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Mathieu Lonjaret
Worked at iram (astronomy institute)
Attended Joseph Fourier University
Lived in grenoble
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Mathieu Lonjaret

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There has been a new court ruling (en banc from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals) in the Abu Ghraib cases which has a profound significance beyond those cases.

The case itself is a lawsuit against a military contractor by people who were allegedly tortured by the contractor's employees at Abu Ghraib. The question ruled on yesterday was whether the "political question doctrine" bars the suit. That doctrine essentially says that when the Constitution grants authority over some question to some specific branch of government which isn't the courts, the courts don't have the power to overrule it; in this case, the defense was that because this was done under military orders and is part of the exercise of war powers, it's a political question.

What makes this especially important is that this was part of a broader legal theory pushed (very hard) by the Bush II administration, that because people (not just at Abu Ghraib, but in a wide variety of sites operated by both the military and intelligence communities) were acting in good faith under legal advice from the White House counsel that torture was legal in various cases, they should be immune to prosecution for that; and further, that because the decision to do so was made as part of the military's wartime power (which follows from the Executive's wartime power), all such questions are political questions and not for the courts to answer.

The court disagreed: in a unanimous ruling, it distinguished between things which are or are not illegal in their own right. If an action is not per se unlawful, and was done by or under the actual control of the military, the court ruled that the political question doctrine may apply – but that doctrine can never apply to an unlawful act, and that "claims [which] rest on allegations of unlawful conduct in violation of settled international law or criminal law... fall outside the protection of the political question doctrine."

That is, this is a ruling that even if something involves the military, and is done in the theater of war, that does not exclude it from the law, and "it is beyond the power of even the President to declare such conduct lawful" when it violates the law. (And torture, unsurprisingly, violates both the UCMJ and federal law)

I find this ruling important because it turns away from a direction of extreme deference towards the Executive which the courts held in the 15 years since 9/11, in which courts refused to touch nearly anything which was described as "for national security," "counterterrorism," or "part of the war effort."

In particular, if by suitable invocation of war powers, the President (or his attorneys, or a military officer) can declare even torture to be legal, then surely there is nothing else which they can't declare to be legal. A ruling that this was possible in such a case would therefore be a nearly infinite barrier to any claim against something which the Executive branch had touched – giving heavy legal weight to Nixon's infamous idea that "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal."

In an era where mass surveillance is a routine part of our domestic policy and assassination of our foreign policy, such questions become profoundly important: they are the difference between a single person being able to make these decisions, without any possibility of review except what they personally request, and having a system of laws by which the people can have a say in what is and is not acceptable.

This is only an appellate ruling, so it isn't binding on other circuits and could be overturned by the Supreme Court. However, the Fourth Circuit is generally known as a fairly government-friendly circuit, and with SCOTUS down to eight members, they may be unwilling to take such a case, preferring to leave it in the circuits until and unless a circuit split arises. Even more however, cases such as this one are particularly likely to end up in the Fourth Circuit, because that circuit includes both Virginia and Maryland, where many of the players in such fields are located. This means that this ruling is likely to carry substantial weight in these matters going forward.

It's only a small step, but it's a significant one – a step towards checking the power of a President to do quite literally whatever they want, something which our Constitution works hard to avoid.
The ruling reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
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Mathieu Lonjaret

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The LSST project (lsst.org) is looking for a project manager for its data management pipeline. It's an amazing project that will make a massively detailed movie of the sky - see the website for details. From the beginning, the project has spent a lot of thought and development on the software problem: managing a 3.2 gigapixel camera producing 15 terabytes of data a night requires some state-of-the-art tech.

If you're interested in helping run the data management group, please check out the job posting: https://rn11.ultipro.com/SPA1004B/JOBBOARD/JobDetails.aspx?__ID=*93B3F1ED4FBF8FB3
The LSST is a new kind of telescope. Currently under construction in Chile, the LSST is designed to conduct a ten-year survey of the dynamic universe. LSST can map the entire visible sky in just a few nights; each panoramic snapshot with the 3200-megapixel camera covers an area 40 times the size ...
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Kudos to Apple for pulling that off. :)
“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber. “Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?” “Yes,” she replied. …
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I'm on a boat!  (Warning:  Audio/lyrics NSFW!)

