Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Libertarian elected to Choctaw OK city council

LP Oklahoma chair elected to Choctaw City Council | Libertarian Party - Bob Johnston:

April 5, 2019 - "Chad Williams, who was elected chair of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma as its convention in March, was elected to a 1st Ward seat on the Choctaw City Council on April 2, defeating the incumbent by two votes.

"Williams worked tirelessly before the election using a complete campaign plan that he had designed. He presumed around 400 people would vote and made sure to knock on their doors until he spoke with all of them. He put out yard signs and doorhangers, with 12 volunteers helping him.

"Williams illustrated to his constituents how the city’s codes and ordinances were hurting the local businesses. He also pointed out that the city charges homeowners a storm drainage fee even though homeowners themselves are responsible for the drainage.

"He also made sure that those who supported him got out to vote.

"'We want to see Choctaw grow and see businesses thrive without handouts or tax funded incentives,' Williams said.

Read more: https://www.lp.org/lp-oklahoma-chair-elected-to-choctaw-city-council/
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Monday, April 29, 2019

Mexico to end adult-use cannabis ban in 2019

Mexican Lawmakers Plan To Tackle Marijuana Legalization This Summer | Marijuana Moment - Kyle Jaeger:

April 23, 2019 - "Mexican lawmakers will hash out the details of a marijuana regulation bill during the upcoming summer recess, with the goal of passing the legislation ahead of an October deadline, a key committee leader said.

"After the Supreme Court deemed the country’s ban on cannacig consumption, possession, and personal cultimation unconstitutional last year, the Senate was charged with amending the law to reflect that ruling.

"Julio Ramón Menchaca Salazar, head of the Senate Justice Committee, said that the body would 'take advantage of the recess period' to finalize the legislation, according to a newsletter posted on the Senate website on Sunday. The recess begins on May 1 and lasts until August 31, giving lawmakers several months to develop a regulatory plan for cannabis before the Supreme Court’s October deadline....

"Legalization legislation has already been introduced in the legislature, including a bill from Olga Sanchez Cordero, who as a senator filed a proposal last year to allow adults 18 and older to possess, consume and cultivate cannabis. But as of yet, it’s not clear what bill the Senate will move to advance....

"The Senate’s Health Commission held a hearing on marijuana reform earlier this month, with policy experts and lawmakers testifying about the prospect of a regulated marijuana market.... The hearing came one month after lawmakers from various political parties convened to begin the process of considering reform legislation.

"Last month, the nation’s secretary of Security and Citizen Protection posted a Twitter poll on legalizing marijuana that showed more than 80 percent of respondents in favor."

Read more: https://gdspoliticalanimal.blogspot.com/2019/04/mexican-govt-to-legalize-adult-use.html
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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Why the Green New Deal can't work

Why the Green New Deal won't work - John Sexton, Hot Air:

February 14, 2019 - "The Green New Deal isn’t a bill, it’s just a resolution.... But even if ... the GND took on the full force of law ... it won’t save the planet. It can’t possibly do so because, as Megan McArdle points out ... at the Washington Post, America isn’t the planet. In fact, we’re not even a terribly significant portion of the carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere at this point.
Today, the United States accounts for 4.3 percent of the world’s population, roughly 25 percent of its economic output and 15 percent of its carbon emissions from fuel combustion. Meanwhile China, with 18 percent of the world’s population, has 15 percent of its gross domestic product and 28 percent of its emissions. And India, with a population almost as big as China’s, produces only about 3 percent of global GDP and 6 percent of emissions....

Looking at these three countries brings the scale of the problem into focus. There is a small, rich world that lives in comfort and plenty, and a much larger, poor one that wants to get rich. To do so, those billions of people will pass through an intermediate stage when their developing industries are much dirtier than their highly regulated rich-world counterparts. The global emissions problem is likely to get much worse before it gets any better…

No matter what rich-world economies do about their energy consumption, or what “moral leadership” they exert, people in the non-rich world are going to want to drive cars instead of walking; to wash their clothes in machines instead of in a river; to cool their houses with air-conditioning; to eat meat every day — in other words, to do and own all the things that make modern rich-world lives so safe and pleasant....
"McArdle is undeniably correct that poorer countries are not going to abandon their chance at a better future based on cheap reliable fossil fuels simply because the U.S. is doing it. They are going to take the fastest route to a better life no matter how green America gets.... The Green New Deal can’t work because, at best, it can only address a tiny fraction of the global problem....

"In reality, there’s only one way America can change the ball game: By doing the hard work to actually make green energy the shortest, quickest path to prosperity. You don’t need a cap and trade system if solar panels are 35% efficient and cheap to manufacture. You don’t have to twist arms in China or India if fusion is a workable, safe alternative to fission. So McArdle argues that if you want a greener, cleaner planet, the solution is not a WWII style mobilization toward efficiency here, but developing green technology that everyone in the world will eagerly adopt because it’s obviously better than any fossil fuel alternative.

"I think McArdle is basically right about why the Green New Deal won’t work... However, like many other commentators who’ve looked at the GND, she treats the social justice wishlist it contains as tangential to the real goal. I continue to think this is a mistake....

"[Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez believes the real source of the problem isn’t fossil fuels per se, it’s capitalism. That’s the system she ultimately wants to eliminate and that’s why all the extra stuff in the GND, such as job guarantees for everyone, makes perfect sense. AOC wants a greener future as a means to achieve a redder one. For her purposes, the GND will be a success if America is less capitalist and more socialist, whether or not the rest of the world goes green."

Read more: https://hotair.com/archives/2019/02/14/green-new-deal-wont-work/
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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Green New Deal could cost over $90 trillion

Study: Green New Deal Could Cost More Than $90 Trillion – Reason.com - Joe Seyton:

February 25, 2019 - "The Green New Deal — a brainchild of progressive Democrats... — has been controversial since it was released....  How much would it cost? At least $50 trillion and possibly in excess of $90 trillion, according to a report released ... by the American Action Forum (AAF).

"The AAF, a center-right think tank that focuses on economic issues, projected costs for six aspects of the Green New Deal: reworking the electricity grid in an environmentally friendly manner, revamping the nation's transportation network to reduce transmissions, and its guarantees of well-paying jobs, universal health care, affordable housing, and food security for each person in the U.S.

"One of the Green New Deal's goals is to meet '100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources' in the next 10 years. Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in this area would cost at least $5.4 trillion by 2029, the AAF says — not including another $387 billion per year for things like operations and maintenance.... [T]otal electricity costs would go up by 22 percent for consumers, the AAF says. Residential customers, who paid an average of $111.67 per month in 2017, would pay an average of about $300 more per year for electricity.

"The Green New Deal also proposes 'overhauling transportation systems ... to eliminate pollution and 19 greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible.' The AAF's estimate of the cost for this proposal assumes that high-speed trains would replace air travel.... Doing so would cost between $1.3 trillion and $2.7 trillion, the AAF estimates....

"The Green New Deal's jobs guarantee would also cost a considerable amount. The AAF based its estimates here on a 2018 report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which found that reaching full employment would involve putting roughly 10.7 million unemployed or underemployed people to work [which] would cost a total of $543 billion.... The AAF updated some of those numbers with 2019 data, and found that a federal jobs guarantee would cost $547 billion in 2019, and $6.762 trillion from 2020 to [2029].. Both of those numbers would rise if, with a guaranteed job waiting for them, many of those who aren't currently looking for work decide to join the labor force....

"The report also estimates that providing universal health care 'will cost roughly $36 trillion between 2020 and 2029.' The AAF simply built off a 2016 estimate of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I–Vt.) Medicare for All Plan, which the Center for Health and Economy said would cost $34.67 trillion over 10 years. It's likely an accurate projection, roughly in line with a July 2018 Mercatus Center report, which said Medicare for All would cost the federal government more than $32 trillion over 10 years.

"The fifth aspect of the Green New Deal that AAF addresses is its guarantee of 'affordable, safe, and adequate housing." Simply housing the homeless could cost under $12 billion, AAF estimates.... But the Green New Deal also calls for 'upgrading all existing buildings ... to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.' Applying such costs to all housing units ... yields a potential cost of $1.6 trillion to nearly $4.2 trillion."

