Category: politics

Jefferson on Intellectual Property

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

– Thomas Jefferson

When did we lose the cold war?

When I was growing up during the 70’s and 80’s, we had one enemy: “The Soviets.” It wasn’t that we were at war with them, but we were taught to hate the enemy none-the-less. In a work of fiction, for instance televised wrestling, if you needed an enemy, you put a mask on him and wrote U.S.S.R. (or, for those who realized USSR was an English translation, CCCP) on his trunks. After all, everyone knew that the Soviets were evil. Even when we began to know better, we were still taught that their way of life was evil. This is what the cold war was about, as I’m sure that the children of the USSR were taught the same thing about us. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed is 1991, it appeared that our way of life had won. We would no longer have to worry about having to show our papers when traveling domestically.

One September morning 10 years later, with one terrorist act that was, statistically, an anomaly, and all of those cold war fears were realized. Our enemy is no longer the Soviet in the mask with USSR or CCCP on his wresting trunks, but the result is the same. As a result of the 9/11 attacks, we can no longer travel domestically, at least by air, without showing “our papers” in the form of a photo ID. We can no longer show up at an airport and pay cash for the next ticket to wherever our hearts desire. And even when we buy our tickets in advance, we are subjected to harassment by random KGB – err, TSA – agents.

Since these horrible events five years ago, our rights have been increasingly stripped. Once again, we are fighting a cold war, but this time it is with our own government. Our “official” stance is still that we do not negotiate with terrorists. Apparently, this is taken to mean, by the current administration at least, that we give them everything they want. By declaring “war on terror” and taking away our rights, our government has given the war to the terrorists. By invading Iraq and taking out the leader of a sovereign nation, our government has destabilized an entire region. This lack of stability plays into the hands of the terrorists because they can legitimately blame us for this problem and easily recruit new members.

Sadly, the cold war was lost five years ago, with the events following 9/11, ten years after it had ended. We have lost it as much to our own government as to the terrorists who have attacked us. Today, I mourn the loss of those who died, but I also mourn the loss of our freedoms.


I received the following email in my inbox overnight, and have posted it in as timely manner as I could.

As a Persian-American human rights lawyer and activist, I am writing to seek your support in the international campaign to save the life of Malak Ghorbany, a 34 year old mother of two, who has been sentenced to death by public stoning in Iran for committing “adultery.” As you are aware, it is extremely important to generate as much publicity and awareness about Ms. Ghorbany’s case, as well as those of other women who have been recently sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, including Ashraf Kahori.

Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a resolution to urge the U.S. State Dept. to officially condemn sentences of “sangsar” (death by stoning) in Iran. The resolution includes references to cases of Malak Ghorbany and Ashraf Kalhori, and the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on it on Tuesday, August 15, 2006. I am extremely optimistic about the adoption of this resolution, as it opens the path for other governmental bodies to take similar steps in condemning the barbaric and violent sentences of public stoning in Iran. You can read the full text of the proposed resolution at:

I would be enormously grateful if you would publish the information about Malak Ghorbany’s case and death sentence, as well as about the pending resolution denouncing the inhumane and barbaric sentence to which Malak and other Iranian women have been condemned.

You can find relevant information, along with the link to the petition that has been set up to protest Malak’s stoning sentence at the link below.


Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at


Lily Mazahery, Esq.
Legal Rights Institute
Washington, DC

U.K. Gambling CEO Arrested at U.S. Airport

There is an excellent post over on Cato@Liberty about the U.K. gambling CEO who was arrested at a U.S. airport. I have issues with the following:

The distressing part is just how far some in the U.S. government will go to impose their values on American citizens.

The really distressing part is just how far the US government will go to impose their values on NON-US citizens, much less their own. We have arrested the CEO of a UK company who has violated no law in his own country. His crime was of landing on US soil for a connecting flight, as the US wasn’t even his destination. As a US citizen, I am ashamed of the actions of our government.

More proof that Bush is a douchebag

Someone please tell me he didn’t just say that! Found on CNN:

“I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq where there’s a free press and free religion, and I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia would do the same,” Bush said.

Save Nazanin

From the website Save Nazanin:

Save Nazanin According to the Iranian daily Etemaad, then 17-year-old Nazanin and her niece had been spending some time in a park west of Tehran with their boyfriends, when three men started harassing them.

The girls` boyfriends fled from the scene, leaving them helpless behind. The men pushed Nazanin and her niece down on the ground and tried to rape them, and to protect herself, she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

The girls tried to escape, but the men overtook them, and at this point, Nazanin stabbed one of the other men in the chest, which eventually killed him. According to the newspaper, she broke down in tears when she told the court: “I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help.” Nevertheless, the court sentenced her to death by hanging.

And a little further down:

Another point worth noticing, is that if Nazanin had let the men rape her, she could in the worst case have been arrested for extra-martial sex, which carries a maximum penalty of 100 lashes.

I understand that the culture is one that values men’s lives more than it does women’s. I have a separate issue with that. But this is clearly more than a culture difference. This is not only a miscarriage of justice, but a human-rights violation.

There is not much time before her execution is carried out. Please go to the page to see how you can help.

[Update – 06/01/2006] There are unconfirmed reports that Nazanin’s execution may have been overturned. I’ll update this entry as I find out more.

Found via