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9951  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: December 05, 2010, 01:16:23 PM
Real badguys tend to carry box cutters, utility type knives. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are mostly legal to carry (depending on the jurisdiction), they are inexpensive, they can deliver serious cuts with little effort and can then be quickly disposed of if used in a crime. They don't tend to carry high dollar, quality knives, at least most don't.
9952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: December 04, 2010, 09:52:25 PM
The idea of Jewish religious ceremonies and Manischewitz being consumed on Saudi soil just makes me very, very happy.
9953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman catches a well deserved beating on: December 04, 2010, 06:23:56 PM
http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2010/12/will-thomas-friedman-just-renounce-his-citizenship-and-move-china

Will Thomas Friedman just renounce his citizenship and move to China already?

   
By: Mark Hemingway 12/01/10 12:33 PM

Those of us masochistic enough to read the New York Times op-ed page with any regularity know that Tom Friedman has a long and distinguished history of praising the autocratic communist government in China as means of denigrating things here in the U.S. Today's column, however, might just take the cake. It starts with a cutesy premise -- what if China's diplomatic cables were wikileaked? What would they say?:


Read it all.
9954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: December 04, 2010, 03:36:42 PM
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/alexspillius/100017431/oprahs-show-a-new-job-for-sarah-palin/

Oprah's show: a new job for Sarah Palin?

By Alex Spillius World Last updated: November 20th, 2009

Sarah Palin is one of those people who makes her own luck. From Wasilla mayor to govenror to VP candidate in a few steps – it all just seems to happen for the gal from Alaska. But the great quandary over what to do next could now be solved: forget the White House, in 2011 an afternoon talk show slot is opening up on ABC, now that Oprah Winfrey is stepping down to manage her modest cable venture. And just a week after Palin opened her publicity tour on Oprah’s show; the timing could not be more apposite.

In 2012 the loss will be the Democrats’, not the Republicans’, for Palin as nominee would have all but guaranteed an Obama second term.

Palin is the perfect candidate to replace Oprah and even has a background in TV from her young days as sports presenter in Alaska. She is good-looking, charming and great at talking about herself. Her first guest, of course, has to be Katie Couric.
9955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: December 04, 2010, 03:31:09 PM
The best thing Palin could do is replace Oprah on daytime TV. There she could have a tangible impact on the nation and spare us the 2nd and much worse term for Barry-O as resident of the white house.
9956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: December 04, 2010, 11:53:59 AM
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-02/china-nuclear-boom-sees-reactor-builders-risk-know-how-for-cash.html


Nuclear Boom in China Sees Reactor Builders Risk Their Know-how for Cash
By Bloomberg News - Dec 2, 2010 9:00 AM MT

The ballroom of the Grand Hyatt on Beijing’s East Chang An Avenue was packed. The occasion: the first-ever China International Nuclear Symposium, a gathering of China’s top nuclear players and the world’s nuclear power companies, including Westinghouse, Areva SA, and Hitachi-GE.

What brought the Chinese to the Hyatt on Nov. 24 and 25 was a hunger for the latest technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Dec. 6 issue. What brought the foreigners was money: According to Michael Kruse, consultant on nuclear systems for Arthur D. Little, the Chinese are ready to spend $511 billion to build up to 245 reactors.

9957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: December 03, 2010, 09:30:56 PM


Progress
9958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 03, 2010, 02:14:01 PM
The population of the Soviet Union after WWII is thought to have been around 170,000,000; Stalin put a dent in that number by 20,000,000 or more, depending on how you like your corpses stacked. China's population was less than a billion when Mao ran his various pogroms estimated to have killed 200,000,000, though that is only a guess. Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Serbia/Croatia/et al have all show that unchecked government manages to very handily exceed the zero in nine billion ratio when their power is unfettered. In short there are some numbers out there that suggest hysterics like me may have math on our side when governments start trending toward unchecked power.

**Yes, I think everyone is aware how all these countries started out with aviation security programs that quickly turned into gulags and mass executions. I guess aviation security is like a gateway drug, one week, you try a hit off a joint, by the next week you're smoking crack and mainlining meth. That's how it always works, right?**
9959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2010, 01:50:43 PM
I know this much, if you have six different CPA's/tax attorney's to do your taxes (especially if you are self-employed, have complex returns) you'll probably get six different amounts owed. That has to be addressed.
9960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 03, 2010, 01:29:27 PM
As usual, you can't debate a point, so you default to the "Mao! Pol Pot!" routine.

Sorry if my posting of actual caselaw and law enforcement training documents clashes with your Libertarian fantasies. Sorry I assumed that you could actually come up with realistic alternatives to what you call "security theater". My mistake.
9961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2010, 12:46:28 PM

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/75119-irs-commissioner-doesnt-file-his-own-taxes

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman does not file his own taxes in part because he believes the tax code is complex.


During an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program that aired on Sunday, Shulman said he uses a tax preparer for his own returns.

**I guess the fact that he's actually filing is an improvement over other politically powerful types.**
9962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2010, 12:30:56 PM
The only problem is collecting it. Imagine the problems with evasion when you start looking at large purchases, heck even the small ones add up.
9963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2010, 12:06:42 PM
Fair tax, flat tax. We need to do something.
9964  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Die Less Often: Interface of Gun, Knife and Emtpy Hand on: December 03, 2010, 11:50:25 AM
Moreover, in recent years a number of controversial, high-profile encounters have been captured on news video, showing officers using what appeared to be extraordinary force to expose downed suspects' hidden hands during capture and arrest.

"Media critics and other civilians, including jurors and force review board members, seemed unable to understand the officers' sense of urgency in some of these cases," says Lewinski, FSI's executive director. "Strikes with batons or flashlights delivered by officers trying to gain control of resistant suspects' hands were sometimes interpreted as malicious outbreaks of rage and vindictiveness.

