Sunday, March 31, 2019

Canadian copyright extension buried in trade deal

IPPro Magazine | The Great White North: How Canada is matching US IP system changes | ippromagazine.com - Ben Wadecki:

March 6, 2019 - "The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement USMCA, touted by US president Donald Trump as a 'great deal for all three countries', is a reorganisation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will shape trade and IP relations between the three countries for years to come....

"In relation to copyright, Paul Smith, senior partner at Smiths IP, remarks that under USMCA, the extension of the copyright terms from the life of the author +50 years will become the life of the author +70 years.... Smith points out that the change has been criticised as a curtailment of Canadian heritage and as a significant increase in the cost of education in Canada, all apparently to benefit a handful of large US-based entertainment companies."
Read more: http://www.ippromagazine.com/specialistfeatures/specialistfeature.php?specialist_id=50

New NAFTA Would Harm Canadian Copyright Reform and Shrink the Public Domain - Creative Commons - Timothy Vollmer:

October 1, 2018 - "The extension of already-lengthy copyright terms will discourage new creativity in Canada. It will further prevent Canadians from accessing and using the rich pool of resources in the public domain, which means they can be used free of any copyright protections. Creativity always builds upon the past, and the public domain is our shared cultural commons used to create new works of art and science....

"Before these negotiations took place, an increase in copyright term was not  on the agenda for the Canadian reform. Last year, Canadian ministers responsible for the copyright review indicated some support of the public domain, stating that an updated law 'should ensure […] that users benefit from a public domain.' In our submission to the public consultation, we wrote:

"'We believe that Canada has been right to push back against any extension of copyright term or expansion of the scope. The copyright term of life of the author + 50 years is already far too long. Extremely long copyright terms prevent works from entering the public domain, where they may be used by anyone — including CC licensors — without restriction as the raw material for additional creative works.' If the USMCA is adopted, it will clearly violate the direction of the Canadian copyright reform....

"The USMCA text shows the powerful hand of U.S. copyright interests. A copyright term extension was floated in earlier versions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Creative Commons joined with dozens of other organisations to push back on it then.... But USMCA shows a swing back in the other direction, almost surely a result of U.S. pressure to ratchet up copyright protection and enforcement measures....

"There is no reason for any more copyright term extensions, which would harm the commons and are contrary to the policies and values supported by the Creative Commons community."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, March 30, 2019

New Colorado governor identifies as libertarian

Jared Polis, Colorado’s governor, is an unusual breed: a libertarian Democrat - That’s the sound of the Polis:

"March 30, 2019 - "If Colorado were a piece of jewellery it would be a mood ring, changing with the country’s political temperature.... After the 2018 election it became a Democratic trifecta, with the party controlling the governor’s office, statehouse and senate.... Last autumn’s election was the most significant for Colorado’s political realignment in more than 40 years, says Floyd Ciruli of Ciruli Associates, a political consulting firm.

“'The type of Republican who does well here is not a Trump Republican. Our suburban, swing electorate is more attracted to the Reagan version of Republicanism, the hopeful version of Republicanism,' says Jared Polis, the state’s new governor....

"Mr Polis, the first openly gay man to be elected as governor of any state, championed a progressive agenda on the campaign trail, but he does not sound like your average Democrat. He backs universal health care, an expansion of full-day kindergarten, paid parental leave and investments in renewable energy. But he also wants to lower the income-tax rate. He identifies as a libertarian. 'The less government intervention in our private lives, the better. I think that’s a value many Coloradans have on the left and right,' he says.

"The legislature, which is now in full session, will not share that sense of moderation and is likely to pull Mr Polis further left than he wants, according to Mr Ciruli. Legislators are considering bills that could enrage conservative voters.... Lawmakers are unlikely to let Mr Polis lower income-tax rates, which he wants to do.

"Mr Polis, who is 43, spent his youth as an entrepreneur, building companies. He helped to transform his parents’ company, Blue Mountain Arts, into an online greeting-card firm that was sold for around $780m in 1999, and built up ProFlowers, an online florist, which was sold for nearly $480m in 2006. Today his net worth is estimated at several hundred million dollars, and he has freely used his fortune to pursue his political career. He won his first post in Colorado in 2000, after he reportedly spent $1.2m to win a seat on the Board of Education (his opponent spent $10,000). He went on to serve five terms in Congress before running for governor last year. He spent more than $23m of his own money on his campaign, or around 97% of the total raised....

"Mr Polis may also have higher aspirations, perhaps to be the country’s first openly gay president. That would be a Mount Elbert-sized peak to climb. Mr Polis has the credentials of a computer geek and the charisma of one, too. To think beyond Colorado is to rush ahead in the story. The state’s political transformation is still relatively new. Whether it lasts will depend in part on the success of Mr Polis’s reign."

Rad more: https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/03/30/jared-polis-colorados-governor-is-an-unusual-breed-a-libertarian-democrat
'via Blog this'

Friday, March 29, 2019

Guam legislature votes for legal cannabis

Guam Marijuana Legalization Bill Sent to Governor · 71 Republic:

March 29, 2019 - "Guam, one of the United States’ Micronesian territories, has passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana for adults ages 21 and over through the House of Representatives and Senate of the respective enclave. With the passing of this bill, adults will be able to possess, consume, and also grow marijuana from a list of government-licensed retailers. But to account for reform, cannabis would be subject to a 15% tax....

"Guam joins the Northern Mariana Islands as the second U.S. territory to legalize recreational marijuana. In the case of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, their respective governments have legalized sales of marijuana in medical cases. However, American Samoa still prohibits cannabis.

"During the 2014 midterms, ... a referendum to legalize medical marijuana ... passed the popular vote, with 57% of the population voting in favor. In 2017, the previous Governor of Guam, Republican Ray Tenorio vetoed an act to allow medicinal marijuana distributors to cultivate marijuana in the sanctity of their own home....

"The bill at hand passed through the Senate 8-7, earning the minimum number of votes to pass. As a result, it will now appear on Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s desk ... [M]any expect him to sign the bill into law.

"162,742 people inhabit Guam, with a majority of the population backing Senator Clynt Rigdell’s proposed legislation on cannabis legalization."

Read more: https://71republic.com/2019/03/29/guam-marijuana-legalization-bill/
'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Google cuts anti-Trudeau site from newsfeed

At Trudeau’s behest, Gould instructed Google News to limit Canadian access to foreign press – The Buffalo Chronicle:

March 16, 2019 - "In the days approaching former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould‘s testimony to the House of Commons’ Justice Committee on February 27, at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s behest, Karina Gould, the Minister of Democratic Institutions, reached out to social media giant Google to pressure the firm to curtail political criticism of the Trudeau government on its platform.

"Gould placed a call to a senior government relations executive at Google, during which she complained about ‘hate speech’ and ‘toxic rhetoric’, referring multiple times to specific criticisms of the Trudeau government that she found objectionable. She then threatened sweeping regulations that would require unprecedented disclosures of advertising sponsors.... In response, the firm announced that it will not accept political advertising through the October elections....

"In the days following Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, and just two weeks after Gould told a House committee that there was 'more she was planning to do' to 'limit foreign influence' in the election, The Chronicle noticed that articles published on our digital platform relating to the ongoing SNC Lavalin scandal stopped appearing in Google News search results in Canada.  (Our coverage continues to appear in regular Google search results, and in Google News results in the United States.)

"On the same day as Wilson-Raybould’s testimony, Gould turned to iPolitics to publicly disparage a recent Chronicle report, with defamatory comments from Gould and a PMO spokesman. The author of the piece, Charlie Pinkerton, used a Twitter comment made by an obscure reporter who formerly wrote for Vice, to broadly characterize this publication as ‘fake’ news.

"iPolitics is a subsidiary of Torstar, the publishing giant managed by Frank Iacobucci (in his capacity as a current board member and former Chairman).... Iacobucci is a retired Supreme Court Justice and is at the center of the scandal that is engulfing the Trudeau government.  Iacobucci has been working as SNC Lavalin’s in-house attorney in their effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement.  He was also appointed by Trudeau to manage the government’s consultations with indigenous people in order to secure approvals for the Trans Mountain Pipeline in British Columbia.

"Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, was the subject of the report that Gould was quick to go to the press in an attempt to discredit.... Wernick also sits as one of five government officials who comprise the newly formed ‘election protection unit’, who have been tasked by the Cabinet to monitor and neutralize ‘critical election incidents’.

"Less than two weeks after the bum iPolitics story, Gould announced that the Trudeau government will include $7 million in this year’s federal budget to monitor and actively discredit political content on social media platforms.... At the same time, the Trudeau government plans to offer Canada’s media giants $600 million in operating subsidies, which has unnerved free speech advocates across all party affiliations."

Read more: https://buffalochronicle.com/2019/03/16/at-trudeaus-behest-gould-instructed-google-news-to-limit-canadian-access-to-foreign-press/
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Arkansas house votes to scale back civil forfeiture

Arkansas Legislature Effectively Votes To Abolish Civil Asset Forfeiture - Hit & Run : Reason.com - C.J. Ciaramella:

March 14, 2019 - "The Arkansas legislature unanimously passed a significant asset forfeiture reform bill Wednesday. The new law will require police and prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction in most cases before they can seize someone's property.

"The bill, S.B. 308, passed the Arkansas Senate by a unanimous vote last month. On Wednesday, the bill similarly sailed through the Arkansas House by a vote of 93-0. If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas will join three states — North Carolina, New Mexico and Nebraska — that have severely curtailed or abolished asset forfeiture.

"The new law would require prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction to forfeit property. There are a list of exceptions, however, including if the property owner is deceased, deported, flees the jurisdiction or fails to challenge the forfeiture, or if the property is abandoned....

"Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is never charged or convicted of a crime. Law enforcement groups say it is a vital tool that disrupts drug trafficking and other organized crime.... However, civil liberties groups argue there are far too few procedural protections for innocent property owners, who may lose their car, their cash, and even their house....

"The proceeds of asset forfeiture are often then split between local prosecutors' offices and police departments. The federal government also partners with state and local police on forfeiture cases, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the Justice Department's asset forfeiture fund....

"Arkansas law enforcement agencies seized nearly $88 million in cash from 2010-18, about $9.7 million per year, according to data collected by Jeremy Horpedahl, assistant professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas. That does not include the value for roughly 4,900 vehicles, at least 3,300 weapons and 1,000 other pieces of property confiscated in that span, according to numbers provided by Horpedahl....

"More than half of all U.S. states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform over the past decade in response to bipartisan concerns."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Snowden protector comes to Canada as refugee

Canada grants refugee status to some asylum-seekers who hid Edward Snowden in Hong Kong | National Post:

March 25, 2019 - "Vanessa Rodel ... a Filipino national, and her seven-year-old daughter Keana ... stepped off a 15-hour flight to Toronto Monday, granted refugee status by Canada six tense years after they themselves provided refuge to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contractor for a U.S. spy-agency who in 2013 became the world’s most wanted man after leaking details of U.S. mass-surveillance programs.

"Their acceptance marks the first breakthrough for a Canadian team trying to help the three asylum-seeking families who hid Snowden, and who believe they have been harassed and targeted for deportation as a result.... The others who helped Snowden — a Sri Lankan couple with two young children and another single Sri Lankan man — are still awaiting word on whether Canada will accept them as refugees....

"Supun Kellapatha, father of the two children, was hospitalized Friday due to increasingly fragile mental health; only his last-ditch court challenge now stands in the way of his being forced back to Sri Lanka.

"Montreal lawyer Marc-André Séguin, who has spearheaded the effort to bring the families to Canada, believes Ottawa is needlessly dragging its feet on the cases, and blames in part the radioactive nature of the Snowden story.

"Meanwhile, the charity the lawyers set up to aid their clients, For the Refugees, is running short of money; the organizers hope a crowd-funding campaign can replenish the coffers. The lawyers themselves have been working for free, making regular trips to Hong Kong on their own time.

"The refugees’ story first came to light in 2016 when [Toronto lawyer Rob] Tibbo revealed that three years earlier he had persuaded them to open their doors to Snowden. The former National Security Agency contract worker was able to disappear for two weeks by staying in their homes, before surfacing and taking a flight to Russia.

"Tibbo, a Montrealer who had been practising in Hong Kong for years when Snowden retained him to assist as he fled from the U.S., said he decided to expose the refugees’ role after learning the episode would be featured in a Hollywood movie. But in the wake of the news reports, Hong Kong authorities began what appeared to be a wide-ranging campaign against the migrants and their lawyer, which included suddenly reactivating their long-dormant refugee applications — then denying all of them on the same day....

"Knowing their clients could be deported at any time, the lawyers have fought to have that process expedited. But the consulate in Hong Kong has seemingly gone out of its way to avoid speeding up their cases, Séguin said, which he believes is to avoid any suggestion Ottawa is eager to assist those who helped Snowden."

Read more: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canada-grants-refugee-status-to-some-asylum-seekers-who-hid-edward-snowden-in-hong-kong
'via Blog this'

Monday, March 25, 2019

New cannabis book called "Reefer Madness 2.0"

Alex Berenson’s Tell Your Children is wrong on marijuana, psychosis, and violence - Vox - German Lopez, Future Perfect:

January 14, 2019 - "Alex Berenson’s Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence ... [has] gotten widespread favorable coverage in CNBC, the New Yorker, Mother Jones, and the Marshall Project, and landed op-eds from Berenson about his findings in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"His central argument is best summarized in a few brief lines later in the book: 'Marijuana causes psychosis. Psychosis causes violence. The obvious implication is that marijuana causes violence.'

"I could have found this argument persuasive.... I’ve written about how there are risks to marijuana that are worth taking seriously, even if one thinks that legalization is ultimately a better policy than prohibition.... But as I read Berenson’s book, it was impossible to escape that, while a compelling read written by an experienced journalist, it is essentially an exercise in cherry-picking data and presenting correlation as causation.....

"In one example, he cites a recent, massive review of the evidence on marijuana’s benefits and harms from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, claiming the report, on the link between marijuana and psychosis, 'declared the issue settled.' But I read the report and wrote about it for Vox when it came out.... [T]he National Academies’ report was extremely careful, cautioning that marijuana’s — and marijuana addiction’s — link to psychosis 'may be multidirectional and complex.' Marijuana may not cause psychosis; something else may cause both psychosis and pot use. Or the causation could go the other way: Psychotic disorders may lead to marijuana use, perhaps in an attempt to self-medicate....

"'In certain societies,' the report noted, 'the incidence of schizophrenia has remained stable over the past 50 years despite the introduction of cannabis into those settings'.... Berenson doesn’t mention any of this. He cites only the parts of the report that are favorable to his thesis....

"And this is representative of the book as a whole.... [T]he further I got into the book, the more it seemed like Berenson was imitating the strategy he’d meant to mock. Tell Your Children is Reefer Madness 2.0.

"There are concerns about marijuana and how legalization is playing out. As the National Academies’ report makes clear, there is still a lot about cannabis that we just don’t know, including its harms and benefits.... But Berenson’s book, with its sensationalist claims and shoddy analysis of the evidence, doesn’t genuinely address those concerns. Tell Your Children claims to inform its readers of the 'truth' about marijuana, but it instead repeatedly misleads them."

Read more: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/1/14/18175446/alex-berenson-tell-your-children-marijuana-psychosis-violence
'via Blog this'

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Prometheus Foundation promotes Objectivism

Prometheus Foundation for Advancing Objectivism: Founder’s Intent - The Objective Standard - Craig Biddle:

March 19, 2019 - "[T]he Prometheus Foundation (PF) [is], a nonprofit organization established by Carl Barney to provide funding for ventures that advance Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, scholarships for students who are pursuing careers that advance these ideas, and grants for proven Objectivist intellectuals to boost their productive output.

"I am honored to serve on the board of directors of PF, along with Carl Barney, Jim Brown, Lenny Esmond, David Hardy, Rony Miller, and C. Bradley Thompson.

If you think that you or anyone you know might qualify for funding, visit Prometheus Foundation’s website for details and application guidelines....

