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Finnish citizens given universal basic income report lower stress levels and greater incentive to work

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Finland has been giving 2,000 of its citizens an unconditional income for the last five months and some are already seeing the benefits, reporting decreased stress, greater incentives to find work and more time to pursue business ideas.
The scheme is the first of its kind in Europe and sees participants receive €560 (£473) every month for two years. 
Recipients do not have to demonstrate that they are seeking employment and they are not required to regularly report to authorities to prove they still need the payment, as is the case with standard unemployment benefits. They can spend the money however they like.   
Under the pilot, if a participant finds work, they will continued to receive the stipend, removing one of the limitations of current welfare systems - the disincentive to find work.
The trial is one measure introduced by the centre-right government to tackle Finland's unemployment problem.
​Juha Jarvinen, an unemployed young father in a village near Jurva, western Finland, was picked at random to receive the stipend, starting in January this year. He told the Economist that, unlike when he was receiving standard unemployment payments, he is now actively seeking work.
He had previously been offered a few part-time positions but taking them would make no sense, since it would jeopardise his welfare payments. “It is crazy, so no one will take a bit of work,” he said. 
He said he is also in the process of starting a business, is much less stressed and no longer has to go through the “silly show” of filling out forms or attending regular interviews with employment agency officials.
“I’m an artist and entrepreneur. Sometimes I’m too active, I don’t have time to stop,” he said. 
Not everyone is impressed by the pilot scheme, however. In February, Finland’s biggest union said the experiment was unaffordable and would encourage some people to work less while driving up wages in undesirable professions.
“We think it takes social policy in the wrong direction,” Ilkka Kaukoranta, chief economist of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), told Bloomberg.  
The union, which represents almost 1 million members, or a fifth of the Finnish population, said the model being tasted is, “impossibly expensive, since it would increase the government deficit by about 5 per cent” of gross domestic product.

New York passes child marriage law raising age of consent from 14 to 18

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Children aged 16 and younger will no longer be able to marry in New York state, thanks to a law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under a previous, nearly 80-year-old state law, children as young as 14 were allowed to marry if they obtained permission from both their parents and the court. Now, marriage under the age of 17 will be banned, and children aged 17 to 18 will need parental and court approval.
"This is a major step forward in our efforts to protect children and prevent forced marriages, and I am proud to sign this legislation that puts an end to child marriage in New York once and for all,” Mr Cuomo said in a statement. 
Officials estimate that more than 3,800 minors were married in New York in the decade between 2000 and 2010.  More than 167,000 were married across the United States in the same time period, according to the nonprofit Unchained at Last.
Laws in almost every state allow children under age 18 to marry with parental and court consent or in the case of pregnancy, according to the Tahirih Justice Centre. In more than half of all states, there is no minimum age for marriage.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to sign a law banning child marriage in his state just last month.
Research shows child marriages are associated with higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, spousal abuse, and divorce. Women who marry as teens are also more likely to develop psychiatric disorders and have decreased access to education and work opportunities.
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff recently highlighted the plight of one woman, Sherry Johnson, who says she was forced to marry at age 11. Ms Johnson, who had given birth to at least one child by age 10, described her married life as “terrible”.
“You can’t get a job, you can’t get a car, you can’t get a license, you can’t sign a lease,” she said, “so why allow someone to marry when they’re still so young?” 
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who sponsored a similar bill in the New York State Senate, said that allowing child marriage amounts to discrimination against women.
“Victims of child marriage are forced and condemned to a life that they did not choose with no means of escape, resulting in physical and mental health problems, loss of education and economic opportunities, and an increased likelihood of experiencing violence,” she said.