**What? People with no training and experience trash officers out of ignorance. Who'd ever imagine such a thing?**
9965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 03, 2010, 11:30:09 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8177475/US-facing-attacks-by-home-grown-terrorists-senior-adviser-warns.html

US facing attacks by home-grown terrorists, senior adviser warns
The sheer volume of terror plots against the US means that the country will become unable to prevent a fatal terror attack by a new breed of extremists radicalised in America's towns and cities, the top counter-terrorism official has warned.
 
In unusually candid remarks, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Centre, said that the nation's defences would be probably be breached by a home-grown radical, after a year-long period containing several failed or thwarted attacks that had seen the most intense terror activity since September 11, 2001.

"Although we aim for perfection, perfection will not be achieved. Just like any other endeavour, we will not stop all the attacks," he said.

"If there is an attack, it may well be tragic. Innocent lives will be lost. But we still have to be honest, and we have to be honest that some things will get through."

He said: "To say that we will not successfully defend against all attacks is certainly not to say that we are not trying to stop all attacks. We are."

The FBI last week arrested Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-born American, for plotting to detonate a bomb as thousands of people attended the lighting of the Christmas tree in the centre of Portland, Oregon.

Speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Mr Leiter, who advises the US government on the terrorist threat, said: "In this era of a more complicated threat, a more diverse threat and lower-scale attacks to include individuals who have been radicalised here in the homeland, stopping all the attacks has become that much harder."

The threat has risen in part because of the increased involvement of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical cleric.

Known as AQAP, it has pursued smaller attacks perpetrated by lone operators which have complicated the challenges facing the US security services still battling the threat of another attack on the scale of September 11.

AQAP and Al-Awlaki, now living in Yemen, have been linked to Maj Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, is accused of killing 13 people during a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas in November, 2009, and to Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian student suspected of the failed attempt to blow up a flight headed for Detroit last Christmas.

Other "lone wolf" plotters based in the US have operated with a small amount of contact with any handlers in Pakistan's tribal areas, where Osama bin Laden and the core leadership is now based.

In October Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen born in Pakistan, was sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to planning to blow up a car packed with explosives in New York's Times Square. The FBI recently arrested a man who had allegedly surveyed train stations in the Washington area as potential targets of terror.

Conceding that the anti-terror services had made errors under President Barack Obama, particularly in the Christmas plot, Mr Leiter however asserted that hard work played a part in bringing about what critics have called lucky outcomes.

9966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don Kim on: December 02, 2010, 11:53:46 PM
http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/09/office-39-200909?currentPage=all

NorKfellas.
9967  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: WHERE IS THE FOOTWORK!?! on: December 02, 2010, 09:58:27 PM
I was told that the octagon (at least the original from the start of UFC) was designed to be favorable for grapplers (Like the Gracies) and kind of squishy and unstable feeling as a base for strike oriented fighters.
9968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 02, 2010, 04:47:04 PM
"For someone who traffics so frequently in stark questions that shoulder aside shades of gray I guess this admission can be seen as progress. Still, your willingness to shuck aside just about every freedom and constitutional principle is pursuit of security remains chilling nonetheless."

Oh really? Where have I expressed my willingness to shuck aside just about every freedom and constitutional principle?
9969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 02, 2010, 04:42:50 PM
"There are plenty of folks who have the security creds to criticize the current security theater of which we partake and suggestions for improvement. You have the google-fu to find them, leaving me of the opinion your goal is not so much to expand understanding on the subject, but to get me to ground where I have no particular expertise. As that may be, I have and will certainly post the informed security suggestions I encounter."

Is it possible I have some relevant training and experience beyond just google-fu that informs my opinion?
9970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 02, 2010, 03:48:15 PM
So rather than nazis, the intelligent and nuanced opinion is that the TSA is morally equivalent to slavery?
9971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Happy Hanukah! on: December 02, 2010, 03:12:41 PM


http://winstonscat.blogspot.com/2010/12/iranian-national-air-line-has-star-of.html

Al- Arabiya reported this week that Iranian officials were outraged to discover a Star of David on the roof of the headquarters of Iran Air. Iran's national airline's headquarters was built by Israeli engineers three decades ago, but apparently no one noticed the symbol until a Google Earth user picked it up.
9972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Dept. of SOCIAL Justice and Reparations on: December 02, 2010, 03:07:32 PM
http://biggovernment.com/jcadams/2010/12/02/pigford-and-new-black-panthers-friends-at-doj/

Pigford and New Black Panthers: Friends at DOJ
by J. Christian Adams

At the Justice Department, one man has played a central role in two of the most controversial racialist policies of the Obama Administration – Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli.  This bundler of huge campaign contributions for the Obama Campaign is now the second highest ranking Presidential appointee at the Justice Department.  Perrelli is best known for his central role in dismissing the slam dunk voter intimidation case brought and dropped against the New Black Panther Party.  But the leftist Perrelli has outdone himself.

This week, the House passed a $4.6 billion payout to American Indians and black farmers as part of a settlement of alleged race discrimination claims.  BigGovernment.com has reported extensively, on the “Pigford II” settlement and how it promotes fraud.  Worse than fraud, it represents a race-driven political payoff by the Obama Administration to a favored political constituency.

Nothing happens in Washington like the Pigford settlement without the Justice Department.  The DOJ, acting as the nation’s law firm, was intimately involved in piloting the Pigford settlement through Congress and reaching similar settlements with other identity politics plaintiffs.  Perrelli ran the show at Justice in all of these efforts.

In fact, a large portion of  the settlement windfall escapes Congressional approval entirely because Perreilli’s shop at DOJ also approved a similar but separate settlement with Hispanic farmers. Instead of a Congressional appropriation, Hispanic farmers will be paid out of an existing “judgment fund.”