"Here’s to Ayn Rand for developing a philosophy for living on earth! And here’s to Carl Barney for funding its advancement! —Craig Biddle

"Money is a great power because ... it is a frozen form of productive energy. And, therefore, the spending of money is a grave responsibility.―Ayn Rand....

"The Prometheus Foundation (PF), in essence, is a store of 'productive energy.' It is money that the Founder/Donor accumulated during his working life and now wishes to use to help make the world a better place for people to flourish. The only substantive, enduring way to do this is by advancing rational philosophy and rational psychology. This means advancing Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and any psychology that integrates with it; such psychology would integrate with Objectivism, with Ayn Rand’s theory of emotions, and her work on epistemology and psycho-epistemology. PF exists solely for this purpose.

"Advancing Objectivism includes promoting Ayn Rand’s novels and nonfiction works, promoting Leonard Peikoff’s books and courses, creating courses on Objectivism, and creating organizations or undertaking projects that explicitly advance the philosophy.

"Every day, in many small ways, Objectivism is slowly changing the world. It is a long game. This is why, through the Objectivist Venture Fund (OVF), we want to invest in infrastructure (rather than one-off programs) that will endure. As of March 2019, examples of worthy recipients include the Ayn Rand Center in Europe, ARC Israel, the Ayn Rand Centre UK and centers in other countries, the Balkan Objectivist Center, the John Galt School, and The Objective Standard.... Carl B. Barney, Founder/Donor"

Read more: https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/2019/03/prometheus-foundation-for-advancing-objectivism-founders-intent/
'via Blog this'

Saturday, March 23, 2019

How American socialism has changed

The Two Socialisms | Liberty Unbound - Wayland Hunter:

March 11, 2019 - "When I was in college, the selling point of socialism, communism, revolutionary activism, all of that, was something called 'participatory democracy'.... The idea, endlessly reiterated, was that 'decisions must be made by the people affected by those decisions'.... The idea was that centralized 'state capitalism' was wrong, not primarily because it was inefficient, or even inequitable in its effects, but because its decisions were not 'democratic.' They had not been made by the people affected by them. If it was inequitable or “slow' (i.e., inefficient), that was why.

"Now we are witnessing an immense revival of 'socialism,' led by Democratic Party opportunists and hacks. And it is all about laws ... to increase the power of the centralized state. It is about giving professional politicians sole power over healthcare, housing, education, transportation, employment, qualifications for voting, and the possibility of self-defense — and all this without the tiniest hint that anyone except the Philosopher Kings who compose the Democratic Majority in the House of Representatives should be consulted....

"I have to be honest. I am a foe of 'participatory democracy.' I do not believe it is optimal, in any sense, to give power over the individual’s existence to whoever happens to be a coworker, a fellow student, or just a guy who happens to turn up at a meeting....

"But I think it’s worthy of notice that American 'socialism' has shifted, in our time, from a [democratic] and 'participatory' style to a rule-from-the-top dogmatism, constantly twisting in response to the whims of the politicians but always determined to enforce those whims.

"I wonder whether any of the socialists have noticed this. Perhaps they are as ignorant of their own traditions as they are of economics or sociology, or respect for anyone except themselves."

Read more: http://www.libertyunbound.com/node/1964
'via Blog this'

Friday, March 22, 2019

Freedom Conservative Party formed in Alberta

Freedom Conservatives choose Malcolm Stinson for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville - FortSaskOnline.com - Zach Mueller:

March 22, 2019 - "Malcolm Stinson was recently selected as the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta candidate in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. A member on the board of directors for the Libertarian Party of Canada, Stinson developed political connections that ultimately led to him helping form the Freedom Conservative Party in Alberta last year.

"The party is primarily made up of Wild Rose [Party] backers who weren't happy with the way the United Conservative Party merger took place in 2017, along with Libertarians and Alberta Patriots, according to Stinson....

"The Edmonton businessman currently serves on the board of directors for the Freedom Conservative Party. As such, he had a hand in creating the party's constitution and its policies.

"'We really want to get back to a small government, where the individual and the taxpayers are respected and they're not being dictated to by the leaders,' he explained, noting they will not be using a caucus whip. 'The biggest thing about not having a whip is all the caucus members will be free to vote the way they think is best for themselves and their constituents instead of what's best for the leader.'

"If elected as MLA, Stinson noted he plans to do away with red tape.... 'It really puts the brakes on the economy when red tape and [bureaucracy] has gone far beyond what it needs to — where it's not about protecting Albertans, it's about protecting someone's turf.'

"The 2019 Alberta provincial election will be held on Apr.16."

Read more: https://www.fortsaskonline.com/local/freedom-conservatives-nominate-candidate-for-local-riding
'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 21, 2019

20K registered Libertarians in Maryland, but LP loses party status

Green and Libertarian parties are technically no longer recognized in Maryland. Here's why. - Baltimore Sun - Lillian Reed:

March 20, 2019 - "Maryland voters registered as members of the Green and Libertarian parties may have received a letter in the mail stating their party is no longer recognized by the state.... The letter states that the Green and Libertarian parties each lost their status as a recognized political party in Maryland. That means registered members of both parties had their affiliation automatically changed from Green and Libertarian to 'Other-Green' and 'Other-Libertarian,' respectively....

"For a political party to appear on a ballot in Maryland, it must fulfill ... nominate a candidate who receives at least 1 percent of the total vote for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election, or show that the party represents at least 1 percent of the state’s registered voters.

"The state, which evaluates each political party’s status every four years, found in December that the Green and Libertarian parties had not fulfilled either of the two provisions, said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy for election policy with the State Board of Elections.

"The Libertarians filed a lawsuit Dec. 27 against the state. The party’s Maryland spokesman Lorenzo Gaztañaga called the state’s decision to remove the party from ballots a 'waste of resources' over what is ultimately a technicality, he said.

"To regain its status, the party must submit a petition with 10,000 signatures pledging interest in seeing the party appear on the ballot. In the lawsuit, Libertarians are arguing that the petition should be unnecessary given that there were already more than 20,000 registered Libertarians in Maryland, Gaztañaga said....

"The Maryland Green Party supports the aim of the Libertarians’ lawsuit. In past years, Green Party leadership has sought to change Maryland’s laws from requiring the party to represent 1 percent of registered voters to instead requiring it to represent 10,000 registered voters, said Andy Ellis, secretary for the Maryland Green Party. Prior to losing its status, the Maryland Green Party had about 9,200 registered voters, Ellis said....

"Maryland voting laws create a disadvantage for candidates who wish to run for office as a member of the Green Party, Ellis said. 'We'd like to be recruiting candidates right now, but candidates can't file with us at the moment,' he said....

"Both Ellis and Gaztañaga were confident their respective parties will regain recognition in Maryland, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Randy Hillier expelled from Ontario PC caucus

Ousted MPP accuses PC party operatives of 'egregious acts' | CBC News:

March 18, 2019 - "Ousted MPP Randy Hillier has again taken aim at the Ontario premier's office, this time from outside the Progressive Conservative caucus. Hillier, who has represented the eastern Ontario riding of Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston since 2007, was expelled from the PC caucus on Friday.

"He was initially suspended over comments he allegedly made to parents of children with autism during question period at Queen's Park last month, but Hillier told constituents in a letter last Thursday that the real reason for the rift was his refusal to stand and clap in the legislature....

"In another letter to constituents on Monday, Hillier claims two of the premier's key advisers have been engaged in an 'underhanded and relentless campaign' to boot him from caucus since last August..... Hillier now claims he was expelled [for] his 'refusal to breach oath of office,' his 'refusal to accept the obstruction and prevention of caucus criticism or input on public policy,' and 'for raising concerns of possible illegal and unregistered lobbying by close friends and advisors employed by Premier Ford'....

"He also claims he was expelled because he refused to seek party permission before speaking with the media, and complained he was 'condemned' for attending his brother's funeral without seeking permission.

"'Like many people, I had high hopes and expectations with the election of a PC government after 15 years of Liberal mismanagement, scandals, and harmful policies,' he wrote. 'I could not stand by and tolerate operatives engaging in similar and more egregious acts'....

