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Comment Re:Google is a business...pretending to altruism (Score 1) 87

I'm sorry, but I think you and the writer of this article are spinning things out of proportion and turning "there is more than one application for this invention" into "Google LIED! They said they wanted to help the poors but they want to make PROFIT off rich people! Because both can't possibly happen at once!"

All I see is a patent for a potentially profitable use of their balloon-powered internet invention, filed during the days of their research and development phase. Why would they not also find alternative uses for their product, or at least figure out ways for the generally beneficial system to be self-funding after startup?

Comment Re:Google is a business... (Score 1) 87

Indeed. Though I actually can't think of a reason not to switch to hydrogen on these.... they don't carry living things, operate way above the altitude where airlines are in use, and could be safely recovered after their lift runs out by venting the remaining gas into the air.

I suppose one could go up if there's a lightning strike at high altitude, but the only difference would be a slightly bigger "whoomph" as the thing falls out of the sky?

Comment And...? (Score 2) 87

I really don't see why an innovation cannot simultaneously be both altruistic in intent and potentially profitable in application.

Who cares if they can also make some money on their invention that will bring internet to the world's remotest, poorest people at low or no cost? Good. It'll give them a reason to go ahead with it at all speed, and avoid it being shelved if they have a bad quarter.

Comment Re:No, he can't own the moon. He can take it thoug (Score 1) 248

I think that you're both suggesting the same thing. He's requesting they establish rules for private property ownership on interstellar bodies, and is opposed to a single entity claiming ownership of the entire moon. See that last sentence: "But, yes, multiple entities, groups, individuals, yes, they should have the opportunity to own the moon." He's saying something like this:

I want the ability to own a square mile of the moon and build an ice mine there, separate the water, and sell the hydrogen and oxygen to NASA as rocket fuel. But I need assurances that nobody will just walk up and take my mine later by saying "you can't own part of the moon because of this treaty from the '60s".

Also the resources worth having are: Assembly and work space that are in low gravity, launch platforms with 1/10th the fuel requirements for orbit, unknown mineral resources, water to turn into rocket fuel, and tourist destinations. (just to name a few that occur to me off the top of my head)

Comment Re:Good Grief (Score 2) 248

Those treaties are what he's requesting an amendment to, unless I missed something?

It makes perfect sense that eventually we will want to colonize land on other planets, and those colonists should have the right to own and protect the land they settle and improve. The treaties were to prevent one nation from getting there first and just claiming the whole thing as their own sovereign soil, but there shouldn't be an issue now that transport to the moon is available (in theory at least) to anyone from any nation that has enough money.

This suggests something like the Homestead act perhaps, enabling each person or family that lands on the moon the right to claim a certain amount of it, so long as they produce a given amount of improvement. In the American Homestead Act, for example, the settler was required to do things like build roads, plant crops, or fence in areas for livestock, with an upper limit of how much land they could take ownership of in this way.

Perhaps owning a piece of moon soil could require setting up air and power generating stations, sustainable occupied structures, and roadways?

Comment Re:The police are passing up a gem (Score 1) 545

Sorry, doesn't really fly. If the person had no way to know they were buying cornstarch in a cocaine sting, it doesn't indemnify the person who said "I want to buy some cocaine" and handed over money for it. They attempted to purchase drugs and went through with the transaction in the belief they were getting actual drugs.

Same thing here. If they thought it was an actual person and acted accordingly, they are just as guilty as if it was a real person. Same reason that police stings using agents impersonating children allows them to arrest people. If your logic held up, they could say they were innocent because it was actually a 35 year old FBI agent on the other end.

Comment Re:Entrapment (Score 3, Interesting) 545

Also, entrapment only applies if they are encouraged to commit the act by someone in some official capacity. Providing a target for a crime =/= encouraging someone to commit a crime.

For example: in theory a person should be allowed to leave their car sitting anywhere in any city with the doors unlocked and valuables in plain view. The fact that they haven't secured their possessions against crime doesn't make theft of the car or its contents legal. So, if the cops parked a car and left it unlocked with a wallet in the front seat, they could arrest anyone who tried to steal it without running afoul of entrapment, because they aren't actually encouraging anyone to commit a crime, they're simply providing an opportunity for the person to decide to commit a crime.

