David Kirkpatrick

December 10, 2008

Tweaking Kim Jong iL

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:30 am

Found this LA Times while checking out the Volokh Conspiracy. Very cool way to spread some truth and outside news to an imprisoned land.

From the link:

Lee, a compact man with thick black eyebrows and a baseball cap pulled low on his head, consults a compass for the precise launch direction, then double-checks his calculations on a map.

He attaches a plastic satchel packed with thousands of vinyl fliers. He sets the timer, and waits for the right wind gust.

The first balloon floats up silently, joining the plodding gray clouds on their easy drift toward North Korea. Lee takes pictures and says a few prayers aloud.

“No one can stop this,” he says. “These balloons fly under the radar. No one sees them. They’re perfect messengers.”

Lee is equal parts meteorologist, tinkering inventor and political dissident, a man obsessed by a singular goal: to spirit messages to those left behind in his native North Korea — 23 million countrymen living under the ironfisted rule of Kim Jong Il.

To reach the isolated society devoid of outside newspapers, radio and television, the 52-year-old defector uses a simple yet elegant method to fly under the radar of North Korean intelligence watchdogs: He sends millions of leaflets northward by way of his towering helium balloons.

In this high-tech age, the balloons have struck a nerve with Pyongyang and landed Lee and other launchers center-stage in the Korean peninsula’s high-wire political standoff.

Last week, North Korea cited Seoul’s inability to control the launches — by defectors and a handful of civic groups — as a major reason to again close its border, banning tourists and reducing trade.

Tensions between the two Koreas have risen in the last year, especially after the February election of conservative Lee Myung-bak as South Korean president. The administration of Lee, who is a hard-liner on Pyongyang, says it is helpless to stop the launches.

Analysts say the leaflets are written in simple language by former North Koreans who intimately know the North’s culture and which political buttons to press.

June 26, 2008

Second Amendment intact

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:45 pm

In a widely anticipated result, the Supreme Court overturned the ban on handguns in the nation’s capital by ruling on DC v. Heller. I was hoping to link to the Volokh Conspiracy for more substantial legal reasoning, but had to settle for the easy link via Drudge above as Volokh is apparently facing major web traffic today (something along the lines of four to five times the usual). I’ll update later with something a little heavier.

I’ll add my own bravo for SCOTUS. This decision seemed pretty cut-and-dried given the current makeup of the court, but it is the first substantial ruling on the language of the Second Amendment and it was important the berobed nine got it right.

From the link:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense in their homes, the justices’ first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court’s 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms restrictions intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by “the historical narrative” both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

Do go ahead and hit the Volokh link in my blogroll and dig around. The site is slow today, but there’s a wealth of opinion and analysis of this decision.

Update — here’s a link to the entire decision via the Daily Dish.

June 12, 2008

Gitmo detainees have habeas corpus rights

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:57 pm

The Supreme Court has knocked down another of the Bush 43 regime’s effort to rewrite the standards of US law. The ruling affords Guantanamo detainees habeas corpus relief.

From the Volokh Conspiracy link:

In this post, I want to excerpt the key passages from the majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush. Boumediene is a remarkably long opinion — 70 pages, probably Justice Kennedy’s longest majority opinion ever. Here are the key sections:

   First, in Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, the Court concludes that the detainees have a Constitutional right to habeas relief at Gitmo. Here’s the holding stated in the majority opinion:

Petitioners present a question not resolved by our earlier cases relating to the detention of aliens at Guantanamo: whether they have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus, a privilege not to be withdrawn except in conformance with the Suspension Clause, Art. I, §9, cl. 2. We hold these petitioners do have the habeas corpus privilege. Congress has enacted a statute, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA), 119 Stat. 2739, that provides certain procedures for review of the detainees’ status. We hold that those procedures are not an adequate and effective substitute for habeas corpus. Therefore §7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), 28 U. S. C. A. §2241(e) (Supp. 2007), operates as an unconstitutional suspension of the writ. We do not address whether the President has authority to detain these petitioners nor do we hold that the writ must issue. These and other questions regarding the legality of the detention are to be resolved in the first instance by the District Court.