"The premier's director of media operations said in a statement Monday that the allegations in Hillier's latest letter are 'absurd and categorically false.' Simon Jefferies ... said Hillier rarely showed up for caucus meetings, where members were asked for their input on party policy.... Jefferies said PC MPPs are encouraged to talk to the media, and have the right to 'proper bereavement'."

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/randy-hillier-mpp-letter-expelled-1.5060865
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Google stops carrying Canadian political ads

Google to ban political ads ahead of federal election, citing new transparency rules - The Globe and Mail - Tom Cardoso:

March 5, 2019 - "Google is banning political advertising on its platforms ahead of the Canadian federal election because of new ad transparency rules it says would be too challenging to comply with.

"The decision comes in response to the Liberals’ signature election measure, Bill C-76, which passed in December. Among other things, it requires online platforms to keep a registry of all political and partisan ads they directly or indirectly publish. The penalties for not doing so include fines and possible jail time.... The bill’s advertising-transparency requirements come into force on June 30, or sooner if an early election is called....

"To enforce its ban, Google will modify its ad policies and systems to block advertisers from running ads that fall under the definitions set out in C-76. Other Google services, such as enhanced search results and platforms including YouTube, will still be available during the campaign period.... Google also expressed concerns about how it would detect ads of a partisan nature, which may not specifically mention a candidate or party by name.

"Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said the decision was 'very disappointing' in an e-mailed statement. 'Google’s decision to opt out of political advertising during the regulated period appears to have been made for business reasons and does not reflect on the quality of our laws, which are designed to protect Canadian voters and our elections'....

"The internet giant first spoke publicly about C-76 in November. In a presentation to a Senate committee, Google ... included marked up versions of Bill C-76 indicating which sections Google wanted removed or edited. Because of how Google’s advertising systems work, the company argued, it doesn’t know which ads get displayed, making a registry impossible....

"In Google’s system, ads can be targeted to users ... through a real-time bidding process. When users visit a web page, as the page loads their profile is shared with an advertising exchange ... the web page’s publisher then auctions off the ads ... [and] the winning bidder displays an ad to the user. This entire process often lasts less than two tenths of a second.... Google argues the publisher may not know which ads were displayed. Similarly, the advertising exchange itself may not know which ad was shown....

"Google is one of the world’s largest digital-advertising companies.... A study from the Canadian Media Concentration Project estimates that, in 2016, the company accounted for 48 per cent of all internet advertising in Canada, eclipsing Facebook, at 24 per cent."

Read more: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-google-to-ban-political-ads-ahead-of-federal-election-citing-new/
'via Blog this'

Monday, March 18, 2019

Trudeau govt. targets "fake news" on internet

Feds unveil plan to safeguard 2019 election from foreign meddling, disinformation | CTV News - Rachel Aiello:

February 27, 2019 - "The federal government has unveiled a series of new measures aimed at ... enhancing Canada's readiness to defend the democratic process from cyber threats and disinformation.... The objective is to have a plan ... without being seen to be interfering in the campaign.

"This will be done through what’s being called a 'Critical Election Incident Public Protocol' that will be overseen by five senior level non-political government officials.... The members of this new high-level group will be responsible for deciding when, and how they decide to inform Canadians about concerning online behaviour or content that comes to their attention. It is comprised of the Clerk of the Privy Council, Canada’s National Security Adviser, and the deputy ministers of the Justice, Public Safety, and Global Affairs departments....

"The overall plan is four-pronged, and was announced by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. The next federal election [is] just nine months away....

"In addition to the public alert protocol, the government announced the creation of a Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE), to prevent 'covert, clandestine, or criminal' attempts to interfere in elections and respond to them. It is comprised of intelligence officials from CSIS; RCMP; the Communications Security Establishment; and Global Affairs Canada....

"In an effort to keep a closer eye on international threats, the government is activating the 'rapid response mechanism' at Global Affairs to identify, respond, and share information about threats.... This will include monitoring foreign social media activity....

"Gould is in the process of talking to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter about their role in Canadian elections, and she is asking them to commit to apply specific measures that they have enacted in other countries, such as Twitter's ad transparency centre. Though, this expectation is not among the newly legislated requirements for these platforms.... [NDP democratic reform critic Nathan] Cullen was critical of there not being further measures to compel social media companies to comply....

"Lastly the government is launching a new campaign for citizen-literacy about misinformation online.... As part of this effort the government is spending $7 million on 'digital, news, and civic literacy programming'....

"These measures are in addition to ongoing efforts to secure Canada’s electoral system, such as: passing Bill C-76, which imposes new limits and penalties related to spending and foreign participation ... and, collaborating with social media companies on plans to combat fake news and disinformation from interfering with public opinion during the campaign. Bill C-76 also gave Canada's Elections Commissioner new powers to conduct investigations into election interference, and compels social media platforms to create databases of their advertising during the campaign."

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/feds-unveil-plan-to-tackle-fake-news-interference-in-2019-election-1.4274273
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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The loneliest Republican in Congress

Justin Amash is the loneliest Republican in Congress - CNNPolitics - Haley Boyd:

March 10, 2019 - "For most Republicans, life in the House minority is a big change. But for Rep. Justin Amash ... 'It's just a different set of people doing the wrong thing,' the Michigan Republican said in an interview with CNN.

"Amash came to Congress with the Tea Party wave in 2010, and although Republicans controlled the House for the entirety of his congressional career until a few months ago, Amash has long been the odd man out. His firm libertarian stances on foreign policy, surveillance and federal spending put him in an awkward position with many in his own party. And 2 years into Donald Trump's presidency, Amash appears lonelier than ever. His closest allies – conservatives who routinely sparred with the GOP establishment in the past – have coalesced behind Trump....

"The divide was clearer than ever during a February oversight hearing with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. While most Republicans on the panel stuck to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan's strategy of attacking Cohen's character and playing defense for the President, Amash asked sharp questions designed to draw out information....

"Jordan and Amash were both founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives who preached a focus on cutting government spending and opening up congressional procedure, and clashed with party leaders over it. The three dozen members played a key role in former House Speaker John Boehner's resignation in 2015, and the caucus was instrumental in shaping the House-led GOP effort to repeal Obamacare, which became a centerpiece of Trump's first-year agenda....

"'From the time [President Trump] was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the President where they thought he was wrong,' said Amash. 'They've decided to stick with the President time and again, even where they disagree with him privately'.... Amash was the sole member of the caucus to vote against Trump's use of emergency powers to seize funds for his long-desired wall along the southern border, even though the Freedom Caucus was known for lambasting President Barack Obama's executive maneuvering to get around Congress....

"It hasn't helped that Amash has lost key allies like Raul Labrador, the Idaho lawmaker who left Congress last year to run unsuccessfully for governor of his state, and Mark Sanford, who lost his South Carolina primary to a more Trump-friendly opponent in 2018. Yet Amash reiterated his Freedom Caucus colleagues remain some of his closest friends in Congress.... And members who differ with Amash's stance say he still brings a helpful perspective....

"Amash has the rhetorical style of someone who really enjoys arguing for the sake of arguing but also benefits from fiercely believing what he says. He also has a wry sense of humor.

"Soon after inauguration day in early 2017, Trump signed a travel ban targeting six majority Muslim countries. Amash — whose mother is a Syrian immigrant and whose father came to America as a Palestinian refugee in 1956 — opposed the executive order.... At the height of the outcry, Amash excused his lateness to a Freedom Caucus meeting one night with a joke.... 'Hey guys. Sorry I'm late,' he said. 'The travel ban got me held up at the airport — they're screening all the Syrians.'"

"Half of the room was amused by the quip. The other half — not so much. It was memorable enough that a lawmaker who also attended the meeting still recalled the episode more than two years later."

Read more:  https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/10/politics/amash-trump-house-republicans-lonely/index.html

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

The ethics of climate action

MOEN: Is climate action ethical? - The Post Millennial - Tim Moen, leader, Libertarian Party of Canada:

January 4, 2019 - "If we’re going to have a discussion about the ethics of climate action we need to ensure we have the same underlying values.... If you agree with me that human life is our highest value then we want to look at human activity as it pertains to human life..... So if we want to determine whether human activity is dangerous we need to look at metrics of human flourishing.

