiently great in that group to justify burdening everyone. Otherwise, the government should go back to either searching individuals based on suspicion, or search us all.

The Future of the Fourth Amendment by Orin Kerr

The biggest challenge ahead for the Fourth Amendment is how it should apply to computers and the Internet.

The Fourth Amendment was written over two hundred years ago. But todays crimes often involve computers and the Internet, requiring the police to collect digital evidence and analyze it to solve crimes.

The major question is, how much power should the police have to collect this data? What is an unreasonable search and seizure on the Internet?

Consider the example of a Facebook account. If you log in to Facebook, your use of the account sends a tremendous amount of information to Facebook. Facebook keeps records of everything. What you post, what messages you send, what pictures you like, even what pages you view. Facebook gets it all, and it keeps records of everything you do. Now imagine that the police come to Facebook and want records of a particular user. The police think the suspect used Facebook to commit the crime or shared evidence of the crime using the site. Maybe the suspect was cyberstalking and harassing a victim on Facebook. Or maybe the suspect is a drug dealer who was exchanging messages with another drug dealer planning a future crime. Or perhaps the suspect committed a burglary, and he posted pictures of the burglary for all of his Facebook friends to see.

Heres the hard question: What limits does the Fourth Amendment impose on the government getting access to the account records? For example, is it a Fourth Amendment search or seizure for the government to get what a person posted on his Facebook wall for all of his friends to see? Is it a search or seizure to get the messages that the suspect sent? How about records of what page the suspect viewed? And if it is a search or seizure, how much can the government seize with a warrant? Can the government get access to all of the account records? Only some of the account records?

The courts have only begun to answer these questions, and it will be up to future courts to figure out what the Fourth Amendment requires. As more people spend much of their lives online, the stakes of answering these questions correctly becomes higher and higher.

In my view, courts should try to answer these questions by translating the traditional protections of the Fourth Amendment from the physical world to the networked world. In the physical world, the Fourth Amendment strikes a balance. The government is free to do many things without constitutional oversight. The police can watch people in the public street or watch a suspect in a public place. They can follow a car as it drives down the street. On the other hand, the police need cause to stop people, and they need a warrant to enter private places like private homes.

The goal for interpreting the Fourth Amendment should be to strike that same balance in the online setting. Just like in the physical world, the police should be able to collect some evidence without restriction to ensure that they can investigate crimes. And just like in the physical world, there should be limits on what the government can do to ensure that the police do not infringe upon important civil liberties.

A second important area is the future of the exclusionary rule, the rule that evidence unconstitutionally obtained cannot be used in court. The history of the exclusionary rule is a history of change. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court dramatically expanded the exclusionary rule. Since the 1980s, however, the Supreme Court has cut back on when the exclusionary rule applies.

The major disagreement is over whether and how the exclusionary rule should apply when the police violate the Fourth Amendment, but do so in good faith, such as when the law is unclear or the violation is only technical. In the last decade, a majority of the Justices have expanded the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. A central question is whether the good faith exception will continue to expand, and if so, how far.

In the Supreme Courts decisions interpreting the Fourth Amendment, there are a lot of cross-cutting arguments.

The biggest challenge ahead for the Fourth Amendment is how it should apply to computers and the Internet.

Fourth Amendment – National Constitution Center

Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution |

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Sep 282015

Fourth Amendment,amendment (1791) to the Constitution of the United States, part of the Bill of Rights, that forbids unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals and property. For the text of the Fourth Amendment, see below.

Introduced in 1789, what became the Fourth Amendment struck at the heart of a matter central to the early American experience: the principle that, within reason, Every mans house is his castle, and that any citizen may fall into the category of the criminally accused and ought to be provided protections accordingly. In U.S. constitutional law, the Fourth Amendment is the foundation of criminal law jurisprudence, articulating both the rights of persons and the responsibilities of law-enforcement officials. The balance between these two forces has undergone considerable public, political, and judicial debate. Are the amendments two clauses meant to be applied independently or taken as a whole? Is the expectation of privacy diminished depending on where and what is suspected, sought, and seized? What constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure?

The protections contained in the amendment have been determined less on the basis of what the Constitution says than according to what it has been interpreted to mean, and, as such, its constitutional meaning has inherently been fluid. The protections granted by the U.S. Supreme Court have expanded during periods when the court was dominated by liberals (e.g., during the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren [195369]), beginning particularly with Mapp v. Ohio (1961), in which the court extended the exclusionary rule to all criminal proceedings; by contrast, during the tenure of the conservative William Rehnquist (19862005) as chief justice, the court contracted the rights afforded to the criminally accused, allowing law-enforcement officials latitude to search in instances when they reasonably believed that the property in question harboured presumably dangerous persons.

The full text of the amendment is:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution |

History of Gun Rights – a Timeline of the 2nd Amendment

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Sep 262015

After going virtually unchallenged for more than one hundred years, Americans right to own guns was one of the hottest political topics of the second half of the 20th Century. The issue has calmed somewhat in the early days of the 21st Century, but if history is our guide, the debate is going nowhere until an inevitable and definitive ruling is handed down by the nations courts: does the Second Amendment apply to individual citizens?

1791: The Second Amendment is Ratified

The ink had hardly dried on the ratification papers of the Constitution before a political movement was undertaken to amend the framing document to declare gun ownership as a right.

A select committee assembled to review amendments proposed by James Madison authored the language that would become the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

1871: NRA Founded

The National Rifle Association was founded by a pair of Union soldiers in 1871, not as a political lobby but as an effort to promote the shooting of rifles. However, the organization would grow to become the face of America’s pro-gun lobby in the 20th Century.

1822: Bliss v. Commonwealth Brings Individual Right Into Question

The Second Amendments intent for individual Americans first came into question in 1822, in Bliss v. Commonwealth. The court case arose in Kentucky after a man was indicted for carrying a sword concealed in a cane.

He was convicted and fined $100.

Bliss appealed the conviction, citing a provision in the Commonwealths constitution that states: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned.

In a majority vote with just one judge dissenting, the court overturned the conviction against Bliss and ruled the law unconstitutional and void.

1856: Dred Scott v. Sandford Upholds Individual Right

The Second Amendment as an individual right was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856. With the rights of slaves in question, the nations highest court opined on the intent of the Second Amendment for the first time, writing that affording slaves full rights of American citizenship would include the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

1934: National Firearms Act Brings About First Major Gun Control

The first major effort to eliminate private ownership of firearms came with the National Firearms Act of 1934. A direct response of the rise of gangster violence in general, and the Saint Valentines Day massacre in particular, the National Firearms Act sought to circumvent the Second Amendment by controlling firearms through a tax excise ($200 for each gun sale).

The National Firearms Act targeted fully-automatic weapons, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, pen and cane guns, and other firearms defined as gangster weapons.

1938: Federal Firearms Act Requires License for Dealers

The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 required anyone selling or shipping firearms to be licensed through the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Federal Firearms License (FFL) stipulated that guns could not be sold to persons convicted of certain crimes and required sellers to log the names and addresses of anyone they sold guns to.

1968: Gun Control Act Ushers In New Regulations

Thirty years after Americas first sweeping reform of gun laws, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy helped to usher in new federal legislation with wide-ranging implications. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited mail order sales of rifles and shotguns, increased license requirements for sellers and broadened the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm to include convicted felons, drug users and the mentally incompetent.

1994: Brady Act and Assault Weapons Ban

Two new federal laws passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 became the hallmark of gun control efforts of the latter 20th Century.

The first, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, required a five-day waiting period and background check for the sale of handguns, while also requiring a National Instant Criminal Background Check System to be created. The second, the Assault Weapons Ban (officially entitled the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act) banned a number of rifles defined as assault weapons, including many semi-automatic, military-style rifles such as the AK-47 and SKS.

2004: Assault Weapons Ban Sunsets

A Republican-controlled Congress refused to pass a reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, allowing the ban to expire. President George W. Bush was criticized by gun control supporters for not actively pressuring Congress to renew the ban, while gun rights supporters criticized him for indicating that he would sign a reauthorization if Congress passed it.

2008: D.C. v. Heller is a Major Setback for Gun Control

Gun rights proponents were thrilled in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment extends gun ownership rights to individuals. The decision affirmed an earlier decision by a lower appeals court and struck down handgun bans in Washington D.C. as unconstitutional.

The case was lauded as the first Supreme Court case to affirm the right of an individual to keep and bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment. However, the ruling applied only to federal enclaves, such as the District of Columbia. Justices did not opine on the Second Amendments application to the states.

2010: Gun Owners Score Another Victory in McDonald v. Chicago

Gun rights supporters scored their second major Supreme Court victory in 2010, when the high court affirmed the individual right to own guns in McDonald v. Chicago.

The ruling, which was an inevitable follow-up to D.C. v. Heller, marked the first time that the Supreme Court ruled the provisions of the Second Amendment extend to the states. The ruling overturned an earlier decision by a lower court in a legal challenge to Chicagos ordinance banning the possession of handguns by its citizens.

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History of Gun Rights – a Timeline of the 2nd Amendment

Annenberg Classroom – Second Amendment

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Sep 262015

Second Amendment – The Text A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Second Amendment – The Meaning Right to Bear Arms: The principal debate surrounding the Second Amendment has been whether the right to use and buy guns belongs to individuals or only to a militia. Starting in 2008, in two cases, the Supreme Court accepted the view that Americans have the right to arm themselves for personal use in their home and applied it to federal, state and local laws. The courts have permitted the government to limit some rights of gun manufacturers, owners and sellers. Today, questions about the Second Amendment center on bans on assault weapons, mandatory background checks, waiting periods, and other restrictions on gun sales or use. Gun control legislation varies widely among the fifty states.

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Annenberg Classroom – Second Amendment

The Second Amendment: The Framers Intentions

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Sep 262015

by Daniel J. Schultz

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The reference to a “well regulated” militia, probably conjures up a connotation at odds with the meaning intended by the Framers. In today’s English, the term “well regulated” probably implies heavy and intense government regulation. However, that conclusion is erroneous.

The words “well regulated” had a far different meaning at the time the Second Amendment was drafted. In the context of the Constitution’s provisions for Congressional power over certain aspects of the militia, and in the context of the Framers’ definition of “militia,” government regulation was not the intended meaning. Rather, the term meant only what it says, that the necessary militia be well regulated, but not by the national government.

To determine the meaning of the Constitution, one must start with the words of the Constitution itself. If the meaning is plain, that meaning controls. To ascertain the meaning of the term “well regulated” as it was used in the Second Amendment, it is necessary to begin with the purpose of the Second Amendment itself. The overriding purpose of the Framers in guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms was as a check on the standing army, which the Constitution gave the Congress the power to “raise and support.”

As Noah Webster put it in a pamphlet urging ratification of the Constitution, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.” George Mason remarked to his Virginia delegates regarding the colonies’ recent experience with Britain, in which the Monarch’s goal had been “to disarm the people; that [that] . . . was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” A widely reprinted article by Tench Coxe, an ally and correspondent of James Madison, described the Second Amendment’s overriding goal as a check upon the national government’s standing army: As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

Thus, the well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state was a militia that might someday fight against a standing army raised and supported by a tyrannical national government. Obviously, for that reason, the Framers did not say “A Militia well regulated by the Congress, being necessary to the security of a free State” — because a militia so regulated might not be separate enough from, or free enough from, the national government, in the sense of both physical and operational control, to preserve the “security of a free State.”

It is also helpful to contemplate the overriding purpose and object of the Bill of Rights in general. To secure ratification of the Constitution, the Federalists, urging passage of the Constitution by the States had committed themselves to the addition of the Bill of Rights, to serve as “further guards for private rights.” In that regard, the first ten amendments to the Constitution were designed to be a series of “shall nots,” telling the new national government again, in no uncertain terms, where it could not tread.

It would be incongruous to suppose or suggest the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, which were proscriptions on the powers of the national government, simultaneously acted as a grant of power to the national government. Similarly, as to the term “well regulated,” it would make no sense to suggest this referred to a grant of “regulation” power to the government (national or state), when the entire purpose of the Bill of Rights was to both declare individual rights and tell the national government where the scope of its enumerated powers ended.

In keeping with the intent and purpose of the Bill of Rights both of declaring individual rights and proscribing the powers of the national government, the use and meaning of the term “Militia” in the Second Amendment, which needs to be “well regulated,” helps explain what “well regulated” meant. When the Constitution was ratified, the Framers unanimously believed that the “militia” included all of the people capable of bearing arms.

George Mason, one of the Virginians who refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights, said: “Who are the Militia? They consist now of the whole people.” Likewise, the Federal Farmer, one of the most important Anti-Federalist opponents of the Constitution, referred to a “militia, when properly formed, [as] in fact the people themselves.” The list goes on and on.

By contrast, nowhere is to be found a contemporaneous definition of the militia, by any of the Framers, as anything other than the “whole body of the people.” Indeed, as one commentator said, the notion that the Framers intended the Second Amendment to protect the “collective” right of the states to maintain militias rather than the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms, “remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no known writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis.”

Furthermore, returning to the text of the Second Amendment itself, the right to keep and bear arms is expressly retained by “the people,” not the states. Recently the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this view, finding that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right held by the “people,” — a “term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution,” specifically the Preamble and the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Thus, the term “well regulated” ought to be considered in the context of the noun it modifies, the people themselves, the militia(s).

The above analysis leads us finally to the term “well regulated.” What did these two words mean at the time of ratification? Were they commonly used to refer to a governmental bureaucracy as we know it today, with countless rules and regulations and inspectors, or something quite different? We begin this analysis by examining how the term “regulate” was used elsewhere in the Constitution. In every other instance where the term “regulate” is used, or regulations are referred to, the Constitution specifies who is to do the regulating and what is being “regulated.” However, in the Second Amendment, the Framers chose only to use the term “well regulated” to describe a militia and chose not to define who or what would regulate it.

It is also important to note that the Framers’ chose to use the indefinite article “a” to refer to the militia, rather than the definite article “the.” This choice suggests that the Framers were not referring to any particular well regulated militia but, instead, only to the concept that well regulated militias, made up of citizens bearing arms, were necessary to secure a free State. Thus, the Framers chose not to explicitly define who, or what, would regulate the militias, nor what such regulation would consist of, nor how the regulation was to be accomplished.