Read more: https://reason.com/2019/02/25/study-green-new-deal-could-cost-more-tha/

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Thai navy dismantles world's first seastead

Bitcoin Couple's Seastead Dreams Sunk by Thai Navy - Wes Messamore, CCN:

April 23, 2019 - "By CCN: The Thai Navy has dismantled the floating sea cabin of U.S. bitcoin investor and seasteading advocate Chad Elwartowski. His Thai girlfriend Supranee Thepdet was living with him in the seastead. The Thai Navy boarded the boat over the weekend and returned its pieces to shore in three boats. The Thai government plans to use the dismantled floating home as evidence in a case against Elwartowsi and Thepdet.

"The two are on the run and have engaged the U.S. embassy. The couple says that the Royal Thai Government is pressing to have them tried and killed for violating the Southeast Asian country’s national sovereignty. It’s a crime that carries the death penalty in Thailand. Luckily, when the authorities moved to seize the vessel, the two had fled; Elwartowski had spotted a surveillance plane flying overhead the day before.

"Although the government of Thailand maintains the seasteaders violated its national sovereignty, the couple most certainly did not. They did not engage in sedition against the government. They did not attempt to overthrow it, nor did they encourage anyone to break its laws. They simply chose to peacefully withdraw from its territory. In the style of history’s millions of homesteaders who left their countries and built something for themselves in unexplored and unsettled lands, this couple is a pair of explorers and pioneers. They are obviously not criminals.

"In a statement released Monday, Patri Friedman, the chairman of the Seasteading Institute, 'urged compassion' for the pair. Friedman insists 'their actions were no threat to Thai sovereignty.'

"The Thai government’s response to the seasteading couple has sent shock waves throughout the international community and media. These events have likely spurred the most mainstream media coverage that the burgeoning seasteading movement has ever received. It is unfortunate that this publicity has come at so great and unfair a personal cost to two of the movement’s pioneers."

Read more: https://www.ccn.com/bitcoin-couple-seastead-thai-navy
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Canopy buys US cannabis firm for $3 billion

Federal Marijuana Legalization Is Close, Suggests Canopy-Acreage Deal - Mike Adams, Forbes:

April 22, 2019 - "]W]hen the largest cannabis company in the world enters into a multi-billion dollar deal with a well-known American cannabis firm -- one that is set to take effect only after the federal government repeals marijuana prohibition -- it is hard not to consider the possibility that someone knows something and that maybe, just maybe we are closer than we think to living in a time when marijuana is taxed and regulated nationwide in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.

"[L]ast week ... Canopy Growth signed a $3.4 billion agreement to acquire the medical marijuana firm Acreage Holdings.... The basis of the agreement is that as soon as the U.S. government finally musters up the guts to end marijuana prohibition once and for all, Canopy will ... assume the Acreage properties and hit the ground running as the most powerful cannabis seller in the United States....

“'Our right to acquire Acreage secures our entrance strategy into the United States as soon as a federally-permissible pathway exists,' Bruce Linton, co-CEO for Canopy, said in a press release. 'By combining Acreage’s management team, licenses and assets with Canopy Growth’s intellectual property and brands, there will be tremendous value creation for both companies’ shareholders....

"Constellation Brands, maker of the beers Corona and Modelo, owns 37 percent equity stake in Canopy, and has an opportunity to take controlling interest in the next few years.... Constellation is already working with Canopy to devise THC-beverages for the Canadian market ... in experimental preparation for when the United States goes fully legal....

"John Boehner ... former House Speaker sits on the board of Acreage Holdings and is also the honorary chairman for an enthusiastic gang of pot lobbyists known as the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR). This group is reportedly heavily funded by the cannabis trade, with foot soldiers in DC right now, persuading federal lawmakers to show support for issues ranging from medical marijuana research to getting the federal government to fall in line with the marijuana standards of today. One piece of legislation that this group is particularly motivated to get on the books is the STATES Act, which would allow states to legalize marijuana any way they see fit without the possibility of federal interference. It’s the one cannabis-related bill that President Trump has said he would 'probably' sign if Congress can come to terms....

"Boehner has also indicated that full-blown legalization is already a hot topic of discussion and on its last leg. 'I have a strong suspicion we won’t be waiting five years to see the federal government legalize cannabis,' he said. 'I’ve got to choose my words carefully. What I’m hearing behind closed doors is pretty sensitive'.... But the latest deal between Canopy and Acreage suggests that a timeline for nationwide marijuana legalization may already be established."

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeadams/2019/04/23/federal-marijuana-legalization-is-close-suggests-canopy-acreage-deal/#372f8d01cce3
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Libertarian named to Bridgeport CT school board

A Libertarian is named to Bridgeport School Board - Connecticut Post - Linda Conner Lambick:

April 22, 2019 - "With only one candidate in the running, the city school board selected LaMar Kennedy, a member of the Libertarian Party, as its newest member. Kennedy, 41, is a special education teacher at Wilby High School in Waterbury. He is also head football coach and assistant boys basketball coach at the school.

"With six board members present, the vote was 5-0 with Board Member Hernan Illingworth abstaining.... Kennedy was immediately sworn in by Mark Anastasi, a city attorney.

"Kennedy was one of six candidates when the board chose Joe Lombard to fill a vacancy in February. This time around, the pool of candidates was restricted to Liberarians, the party that Ben Walker — the member who resigned — had quietly switched to after he was elected in 2015. Walker was a Democrat when elected. Walker resigned unexpectedly on March 25.

"The city charter requires the unexpired term to be filled by a city resident of the same party as the departed member, according to city and board attorneys. According to the Registrar of Voters, there were only 31 voters in the city registered as Libertarians two weeks ago. Kennedy became a member of the Libertarian party in February.

"As a political party, Libertarians support political freedom and autonomy. It is said to be the third largest party in the United States. Its members support a free-market economy, civil liberties and personal freedom. Kennedy said it was the party that best represents his middle of the road values....

"Kennedy will fill the seat until general elections are held in November. If the board had failed to make the selection by April 25, the decision would have gone to the mayor, who would also have had to choose a Libertarian to fill the vacancy."

Read more: https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/A-Libertarian-is-named-to-Bridgeport-School-Board-13786661.php
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Donner Canadian Foundation funds "right wing"

The Donner Prize is part of a larger effort to reimagine Canada as a right-wing American Libertarian fantasy - Tim Bousquet, Halifax Examiner:

April 8, 2019 - "The Donner Prize is awarded by the Donner Canadian Foundation, which was founded by William Henry Donner, an American industrialist who made his fortune in tin and steel. In 1929, Donner’s son Joseph died of cancer, and ... William Donner ... 'sold the assets he had in the Donner Steel Company of Buffalo, New York, his final business undertaking, and set aside $2 million for charitable purposes, primarily for cancer research,' explains the McGill Library.

"Donner moved to Montreal in the 1940s. The move was in part motivated by a desire to avoid U.S. income taxes, but Donner was also attracted by the world-leading medical research then going on in that city, and in 1950 he established the Donner Canadian Foundation. Donner died in 1953, but the foundation continued to dole out money, mostly for medical research and mostly in uncontroversial ways, until 1993.

"Then came a sea change. As Thomas Walkom wrote in 1997 for the Toronto Star: ... 'For the first 43 years of its existence, the Donner foundation was a typical Canadian charitable fund, donating its money to the kinds of unconcontroversial mainstream projects that are generally, and often uncritically, deemed worthy — medical research, prison reform, studies on Canadian unity. Now it is known as paymaster to the right, a source of ready cash for the favourite causes of the new, market conservatism'....

"[Walkom] went on to list the myriad right-wing causes the Donner Canadian Foundation funded — including the Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institution for Market Studies (a $515,000 grant 'to look at issues such as privatization of the fishery'), the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (a grant of $286,000 'to fight so-called political correctness at Canadian universities'), among others....

"Patrick Luciani, now acting executive director of the foundation, openly acknowledges the shift. 'We changed emphasis in 1993. It had been a classic Canadian foundation, quite liberal. But the Donner family saw the country going through a fiscal crisis and they wanted to fund projects that looked at more competition and less government'....