Like the black farmers, Hispanic farmers made claims of racial discrimination in the administration of Agriculture Department loans.  But Hispanic farmers added noisy street protests outside of the Justice Department’s headquarters.  No wonder Perrelli’s DOJ made a settlement offer of $1.3 billion in this lawsuit.  And over $680 million will flow to Indian claimants as part of the Perrelli approved “Keepseagle” lawsuit settlement.

Billions of taxpayer dollars will now flow to black, Hispanic, women and Indian farmers, or those who thought about farming.  In the administration of the original Pigford settlement in the 1990’s, even city dwellers who never farmed received payouts.  After all, the “discriminatory” policies discouraged them from becoming farmers.

The Justice Department usually plays hardball when it comes to monetary settlements.  In fact, the DOJ lawyers, including Perrelli, have an ethical obligation to protect the interests of the United States.  But like the New Black Panther dismissal, none of old rules apply anymore.

Change means change.

Perrelli became the administration cheerleader for a colossal payout to the Hispanic, Indian and black farmer claimants.  And just like the Pigford and Keepseagle claimants, the New Black Panthers seemed to have friends in high places inside Justice.

Perrelli played the central role in rushing a resolution to these claims before the Republicans took control of the purse strings in January.  Instead of fighting hard to limit the exposure of the United States, the claimants had a fellow traveler on the opposite side of the negotiating table.

Similarly, Perrelli was behind the dismissal of the already won DOJ case against the New Black Panthers who organized and ran an armed voter intimidation effort the day Obama was elected. Justice officials acted as advocates for the New Black Panthers more than they sought to protect the ballot box from armed thugs.

Did Perrelli’s zeal to have the case dismissed have anything to do with the New Black Panther’s endorsement of candidate Obama during the primaries?

Judicial Watch sued the DOJ under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain Black Panther documents.  They uncovered stacks of emails between Perrelli and his top political lieutenants supervising the lawsuit.  They reveal Justice Department political appointees, including Perrelli, intimately involved behind the scenes in driving the dismissal.

Of course the documents contradict testimony given under oath over and over again to Congress and the Civil Rights Commission that only career civil servants were involved in the dismissal.  This accuracy-challenged testimony came from both Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez.

Perrelli was the Justice official most responsible for the sketchy windfall settlements to black, Indian and Hispanic farmers.   Instead of protecting the interests of the United States, he helped line the pockets of the President’s closest political allies.  This is hardly surprising to anyone who followed Perrelli’s central role in ensuring that the New Black Panthers escaped sanctions for armed voter intimidation.  You can’t beat having friends in high places.
9973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 02, 2010, 01:23:32 PM
Parsing the deeply entwined threads of nature and nurture is a difficult task that is far from completed by the social sciences, especially because today's social sciences tend to be heavy on the "social" (Immersed in the internal politics of academia and it's ideological allegiances) and very light on the science.

Not matter the cultural software, we are still rooted in the biological hardware and it's evolutionary legacies inherent in that structure. In turn, how we as humans organize ourselves and structure our societies do not emerge from a vacuum. Human had rules, customs and taboos and methods for enforcing the models of behavior long before someone bothered to chip the Code of Hammurabi onto a stone tablet. We, as a species are dependent on our fellow humans for our survival as individuals and as a collective. As a result of this dynamic, there is a feedback loop between the group and the individual. Call it a social contract or use another term if you wish. It's a real phenomena, no matter what term is used to describe it.
9974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 02, 2010, 11:47:35 AM
Yes, and yet here we have the TSA compared with the Jim Crow south. We may disagree as to the value of TSA methods, or the constitutionality and need for them, however the comparison to the malevolent racial laws of the pre-civil rights south is obviously bogus. BBG is a smart guy, I'm sure he gets that this is just mud slinging.
9975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 02, 2010, 11:23:05 AM
You assume that there is a coherent logic equally applied. That's almost always a mistake.  grin

You raise a very good point, Doug. IMHO, the entire body of tax law needs to be dumped in favor of some coherent model that can be easily understood by the average citizen.
9976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 02, 2010, 11:14:15 AM
Homicide Trends in the U.S.
Trends by race
Racial differences exist, with blacks disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders
In 2005, homicide victimization rates for blacks were 6 times higher than the rates for whites.
To view data, click on the chart.

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/race.cfm
9977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 02, 2010, 11:06:05 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/09/AR2007080901964.html

Study: Almost Half of Murder Victims Black
 

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 10, 2007

Nearly half the people murdered in the United States each year are black, part of a persistent pattern in which African Americans are disproportionately victimized by violent crime, according to a new Justice Department study released yesterday.

The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that from 2001 to 2005, more than nine out of 10 black murder victims were killed by other blacks, and three out of four were slain with a gun. Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population, were victims in 15 percent of nonfatal violent crimes.

The new findings underscore the enduring problem of crime that plagues many African American communities, even during a period when the incidence of violent crime dropped or held steady overall, according to criminologists and other experts.

Some experts said the study also illustrates that encounters with criminals are often more likely to turn deadly for black victims than for victims of other races, in part because black victims are more likely to be confronted with firearms.

"Black victimization is a real problem, and it's often black on black," said David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo who studies crime trends. "That aspect has to be brought into any attempt to address the crime problem, and the community itself must be called into the process."


 The Justice study is primarily drawn from two sets of data: FBI homicide reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey, which attempts to measure the actual prevalence of crime through scientific polling. The Justice Department has not done a study on black victimization in more than a decade, but outside researchers have reached similar conclusions, officials said.

In 2005, the study found, blacks were victims of an estimated 8,000 homicides and 805,000 other violent crimes, including rape and aggravated assault.

The study found that black males were more likely to be crime victims than black females; that black murder victims tended to be younger than white or Hispanic homicide victims; and that blacks in poor or urban households were more likely to be victimized than those in higher-income or rural areas.

