A 46-year old Florida man, father of three, no prior criminal history, sold some of his unused pain pills to a sick friend that he thought was in a bind. His friend turned out to be a police informant. He is now serving 25 years in prison. Conor Friedersdorf opines:
It costs Florida roughly $19,000 to incarcerate an inmate for a year. So I ask you, dear reader, is keeping non-violent first-time drug offender John Horner locked behind bars in a jumpsuit really the best use of $475,000? For the same price, you could pay a year’s tuition for 75 students at Florida State University. You could pay the salaries of seven West Palm Beach police officers for a year. Is it accurate to call a system that demands the 25-year prison term mad?
Here are his kids (via Friedersdorf):
John Horner will be 72 years old by the time he’s released. His kids will be in their 30’s when he sees them again outside of prison.
The Drug War rages on.
This is this year’s World Press Photo of the Year for 2012, taken by Paul Hansen of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. It’s a photo taken on November 20th of the funeral of two Palestinian children in Gaza City. The children are brothers: two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad. They were killed in an Israeli missile strike, which hit their house. Their father’s body is also being carried further back in the picture.
This is a very tough photo and I had a small debate over whether or not to post it on here. Not because of controversy related to Israel vs. Palestine in contemporary politics, but because this is a picture of two very small, dead children and the grief that surrounds their death. It is a heartrending and personal moment, and often on here I choose not to post images that are graphic or of dead bodies, out of respect to both my readers’ preferences and to the subjects of the photos. I decided to post this one for a few reasons. It won the award, making it now a very public photo which many will see and discuss. Primarily, though, I chose to post it because I think everything about this picture is important and that it’s supposed to be seen because we are not often enough treated to a visual understanding of life as a Palestinian under occupation in Gaza or the West Bank. It matters that this photo exists for us to see and think about and it matters that we see suffering of this nature. If you are displeased that I’ve shown this photo (for reasons not including some incensed assumption that by showing you Palestinian children killed by Israeli missiles that I must support Hamas or hate anyone who is Jewish, because neither is true or makes sense), I’m sorry for showing you something you did not want to see. It was genuinely because I think it’s important that you see it.
An assumption of human free will is fundamental for any system of legal accountability. Unfortunately, the more the cognitive sciences develop, the more they suggest that our moral reasoning lies largely outside of our control—and can even be manipulated.
An example is transcranial magnetic stimulation. Experiments with TMS reveal that you canalter somebody’s moral reasoning using a powerful magnet. Unscrupulous military leaders could artificially distort their subordinates’ morality for the worse by attaching a TMS unit to their helmets. Yet if a soldier committed war crimes because somebody else had turned off his morals, it is hard to see how we could hold him responsible for his actions.
From “Who Will Be Accountable for Military Technology?” by Paul Robinson.
“Losing Humanity” is the first major publication about fully autonomous weapons by a nongovernmental organization and is based on extensive research into the law, technology, and ethics of these proposed weapons. It is jointly published by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.
Human Rights Watch and the International Human Rights Clinic called for an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. They also called on individual nations to pass laws and adopt policies as important measures to prevent development, production, and use of such weapons at the domestic level.
Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist, and major powers, including the United States, have not made a decision to deploy them. But high-tech militaries are developing or have already deployed precursors that illustrate the push toward greater autonomy for machines on the battlefield. The United States is a leader in this technological development. Several other countries – including China, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom – have also been involved. Many experts predict that full autonomy for weapons could be achieved in 20 to 30 years, and some think even sooner.
Read more after the jump.
Trenton Oldfield, who disrupted the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April this year to protest against inequality, was sentenced to six months in jail for the offence of “public nuisance”. Although the race was restarted 25 minutes later, Judge Molyneux made it clear that Trenton had disrupted the smooth running of things, and for that he must go to jail: “Thousands of people had lined the banks of the river to enjoy a sporting competition. Many more were watching at home on live television.” The message is blunt: if it’s on TV and aristocrats are involved, then the state can deprive you of your liberty for as long as it likes.