"Over the past 90 years while CO2 emissions have escalated we have seen climate related mortality drop by 98%. This is because Earths climate is full of unpredictable extremes; drought, flooding, heat waves, cold snaps, hurricanes, weather extremes. To protect against an adverse climate humans need a civilization powered by energy and thanks to fossil fuels we now have abundant energy.

"At the same time climate deaths have plummeted, we have seen dramatically improved food production, distribution and access worldwide. We’ve seen dramatic improvements in sanitation, clean drinking water, medicine, poverty, morbidity and mortality rates. As our physiological needs have dramatically improved the need for violent conflict and struggle has diminished and we have seen liberal democracy spread worldwide.

"So if you are a catastrophist, you ... should consider the catastrophe that would happen if fossil fuel use was cut by 45% over the next 12 years and completely eliminated by 2050 (IPCC goals). If this were to happen right now we would kill millions if not far more....

"The National Climate Assessment speculates that the worst-case economic cost of climate change will be 10% of US GDP by 2100... Noticeably absent is any mention of the cost of climate action.... What would raising the cost of everything that relies on energy have do to the economy? Crickets. What affect would these costs have on people living on the margins? Crickets....

"All of the solutions to mitigating the harm of climate change are focused on global collective consequences and none recognize the individual. We wouldn’t say that if my pollution has adversely affected a nameable individual then I ought to pay a tax to government. This does nothing to protect the individual, but rather sets up a system of payment to governments for the right to harm individuals and funds more government jobs and power in perpetuity. We wouldn’t say that I should pay money to a company working on green energy either. Again, this does nothing to repair the harm I’ve done or bring justice to the individual....

"Tort is a far better solution to mitigating climate harm than a tax or subsidy. Tort helps us derive the actual cost of CO2 emissions rather than having government funded institutes guess at the cost of carbon dioxide emissions while failing to take into account the unseen costs of climate action.

"It is estimated that 80% of CO2 emissions come from 122 corporations. A few high profile class action lawsuits brought by individuals who have been harmed by CO2 emissions could dramatically change the game.

"A focus on promoting property rights and installing legal institutions to defend those property rights seems like a superior approach on all levels of analysis. It gets individuals who have had their property flooded by the ocean or their arable land made barren by climate change access to restoration. It passes the cost on to corporations and the consumers of their products and sends a price signal that allows them to weigh the actual cost versus benefit of their activity. It incentivizes innovation towards lower CO2 emitting energy alternatives.

"It avoids the growth of government. It gives scientists their day in court and clarifies and communicates the actual state of climate science free of ideological spin. It focuses science on measuring metrics of human flourishing rather than metrics that get them government funding....

"Recognizing the individual and protecting property rights (aka liberty) seems like the best path forward to a future that both liberals and conservatives can endorse."

Read more: https://www.thepostmillennial.com/moen-is-climate-action-ethical/
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Friday, March 15, 2019

LA deputy robs cannabis co. in fake drug raid

L.A. County sheriff's deputy pleads guilty in brazen pot heist - Los Angeles Times - Joel Rubin:

March 4, 2019 - "A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who led a heist of more than a half ton of marijuana from a downtown warehouse pleaded guilty to federal charges.... Marc Antrim, 41, admitted to his role in the scheme during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who is scheduled to sentence the deputy on June 3. Antrim and several co-defendants briefly got away with over 1,200 pounds of marijuana and two large safes filled with more than $600,000 in cash during the fake drug raid....

"During a second hearing Monday, co-defendant Eric Rodriguez pleaded guilty to, among other crimes, being a felon in possession of a firearm. A third defendant, Kevin McBride, has agreed to plead guilty at a future hearing....

"In the early-morning hours on Oct. 29, Antrim took a department SUV from the Temple City sheriff’s station where he worked as a patrol deputy. He was off duty at the time.... Dressed in sheriff’s jackets and brandishing weapons, the men drove to a warehouse near downtown Los Angeles that housed a legal marijuana distribution business. At the security gate, Antrim showed a guard a bogus search warrant he had concocted and then locked the guard and two other employees in the back of the SUV, court records show.[T]he men began carrying out marijuana that had been packaged for shipment....

"When officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, which patrols the warehouse location, arrived around 3:45 a.m., all the men fled except Antrim, who told the officers he was serving a search warrant at the warehouse. He put one of the LAPD officers on the phone with a man who he claimed was his supervisor. The LAPD officers soon left.... McBride, Rodriguez and a man who remains unnamed in court records returned and the men went back to robbing the warehouse.

"A few days later, an attorney for the marijuana business contacted the Sheriff’s Department and handed over footage of the robbery captured by several security cameras, court documents show.

"A GPS device on the rented moving truck led authorities to McBride’s house in Glendora, where they found two pounds of marijuana, a loaded Beretta handgun ... ammunition that is issued to law enforcement officers and a flashlight with Antrim’s name on it, court records show. They also recovered $150,000 to $200,000 in cash.

"A search of the house Antrim rents turned up a similar amount of cash and a cache of four firearms, which included a double-barrel shotgun and a 'submachine gun-style firearm'....

"Antrim was relieved of duty without pay after his arrest."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Serbian libertarian club goes online

Libertarian Enthusiasts Find Serbia a Hard Sell | Balkan Insight - Srdjan Garcevic:

March 14, 2019 - "Sitting in an office in Belgrade, the leaders of the Serbian Libertarian Club, Libek, Milos Nikolic and Petar Cekerevac, seem quite in tune with Serbia’s political realities. Both are aware that the gospel of free markets and free society is a tough sell in a country where the only experience of capitalism is of the crony sort, and where many look back with nostalgia to the Socialist past.

"'The point is not to force [libertarianism] into Serbian culture but to recognise the elements that are compatible with it here … and then see how those ideas are best adapted to Serbia,' Cekarevac, Libek’s executive manager, says.

"A cross between a club and a think tank, Libek has no ambitions to become a party. It was founded in 2008, while Nikolic, its current president and one of the three founders, was at Belgrade University’s School of Political Science. Nikolic found the atmosphere at the university oversaturated with 'leftist, egalitarian, collectivist' ideas....

"Libek-organised education courses and policy proposals to political parties and the government on topics such as public debt and primary education ... gave them niche appeal among politically minded youth. Now they see an opportunity in the current environment to engage a wider audience.

"Last year, Libek launched Talas.rs, an online portal that seeks to provide a platform for debate across the political spectrum.... Nikolic ... describes their core audience as those who are thirsty for in-depth criticism and discussion, but also those who want to hear more critical analyses of the Serbian economy, a major talking point of the current government..... He explains that many Talas readers and contributors are prominent members of political parties who use the portal to find information for their policy agendas....

"The birth of Talas and Libek’s attempts to spread libertarianism more widely in Serbia match the rising profile of libertarian movements around the world.... Libek’s wish to spread libertarian thinking in Serbia is helped by that fact that Students for Liberty, a global youth organisation with whom they are partnered, is organising LibertyCon in April in Belgrade. Speakers at the pan-European conference will include author and libertarian guru Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Branko Milanovic, a Serbian economist who focuses on global inequality."

Read more: https://balkaninsight.com/2019/03/14/libertarian-enthusiasts-find-serbia-a-hard-sell/
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

8th Amendment applies to states, SCOTUS rules

Why the Timbs case is about so much more than civil forfeiture | TheHill - Nila Bala:

March 1, 2019 - "[T]he Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the Eighth Amendment, which bans excessive fines, applies to the states as well as to the federal government. The Supreme Court decided on the case of [an] Indiana man named Tyson Timbs, who was sentenced to home detention and probation for dealing in a controlled substance and for conspiring to commit theft. However, ... the state, under civil forfeiture laws, had also seized his $42,000 Land Rover vehicle, even though the maximum fine allowed in the case was $10,000.

"Civil forfeiture has come under fire by liberals and conservatives alike. Under most laws, an individual does not be charged or convicted for enforcement to seize his assets.... As if that were not enough, the police get to keep the profits they make from selling these assets, creating a perverse incentive for the state to take property without due process....