US gun laws: Colorado to arm teachers in classrooms

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Teachers are being trained to carry guns in classrooms in Colorado in order to protect children as part of a scheme motivated by a school massacre in 2012.
The three-day course, which consists of firearms and medical training, was launched on Tuesday in Weld County.
Seventeen members of staff who "would like to be considered armed first responders" have so far taken part.
The pilot programme will allow volunteers to enter schools with guns under US "concealed carry" laws.
Teachers were taken to a shooting range in Weld County, near Denver, where they were tested on their abilities with weapons.
The course, provided by the Faculty Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response group (Faster), was set up by parents, law enforcement officers and medical experts who believe that US schools are a "soft target" for violence. The group refers to schools as "victim zones". 
Faster's aim, it says, is not to replace police or security services, but to "allow teachers, administrators, and other personnel to stop school violence rapidly" and to "administer medical aid where necessary".
The group was set up following the Sandy Hook shooting massacre in December 2012, in which a rifle-wielding man killed 26 people, mostly young children, at a Connecticut primary school. 
But the move has angered campaign groups such as Safe Campus Colorado, which encourages its supporters to petition local authorities to help keep guns out of school.
"We believe concealed guns on Colorado's great university, college and community college campuses threaten the safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators," the group says on its website.
Safe Campus Colorado was set up by political activist Ken Toltz, who said in a statement to Colorado's 9 News channel that the move to train staff in the use of guns on campus was detrimental to the safety of both students and teachers.
"The dangers of adding guns to a school environment are dramatically increased by allowing loaded lethal weapons into a school environment on a daily basis," he said.

How does Faster work?

A selected school will ask staff to volunteer for training "in armed response" and "crisis management".
The school will then apply for training with Faster, a non-profit group that relies on charitable contributions, which will provide tuition for free.
Those chosen to participate attend an intensive course over three days with law enforcement personnel experienced in "active shooter situations". They will also be "tested physically and mentally".
The course not only teaches those enrolled to use firearms effectively against any threat, but also how to respond to injuries and provide medical assistance while awaiting emergency services.

Supreme Court Says You Can't Ban People From The Internet, No Matter What They've Done