9978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 02, 2010, 09:54:40 AM
Hindsight is always 20/20. Any foreign policy decision made has the potential for unintended consequences. Isolationism and non-intevention also has consequences.
9979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 02, 2010, 09:51:08 AM
I wish Wesbury and Grannis would address how we won't be crushed by debt and other looming catastropies. It sure looks bleak to me, I'm hoping that I'm wrong.
9980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 02, 2010, 09:38:10 AM
GM,
     Taking a line from one of my favorite movies, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."  In the state of nature, at least as I conceive it, it is every man for himself.  This means that there are no formalized groups, no cultural mores, and no us vs. them.  It more more me vs. "all y'all".  In every instance that you described, Dutch vs. slaves, tribe vs. tribe, etc. there is one formalized group that has taken liberties with "the other."  All this is a smaller version of war.  England vs. France, US vs. Germany and the like. 

Our bipedal, prehuman ancestors were slower and weaker than most anything else, especially the predators. Only working in groups could they survive. The same is true today. No man or woman is an island. We emerge from parents, are socialized (or not) and fuction (or not) within whatever culture/tribe/nation we find ourselves. We reflect both nature and nurture. Isolated humans don't tend to do well, either physically or mentally. Prison inmates that are segrigated from othes, tend to develop serious mental illnesses, even with no history of mental illness.

Survival experts can teach you how to survive until you make to a place where other humans are. Very few can teach you how to exist long term away from any human culture. A hunter-gatherer in the Amazon rainforest or the Highlands of New Guinea are experts at surviving in those environments, they still need their fellow humans for long term survival.
9981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 02, 2010, 07:58:07 AM
Using a law to enforce a ritual humiliation based on race is very different from a aviation security system intended to keep all the passengers alive and unharmed, no matter their racial/ethnic identities. But I guess that's just too complex for some.
9982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 10:50:10 PM


http://www.economist.com/node/10278703

Recently, though, anthropologists have subtly revised the view that the invention of agriculture was a fall from grace. They have found the serpent in hunter-gatherer Eden, the savage in the noble savage. Maybe it was not an 80,000-year camping holiday after all.

In 2006 two Indian fishermen, in a drunken sleep aboard their little boat, drifted over the reef and fetched up on the shore of North Sentinel Island. They were promptly killed by the inhabitants. Their bodies are still there: the helicopter that went to collect them was driven away by a hail of arrows and spears. The Sentinelese do not welcome trespassers. Only very occasionally have they been lured down to the beach of their tiny island home by gifts of coconuts and only once or twice have they taken these gifts without sending a shower of arrows in return.

Several archaeologists and anthropologists now argue that violence was much more pervasive in hunter-gatherer society than in more recent eras. From the
!Kung in the Kalahari to the Inuit in the Arctic and the aborigines in Australia, two-thirds of modern hunter-gatherers are in a state of almost constant tribal warfare, and nearly 90% go to war at least once a year. War is a big word for dawn raids, skirmishes and lots of posturing, but death rates are high—usually around 25-30% of adult males die from homicide. The warfare death rate of 0.5% of the population per year that Lawrence Keeley of the University of Illinois calculates as typical of hunter-gatherer societies would equate to 2 billion people dying during the 20th century.

At first, anthropologists were inclined to think this a modern pathology. But it is increasingly looking as if it is the natural state. Richard Wrangham of Harvard University says that chimpanzees and human beings are the only animals in which males engage in co-operative and systematic homicidal raids. The death rate is similar in the two species. Steven LeBlanc, also of Harvard, says Rousseauian wishful thinking has led academics to overlook evidence of constant violence.Not so many women as men die in warfare, it is true. But that is because they are often the object of the fighting. To be abducted as a sexual prize was almost certainly a common female fate in hunter-gatherer society. Forget the Garden of Eden; think Mad Max.

Constant warfare was necessary to keep population density down to one person per square mile. Farmers can live at 100 times that density. Hunter-gatherers may have been so lithe and healthy because the weak were dead. The invention of agriculture and the advent of settled society merely swapped high mortality for high morbidity, allowing people some relief from chronic warfare so they could at least grind out an existence, rather than being ground out of existence altogether.

9983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 10:18:46 PM

http://www.economist.com/node/16422404

Chimpanzee behaviour
Killer instincts
Like humans, chimpanzees can engage in guerrilla warfare with their neighbours. As with humans, the prize is more land
Jun 24th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

.PEOPLE are not alone in waging war. Their closest living cousins, chimpanzees, also slaughter their own kind—in brutal attacks that primatologists increasingly view as strategic, co-ordinated assaults rather than random acts of violence. But however tempting it is to see these battles through the lens of human warfare, the motives for chimp-on-chimp violence are poorly understood. In particular, researchers have long debated whether the apes fight for land, or for females.

A report just published in Current Biology may help to settle the question. The study it describes, led by John Mitani, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is the first to offer a detailed picture of organised conflict between chimpanzees. Drawing on a decade of observations in the field, it concludes that, as with human conflict, wars between chimpanzees are fuelled by territorial conquest.

Between 1999 and 2008 Dr Mitani and his colleagues shadowed a group of chimpanzees called the Ngogo, who live in the Kibale national park in Uganda. Most of the time, the Ngogo chimps were anything but model soldiers—squabbling, foraging and lolling about their domain. But on 114 occasions Dr Mitani’s colleague Sylvia Amsler watched large groups of males strike out on silent, single-file patrols to the fringes of their territory.

These forays often turned violent. All but one of the 18 fatal attacks Dr Amsler witnessed occurred during boundary patrols. In each case, males colluded to kill chimps from a neighbouring group.


The territorial imperative

To understand what motivated this violence, the researchers looked at which chimps were actually attacked. If the purpose of chimpanzee warfare were either rape or the abduction of mates, then the expectation would be that adult males would be the targets of lethal violence. On occasion, they were. But most victims were juveniles, and of both sexes.