This is cracking me up, but for the more moving version, the 4k chase plane footage of the landing is better:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYmQQn_ZSys&feature=youtu.be

I got tears in my eyes watching them stick the landing yesterday.  It's the most amazing thing I've seen in spaceflight since I was a kid.  Amazing what we can accomplish sometimes.
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Yeah, I do know that they can't actually hover - the engine can't be throttled down further. But it does look very cool
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I'm looking for experienced Go programmers willing to review student code. I'm trying to help get them up to speed but don't always trust myself to really know the best ways to do things -- it would be nice to have someone looking over our shoulders. If you could do a review a week or so, let me know.

This is for the u-root project; there are several good students contributing and I want to make sure I'm not giving them bad advice.
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Any developers out there interested in joining our mission to lift a billion people out of energy poverty?

We're looking for all skills: mobile, backend, frontend.

No remote workers at this time, but you have your choice of either San Francisco, USA or Nairobi, Kenya.

If you're even a bit interested, reach out to me and I'll be happy to chat!
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Twenty-odd years ago the two tonne SOHO observatory was launched into orbit a million miles away. It's still working. But three years after launch it had an upset and stopped communicating. The recovery story is quite heroic. But first, the three errors which almost lost it: "the Investigation Board has determined that the first two errors were contained in preprogrammed command sequences executed on ground system computers, while the last error was a decision to send a command to the spacecraft in response to unexpected telemetry readings. ... two anomalous command sequences, in combination with a decision to send a command to SOHO to turn off a gyro in response to unexpected telemetry values, caused the spacecraft to enter a series of ESRs, and ultimately led to the loss of control."
- http://www.esa.int/For_Media/Press_Releases/Effort_to_recover_SOHO_spacecraft_continue_as_investigation_board_focuses_on_most_likely_causes

"The SOHO Mission was interrupted on June 24, 1998, while the SOHO Team was conducting a series of spacecraft gyroscope calibrations and manoeuvres. Operations proceeded until 23:16 UTC when SOHO lost lock on the Sun, and entered an emergency attitude control mode called Emergency Sun Reacquisition (ESR). The SOHO Team attempted to recover the observatory, but SOHO entered the emergency mode again on June 25 02:35 UTC. Recovery efforts continued, but SOHO entered the emergency mode for the last time at 04:38 UTC. All contact with SOHO was lost, and the mission interruption had begun. SOHO was spinning, losing electrical power, and no longer pointing at the Sun.
Expert ESA personnel were immediately dispatched from Europe to the United States to direct operations. Days passed without contact from SOHO. On July 23, the Arecibo Observatory and Goldstone Solar System Radar combined to locate SOHO with radar, and to determine its location and attitude. SOHO was close to its predicted position, oriented with its side versus the usual front Optical Surface Reflector panel pointing toward the Sun, and was rotating at one revolutions every 53 seconds. Once SOHO was located, plans for contacting SOHO were formed. On August 3 a carrier was detected from SOHO, the first signal since June 25. After days of charging the battery, a successful attempt was made to modulate the carrier and downlink telemetry on August 8. After instrument temperatures were downlinked on August 9, data analysis was performed, and planning for the SOHO recovery began in earnest"
- wikipedia

Much more detail elsewhere:
http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/operations/Recovery/vandenbu.pdf
https://sol24.net/files/downloads/SOHO%20RECOVERY%20Jean-Philippe%20Olive.pdf
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Cougar Mountain West #1
The big-ass white volcano is Mount Rainier.
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Hwy 20 is opening ths Friday 11 am -- hiking dams amazing   https://twitter.com/wsdot_east
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Public Service Announcement.   Either Nick Krause has stooped to using sock puppets in a desperate attempt to get patches into the Linux kernel (in which case Kernel developers would be well advised not to accept any patches from a "Bastien Philbert" since the Signed-off-by is not reliable, and he is thus violating the Developers Certification of Origin). 

Or "Bastien Philbert" has stolen patches from Nick Krause and posted them for submission without attribution (in which case patches from "Bastien Philbert" shouldn't be accepted due to his having bad taste for who to plagiarize, and well, for plagiarism).   See the evidence.gz attachment in the message dated 2016-04-06 19:34:13 GMT.

I'll let people look at the mail headers and decide which is more likely.
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Pravouta. Pay no attention to the bodies cut in half.
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kung-fu gopher
Introduction
Potato expert.
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Vegetarian, because I can. Shaked hands with Dennis Ritchie and Russ Cox. Working on Camlistore.
Education
  • Joseph Fourier University
    Astrophysics
  • Joseph Fourier University
    CS
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mpl
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programmer
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  • iram (astronomy institute)
    programmer, 2009 - 2012
  • ipgp / cnrs
    sysadmin, 2006 - 2009
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