In this issue:
Forget any subtle legal arguments. The Supreme Court's rejection of the Bush administration's plans for Gitmo military tribunals will boil down to a stark political divide—American soldiers or Islamofascist terrorists. Which side are you on?
Never mind that there were always massive questions about the power of the executive branch to unilaterally create a fourth branch of government for handling a special class of human, the non-citizen, non-state hostile combatant, as defined by the unitary executive. And never mind that some of those locked up at Gitmo are guilty of nothing more than being on the wrong side of tribal power struggles in Afghanistan. The Supreme Court decision is being read by the American public as a command to treat murderous terrorists as either civilian defendants in criminal courts, complete with court-appointed attorneys and Miranda rights, or as official POWs complete with all the international protections that implies. And the public does not like either one of those options.
Politicians who attempt to ignore this reality, or craft some in-between position, will be risking a big surprise come November.
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2. Heavy Lifting on Obesity
When a news story reads like a comedy skit, something has changed. Researchers using heavy teddy bears and other extra-weight toys in order to get kids to burn more calories signals a move into some sort of perspective-free zone where the manifestly stupid does not get a second look.
The obsession over childhood obesity in America is an exercise in ignoring the obvious. Kids are fatter because they are much, much less physically active than previous generations. Opportunities for unstructured, creative play—the kind of play that goes on for hours and burns the most calories—are greatly reduced today. They are reduced for a host of reasons including smaller families, worries about safety, and neato electronic gizmos.
Heavier blocks, balls, and teddies really are not much of a factor as long as playtime is built around busy adult schedules and adult ideas about what is fun.
3. Holes in the Net
France has adopted a new law that directs Apple to make its iTunes and iPod interface work with any music player. Why this is an issue for any nation's laws is a mystery, but it makes sense that France would worry about the implications of a proprietary system of intellectual property distribution.
The French have long complained that Hollywood distribution models have short-changed non- American films in the world marketplace. There is also a strong sense that it simply is not "fair" for one company to dominate the music download marketplace.
Apple has threatened to leave the French market rather than comply with the law. That gives rise to the suspicion that the intent of the law is precisely to drive Apple out, clearing the way for Euro-based music hawkers.
4. Quick Hits
Quote of the Week
"You want to talk about some of the stupid things Bush has done? Why restrict the best and the brightest people from coming into your country?"—Jim Goodnight, CEO of software giant SAS, on restrictions on the number of high-tech visa applicants the U.S. will accept. The alternative is for the industry to grow operations in India and China instead.
Contractors and the U.S. military build out a mobile, satellite-based network for Iraqi police that uses VoIP to create command posts out of thin air.
He Had a Dream
An Alabama jury rejects HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard M. Scrushy's plea to "make Dr. King's dream come true" and convicts Scrushy on six bribery and mail fraud charges. Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is convicted in the same scheme.
Junichiro has Left the Building
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits Graceland and sings "Love Me Tender" in the Jungle Room. Cultural imperialism wins again.
5. New at Reason Online
AFI's 99 Percent Perspiration
For God's sake don't sit down and watch America's 100 most inspiring films. Tim Cavanaugh
Light Fuse, Get Away
Roman candle nannies can't dampen a fiery Fourth. Robert Stacy McCain
Brownback's Chimerical Attempt to Curb Science
Outlawing human/animal chimeras will hurt serious research. Ronald Bailey
And much more!
6. News and Events
Reason in Amsterdam, 2006
The Grand Amsterdam Hotel August 23-26, 2006.
With Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the hit show South Park, Time magazine's Andrew Sullivan, Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, and Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, among others.
Join Reason in Amsterdam for a three-day conference on the contemporary struggle for freedom in Europe.
After a kick-off dinner on Wednesday, August 23, attendees will enjoy two days of formal sessions on everything from tax harmonization and Dutch social policy to the threat of radical Islam (the preliminary schedule is here). On Saturday, August 26, attendees will have the option of participating in a wide range of group activities, including tours of the Anne Frank House, the van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandthuis, where Rembrandt van Rijn's 400th birthday will be commemorated this year by four major exhibitions of the celebrated artist's work.
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