This comparison of the Framers’ use of the term “well regulated” in the Second Amendment, and the words “regulate” and “regulation” elsewhere in the Constitution, clarifies the meaning of that term in reference to its object, namely, the Militia. There is no doubt the Framers understood that the term “militia” had multiple meanings. First, the Framers understood all of the people to be part of the unorganized militia. The unorganized militia members, “the people,” had the right to keep and bear arms. They could, individually, or in concert, “well regulate” themselves; that is, they could train to shoot accurately and to learn the basics of military tactics.

This interpretation is in keeping with English usage of the time, which included within the meaning of the verb “regulate” the concept of self- regulation or self-control (as it does still to this day). The concept that the people retained the right to self-regulate their local militia groups (or regulate themselves as individual militia members) is entirely consistent with the Framers’ use of the indefinite article “a” in the phrase “A well regulated Militia.”

This concept of the people’s self-regulation, that is, non-governmental regulation, is also in keeping with the limited grant of power to Congress “for calling forth” the militia for only certain, limited purposes, to “provide for” the militia only certain limited control and equipment, and the limited grant of power to the President regarding the militia, who only serves as Commander in Chief of that portion of the militia called into the actual service of the nation. The “well regula[tion]” of the militia set forth in the Second Amendment was apart from that control over the militia exercised by Congress and the President, which extended only to that part of the militia called into actual service of the Union. Thus, “well regula[tion]” referred to something else. Since the fundamental purpose of the militia was to serve as a check upon a standing army, it would seem the words “well regulated” referred to the necessity that the armed citizens making up the militia(s) have the level of equipment and training necessary to be an effective and formidable check upon the national government’s standing army.

This view is confirmed by Alexander Hamilton’s observation, in The Federalist, No. 29, regarding the people’s militias ability to be a match for a standing army: ” . . . but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights . . . .”

It is an absolute truism that law-abiding, armed citizens pose no threat to other law-abiding citizens. The Framers’ writings show they also believed this. As we have seen, the Framers understood that “well regulated” militias, that is, armed citizens, ready to form militias that would be well trained, self-regulated and disciplined, would pose no threat to their fellow citizens, but would, indeed, help to “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for the common defence.”


1. In constitutional or statutory construction, language should always be accorded its plain meaning. See, e.g., Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304, 326 (1816).

2. “On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 32.

3. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To raise and support Armies . . . .” U.S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 12.

4. Senate Subcommittee On The Constitution Of The Comm. On The Judiciary, 97th Cong., 2d Sess., The Right To Keep And Bear Arms (Comm. Print 1982), at 5.

5. 3 J. Elliot, Debates In The Several State Conventions 380 (2d ed. 1836).

6. Originally published under the pseudonym “A Pennsylvanian,” these “Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution” first appeared in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, at 2, col. 1. They were reprinted by the New York Packet, June 23, 1789, at 2, cols. 1-2, and by the Boston Centennial, July 4, 1789, at 1, col. 2. The U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 83 L. Ed. 2d 1206, 59 S. Ct. 816 (1939), noted that the debates in the Constitutional Convention, the history and legislation of the colonies and states, and the writings of approved commentators showed that the militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense — a body enrolled for military discipline.

7. 11 Papers Of James Madison 307 (R. Rutland & C. Hobson ed. 1977) (letter of Oct. 20, 1788, from Madison to Edmund Pendleton)(emphasis added).

8. An examination of the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights shows that they were designed, like the Second Amendment, to declare rights retained by the people (1-9), or the States (10), and to provide a clear list of powers not given to the national government: “Congress shall make no law . . . .” (Amendment I); “No soldier shall . . . .” (Amendment III); “The right of the people . . . shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue . . . .” (Amendment IV); “No person shall . . .; nor shall any person . . .; nor shall private property be taken . . . .” (Amendment V); “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy . . . .” (Amendment VI); “In Suits at common law . . . the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States . . . .” (Amendment VII); “Excessive bail shall not be required . . . .” (Amendment VIII); “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” (Amendment IX); “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (Amendment X).

9. 3 J. Elliot, Debates In The General State Conventions 425 (3d ed. 1937) (statement of George Mason, June 14, 1788), reprinted in Levinson, The Embarassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L. Rev. 637, 647 (1989). See supra note 6 and accompanying text.

10. Letters From The Federal Farmer To The Republican 123 (W. Bennet ed. 1978) (ascribed to Richard Henry Lee), reprinted in Levinson, supra note 9, at 647. See supra note 6 and accompanying text.

11. S. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, p. 83 (The Independent Institute, 1984).

12. U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 265 (1990) (“The Second Amendment protects ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms’….”).

13. “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.” (Article I, Section 4); “The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes . . . .” (Article I, Section 8, cl. 3); “The Congress shall have power . . . To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures . . . .” (Article I, Section 8, cl. 5); “No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.” (Article I, Section 9); “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” (Article III, Section 2, cl. 2); “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” (Article IV, Section 2, cl. 3); “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular state.” (Article IV, Section 3, cl. 2).

14. See supra, notes 6, 9 and 10 and accompanying text.

15. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following examples of usage for the term “well regulated”: 1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us . . . well-regulated Appetites, and worthy Inclinations.” 1714: “The practice of all well regulated courts of justice in the world.” 1812: “The equation of time . . . is the adjustment of the difference of time, as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.” 1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Major.” 1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.” 1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well- regulated American embryo city.” One definition of the word “well” in the Oxford English Dictionary is “satisfactorily in respect of conduct or action.” One of The Oxford English Dictionary definitions for the term “regulated” is “b. Of troops: Properly disciplined.” The one example of usage is: “1690: Lond. Gaz. No. 2568/3 ‘We hear likewise that the French are in a great Allarm in Dauphine and Bresse, not having at present 1500 Men of regulated Troops on that side.'” The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1989).

16. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions . . . .” U. S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 15.

17. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . . .” U.S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 16.

18. “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States . . . .” U.S. Const., Article II, Section 2, cl. 1.

19. U.S. Const., Preamble. —– from: The “Well Regulated” Militia of the Second Amendment: An Examination of the Framers’ Intentions, THE LIBERTY POLE V.II, No.2, The Official Publication of The Lawyer’s Second Amendment Society.

Daniel J. Schultz is a practicing attorney in Los Angeles and President of LSAS, a nationwide network of pro-right to keep and bear arms attorneys. Contact the LSAS at (818)734-3066 or 18034 Ventura Boulevard, #329, Encino, CA 91316.

—– Brought to you by – The ‘Lectric Law Library The Net’s Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.


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The Second Amendment: The Framers Intentions

Daily SEO Blog – 44 Must Have Content Marketing Tools For …

 SEO  Comments Off on Daily SEO Blog – 44 Must Have Content Marketing Tools For …
Sep 232015

The new age marketer is one of a kind. In many roles he plays, he’s an SEO, a blogger, a designer, a data scientist among many other things that makes him successful. With content marketing taking the center stage of today’s marketing efforts, here are 44 amazing power tools, every inbound marketer must have in hi/her arsenal. 1. Percolate :An integrated suite for content marketing. Everything from managing inspirations to planning, planning, curation and publishing, Percolate is a integrated Read full article […] These days, everyone is looking to find out the ultimate Secret of ruling the rankings. For this reason, people are attempting every approach to be on the #1 spot and are adopting every method that may influence their SEO campaigns in any positive way. It can be associated to aspects related to HTTPs, going mobile, page load speed or yielding natural niche targeted links etc. Moz recently published the 2015 ranking survey report in which 150 top marketing experts weighed Read full article […] Starting a blog requires a lot more than meets the eye, especially the novices eye. All the interesting stuff you read on the web isnt something bloggers just dream up and start going tapity-tap on the keyboard. Good blogging requires a great deal of trial and error, as well as patience and the ability to really get in touch with your inner-intellect and the audiences needs. Its also a great learning experience for budding writers who have a thing or two to share with everybody Read full article […] It doesnt seem like it would be all that difficult, to rank for your name in Google or any of the other search engines, but it can be a lot harder than you think. You and your business could pop upbut it might not. Ranking highly in Google is difficult, even when its your own name. You might think your name is pretty special, but with over 7 billion people in the world — it’s verylikely a few other people share your name as well. For this reason and many others, you will want Read full article […] Your site may no longer be at the top of Googles search results thanks to Googles latest algorithm update, which now favors responsive, mobile-ready sites in mobile web searches. This means anyone who is searching for a website on a mobile device could potentially get different results than when searching on a desktop computer. Websites will now be ranked higher in mobile search results if theyre responsive. This means that non-responsive sites could fall to the bottom of the list. Read full article […] There is a sea full of different brands in the market but the content marketing research tells that still majority of these brands does not have a documented marketing strategy. Developing a content marketing strategy for your brand is as essential as keeping the quality of your content top-notch. A quality content is worth only when it reaches the targeted audience and can turn your readers into your brands prospects. And this is possible only when you have a string content marketing strategy Read full article […] The Internet has dramatically altered the ways information is shared, having had a substantial impact on online marketing. There has been more of a shift towards inbound marketing over the past few years, which has made outbound marketing become rather antiqued. Many companies nowadays are implementing inbound marketing strategies that include using social media to reach more of their targeted audience and also to increase brand awareness. But online marketing trends are changing in 2015, and marketers Read full article […] Nowadays a good website means not only a great web design, effective marketing strategies and a good conversion rate, but also profitable keywords that increase your chances to get high rankings in search engines. While some websites are stuffed with keywords, other sites get too little. Keyword stuffing and too little keywords can both harm a website that can be one of the main obstacles not to be highly ranked in search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo. As you know, websites with low Read full article […] Change is constant and especially so on the Web. Flash animations were all the ragein websites five years ago but have quickly gone out of favor as Flash didn’t supporttouch interfaces, lower power devices, and open protocols in the mobile era. The pace ofchange can create frustrations as websites need to be updated frequently to staycontemporary and competitive. While you can’t stop change, there are things you can do to keep your website aheadof the curve, gain more traffic, and even Read full article […] So, it’s 2015 and it’s time for another SEO Expert poll. This time, we’re asking about your favorite SEO tools. All of us use different SEO tools and some of us, even multiple ones. So, let’s share the knowledge and help each other. We’re all set to find out the best software in five categories. Category 1 – Best Enterprise SEO Software Category 2 – Best SEO Backlinks Software Category 3 – Best SEO Software for Site Audit Category 4 – Best SEO Software for Keyword Research Category Read full article […] In this digital world, where we are bombarded with a wealth of information constantly, infographics can cut through unnecessary detail to deliver your businesss message clearly and succinctly. What Is an Infographic? An infographic is a visually appealing method of conveying a wealth of information in easy to understand, accessible chunks. They are usually made up mostly of images although there can also be text, which draws attention to the most important points. Text based infographics work Read full article […]

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A History of the Eugenics Movement –

 Eugenics  Comments Off on A History of the Eugenics Movement –
Sep 022015


Five items appear below:

1 Editorial 72 2 A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement (Dr Bergman) 72 3 Reply to Bergman on Eugenics (Dr Potter) 73 4 Is the Orthodox History of Eugenics True? (Dr Bergman) 77 5 Reply to Bergman: Some Tangential Points (Dr Potter) 77


Jerry Bergman has donated the article A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement. Dr Bergman’s conclusion on Eugenics (= racial improvement by scientific control of breeding) are reminiscent of the conclusions of “Anonymous” on the related topic Social Darwinism. (Investigator 33)

Social Darwinism was the theory that “societies and classes evolve under the principle of survival of the fittest.” With eugenics such evolution toward better/fitter societies could in principle be speeded up.

Dr Bergman shows that eugenic ideas were supported by many scientists, were contrary to the Bible, discouraged help to the poor, culminated in the Holocaust, and became untenable with newer scientific research. “Anonymous” showed the same of Social Darwinism.

A Brief History of the Eugenics Movement

(Investigator 72, 2000 May)

Dr Jerry Bergman


Eugenics, the science of improving the human race by scientific control of breeding, was viewed by a large segment of scientists for almost one hundred years as an important, if not a major means of producing paradise on earth. These scientists concluded that many human traits were genetic, and that persons who came from genetically ‘good families’ tended to turn out far better than those who came from poor families. The next step was to encourage the good families to have more children, and the poor families to have few or no children.

From these simple observations developed one of the most far-reaching movements, which culminated in the loss of millions of lives. It discouraged aiding the sick, building asylums for the insane, or even aiding the poor and all those who were believed to be in some way ‘genetically inferior’, which included persons afflicted with an extremely wide variety of unrelated physical and even psychological maladies. Their end goal was to save society from the ‘evolutionary inferior’. The means was sexual sterilization, permanent custody of ‘defective’ adults by the state, marriage restrictions, and even the elimination of the unfit through means which ranged from refusal to help them to outright killing. This movement probably had a greater adverse influence upon society than virtually any other that developed from a scientific theory in modern times. It culminated with the infamous Holocaust and afterward rapidly declined.


The eugenics movement grew from the core ideas of evolution, primarily those expounded by Charles Darwin.1 As Haller concluded:

‘Eugenics was the legitimate offspring of Darwinian evolution, a natural and doubtless inevitable outgrowth of currents of thought that developed from the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.’ 2

Eugenics spanned the political spectrum from conservatives to radical socialists; what they had in common was a belief in evolution and a faith that science, particularly genetics, held the key for improving the life of humans.3

The first eugenics movement in America was founded in 1903 and included many of the most well known new-world biologists in the country: David Star Jordan was its chairman (a prominent biologist and chancellor of Stanford University), Luther Burbank (the famous plant breeder), Vernon L. Kellog (a world renowned biologist at Stanford), William B. Castle (a Harvard geneticist), Roswell H. Johnson (a geologist and a professor of genetics), and Charles R. Henderson of the University of Chicago.

One of the most prominent eugenicists in the United States was Charles Benedict Davenport, a Harvard Ph.D, where he served as instructor of biology until he became an assistant professor at the University of Chicago in 1898.4 In 1904, he became director for a new station for experimental evolution at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. Even Edward Thorndike of Columbia University, one of the most influential educational psychologists in history, was also involved. His work is still today regarded as epic and his original textbook on tests and measurements set the standard in the field.