"The Timbs case, however, is about far more than the injustice of civil forfeiture. It brings attention to a larger problem of unchecked fines and fees that harm public safety and erode government accountability. These fines and fees are levied at every part of the criminal justice system, from charging people for their public defender ... to court costs, probation fees, and sadly even the costs of incarceration itself.

"Perhaps these fines and fees were first created because legislators had assumed that increasing the cost of crime would deter individuals from committing criminal acts. However, excessive fines and fees can actually contribute to crime.... Impoverished individuals often have to choose between paying for basic needs and paying fines and fees. Some cannot afford either of these and are driven to commit further crimes to survive.

"Even if they do not commit additional crimes, they could still end up in jail. Take the case of Tom Barrett, who was assessed more than $1,000 in fines and fees for stealing a $2 can of beer. He ended up selling his blood plasma to try to pay these charges, which continued to accrue interest. Eventually, Barrett was sentenced to a year in a jail because he could not afford to pay. He is not alone. When people cannot pay the fines and fees, they often end up facing heavy sanctions, which paradoxically include more fines and fees, along with drivers license suspensions, loss of the right to vote or, worst of all, incarceration in a de facto debtors prison. While struggling to pay these costs, people can lose their homes, their jobs, and even custody of their children....

"Moreover, the funding for collection activities often comes from the fines and fees themselves...., When police transform from guardians of our community to collection agents, they waste valuable time and resources that are better spent on addressing violent crime. A study found that every 1 percent increase in the share of revenues in a jurisdiction from fines, fees, and forfeitures is associated with a statistically significant 3.7 point decrease in the violent crime clearance rate, which means that fewer violent crimes are solved because police spend far too much time trying to collect fines and fees.

"The Timbs case makes clear that the Eighth Amendment applies to civil forfeiture by states. But symbolically, the Supreme Court ruling stands for so much more by opening the door for us to question our criminal justice system policies assessing fines and fees, which should be used to support the individuals involved and protect our communities. As it stands today, excessive fines, fees, and forfeitures accomplish neither of these goals."

Read more: https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/432250-why-the-timbs-case-is-about-so-much-more-than-civil-forfeiture

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

15,000 protest Russian online Iron Curtain

'Point of No Return': Russia's Libertarians Lead Protest Against 'Sovereign Internet' - Evan Gurschkovich, Moscow Times:

March 10, 2019 - "Mikhail Svetov was buzzing with nervous energy. Just 24 hours later, the member of Russia’s Libertarian Party would be leading a protest against a draft bill aimed at creating a so-called sovereign internet....

"Last May, when communications watchdog Roskomnadzor moved to block the popular messaging app Telegram, some 12,000 Russians turned out to a protest Svetov organized — which, he is eager to point out, was last year’s largest street demonstration....

"But last month, a draft bill passed the first of three readings in the State Duma that would require Russian internet traffic to go mostly through domestic routers and exchanges. Critics like Svetov say the bill could give the government the sweeping ability to censor online content and, going forward, actually be able to block apps like Telegram. Svetov believes the new law was written to target opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny who have found success on YouTube....

"With the state quashing independent media in recent years, YouTube has become an increasingly popular tool among opposition activists seeking out audiences. The platform is now viewed by 82 percent of the Russian population aged 18-44, as The Economist reported last week. In spring 2017, ... Navalny took authorities by surprise by using his YouTube channel to inspire thousands into the streets for the first mass protests against the Kremlin since 2012. While Navalny on Saturday afternoon tweeted that he couldn’t attend Sunday’s protest ... he 'urgently' called for the public to attend.

"Many obliged. According to White Counter, an NGO that tallies up participants at rallies using metal detector frames, 15,300 people on Sunday came out to the rally. Interior Ministry estimates cited by Interfax put the number of participants at 6,500.... Despite the protest having been allowed by the authorities, as many as 30 people were detained according to the OVD-Info police-monitoring website. At least three were minors, including one who had to be taken to the hospital....

"On the eve of the protest, political analyst Yekaterina Schulmann said that if organizers could get more than 15,000 to attend, the authorities would pay attention when adopting corrections later this month before the bill’s second reading."

"Even if the law is adopted without changes, however, Russian internet experts doubt that Russia could create anything similar to China’s Great Firewall.... Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications, ... predicts the plan to create a way to cut Russia’s internet off from the rest of the world’s will likewise fall through.

"'They’ll mess around for a long time and they’ll spend a lot of money on it,' Kazaryan said. 'But in the end it won’t work. Russia is not China. It’s very complex and expensive to build a system like this and we simply don’t have the engineers to realize this project.'”

Read more: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/10/point-of-no-return-russias-libertarians-lead-protest-against-sovereign-internet-a64758
'via Blog this'

Monday, March 11, 2019

World's 1st seastead home launched in Thailand

Couple Uses Bitcoin Wealth to Build World's First "Seastead" | NewsBTC - Rick D.:

March 1, 2019 - "An early Bitcoin investor and self-confessed libertarian has built the first 'seastead' with his BTC profits. For those who do not know, a seastead is a floating home designed to stay in international waters, thus allowing its inhabitants to live outside of the laws of any nation....

"Chad Elwartowski and Nadia Summergirl have become the first two reported individuals to permanently cast of the shackles of land and the laws enforced on it in favour of a life on the open sea. The pair have built the first seastead with help from Ocean Builders, a start-up dedicated to helping individuals move their lives to the ocean.

"The couple have financed the building of their floating home using money made from early Bitcoin investments. The structure cost them around $150,000, ... $30,000 more than they originally budgeted for. It measures six metres square and is octagonal in shape. The pair’s new home is spread across two floors.

"According to a report in Reason, Elwartowski had previously explored other avenues to satisfy his cravings for a truly free life. These included ​'Free State Project, Libertarian Party elections, and the Ron Paul campaign'....

"Summergirl is equally passionate about the idea. She says she was sick of hearing people talking about the concept of building floating communities whilst no one was actually going through with it. The Thai-born woman was also happy that the first project of its kind was happening close to where she grew up....

"Elwartowski and Summergirl’s new home has been out at sea since early February. The pair say they are continuing to commute back and forth to land for now though. They still have various commitments that need tying up before they hit the open waves for good. A recently purchased commuter boat should help them speed up their permanent relocation, however.

"Elwartowski states that the couple has made no effort to seek approval from the Thai government for their new home. He commented:

“'We have been keeping under the radar so far, but we follow all the laws of Thailand so it’s as if we’re just living on a boat in the water as far as they’re concerned.... All we expect from the Thai government is that they follow international law. We will be doing the same. But Nadia and I aren’t doing anything we can’t do on land.'”

Read more: https://www.newsbtc.com/2019/03/01/bitcoin-seastead/
'via Blog this'

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Apple challenging Chicago internet streaming tax

Chicago’s New PlayStation Tax Shows How Greedy Politicians Can Be - Foundation for Economic Education - Brittany Hunter:

November 14, 2018 - "PlayStation 4 users in Chicago were shocked when they turned on their consoles and saw a message from Sony. The message informed users that as of November 14, 2018, they would be required to pay a 9 percent 'amusement tax' for PlayStation subscriptions such as PlayStation Now, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Music, and others....

"The amusement tax was actually passed several years ago and included almost all forms of entertainment. Whether residents are looking to spend an evening at the theater, see a concert, cheer on their favorite sports team, go to a nightclub, or even catch a movie, they are on the hook for an additional 5 percent tax. In 2015, the amusement tax was expanded ... with the creation of a 'cloud tax' ... the city began instituting a 9 percent tax for using platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and others. And thanks to the inclusion of the streaming services, the amusement tax now brings in about $12 million annually. It also applies to anyone whose billing address is within city limits.

"Sony actually refused to enforce the tax and did not finally capitulate to the city’s wishes until mid-November.... While it is unclear why Sony decided to begin enforcing the tax at this time, it is likely that statements from government representatives scared the company into submission....

"Right after the 'cloud tax' was instituted, the Liberty Justice Center came forward to challenge the city’s new policy.... Unfortunately, the court ruled in favor of the city in May....

"Just a few months after the same court ruled in favor of the city, Apple filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The tech company’s complaint touches on four different violations it believes the city is guilty of committing. But the primary complaint rests on Chicago’s violation of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA).