"Recipients of last year’s grants from the Donner Canadian Foundation are split between environmental organizations and more clearly identified right-wing political causes. On the environmental side, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society received $93,425 for 'Advancing Marine Protected Areas.' The Nature Conservancy received three grants for regional projects. The World Wildlife Fund received a $50,000 grant.

"Then there are the grants going towards 'Public Policy Research and Education.' Recipients include the Canadian Constitution Foundation ($30,000), which among other things has funded a court challenge to Alberta’s medicare system; Hillsdale College ($17,000) to fund the work of R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. — the editor of the right-wing American Spectator magazine; the Fraser Institute ($55,000); among others....

"The Donner family can fund whatever they want. But let’s not go a-gog over the Donner Prize, which is clearly part of a larger effort to reimagine Canada as a right-wing American Libertarian fantasy."

Read more: https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/featured/the-donner-prize-is-part-of-a-larger-effort-to-reimagine-canada-as-a-right-wing-american-libertarian-fantasy/

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Thai seasteaders charged with capital crime

Bitcoin couple fears death penalty for ‘seasteading’ off Thailand - National | Globalnews.ca - Josh K. Elliott:

April 18, 2019 - "An American investor and his girlfriend have gone into hiding after Thailand declared their floating ocean home in violation of its sovereign territory — a crime punishable by death or life in prison.

"Bitcoin entrepreneurs Chad Elwartowski and Nadia Supranee Thepdet say they’ve fled the floating concrete home where they’d been living as part of a libertarian-inspired movement known as 'seasteading.' 'We lived on a floating houseboat for a few weeks, and now Thailand wants us killed,' Elwartowski wrote in a Facebook post on April 15. He deleted the post and a followup post on Thursday morning.

"Thailand’s government says the two seasteaders were living as a micro-nation inside its sovereign territory in violation of the country’s criminal code. Thai officials are also concerned the seastead might obstruct international shipping lanes and put cargo ships at risk.

"The Third Thai Naval Area Command has filed a police complaint against the couple, the Bangkok Post reports. The Navy says the ocean home is 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket and therefore still within Thai territory.

"Elwartowski argues the home is more than 13 nautical miles offshore and therefore in international waters.... He says he’s gone into hiding with Thepdet and that they now fear for their lives. They’re also worried about losing all of their possessions if the Thai navy decides to destroy the tiny structure.

"Thailand has not publicly threatened to execute the couple.

"Seasteaders seek to live free of government interference on international waters, according to Ocean Builders, the company that built Elwartowski’s home.... Ocean Builders says it designed and paid for the seastead and it’s concerned for the safety of the building’s first occupants....

"Ocean Builders had planned to start collecting money for 20 new seasteads on April 15, according to its website. However, the company has postponed the collection process until it gets 'everything straightened out' with the Thai government."

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/5180644/seasteading-thailand-american-death-penalty/
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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Higher education's biggest scandal

Seven Troubling Facts On American Higher Education You Probably Don't Know - Adam Andrzejewski, Forbes:

April 10, 2019 - "The recent cheating scandal in which wealthy and well-connected parents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegally game admission at elite universities exposed a rigged system. However, the biggest scandal facing higher education today isn’t the illegal activity – it’s what’s entirely legal. It’s a system so expensive that the $1.7 trillion in student debt now exceeds America’s credit card debt and auto loan debt.

"Last week, our organization at OpenTheBooks.com released our oversight report on the U.S. Department of Education (ED). We found billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on outdated policies, misaligned priorities, and weak accounting controls....

""The top 25 universities with largest endowments (collectively $272 billion) reaped $7 billion in federal student aid. Rich schools are getting richer and taxpayers paid for it....

"26 percent of federal undergraduate student loans made in 2018 will enter default at some point. Considering that $100 billion in student loans were originated last year, it’s a billion-dollar boondoggle. A Brooking Institution study found that 28 percent of college students signed up for student loans don’t even realize that [they] must be paid back....

"The largest chain of beauty schools, Empire Beauty School, received more than $500 million in federal student subsidies between 2014 – 2017. Empire admits to charging up to $22,100 in tuition ... to cut hair, manicure nails, and do massage therapy. Gambling, bartending, golf, and seminaries [also] reaped huge federal subsidies....

"$1 billion in taxpayer subsidies flowed to the 50 worst performing junior colleges as ranked by WalletHub last year. The 10 worst junior colleges had an average graduation rate of 12 percent. Students aren’t graduating. Yet, they’re saddled with large debts....

"Who’s to blame? Recent polling released by Scott Rasmussen shows that a majority (51 percent) of respondents feel the federal government has too much influence over higher ed and only 21 percent believe the feds have too little influence.

"Since 1980, tuition has increased 6.5 times the rate of income growth and is currently outpacing increases in other cost areas like housing, food and health care. Student aid was supposed to make college affordable again, but is simply going to straight to education institutions that continue to increase tuition."

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2019/04/10/seven-troubling-facts-on-american-higher-education-you-probably-dont-know/#5d4beaa73659
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Also read: Libertarian offers college education for $11K / year

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Data the National Security Agency didn't collect

Reports Find Waste and Mismanagement at Intelligence Agency - Pursuit - Bryan Berky:

April 18, 2019 - "It’s been awhile since we’ve seen an Inspector General report on the National Security Agency (NSA). But we have received two in the last two months. And they show how the top-secret agency is clandestinely wasting our money.

"The first report released in March was about NSA’s travel program ... which spent $69.4 million on 43,579 travel claims in Fiscal Year 2017. The IG found ... $900,000 in questionable transactions over a 9-month period, of which $285,000 were determined to be inappropriate. These inappropriate charges include $2,392 for personal cruise line tickets, $1,568 for Walt Disney World tickets, and $1,011 spent at a yacht marina.

"The report also found that 15 employees took out a total of $200,000 in cash advances on government travel cards for which there was no corresponding government travel. One person had taken out 210 different advances totaling $37,529 in cash. The report also found 162 instances of purchases for third-party merchants (i.e. Amazon, Paypal, etc.) totaling $81,000.

"The NSA’s Government Travel Charge Card office has difficulty catching these instances of travel card abuse because they utilize a manual review system rather than an electrically matching protocol with the charge card companies that would help them identify wrong-doing. That’s right, the agency that is known for its capabilities in reviewing communications around the globe doesn’t have the technology to analyze their own travel card expenditures for abuse.

"The other report from the NSA IG found systemic problems with the agency’s ... use of award fee contracts. An award fee contract provides payment 'based upon periodic evaluations of ongoing contractor performance' which are subjective and unilateral rather than based on any targets or formula ... and necessitate a ton of oversight to ensure they are being utilized properly. The OIG found that the necessary oversight is not in place....

"Federal regulations dictate that an agency is supposed to get sign off from a contracting officer before proceeding with an award fee contract.... Of the 54 contracts that the IG looked at, 54 percent (29 of 54) did not have the proper sign-off. Regulations also require a cost-benefit analysis.... Ninety-four percent (51 of 54) lacked the required cost-benefit analysis. NSA also failed to document the justification for the fee percentage used on all 54 contracts examined....

"78 percent (42 of 54) of the contracts received 90% or more of the available award fee, and only one contractor earned less than 75%. It’s possible that the high rate of award fees being paid are worth it to the taxpayer. But NSA has no way of knowing what kind of value they are getting. The IG determined that 'despite paying hundreds of millions in award fees, the Agency has no comprehensive metrics to support whether or not its use of award fees has improved contractor performance and acquisition outcomes'....

"NSA famously has a $1 billion server farm to store huge amounts of personal data. Apparently, the only data they don’t collect are the types that could save taxpayer dollars."

Read more: https://www.ourpursuit.com/reports-find-waste-and-mismanagement-at-intelligence-agency/
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Friday, April 19, 2019

Democrat floats idea of universal national service

Pete Buttigieg’s National Service Plan Is a Really Bad Idea Whose Time Might Have Come – Reason.com - Nick Gillespie:

April 17, 2019 - "Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told Rachel Maddow recently that 'national service will become one of the themes of [my] 2020 campaign'.... [T]he defining element of the plan put forward by the Afghanistan War veteran and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is its vagueness. In fact, it's not even clear if Buttigieg would make a year's worth of service for high school grads mandatory or not. At one point he says he hopes to 'make it, if not legally obligatory, then a social norm,' which can be read both as wanting to make it mandatory or simply a cultural expectation. There's no mention of a national service plan in his book, Shortest Way Home, and there's no mention of it on his campaign website either....