Other persons active in the early eugenics society were eminent sexologists Havelock Ellis, Dr F. W. Mott, a leading expert in insanity, and Dr A. F. Tredgold, an author of a major textbook on mental deficiency, and one of the foremost British experts on this subject. Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw, author H. G. Wells, and planned parenthood founder Margaret Sanger were also very involved in the movement.5

As the eugenics movement grew, it added other prominent individuals. Among them were Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone who was ‘one of the most respected, if not one of the most zealous participants in the American Eugenics Movement.’ 6He published numerous papers in scholarly journals specifically on genetics and the deafness problem, and also in other areas.

Of the many geneticists who are today recognized as scientific pioneers that were once eugenicists include J. B. S. Haldane, Thomas Hunt Morgan, William Bateson, Herman J. Muller, and evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley.7 Professors were prominent among both the officers and members of various eugenics societies which sprang up in the United States and Europe. In virtually every college and university were professors ‘inspired by the new creed,’ and most of the major colleges had credit courses on eugenics.8 These classes were typically well attended and their content was generally accepted as part of proven science. Many eugenicists also lectured widely and developed new courses, both at their institutes and elsewhere, to help educate the public in the principles of eugenics.’ According to Haller:

‘the movement was the creation of biological scientists, social scientists, and others with a faith that science provided a guide for human progress. Indeed, during the first three decades of the present century, eugenics was a sort of secular religion for many who dreamed of a society in which each child might be born endowed with vigorous health and an able mind.’ 10

The eugenics movement also attacked the idea of democracy itself. Many concluded that letting inferior persons participate in government was naive, if not dangerous. Providing educational opportunities and governmental benefits for everyone likewise seemed a misplacement of resources: one saves only the best cows for breeding, slaughtering the inferior ones, and these laws of nature must be applied to human animals. If a primary determinant of mankind’s behavioural nature is genetic as the movement concluded, then environmental reforms are largely useless. Further, those who are at the bottom of the social ladder in society, such as Blacks, are in this position not because of social injustice or discrimination, but as a result of their own inferiority.11


The first chapter in the most definitive history of the eugenics movement12 is entitled ‘Francis Galton, Founder of the Faith’. Influenced by his older cousin, Charles Darwin, Galton began his lifelong quest to quantify humans, and search for ways of genetically improving the human race in about 1860. So extremely important was Darwin’s idea to Galton, as Hailer states, that within six years of the publication of The Origin of Species

‘…Galton had arrived at the doctrine that he was to preach for the remainder of his life.., this became for him a new ethic and a new religion.’13

Galton openly stated that his goal was ‘to produce a highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations’. 14In an 1865 article, he proposed that the state sponsor competitive examinations, and the male winners marry the female winners. He later suggested that the state rank people according to evolutionary superiority, and then use money ‘rewards’ to encourage those who were ranked high to have more children. Those ranked towards the bottom would be segregated in monasteries and convents, and watched to prevent them from propagating more of their kind.15

Galton concluded that not only intelligence, but many other human traits were primarily, if not almost totally, the product of heredity. He believed that virtually every human function could be evaluated statistically, and that human beings could be compared in a quantitative manner on many hundreds of traits. He was also fully convinced that the survival of the fittest law fully applied to humans, and that it should be under the control of those who were most intelligent and responsible. Galton himself coined the word eugenics from the Greek words meaning well born. He also introduced the terms nature and nurture to science and started the nature/nurture argument which is still raging today. His goal was to produce a super race to control tomorrow’s world, a dream which he not only wrote about, but actively involved himself in promoting his whole life.

In 1901 he founded the Eugenics Education Society based in the Statistics Department at the University College of London.16 This organization flourished, later even producing a journal called Biometrika, founded and edited by Galton and later Pearson. It is still a leading journal today, but it has since rejected the basic idea behind its founding.

Galton, himself a child prodigy, soon set about looking for superior men by measuring the size of human heads, bodies and minds. For this purpose, he devised sophisticated measuring equipment which would quantify not only the brain and intelligence, but virtually every other human trait that could be measured without doing surgery. He even constructed a whistle to measure the upper range of hearing, now called a Galton whistle, a tool which is still standard equipment in a physiological laboratory. His work was usually anything but superficial much of it was extremely thorough. He relied heavily upon the empirical method and complex statistical techniques, many of which he developed for his work in this area.

In fact, Galton and his coworker, Karl Pearson, are regarded as founders of the modern field of statistics, and both made major contributions. Their thorough, detailed research was extremely convincing, especially to academics. German academics were among the first to wholeheartedly embrace his philosophy, as well as the theory of Darwinian evolution.

The idea that humans could achieve biological progress and eventually breed a superior race was not seen as heretical to the Victorian mind, nor did it have the horrendous implications or the taint of Nazism that it does today. All around Galton were the fruits of the recent advances in technology and the industrial revolution that had dramatically proved human mastery over inanimate nature. 17 They knew that, by careful selection, farmers could obtain better breeds of both plants and animals, and it was logical that the human races could similarly be improved. 18

Galton’s conclusion was that, for the sake of mankind’s future, pollution of the precious superior gene pool of certain classes must be stopped by preventing interbreeding with inferior stock. The next step was that we humans must intelligently direct our own evolution rather than leave such a vital event to chance. And Galton was not alone is this conclusion. All of the major fathers of modem evolution, including Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace (often credited as the co-founder of the modern theory of evolution), Edward Blyth, as well as E. Ray Lankester, and Erasmus Darwin, inferred that ‘evolution sanctioned a breeding program for man’. 19

The route to produce a race of gifted humans was controlled marriages of superior stock.20 In an effort to be tactful in his discussion of race breeding, he used terms such as ‘judicious marriages’ and ‘discouraging breeding by inferior stock.’ He did not see himself as openly cruel, at least in his writings, but believed that his proposals were for the long term good of humanity. Galton utterly rejected and wrote much against the Christian doctrines of helping the weak, displaying a tolerable attitude toward human fragilities and also showing charity towards the poor. Although this response may seem cold the mind of the co-founder of the field, Karl Pearson, has often be described as mathematical and without feeling and sympathy it must be viewed in the science climate of the time.21 Galton received numerous honours for his work, including the Darwin and Wallace Medals, and also the Huxley and the Copley Medals. He was even knighted by the British government and thus became Sir Francis Galton.

Understanding the eugenics movement requires a knowledge of how evolution was viewed in America and Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many scientists had concurrently applied Darwinian analysis to various racial’ groups, concluding that some ‘races’ were more evolutionarily advanced than others. If this claim was valid, the presence of certain racial groups in the United States and Europe constituted a threat to ‘the long-run biological quality of the nation.’ Consequently, it was concluded that ‘selective breeding was a necessary step in solving many major social problems’.22

We are today keenly aware of the tragic results of this belief; most people are now horrified by such statements when quoted by modern day white supremacists and racist groups. Many of the extremist groups today often quote from, and also have reprinted extensively, the scientific and eugenic literature of this time.


From this point on, Galton’s ideas about eugenics rapidly catalyzed. The knowledge he obtained from his African travels confirmed his beliefs about inferior races, and how to improve society. This conclusion strongly supported the writings of both his grandfather and his first cousin, Charles Darwin. Galton, highly rewarded for his scientific contributions, likely felt that his eugenics work was another way that he could achieve even more honours. He concluded that his work was more important than that which he had completed for the various geographical societies, and more important than even his research which helped the fingerprint system become part of the British method of criminal identification.

The history of eugenics is intimately tied to the history of evolution. Hailer, the author of one of the most definitive works on the history of the eugenics movement, stated

Galton called the method of race analysis he developed ‘statistics by intercomparison.’ It later became a common system of scaling psychological tests. This scale permitted Galton

‘very nearly two grades higher than our own that is, about as much as our race is above that of the African Negro’. 27

Around the turn of the century, eugenics was fully accepted by the educated classes. As Kelves states:

‘Galton’s religion [became] as much a part of the secular pieties of the nineteen-twenties as the Einstein craze.’ 28

Books on eugenics became best-sellers Albert E. Wiggam wrote at least four popular books on eugenics, several were best-sellers29-32 and the prestigious Darwinian family name stayed with the eugenics movement for years the president of the British Eugenics Society from 1911 to 1928 was Major Leonard Darwin, Charles’ son.

The impact of the eugenics movement on American law was especially profound. In the 1920s, congress introduced and passed many laws to restrict the influx of ‘inferior races,’ including all of those from Southern and Eastern Europe, and also China. These beliefs were also reflected in everything from school textbooks to social policy. American Blacks especially faced the brunt of these laws. Inter-racial marriage was forbidden by law in many areas and discouraged by social pressure in virtually all. The eugenicists concluded that the American belief that education could benefit everyone was unscientific, and that the conviction that social reform and social justice could substantially reduce human misery was more than wrong-headed, it was openly dangerous.34

According to Hailer, it was actually between 1870 and 1900 that


The second most important architect of eugenics theory was Galton’s disciple, Karl Pearson. His degree was in mathematics with honours from Kings College, Cambridge, which he completed in 1879. He then studied law and was called to the bar in 1881. A socialist, he often lectured on Marxism to revolutionary clubs. He was later appointed to the chair of applied mathematics and mechanics at University College, London, and soon thereafter established his reputation as a mathematician. His publication The Grammar of Science also accorded him a place in the philosophy of science field.

Pearson, greatly influenced by Galton, soon began to apply his mathematical knowledge to biological problems. He developed the field now known as statistics primarily to research evolution specifically as it related to eugenics. Pearson vigorously applied the experimental method to his research. Kevles concludes that Pearson was cold, remote, driven, and treated any emotional pleasure as a weakness. Challenging him on a scientific point invited ‘demolishing fire in return’. Pearson ‘like so many Victorian undergraduates, was beset by an agony of religious doubt’.38

Pearson concluded that Darwinism supported socialism because he assumed that socialism produced a wealthier, stronger, more productive, and in short, a superior nation. And the outcome of the Darwinian struggle results in the ascendancy of the ‘fittest’ nation, not individuals. Achievement of national fitness can better be produced by national socialism, consequently socialism will produce more fit nations that are better able to survive. Pearson carried his conclusions of heritability far beyond that which was warranted by the data. He stated to the anthropological institute in 1903 that

When Galton died in January of 1911, the University College received much of his money and established a Galton eugenics professorship, and a new department called applied statistics. The fund enabled Pearson to be freed from his ‘burdensome’ teaching to devote full time to eugenics research. The new department blossomed, and drew research workers from around the world. Pearson now could select only the best scientists and students who would immerse themselves in eugenic work. His students helped to manage the dozens of research projects in which Pearson was involved.

Pearson’s students and those who worked under him had to be as dedicated as he was or they soon were forced to leave. Some, trying to emulate Pearson’s pace, suffered nervous breakdowns.43 The laboratory’s goal was the production of research, and produce they did.

Between 1903 and 1918, Pearson and his staff published over 300 works, plus various government reports and popular expositions of genetics. Some of his co-workers questioned the idea that the only way to improve a nation is to ensure that its future generations come chiefly from the more superior members of the existing generation, but if they valued their position, most said nothing.” As Kevles added,


The next most important figure in the eugenics movement was an American, Charles Davenport. He studied engineering at preparatory school, and later became an instructor of zoology at Harvard. While at Harvard, he read some of Karl Pearson’s work and was soon ‘converted’. In 1899 he became an assistant professor at the University of Chicago. During a trip to England, he visited Galton, Pearson and Weldon, and returned home an enthusiastic true believer.

In 1904 he convinced the Carnegie Institute to establish a station for ‘the experimental study of evolution’ at Cold Spring Harbor, some thirty miles from New York City. Davenport then recruited a staff to work on various research projects ranging from natural selection to hybridization. He argued that hereditability was a major influence in everything from criminality to epilepsy, even alcoholism and pauperism (being poor).

Among the many problems with his research is that he assumed that traits which we now know are polygenic in origin were single Mendelian characters. This error caused him to greatly oversimplify interpolating from the genotype to the phenotype. He ignored the forces of the environment to such a degree that he labelled those who ‘loved the sea’ as suffering from thalassaphilia, and concluded that it was a sex-linked recessive trait because it was virtually always exhibited in males! Davenport even concluded that prostitution was caused not by social, cultural or economic circumstances, but a dominant genetic trait which caused a woman to be a nymphomaniac. He spoke against birth control because it reduced the natural inhibitions against sex.

He had no shortage of data for his ideas when the Cold Spring Harbor was founded in 1911 to when it closed in 1924, more than 250 field workers were employed to gather data and about three-quarters of a million cases were completed. This data served as the source of bulletins, memoirs, articles and books on eugenics and related matters. Raised a Congregationalist, Davenport rejected his father’s piety,

‘replacing it with a Babbitt-like religiosity, a worship of great concepts: Science, Humanity, the improvement of Mankind, Eugenics. The birth control crusader, Margaret Sanger recalled that Davenport, in expressing his worry about the impact of contraception on the better stocks, “used to lift his eyes reverently, and with his hands upraised as though in supplication, quiver emotionally as he breathed, “Protoplasm. We want more protoplasm”‘.49


There are few individuals more important in the field of educational psychology and educational measurement and evaluation than Edward Lee Thorndike. He wrote many of the college texts which were the standards for years (and many still are), not only in educational psychology but also in measurement and child psychology. Yet, he was largely unaware of, or ignored, the massive evidence which had accumulated against many of the basic eugenic views.

When Thorndike retired in 1940 from Columbia Teachers’ College, he wrote a 963-page book entitled Human Nature and the Social Order. In it, he reiterated virtually all of the most blatant misconceptions and distortions of the eugenicists. As Chase states,

‘at the age of sixty-six, he was still peddling the long discredited myths about epilepsy that Galton had revived when Thorndike was a boy of nine… Despite Thorndike’s use of such twentieth-century scientific words as “genes” and his advocacy of the then current Nazi eugenics court’s practice of sterilizing people who got low marks on intelligence tests and for “inferior” morals, this [book] was, essentially, the 1869 gospel of Galton, the eugenical orthodoxy that all mental disorders and diseases were at least eighty percent genetic and at most twenty percent environmental.’ 59


Part of the reason that the eugenics movement caught on so rapidly was because of the failures of the many innovative reformatory and other programmes designed to help the poor, the criminal, and people with mental and physical problems. Many of those who worked in these institutions concluded that most people in these classes were ‘heredity losers’ in the struggle for existence. And these unfit should not be allowed to survive and breed indiscriminately. Evolution gave them an answer to the difficulties that they faced. Charles Loring Brace

The translation of the eugenics movement into policy took many forms. In America, the sterilization of a wide variety of individua1s who were felt to have ‘heredity problems,’ mostly criminals, the mentally retarded, mentally ill and others, were at the top of their list. The first sterilization laws in the United States were in Indiana. They required mandatory sterilization of

Although the American courts challenged many of the eugenic laws, only one case, Bell versus Buck, reached the Supreme Court of the United States.

