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State Department to Cody Wilson: Take your gun blueprints off the Internet

The State Department isn't too happy about Cody Wilson's 3-D printed gun. In a letter to Wilson dated May 8, the department asked the University of Texas law student to take down 10 designs -- including one for the first fully functional 3-D printed gun -- from his website DEFCAD.org for possibly violating arms export statutes.

In response, Wilson said on Twitter that his website, which is dedicated to sharing 3-D printing blueprints for arms and arms accessories, will go dark. A banner at the top of the site currently reads: "DEFCAD files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information." (Never mind that the letter, embedded at the bottom of this post, is from the State Department, not the Pentagon.) As Wilson tweeted:

 

The department's Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance is currently conducting a review of the plans posted to Wilson's site. According to the letter, Wilson may be in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (the release of blueprints qualifies as exporting), and his site may have released technical information that is controlled by International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The letter informs Wilson that he also has to explain how his company, Defense Distributed, gained jurisdiction over the technical data for the weapons designs posted to the site.

The development represents a major setback for Wilson, who hoped the site would become a major hub for sharing weapons designs. But he doesn't seem all that concerned. "I still think we win in the end," he told BetaBeat. "Because the files are all over the Internet, the Pirate Bay has it-to think this can be stopped in any meaningful way is to misunderstand what the future of distributive technologies is about."

Here's the letter in full:

Letter from Department of State to Defense Distributed

Wikipedia

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Are you qualified to run for president in Iran?

It's open season in Tehran: For five days beginning on May 7, presidential hopefuls are registering to run for president in the country's June 14 presidential election. And the number of entrants into the rough-and-tumble world of Iranian politics is staggering, with more than 200 candidates signed up as of Thursday. 

So the race must be wide, wide open, right? Not exactly. While nobody's quite sure who the frontrunners are yet, they will most likely be largely loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the Associated Press points out.

That's because the country's 12-member Guardian Council will vet the vast array of candidates between May 12 and May 17, applying a rigorous set of standards to narrow the field way down. In 2009, for instance, only four of 475 names made it through the lightning round. So what, exactly, does the Guardian Council look for in whittling down the candidates? Presidential hopefuls can be disqualified for failing to meet a host of criteria enumerated in Article 115 of the Iranian Constitution.

Like its U.S. counterpart, the Iranian Constitution stipulates that a viable candidate must have Iranian citizenship. Not only does the presidential hopeful need to be a citizen (I found no mention of an age limit), but he also must be of "Iranian origin." Candidates who aren't Shiite Muslims or "religious and political personalities" need not apply.

Some of the constitution's conditions read more like a help-wanted ad. A viable candidate, for instance, must have "administrative capacity and resourcefulness" and no criminal record (incidentally, the latter is not a prerequisite to hold the highest office in the United States). The candidate must demonstrate "trustworthiness and piety" and must have a firm "belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Those are high bars to clear -- particularly when compared with the low bars to registering. And that means we won't see much more of some of the more colorful aspirants who have already registered or have been floated as candidates . 

On Tuesday, for example, Razieh Omidvar became the first woman this year to throw her hat into the ring. While it is often reported that the constitution explicitly forbids women from running for president, the language is, in fact, a bit more ambiguous. In 2009, the spokesman for the Guardian Council said it "has never announced its opinion on whether a registrant is a man or a woman," suggesting that it is open to interpreting the constitution's language in favor of both male and female participation. Still, Omidvar shouldn't get her hopes up. The spokesman was quick to add, "[w]henever a woman has been disqualified, it has been because she's lacked general competence." 

Then there's Mostafa Kavakebian, a reformist politician who was disqualified by the Guardian Council in 2009 and also registered on Tuesday, even picking green as his campaign color in homage to the Green Movement that arose after the country's disputed presidential election four years ago. While his persistence is admirable, Kavakebian is just as unlikely as Omidvar to make the cut a second time around.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's current chief of staff, may be one of the more high-profile contenders. But conservatives in the country, who are locked in a power struggle with Ahmadinejad, predict he will also be knocked off the slate. Though he has yet to register, Ahmadinejad has been grooming Mashaei to take over in what the Guardian describes as a "Putin/Medvedev-style reshuffle."

Meanwhile, Ali Rahimi, a 59-year-old surgeon who graduated from the University of Kentucky, does not seem deterred by the many factors that could keep him out of the running. "I am extremely overqualified,'' he told the Washington Post after registering, "so I want to see what sort of reason they come up with for refusing my candidacy.'' 

If there's a sure bet in this election, it's that Iranian authorities will find one.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images