"Buttigieg invoked the World War II service of John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush and his own military service as positive examples of privileged people mixing with people they otherwise would never get to know (he implies that JFK served with African Americans, but the military was segregated during World War II). That sort of service across class, geographical, and racial lines, he argues, is good for America.... Maddow piped up that she has long 'struggled with the civilian-military divide" and "the easy answer is there should be a draft,' even as she acknowledged that the Pentagon is firmly against conscription....

"The libertarian argument against military conscription was best summarized by Milton Friedman, who served on the federal commission that helped end the draft in the early 1970s. After listening to Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, inveigh against an all-volunteer army as mere 'mercenaries,' Friedman replied, 'General, would you rather command an army of slaves?' The same logic applies to mandatory non-military national service.

"Buttigieg was emphatic that he's not talking about forcing people to serve only in the military. Again, there were no details, but his national service plan would include having 18-year-old kids sign up for the armed forces or for a wide variety of other public-sector jobs....

"Beyond being deeply illiberal, mandatory national service is profoundly at odds with the American experience. Unlike most European countries, for most of our history, we didn't have conscription unless there was an active war.... More important, citing elements of the total mobilization of American society to fight World War II in order to sell peacetime policy proposals is a category error. Regardless of the lack of 'social cohesion,' we should not be looking for guidance now to a period when food, gas, and more were rationed and the government effectively controlled the economy and virtually all aspects of life....

"In talking with Maddow, Mayor Pete granted that any sort of program would also cost a lot of money, which, along with the sheer vagueness of his plan, works against its odds of becoming a reality. Yet this may be a bad idea whose time is coming, especially as Millennials such as Buttigieg ascend into positions of power.

"The Green New Deal championed by fellow Millennial Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez includes a plan for the government to guarantee everyone a job, which is sort of the kissing cousin of national service and underscores younger Americans' anxiety about finding employment. And a 2017 poll of 18-to-29-year-olds by Harvard's Institute of Politics found 50 percent supporting voluntary national service (the good news: Just 7 percent support mandatory service)."

Read more: https://reason.com/2019/04/17/pete-buttigiegs-national-service-plan-is-a-really-bad-idea-whose-time-might-have-come/
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Retail cannabis comes to Ontario

Provincial government penalizes licensed stores for not opening, raids unlicensed stores for opening.

Pot stores are now legal in Ontario — get ready for lineups, shortages and delayed openings | CBC News - Nick Boisvert:

April 1, 2019 - "The first nine licensed cannabis stores in Ontario — the government had hoped to have 25 selling by this date — opened for business on Monday.... It was only a few months ago, on Jan. 11, that a lottery system determined which retailers would be eligible to apply for a licence to sell cannabis in Ontario. And the application process is time-consuming. It includes, for example, finding a location that meets certain regulatory requirements, and informing the neighbourhood that you intend to set up shop. And of course, you can't order any stock until the licence is approved."

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-cannabis-opening-day-1.5076935

A dozen of Ontario’s cannabis stores penalized for not opening on time | Globalnews.ca - Michell McQuigge, Canadian Press:

April 10, 2019 - "The Alcohol and Gaming Commission ... says it’s drawing down credit from 12 retailers that aren’t open yet, while ruling two others had their openings delayed for reasons beyond their control. The province’s 25th retail store, chosen from a wait list after an initial lottery winner was disqualified, isn’t expected to start operations until April 28."

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/5153125/dozen-cannabis-stores-penalized/

City pushing for closure of 21 illegal cannabis shops but still faces uphill battle | CBC News Toronto:

April 17, 2019 - "When cannabis became legal in October of last year, Toronto police had closed all but about 12 illicit retail locations in the city. After the provincial government announced that only 25 licensed brick-and-mortar stores would open province-wide come April 1, however, the number of illegal shops ballooned to 32....

"Data prepared by Statistics Canada indicates consumers spent $1.48 billion on cannabis products during the last three months of 2018. The agency reports, however, that 79 per cent of that money was spent on the illegal market....

"Michael Armstrong, a Brock University associate professor who has been studying the business side of legalization, ... observed that legal market share is highest in provinces that have opened more physical storefronts per capita.... But in Ontario, where pot could only be purchased legally online until April 1, legal market share was just 13 per cent during the quarter....

"Police in Ontario have taken a more aggressive approach, with 10 forces across the province banding together to shutter dispensaries. Ontario Provincial Police Det. Insp. Jim Walker said the various police services have formed a joint task force that's made at least 44 arrests since its activities kicked into high gear in January....

"Armstrong, however, questioned the effectiveness of the police strategy.... 'Until there's a legal alternative, I see it as largely a waste of police resources.'"

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/illegal-cannabis-stores-toronto-mark-sraga-1.5101325

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Trump vetoes congressional resolution on Yemen

Yemen War: Trump vetoes congressional resolution to end US involvement - CNNPolitics - Allie Malloy:

April 17, 2019 - "President Donald Trump issued the second veto of his presidency Tuesday, stopping a congressional resolution that would have sought to end US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future," Trump wrote to the Senate Tuesday. Trump was expected to veto the resolution....

"Supporters of the War Powers Resolution argued the US shouldn't be involved in the war without explicit permission from Congress. Opponents argued the US does not have 'boots on the ground' and is offering noncombat technical assistance to Saudi Arabia....

"The bill passed the House 247-175. Sixteen Republicans voted yes with Democrats and one voted present. In the Senate the vote was 54 to 46, with seven Republicans voting with Democrats.

"While the Democratic-controlled House unsuccessfully sought to override Trump's first veto on an unrelated issue, it appears unlikely it will hold an override vote this time since the Yemen resolution originated in the GOP-controlled Senate. The override process must start in whichever chamber first passed the bill."

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/16/politics/trump-vetoes-yemen-war-powers-resolution/index.html
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bill Weld declares for POTUS

Weld says he is seeking GOP nomination for president in 2020 | Times Colonist - Bob Salsberg, Associated Press:

April 15, 2019 - "William Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who two years ago ran for vice-president on the Libertarian Party ticket, on Monday became the first Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries. Weld, 73, said in announcing his candidacy that 'it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity and opportunity for all.' He said, 'There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight'....

"The move by Weld makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.

"Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Weld is known for an unconventional, at times quirky, political style and a long history of friction with the party he now seeks to lead. Weld endorsed Democrat Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 , later saying it was a mistake to do so, and has enjoyed a decadeslong friendship with the Clintons.... Weld's nomination by President Bill Clinton to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico touched off a bitter public spat with then-Sen. Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from South Carolina.... Years earlier, Weld was among a handful of top Justice Department officials to resign in protest over alleged ethical violations by then-Attorney General Ed Meese, long a favourite of conservatives.

"With little in the way of organization or outside money, and at odds with a majority of GOP voters who solidly support Trump, Weld's longshot campaign will target disaffected Republicans and independents who share his disdain for the president and embrace libertarian values of small government, free trade and free markets, and personal freedom.

"Alternately a politician, federal prosecutor, investment banker, lobbyist and even novelist ... the Harvard-educated scion of a prominent Boston family was a lifelong Republican before bolting the GOP to run on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in 2016. Johnson and Weld received about 4.5 million votes, a little more than 3 per cent of the national popular vote.

"Despite a pledge to libertarians that he would remain loyal to the party going forward, Weld on Jan. 17 walked into the clerk's office of the Massachusetts town where he lives and re-registered with the GOP....

"Weld has not won a political race since being re-elected governor by a landslide in his heavily Democratic state in 1994. He was first elected to the office in 1990 ... and quickly became one of Massachusetts' most popular governors in recent history. While holding the line on spending and taxes, Weld as governor embraced liberal positions at odds with national Republicans on abortion and gay rights."

Read more: https://www.timescolonist.com/weld-says-he-is-seeking-gop-nomination-for-president-in-2020-1.23792340
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Monday, April 15, 2019

U.S. support for legal cannabis tops 60%

Marijuana legalization is very popular - Vox - German Lopez:

April 15, 2019 - "The three major national polls in America are increasingly converging on one point: Marijuana legalization is very popular in the US.