In an eight to one vote, the high court upheld sterilization for eugenic reasons, concluding that ‘feeblemindedness’ was caused by heredity and thus the state had a responsibility to control it by this means! The court’s opinion was written by none other than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who used his no small knowledge of science in his erudite opinion. He forged a link between eugenics and patriotism, concluding that eugenics was a fact derived from empirical science. A rash of sterilization laws which were passed in half of the states soon followed, many of which were more punitive than humanitarian.53

Many eugenicists also believed that negative traits that one picked up in one’s lifetime could be passed on. The theory of acquired characteristics was widely accepted, and was not conclusively refuted until the work of August Weismann of Germany. The new view, called neo-Darwinian, taught that acquired characteristics could not be inherited, and thus

And much of this research was on the so-called simple creatures such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Secondly, it was realized that, as a human is produced from between 50,000 and 100,000 genes, it is extremely difficult to determine if any one is ‘superior’ to another. At best, one could try to make judgments relative to the superiority of one specific trait compared to another. This is most easily done in the case of a mutation. A person who had the mutation for hemophilia could be considered inferior for that trait compared to the person who does not.

On the other hand, this method considers only one gene, which means that a person without the genetic defect for hemophilia will be genetically inferior in some other way compared to the one with it. He may have the mutation for retinoblastoma, for example, and develop eye cancer later in his life.

Even a person who has certain traits, such as below average intellect, may as a whole be genetically superior, a determination which we cannot make until all 100,000 genes are mapped and then compared with the whole population. And even then comparative judgments cannot be made except on simplistic grounds, such as counting the total number of ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ genes.

This falls short in that certain single genes can cause far more problems than others, or conversely, can confer on the person far more advantages than most other genes. It would then be necessary to rate each individual gene, something that is no easy task. In addition, many so-called inferior genes are actually mutations which were caused somewhere in the human genetic past, and were since passed on to the victim’s offspring. Of the unidentified diseases, about 4,000 are due to heritable mutations and none of these 4,000 existed in our past before the mutation for it was introduced into the human gene pool. This is de-evolution, an event which is the opposite of the eugenics goal of trying to determine the most flawless race and limit reproduction to them. This goal is flawed because the accumulation of mutations tends to result in all races becoming less perfect.56

Although the validity of many of the eugenic studies and the extent of applicability to humans were both seriously questioned, the demise of the eugenics movement had more to do with social factors than new scientific discoveries. Haller lists

Many of the people involved in the eugenics movement can best be summarized as true believers, devoted to the cause and blissfully ignoring the evidence which did not support their theories. Yet many knew that its basic premise was unsound, and often tried to rationalize its many problems. Galton

The importance of studying the eugenics movement today is not just to help us understand history. A field which is growing enormously in influence and prestige, social biology, is in some ways not drastically different from the eugenics movement. This school also claims that not only biological, but many social traits have a genetic basis, and exist from the evolutionary process. Although many social biologists take pains to disavow any connections, ideologically or otherwise, with the eugenics movement, their similarity is striking. This fact is a point that its many critics, such as Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, have often noted.60

In the late nineteenth century, ‘when so many thought in evolutionary terms, it was only natural to divide man into the fit and the unfit.’ 61 Even the unfortunates who because of an unjust society or chance, failed in business or life and ended in poverty, or those who were forced to live from petty theft, were judged ‘unfit’ and evolutionarily inferior.62 There was little recognition of the high level of criminality among common men and women, nor of the high level of moral virtuousness among many of those who were labelled criminals. They disregarded the fact that what separates a criminal from a non-criminal is primarily criminal behaviour. Because they are far more alike than different is one reason why criminal identification is extremely difficult.

The eugenicists also usually ignored upper class crime and the many offenses committed by high ranking army officers and government officials, even Kings and Queens, all of whose crimes were often well known by the people. They correctly identified some hereditary concerns, but mislabelled many which are not (such as poverty) and ignored the enormous influence of the environment in moulding all of that which heredity gives us. They believed that since most social problems and conditions are genetic, they cannot be changed, but can only be controlled by sterilization.63, 64


In contrast, the teaching of Christianity presented quite a different picture. It declared that anyone who accepted Christ’s message could be changed. The Scriptures gave numerous examples of individuals who were liars, thieves, and moral degenerates who, after a Christian conversion, radically turned their life around. The regeneration of reprobates has always been an important selling point of Christianity. From its earliest days, the proof of its validity was its effect on changing the lives of those who embraced the faith. Helping the poor, the weak, the downtrodden, the unfortunate, the crippled, and the lame was no minor part of Christianity. Indeed, it was the essence of the religion, the outward evidence of the faith within. If one wanted to follow Christ, one was to be prepared, if necessary, to ‘go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor’ (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21).

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A History of the Eugenics Movement –

Second Amendment | United States Constitution |

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Second Amendment | United States Constitution |
Sep 022015

Second Amendment,Second AmendmentNARAamendment to the Constitution of the United States, adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, that provided a constitutional check on congressional power under Article I Section 8 to organize, arm, and discipline the federal militia. The Second Amendment reads, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Referred to in modern times as an individuals right to carry and use arms for self-defense, the Second Amendment was envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, according to College of William and Mary law professor and future U.S. District Court judge St. George Tucker in 1803 in his great work Blackstones Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as the true palladium of liberty. In addition to checking federal power, the Second Amendment also provided state governments with what Luther Martin (1744/481826) described as the last coup de grace that would enable the states to thwart and oppose the general government. Last, it enshrined the ancient Florentine and Roman constitutional principle of civil and military virtue by making every citizen a soldier and every soldier a citizen. (See also gun control.)

Until 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States had never seriously considered the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment. In its first hearing on the subject, in Presser v. Illinois (1886), the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment prevented the states from prohibit[ing] the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security. More than four decades later, in United States v. Schwimmer (1929), the Supreme Court cited the Second Amendment as enshrining that the duty of individuals to defend our government against all enemies whenever necessity arises is a fundamental principle of the Constitution and holding that the common defense was one of the purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution. Meanwhile, in United States v. Miller (1939), in a prosecution under the National Firearms Act (1934), the Supreme Court avoided addressing the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment by merely holding that the possession or use of a shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length was not any part of the ordinary military equipment protected by the Second Amendment.

For more than seven decades after the United States v. Miller decision, what right to bear arms that the Second Amendment protected remained uncertain. This uncertainty was ended, however, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the Supreme Court examined the Second Amendment in exacting detail. In a narrow 54 majority, delivered by Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court held that self-defense was the central component of the amendment and that the District of Columbias prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also affirmed previous rulings that the Second Amendment ensured the right of individuals to take part in the defending of their liberties by taking up arms in an organized militia. However, the court was clear to emphasize that an individuals right to an organized militia is not the sole institutional beneficiary of the Second Amendments guarantee.

Because the Heller ruling constrained only federal regulations against the right of armed self-defense in the home, it was unclear whether the court would hold that the Second Amendment guarantees established in Heller were equally applicable to the states. The Supreme Court answered this question in 2010, with its ruling on McDonald v. Chicago. In a plurality opinion, a 54 majority held that the Heller right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause.

However, despite the use of person in the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause, the McDonald plurality opinion did not extend to noncitizens. Clarence Thomass fifth and decisive vote only extended the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller to citizens. Thomas wrote, Because this case does not involve a claim brought by a noncitizen, I express no view on the difference, if any, between my conclusion and the plurality with respect to the extent to which States may regulate firearm possession by noncitizens. Thomas further came to this conclusion because he thought the Second Amendment should be incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendments privileges or immunities clause, which only recognizes the rights of citizens.

The relatively narrow holdings in the McDonald and Heller decisions left many Second Amendment legal issues unsettled, including the constitutionality of many federal gun-control regulations, whether the right to carry or conceal a weapon in public was protected, and whether noncitizens are protected through the equal protection clause.

The origins of the Second Amendment can be traced to ancient Roman and Florentine times, but its English origins developed in the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I instituted a national militia where individuals of all classes were required by law to take part in defending the realm. Although Elizabeths attempt to establish a national militia failed miserably, the ideology of the militia would be used as a political tool up to the mid-18th century. The political debate over the establishment and control of the militia was a contributing factor in both the English Civil Wars (164251) and the Glorious Revolution (168889).

Despite recognition in the early 21st century by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protected armed individual self-defense in the home, many constitutional historians disagreed with the court that the Second Amendment protected anything but the right to participate in a militia force as the means of defending their liberties. For over two centuries there was a consensus that the Second Amendment protected only the right of individuals to keep and bear Arms in order to take part in defending their liberties as a militia force. However, by the late 20th century the popular consensus had shifted, many believing that the Second Amendment was framed to protect armed self-defense in the home.

In England, following the Glorious Revolution, the Second Amendments predecessor was codified in the British Bill of Rights in 1689, under its Article VII, which proclaimed that the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law. Often misinterpreted as a right to defend ones person, home, or property, the allowance to have arms ensured that Parliament could exercise its sovereign right of self-preservation against a tyrannical crown by arming qualified Protestants as a militia.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution undoubtedly had in mind the English allowance to have arms when drafting the Second Amendment. The constitutional significance of a well regulated Militia is well documented in English and American history from the late 17th century through the American Revolution; it was included in the Articles of Confederation (1781), the countrys first constitution, and was even noted at the Constitutional Convention that drafted the new U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. The right to keep and bear Arms was thus included as a means to accomplish the objective of a well regulated Militiato provide for the defense of the nation, to provide a well-trained and disciplined force to check federal tyranny, and to bring constitutional balance by distributing the power of the sword equally among the people, the states, and the federal government.

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About NSA – National Sheriffs’ Association

 NSA  Comments Off on About NSA – National Sheriffs’ Association
Aug 312015

Chartered in 1940, the National Sheriffs’ Association is a professional association dedicated to serving the Office of Sheriff and its affiliates through police education, police training, and general law enforcement information resources. NSA represents thousands of sheriffs, deputies and other law enforcement, public safety professionals, and concerned citizens nationwide.

Through the years, NSA has provided programs for Sheriffs, their deputies, chiefs of police, and others in the field of criminal justice to perform their jobs in the best possible manner and to better serve the people of their cities, counties or jurisdictions.

The National Sheriffs’ Association headquarters is located in Alexandria, Virginia and offers police training, police information, court security training, jail information and other law enforcement services to sheriffs, deputies, and others throughout the nation. NSA has worked to forge cooperative relationships with local, state, and federal criminal justice professionals across the nation to network and share information about homeland security programs and projects.

NSA serves as the center of a vast network of law enforcement information, filling requests for information daily and enabling criminal justice professionals, including police officers, sheriffs, and deputies, to locate the information and programs they need. NSA recognizes the need to seek information from the membership, particularly the sheriff and the state sheriffs’ associations, in order to meet the needs and concerns of individual NSA members. While working on the national level, NSA has continued to seek grass-roots guidance, ever striving to work with and for its members, clients, and citizens of the nation.

NSA has through the years assisted sheriffs offices, sheriffs departments and state sheriffs associations in locating and preparing applications for state and federal homeland security grant funding. The NSA record and reputation for integrity and dependability in the conduction of such public safety programs among government agencies is well recognized and has led to continuing opportunities to apply for grants on the national, state, and local levels as well as management of service contracts.

NSA’s roots can be traced back to October 1888, when a group of sheriffs in Minnesota and surrounding states formed an organization, which they named the Inter-State Sheriffs’ Association. The purpose of this association was to give opportunity for a wider, mutual acquaintance, to exchange ideas for more efficient service, and to assist on another in the apprehension of criminals.

Over the years the name was changed several times. It is assumed that as laws changed and law enforcement grew and expanded along with the country, the organization felt compelled to change its name to fit its membership and the times. When law enforcement officials in other states and Canada expressed interest in taking part in the Inter-State Sheriffs’ Association, the group subsequently changed its name to the International Sheriffs’ and Police Association. In 1908 the organization was briefly known as the National Sheriffs’ Association before its name was amended as the International Sheriffs and Peace Officers Asociation and then later to the International Sheriffs and Police Association. The organization disbanded in 1938.

The Articles of Incorporation of the new National Sheriffs’ Association were filed with the Secretary of State of the state of Ohio on September 26, 1940. Sheriff Walter O’Neil of Akron, Ohio was NSA’s first president and held the first annual meeting in 1941 in St. Louis, Missouri. At this meeting a constitution was adopted and the organization’s goals, policies, and objectives were agreed upon. NSA began publishing its periodical, The National Sheriff magazine, in February of the same year. NSA’s first executive secretary (executive director) was Charles J. Hahn. It is believed that Hahn and the officials of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association of Ohio set about to form a national association for sheriffs.

The National Sheriffs’ Association today is headquarted in Alexandria, VA and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety so that they may perform their jobs in the best possible manner and better serve the people of their cities, counties or jurisdictions.

For more on the history of NSA, consider ordering a copy of our 75th Anniversary Commemorative book. Click here to order today.

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About NSA – National Sheriffs’ Association

Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …
Aug 302015

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” was adopted as a protection against the widespread invasions of privacy experienced by American colonists at the hands of the British Government. So-called “writs of assistance” gave royal officers broad discretion to conduct searches of the homes of private citizens, primarily as a way of discovering violations of strict British customs laws. This practice led to a unique awareness among our Founding Fathers of the threat to individual liberty and privacy that is created by unchecked government search powers.

Today, the Fourth Amendment has lost its preferred status among our cherished Bill of Rights Protections. In recent decades, growing concerns regarding crime and public safety in America have forced our Courts to balance the privacy rights contained in the Constitution with the ever-expanding needs of law-enforcement officers whose duty it is to investigate and arrest dangerous criminals. The Supreme Court’s rulings in Fourth Amendment cases demonstrate the challenge involved in reconciling these competing ideals.