Furthermore, chimpanzee mothers were often beaten as the raiders snatched and killed their offspring. Though these assaults on mothers were rarely lethal, patrolling chimps were clearly more likely to batter females than recruit them as mates, suggesting that other motives might drive their violent behaviour.

The researchers therefore asked whether geography offered a better explanation. Using the Global Positioning System to map patrol routes and attack locations, they saw that the Ngogo chimps’ reconnaissance fanned mainly beyond their north-eastern border, encroaching onto the land of a neighbouring group. Almost all of the killings occurred in this disputed territory, which sported particularly fine stands of the chimps’ favourite fruit-tree. By the time the study ended, the Ngogo group’s campaign had displaced its rivals completely, annexing the north-eastern lands and enlarging its range by 22%.

Though the territorial upgrade may eventually attract new mates, none of the displaced females has been spotted joining the Ngogo group. This suggests that real estate, not a tight mating market, is the true motive for chimp combat. Such motivation makes sense in the context of the discovery in 2004, by Jennifer Williams of the University of Minnesota, that larger territories enabled chimps in neighbouring Tanzania to produce more offspring. This provides an evolutionary incentive for the apes to expand their range—and its associated resources—by any means necessary.

Can chimpanzee skirmishes tell people anything about their own violent tendencies? One lesson, which may surprise cynics, is that humans are more peaceful than chimps. The rate of killing Dr Mitani reports is between one-and-a-half and five times that seen in human agricultural societies—and between five and 17 times higher than attrition due to warfare among hunter-gatherers, who could have less need to defend territory than farmers. (It is also, it must be acknowledged, higher than that reported for other chimpanzee communities, suggesting that the Ngogo troop may be exceptionally bellicose.) In the context of comparisons with humans, though, the most salient feature of chimpanzee combat may be its co-operative nature.

Chimps avoid single combat. To fight successfully, they must maintain complex, collaborative social networks—suggesting that only by bonding within groups can chimps engage in violence between such groups. This has big implications. It may be the ability to form bonds with strangers was forged by the demands of war. Thus, the human tendency to coalesce around abstract concepts such as religion or nation, which underpins civilisation, may well be an evolutionary legacy of a violent past. Signs of anything similar in a species that, albeit a close-ish relative, parted company from the line leading to humans at least 5m years ago are therefore interesting.

9984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / I blame television on: December 01, 2010, 09:58:53 PM


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070514121651.htm

Female-Led Infanticide In Wild Chimpanzees

ScienceDaily (May 14, 2007) — Researchers observing wild chimpanzees in Uganda have discovered repeated instances of a mysterious and poorly understood behavior: female-led infanticide. The findings, reported by Simon Townsend, Katie Slocombe and colleagues of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and the Budongo Forest Project, Uganda, appear in the journal Current Biology.


Infanticide is known to occur in many primate species, but is generally thought of as a male trait. An exception in the realm of chimpanzee behavior was famously noted in the 1970s by Jane Goodall in her observations of Passion and Pom, a mother-daughter duo who cooperated in the killing and cannibalization of at least two infant offspring of other females. In the absence of significant additional evidence for such behavior among female chimpanzees, speculation had been that female-led infanticide represented pathological behavior, or was a means of obtaining nutritional advantage under some circumstances.

As the result of new field work involving the Sonso chimpanzee community in Budongo Forest in Uganda, the St. Andrews researchers now report instances of three female-led infanticidal attacks. Alerted to the killings by sounds of chimpanzee screams, the researchers directly observed one infanticide, and found strong circumstantial evidence for two others. Evidence suggested that in two of the cases, the killings were perpetrated by groups of resident females against "stranger" females from outside the resident group. Infants were taken from the mothers, who were injured in at least two of the attacks; in at least one case, adult males in the area exhibited displaying behavior, with one old male unsuccessfully attempting to separate the females.

The authors point out that these new observations indicate that such female-led infanticides are neither the result of isolated, pathological behaviors nor the by-product of male aggression, but instead appear to represent part of the female behavior repertoire in chimpanzees.

9985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 09:39:27 PM

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

In the decade of Darfur and Iraq, and shortly after the century of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, the claim that violence has been diminishing may seem somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene. Yet recent studies that seek to quantify the historical ebb and flow of violence point to exactly that conclusion.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
by Steven Pinker




Introduction

Once again, Steven Pinker returns to debunking the doctrine of the noble savage in the following piece based on his lecture at the recent TED Conference in Monterey, California.

This doctrine, "the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like José Ortega y Gasset ("War is not an instinct but an invention"), Stephen Jay Gould ("Homo sapiens is not an evil or destructive species"), and Ashley Montagu ("Biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood")," he writes. "But, now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler."

Pinker's notable talk, along with his essay, is one more example of how ideas forthcoming from the empirical and biological study of human beings is gaining sway over those of the scientists and others in disciplines that rely on studying social actions and human cultures independent from their biological foundation.

—JB

STEVEN PINKER is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His most recent book is The Blank Slate.

9986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 09:34:04 PM
Most anywhere on the planet. Most people live under some form of dictatorship/kleptocracy, or live without a formal government, where bands of thugs or bands of thugs under a warlord rob, rape and pillage at will. Even most hunter-gatherer tribes in various places engage in tribal warfare and clan warfare with a high rate of serious injury and fatality.
9987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 09:06:08 PM
And the slave trade originated within africa and then marketed and embraced by muslim arabs, as islam has no moral prohibition regarding slavery. The Dutch were the first europeans to get into the african slave trade. For every 1 african slave sent to the US, 7 went to Brazil. The US fought a horrific civil war to end slavery in the US. The US and England used their military forces to curb the slave trade, though it still goes on in africa and the muslim world.