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Going all the way back to 2002 (and many times after that), we've talked about courts struggling with whether or not it's okay to ban people from the internet after they've committed a crime. The question comes up in many different cases, but most prevalently in cases involving child predators. While courts have struggled with this issue for so long, it's only now that the Supreme Court has weighed in and said you cannot ban someone from the internet, even if they're convicted of horrific crimes -- in this case, sex crimes against a minor. The case is Packingham v. North Carolina, and the Supreme Court had to determine if it violated the First Amendment's free speech clause and the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause, to make it a felony for convicted sex offenders to visit social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as was the case under a North Carolina law.
In this case, Lester Packingham is a convicted sex offender for an event that happened back in 2002. In 2010, he went on Facebook to brag about getting a traffic ticket dismissed -- using his middle name as his last name. A local police officer saw the post and connected the dots to figure out that the poster "J.R. Gerard" was actually Lester Gerard Packingham and charged him with violating that NC law on using social media as a sex offender. Various state courts went back and forth with the NC Supreme Court eventually saying that the law was "constitutional in all respects." The Supreme Court of the United States, however, did not agree.
The ruling is interesting on a number of levels. It cites, pretty directly, EFF's amicus brief, noting just how important and central to our lives sites like Facebook have become.
While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear. It is cyberspace—the “vast democratic forums of the Internet” in general, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 868 (1997), and social media in particular. Seven in ten American adults use at least one Internet social networking service. Brief for Electronic Frontier Foundation et al. as Amici Curiae 5–6. One of the most popular of these sites is Facebook, the site used by petitioner leading to his conviction in this case. According to sources cited to the Court in this case, Facebook has 1.79 billion active users. Id., at 6. This is about three times the population of North America.
Social media offers “relatively unlimited, low-cost capacity for communication of all kinds.” Reno, supra, at 870. On Facebook, for example, users can debate religion and politics with their friends and neighbors or share vacation photos. On LinkedIn, users can look for work, advertise for employees, or review tips on entrepreneurship. And on Twitter, users can petition their elected representatives and otherwise engage with them in a direct manner. Indeed, Governors in all 50 States and almost every Member of Congress have set up accounts for this purpose. See Brief for Electronic Frontier Foundation 15–16. In short, social media users employ these websites to engage in a wide array of protected First Amendment activity on topics “as diverse as human thought.”
The opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, notes that the internet is a vast and changing place, and notes that the court does need to proceed with caution -- but that caution must be in the direction of protecting Constitutional rights:
This case is one of the first this Court has taken to address the relationship between the First Amendmentand the modern Internet. As a result, the Court must exercise extreme caution before suggesting that the FirstAmendment provides scant protection for access to vast networks in that medium.
And then, the opinion dives right in and says that the law is obviously a violation of the First Amendment for not being "narrowly tailored." Again, while there are a few limited exceptions to the First Amendment, they are very narrowly tailored and the Supreme Court has shown little to no interest in expanding them:
Even making the assumption that the statute is content neutral and thus subject to intermediate scrutiny, the provision cannot stand. In order to survive intermediate scrutiny, a law must be “narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest.” ... In other words, the law must not “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.” ...
And this law is not, at all, narrowly tailored. Once again, SCOTUS leans heavily on EFF's amicus brief to point out how overly broad this NC law is:
It is necessary to make two assumptions to resolve this case. First, given the broad wording of the North Carolina statute at issue, it might well bar access not only to commonplace social media websites but also to websites as varied as,, and See post, at 6–9; see also Brief for Electronic Frontier Foundation 24–27; Brief for Cato Institute et al. as Amici Curiae 10–12, and n. 6. The Court need not decide the precise scope of the statute. It is enough to assume that the law applies (as the State concedes it does) to social networking sites “as commonly understood”—that is, websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter....
From there, it notes that clearly a state could bar more specific and narrowly tailored actions that are not broadly targeting speech:
Second, this opinion should not be interpreted as barring a State from enacting more specific laws than the one at issue. Specific criminal acts are not protected speech even if speech is the means for their commission.... Though the issue is not before the Court, it can be assumed that the First Amendment permits a State to enact specific, narrowly tailored laws that prohibit a sex offender from engaging in conduct that often presages a sexual crime, like contacting a minor or using a website to gather information about a minor.
But this law obviously goes way beyond that, and the Court is troubled by this, calling it "unprecedented in the scope of First Amendment speech it burdens."
Even with these assumptions about the scope of the law and the State’s interest, the statute here enacts a prohibition unprecedented in the scope of First Amendment speech it burdens. Social media allows users to gain access to information and communicate with one another about it on any subject that might come to mind.... By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge. These websites can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard. They allow a person with anInternet connection to “become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox."...
In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights. It is unsettling to suggest that only a limited set of websites can be used even by persons who have completed their sentences. Even convicted criminals—and in some instances especially convicted criminals—might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.
The above part is the key part of this ruling, and I fully expect it to be cited repeatedly in future cases. It's the Supreme Court declaring, quite clearly, that the ability to use the internet is vital to being a part of society today, and thus there's a fundamental First Amendment right to be able to do so.
Three Justices -- Alito, Roberts and Thomas -- concur with the overall opinion, but do take some issue with the expansive nature of Kennedy's opinion, suggesting it goes too far. In the concurrence, written by Alito, they note:
I cannot join the opinion of the Court, however, because of its undisciplined dicta. The Court is unable to resist musings that seem to equate the entirety of the internet with public streets and parks.... And this language is bound to be interpreted by some to mean that the States are largely powerless to restrict even the most dangerous sexual predators from visiting any internet sites, including, for example, teenage dating sites and sites designed to permit minors to discuss personal problems with their peers. I am troubled by the implications of the Court’s unnecessary rhetoric.
I don't see how they can read the majority opinion to say that. Kennedy's opinion makes it quite clear that such things can be restricted where it's clear that these actions are narrowly targeted at situations that "often presages a sexual crime." Either way, I get the feeling that, despite these concerns, this case will be cited in useful ways to protect free speech in the future...

