Michael Tennant

“How can we imagine that a dangerous, illegal drug like marijuana should be voted on by the people? That’s not how we do medicine in this country.” Those words, spoken by a federal drug-control official, are emblematic of the contempt Washington has for the common man. Only the federal government has the right to determine what the average American may smoke or ingest, so this line of thinking goes; individuals should have no say in it whatsoever.

Like most other government programs, the War on Drugs started out small and has grown to immense proportions.

Do you think anthropogenic global warming is a hoax? Are you unconvinced that your ancestors had more in common with Cheetah than with Tarzan? Have you any doubts about the official version of how 9/11 went down? Then you, according to Evgeny Morozov, are part of a “kooky” “fringe movement” whose growth must be checked by forcing you to read “authoritative” content whenever you go looking for information on such topics on the Internet.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 09:00

Is SOPA on the Ropes?

On Wednesday Internet users got a taste of what opponents of an intellectual property bill currently before Congress say the web could look like if the bill becomes law. Popular websites such as Wikipedia, Craigslist, Reddit, Google, and Wired “went dark” or otherwise modified their usual appearances to protest the House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s corresponding Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act (PIPA). Both bills are scheduled for major actions in the coming weeks.

In recent decades such a large portion of scientific research has been funded by governments, either directly or through government-funded universities, that most people can scarcely imagine a world in which research is paid for solely by the private sector. Today, however, researchers are feeling the pinch of government cutbacks and, according to the New York Times, are turning to the Internet to raise funds for their research — a task that, while daunting, also holds rewards for both researchers and donors.

Monday, 11 April 2011 00:00

Is Your Gmail Safe From the G-Men?

Does the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that the government obtain a warrant to search one’s effects based on probable cause apply to e-mail communications? It all depends on where those e-mails are being stored.

Illinois state capitolIn its attempt to force online retailers to collect sales tax on items purchased in the Land of Lincoln, the state of Illinois may have just cost its treasury $5 million a year. That’s because the prime target of the state’s newly enacted sales tax legislation, Amazon.com, has ceased paying commissions to Illinois-based affiliates who refer people to its website.

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love. The home of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were drafted. The town where blogging costs $300.

broadbandThis Independence Day weekend Americans have been reminded once again of the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty ... and broadband?” Believe it or not, Finland has just declared broadband a legal right of all its citizens, with the government guaranteeing that every home has access at one-megabit speed.

In 2007, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). In keeping with Bush’s 2006 State of the Union pledge to make ethanol “not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks of switch grass … practical and competitive within six years,” the law included subsidies for ethanol production and mandates for its use. By 2011, oil companies were required to blend 250 million gallons of this cellulosic ethanol into their gasoline. The mandate doubled for 2012, and by 2022 it will be 16 billion gallons.

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