Self-Defense

The People’s Republic of China did this to our aircraft in Africa, too.  And, yes, it’s the PRC.  No one else, save us and possibly Russia, have this capability.  Russia isn’t in the East China Sea.

Lasers have targeted pilots of American military aircraft operating over the western Pacific Ocean more than 20 times in recent months….

Officials said all of the incidents occurred in and around the East China Sea, typically where the Chinese military or other Chinese civilians operate. The laser signals directed at American aircraft appeared to be coming from fishing boats operating in the area and from shore….

The Supremes Get One Right

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that authorities generally need a search warrant before they can obtain broad access to data that shows the location of cellphone users, a decision that sets privacy boundaries in the digital age.
The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, cited the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee to be free from unreasonable government searches.

And

We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information[.]

Yewbetcha.

Privacy!?

You ain’t got no privacy.  You don’t need any stinking privacy!

Using facial recognition software in combination with image storage houses like drivers license databases can be highly useful in tracking down criminal suspects.

But the combination can be highly dangerous, too, as this attitude by Joseph Michael, Washington County Deputy State’s Attorney in Maryland, demonstrates:

the expectation of privacy ends when you sit down and smile at the government desk.

Pinellas County (FL) Sheriff Bob Gualtieri argued

Norway Gets It

Norway is asking us to double the number of troops we have stationed there and to move them closer to its border with Russia.  It’s a pittance—700 Marines vs the 330 we have there now—but we need to work with Norway very seriously to figure out how to do this.

Norway said the invitation was about NATO training and improving winter fighting capability.

“Allies get better at training together,” Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told reporters.

Yewbetcha.  And joint training is especially important in the face of demonstrated Russian aggression and its stationing of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad.

A Thought on Nationhood

Germany has one, and it centers on immigrants assimilating into German culture rather than holding themselves apart while taking advantage of the German benefits that drew the immigrants in the first place.  It’s articulated by Joachim Gauck, President of Germany from 2012-2017.  He told Bild

“I find it unacceptable that people who have been living in Germany for decades cannot hold a conversation in German, do not attend parent-teacher conferences or keep their children from going to classes or sports.”

A Concept of Privacy

Personal privacy and protections against warrantless searches got a boost from the Supreme Court earlier this week.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that police need a warrant to search vehicles parked at private homes, the second time this month the justices rejected government arguments for expanding the “automobile exception” to Fourth Amendment rules against unreasonable searches.

The case at hand involved a stolen motorcycle parked in the driveway of a private residence and protected from the elements (and perhaps (even probably) from being seen by police) by a tarp.  A police officer recognized from Facebook postings the residence, saw the fact of a motorcycle under the tarp, entered the property, lifted the tarp, and looked over the motorcycle—all without a warrant.

The FBI and Backdoors

Recall that the FBI has long wanted government-accessible backdoors into our personal but encrypted communications.  “Trust us,” FBI leadership assures us, “we wouldn’t misuse that access; we’ll only use for ‘criminal’ investigations, and only with government authorization.”  And they’ve claimed in support of that wide-eyed innocence that they can’t break into over 7,000 cell phones in the pursuit of criminal investigations.  Current FBI Director Christopher Wray even put the number at over 7,700.

However.

On Tuesday, the FBI told PCMag that a programming error resulted in a “significant overcounting” of the encrypted devices. “The FBI is currently conducting an in-depth review of how this over-counting previously occurred,” the agency said in a statement.

A Tenth Circuit Speculator

The Institute for Justice summarized a 10th Circuit case regarding a car involved in an immediately prior weapons case, its driver, and a weapon thusly:

Aurora, CO, police run tags on car with broken tail light, discover the car was seized three weeks earlier in weapons-possession case and a man (a known gang member) associated with the car was arrested. They pull it over; the man is in it; they frisk him and find a gun. He’s charged with being a felon in possession. Suppress the evidence? No need, says the 10th Circuit. Though he was calm and compliant, officers were justified in patting him down to ensure their safety.
Dissent: The gov’t is going to use this decision to justify frisks in a much broader variety of circumstances than the ones here.

Selling Out Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago in the Russian city of Sochi, which is next door to Russia-partitioned Georgia and a short Black Sea hop from Russian-occupied Crimea and eastern Ukraine.  While the two talked of many things: of cease fires—and peace keepers—and pipelines—of Iran—and deals—and things—and why the region is boiling hot (they didn’t get to flying pigs), one thing they discussed jumped out at me.  Deutsche Welle cited Merkel as insisting that

…the Minsk accord was the “only basis” to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine….

Congressional Intent

In a piece centered on Federalism and the Supreme Court’s ruling that Congress cannot require individual States to ban sports gambling, there’s this bit at the end of the article that interests my grasshopper mind.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in concurring, protested the Court’s analysis of Congressional intent.

The Court also determined that PASPA’s [Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] prohibition on sports gambling advertising can’t be severed from the law. But as Justice Clarence Thomas noted in his pithy concurrence, the Court’s severability analysis requires courts to make “a nebulous inquiry into hypothetical congressional intent.”