Pa. Supreme Court rules police dash cam videos are public

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In a decision that opens up public access to police videos, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled state police dashboard camera footage of the aftermath of a car crash must be released under the state's Right-to-Know Law.
Although it recognized there may be situations when police videos cannot be released because they are part of investigations, the Supreme Court found there's no blanket rule against releasing such recordings.
Bucking state police arguments to keep the videos out of the public realm, a 5-2 majority found decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis on whether exceptions for investigative material apply, and police have the burden to show why a video is exempt from release.
Public record watchdogs called the court's decision a significant victory for access to police records at a time when there's a growing demand for information about how police do their jobs.
"Citizens should care because it gives them the ability to access police dash camera video, which will help them understand police interaction in the community and provide accountability," said Melissa Melewsky, who filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association. 
State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said the decision is under review by the agency's lawyers.
The Supreme Court's ruling upholds decisions by Commonwealth Court and the state Office of Open Records that granted a Centre County woman's request for state police dashboard video camera recordings of a car crash in which her friend was involved.
The case dealt specifically with video taken by cameras mounted on the dashboards of cruisers driven by state troopers who responded to the 2014 crash, but it could apply to other kinds of video recording by police, such as body cameras, Melewsky said. 
That's because the high court's ruling hinges on the fact that the videos were created in the normal course of the troopers' carrying out their duties, not because they were investigating a crime.
The victory for public access may be short-lived, however, as a bill that creates a blanket exemption from the Right-to-Know Law for police video and audio recordings passed the state House on Tuesday. The Senate must now sign off on changes before sending it to Gov. Tom Wolf. His spokesman said Wolf supports the bill "as a step in the right direction."
Senate Bill 560 creates a new procedure for public access to police recordings that Melewsky called onerous.
"There are significant public access problems with Senate Bill 560," she said.
In the Supreme Court majority's opinion, Justice Kevin Dougherty rejected arguments by the state police that dashboard video recordings are criminal investigative records, which are exempt from release under the Right-to-Know Law and barred from release under the state's Criminal History Information and Records Act.
Drawing on a statement from the state police right-to-know officer, Dougherty found that state police activate their vehicles' dashboard cameras in non-investigative situations, including at crash scenes, during pursuits and when carrying prisoners.
The state police retain dashboard video recordings when a person in the video indicates they intend to use it in a civil lawsuit, the state police right-to-know officer said. That, Dougherty wrote, supports a conclusion that police dashboard videos are not always related to criminal investigations.
Dougherty wrote the Commonwealth Court, which previously ruled the videos should be released, correctly determined that the part of the Centre County video — a trooper's interviews with the drivers — that did relate to an investigation could be redacted before the videos' release. The state police contended troopers used the interviews, in part, as the basis to give the drivers traffic tickets.
Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy disagreed with the majority, filing their own opinions that said regardless of whether videos lead to the filing of criminal charges, they are part of the troopers' investigative process.
The majority also rejected the argument that requiring state police to edit the trooper's interviews forced the agency to create a new record, which is prohibited by the Right-to-Know Law. Dougherty compared it to blacking out lines in a printed document.

Stephen Hawking urges humanity to pursue space colonisation to unite Earth and elevate humanity.

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Prof Stephen Hawking has called for leading nations to send astronauts to the Moon by 2020.
They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years' time and send people to Mars by 2025.
Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.
He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway. 
"Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity," he said.
"I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.
"A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology". 
He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.
"I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen," he said.
Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.
"We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth," the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained. 
The head of the European Space Agency (Esa) Jan Woerner has said he envisages the construction of a Moon base to replace the International Space Station in 2024 and is collaborating with Russia to send a probe to assess a potential site. China has set itself the goal of sending an astronaut to the Moon.
Nasa has no plans to return to the Moon, instead focusing its efforts on sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. Though if other space agencies begin to collaborate on constructing a lunar base it would be hard to see Nasa not participating.
Prof Hawking said that there was no long-term future for our species staying on Earth: it would either be hit by an asteroid again or eventually engulfed by our own Sun. He added that travelling to distant worlds would "elevate humanity". 
"Whenever we make a great new leap, such as the Moon landings, we bring people and nations together, usher in new discoveries, and new technologies," he continued.
"To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the sixties."
He said that the colonisation of other planets was no longer science fiction, though he did pay tribute to the genre in his closing remarks.

The Life Of A 2-Year-Old Girl Growing Up With Drug-Addict Parents

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Russian photographer Irina Popova has stirred waves of controversy with her “Another Family” photo series, which delves into the life of a family living in the dark underbelly of modern Russia. She has captured the family life of little 2-year-old Anfisa and her drug-addict parents, raising a difficult question -  is the photographer an impartial observer and communicator of truth, or must she, as a human being, intervene in the little girl’s life?

The series began when Popova ran into Anfisa’s mother Lila in the streets of St. Petersburg in 2008. Lila was totally drunk but had a baby in a stroller. Lila agreed enthusiastically when Popova asked her about doing a photo shoot and even invited the photographer back to her apartment, where she met Lila’s boyfriend Pasha and their daughter Anfisa. She spent two weeks in their terribly run-down and messy apartment, where the couple partied constantly.

The raw and provocative images speak both of dangerous negligence and of enduring familial love – sometimes in the same image. Some have been outraged by the parents’ negligence and have demanded that the girl be removed from her dangerous surroundings.

The World’s Most Jealous Woman (2 pics)

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