Ultimately, the Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures has been trimmed-down in recent years and tailored to suit the needs of modern law enforcement as we wage war against drugs and terrorism. For this reason, it is important for conscientious citizens to be familiar with the lawful parameters of police authority to conduct searches, as well as the legal doctrines by which that authority is limited.

The Fifth Amendment: Self-incrimination Clause

“…No person… shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or be deprived of life liberty or property without due process of law…”

* The Supreme Court has made a new ruling that you must tell the police officer that you will NOT talk to him, you request a lawyer and then keep your mouth shut.

The right against self-incrimination has ancient roots in common law dating back to biblical times. While most provisions of the Fifth Amendment, such as the right to a jury trial and the right against double jeopardy, impose restrictions upon our courthouses, the right against self-incrimination has a profound effect upon the behavior of law-enforcement officers as they investigate crimes. For this reason, the meaning of the self-incrimination clause has remained one of the most controversial issues in criminal procedure since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona.

At this time, it is required by the Supreme Court that police inform all criminal suspects of their right to remain silent prior to interrogation. This right extends from the point of arrest throughout the suspect’s involvement in the criminal justice system. While many in the law-enforcement community feel that this restriction unfairly limits the ability of police and prosecutors to obtain convictions, studies have shown that conviction rates have not changed significantly since the Court first required police to inform those arrested of their right against self-incrimination.

The Sixth Amendment: Right to Counsel Clause

“In all criminal proceedings, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is a critical component of the Bill of Rights in that it provides the accused with an advocate who is trained in the legal process and can provide a safeguard against violations of the suspect’s other Bill of Rights protections. Interestingly, it was not until 1963 that the Supreme Court held that states must provide a lawyer for all felony suspects, ending disparities in legal representation based on economic class.

Today, all person charged with a serious crime in the United States enjoy the assistance of a defense attorney regardless of economic status. State-employed public defenders represent clients who cannot afford their own attorneys, and contrary to popular belief, achieve roughly equal outcomes for their clients as do the more expensive privately-hired lawyers.

The Relationship Between Self-incrimination and the Right to Counsel

Many Americans, particularly young people, have become cynical about police practices and our legal system. It is not uncommon to lose hope when arrested or even become angry at the officer or the law he is enforcing. It is an important reality however, that our legal system does provide services for the accused. It cannot be overstated how important it is to wait for legal advice before attempting to discuss a criminal charge with police. The subtleties of the legal process require careful decisions about what to say and how to say it. A lawyer will help you prepare for tough questions and can emphasize your positive qualities to the judge, including qualities you didn’t know you had.

The constitution includes protections for criminal suspects because the legal system is incredibly complex, involving rules and regulations that everyday people would not understand. If you are charged with a crime, take advantage of the protections the constitution gives you. Don’t talk to police about what happened until you have spoken with a lawyer and discussed how to present your side of the story.

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Fourth Amendment Body Search Home Search You rights …

TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online
Aug 262015

You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to.

Tor does not protect all of your computer’s Internet traffic when you run it. Tor only protects your applications that are properly configured to send their Internet traffic through Tor. To avoid problems with Tor configuration, we strongly recommend you use the Tor Browser. It is pre-configured to protect your privacy and anonymity on the web as long as you’re browsing with the Tor Browser itself. Almost any other web browser configuration is likely to be unsafe to use with Tor.

Torrent file-sharing applications have been observed to ignore proxy settings and make direct connections even when they are told to use Tor. Even if your torrent application connects only through Tor, you will often send out your real IP address in the tracker GET request, because that’s how torrents work. Not only do you deanonymize your torrent traffic and your other simultaneous Tor web traffic this way, you also slow down the entire Tor network for everyone else.

The Tor Browser will block browser plugins such as Flash, RealPlayer, Quicktime, and others: they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address. Similarly, we do not recommend installing additional addons or plugins into the Tor Browser, as these may bypass Tor or otherwise harm your anonymity and privacy.

Tor will encrypt your traffic to and within the Tor network, but the encryption of your traffic to the final destination website depends upon on that website. To help ensure private encryption to websites, the Tor Browser includes HTTPS Everywhere to force the use of HTTPS encryption with major websites that support it. However, you should still watch the browser URL bar to ensure that websites you provide sensitive information to display a blue or green URL bar button, include https:// in the URL, and display the proper expected name for the website. Also see EFF’s interactive page explaining how Tor and HTTPS relate.

The Tor Browser will warn you before automatically opening documents that are handled by external applications. DO NOT IGNORE THIS WARNING. You should be very careful when downloading documents via Tor (especially DOC and PDF files) as these documents can contain Internet resources that will be downloaded outside of Tor by the application that opens them. This will reveal your non-Tor IP address. If you must work with DOC and/or PDF files, we strongly recommend either using a disconnected computer, downloading the free VirtualBox and using it with a virtual machine image with networking disabled, or using Tails. Under no circumstances is it safe to use BitTorrent and Tor together, however.

Tor tries to prevent attackers from learning what destination websites you connect to. However, by default, it does not prevent somebody watching your Internet traffic from learning that you’re using Tor. If this matters to you, you can reduce this risk by configuring Tor to use a Tor bridge relay rather than connecting directly to the public Tor network. Ultimately the best protection is a social approach: the more Tor users there are near you and the more diverse their interests, the less dangerous it will be that you are one of them. Convince other people to use Tor, too!

Be smart and learn more. Understand what Tor does and does not offer. This list of pitfalls isn’t complete, and we need your help identifying and documenting all the issues.

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TOR Bundle Download – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom

 Posthuman  Comments Off on In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom
Aug 222015

ABSTRACT. Positions on the ethics of human enhancement technologies can be (crudely) characterized as ranging from transhumanism to bioconservatism. Transhumanists believe that human enhancement technologies should be made widely available, that individuals should have broad discretion over which of these technologies to apply to themselves, and that parents should normally have the right to choose enhancements for their children-to-be. Bioconservatives (whose ranks include such diverse writers as Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, George Annas, Wesley Smith, Jeremy Rifkin, and Bill McKibben) are generally opposed to the use of technology to modify human nature. A central idea in bioconservativism is that human enhancement technologies will undermine our human dignity. To forestall a slide down the slippery slope towards an ultimately debased posthuman state, bioconservatives often argue for broad bans on otherwise promising human enhancements. This paper distinguishes two common fears about the posthuman and argues for the importance of a concept of dignity that is inclusive enough to also apply to many possible posthuman beings. Recognizing the possibility of posthuman dignity undercuts an important objection against human enhancement and removes a distortive double standard from our field of moral vision.

Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades, and can be viewed as an outgrowth of secular humanism and the Enlightenment. It holds that current human nature is improvable through the use of applied science and other rational methods, which may make it possible to increase human health-span, extend our intellectual and physical capacities, and give us increased control over our own mental states and moods.[1] Technologies of concern include not only current ones, like genetic engineering and information technology, but also anticipated future developments such as fully immersive virtual reality, machine-phase nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

Transhumanists promote the view that human enhancement technologies should be made widely available, and that individuals should have broad discretion over which of these technologies to apply to themselves (morphological freedom), and that parents should normally get to decide which reproductive technologies to use when having children (reproductive freedom).[2] Transhumanists believe that, while there are hazards that need to be identified and avoided, human enhancement technologies will offer enormous potential for deeply valuable and humanly beneficial uses. Ultimately, it is possible that such enhancements may make us, or our descendants, posthuman, beings who may have indefinite health-spans, much greater intellectual faculties than any current human being and perhaps entirely new sensibilities or modalities as well as the ability to control their own emotions. The wisest approach vis–vis these prospects, argue transhumanists, is to embrace technological progress, while strongly defending human rights and individual choice, and taking action specifically against concrete threats, such as military or terrorist abuse of bioweapons, and against unwanted environmental or social side-effects.

In opposition to this transhumanist view stands a bioconservative camp that argues against the use of technology to modify human nature. Prominent bioconservative writers include Leon Kass, Francis Fukuyama, George Annas, Wesley Smith, Jeremy Rifkin, and Bill McKibben. One of the central concerns of the bioconservatives is that human enhancement technologies might be dehumanizing. The worry, which has been variously expressed, is that these technologies might undermine our human dignity or inadvertently erode something that is deeply valuable about being human but that is difficult to put into words or to factor into a cost-benefit analysis. In some cases (e.g. Leon Kass) the unease seems to derive from religious or crypto-religious sentiments whereas for others (e.g. Francis Fukuyama) it stems from secular grounds. The best approach, these bioconservatives argue, is to implement global bans on swathes of promising human enhancement technologies to forestall a slide down a slippery slope towards an ultimately debased posthuman state.

While any brief description necessarily skirts significant nuances that differentiate writers within the two camps, I believe the above characterization nevertheless highlights a principal fault lines in one of the great debates of our times: how we should look at the future of humankind and whether we should attempt to use technology to make ourselves more than human. This paper will distinguish two common fears about the posthuman and argue that they are partly unfounded and that, to the extent that they correspond to real risks, there are better responses than trying to implement broad bans on technology. I will make some remarks on the concept of dignity, which bioconservatives believe to be imperiled by coming human enhancement technologies, and suggest that we need to recognize that not only humans in their current form, but posthumans too could have dignity.

The prospect of posthumanity is feared for at least two reasons. One is that the state of being posthuman might in itself be degrading, so that by becoming posthuman we might be harming ourselves. Another is that posthumans might pose a threat to ordinary humans. (I shall set aside a third possible reason, that the development of posthumans might offend some supernatural being.)

The most prominent bioethicist to focus on the first fear is Leon Kass:

Most of the given bestowals of nature have their given species-specified natures: they are each and all of a given sort. Cockroaches and humans are equally bestowed but differently natured. To turn a man into a cockroachas we dont need Kafka to show uswould be dehumanizing. To try to turn a man into more than a man might be so as well. We need more than generalized appreciation for natures gifts. We need a particular regard and respect for the special gift that is our own given nature[3]

Transhumanists counter that natures gifts are sometimes poisoned and should not always be accepted. Cancer, malaria, dementia, aging, starvation, unnecessary suffering, cognitive shortcomings are all among the presents that we wisely refuse. Our own species-specified natures are a rich source of much of the thoroughly unrespectable and unacceptable susceptibility for disease, murder, rape, genocide, cheating, torture, racism. The horrors of nature in general and of our own nature in particular are so well documented[4] that it is astonishing that somebody as distinguished as Leon Kass should still in this day and age be tempted to rely on the natural as a guide to what is desirable or normatively right. We should be grateful that our ancestors were not swept away by the Kassian sentiment, or we would still be picking lice off each others backs. Rather than deferring to the natural order, transhumanists maintain that we can legitimately reform ourselves and our natures in accordance with humane values and personal aspirations.

If one rejects nature as a general criterion of the good, as most thoughtful people nowadays do, one can of course still acknowledge that particular ways of modifying human nature would be debasing. Not all change is progress. Not even all well-intended technological intervention in human nature would be on balance beneficial. Kass goes far beyond these truisms however when he declares that utter dehumanization lies in store for us as the inevitable result of our obtaining technical mastery over our own nature:

the final technical conquest of his own nature would almost certainly leave mankind utterly enfeebled. This form of mastery would be identical with utter dehumanization. Read Huxleys Brave New World, read C. S. Lewiss Abolition of Man, read Nietzsches account of the last man, and then read the newspapers. Homogenization, mediocrity, pacification, drug-induced contentment, debasement of taste, souls without loves and longings these are the inevitable results of making the essence of human nature the last project of technical mastery. In his moment of triumph, Promethean man will become a contented cow.[5]

The fictional inhabitants of Brave New World, to pick the best-known of Kasss examples, are admittedly short on dignity (in at least one sense of the word). But the claim that this is the inevitable consequence of our obtaining technological mastery over human nature is exceedingly pessimistic and unsupported if understood as a futuristic prediction, and false if construed as a claim about metaphysical necessity.

There are many things wrong with the fictional society that Huxley described. It is static, totalitarian, caste-bound; its culture is a wasteland. The brave new worlders themselves are a dehumanized and undignified lot. Yet posthumans they are not. Their capacities are not super-human but in many respects substantially inferior to our own. Their life expectancy and physique are quite normal, but their intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual faculties are stunted. The majority of the brave new worlders have various degrees of engineered mental retardation. And everyone, save the ten world controllers (along with a miscellany of primitives and social outcasts who are confined to fenced preservations or isolated islands), are barred or discouraged from developing individuality, independent thinking and initiative, and are conditioned not to desire these traits in the first place. Brave New World is not a tale of human enhancement gone amok but a tragedy of technology and social engineering being used to deliberately cripple moral and intellectual capacities the exact antithesis of the transhumanist proposal.

Transhumanists argue that the best way to avoid a Brave New World is by vigorously defending morphological and reproductive freedoms against any would-be world controllers. History has shown the dangers in letting governments curtail these freedoms. The last centurys government-sponsored coercive eugenics programs, once favored by both the left and the right, have been thoroughly discredited. Because people are likely to differ profoundly in their attitudes towards human enhancement technologies, it is crucial that no one solution be imposed on everyone from above but that individuals get to consult their own consciences as to what is right for themselves and their families. Information, public debate, and education are the appropriate means by which to encourage others to make wise choices, not a global ban on a broad range of potentially beneficial medical and other enhancement options.

The second fear is that there might be an eruption of violence between unaugmented humans and posthumans. George Annas, Lori Andrews, and Rosario Isasi have argued that we should view human cloning and all inheritable genetic modifications as crimes against humanity in order to reduce the probability that posthuman species will arise, on grounds that such a species would pose an existential threat to the old human species:

The new species, or posthuman, will likely view the old normal humans as inferior, even savages, and fit for slavery or slaughter. The normals, on the other hand, may see the posthumans as a threat and if they can, may engage in a preemptive strike by killing the posthumans before they themselves are killed or enslaved by them. It is ultimately this predictable potential for genocide that makes species-altering experiments potential weapons of mass destruction, and makes the unaccountable genetic engineer a potential bioterrorist.[6]

There is no denying that bioterrorism and unaccountable genetic engineers developing increasingly potent weapons of mass destruction pose a serious threat to our civilization. But using the rhetoric of bioterrorism and weapons of mass destruction to cast aspersions on therapeutic uses of biotechnology to improve health, longevity and other human capacities is unhelpful. The issues are quite distinct. Reasonable people can be in favor of strict regulation of bioweapons while promoting beneficial medical uses of genetics and other human enhancement technologies, including inheritable and species-altering modifications.

