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Today's Links: November 28, 2011

OPINION

DALIA LITHWICK: "First Amendment Smackdown: What Would the Founding Fathers Have Thought of Mixed Martial Arts?"
"MMA is a combat sport that includes boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, judo Greco-Roman wrestling and other styles of fighting. It’s held in an octagonal chain-link cage. There’s blood. (In 1996 John McCain described the sport as 'human cockfighting' but has since recanted.) Events and matches were banned in the state of New York in 1997, before the sport was properly regulated, or even regulated at all. [...] So where does the First Amendment come in? The New York law states: 'A person who knowingly advances or profits from a combative sport activity shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.' Both the ban on the fighting itself, plus this provision—allowing amateurs to participate in MMA, but just not to 'advance or profit' from it—lie at the core of the athletes’ claim that this is not an effort to suppress fighting, but merely the public performance of it."

NICK BILTON: "Fliers Must Turn Off Devices, But It's Not Clear Why"
"According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers. Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point."

JOHN AVLON: "The GOP's Supercommittee Backlash"
"Congressmen coming back from Thanksgiving break are hoping that a seasonal spirit of forgiveness—or the lingering effects of a food coma—will erase the supercommittee’s stain of failure. It won’t. There will be an enduring political price to pay for last week’s pathetic face-plant. And while confidence in the entire institution’s capacity to reason together will continue to decline, polls show that congressional Republicans are taking the brunt of the blame, specifically among swing voters."

NEWS

DRUG PROHIBITION - Drug War Sends Emotionally Troubled Kids to Texas
"The classroom falls silent as the teacher explains that victims of violence go through specific psychological stages in the aftermath of an attack. Most of these students, though, don't need a lecture to understand the lesson. It's part of their everyday lives. Many of the teens came to the U.S. seeking refuge from Mexico's drug war, which made violence a constant companion since childhood."

CLIMATE CHANGE - Climate Summit Sees Canadian Strike on Kyoto Treaty
"Canada will not make further cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, and may begin formally withdrawing next month. Though not a surprise, the news will anger poor countries that say the rich are reneging on pledges made 14 years ago when the protocol was signed."