So where do I look to find the state of nature you are describing?
9988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 08:25:44 PM
The US is a very open society compared with most. During the cold war, the soviets literally shipped tons of documents ordered from the US Gov't printing office back to Russia every year for analysis. In the USSR, even the most minor thing was a state secret. We have no internal borders and very little in the way of laws restricting infomation that could be useful to our enemies, with the execption of that which is classified by law.
9989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 08:17:18 PM
**I would argue that the CIA has become too legalized and risk adverse to do much of what it's supposed to do.**

http://www.gertzfile.com/gertzfile/breakdownexcerpt2.html

The National Security Agency flagged the intercepted electronic communication from Iran as an urgent message. The next day, its contents were on the desk of White House National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.

The Iranian message said the CIA, using the White House National Security Council as cover, was planning to assassinate Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The plot, it said, was being hatched by a CIA officer working in northern Iraq under the code name Robert Pope.


The top-secret report detailed a message snatched from the air by NSA's worldwide network of electronic eavesdropping stations after it was sent from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Tehran to a foreign station.


A furious Mr. Lake assumed the information was accurate, and that the CIA was moving against Saddam on its own. He called President Clinton and said he needed to see him right away. Inside the Oval Office, the national security adviser waved the NSA report at the president and shouted: "How can I run foreign policy with the CIA running rogue coups?"


Mr. Clinton advised Mr. Lake to ask the FBI to start an investigation. Mr. Lake telephoned FBI Director Louis Freeh, who obediently pursued the request.


It was March 1, 1995. Several weeks later the CIA recalled clandestine service officer Robert Baer, one of its few Arabic-speaking case officers, to agency headquarters in Langley Mr. Baer was pulled home from a covert operation in northern Iraq backing opponents of Saddam, an operation that the CIA hoped would lead to a coup in Baghdad.


His supervisor, Fred Turco, informed Mr. Baer that two FBI agents were waiting to talk to him. "We're conducting an investigation of you for suspicion of attempting to assassinate Saddam Hussein," one agent told the astonished CIA officer.


The Bob Baer case illustrates how the Central Intelligence Agency is no longer "central" or an "intelligence" agency, but very much an agency of government in the worst sense of the term - where preservation of its budget takes precedence over its performance.


What matters to the well-informed, highly trained Mr. Baer after September 11 is not how he became a whipping boy for Anthony Lake. What matters is how a vindictive CIA bureaucracy later ignored intelligence on Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorists that Mr. Baer urgently supplied after leaving the agency and writing a book about it.


The FBI investigation of Mr. Baer was not frivolous. Assassination of foreign officials is prohibited by a presidential executive order dating to the 1970s. Every CIA officer sent to the field must sign a statement confirming that he understands the prohibition.


But the Clinton Justice Department decided to investigate Mr. Baer, then a 19-year CIA veteran, for more than violating an executive order. He faced prosecution under a federal murder-for-hire statute.


The intercepted message turned out to be false information from the Iranians. The fact that a U.S. national security adviser trusted the Iranian government over the CIA, however, showed the low regard for that service held by Mr. Clinton and top advisers.


Mr. Baer explained to the FBI that he was not "Robert Pope," and that the Iranian assertion of an assassination attempt against Saddam was a lie. But it would take until April 1996, more than a year later, before the Justice Department would issue a "declination" letter stating that it would not prosecute one of the CIA's best field officers. Mr. Baer was cleared only after agreeing to take a lie-detector test.


The CIA did not come to the defense of its agent, an FBI official said. In fact, it was the FBI that warned Justice Department lawyers that the Baer investigation could be devastating for morale. But a CIA less concerned with results than political correctness had come to accept such probes as routine.


"Look, Bob, you've been overseas for almost 20 years," CIA lawyer Rob Davis told Mr. Baer. "Washington really has changed a lot. These kinds of investigations go on all the time now."


Lawyers, not spies


The CIA had years to penetrate the inner circle of bin Laden's al Qaeda network before the attacks of September 11. It had years to try to work successfully with other Middle Eastern intelligence services that managed to get fairly close. But the CIA failed.


And today's CIA sends scores of new officers into the field under the same failed, risk-avoiding policies that left the spy agency blind to and ignorant of the September 11 terrorist attacks.


Case officers, those who are supposed to conduct espionage operations, routinely file embassy-based reports to Washington instead of working the streets and befriending terrorists (or at least their friends and supporters).


"All this pads reporting volume and builds careers," one intelligence professional in the U.S. government says. "And yet we will have no new assets, we will not have penetrated the hard targets and we will not know more about anything central to our national interest. But the political people - most of them anyway - will not understand this, or want to understand it."
9990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 06:04:14 PM
Well, if we don't know about it, then we don't do anything about it. It's happened before and I'm sure it will happen again. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that most things eventually come to the surface. The US had a bad reputation for keeping secrets long before wikileaks, and I'm sure you're aware of how many things were leaked to the press during our last president's time in office, despite their classified nature.
9991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 05:57:43 PM
"One difference is that gravity is viewed through the same lens."

It can be assumed that different cultures and different times recognized the phenomena of gravity, no matter what they called it and how they explained it. Offhand, I don't know what ancient chinese scholars called gravity or how they explained it worked. Aristotle thought things had an attraction to a location due to their inherent properties. Galileo worked on using the scientific method to document the phenomena without trying to explain it. Newton's concepts set the stage but were imperfect, but Einstein's space-time model has thus far become the dominant one for understanding gravity, at least until we take the next step forward towards a unified field theory.

There is a lot of fantasy and projection associated with non-western cultures and assumptions of some "noble savagery" inherent in a closeness with nature. I know that my tribe had very strange burial habits and a love of recreational sadistic torture for enemy captives that tend to undercut those that argue for the inherent goodness to be found in human nature. Take a quick trip to africa where slavery and horrific brutality are the norms in lots of different place. I'm not sure if the machete has been used as a tool nearly as much as it has been a weapon for atrocities there. Nothing like baskets full of severed hands to fuel the diamond trade.

