Today’s Links: October 11, 2012


ALEXIS C. MADRIGAL: “If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor’s House, Is It Trespassing?
“Technically, I’d gone over the fence line, and if I’d done so on foot, intentionally, I would have nominally been guilty of trespassing. But if I were flying in a helicopter, a few hundred feet up, I would *not* have been guilty of trespassing. So, what about the air in between? […] ‘Once upon a time, you had the rights to your property under the soil and to the sky.  It went by the colorful, Latin label ‘ad coelum et ad inferos’—to the heavens and hell,’ Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor and former research director of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, told me. ‘But subsequent case law recognized the limits imposed by commercial aviation and other realities of the modern world.  Now you own the air and soil rights you might reasonably use and enjoy.'”

JACOB SULLUM: “If You Demand a Good, Progressive Commerce Clause, You Also Get a Bad, Reactionary Commerce Clause
“If the Commerce Clause authorizes the federal government to punish a farmer for growing too much wheat, even when the extra grain never leaves his farm (as the Supreme Court held in the New Deal case Wickard v. Filburn), it is hard to see why it does not authorize the federal government to punish patients for growing and possessing marijuana, even when the drug never leaves the state. If, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 asserted, Congress can regulate any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, or soda fountain when “its operations affect commerce’ (e.g., when an Alabama diner uses Idaho potatoes to make French fries), surely the feds can shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, even when their activities are purely local and authorized by state law.”

THE ECONOMIST: “Blunt instruments
“The fact that affirmative action’s survival depends on the retirement or appointment of a single justice reflects the ambivalence many Americans feel about it. On the one hand, affirmative action policies seem to violate the constitution’s equal protection clause, because they introduce race as a factor in decisions about how people should be treated by the law. In the absence of some kind of intervention, however, it has historically been the case that universities end up with a student body that doesn’t reflect the diversity of the population from which they are drawn—which also makes it seem like the constitutional imperative of equal protection has gone missing.”


SPACE – Scientists discover nearby ‘diamond planet’
“Scientists at Yale University have discovered a nearby super-Earth that is a ‘diamond planet’ — a planet that has a mantle made of graphite and diamond.”

HEALTH CARE – Restaurant chain experiments with more part-time work to avoid Obamacare costs
“Darden Concepts, Inc.—the umbrella corporation behind Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among other chain restaurants—is experimenting with hiring more part-time staff in order to offset the cost of implementing the Affordable Care Act.”

GASOLINE – Tesoro California Plant Swap Proposed as Antitrust Antidote
Intensifying regulatory scrutiny of record gasoline prices in California may force Tesoro Corp. (TSO) to sell its Los Angeles-area refinery to complete a $1.18 billion purchase of a larger BP Plc (BP/) plant in the state. Tesoro proposed selling its 97,000 barrel-a-day Wilmington refinery to overcome any government antitrust opposition to the acquisition, according to a company filing.”