If by contrast they were to put up a sign that says "steal the wallet or a sniper will shoot you", or had an officer standing nearby telling people to steal the wallet, they'd be guilty of entrapment because they're encouraging the person to act.

Comment Re:They need to do more than that (Score 4, Informative) 603

They're referring to "Predictive Profiling", which is basically a system in which you start from the aggressor's general method of attack and work backwards to determine specific behaviors that might be indicative of their attempt to commit such an attack. Proponents actually disapprove of racial profiling as a methodology, because it introduces a weak spot in the security system. (i.e. recruit a white european woman if they're looking for dark-skinned arabic men with beards)

One of the big things that makes it relevant here is the concept of end-to-end security: The idea that people should be interacting with security personnel repeatedly but casually throughout their time in the airport, not just at one high-intensity checkpoint. If they have to talk to a security guy at the parking lot, entrance, baggage check, security point, boarding area, and cinnabon then there's a good chance they'll eventually let something slip, get noticed, or crack under pressure. The important part of that is that the security guys should not be threatening everyone, just making pleasant conversation and keeping their eyes open.

Under such a system, there would be no single checkpoint with lots of people bottled up as waiting targets. It might also have allowed earlier personnel (in the parking lot or by the entrance) to spot the threat before he reached his destination.

Comment So nobody should ever have to give testimony? (Score 1) 452

The alternative seems like it goes down a road where anyone could refuse to testify at any time if they don't want to see someone convicted of something, which (at the risk of going slippery-slope) raises a lot of other questions in terms of what would be permissible in terms of refusing to testify.

How about in a hate crime murder trial where all the witnesses agree with the guy who did it? Can they then refuse to answer basic questions about the day in question that might allow the prosecution to find hard evidence? If they all just stay silent, does the whole mob get away and avoid any charges at all, since they can't be held liable for refusing to testify against the murderer?

In the reverse situation, what about in a case where someone has been falsely accused of a capital crime, and all the witnesses are friends with the actual culprit? Can they all just stay quiet when the defender tries to ask them questions about what happened and let the innocent man hang? If their deception is later uncovered, are they legally in the clear for letting an innocent man die rather than tell the truth about their buddy?

Comment Re:It's simple (Score 1) 452

Unless I'm mistaken, the witness does in fact enjoy the same privilege to avoid answering when the answer would be self-incriminatory? The american bar association has a whole article detailing under what circumstances it's appropriate, and how to handle it when examining a witness that suddenly takes the fifth.

In fact, the very article you linked mentions that not only can a witness take the 5th, they are also allowed to do so selectively without giving up their right to testify on other matters. In that way they have more privileges than the accused while still posessing the same protections.

A witness can't just refuse to answer for just any reason, including fear of getting someone else in trouble, but that's how our justice system works for all people. Otherwise anyone could simply refuse to testify in someone's defense because of prior history, personal gain, or outside compulsion. Those types of things are an "obstruction of justice" as the term was really intended. (Meaning the person is willfully trying to avoid justice being served to another person through malicious action or inaction)

Additionally, without the compulsion to answer except under narrow circumstances, the ability to corrupt or threaten witnesses would become even simpler, since they wouldn't even need to claim duress and raise any alarm bells. In fact, most witnesses' self-interest would be best served by staying quiet, since speaking would put them at risk of retaliation, while simply claiming " I don't want to talk" means you're safe from everyone including, in theory, that dangerous criminal who's on trial.

In your example, Alice could reply with "I'm not sure" since she's only a suspected witness. She could safely claim to have been confused about what was going on, or have an unclear memory of what exactly happened, thus making her unsure whether "Bob did it". If they started to go down a path that might have something to do with her status as an accomplice, such as asking why she was on the scene, she could respond with "I plead the fifth" and refuse to answer that string of questions. She could also refuse to answer if they started asking her about prior drug use or some other unrelated crime.

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