Beyond City Limits
Tuesday, Nov. 18 marks the return to court for the Rad Waste 4, protesters charged with disrupting a public meeting (a Class B misdemeanor) during a 2001 Texas Senate debate on S.B. 1541, which would have allowed for the licensing and siting of a low-level radioactive nuclear waste disposal facility in Andrews Co. The four defendants, who each face 18 months in jail, were arrested in May 2001 on the state Capitol grounds after allegedly shouting protests from the Senate gallery. Though S.B. 1541 died in the House, state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock -- who has been subpoenaed in the Rad Waste 4 case -- is expected to file a similar bill this session. -- L.A.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to rule on the federal Children's Internet Protection Act, the third attempt since 1995 to crack down on cybersmut. Like the first two (the Communications Decency Act and the Children's Online Protection Act), the CIPA was challenged by plaintiffs led by the ACLU and American Library Association, and has been set aside by a three-judge panel in Philadelphia. The CIPA would deny federal funding to libraries that refuse to install Internet filtering software; the official ALA position is that parents, not machines, should make such choices and supervise kids' library use, though many libraries, including Austin Public, do use filters on at least some terminals. The panel found that, because filters are, at best, a blunt instrument, they block too much constitutionally protected speech to be mandated in a public library; however, CIPA still applies to school libraries. As you can imagine, America's librarian-in-chief -- first lady Laura Bush -- has stayed far above this particular fray. -- M.C.M.