Links to what I’ve been reading.
The Defense Bill Passed. So What Does It Do?
So what exactly does the bill do? It says that the president has to hold a foreign Al Qaeda suspect captured on US soil in military detention—except it leaves enough procedural loopholes that someone like convicted underwear bomber and Nigerian citizen Umar Abdulmutallab could actually go from capture to trial without ever being held by the military. It does not, contrary to what many media outlets have reported,authorize the president to indefinitely detain without trial an American citizen suspected of terrorism who is captured in the US. A last minute compromise amendment adopted in the Senate, whose language was retained in the final bill, leaves it up to the courts to decide if the president has that power, should a future president try to exercise it. But if a future president does try to assert the authority to detain an American citizen without charge or trial, it won’t be based on the authority in this bill.
All day yesterday and today, the House Judiciary Committee has been debating its controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The Senate Judiciary Committee has already passed a similar bill. Copyright holders, including the music and film industries, say the new legislation is utterly essential for battling rampant Internet piracy. Opponents of the bills, including a diverse array of law professors and tech companies, have been shouting themselves hoarse arguing that the new bills will trample online speech and potentially “break” the Internet. So how problematic are these new piracy bills? Here’s a brief rundown.
The politics of the top 0.01 percent
Even with the rise of small donors, the very wealthiest Americans contribute a vastly disproportionate amount of money to the political system. According to a 2011 survey of rich Chicagoans, about 68 percent of the top 1 percent said they contributed to a candidate, party, or political cause since 2008.