Human society is always at risk of some group deciding to view another group of humans as fit for slavery or slaughter. To counteract such tendencies, modern societies have created laws and institutions, and endowed them with powers of enforcement, that act to prevent groups of citizens from enslaving or slaughtering one another. The efficacy of these institutions does not depend on all citizens having equal capacities. Modern, peaceful societies can have large numbers of people with diminished physical or mental capacities along with many other people who may be exceptionally physically strong or healthy or intellectually talented in various ways. Adding people with technologically enhanced capacities to this already broad distribution of ability would not need to rip society apart or trigger genocide or enslavement.

The assumption that inheritable genetic modifications or other human enhancement technologies would lead to two distinct and separate species should also be questioned. It seems much more likely that there would be a continuum of differently modified or enhanced individuals, which would overlap with the continuum of as-yet unenhanced humans. The scenario in which the enhanced form a pact and then attack the naturals makes for exciting science fiction but is not necessarily the most plausible outcome. Even today, the segment containing the tallest ninety percent of the population could, in principle, get together and kill or enslave the shorter decile. That this does not happen suggests that a well-organized society can hold together even if it contains many possible coalitions of people sharing some attribute such that, if they ganged up, they would be capable of exterminating the rest.

To note that the extreme case of a war between humans and posthumans is not the most likely scenario is not to say that there are no legitimate social concerns about the steps that may take us closer to posthumanity. Inequity, discrimination, and stigmatization against, or on behalf of, modified people could become serious issues. Transhumanists would argue that these (potential) social problems call for social remedies. One example of how contemporary technology can change important aspects of someones identity is sex reassignment. The experiences of transsexuals show that Western culture still has work to do in becoming more accepting of diversity. This is a task that we can begin to tackle today by fostering a climate of tolerance and acceptance towards those who are different from ourselves. Painting alarmist pictures of the threat from future technologically modified people, or hurling preemptive condemnations of their necessarily debased nature, is not the best way to go about it.

What about the hypothetical case in which someone intends to create, or turn themselves into, a being of so radically enhanced capacities that a single one or a small group of such individuals would be capable of taking over the planet? This is clearly not a situation that is likely to arise in the imminent future, but one can imagine that, perhaps in a few decades, the prospective creation of superintelligent machines could raise this kind of concern. The would-be creator of a new life form with such surpassing capabilities would have an obligation to ensure that the proposed being is free from psychopathic tendencies and, more generally, that it has humane inclinations. For example, a future artificial intelligence programmer should be required to make a strong case that launching a purportedly human-friendly superintelligence would be safer than the alternative. Again, however, this (currently) science-fiction scenario must be clearly distinguished from our present situation and our more immediate concern with taking effective steps towards incrementally improving human capacities and health-span.

Human dignity is sometimes invoked as a polemical substitute for clear ideas. This is not to say that there are no important moral issues relating to dignity, but it does mean that there is a need to define what one has in mind when one uses the term. Here, we shall consider two different senses of dignity:

On both these definitions, dignity is something that a posthuman could possess. Francis Fukuyama, however, seems to deny this and warns that giving up on the idea that dignity is unique to human beings defined as those possessing a mysterious essential human quality he calls Factor X[8] would invite disaster:

Denial of the concept of human dignity that is, of the idea that there is something unique about the human race that entitles every member of the species to a higher moral status than the rest of the natural world leads us down a very perilous path. We may be compelled ultimately to take this path, but we should do so only with our eyes open. Nietzsche is a much better guide to what lies down that road than the legions of bioethicists and casual academic Darwinians that today are prone to give us moral advice on this subject.[9]

What appears to worry Fukuyama is that introducing new kinds of enhanced person into the world might cause some individuals (perhaps infants, or the mentally handicapped, or unenhanced humans in general) to lose some of the moral status that they currently possess, and that a fundamental precondition of liberal democracy, the principle of equal dignity for all, would be destroyed.

The underlying intuition seems to be that instead of the famed expanding moral circle, what we have is more like an oval, whose shape we can change but whose area must remain constant. Thankfully, this purported conservation law of moral recognition lacks empirical support. The set of individuals accorded full moral status by Western societies has actually increased, to include men without property or noble decent, women, and non-white peoples. It would seem feasible to extend this set further to include future posthumans, or, for that matter, some of the higher primates or human-animal chimaeras, should such be created and to do so without causing any compensating shrinkage in another direction. (The moral status of problematic borderline cases, such as fetuses or late-stage Alzheimer patients, or the brain dead, should perhaps be decided separately from the issue of technologically modified humans or novel artificial life forms.) Our own role in this process need not be that of passive bystanders. We can work to create more inclusive social structures that accord appropriate moral recognition and legal rights to all who need them, be they male or female, black or white, flesh or silicon.

Dignity in the second sense, as referring to a special excellence or moral worthiness, is something that current human beings possess to widely differing degrees. Some excel far more than others do. Some are morally admirable; others are base and vicious. There is no reason for supposing that posthuman beings could not also have dignity in this second sense. They may even be able to attain higher levels of moral and other excellence than any of us humans. The fictional brave new worlders, who were subhuman rather than posthuman, would have scored low on this kind of dignity, and partly for that reason they would be awful role models for us to emulate. But surely we can create more uplifting and appealing visions of what we may aspire to become. There may be some who would transform themselves into degraded posthumans but then some people today do not live very worthy human lives. This is regrettable, but the fact that some people make bad choices is not generally a sufficient ground for rescinding peoples right to choose. And legitimate countermeasures are available: education, encouragement, persuasion, social and cultural reform. These, not a blanket prohibition of all posthuman ways of being, are the measures to which those bothered by the prospect of debased posthumans should resort. A liberal democracy should normally permit incursions into morphological and reproductive freedoms only in cases where somebody is abusing these freedoms to harm another person.

The principle that parents should have broad discretion to decide on genetic enhancements for their children has been attacked on grounds that this form of reproductive freedom would constitute a kind of parental tyranny that would undermine the childs dignity and capacity for autonomous choice; for instance, by Hans Jonas:

Technological mastered nature now again includes man who (up to now) had, in technology, set himself against it as its master But whose power is this and over whom or over what? Obviously the power of those living today over those coming after them, who will be the defenseless other side of prior choices made by the planners of today. The other side of the power of today is the future bondage of the living to the dead.[10]

Jonas is relying on the assumption that our descendants, who will presumably be far more technologically advanced than we are, would nevertheless be defenseless against our machinations to expand their capacities. This is almost certainly incorrect. If, for some inscrutable reason, they decided that they would prefer to be less intelligent, less healthy, and lead shorter lives, they would not lack the means to achieve these objectives and frustrate our designs.

In any case, if the alternative to parental choice in determining the basic capacities of new people is entrusting the childs welfare to nature, that is blind chance, then the decision should be easy. Had Mother Nature been a real parent, she would have been in jail for child abuse and murder. And transhumanists can accept, of course, that just as society may in exceptional circumstances override parental autonomy, such as in cases of neglect or abuse, so too may society impose regulations to protect the child-to-be from genuinely harmful genetic interventions but not because they represent choice rather than chance.

Jrgen Habermas, in a recent work, echoes Jonas concern and worries that even the mere knowledge of having been intentionally made by another could have ruinous consequences:

We cannot rule out that knowledge of ones own hereditary features as programmed may prove to restrict the choice of an individuals life, and to undermine the essentially symmetrical relations between free and equal human beings.[11]

A transhumanist could reply that it would be a mistake for an individual to believe that she has no choice over her own life just because some (or all) of her genes were selected by her parents. She would, in fact, have as much choice as if her genetic constitution had been selected by chance. It could even be that she would enjoy significantly more choice and autonomy in her life, if the modifications were such as to expand her basic capability set. Being healthy, smarter, having a wide range of talents, or possessing greater powers of self-control are blessings that tend to open more life paths than they block.

Even if there were a possibility that some genetically modified individuals might fail to grasp these points and thus might feel oppressed by their knowledge of their origin, that would be a risk to be weighed against the risks incurred by having an unmodified genome, risks that can be extremely grave. If safe and effective alternatives were available, it would be irresponsible to risk starting someone off in life with the misfortune of congenitally diminished basic capacities or an elevated susceptibility to disease.

Similarly ominous forecasts were made in the seventies about the severe psychological damage that children conceived through in vitro fertilization would suffer upon learning that they originated from a test tube a prediction that turned out to be entirely false. It is hard to avoid the impression that some bias or philosophical prejudice is responsible for the readiness with which many bioconservatives seize on even the flimsiest of empirical justifications for banning human enhancement technologies of certain types but not others. Suppose it turned out that playing Mozart to pregnant mothers improved the childs subsequent musical talent. Nobody would argue for a ban on Mozart-in-the-womb on grounds that we cannot rule out that some psychological woe might befall the child once she discovers that her facility with the violin had been prenatally programmed by her parents. Yet when it comes to e.g. genetic enhancements, arguments that are not so very different from this parody are often put forward as weighty if not conclusive objections by eminent bioconservative writers. To transhumanists, this looks like doublethink. How can it be that to bioconservatives almost any anticipated downside, predicted perhaps on the basis of the shakiest pop-psychological theory, so readily achieves that status of deep philosophical insight and knockdown objection against the transhumanist project?

Perhaps a part of the answer can be found in the different attitudes that transhumanists and bioconservatives have towards posthuman dignity. Bioconservatives tend to deny posthuman dignity and view posthumanity as a threat to human dignity. They are therefore tempted to look for ways to denigrate interventions that are thought to be pointing in the direction of more radical future modifications that may eventually lead to the emergence of those detestable posthumans. But unless this fundamental opposition to the posthuman is openly declared as a premiss of their argument, this then forces them to use a double standard of assessment whenever particular cases are considered in isolation: for example, one standard for germ-line genetic interventions and another for improvements in maternal nutrition (an intervention presumably not seen as heralding a posthuman era).

Transhumanists, by contrast, see human and posthuman dignity as compatible and complementary. They insist that dignity, in its modern sense, consists in what we are and what we have the potential to become, not in our pedigree or our causal origin. What we are is not a function solely of our DNA but also of our technological and social context. Human nature in this broader sense is dynamic, partially human-made, and improvable. Our current extended phenotypes (and the lives that we lead) are markedly different from those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We read and write; we wear clothes; we live in cities; we earn money and buy food from the supermarket; we call people on the telephone, watch television, read newspapers, drive cars, file taxes, vote in national elections; women give birth in hospitals; life-expectancy is three times longer than in the Pleistocene; we know that the Earth is round and that stars are large gas clouds lit from inside by nuclear fusion, and that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old and enormously big. In the eyes of a hunter-gatherer, we might already appear posthuman. Yet these radical extensions of human capabilities some of them biological, others external have not divested us of moral status or dehumanized us in the sense of making us generally unworthy and base. Similarly, should we or our descendants one day succeed in becoming what relative to current standards we may refer to as posthuman, this need not entail a loss dignity either.

From the transhumanist standpoint, there is no need to behave as if there were a deep moral difference between technological and other means of enhancing human lives. By defending posthuman dignity we promote a more inclusive and humane ethics, one that will embrace future technologically modified people as well as humans of the contemporary kind. We also remove a distortive double standard from the field of our moral vision, allowing us to perceive more clearly the opportunities that exist for further human progress.[12]

[1] N. Bostrom et al. 2003. The Transhumanist FAQ, v. 2.1. World Transhumanist Association. Webpage:


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In Defense of Posthuman Dignity – Nick Bostrom

Human Genetics Alert – Human Genetic Engineering resources

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Human Genetics Alert – Human Genetic Engineering resources
Aug 192015

1. Is human genetic engineering safe and effective?

With present techniques it is clearly unsafe: the techniques of inserting genes can disrupt other genes, with harmful consequences for the person and all his/her descendants. We do not know enough about how gene work to ensure that an inserted gene will work as desired. Future generations cannot consent to such risks. The chance that interventions will be effective is unknown. However, the technologies are improving constantly and may make human genetic engineering (HGE) feasible within five years.

No, it is not. Advocates argue that it is a general solution to the problem of genetic diseases and is superior to somatic gene therapy, since it could permanently eliminate the risk of inherited disease within a family. However, there are only a few very rare cases where HGE is the only option for producing a healthy child. Couples can choose not to have children, to adopt a child, or to use donor eggs or sperm. If it is consistent with their values, they can also use prenatal and pre-implantation genetic testing to avoid genetic disease and have a child that is 100% genetically related. Given this, it is clear that the real market for HGE is in ‘enhancement’ of appearance, height, athletic ability, intelligence, etc.

No, it is not, although Lee Silver and others like him very much want you to believe that it is. In a democratic society people agree on what rules they wish to live under. By 1998 twenty-seven industrial democracies had agreed to ban human cloning and germ line manipulation. In the U.S., the state of Michigan has made all forms of human cloning illegal. There is no reason we cannot choose to forgo these technologies, both domestically and as part of a global compact. It is often said that banning the use of a technology will not prevent someone from developing it elsewhere. This may be true, although the number of people competent to develop cloning and human genetic engineering is small. But even though the technology may be developed, we do not have to permit its use to become respectable and widespread.

No, we have the right to choose the science that we want and to define our own vision of progress. We should reject science which is not in the public interest. Proscribing the most dangerous techno-eugenic applications will allow us to proceed with greater confidence in developing the many potentially beneficial uses of genetic research for human society.

People do have the right to have children if they are biologically capable, but they do not have any ‘right’ to use cloning, or genetic engineering. Rights don’t exist in a vacuum; they are socially negotiated within a context of fundamental values. The question of access to particular technologies is a matter of public policy and depends on the social consequences of allowing that access. For example, people are not allowed access to nuclear technology, or dangerous pathogens and drugs, simply because they have the money to pay for them.

