Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.
"I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences," Holder said in remarks prepared for delivery at the conference.
The United States imprisons a higher percentage of its population than other large countries, mostly because of anti-drug laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s.
The laws were politically popular at the time when U.S. crime rates were soaring, and politicians from Republican President Ronald Reagan to Democratic President Bill Clinton championed big spending increases to attack criminal gangs and drug traffickers.
President Barack Obama’s administration is betting that support has eroded because of the financial and social costs of keeping people in prison.
"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason," Holder said.
Justice Department staff have been studying changes since the beginning of the year, about the time that Holder agreed to stay on as the chief U.S. law enforcement official into Obama’s second, four-year term.
The potentially far-reaching overhaul is also expected to include the creation of local guidelines to determine if cases should be subject to federal charges, and an updated plan for release of some federal prison inmates “facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances” but posing no public threat.
Some changes Holder supports - such as giving federal judges the leeway to depart from mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses - would require changes in the law.
Whoa. Small victory or a trap?
H.L. Mencken (via eltigrechico)
You Do Not Own Your Labor
“This line of argument is confused because of an over-reliance on vague metaphor. We have to stop thinking of contract as binding promises or obligations. We have to think of it, as Evers and Rothbard argue, as transfers of title to owned resources. And we have to recognize that these owned resources are only scarce, physical goods—not “labor.” You do not own your labor. You own your body. That gives you the right to perform actions (labor), but you do not own your actions. If I perform an action that you like, and pay me for, you do not own my action. You do not even “receive” my action. You simply prefer that I engage in it, for a variety of reasons.
In other words a labor contract may be viewed as an exchange only economically, but not legally. Economically, the employer gives up title to money, in “exchange” for you performing some action. But legally, it’s not an exchange at all, it’s just a one-way transfer of title: a conditional transfer of future title to future money, conditioned on the occurrence of a certain event happening (namely: that the “employee” does a certain action). That is, if you mow my lawn, then title to this gold coin transfers to you. Again, the transfer of title in this case is both expressly conditional and future-oriented. Title to the coin transfers only if the lawn is mowed, and I still own the coin.
The performance of the action triggers the transfer of money from the employer, but the action is not literally “sold” because the employee did not “own” his labor, and the employer does not own it after it is performed. We have to stop thinking sloppily and overusing metaphors.”
— Stephan Kinsella, A Libertarian Theory of Contract
One caveat I would add is that employers pay you to perform an action and this is a one way transfer but they do so with the expectation that your performance will result in a 3rd party transferring them some sort of payment, and usually greater than the original payment for your action.
If that second transfer isn’t possible or relied on or there is no expectation of a reciprocating action/reaction then most, if not all, employers would not initiate the initial action of transferring payment to you in the first place.
The secondary action can even be a negative. For example if you pay someone to stand guard as security on your property, your expected reciprocation from 3rd parties is that they will NOT bother you or enter your property.
You’re therefore paying for an action and expecting non-action in return.
Register Of Copyrights Expected To Call For Reduction In Copyright Term
For a long time now, the idea of an overhaul of copyright law in the US has mostly been seen as a pipedream. However, it appears that the Register of Copyright, Maria Pallante, may actually be angling for a major bit of copyright reform. Coming up next Wednesday, she’s going to be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on her supposed “Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law.” Apparently, on March 4th, she gave a talk at Columbia University which has remained amazingly under the radar until now, in which she proposed a long list of possible copyright reforms, which are likely to headline the hearings next week. It’s fairly impressive, given how much attention copyright law has been getting lately, that she could present a surprising call for massive changes to the law, and not have a single person report on it immediately after the event ended. However, that is the case.
Having spoken to a few people who were either there or who spoke to people who were there, it appears that Pallante is proposing changes touching on nearly every part of copyright law, and as you might expect, it’s a very mixed bag, though I’ll withhold final judgment until we see the full details. However, the big one would be a change in copyright term length, to effectively “roll back” the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act with one caveat. That is, she’s proposing switching us back to a life plus fifty year copyright, but with the ability to renew for that additional 20 years for the tiny percentage of works that makes sense for. While, in the grand scheme of things, life + 50 is still ridiculously too long for copyright, this would be the first major reduction in copyright terms in the history of the US. That’s notable.
There are a number of other issues that she apparently is suggesting, including expanding collective licensing, “reforming” the DMCA exemptions process that has generated so much controversy lately over phone unlocking, a change to the DMCA’s safe harbors, some sort of effort around dealing with the orphan works issue (something the Copyright Office has been trying for for a while), and a “review” of statutory damages. This could get very interesting — though it’s unclear if it will be interesting in a good way or bad way. Once you open up the law, you have to realize that things could go in either direction. At the very least, a lot of lobbyists on all sides of copyright are about to be very busy for quite some time.
As we get more details, we’ll be writing more about this, I’m sure. And, of course, we’ll do our best to cover the hearing on Wednesday.
It’s a start.
I don’t know why so many of you hate corporations and the fact that they are treated as a legal entity.
Whether or not you agree with what Bradley Manning did, the fact that he’s been in jail for over 1000 days should give you pause when talking about what the government would and wouldn’t do to its citizens.
The cherry on top is that he spent 10 months in solitary confinement, and multiple US and UN officials have said that his treatment during that time was inhumane.
Here’s the sad part about all of this; Manning is a member of the military and they have their own courts and sometimes their own laws and processes.
Here’s the impossibly disgusting part about that; Obama and Congress have declared all of America a battleground, meaning that maritime law, the same laws that apply to Manning, can, in theory, be applied to all of us.
Regardless of how you feel about Manning and his actions, you should be absolutely terrified of the actions of the government.
Welcome to unconstitutional hell.
From the Wall Street Journal, written by someone who has apparently never heard of Due Process or the 5th Amendment or the Bill of Rights or the Constitution or morality and ethics.
I think the entire gripe was over the question of if US Soil can be considered a battleground and not specifically about drones themselves but their use and when and where it is permissible Because America can be labeled a battleground and we are stuck in this never ending declaration of war, then the Constitution will no longer apply to any American and we will all be subjected to maritime law where any of us can be executed at will of the President without due process or protection of the civilian code of law.
The WSJ completely missed the point. For shame.
One can extrapolate and argue that if any law without consent is not slavery, then any band of authoritarians need only to declare themselves a government and all their coercion is legalized.