"The latest finding, from the recently released General Social Survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, shows that 61 percent of people supported marijuana legalization in 2018. That’s up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000 — a rapid shift in public opinion in less than two decades.

"The other two big national surveys on the topic have found similar results. Gallup put support for marijuana legalization at 66 percent in 2018, up from from 60 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000. Pew put it at 62 percent in 2018, up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000.

"This is far more popular than a lot of politicians who oppose legalization.... It’s also fairly high relative to other issues. Before same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide by the US Supreme Court in 2015, it had 56 percent support in the General Social Survey, 60 percent in Gallup’s survey, and 57 percent in Pew’s. The rapid shift in public opinion for marriage equality is one reason the Supreme Court likely felt comfortable legalizing it. Yet it was lower than support for marijuana legalization today.

"One caveat: Support for legalization seems to be lower if you specify recreational marijuana. A recent survey from YouGov, for example, found that just 50 percent of Americans back recreational marijuana legalization, versus 31 percent opposition. That could be an outlier, but it could suggest that some of the support picked up by the General Social Survey, Gallup, and Pew reflects support for medical marijuana, not full legalization.

"Still, the dramatic turnaround in public opinion helps explain why the great majority of expected and announced Democratic presidential candidates support marijuana legalization. And it explains why more states — now 10 states and Washington, DC — have legalized pot to varying degrees through a ballot initiative or legislature.

"Supporters of legalization argue that it eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: the hundreds of thousands of arrests around the US, the racial disparities behind those arrests, and the billions of dollars that flow from the black market for illicit marijuana to drug cartels that then use the money for violent operations around the world. All of this, legalization advocates say, will outweigh any of the potential downsides — such as increased cannabis use — that might come with legalization."

Read more: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/15/18311320/marijuana-legalization-polls-surveys-trump
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

How WikiLeaks revolutionized journalism

WikiLeaks designed 21st century model for leak-based journalism in a wired age | The Japan Times:

April 12, 2019 - "Using cryptography and virtual drop boxes, Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks created a revolutionary new model for media to lure massive leaks from whistleblowers, exposing everything from U.S. military secrets to wealthy tax dodgers’ illicit offshore accounts.

"Assange’s arrest in London Thursday on a U.S. extradition request to face computer crime charges could spell the end of 13-year-old WikiLeaks. But his legacy will live long in the world’s media. News outlets and journalists everywhere can now offer potential sources encrypted apps and secure virtual mailboxes to receive secrets that were once divulged by discreet whispers, furtive phone calls and unmarked manila envelopes.

"Skilled at hacking and cryptography — and motivated by a deep distrust of traditional institutions — Australia-born Assange applied his libertarian streak to the challenge of breaking government secrecy. In 2006 he built an online platform that offered an anonymous, encrypted path for leaking computerized files without fear of exposure. Leaks have forever been crucial currency in journalism. But no one had before created a convenient, relatively easy-to-use electronic drop box that could almost instantly, with absolute secrecy, take delivery of gigabytes of documents. And he did it at a ripe time, when the wired world was emerging and social media were taking off....

"WikiLeaks obtained documents exposing the Kenyan leader’s corruption, the secret operating rules for the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and offshore banking records from a Swiss bank. It began scooping mainstream media on stories ranging from secret climate-change discussions to Iran’s nuclear activities and Icelandic banking fraud.

"In 2010, U.S. Army intelligence official Chelsea Manning ... began secretly feeding hundreds of thousands of classified files to WikiLeaks. They showed evidence of possible war crimes by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.... Assange partnered with The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and others to help sort through and make sense of the Manning material. WikiLeaks won awards and Assange was put on the cover of Time magazine....

"Almost as soon as he hit that peak, Assange’s star began to fade.... But by 2012 others were already adopting his model of setting up encrypted, anonymous paths for leakers to contribute documents. WikiLeaks copycat sites opened in different countries. Journalists became trained in the use of encryption and secret file transfers.... U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden ... used the encrypted communications Assange helped popularize to communicate with the journalists who collaborated with him.

"In 2013 the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which had aided WikiLeaks with financing, developed a new anonymous drop box free for anyone to use: SecureDrop.... SecureDrop is important to the most successful WikiLeaks-like operation, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In recent years it has obtained from leakers millions of financial account files detailing money laundering and tax avoidance from offshore banking centers — digital troves that became known as the 'Panama Papers' and 'Paradise Papers.'”

Read more: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/12/world/wikileaks-designed-21st-century-model-leak-based-journalism-wired-age/#.XLNUNtQrLn4
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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Julian Assange is a hero, not a criminal

Assange is a hero, not a criminal - Thomas L. Knapp, Helsinki Times:

April 12, 2019 - "On April 11, the ongoing saga of journalist and transparency activist Julian Assange took a dangerous turn.  Ecuador's president, Lenin Moreno, revoked his asylum in that country's London embassy. British police immediately arrested him -- supposedly pursuant to his 'crime' of jumping bail on an invalid arrest warrant in an investigation since dropped without charges but, as they admitted shortly thereafter,  actually with the intent of turning him over to US prosecutors on bogus 'hacking' allegations.

"The US political class has been after Assange for nearly a decade.

"In 2010 WikiLeaks, the journalism/transparency service he founded, released information revealing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as State Department cables exposing -- among other things -- Hillary Clinton's attempts to have American diplomats plant bugs in the offices of their UN counterparts (Clinton, at one point, tried to raise the possibility of having him murdered for embarrassing her so).

"In 2016, WikiLeaks released Democratic National Committee emails -- provided by an as yet unidentified whistleblower -- exposing the DNC's attempts to rig the Democratic presidential primaries in Clinton's favor.

"At no point has Assange been credibly accused of a crime. He's a journalist. People provide him with information. He publishes that information. That's an activity clearly and unambiguously protected by the First Amendment. Even if Assange was a US citizen, and even if his activities had taken place in territory under US jurisdiction, there's simply no criminal case to be made against him.

"So they're manufacturing one out of whole cloth, accusing him of 'hacking' by asserting that he assisted Chelsea Manning with the technical process of getting the 2010 information to WikiLeaks.

"But once again: Assange is not a US citizen, nor at the time of his alleged actions was he anywhere that would have placed him under the jurisdiction of the United States....

"There are certainly criminal charges worth pursuing here. The US Department of Justice should appoint a special counsel to probe the Assange affair with an eye toward firing, seeking the disbarment of, and prosecuting (for violations of US Code Title 18, Sections 241, Conspiracy Against Rights, and 242, Violation of Rights Under Color of Law) the DoJ bureaucrats who hatched this malicious prosecution.

"The first step in the process, though, is for US president Donald Trump to pardon Julian Assange for all alleged violations of US law on or prior to April 11, 2019.

"Assange is a hero. Time to stop treating him like a criminal."

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Read more: http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/columns/columns/viewpoint/16341-assange-is-a-hero-not-a-criminal.html
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Friday, April 12, 2019

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange arrested in London

Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London - BBC News:

April 12, 2019 - "Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped. At Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

"He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets. The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.

"He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Assange's lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they would be fighting the extradition request....

"After his arrest, the 47-year-old Australian national was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing in court....  He pleaded not guilty to the 2012 charge of failing to surrender to the court. Finding him guilty of that charge, District Judge Michael Snow ... sent him to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, where he faces up to 12 months in prison....

"Assange set up Wikileaks in 2006.... The organisation hit the headlines four years later when it released footage of US soldiers killing civilians from a helicopter in Iraq.... Chelsea Manning was arrested in 2010 for disclosing more than 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables to the anti-secrecy website [and] found guilty by a court martial in 2013 of charges including espionage. However, her jail sentence was later commuted. Manning was recently jailed for refusing to testify before an investigation into Wikileaks' role in revealing the secret files....

"The indictment against Assange, issued last year in the state of Virginia, alleges that he conspired in 2010 with Manning to access classified information on Department of Defense computers. He faces up to five years in jail.... [T]he narrowness of the charge seems intended to avoid falling foul of the US Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.

"The Wikileaks co-founder had been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.... Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy on Thursday by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum."

