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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 10, Issue 14: April 7, 2008

  1. Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez Escapes Censorship
  2. In D.C. Gun Case, Supreme Court May Favor an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms
  3. To Change Foreign Policy, Overhaul Defense Contracting, Eland Argues
  4. Is the “War on Terror” Creating Terrorism? (Tuesday, April 15; Washington, D.C.)
  5. Essay Contest on Property Rights Now Accepting Entries

1) Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez Escapes Censorship

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez has circumvented the Castro government’s attempt to silence her efforts at citizen journalism. After the government shut down her blog, “Generación Y,” with its vivid descriptions of daily life in Cuba, Sanchez managed to move it to an offshore server, where it is alive and well. The URL is http://www.desdecuba.com/generaciony. Although only a small fraction of Cuba’s 11 million citizens have access to the Internet, in February Sanchez’s blog received 1.2 million visits from people inside and outside Cuba, before the government temporarily shut it down.

“It is ironic that the clampdown should have taken place precisely when Raul Castro is lifting restrictions on the sale of computers, DVD players and cell phones,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa in a new column. “After all, the brother of Fidel Castro has been encouraging Cubans to debate problems openly.” YouTube and other web sites have carried video footage showing Cuban citizens criticizing some government policies, such as restrictions on travel abroad, he explains.

In a recent blog post about her family’s Easter celebration, Sanchez noted that an empty place would be left at the table to honor a relative, Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, “one of 75 independent journalists jailed by the Castro regime five years ago,” writes Vargas Llosa. “And she expressed the hope that no one would deserve the phrase hurled at her by her young son when he learned of those detentions: ‘So, you are still free because you are a bit cowardly.’”

“The World’s Bravest Blogger,” by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (4/2/08) Spanish Translation

Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

The Che Guevara Myth, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Elindependent.org—the Independent Institute’s Spanish-language website—and blog

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2) In D.C. Gun Case, Supreme Court May Favor an Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Judging by the questions several U.S. Supreme Court justices raised during the oral arguments for District of Columbia v. Heller last month, the individual-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment seems poised to regain its legal standing, according to legal scholar and Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook, author of the forthcoming book, The Founders’ Second Amendment.

“Looks like the Supreme Court is finally ready to recognize the Second Amendment as a real part of the Bill of Rights, and that D.C.’s ban [on handguns] is in big trouble,” writes Halbrook, in a recent op-ed recapping the justices’ remarks made during the March 18 hearing. (Dick Heller, a security guard, challenged the District’s ban because although he was trusted to carry a handgun in order to protect judges for his job, the law forbade him to keep a handgun at home for self-defense.)

Much of the court’s discussion centered on whether the Second Amendment guarantees a right possessed only by members of a militia. Chief Justice Roberts said it “would be an odd ‘right to the people’” if it were limited to militias, and Justice Scalia said that “tyrants took away the people’s weapons, not just those of the militia.” The attorney for the District, Walter Dellinger, told Justice Ginsburg that the amendment would apply today only if a federal law restrained state militias. In response, Halbrook writes: “The text of the Constitution already had a militia clause. As [Justice Anthony] Kennedy noted, the preamble to the Second Amendment—‘a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state’—supplemented that clause. ‘My view is that the amendment guarantees a general right to bear arms without reference to the militia.’”

“Supreme Court Confronts ‘Right to Bear Arms’ in Case,” by Stephen P. Halbrook (North County Times, 3/29/08)

Amici Curiae Brief in D.C. v. Heller for 55 Senators, the Senate President, and 250 Members of the House of Representatives, by Stephen P. Halbrook

The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook (forthcoming)

That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, by Stephen P. Halbrook

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3) To Change Foreign Policy, Overhaul Defense Contracting, Eland Argues

Working to reduce U.S. military intervention abroad without reforming the defense industry may be an ineffective way to return the United States to a less interventionist foreign policy. In a recent op-ed, “Key to Getting a More Restrained Foreign Policy: Modify Defense Subcontracting?” Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland argues that radically restructuring the defense industry, by opening up defense-contract bidding to commercial firms that do not rely exclusively on Pentagon spending, would help strength the industry’s financial independence and ultimately reduce political pressures for policymakers to send troops on missions that do not contribute to genuine national security.

“If subcontractors could move freely from commercial weapons production and back, less pressure would arise to keep the defense budget high during times of low threat,” Eland writes. “With lower defense budgets and a more modest and defensively oriented military, the Albright temptation to intervene excessively round the world would be reduced.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had argued during the Clinton administration that because the United States had a large military, it should deploy it overseas even when national security was not at stake.

“The problematical hyperactive U.S. foreign policy did not arise with President George W. Bush, but has existed through Democratic and Republican administrations since Harry S Truman was president,” writes Eland. “Although George W. Bush was especially gullible and incompetent in attempting his armed, nation-building fiasco in Iraq, the hyperactivity in U.S. foreign affairs is mainly structural.”

“Key to Getting a More Restrained Foreign Policy: Modify Defense Subcontracting?” by Ivan Eland (3/24/08) Spanish Translation

The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland

Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post–Cold War World, by Ivan Eland

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4) Is the “War on Terror” Creating Terrorism? (Tuesday, April 15; Washington, D.C.)

Tuesday, April 15; Washington, D.C.

Is it possible that the U.S. government’s response to the 9/11 attacks have served al-Qaeda interests? The “War on Terror” has inflamed many in the Islamic world who had previously been unsympathetic to violent jihad. Sorting out the real effects of the “War on Terror” is an urgent challenge. Please join us as political scientist Ian S. Lustick, national security expert Ivan Eland, and journalist and historian Gareth Porter explain how America’s enemies have used our own strength against us.

SPEAKERS:

Ian S. Lustick is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Trapped in the War on Terror; Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza and other books, as well as the new Independent Institute policy report, “Our Own Strength Against Us: The War on Terror as a Self-Inflicted Disaster.”

Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is the author of The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian. He has served as Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International, Co-Director of the Indochina Resource Center, Independent Analyst with the Inter Press Service, and a Foreign Policy in Focus Scholar. Among his books are Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam and Vietnam: The Politics of Bureaucratic Socialism.

WHEN:
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Registration: 10:30 a.m.
Forum: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Lunch to follow

WHERE:
The Independent Institute Conference Center
1319 Eighteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Map and directions

ADMISSION:

Reserve tickets by calling 800-927-8733 or e-mailing dcevents (at) independent.org.

More information about this event

“Our Own Strength Against Us: The War on Terror as a Self-Inflicted Disaster,” by Ian S. Lustick (4/4/08)

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5) Essay Contest on Property Rights Now Accepting Entries

The 2008 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest is accepting entries from college students and untenured college teachers until the contest deadline of May 1, 2008. For this year’s contest, applicants must examine the relationship between property rights and human rights.

For decades social critics in the United States and throughout the Western world have complained that “property” rights too often take precedence over “human” rights, with the result that people are treated unequally and have unequal opportunities. Inequality exists in any society. But the purported conflict between property rights and human rights is a mirage—property rights are human rights.
—Armen Alchian, “Property Rights” in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Are property rights human rights? How are they related? What are their similarities and differences? If property rights are human rights, why have they enjoyed fewer legal protections and intellectual champions than other human rights?

STUDENTS:
First Prize: $2,500
Second Prize: $1,500
Third prize: $1,000

JUNIOR FACULTY MEMBERS:
First Prize: $10,000
Second Prize: $5,000
Third Prize: $1,500

Contest guidelines and other information

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