Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

I-751 (Petition to Remove Greencard Conditions) Tips

Posted in Government, Law, USA by Elliott Back on May 14th, 2013.

I recently went through the successful application to remove conditions on residence (I-751) with my wife, and found there were a few things I could have done better with my initial submission.

We unfortunately received (and responded to) an RFE (Request for Evidence) due to insufficient documentation for the petition. I had included standard items, like the last joint bank statements, marriage certificate, etc, but it wasn’t enough to prove a “bona fide” marriage.

Some tips I’d suggest for anyone looking to file this on their own:

  • Consult a lawyer when preparing your filings. Yes, it will cost you $300-$600, but it can help you prevent mistakes at the onset.
  • Draft up a cover letter detailing each piece of evidence, the time span it covers, across various categories
  • Include any beneficiary information you have
  • Your evidence should span the entire period of marriage–in my RFE I submitted information from just before our marriage date, quarterly, to the present
  • Highlighting the petitioner’s name, spouse’s name, and dates on evidence will help your examiner work the case faster
  • Include a couple affidavits; it’s easy to ask your friends/colleagues to draft one, and helpful.

Note: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, just my own personal experience.

Star Wars Bluray: The Complete Box Set

Posted in Movie, Movies by Elliott Back 1 week, 2 days ago.

I’m excited; the entire Star Wars collection is coming out on Bluray this fall. Amazon (see the link below) is selling it for $89.99 (36% off) and I’ve put in my preorder already, with the added benefit of free shipping and release-day delivery from Amazon Prime. See, my wife has never seen Star Wars, and I want to get through at least “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” with her in order to further her cultural scifi education.


Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]

Meanwhile as a massive nerd, I will be checking out the never-before-scene additional footage. The press-release highlights some of the features that you will be able to see:

Bring home the adventure and share Star Wars™ with your whole family – when STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment! To be released beginning on September 12 internationally and on September 16 in North America, the nine-disc collection brings the wonder of the entire Saga direct to your living room, where you can revisit all of your favorite Star Wars moments – in gorgeous high definition and with pristine, 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Dive deeper into the universe with an unprecedented 40+ hours of special features, highlighted by never-before-seen content sourced from the Lucasfilm archives.

There’s even a Bluray disc (number 9) containing Star Wars documentaries, like “Star Warriors” (2007), “A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later” (2010), and “Star Wars Spoofs” (2011). There are some downsides:

  1. This is not the “original version” of the classic trilogy. You will have to deal with Greedo shooting first, etc.
  2. This is not a new transfer of Star Wars; it’s basically going to be a slightly better version of the 2004 edition. There’s no new HD 4k transfer.
  3. These discs are 4:3 wide, not 19:9 widescreen

Obama Murders Osama: The Illegal Assassination of America’s #1 Enemy

Posted in Homeland Security, Law, Politics, President by Elliott Back 1 week, 4 days ago.

What gave President Obama the right to order Navy Seals to invade the foreign sovereign nation of Pakistan, fly inland 50 kilometers from the Capital, and murder an unarmed foreign citizen? According to Reuters, “‘this was a kill operation,’ U.S. national security official [said], clarifying no desire to capture Osama bin Laden alive.” In the NY Times article New U.S. Account Says Bin Laden Was Unarmed During Raid, they clarify:

Bin Laden’s wife, who was with him in the room, “rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed,” said the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, reading from the brief account, which was provided by the Defense Department. “Bin Laden was then shot and killed. He was not armed.”

Despite expecting Bin Laden to put up a fight, Mr. Brennan said the assault team had made contingency plans for capturing, rather than killing him. “If we had the opportunity to take Bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that,” he said.

After the atrocities of World War II, there were held a series of military tribunals called the Nuremberg Trials, where German leadership was tried under doctrine drawn up by the occupying powers. By attempting to create and follow a criminal war-crimes procedure rooted in justice, the trials dispelled notions of “victor’s justice” and “murder by court.”

So why couldn’t we do the same with Osama? Here are two reasons why we should:

Executive Order 12333

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed into law this order which stated that “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” This restated Gerald Ford’s ban on political assassinations, and Jimmy Carter’s ban on indirect assassination. Of course, this does not apply to enemy combatants…

“Grave Breaches” of the Geneva Convention

We haven’t seen any evidence that Osama was actively engaged against the United States; when he was confronted by Navy Seals, he was unarmed. He should therefore have been accorded protection as a prisoner of war, fairly treated, and granted a fair trial. Instead he was assassinated.

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Reason’s Did the killing of Osama bin Laden violate U.S. law?:

“We’re violating our basic values and our basic principles, which is that we accord everybody due process and we don’t engage in summary executions,” argued libertarian Fox Business Channel host Judge Andrew Napolitano. “Justice is not a summary execution by a Navy SEAL in your bedroom.”

The Economist’s obituary of Osama bin Ladin is also worth reading.

Update: In the LA Times article “Osama bin Laden’s son says U.S. broke international law ‘if’ his father is dead”, Omar bin Ladin says “We are not convinced on the available evidence in the absence of dead body, photographs, and video evidence that our natural father is dead.” Omar also accuses the US of “breaking international law by killing the unarmed terrorist leader without a trial.”

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