Traditionally, we see human beings as inviolable, and as endowed with rights: they must be accepted as they are. Human genetic engineering overthrows that basic conception, degrading human subjects into objects, to be designed according parents’ whim. Accepting such a change would have consequences both for individual humans and for society at large which we can barely imagine. Obvious consequences would be a disruption of parents’ unconditional love for children. Cloning and HGE represent an unprecedented intent to determine and control a child’s life trajectory: for the child, it would undermine their sense of free will and of their achievements. These concerns are what many people mean when they say that we should not play God with our children.

The social consequences of the use of cloning and HGE in our society would be disastrous. Parents would tend to engineer children to conform to social norms, with regard to physical ability, appearance and aptitudes, even though many of those social norms are inherently oppressive. For example, disabled people have often expressed fears that free-market eugenics would reduce society’s tolerance for those genetic impairments. If genes pre-disposing people to homosexuality are discovered, it is certain that many people would attempt to engineer these out of their offspring. A free-market techno-eugenics could also easily have the disastrous consequences spelled out in Lee Silver’s Re-making Eden. Since access to such expensive technology would be on the basis of ability to pay, we could see the emergence of biologically as well as financially advantaged ruling elites.

The environmental movement has recognised how, in Western societies over the last few hundred years, humans have tried to control and dominate nature, with the resultant environmental crisis which we currently face. Genetic engineering of plants and animals gives us the power to dominate nature in a new and more powerful way than ever before, which is why it has caused so much concern in environmental movements. Techno-eugenics extends the drive to control nature to the nature of human beings, threatening ultimately to make the human species, like other species, the object of the manipulative control of technocratic elites. It is obvious that if we cannot prevent this, we have little chance of winning the struggle to protect the environment. The environmental movement is the main guardian of the non-exploitative vision of the relation between humans and the rest of nature. Realising that such a relationship may soon be imposed upon ourselves, and our children, the environmental movement must take the lead in alerting society to the danger that it faces.

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Human Genetics Alert – Human Genetic Engineering resources

Download Tor – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

 Tor Browser  Comments Off on Download Tor – Tor Project: Anonymity Online
Aug 152015

Want Tor to really work?

You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to. Please read the full list of warnings for details.

Microsoft Windows

Everything you need to safely browse the Internet. Learn more

Contains just Tor and nothing else. You’ll need to configure Tor and all of your applications manually. This installer must be run as Administrator.

Apple OS X

Everything you need to safely browse the Internet. This package requires no installation. Just extract it and run. Learn more

GNU/Linux, BSD, and Unix

Everything you need to safely browse the Internet. This package requires no installation. Just extract it and run. Learn more

Install the Tor components yourself, run a relay, create custom configurations. All an apt-get or yum install away.

Tor for Smartphones

Source Code

Configure with: ./configure && make && src/or/tor

The current stable version of Tor is Its release notes are available.

The current unstable/alpha version of Tor is Its Changelog is available.

You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to.

Tor does not protect all of your computer’s Internet traffic when you run it. Tor only protects your applications that are properly configured to send their Internet traffic through Tor. To avoid problems with Tor configuration, we strongly recommend you use the Tor Browser. It is pre-configured to protect your privacy and anonymity on the web as long as you’re browsing with the Tor Browser itself. Almost any other web browser configuration is likely to be unsafe to use with Tor.

Torrent file-sharing applications have been observed to ignore proxy settings and make direct connections even when they are told to use Tor. Even if your torrent application connects only through Tor, you will often send out your real IP address in the tracker GET request, because that’s how torrents work. Not only do you deanonymize your torrent traffic and your other simultaneous Tor web traffic this way, you also slow down the entire Tor network for everyone else.

The Tor Browser will block browser plugins such as Flash, RealPlayer, Quicktime, and others: they can be manipulated into revealing your IP address. Similarly, we do not recommend installing additional addons or plugins into the Tor Browser, as these may bypass Tor or otherwise harm your anonymity and privacy.

Tor will encrypt your traffic to and within the Tor network, but the encryption of your traffic to the final destination website depends upon on that website. To help ensure private encryption to websites, the Tor Browser includes HTTPS Everywhere to force the use of HTTPS encryption with major websites that support it. However, you should still watch the browser URL bar to ensure that websites you provide sensitive information to display a blue or green URL bar button, include https:// in the URL, and display the proper expected name for the website. Also see EFF’s interactive page explaining how Tor and HTTPS relate.

The Tor Browser will warn you before automatically opening documents that are handled by external applications. DO NOT IGNORE THIS WARNING. You should be very careful when downloading documents via Tor (especially DOC and PDF files) as these documents can contain Internet resources that will be downloaded outside of Tor by the application that opens them. This will reveal your non-Tor IP address. If you must work with DOC and/or PDF files, we strongly recommend either using a disconnected computer, downloading the free VirtualBox and using it with a virtual machine image with networking disabled, or using Tails. Under no circumstances is it safe to use BitTorrent and Tor together, however.

Tor tries to prevent attackers from learning what destination websites you connect to. However, by default, it does not prevent somebody watching your Internet traffic from learning that you’re using Tor. If this matters to you, you can reduce this risk by configuring Tor to use a Tor bridge relay rather than connecting directly to the public Tor network. Ultimately the best protection is a social approach: the more Tor users there are near you and the more diverse their interests, the less dangerous it will be that you are one of them. Convince other people to use Tor, too!

Be smart and learn more. Understand what Tor does and does not offer. This list of pitfalls isn’t complete, and we need your help identifying and documenting all the issues.

The rest is here:
Download Tor – Tor Project: Anonymity Online

Stem cell therapy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Regenerative Medicine  Comments Off on Stem cell therapy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 152015

This article is about the medical therapy. For the cell type, see Stem cell.

Stem cell therapy is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition.

Bone marrow transplant is the most widely used stem cell therapy, but some therapies derived from umbilical cord blood are also in use. Research is underway to develop various sources for stem cells, and to apply stem cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

With the ability of scientists to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells, and with scientists’ growing ability to create stem cells using somatic cell nuclear transfer and techniques to create induced pluripotent stem cells, controversy has crept in, both related to abortion politics and to human cloning. Additionally, efforts to market treatments based on transplant of stored umbilical cord blood have proven controversial.

For over 30 years, bone-marrow has been used to treat cancer patients with conditions such as leukaemia and lymphoma; this is the only form of stem cell therapy that is widely practiced.[1][2][3] During chemotherapy, most growing cells are killed by the cytotoxic agents. These agents, however, cannot discriminate between the leukaemia or neoplastic cells, and the hematopoietic stem cells within the bone marrow. It is this side effect of conventional chemotherapy strategies that the stem cell transplant attempts to reverse; a donor’s healthy bone marrow reintroduces functional stem cells to replace the cells lost in the host’s body during treatment. The transplanted cells also generate an immune response that helps to kill off the cancer cells; this process can go too far, however, leading to graft vs host disease, the most serious side effect of this treatment.[4]

Another stem cell therapy called Prochymal, was conditionally approved in Canada in 2012 for the management of acute graft-vs-host disease in children who are unresponsive to steroids.[5] It is an allogenic stem therapy based on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from the bone marrow of adult donors. MSCs are purified from the marrow, cultured and packaged, with up to 10,000 doses derived from a single donor. The doses are stored frozen until needed.[6]

The FDA has approved five hematopoietic stem cell products derived from umbilical cord blood, for the treatment of blood and immunological diseases.[7]

In 2014, the European Medicines Agency recommended approval of Holoclar, a treatment involving stem cells, for use in the European Union. Holoclar is used for people with severe limbal stem cell deficiency due to burns in the eye.[8]

Research has been conducted to learn whether stem cells may be used to treat brain degeneration, such as in Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.[9][10][11]

Healthy adult brains contain neural stem cells which divide to maintain general stem cell numbers, or become progenitor cells. In healthy adult animals, progenitor cells migrate within the brain and function primarily to maintain neuron populations for olfaction (the sense of smell). Pharmacological activation of endogenous neural stem cells has been reported to induce neuroprotection and behavioral recovery in adult rat models of neurological disorder.[12][13][14]

Stroke and traumatic brain injury lead to cell death, characterized by a loss of neurons and oligodendrocytes within the brain. A small clinical trial was underway in Scotland in 2013, in which stem cells were injected into the brains of stroke patients.[15]

Clinical and animal studies have been conducted into the use of stem cells in cases of spinal cord injury.[16][17][18]

The pioneering work[19] by Bodo-Eckehard Strauer has now been discredited by the identification of hundreds of factual contradictions.[20] Among several clinical trials that have reported that adult stem cell therapy is safe and effective, powerful effects have been reported from only a few laboratories, but this has covered old[21] and recent[22] infarcts as well as heart failure not arising from myocardial infarction.[23] While initial animal studies demonstrated remarkable therapeutic effects,[24][25] later clinical trials achieved only modest, though statistically significant, improvements.[26][27] Possible reasons for this discrepancy are patient age,[28] timing of treatment[29] and the recent occurrence of a myocardial infarction.[30] It appears that these obstacles may be overcome by additional treatments which increase the effectiveness of the treatment[31] or by optimizing the methodology although these too can be controversial. Current studies vary greatly in cell procuring techniques, cell types, cell administration timing and procedures, and studied parameters, making it very difficult to make comparisons. Comparative studies are therefore currently needed.

Stem cell therapy for treatment of myocardial infarction usually makes use of autologous bone marrow stem cells (a specific type or all), however other types of adult stem cells may be used, such as adipose-derived stem cells.[32] Adult stem cell therapy for treating heart disease was commercially available in at least five continents as of 2007.[citation needed]

Possible mechanisms of recovery include:[9]

It may be possible to have adult bone marrow cells differentiate into heart muscle cells.[9]

The first successful integration of human embryonic stem cell derived cardiomyocytes in guinea pigs (mouse hearts beat too fast) was reported in August 2012. The contraction strength was measured four weeks after the guinea pigs underwent simulated heart attacks and cell treatment. The cells contracted synchronously with the existing cells, but it is unknown if the positive results were produced mainly from paracrine as opposed to direct electromechanical effects from the human cells. Future work will focus on how to get the cells to engraft more strongly around the scar tissue. Whether treatments from embryonic or adult bone marrow stem cells will prove more effective remains to be seen.[33]

In 2013 the pioneering reports of powerful beneficial effects of autologous bone marrow stem cells on ventricular function were found to contain “hundreds” of discrepancies.[34] Critics report that of 48 reports there seemed to be just 5 underlying trials, and that in many cases whether they were randomized or merely observational accepter-versus-rejecter, was contradictory between reports of the same trial. One pair of reports of identical baseline characteristics and final results, was presented in two publications as, respectively, a 578 patient randomized trial and as a 391 patient observational study. Other reports required (impossible) negative standard deviations in subsets of patients, or contained fractional patients, negative NYHA classes. Overall there were many more patients published as having receiving stem cells in trials, than the number of stem cells processed in the hospital’s laboratory during that time. A university investigation, closed in 2012 without reporting, was reopened in July 2013.[35]

One of the most promising benefits of stem cell therapy is the potential for cardiac tissue regeneration to reverse the tissue loss underlying the development of heart failure after cardiac injury.[36]

Initially, the observed improvements were attributed to a transdifferentiation of BM-MSCs into cardiomyocyte-like cells.[24] Given the apparent inadequacy of unmodified stem cells for heart tissue regeneration, a more promising modern technique involves treating these cells to create cardiac progenitor cells before implantation to the injured area.[37]

The specificity of the human immune-cell repertoire is what allows the human body to defend itself from rapidly adapting antigens. However, the immune system is vulnerable to degradation upon the pathogenesis of disease, and because of the critical role that it plays in overall defense, its degradation is often fatal to the organism as a whole. Diseases of hematopoietic cells are diagnosed and classified via a subspecialty of pathology known as hematopathology. The specificity of the immune cells is what allows recognition of foreign antigens, causing further challenges in the treatment of immune disease. Identical matches between donor and recipient must be made for successful transplantation treatments, but matches are uncommon, even between first-degree relatives. Research using both hematopoietic adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells has provided insight into the possible mechanisms and methods of treatment for many of these ailments.[citation needed]

Fully mature human red blood cells may be generated ex vivo by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are precursors of red blood cells. In this process, HSCs are grown together with stromal cells, creating an environment that mimics the conditions of bone marrow, the natural site of red-blood-cell growth. Erythropoietin, a growth factor, is added, coaxing the stem cells to complete terminal differentiation into red blood cells.[38] Further research into this technique should have potential benefits to gene therapy, blood transfusion, and topical medicine.

Hair follicles also contain stem cells, and some researchers predict research on these follicle stem cells may lead to successes in treating baldness through an activation of the stem cells progenitor cells. This treatment is expected to work by activating already existing stem cells on the scalp. Later treatments may be able to simply signal follicle stem cells to give off chemical signals to nearby follicle cells which have shrunk during the aging process, which in turn respond to these signals by regenerating and once again making healthy hair.

In 2004, scientists at King’s College London discovered a way to cultivate a complete tooth in mice[39] and were able to grow bioengineered teeth stand-alone in the laboratory. Researchers are confident that the tooth regeneration technology can be used to grow live teeth in human patients.

In theory, stem cells taken from the patient could be coaxed in the lab into turning into a tooth bud which, when implanted in the gums, will give rise to a new tooth, and would be expected to be grown in a time over three weeks.[40] It will fuse with the jawbone and release chemicals that encourage nerves and blood vessels to connect with it. The process is similar to what happens when humans grow their original adult teeth. Many challenges remain, however, before stem cells could be a choice for the replacement of missing teeth in the future.[41][42]

Research is ongoing in different fields, alligators which are polyphyodonts grow up to 50 times a successional tooth (a small replacement tooth) under each mature functional tooth for replacement once a year.[43]

Heller has reported success in re-growing cochlea hair cells with the use of embryonic stem cells.[44]

Since 2003, researchers have successfully transplanted corneal stem cells into damaged eyes to restore vision. “Sheets of retinal cells used by the team are harvested from aborted fetuses, which some people find objectionable.” When these sheets are transplanted over the damaged cornea, the stem cells stimulate renewed repair, eventually restore vision.[45] The latest such development was in June 2005, when researchers at the Queen Victoria Hospital of Sussex, England were able to restore the sight of forty patients using the same technique. The group, led by Sheraz Daya, was able to successfully use adult stem cells obtained from the patient, a relative, or even a cadaver. Further rounds of trials are ongoing.[46]

In April 2005, doctors in the UK transplanted corneal stem cells from an organ donor to the cornea of Deborah Catlyn, a woman who was blinded in one eye when acid was thrown in her eye at a nightclub. The cornea, which is the transparent window of the eye, is a particularly suitable site for transplants. In fact, the first successful human transplant was a cornea transplant. The absence of blood vessels within the cornea makes this area a relatively easy target for transplantation. The majority of corneal transplants carried out today are due to a degenerative disease called keratoconus.

