Category Archives: Points of Information

Speech codes for the year of 2010 and for January 2011

Freedom of speech alert! Fire’s speech codes for the year of 2010 and for January 2011. For the yearly “award,” get these rules::

UMass Amherst’s policy on “Rallies” has special regulations applicable to what it calls “controversial rallies”—and it leaves “controversial” wholly undefined, giving the administration unfettered discretion to invoke the policy when it sees fit. If a rally is deemed controversial, it may only take place between noon and 1 p.m. on the Student Union steps, and must be registered at least five days in advance. That’s just one hour a day on one tiny area of a campus of more than 27,000 students! Worse yet, the policy also requires that when holding a controversial rally, “The sponsoring RSO [Registered Student Organization] must designate at least 6 members to act as a security team.” In other words, student groups wishing to publicly express a controversial opinion on campus must give at least five days notice, may only do it on one small area of campus for one hour a day, and must be willing to put themselves in harm’s way by acting as their own security in order to do so.

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the real hijackers of Islam

More on the tolerance of Islam and that assassination of a Pakistani governor because he opposed Islamic blasphemy laws. Key quote:

Specifically, [Governor] Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for “insulting Muhammad.” Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands purportedly make water unclean. An argument followed. She defended her faith, which they took as synonymous with attacking theirs. Later, she says, a mob of her accusers raped her.

Naturally, a Pakistani judge sentenced her to hang for blasphemy.

And Governor Taseer, who bravely visited her and sympathized with her plight, had 40 bullets pumped into him by one of his own bodyguards.

As one commenter to my previous post on this story noted, “If they praise murder, what’s next? What kind of religion is this?”

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TSA: Living on Borrowed Time?

TSA: Living on borrowed time? Key quote:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year. At TSA headquarters alone, there are 3,526 staff whose average salary tops $106,000. And while the TSA has gotten very good at groping airline passengers and undressing them with full body scans, the organization has yet to prevent a single terrorist attack. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation released last spring revealed that at least 17 known terrorists have been able to pass through TSA security totally unhindered. [emphasis mine]

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A private science mission to an asteroid?

A proposal to revive a project to send a private science probe to an asteroid.

The original project, NEAP, was proposed back in 1997 by the late Jim Bensen of SpaceDev (now Sierra Nevada). Benson wanted to not only do research, but he planned to claim the asteroid as his property upon landing. Though his proposal never flew, it was clearly a forerunner to today’s resurgence of the private space industry, and in many ways kickstarted that resurgence.

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NPR Boss Who Fired Juan Williams Resigns

Progress? The NPR manager who fired Juan Williams has resigned. In addition, NPR’s CEO has been denied her 2010 bonus because of “concern over her role in the termination process.” And what does Juan Williams think of this?

“It’s good news for NPR if they can get someone who is the keeper of the flame of liberal orthodoxy out of NPR. . . , She had an executioner’s knife for anybody who didn’t abide by her way of thinking. . . . And I think she represented a very ingrown, incestuous culture in that institution that’s not open to not only different ways of thinking, but angry at the fact that I would even talk or be on Fox.”

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Two old unused Soviet Almaz space stations sold to private company

Two old unused Soviet Almaz space stations have been sold to a private company and have arrived in their new home on the Isle of Man. Key quote:

The stations will be initially stored in Jurby, but there plans for research, testing and possible launch into orbit.

For those who do not know, the Almaz station was built in the 1970s by the Soviet Union to do manned military reconnaissance. Two manned Almaz stations were eventually flown, Salyut 3 and Salyut 5. The station hull itself became the fundamental module for all subsequent Soviet/Russian stations, including Mir and ISS.

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TSA bans bikini woman for ‘unusual contour’ around buttocks

A woman in a wheelchair — whom the TSA had previously interrogated for an hour then denied her entry when she arrived at the airport in a bikini — was later refused entrance when she arrived fully clothed because of an “unusual contour” around her buttocks. Key quote:

Banovac offered to strip for the agents to prove that she’s not hiding anything. However, since TSA agents aren’t allowed to fully undress a passenger, they had no choice but to deny her access to her flight.

Does one get the feeling that the TSA agents are out to get this woman because she makes them look like fools?

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University of Virginia resists releasing climate documents

Another whitewash? The University of Virginia is resisting releasing a variety of climate documents being requested under the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Key quote:

In response to a previous FOIA request, U.Va. denied these records existed. However, during Cuccinelli’s pre-investigation under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (“FATA”), a 2007 law passed unanimously by Virginia’s legislature, which clearly covers the work of taxpayer-funded academics, U.Va. stunningly dropped this stance.

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