Let's look at the muslim world. Great place so long as you aren't female or a non-muslim or interested in questioning the theology or mind poverty. The best places in asia are the most westernized. Hunter-gatherer tribes tend to have homicide rates far worse than any inner city warzone you'd find in the US. Europe is great, aside from it's bloodsoaked history and rapid absorption into the aforementioned muslim world.

So where exactly would I find that example of a happy state of nature that isn't in a disney film?
9992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 04:50:10 PM
My nutshell explanation of the applicable laws for whistleblowers who wish to blow the whistle on things that are classified. I note that I am not a lawyer, and there are very few that practice this very esoteric law, though those that do usually have the security clearances required to represent whistleblowers in any legal proceedings. The key thing is the whistleblower cannot disclose classified information to anyone not cleared to hear it. As an example, the CIA has an IG's office that should have personnel that are cleared to take a complaint from a CIA employee alleging waste, fraud, abuse or criminal conduct. The FBI, would have Agents with a clearance to take a criminal complaint and investigate it. I'm sure the congressional oversight committees have the clearances to hear from whistleblowers from within the Nat'l Security structure.
9993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 01, 2010, 01:45:12 PM
http://moelane.com/2010/11/21/rsrh-interesting-thought-re-tsa/

Glenn Reynolds, on the news that the TSA is probably contributing to more accidents on the road:

    “Of course, a few thousand extra highway deaths don’t produce the national trauma of a 9/11, and that’s a reasonable thing to factor in somehow.”

It’s the qualitative difference between ‘tragedy’ and ‘atrocity,’ Glenn.  There is no organized conspiracy to kill American citizens via car crashes, so each death is an separate tragedy, and even in the rare cases where actual malice is involved in the crash it’s an individual malice.  But 9/11 was the result of an organized conspiracy; and a failed one, at that.  They were trying to kill 50,000 people, after all.
9994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oh when will the authoritarian oppression end? on: December 01, 2010, 12:31:22 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/sheriff-decides-to-burn-down-house-filled-with-too-many-explosives/

The audience gasped as the sheriff and other county officials showed slides of the rental home of George Djura Jakubec, which was full of hand grenades and powdered explosives in jars and in clumps on the floor.

Last week, explosives experts pulled out of the house in unincorporated Escondido, about 20 miles north of San Diego, saying it was too dangerous to continue investigating and removing the substances.

Gore said the house will be destroyed on Dec. 8 or after, depending on the weather.

“As soon as we get a clear weather pattern, we’re going to go,” he said.

But first, protective barriers will have to be built around the house, Gore said, and before the operation much of the surrounding neighborhood will be evacuated and Interstate 15 will be shut down.

The county declared a public emergency Tuesday to make the destruction possible.

Jakubec, a 54-year-old unemployed software consultant, pleaded not guilty last week to illegally making and possessing explosives and to robbing banks. Investigators suspect him of committing two holdups in San Diego County over the summer. He remained jailed on $5.1 million bail.

Authorities say it is unclear what Jakubec may have planned to do with the materials.

The explosives were discovered after a gardener was injured earlier this month in a blast that occurred when he stepped on explosive powder in the backyard, authorities said. Mario Garcia, 49, suffered eye, chest and arm injuries and was recovering.

The same types of chemicals have been used by suicide bombers and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. They included Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which was used in the 2001 airliner shoe-bombing attempt as well as in last month’s airplane cargo bombs, authorities said.

The other chemicals were highly unstable Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD, and Erythritol tetranitrate, or ETN, authorities said.
9995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: December 01, 2010, 11:47:59 AM
"Today, pundits from the left to neocon right argue that airline passengers give up their rights when they “choose” to travel by plane. They would no doubt have argued that Ms. Parks similarly gave up her rights when she “chose” to ride the public bus."

**Lacking any practical alternatives, a Libertarian uses an ad hominem attack. Nothing unusual in that. "Libertarians. Providing simplistic non-answers to complex problems since 1971!**
9996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 01, 2010, 11:39:19 AM
And being an Authoritarian means you can present stark scenarios and then give people grief for not wholly embracing all tyrannies you prescribe as a result.

**I give you grief for never having concrete, tangible policies as alternatives to the current structures in place you criticize.**

Is there any part of the founding documents of this country you won't toss down the oubliette for security's sake?

**Were it only so simple as be a binary "free/unfree" decision.
"The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."-Associate Justice Robert Jackson

Are you able to note that the kind of disruptions and heavy handed tactics being embraced are exactly the results our enemies hope for?

**I can suggest some books for you to read that will explain to you what our enemies hope for. I can tell you that TSA screening isn't giving any of them cause to run a victory lap.**

Do you think playing into our enemy's hands counts as a victory? Do the 7,000,000 flights and 9,000,000,000 passengers screened by the TSA without finding a single bomb (they do claim 150 "items of interest," but won't tell anyone what they are) count as a measure of success?

**The measure of success is the fact the 7,000,000 flights and 9,000,000,000 passengers screened by the TSA didn't die enroute to their destination from terrorist actions. That is indeed a record of success. Thanks for pointing it out.**

Should we grope everyone's groin every time there is a none in 9 billion chance that something bad might happen?

**Lacking better options (I'm still waiting for your Libertarian-friendly aviation security policies) we have use what we have available to address real threats.**

Should I start posting pictures of car accidents and relating sad stories of people who drove and died rather than undergo the indignities of air travel?

**Should you rail on how traffic laws and law enforcement oppresses drivers by imposing speed limits and insisting you drive on the correct side of the road while sober? Oh where will the statist oppression end?**

In view of the OK bombing maybe everyone who rents a U-Haul should also be groin gripped? And those who purchase fertilizer? Diesel fuel?