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47891737
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

STATES Act reintroduced in Congress

Gardner re-introduces the STATES Act - Boulder Weekly - Paul Danish:

April 11, 2019 - "Last week Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, Massachusetts Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and eight other Senators re-introduced the legislation the two co-sponsored last year to allow states to legalize marijuana without federal interference.... The bill is called the STATES Act, for 'Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States'... .”

"[A]n identical bill, also called the STATES Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives with 26 cosponsors — half Democrats and half Republicans. The lead sponsors in the House are Oregon Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer and Ohio Republican Representative David Joyce....

"According to ... Warren’s office, the STATES Act is supported by the ACLU, the American Bankers Association, Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers funded political interest group), Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cooperative Credit Union Association, the Credit Union National Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and a number of Indian tribes."
Read more: https://www.boulderweekly.com/features/cannabis-corner/gardner-re-introduces-the-states-act/

1 Big Reason Why U.S. Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Happen This Year - Keith Speights, The Motley Fool:

April 9, 2019 - "Gardner ... held up President Trump's judicial nominees after Jeff Sessions, then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Justice, overturned Obama administration policies about not intervening in states that had legalized marijuana [which] ultimately led to a deal with President Trump to keep the DOJ from taking any actions against Colorado or other states that allowed legal marijuana....

"There will be 22 Republican seats up for election [in 2020].... One of those seats ... is held by ... Cory Gardner. If Gardner can campaign on success in keeping Colorado's marijuana industry safe from federal intervention, it could mean the difference between victory and defeat.... Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky. ... knows that Gardner would be less vulnerable if the STATES Act is at least brought up for a vote. There's a reasonable chance that he will work behind the scenes to help Gardner....

"Democrats control the House by 36 seats. The STATES Act is virtually assured of sailing through committee review and is likely to win a solid majority vote in the full House. Passage of the bill in the House also could increase the chances that it isn't blocked in the Senate....

"There is one final hurdle if the STATES Act passes both the House and the Senate: President Trump must sign the bill into law. However, Sen. Gardner doesn't think that will be a problem. Gardner stated to Roll Call, 'The president has been very clear to me that he supports our legislation.'"
Read more: https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/04/09/1-big-reason-why-us-marijuana-legalization-might-a.aspx

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

PragerU videos viewed a billion times in a year

How PragerU Is Winning The Right-Wing Culture War Without Donald Trump - Joseph Bernstein, Buzzfeed News:

March 3, 2018 - "While it is not an accredited institution of higher learning, Prager University is most definitely an education. Scrolling through its 300-odd videos yields a survey of almost every divisive national issue in the United States today: racism, sexism, income inequality, gun ownership, Islam, immigration, Israel, police brutality, and, of course, speech on college campuses.

"Many of the people presenting these topics are establishment, PBS NewsHour–conservative types like [Bret] Stephens, Charles Krauthammer, and Steve Forbes. But more importantly, PragerU’s faculty includes an all-star lineup of internet and media personalities who have made their bones in the Trump era antagonizing the campus left: Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, James Damore, Steven Crowder, Dinesh D’Souza, Christina Sommers, Adam Carolla, Charlie Kirk, and many more. They are, according to PragerU’s founder and namesake, the conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager, 'the best thinkers presenting their best ideas.” Their goal: to 'undo [the] damage' inflicted by an education system that teaches US students that their country is 'a land of inequality and racism' and a place of which to be 'ashamed.'

"These ideas — each one expressed in a five-minute video with titles like 'Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings,' 'Black, Millennial, Female and… Conservative,' 'Why I Left the Left' and 'Why Isn’t Communism as Hated as Nazism?' — have found an enormous, and growing, audience. According to PragerU’s annual report, in 2017 the organization’s videos received 625 million views between Facebook and YouTube, up from 250 million the year before, and 75 million the year before that. Individual videos frequently garner more than a million views; at least 10 PragerU videos gained more than 5 million views in 2017, and at least six gained more than 10 million.

Read more: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/josephbernstein/prager-university

PragerU Surpasses 2 Billion All-Time Views - PRNewswire:

March 14, 2019 - PragerU recently launched The Candace Owens Show ... garnering millions of views in its first few days. That same week PragerU crossed two billion total views since its founding in 2011. While it took approximately seven years to reach its first billion, PragerU recreated the feat in just over one year, a clear sign of how rapidly the organization has grown....

"While PragerU continues to experience an increasing level of censorship from big tech companies, the organization has recently launched a new mobile app as well as an upgraded website where all of its videos are hosted natively. Through these 'owned' platforms, viewers are guaranteed to be able to watch all PragerU videos without censorship from Google/YouTube and Facebook.

"PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager in 2011, is a not-for-profit online media organization that helps millions understand the values that shaped America and provides millions of people around the world with the intellectual ammunition they need to advocate for limited government, individual responsibility and economic freedom. Since its founding, PragerU videos have received over two billion views. PragerU is a resource for all who value liberty. It is a threat to all those who do not."

Read more: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/prageru-surpasses-2-billion-all-time-views-300812721.html
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Why Facebook welcomes government regulation

3 Reasons Why Facebook's Zuckerberg Wants More Government Regulation | Mises Wire - Ryan McMaken, Ludwig von Mises Institute:

April 1, 2019 - "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg [wrote in] a March 30 op-ed for The Washington Post ... 'I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators'.... Specifically, Zuckerberg concludes 'we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.' He wants more countries to adopt versions of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation....

"Fortunately for Zuckerberg, thanks to the economic realities of government regulation, he can both support government regulation and enrich himself personally.... Large firms with dominant market share have long made peace with government regulation because it often helps these firms create and solidify monopoly power for themselves....

"Many Facebook critics like to claim that Facebook is a natural monopoly.... But remember MySpace? People used to say exactly the same thing [about] that social media platform.... The reality, however, is that unless governments artificially erects barriers to entry, no firm can expect a safe place as a dominant firm. Other firms with new ideas will come along, threatening the older firm's dominance. The answer to this problem, from the point of view of a firm like Facebook, is to make things more expensive and difficult for smaller startups and potential competitors.

"Facebook knows that if government regulations of tech firms increase, the cost of doing business will increase. Larger firms will be able to deal with these additional costs more easily than smaller start ups.... Large firms can absorb high labor costs, higher legal costs, and other high fixed costs brought on by regulation. A high-regulation environment is an anti startup, anti-entrepreneurial environment....

"Facebook will be one of the most powerful groups at the negotiating table when it comes to writing the new regulations ... in a position to make sure the new rules favor Facebook over its competitors. This is a common occurrence in regulatory schemes and is known as 'regulatory capture.' When new regulatory bodies are created to regulate firms like Facebook, the institutions with the most at stake in a regulatory agency’s decisions end up controlling the agencies themselves.....

"Not only will a small start up lack the resources and political pull to challenge Facebook in the rule-making sphere, but those small firms won't be be large enough to be considered important "stakeholders" on any level. Thus, Facebook will continue to wield more power than its smaller competitors through its regulatory power....

"As FTC commissioner Brendan Carr put it, Facebook's proposed regulatory agenda would allow it to 'outsourc[e] censorship.' Not only would this put the federal government in a position to be directly determining which opinions and ideas ought to be eliminated from tech platforms, it would also allow Facebook to pretend to be an innocent third party.... Moreover, regulation can be employed by firms like Facebook to shield the firm from lawsuits....

"Zuckerberg's pro-regulation position is just a pro-Zuckerberg position. By further politicizing and regulating the internet, policymakers will assist large firms — and their billionaire owners — in crushing the competition, and ensuring the public has fewer choices."

Read more: https://mises.org/wire/3-reasons-why-facebooks-zuckerberg-wants-more-government-regulation

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Zionist/libertarian party may decide Israel election

Israeli election: Far-right, pro-cannabis libertarian may be kingmaker | World | News | Cape Breton Post - Maayan Lubell:

April 8, 2019 - "His political platform might be just a pipe dream - a heady mix of pot legalization and biblical temple reconstruction - but far-right candidate Moshe Feiglin could be a kingmaker in Israel's election on Tuesday. Drawing support from alienated young voters, Feiglin's new Zehut party has surged in the polls, which predict it could capture up to six of parliament's 120 seats and perhaps tip the balance in coalition-building that will follow the ballot.

"Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud nor his main challenger, centrist Benny Gantz of Blue and White, have public assurances from Zehut that it will be on their side when they try to form a government. Feiglin has said that his conditions to both men are the legalization of cannabis and control of the finance ministry, where he wants to cut corporate taxes and eliminate customs duties....

"[T]he libertarian Feiglin, 56, has showcased free markets and marijuana, with his plan for the Palestinians taking a back seat. His far-right policies call for annexation of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, paid incentives to Palestinians to emigrate - and eventual construction of a third Jewish temple at the ... Temple Mount ... home to the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques....

"But it is the candidate's push for legalization of recreational marijuana that appears to have lit a fire under many young voters in Israel, where pot smoking is popular.... Others are drawn by Feiglin's vision of small government....

"Critics have cast Feiglin as a wolf in sheep's clothing, using the popular pot platform to get votes from bleary-eyed youngsters in order to promote an extremist agenda.... 'Joints on the Temple Mount,' was how the left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz headlined a recent editorial condemning Feiglin's 'ridiculous dreams of liberty and cannabis' and his 'ultranationalist and dangerous vision'....

"Feiglin, referring to his supporters, told Channel 12's Meet the Press on Saturday[:] 'A new generation has risen in Israel that wants its liberty and is very intelligent, and it's not the cannabis that is attracting them.'"

Read more: https://www.capebretonpost.com/news/world/israeli-election-far-right-pro-cannabis-libertarian-may-be-kingmaker-299108/
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

A new look at the libertarian "giant of SF"

Robert A. Heinlein: the ‘giant of SF’ was sexist, racist — and certainly no stylist | The Spectator - Christopher Priest:

March 30, 2019 - "Robert A. Heinlein appears in his late fifties to have come across a how-to book about sex. Thereafter an instant expert, he wrote novel after novel brimming with it, much of it laughably theoretical and, well, wrong.... Not unrelated to this, he was a rampant sexist, the sort of man who praises the superiority of women while inadvertently revealing that deep down he is full of prejudices and controlling instincts. Worse, he was a racist in an identical way. Examples abound, most of them devastatingly analysed in Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein....

"Mendlesohn describes how Heinlein, who when younger had made a well-earned name for himself as an author of serious and innovative speculative fiction, became a rotten writer in the second half of his career. He always told stories well, but his style was execrable. From Starship Troopers (1959) onwards, his books had an endlessly hectoring, lecturing tone, almost always phrased in long and unconvincing conversations full of paternalistic advice, sexual remarks, libertarian dogma and folksy slang....

"The stories and novels from the pre-war part of his career were notable for the firm sense of competence and reliability. They were, like his later work, told well. His style was terse, rather like that of a literate drill sergeant. Unlike the other science fiction current at the time, Heinlein’s speculative stories were not only set in plausible futures, but the people who moved in those worlds were strong, believable and effective.

"At the end of the war he began a series of juvenile novels, aimed unerringly at young readers but told in the same didactic voice. These novels, not published in the UK until years later when Heinlein was famous, had a profound effect on their American readers. There is still today a generation of middle-aged and elderly American science fiction writers for whom Heinlein is in a position of seminal influence, similar to Hemingway in other literary circles. Heinlein’s influence on modern American science fiction is not universal, but still detectable.

"In the 1950s he wrote some of his best adult novels, notably Double Star (1956), in which an actor is recruited to impersonate an important politician, and The Door into Summer (1957) — a time-travel novel for cat lovers everywhere.

"On politics, Heinlein wrong-footed his critics. Broadly speaking he was always a libertarian, but when he was young he described himself as a left-leaning liberal, and when older became not exactly extreme right-wing but everything but. He was full of seeming contradictions. As a libertarian he of course loathed big governments, but also as a radical thinker believed in world government, the biggest one of all. He supported the family unit but never had children. He was outspoken on the need for an American nuclear build-up, and was a vocal supporter of civilian guns — he coined the phrase "an armed society is a polite society" — but several of the later novels questioned the actual and moral deterrent effectiveness of guns.

"Mendlesohn’s book bespeaks long and detailed work, but the result is difficult to read and follow.... For now it will act as an instruction manual on Heinlein, but its academic reliance on secondary texts will deter many readers who might otherwise be interested."

Read more: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/03/robert-a-heinlein-the-giant-of-sf-was-sexist-racist-and-certainly-no-stylist/
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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Iraq was the Democrats' war, too

When Iraq Was Clinton’s War - Chip Gibbons, The Jacobin:

May 6, 2016 - "When [George W.] Bush entered the White House, the US (with help from the UK) was bombing Iraq an average of three times a week. In 1999, the US spent  $1 billion dropping bombs in Iraq; in 2000, that number was up to $1.4 billion....

"Omitting the decade leading up to the 2003 invasion distorts the roots of the war, which wasn’t just a product of post–9/11 hysteria or the creation of various Bush administration personalities. The February 2001 assault was part of a bipartisan policy that put continuous war with Iraq at the center of strategies to maintain US hegemony in the Middle East....

"[A]t a February 1998 town hall... Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tried to sell the public on bombing Iraq. Albright was repeatedly interrupted by antiwar activists, and ... replied, 'No one has done what Saddam Hussein has done, or is thinking of doing. He is producing weapons of mass destruction'.... Just a few years later, similar scenes, with different players, would be reprised in the buildup to the Bush administration’s invasion.

"Much as George W. Bush inherited his initial Iraq policy from Bill Clinton, Clinton inherited his from Bush’s father. Following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iraq.... Even after Hussein pulled out, however, the US ... refused to allow the sanctions to be lifted. Their new rationale was that the restrictions were needed to  disarm Iraq. Yet as early as 1992 the US knew Iraq had given up its weapons of mass destruction, and the sanctions remained....

"Iraq experienced shortages of food, medicine, and clean drinking water. And a 1995 Lancet study sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization concluded that 576,000 children under the age of five perished because of the policy, while a “conservative” estimate put the death toll for the same age group at 350,000. Dennis Halliday, a thirty-four-year UN veteran, resigned ... after spending a little over a year as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq. He said the sanctions constituted genocide.... Clinton simply denied the facts in question....

"Like his successor, one of Clinton’s early acts in office was to bomb Baghdad. In 1993, he sent twenty-three cruise missiles to hit the city.... Five years later, Clinton signed the 'Iraq Liberation Act' into law, formalizing the US’s demand for regime change. The legislation, which also appropriated $97 million to fund Iraqi opposition groups, was followed up with ... Operation Desert Fox ... sold to the public as retribution for Hussein’s decision to kick UN weapons inspectors out of the country. Yet ... Clinton ordered the inspectors out. Saddam didn’t kick them out....

"From the end of Operation Desert Fox [in December 1998] until the 2003 invasion, the US and UK bombed Iraq at least once a week."

Read more: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/war-iraq-bill-clinton-sanctions-desert-fox/
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Cannabis legalized in Guam

Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Marijuana In Guam | Marijuana Moment - Tom Angell:

April 3, 2019 - "Guam became the first U.S. jurisdiction to legalize marijuana in 2019 with the signature of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (D) on Thursday. When it goes into effect, the U.S. territory’s new law will permit adults 21 and older to possess and grow cannabis, and it will create a system of licensed and regulated businesses to produce and sell marijuana.

"There will be a 15 percent excise tax on sales, with revenues going toward law enforcement, drug treatment and agriculture programs....

"Lawmakers in Guam’s unicameral legislature sent the legislation to Guerrero last week in a narrow vote of 8 to 7....

“'Given all the info, studies done, experiences shared, advice [and] anecdotes about marijuana, what would a responsible community government leader do to protect the interests and welfare of the community?” Guerrero said.... 'Keeping it illegal in my mind rejects the notion that it exists and that the underground market will continue to prey on us. We have to be ahead of this and we have to control it.'

"The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, another U.S. territory, legalized marijuana last year, and the U.S. Virgin Islands enacted a medical cannabis law in January.

"Guam was the first U.S. territory to allow medical marijuana via a voter-approved ballot measure in 2014, but its implementation moved forward slowly."

Read more: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/governor-signs-bill-legalizing-marijuana-in-guam/
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Thursday, April 4, 2019

1st Amendment protects panhandling, judge rules


Judge Throws Out Panhandling Law, Says Physical Interaction Is Free Speech
"When a panhandler approaches a car in the intersection — his hand out, his eyes wide — that physical interaction is protected by the First Amendment, a federal district judge ruled Monday when he threw out an Arkansas city's panhandling ban.

