Take A Darwinian Approach To A Dangerous World: Ecologist Preaches ‘Natural’ Security For Homeland Defense
ScienceDaily (2009-02-23) — Global society is undergoing rapid political and socioeconomic changes, to which our security measures must adapt. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by millions of examples of security measures from nature that do just that.
Chronicle reports on recent court decision stating, effectively, that a public employee can’t exercise first amendment speech rights if the credibility of the speaker is based upon the employee’s position (yeah, take that whistleblowers!).
First the context:
As an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Mr. Renken says he felt obliged to speak out about his belief that administrators there were mishandling a National Science Foundation grant to him and several colleagues. When the university subsequently reduced his pay and returned the grant, he sued, alleging illegal retaliation.
Because he is a tenured faculty member, and he viewed the public university’s use of public funds as a matter of clear public interest, Mr. Renken figured his complaints qualified as legally protected free speech.
Now the punch line:
“In order for a public employee to raise a successful First Amendment claim, he must have spoken in his capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee,” the court said.
The professor, the AAUP, and others see this as a breach in the wall of protection they claim is provided by Academic Freedom. However, referring to the 1915 Declaration of Principles, I do not see a case to be made here, as the utterances were within the confines of the professor’s job. Continue reading
A relatively new policy tool, mandatory disclosure of infromation with a regulatory intent, is being proposed as a means to deal with the net neutrality issue. In an article announcing Obama’s choice of Leibowitz as FTC chair, Cnet reports:
On the issue of Net neutrality, Leibowitz stood out from his colleagues in June 2007 when the FTC released a report stating no new laws were necessary. Leibowitz issued an opinion saying existing antitrust laws may not have been “adequate to the task” of Internet broadband regulation.
“Will carriers block, slow or interfere with applications?” Leibowitz asked at a public hearing held by the FTC in November 2006. “If so, will consumers be told about this before they sign up? In my mind, failure to disclose these procedures would be…unfair and deceptive.”
Researchers believe that in order for such transparency to be effective a) the user behavior must be changeable via better information and b) the disclosers’ behavior (i.e. internet access providers AT&T and Comcast) must be changeable in reaction to the users’ choices. I question whether the users will have a choice even if they possess perfect information to act upon (not even gonna get into the details of whether the information disclosed is comprhensible by the average user)>