"In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the ITFA into law, protecting Americans from illegal forms of taxation. Specifically, the bill prohibited 'state and local governments from taxing Internet access, or imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce'.... For example, if internet users are already being taxed for their internet service, they should not be forced to then pay further taxes for using the internet to access streaming sites....

"Apple is also asserting that the new tax is a violation of the Illinois constitution.... Since the cloud tax is extended to everyone with a Chicago billing address, this means it is ... being levied on those who enjoy streaming services outside city limits, making it a violation of state law....

"Apple’s additional complaints involve violations of the federal commerce clause, as well as violations of the 14th Amendment right to due process. While the outcome of the case is unclear, Apple’s unwillingness to cooperate with the city’s ridiculous amusement tax is a testament to its integrity."

Read more: https://fee.org/articles/chicago-s-new-playstation-tax-shows-how-greedy-politicians-can-be/
'via Blog this'

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Senator Leyonhjelm takes leave of Parliament

He was Federal Parliament’s first libertarian senator. Is he the last? - Max Koslowski, Brisbane Times:

February 23, 2019 - "'I won't miss Parliament much,' Senator David Leyonhjelm says.... Leyonhjelm, 66, has one more sitting week before he steps down to contest the NSW state election in March, but if you asked him about his six years in Federal Parliament you would think he wanted to leave sooner....

"Leyonhjelm is famously consistent. He is frustrated about any interference with his personal freedom, whether from government or infamy. In his political work, too, he has a well-earned reputation for being a consistent negotiator - a characteristic that was echoed by both major parties in response to his valedictory address.

"Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong recalled sitting down with Leyonhjelm and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for tea....'He's got a really consistent view. He actually has a philosophical view'.... The government's Senate leader, Mathias Cormann agrees: 'He was the patron saint of many unfashionable causes here in this place, but only if they were consistent with freedom of enterprise and the individual'....

"Leyonhjelm is the only self-described libertarian in Parliament - libertarianism is a belief in personal liberty, free markets and small government - and says he is the first and only libertarian MP ever. His party, the Liberal Democrats, has won three state seats since the senator was re-elected in the 2016 double dissolution.

"Leyonhjelm does not hide how re-election fears influenced his decision to switch into state politics himself - and he's frank on the game of electoral roulette his party plays before every election. (Voters often accidentally vote for the Liberal Democrats, confusing them with the Liberal Party.)....

"Libertarianism has had little success in Australia. Two libertarian minor parties - the Libertarian Party of Australia and the Workers' Party - contested state and federal elections from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s, but never won a seat, and barely resurfaced once the Hawke-Keating market reforms took hold. Leyonhjelm reckons the lack of libertarians in Australia stems from our historic relationship with government....

"John Roskam, executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, and a friend of Leyonhjelm's, agrees.... 'Libertarianism has to overturn a 200-year political culture.... I have lost count of how many Liberal MPs have come up to me and said "what David says is right and I wish I could publicly agree with him but I can't".'

"Roskam believes the insurgency is coming. He is convinced 10 to 15 per cent of voters support libertarian ideals, and that they can achieve an electoral status similar to the Greens'. As the Greens made Labor stronger, Roskam says, libertarianism can apply ideological pressure to the Liberal Party: 'David's legacy has been huge because he has started to put libertarianism on the political map in this country.'"

'via Blog this'

Friday, March 8, 2019

PATRIOT Act warrant misused in FL sex sting

Sneak-and-Peek Warrant for Hidden Cameras at Florida Massage Parlors Faces Scrutiny - Hit & Run : Reason.com - Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

March 4, 2019 - "A central component of the recent investigation into Chinese massage-parlor sex was the secret installation of hidden cameras at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Now defense attorneys are challenging the legality of this move. Permission for such surveillance stems from a provision of the PATRIOT Act that was passed with promises only to use the power against possible terrorists....

"In this case, police secretly filmed massage rooms in January 2019.... Caught on camera getting a massage and maybe more were New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and dozens of other men, who now face misdemeanor charges for allegedly soliciting prostitution. Workers and managers at the businesses were also arrested and stand accused of prostitution and racketeering.

"Police were able to secretly install the surveillance cameras thanks to a sneak-and-peek warrant. Such warrants were sold after 9/11 as a way to stop terrorism, but in practice they've mainly been used in investigations of drug crimes.

"Of the more than 11,000 such warrants issued in 2013, for instance, only 50 were related to terrorism; 9,401 were parts of drug investigations. In 2011, 5,093 of 6,775 requests for sneak-and-peek warrants were related to drug cases; just 31 were related to terrorism.....

"Now they're being used to stop prostitution under the guise of busting up international slavery rings.... [J]ust as local cops and federal authorities have used anti-terrorism tools to prosecute potheads, they've been keen on attacking all prostitution (a misdemeanor crime under local laws throughout most of the U.S.) as 'human trafficking,' a federal crime. Police in Palm Beach and Jupiter counties have been trotting out that claim this time too, although no sex trafficking or forced labor charges have been filed.

"As with so much of this case, that claim looks strange in light of the fact that the authorities spent months visiting and watching these businesses but not rescuing the women that they now say they suspect are trafficking victims....

"Several folks quoted by the Sun-Sentinel suggest that this case represents an unprecedented use of sneak-and-peek warrants — but that's not true even within Palm Beach County. As the same paper noted in 2014, Palm Beach authorities ran a similar massage-parlor sting operation back in 2007. They used a sneak-and-peek warrant to install cameras and catch sex acts on video back then, too. In that case, one massage parlor worker was arrested for prostitution and 25 men were arrested for solicitation of prostitution."

Read more: http://reason.com/blog/2019/03/04/sneak-and-peek-warrant-for-florida-sting
'via Blog this'

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Huawei sues over U.S. ban on its products

Huawei sues US over government ban on its products | World news | The Guardian - Lily Kuo:

March 7, 2019 - ""Huawei is suing the US over a government ban on its products.... In a statement on Thursday, the Chinese telecoms equipment and smartphone manufacturer said it had filed a lawsuit in the US district court in Plano, Texas, home to the company’s US headquarters, calling for the ban on US government agencies buying Huawei equipment or services to be overturned.

"'This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers. We look forward to the court’s verdict, and trust that it will benefit both Huawei and the American people,' said Guo Ping, Huawei’s chairman.

"The ban, a provision of the National Defence Authorisation Act signed by Donald Trump in August, also prevents government agencies using third-party contractors who use Huawei products. Huawei alleges it amounts to a 'bill of attainder', a legislative act forbidden under the US constitution in which an individual or group is declared guilty of a crime without trial."
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/07/huawei-sues-us-over-government-ban-on-its-products

Huawei is Defending Libertarian Economic Principles in The Heart of America - Eurasia Future - Adam Garrie:

March 7, 2019 - "While it may be well over a year before the ... verdict ... Huawei has already won in the court of common sense. The US Constitution guarantees one’s basic freedom to engage in commerce without facing arbitrary governmental restrictions and burdensome regulations. These basic principles which are fundamental to the US Constitution, tend to be classed as economic libertarianism.

"Libertarianism can be defined as a political philosophy that stresses the necessity of little to no governmental interference in the lives of individuals and the businesses they operate. As such, there is a particular emphasis on free markets, free trade and freedom of choice for entrepreneurs, business owners and consumers, within the libertarian political philosophy....

"Although the US Constitution specifically enshrines these values into law, ... American politicians in both major parties ... often argue for less economic liberty, less freedom of choice and for more creativity stifling regulation.... Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul continue to fly the flag of libertarian principles [but] for the rest of America’s political and media class, big government regulation is very much the rule ... both in respect of Donald Trump’s opposition to free trade and ... Democrats who argue for monstrously bloated (to the point of being ridiculous) initiatives such as the so-called 'green new deal'....

"[T]he Huawei lawsuit ought to open up the hearts and minds of average Americans who have allowed themselves to be bamboozled by fear.... Huawei is defending the liberty of ordinary Americans, more so than most American politicians."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Judge strikes out part of BC forfeiture trial report

Ruling cuts parts of expert report in HA civil forfeiture case | Vancouver Sun:

March 6, 2019 - "A B.C. Supreme Court judge has criticized an 'expert' report about the Hells Angels filed by the Director of Civil Forfeiture as full of biased, unsubstantiated claims about the biker club. Justice Barry Davies ruled that several parts of the report are inadmissible in the director’s long-running civil case against the Hells Angels.