The University Hospital of New Jersey reports that the success rate for growth of new cells from transplanted stem cells varies from 25 percent to 70 percent.[47]

In 2014, researchers demonstrated that stem cells collected as biopsies from donor human corneas can prevent scar formation without provoking a rejection response in mice with corneal damage.[48]

In January 2012, The Lancet published a paper by Steven Schwartz, at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute, reporting two women who had gone legally blind from macular degeneration had dramatic improvements in their vision after retinal injections of human embryonic stem cells.[49]

Diabetes patients lose the function of insulin-producing beta cells within the pancreas.[50] In recent experiments, scientists have been able to coax embryonic stem cell to turn into beta cells in the lab. In theory if the beta cell is transplanted successfully, they will be able to replace malfunctioning ones in a diabetic patient.[51]

Human embryonic stem cells may be grown in cell culture and stimulated to form insulin-producing cells that can be transplanted into the patient.

However, clinical success is highly dependent on the development of the following procedures:[9]

Clinical case reports in the treatment orthopaedic conditions have been reported. To date, the focus in the literature for musculoskeletal care appears to be on mesenchymal stem cells. Centeno et al. have published MRI evidence of increased cartilage and meniscus volume in individual human subjects.[52][53] The results of trials that include a large number of subjects, are yet to be published. However, a published safety study conducted in a group of 227 patients over a 3-4 year period shows adequate safety and minimal complications associated with mesenchymal cell transplantation.[54]

Wakitani has also published a small case series of nine defects in five knees involving surgical transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells with coverage of the treated chondral defects.[55]

Stem cells can also be used to stimulate the growth of human tissues. In an adult, wounded tissue is most often replaced by scar tissue, which is characterized in the skin by disorganized collagen structure, loss of hair follicles and irregular vascular structure. In the case of wounded fetal tissue, however, wounded tissue is replaced with normal tissue through the activity of stem cells.[56] A possible method for tissue regeneration in adults is to place adult stem cell “seeds” inside a tissue bed “soil” in a wound bed and allow the stem cells to stimulate differentiation in the tissue bed cells. This method elicits a regenerative response more similar to fetal wound-healing than adult scar tissue formation.[56] Researchers are still investigating different aspects of the “soil” tissue that are conducive to regeneration.[56]

Culture of human embryonic stem cells in mitotically inactivated porcine ovarian fibroblasts (POF) causes differentiation into germ cells (precursor cells of oocytes and spermatozoa), as evidenced by gene expression analysis.[57]

Human embryonic stem cells have been stimulated to form Spermatozoon-like cells, yet still slightly damaged or malformed.[58] It could potentially treat azoospermia.

In 2012, oogonial stem cells were isolated from adult mouse and human ovaries and demonstrated to be capable of forming mature oocytes.[59] These cells have the potential to treat infertility.

Destruction of the immune system by the HIV is driven by the loss of CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood and lymphoid tissues. Viral entry into CD4+ cells is mediated by the interaction with a cellular chemokine receptor, the most common of which are CCR5 and CXCR4.1 Because subsequent viral replication requires cellular gene expression processes, activated CD4+ cells are the primary targets of productive HIV infection.[60] Recently scientists have been investigating an alternative approach to treating HIV-1/AIDS, based on the creation of a disease-resistant immune system through transplantation of autologous, gene-modified (HIV-1-resistant) hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (GM-HSPC).[61]

On January 23, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration gave clearance to Geron Corporation for the initiation of the first clinical trial of an embryonic stem cell-based therapy on humans. The trial aimed evaluate the drug GRNOPC1, embryonic stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, on patients with acute spinal cord injury. The trial was discontinued in November 2011 so that the company could focus on therapies in the “current environment of capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions”.[62] In 2013 biotechnology and regenerative medicine company BioTime (NYSEMKT:BTX) acquired Geron’s stem cell assets in a stock transaction, with the aim of restarting the clinical trial.[63]

Scientists have reported that MSCs when transfused immediately within few hours post thawing may show reduced function or show decreased efficacy in treating diseases as compared to those MSCs which are in log phase of cell growth(fresh), so cryopreserved MSCs should be brought back into log phase of cell growth in invitro culture before these are administered for clinical trials or experimental therapies, re-culturing of MSCs will help in recovering from the shock the cells get during freezing and thawing. Various clinical trials on MSCs have failed which used cryopreserved product immediately post thaw as compared to those clinical trials which used fresh MSCs.[64]

There is widespread controversy over the use of human embryonic stem cells. This controversy primarily targets the techniques used to derive new embryonic stem cell lines, which often requires the destruction of the blastocyst. Opposition to the use of human embryonic stem cells in research is often based on philosophical, moral or religious objections.[103] There is other stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of a human embryo, and such research involves adult stem cells, amniotic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.

Stem cell research and treatment was practiced in the People’s Republic of China. The Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China has permitted the use of stem cell therapy for conditions beyond those approved of in Western countries. The Western World has scrutinized China for its failed attempts to meet international documentation standards of these trials and procedures.[104]

State-funded companies based in the Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Zone treat the symptoms of numerous disorders with adult stem cell therapy. Development companies are currently focused on the treatment of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disorders. The most radical successes of Chinese adult stem cell therapy have been in treating the brain. These therapies administer stem cells directly to the brain of patients with Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer’s, and brain injuries.

Since 2008 many centres and doctors tried a diversity of methods; in Lebanon proliferative and non-proliferative, in-vivo and in-vitro techniques were used. The Regenerative Medicine also took place in Jordan and Egypt.

Stem cell treatment is currently being practiced at a clinical level in Mexico. An International Health Department Permit (COFEPRIS) is required. Authorized centers are found in Tijuana, Guadalajara and Cancun. Currently undergoing the approval process is Los Cabos. This permit allows the use of stem cell.

In 2005, South Korean scientists claimed to have generated stem cells that were tailored to match the recipient. Each of the 11 new stem cell lines was developed using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. The resultant cells were thought to match the genetic material of the recipient, thus suggesting minimal to no cell rejection.[105]

As of 2013, Thailand still considers Hematopoietic stem cell transplants as experimental. Kampon Sriwatanakul began with a clinical trial in October 2013 with 20 patients. 10 are going to receive stem cell therapy for Type-2 Diabetes and the other 10 will receive stem cell therapy for emphysema. Chotinantakul’s research is on Hematopoietic cells and their role for the hematopoietic system function in homeostasis and immune response.[106]

Today, Ukraine is permitted to perform clinical trials of stem cell treatments (Order of the MH of Ukraine 630 “About carrying out clinical trials of stem cells”, 2008) for the treatment of these pathologies: pancreatic necrosis, cirrhosis, hepatitis, burn disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, critical lower limb ischemia. The first medical institution granted the right to conduct clinical trials became the “Institute of Cell Therapy”(Kiev).

Other countries where doctors did stem cells research, trials, manipulation, storage, therapy: Brazil, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, India and many others.

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Astronomy Online

 Astronomy  Comments Off on Astronomy Online
Aug 062015

Welcome to Astronomy Online A legally blind photographer/astronomer on disability so I use this site to contribute to society.

Last Updated: October 24, 2012 added graphics for the 88 constellations under Observation/The Night Sky.

This site is a testament that even though I have a physical disability – legally blind – I can still do things that helps other people. I even have a new project: Astro-Drummer, a site dedicated to my other hobby.

I also have a new image gallery. I call it Second Site Image Gallery.

This is an educational website. It’s never too late to learn astronomy, even for those who have not completed their primary (High School) education. A GED can get you in the door to college level courses.

InboxAstronomy:Telescopes Team Up to Find Distant Uranus-Sized Planet Through Microlensing The majority of planets discovered outside our solar system orbit close to their parent stars because these planets are the easiest to find. But to fully understand how distant planetary systems are put together, astronomers must conduct a census of all the planets around a star. So they need to look farther away from the star-from about the distance of Jupiter is from our sun, and beyond.

APOD:Stereo Pluto Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University/APL,

Southwest Research Institute – Stereo Assembly: Brian May Explanation: These two detailed, true color images of Pluto were captured during the historic New Horizons flyby last month. With slightly different perspectives on the now recognizeable surface features they are presented in this first high quality stereo pair intended for viewing by denizens of planet Earth. The left hand image (left eye) is a mosaic recorded when the spacecraft was about 450,000 kilometers from Pluto. The right single image was acquired earlier, a last full look before the spacecraft’s closest approach. Despite a difference in resolution, the pair combine for a stunning 3D perception of the distant, underworldly terrain.

APOD:X-ray Echoes from Circinus X-1 Image Credit: X-ray – NASA/CXC/Univ. Wisconsin-Madison/S.Heinz et al, Optical – DSS

Explanation: Circinus X-1 is an X-ray binary star known for its erratic variability. In the bizarre Circinus X-1 system, a dense neutron star, the collapsed remnant of a supernova explosion, orbits with a more ordinary stellar companion. Observations of the X-ray binary in months following an intense X-ray flare from the source in 2013 progressively revealed striking concentric rings – bright X-ray light echoes from four intervening clouds of interstellar dust. In this X-ray/optical composite, the swaths of Chandra Observatory X-ray image data showing partial outlines of the rings are in false colors. Remarkably, timing the X-ray echoes, along with known distances to the interstellar dust clouds, determines the formerly highly uncertain distance to Circinus X-1 itself to be 30,700 light-years.

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Human Genetics

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Human Genetics
Jul 312015


It has been a long time since Human Genetics got introduced to mankind. One can definitely think of it as a great achievement in the entire history of humans. It is the alteration of genes in a human being for making him or her resistant to different kind of diseases that can prove deadly, because Read more


Major area for human genetic engineering debate revolves around the ethics involved in testing of genetics. Other areas for debate include selective eugenics as well as genetic discrimination. Apart from the above debates, the scientists have now been found busy on making debates on some other frightening prospects of human genetic engineering. Human genetic engineering Read more


Human genetics research is a revolutionary change in the field of medical science. It has made several advances in this field. It entered this field many years ago when Hippocrates discovered nature laws can easily describe the body workings. This revolution identified that contaminated water is a primary reason that leads to a disease like Read more


Many human genetic engineering pros and cons are there that have stayed the same since its introduction to humanity. When the humans started harnessing the atomic powers, then just few years later they also start recognizing the effects of human genetic engineering on mankind. Many scientists have a belief that gene therapy can be a Read more


A primary debate topic among the people from western civilization is the effects of human cloning and genetic engineering. This topic has given place to a lot of controversies in that civilization. It is an asexual reproduction using genetic engineering. There is a huge relation between human cloning and genetic engineering. In fact, cloning cannot Read more

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Human Genetics

Human Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Human Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons
Jul 312015

Human Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons 3.78/5 (75.54%) 1970 votes

Many human genetic engineering pros and cons are there that have stayed the same since its introduction to humanity. When the humans started harnessing the atomic powers, then just few years later they also start recognizing the effects of human genetic engineering on mankind. Many scientists have a belief that gene therapy can be a mainstream for saving lives of many people. A lot of human genetic engineering pros and cons have been involved since the evolution of genetic engineering. Mentioned below are some important advantages or pros of genetic engineering:

Other human genetic engineering pros and cons include the desirable characteristics in different plants and animals at the same time convenient. One can also do the manipulation of genes in trees or big plants. This will enable the trees to absorb increased amount of carbon dioxide, and it will reduce the effects of global warming. However, there is a question from critics that whether man has the right to do such manipulations or alterations in the genes of natural things.

With human genetic engineering, there is always a chance for altering the wheat plants genetics, which will then enable it to grow insulin. Human genetic engineering pros and cons have been among the concern of a lot of people involved in genetic engineering. Likewise the pros, certain cons are there of using the genetic engineering. Mentioned below are the cons of human genetic engineering:

The evolution of genetic engineering gets the consideration of being the biggest breakthroughs in the history of mankind after the evolution of atomic energy, and few other scientific discoveries. However, human genetic engineering pros and cons together have contributed a lot in creating a controversial image of it among the people.

All these eventualities have forced the government of many countries to make strict legislation laws to put restrictions on different experiment being made on human genetic engineering. They have made this decision by considering different human genetic engineering pros and cons.

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Human Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons

Bloodlines of the Illuminati: Fritz Springmeier …

 Illuminati  Comments Off on Bloodlines of the Illuminati: Fritz Springmeier …
Jul 222015

The latest edition of Bloodlines of the Illuminati… Direct from the Distrubutor *************************** You’ve seen pieces of the puzzle, but still you wonder… Bloodlines of the Illuminati is a unique historical genealogical who’s-doing-it book, rich in detail, providing a devastating expos of the people and families who are THE movers and shakers of the United States and the entire world. You will recognize some of the names instantly. Many names have been purposely hidden from mainstream view. From international finance to war, presidents and dictators alike pay heed to these people. “Influence” doesn’t even come close to describing their power. They have plans for you. Who are they? Author, Fritz Springmeier provides a wealth of material and inside information based on eyewitnesses. His outstanding research provides facts that are not available elsewhere. When you finish reading this book, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and you’ll see the fascinating big picture. You will know who actually runs the New World Order conspiracy, and who is in the Illuminati. You may discover for yourself why Bloodlines of the Illuminati was a bestseller in Japan, a nation which thrives on detail. IF YOU ENJOYED THE PREVIOUS EDITION OF BLOODLINES, YOU’LL LOVE THE NEW EDITION EVEN MORE… completely revised, the new “Bloodlines of the Illuminati” has more info and better photos. The 3rd Edition’s large print size (7″ X 10″) makes for easier reading. * Hot new information exposing Wolf Head (a group similar to Skull & Bones). * New genealogy charts, one shows how 25 Presidents are related, another how Prince Charles is related to Count Dracula. * More information on all the bloodlines.

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Bloodlines of the Illuminati: Fritz Springmeier …

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism