[Jakarta, LTTW] On October the 27th, 2015, the US Senate passed into law, by a significant voting majority, a controversial bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Proponents of the bill argue that it is “vital to the security of the American People”, while opponents are adamant that the bill is a violation of privacy of not only US citizens but also of international users of US-based Internet-based services.
So what exactly isCISA? Well at its core, to put it simply, CISA makes it formally legal for the US Federal Government to obtain any digital data hosted by US-based Internet-services companies, so long as it concerns US national security interests, without a court-issued warrant–granted, that is, under condition that the data be given by the private company fully voluntarily to their government. And furthermore, any private US company that does so are legally protected under US law and may not be prosecuted for any privacy violation under US law. The legal details are of course not as simple and clear-cut as this, but this understanding is an adequate baseline for our discussion.
Here we are once again confronted with the reality of how there are conflicts of interests between nations and groups of people, with matters that concern National Security faced Sovereignty and Privacy Rights. The bill had been proposed by members of the US Senate in order to combat international terrorism, and also to protect US national security. But on the other hand the sovereignty of other nations–and, perhaps even more, so the privacy rights of US citizens–must also be given at least equal amount of respect. And furthermore, even without this legal law in the United States of America, the USA has long has the technical and de-facto practical ability, to peek into and sneak into any International data that has been stored on US computer servers. So one might even ask: is it even really important whether or not these sorts of invasion on sovereignty and privacy, is even legal at all?
Chris Squire (bassist of Yes), 4 March 1948 – 27 June 2015
[Jakarta, LttW] Chris Squire—co-founder, leader, and bassist for progressive-rock band Yes—has died at the age of 67. He was suffering from a rare form of leukemia. The news was first revealed to the public via a tweet by Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes, and was confirmed via the band’s official Facebook page in a statement.
“For the entirety of Yes’ existence, Chris was the band’s linchpin and, in so many ways, the glue that held it together over all these years. Because of his phenomenal bass-playing prowess, Chris influenced countless bassists around the world, including many of today’s well-known artists. Chris was also a fantastic songwriter, having written and co-written much of Yes’ most endearing music, as well as his solo album, Fish Out of Water.”
With Yes, he has built one of the 10 most influential Rock Groups in the ’60s. He continues to play bass for the band up until one month before he passed away. When Squire announced his leukemia this May 2015, and announced that he will not be performing, it would be the first time that Yes would be performing without Squire. “This will be the first time since the band formed in 1968 that Yes will have performed live without me,” Squire said in a statement. “But the other guys and myself have agreed that Billy Sherwood will do an excellent job of covering my parts and the show as a whole will deliver the same Yes experience that our fans have come to expect over the years.” It would seem that the Yes legacy and legend would outlive Chris Squire, indeed.
Mr Squire’s perseverance, dedication, and love for music is an inspiration to musicians worldwide. The World will miss him, and perhaps even more so as his music plays on.
#LoveWins: the US Supreme Court declares same-sex marriages legal
The US Supreme Court effectively declares same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. What does this mean, legally and culturally, to the World?
[Jakarta, LttW] In a development of anti-discriminatory laws & practices arguably on the same level of Women’s Suffrage of the early 20th century (allowing women to finally vote) and the anti-discrimination movement of the 1960s, the US Supreme Court has recently declared that it is illegal to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the 50 United States of America. Though the USA is not the first nation-state to declare same-sex marriages legal (last month Ireland legalized marriage equality through a decision by national referendum), this development is most certainly very visible throughout the Internet-connected World and will affect cultural discussions on the matter for many people.
Internationally as well as within the US, many people still misperceive this legal development to be a move hostile to ‘traditional’ marriage as defined by (many, if not most) religions around the World, religions which define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. This is an understandable misinterpretation, and even the statement from the US Supreme Court have included clarification that the freedom of each religion to define doctrinally and theologically how they each define marriage–religious freedom on marriage–continues to be respected and continues to be off-limits from State intervention. This also concerns how in the past there is a legal practice called Civil Union, where same-sex couples in the past were allowed to form these ‘Civil Unions’ but in effect ‘Civil Unions’ have several distinct disadvantages when compared to legal Marriages. This difference between ‘Civil Unions’ and Marriages is one of the Legal facts which have lead the Supreme Court to declare it Discriminatory and Illegal to deny same-sex couples legal access to marriages.
But what do you think? Should We as trans-national and global societies have differing definitions of such a Universal institution as Marriage? Should Governments, Supreme Courts, and Nation States have any say in defining what a Marriage is? Do you think the SCOTUS decision is an intervention upon personal sovereignty? Have your say in the comments below if you will.
(We also happen to have this discussion on sovereignty over at our Your Thoughts section; if you feel like it, you can also jump right in there).
Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
Marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” Justice Kennedy said, adding that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
The court’s four more liberal justices joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Each member of the court’s conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn.
In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage.
“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
In a second dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia mocked the soaring language of Justice Kennedy, who has become the nation’s most important judicial champion of gay rights.
“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Justice Scalia wrote of his colleague’s work. “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”
As Justice Kennedy finished announcing his opinion from the bench on Friday, several lawyers seated in the bar section of the court’s gallery wiped away tears, while others grinned and exchanged embraces.
Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010, was on hand for the decision, and many of the justices’ clerks took seats in the chamber, which was nearly full as the ruling was announced. The decision made same-sex marriage a reality in the 13 states that had continued to ban it.
Outside the Supreme Court, the police allowed hundreds of people waving rainbow flags and holding signs to advance onto the court plaza as those present for the decision streamed down the steps. “Love has won,” the crowd chanted as courtroom witnesses threw up their arms in victory.
“Today,” he said, “we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.”
Justice Kennedy was the author of all three of the Supreme Court’s previous gay rights landmarks. The latest decision came exactly two years after his majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples, and exactly 12 years after his majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down laws making gay sex a crime.
In all of those decisions, Justice Kennedy embraced a vision of a living Constitution, one that evolves with societal changes.
“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,” he wrote on Friday. “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”
“They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment,” Justice Scalia wrote of the majority, “a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”
“These justices know,” Justice Scalia said, “that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry.”
Justice Kennedy rooted the ruling in a fundamental right to marriage. Of special importance to couples, he said, is raising children.
“Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers,” he wrote, “their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority opinion.
In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority opinion was “an act of will, not legal judgment.”
“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs,” he wrote. “Just who do we think we are?”
The majority and dissenting opinions took differing views about whether the decision would harm religious liberty. Justice Kennedy said the First Amendment “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” He said both sides should engage in “an open and searching debate.”
Chief Justice Roberts responded that “people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in his dissent, saw a broader threat from the majority opinion. “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” Justice Alito wrote. “In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Gay rights advocates had constructed a careful litigation and public relations strategy to build momentum and bring the issue to the Supreme Court when it appeared ready to rule in their favor. As in earlier civil rights cases, the court had responded cautiously and methodically, laying judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.
It waited for scores of lower courts to strike down bans on same-sex marriages before addressing the issue, and Justice Kennedy took the unusual step of listing those decisions in an appendix to his opinion.
Chief Justice Roberts said that only 11 states and the District of Columbia had embraced the right to same-sex marriage democratically, at voting booths and in legislatures. The rest of the 37 states that allow such unions did so because of court rulings. Gay rights advocates, the chief justice wrote, would have been better off with a victory achieved through the political process, particularly “when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”
In his own dissent, Justice Scalia took a similar view, saying that the majority’s assertiveness represented a “threat to American democracy.”
But Justice Kennedy rejected that idea. “It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process,” he wrote. “The issue before the court here is the legal question whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
Later in the opinion, Justice Kennedy answered the question. “The Constitution,” he wrote, “grants them that right.”
[LttW, Jakarta] Indonesia, and the people of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province, commonly called Aceh, has mourned since the recent death of Syekh Lah Geunta, one of its greatest Seudati masters, last Saturday, June 20, 2015. He died after months of complications at the age of 69. He is survived by his wife Safiah bin Puteh and six adult children.
Seudati itself is a traditional Acehnese dance-singing form using body percussion as the musical instrument. Although many of the elements are also found in traditional Mediterranean, Middle-eastern and Central-asian performing arts, Seudati (as a performing art form) is arguably an authentic “creation” of the Acehnese.
Syekh Lah Geunta’s sincere love and passion for Seudati had been delivered in many forms, ranging from performing, teaching, organising festivals, collaborating to kept learning. He also travelled the World over promoting the Acehnese arts. Syekh La Geunta was the recipient of the Bessies Award New York Dance And Performance in 1991, and the Appreciation Award from Seville, Spain in 1992. He was also one of the key figures in a cultural healing initiative called Rising Above the Tsunami, implemented by UNESCO Jakarta Office and Sacred Bridge Foundation in 2005 and 2006.
Syekh Lah Geunta was a humble guru indeed; he will be missed and remembered for his persistence in cultivating Acehnese cultural heritage.
[Jakarta, LttW] BB King, renowned & respected senior Blues Guitarist, has passed away this May the 14th, aged 89. He had been actively playing Blues Guitar & touring up to the very last months of his life, to October of 2014, when he cancelled tours due to dehydration & exhaustion related to his diabetes. He died in his home.
From the cotton fields of Mississippi to the forefront of USA Blues, his music has inspired blues guitarists, rock guitarists, and pop entertainers the world over. He is credited with having married the sounds of Mississippi Delta Blues with Urban sounds and Electrical Guitar techniques, responding to the tastes of his varied audiences while continuing to maintain his signature guitar licks.