Obama commutes Pvt. Manning’s sentence for leaking military secrets

Bradley_Manning_US_ArmyIn one of his last official acts, President Obama used his Constitutional power to grant pardons to commute the sentence of Pvt. Bradley Manning, who leaked thousands of military and diplomatic secrets during the Iraq War.  Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence at the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, now goes by the name of  “Chelsea” and has been seeking government-funded gender-reassignment surgery.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks who is holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London,  has said  that if Obama commutes Manning, he would agree to extradition in the United States to face charges of publishing classified material.  (That would presumably be better than extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape and sexual assault.)  Manning’s revelations helped bring Wikileaks to prominence.

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Czech Republic tells citizens to arm themselves

Cz805The Czech Republic, perhaps the most pro-gun nation in Europe, has called on its citizens to arm themselves as a line of defense against terrorists.

Meanwhile, the former Soviet satellite has been battling the European Union, of which it is a member, which has been trying to pass more gun restrictions.  With the help of Finland, Germany, and various national “right wing” groups, the measure was weakened.  But the version that passed will still force member nations, including the Czechs, to impose a ban on “military-style” firearms and to require gun buyers to pass “psychological checks.”

Nevertheless, the Czechs are considering a constitutional amendment to strengthen gun rights. [Read more…]

Obama gets tough on immigration

Carnival_Liberty_Cuban_RefugeesWith about a week left in office, President Obama has finally cracked down on immigration:  against Cubans.   Escapees from our Communist neighbor have long been given automatic legal immigrant status once they arrive on our shores. But no more.  Now they will be returned for punishment.

The Obama administration says that now, in light of our “normalized relations” with Cuba, Cuban refugees will be treated like any other immigrants.  Except other immigrants are allowed to enter illegally with impunity and they are hardly ever returned to their homelands.  Yes, Fidel Castro is dead, but his brother Raul, now in charge, is also said to be a merciless dictator.  Cubans fleeing Communism tend to be freedom-loving types who–like the families of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz–tend to become conservative Republicans. Could this have anything to do with this tightly-focused crackdown?  Surely not.

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Gay divorce

divorce-1021280_640We have gay marriage.  Now we are also getting gay divorce.  The New York Times has published an op-ed piece entitled  “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.”  The author, Meredith Maran, tells with poignant honesty how she crusaded for gay marriage, took the plunge, but then went through a long, costly, and painful divorce.

After the jump, theology professor Denny Burk quotes from the article and comments on the problem:  wanting the rights of marriage without the norms of marriage (fidelity, permanence).

The same could be said of many heterosexual marriages.  But is there anything about gay relationships that makes permanence especially difficult?  What role might bearing children play in making marriage permanent?  But how would you account for marriages with children that break up anyway?  Some people are saying that marriages shouldn’t necessarily be permanent at all, though breakups are still traumatic, even for those who think that way.  Do you have any suggestions for lowering the incidence of divorce, including among heterosexual Christians?
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Legal rights for robots as “electronic persons”

I_Robot_-_RunaroundA committee of the European Parliament has passed a measure that would give legal rights to robots, classifying them as “electronic persons.”  It also imposes obligations, such as liability for any damages they might be responsible for.  The report also says that robots must not be made so as to appear “emotionally dependent” and must have a kill switch, should they go rogue.
That the committee is thinking in science fiction terms is evident in its implementation of Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, which he developed in his I, Robot series:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

The committee measure says, “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm,” while allowing robots the right to defend themselves as long as this rule is not violated.  The measure specifically says that developers must follow Asimov’s laws.

The entire European Parliament will vote on the measure in February.  For the entire document in English go here. [Read more…]

Living under the law

3619878820_a375c3f2ca_mMore from David Zahl., who distinguishes between the big-L “Law” (of God) and the little-l “law” that people today try, futilely, to live by. . . .

The latter too is a sign of how people today are obsessed with justifying themselves, even though they can’t.   We need to point them to the justification they can have, freely, through Christ.

I would add that those of us who have that justification should remember it more and should apply it when we ourselves fall into these syndromes of perfectionism and the busyness that Zahl analyzes.

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