**Post-OK City, and especially after 9/11, new laws and new programs were introduced to make it harder for those with criminal intent to purchase the precursor chemicals to make explosives. It's not impossible, but it's more difficult, and someone trying to make a large amount of ANFO will be much more likely to end up coming to the attention of law enforcement. Is that a bad thing?**

I could go on, but at some point doesn't rational risk assessment informed by our national values have to enter into the conversation or do all of us who hold the concept of liberty dear just have to stand there and be flailed by severed baby limbs wielded by authoritarian hands?

**Like anything, it's a matter of finding a rational balance between national security/public safety concerns with individual freedoms. Something long recognized by the courts. We could never prevent every terrorist attack, no matter what was done. However, we can harden our targets, proactively seek out and make cases on those with the intent to engage in terrorism and wage war on those that wish to command, motivate and train those who would carry out future attacks on us, all while preserving core constitutional freedoms.**
9997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: December 01, 2010, 11:05:15 AM
"Muslim leaders express concern at backlash from tomorrow's terror attack."  rolleyes
9998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 11:01:16 AM
The social contract has been discussed by philosophers, they didn't invent it, just as physicists didn't invent gravity.

Nature and that includes humans are "red in tooth and claw". A quick look at how humans exist across the planet and through recorded history shows that places that lack the rule of law and/or the protection of individual freedoms are not the places most would want to live, though that tends to be the nasty, brutish reality for most humans.

My desire is to preserve the rule of law and public safety while balancing the rights and freedoms of the individual. Neither is absolute.
9999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: December 01, 2010, 10:39:04 AM
US law protects whistleblowers, if they follow the proper procedures, which includes not releasing classified materials to those not cleared for it.

http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=984&Itemid=173
10000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Legal issues on: December 01, 2010, 08:19:05 AM
**Prosecutors do tend to listen to the wishes of the victims in criminal cases, or victim's family in a murder case.**

http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32515

Overview

The term "victim impact statement" refers to written or oral information about the impact of the crime on the victim and the victim's family. Victim impact statements are most commonly used at sentencing. Such statements provide a means for the court to refocus its attention, at least momentarily, on the human cost of the crime. They also provide a way for the victim to participate in the criminal justice process. The right to make an impact statement generally is extended beyond the direct victim to homicide survivors, the parent or guardian of a minor victim, and the guardian or representative of an incompetent or incapacitated victim.

In a recent survey by the National Center for Victims of Crime, over 1300 victims were asked to rate the importance of various legal rights. Over 80% stated that their ability to make a victim impact statement at sentencing and at parole was "very important."(1)

Every state allows some form of victim impact information at sentencing. The majority of states allow both oral and/or written statements from the victim at the sentencing hearing, and require victim impact information to be included in the pre-sentence report. As of 1997, 44 states and the District of Columbia allow information about the impact of the offense(s) on the victim to be included as part of the pre-sentence report; every state allows victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing, and 47 of them allow oral statements at sentencing. (All statutes discussed in this summary are current through 1997 unless otherwise indicated. Source: National Center for Victims of Crime, Legislative Database.)

At the federal level, victim impact information is to be included in the pre-sentence report. In addition, as part of the Federal Crime Act of 1994, Congress gave federal victims of violent crime or sexual assault the right to speak at sentencing. Through the Child Protection Act of 1990, child victims of federal crimes are allowed to submit victim impact statements in measures which are "commensurate with their age and cognitive development," which could include drawings, models, etc.

Victim impact statements usually describe the harm the offense has had on the victim, including descriptions of the financial, physical, psychological or emotional impact, harm to familial relationships, descriptions of any medical treatments or psychological services required by the victim or the victim's family as a result of the victimization, and the need for any restitution. State law might list the elements to be included in the statement, or it may simply permit a "description of the impact of the offense." In addition, many states allow the victim to state his or her opinion about the appropriate sentence.


Along with victim impact statements at sentencing, the majority of states also permit victim input at the parole hearing of the offender. To provide such input, the victim is usually required to maintain a current address on file with the parole board, the prosecutor's office, or some identified criminal justice agency.

In a number of states, the original victim impact statement that was prepared for the sentencing hearing is included in an incarcerated offender's file by corrections and paroling authorities, and reviewed as part of the parole process. A number of states also invite victims to submit an updated impact statement which can include any evidence of communication they may have received from the offender or the offender's associates since sentencing, as well as any other new or updated information concerning the crime's impact on the victim (such as additional physical therapy, surgeries, etc., or continued psychological impact and/or treatment).

Less frequently, victims have input into bail hearings, pretrial release hearings, plea bargain hearings, and other proceedings. Georgia allows victims to submit an impact statement which shall be attached to the file and may be used by the prosecutor or court in making decisions at any stage of the proceedings involving predisposition, plea agreements, sentencing, or determination of restitution.

Generally, the law specifies that victim impact statements may be oral or written, but in several states the statement may also be made by means of videotape, audiotape, or other electronic means. Such flexibility in the form of the impact statement can be particularly beneficial for victims who wish to give input to a parole board, as the victim may live hundreds of miles from the facility where a parole hearing is held. Several states also allow child victims to submit drawings to describe the impact a crime has had on their lives.

The right to present victim impact information, whether written or oral, is usually guaranteed by law. However, some states leave the matter in the discretion of the judge or other officials (such as the parole board). While the laws do not always ensure that the victim impact statement will do more than allow victims a chance to express themselves, many states specifically require the court or board ruling on the offender's status to consider the victim's statements in making its decision.

In most states, a defendant has the right to contest assertions made in the victim impact statement. This is most often limited to objecting to factual statements in the statement. In a few states, the defendant or defense counsel may have the right to cross-examine the victim about the impact statement.

Until recently, victim impact statements were held inadmissible in cases where the death penalty was sought. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in Payne v. Tennessee (1991) reversed its earlier ruling and found that the admission of victim impact statements in capital cases did not violate the Constitution. A few states continue to prohibit the use of victim impact statements in death penalty cases.

For more information about the use of victim impact statements in your state, contact your local prosecutor's office, your state Attorney General's office, or your local law library.
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