"Davies was also critical of the report’s author, retired Ontario Provincial Police Det. Staff Sgt. Len Isnor, who Davies said relied on his 'long held' conclusion that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a criminal organization.

"Isnor testified in December at a voir dire (a trial within a trial) to determine the admissibility of his report. Davies said that Isnor’s explanations in his testimony 'seeking to distance himself from his long-held and often-stated conclusions were at best disingenuous.'

"The civil forfeiture director is trying to get Hells Angels clubhouses in East Vancouver, Nanaimo and Kelowna forfeited to the government as the instruments of criminal activity. The Hells Angels have counter-sued the government, claiming the Civil Forfeiture Act is unconstitutional. The case has been ongoing since November 2007 when police raided the Nanaimo clubhouse....

"In his ruling, Davies ordered all of Isnor’s references to police investigations of other 'Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs' removed from the report....

“'My first concern arises from Mr. Isnor’s evidence that not only have his opinions remained fixed for many years, but that he has participated as a leader in the design and implementation of courses for law enforcement personnel on how to provide expert evidence ‘that works’ in rendering opinions on the alleged criminality of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club as an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang,' Davies said....

“'His evidence on this issue also causes me grave concern about his willingness to discharge his duty fairly and impartially,' Davies said. 'I am not, however, prepared to say that Mr. Isnor’s selectivity on that issue or his misplaced defence of it go so far as to require the exclusion of all of his opinions.'

"The trial is scheduled to resume April 1."

Read more: https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/real-scoop-ruling-cuts-parts-of-expert-report-in-ha-civil-forfeiture-case

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Evil Kochs fund free economics/ethics textbook

Koch Brothers Pushing Garbage Libertarian “Textbook” On Poor Schools - The Ring of Fire Network - Faron Cousins:

March 2, 2019 - "Ethics, economy and entrepreneurship is the name of a textbook that ... I’ve never heard of ...  which is not accredited. There’s no bibliography, there’s no footnotes, there’s no sources listed in any of it, but this is a textbook nonetheless that is being pushed on poor school districts, particularly right now in Arizona by the Koch brothers and their affiliated networks. And here’s the thing about this textbook. It is filled with lies and libertarian economic principles, which also happened to be lies by the way. Um, this book is being given out to ... school districts for high school students for free. And here’s how this little scam works....

"In several areas of Arizona, the Koch brothers starting in 2009 began lobbying to cut funding for their school districts. And the Koch brothers somehow prevailed. People hopped on board and said, hell yeah, we don’t need money for schools. So then you end up with cash strapped schools that can’t afford textbooks. So then the Koch brothers and their networks and their little members ... came forward and said, we’ve got a free textbook for you, use this and you won’t have to spend any money....

"This book ... is pure nonsense. It’s pure insanity. And it is funded by groups associated with the Koch brothers. And they laid the framework in the state of Arizona to force this textbook on to students. And this is what the Koch brothers have been trying to do all over the country, not just in high schools, but also at colleges. Koch brothers have been buying up influence at colleges, school boards all across the country to push their braindead libertarian principles. Libertarianism, much like communism doesn’t work in practice, just like trickle down economics....

"We have seen what corporations do when left to their own devices with no regulation whatsoever ... disaster for American consumers. Yet that is what the Koch brothers want every one of us to engage in. And the poorer you are, the more likely they think you are to buy into their backwards libertarian principles that everybody is just a millionaire waiting to happen. All you gotta do is start a small business. Oh, and by the way, while you’re [at it], kill the federal government too."

Read more: https://trofire.com/2019/03/02/koch-brothers-pushing-garbage-libertarian-textbook-on-poor-schools/
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Monday, March 4, 2019

Amash won't rule out Libertarian run for POTUS

Justin Amash doesn't rule out 2020 bid for president as Libertarian candidate:

"Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., on Sunday left open the possibility of a challenge against President Trump for the White House in 2020 as a candidate for the Libertarian Party....

"'I'd never rule anything out,' Amash, a self-identified libertarian, told CNN. 'That's not on my radar right now, but I think that it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting.'

"Amash, 38, who has served in Congress since 2011, condemned the legislative branch on Sunday for being 'totally broken' since lawmakers 'can't debate things in a clear way anymore' given the 'wild amount of partisan rhetoric on both sides.'

"'Everything has become, do you like President Trump or do you not like President Trump?' he said. 'And I think that we need to return to basic American principles, talk about what we have in common as a people because I believe we have a lot in common as Americans, and try to move forward together rather than fighting each other all the time.'

"Amash, who didn't endorse Trump in 2016, this month broke with the majority of congressional Republicans over the administration's national border emergency, co-sponsoring the joint resolution introduced in the House that could overturn the president's declaration.

"In January, Amash warned the Libertarian Party of the risks inherent in nominating a 'squishy Republican'....

"' I think an ideal third-party candidate, especially a Libertarian Party candidate — that's what I'll talk about — I think the ideal candidate has to be very libertarian, because if you're running in the Libertarian Party, you better be a libertarian,' he said at LibertyCon in Washington, D.C., according to Reason. 'But it has to be a person who is persuasive to other people, can bring Republicans and Democrats on board, or bring a large part of the electorate on board, because you can't just appeal to diehard libertarians and win the election.'"

Read more: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/justin-amash-doesnt-rule-out-2020-bid-for-president-as-libertarian-candidate
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Sunday, March 3, 2019

David Boaz's top 10 libertarian movies (II)

The 10 Best Libertarian Movies – Noteworthy - The Journal Blog - David Boaz:

February 22, 2019 - "Plenty of movies depict individualism, enterprise, anti-totalitarianism, freedom, and social tolerance. The challenge is picking a Top 10 out of all the choices....

"The Man in the White Suit (1951) A shy scientist played by Alec Guinness invents a cloth that will never wear out and won’t get dirty.... But then the other mill owners, and the unions, realize that its production would mean that people won’t need to buy many clothes.... They join forces to protect their positions and block progress. A metaphor for so much of political activity aimed at stopping innovation, creative destruction, and improved living conditions....

"My Beautiful Laundrette (1985).... Hanif Kureishi thought he was making a savage indictment of Thatcherite capitalism. But to me, the good characters in the movie — white and Pakistani, gay and straight — are the ones who work for a living, and the bad characters are clearly the layabout socialist ... and the British thugs who try to intimidate the young Pakistani businessman. My favorite line:.... 'I’m a professional businessman, not a professional Pakistani. There is no question of race in the new enterprise culture.' I think Kureishi thinks that’s a bad attitude. The joke’s on him.

"Pacific Heights (1990).... "A young couple buys a big house in San Francisco and rents an apartment to a young man. He never pays them, and they can’t get him out, and then things get really scary.... Cato published William Tucker’s book Rent Control, Zoning, and Affordable Housing, and I asked Pacific Heights director John Schlesinger for a jacket blurb, he readily agreed to say 'If you thought Pacific Heights was fiction, you need to read this book'....

"The Palermo Connection (1990).... New York city councilman Jim Belushi runs for mayor on a platform to legalize drugs and take the profits out of the drug trade. The Mafia isn’t happy. His life is threatened. So he decides to go on a honeymoon, in the middle of his campaign — to Sicily.... 

Shenandoah (1965). Some have called it the best libertarian film Hollywood ever made. James Stewart is a Virginia farmer who wants to stay out of the Civil War. Not our fight, he tells his sons. He refuses to let the state take his sons, or his horses, for war. Inevitably, though, his family is drawn into the war raging around them, with tragic results....

"Miss Liberty’s Film and Documentary World offers a somewhat different Top 25 here. Libertarians might also find helpful this warning from the Guardian: 'The Giver, Divergent and the Hunger Games trilogy are, whether intentionally or not, substantial attacks on many of the foundational projects and aims of the left: big government, the welfare state, progress, social planning and equality.”

Read Part I here.

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