"It's the latest such ban to be found unconstitutional since a 2015 Supreme Court decision made it harder for the government to pass laws regarding the content of speech. That case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, had to do with regulating church signs, but courts around the country have cited the case as they strike down panhandling laws.

"To contend with an increase in panhandling at busy intersections, the city of Hot Springs in 2016 passed an ordinance imposing 'an absolute ban' on solicitation on streets or in medians. After the American Civil Liberties Union sued, the city repealed the ordinance.... In 2017, the city passed a new version [that] eliminated all references to panhandling and instead made it illegal for pedestrians [and] the occupant of a motor vehicle to 'interact physically' while the engine was running on a public roadway.

"But that language was still constitutionally problematic, Judge Robert Dawson wrote.... physical interaction between pedestrians and the occupants of a vehicle clearly has free speech implications, the judge wrote. 'The Court can think of no reason why a pedestrian would intentionally attempt physical interaction with a motor vehicle or its occupants other than to communicate a message'....

"Hot Springs attorney Brian Albright said via email ... it's too early to say whether the city will appeal the ruling.

"The Reed case 'has placed literally every panhandling ordinance in the United States at least under risk,' said First Amendment scholar Enrique Armijo, associate dean for academic affairs at Elon University School of Law.... Hot Springs 'did a better job than most cities with respect to defining the banned activity in a way that refers more to the conduct than the speech,' said Armijo, who thinks the judge's ruling could be overturned on appeal."

Read more: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709251256/judge-throws-out-panhandling-law-says-physical-interaction-is-free-speech

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wrongfully convicted men freed after 43 years

2 men wrongfully convicted of 1976 murder freed after 43 years behind bars - ABC News - Meghan Keneally:

March 29, 2019 - "There were bullet holes in the window screen and the curtains, but the main witness said the two shooters were inside and at the foot of her bed. The witness said she saw the muzzle flashes from two guns, but ballistics testing said that the bullets at the scene were fired from only one gun. People at a nearby party said they heard the gunshots, and if the shots were fired inside the bedroom, auditory testing said that wouldn't have been possible. And there were dozens of people at that birthday party down the street from the shooting that would have testified that the suspects were at the party -– therefore providing an alibi....

"But these pieces of evidence and the shifting story of the witness were not considered during a two day trial in 1976, and two men landed in jail as a result. One was sentenced to death, and the other was sentenced to life in prison.

"On Thursday, they walked free after a review of their case prompted the newly-formed Conviction Integrity Review (CIR) division of the State’s Attorney’s Office in Florida determined that they 'no longer [had] confidence in the integrity of the convictions or guilt of the accused'....

"Clifford Williams, who is now 76, and his nephew Nathan Myer, who is 61, had their convictions vacated. The last time they were free men, they were 33 and 18-years-old, respectively. They each spent 43 years behind bars for a murder that not only did they not commit, but that someone else [Nathaniel Lawson] had confessed to years after the killing....

"The murder in question was the May, 1976 shooting death of Jeanette Williams, who was not related to Clifford Williams but was renting an apartment from him when she was murdered. Nina Marshall ... was in bed with her and was also shot by the assailant but survived.... Marshall was the one that said that there were two shooters inside the bedroom, and subsequently identified Williams and Myers as the shooters. Both men have maintained their innocence throughout the process....

"Florida is one of 33 states that compensate individuals who were wrongly imprisoned and subsequently exonerated. The state stipulates that individuals can receive $50,000 per year that they were wrongfully convicted but with a cap of $2,000,000. The compensation law excludes anyone with either one prior violent felony or more than one non-violent felony. Myers will be eligible for such compensation, but Williams will not."

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/US/men-wrongfully-convicted-1976-murder-freed-43-years/story?id=62012500&cid=social_fb_abcn&fbclid=IwAR2x3rLrSqLge-4TK7ExR3Qt5uhVdGAlUD6SXSnU3Ke9Zo_7JodEpUeB5IU
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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Climate skeptics call for President's Commission

News - Expectations High for President’s Commission on Climate Security | Heartland Institute - H. Sterling Burnett:

March 22, 2019 - "The Heartland Institute was among 37 organizations and 112 individuals who signed a letter strongly urging President Donald Trump to move forward with rumored plans to form a President’s Commission on Climate Security (PCCS) with distinguished physicist Dr. William Happer, the administration’s senior director of the National Security Council (NSC) office for emerging technologies, to head it. The panel would conduct an independent review of the science that underpins official government climate reports, such as the latest National Climate Assessment....

"It’s a common misunderstanding, due to the fawning portrayal of its work by the mainstream media, that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has objectively studied and presented the facts about climate change.... IPCC, as the name implies, is a political organization, not a scientific one. As such, IPCC was not charged with examining the causes and consequences of climate change but was instead directed from its founding to limit its enquiries into the 'human causes' of change....

"Many scientists have advanced their careers and raked in big government research grants by toeing the IPCC’s party line that humans are causing dangerous climate change and we need a government takeover of the economy, something like the Green New Deal, to fix it. Time and again, researchers and organizations have manipulated or altered data, and they have suppressed research ... to make the facts conform to their politically convenient theory....

"As the letter states: 'In our view, an independent review of these reports is long overdue. Serious problems and shortcomings have been raised repeatedly in the past by highly-qualified scientists only to be ignored or dismissed by the federal agencies in charge of producing the reports.... The conclusions and predictions made by these reports are the basis for proposed energy policies that could cost trillions of dollars in less than a decade and tens of trillions of dollars over several decades....

"'We note that defenders of the climate consensus have already mounted a public campaign against the proposed commission. We find this opposition curious. If the defenders are confident that the science contained in official reports is robust, then they should welcome a review that would finally put to rest the doubts that have been raised'....

"In the end, from the perspective of climate alarmists opposed to the PCCS, Trump’s big sin in forming PCCS is to question the claim climate science is settled, and Happer’s big sins are to defend the need for high-quality data and to point out a modestly warmer world and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will bring benefits as well as costs. All the panic, hyperbolic gnashing of teeth, and name-calling accompanying speculation concerning [PCCS] in recent weeks comes down to this.

"This is certainly not an anti-science conspiracy. Neither good science nor sound policy can be advanced without an unbiased examination and debate of the facts, the cornerstone of scientific discovery."

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Monday, April 1, 2019

How to write "alt.right"

How To Write Like An Alt-Right “Libertarian” - Opting Out - Being Libertarian - James Smith:

April 1, 2019 - "Not making enough money from the usual libertarian channels?...  Frustrated that the philosophy of liberty has not provided the ultimate purpose for your up-to-now meaningless existence? Then you might want to get on the alt-right train. Don’t go in blind – let this be your guide to navigating your way through an alt-right libertarian article.

"Write like a German. You’re trying to sound intellectual. You want to be respectable ... to take the intellectual high ground when people come after you with pitchforks. The answer is to write as if you haven’t yet experienced a human emotion.... You are a Vulcan, unclouded by the petty emotional biases of men. You only see things through the cold hard light of reason....

"Hans-Herman Hoppe is a good example to imitate (which is convenient, since that is all you have read). His deconstructions are systematic, impersonal and irrefutable. We must write in the same way....

"Make an edgy but ultimately banal point ... go for the most politically-incorrect conclusion you can find.... It doesn’t have to be socially-acceptable. It’s better if it’s not.... Clutch as many straws as you like – when you write like Hoppe, you can make anything sound like perfect reason.

"Am I wrong? Am I wrong? When the inevitable backlash comes, the best line of defense is to repeatedly ask to be pointed out where you are incorrect. Of course, if you’ve done this well, you are not technically incorrect, merely offensive and irrelevant. Block anyone who, by some miracle, points out your error....

"Shrug your shoulders as if you’re an impartial Socratic mega-brain.... You can’t even understand why anybody would get upset at the mere truth-telling of the alt-right. We can only guess that the irrationality of man knows no bounds.

"Everyone who doesn’t agree is a commie.... Nuance is for cucks. It’s imperative to equivocate every disagreement with nothing less than global communism. The libertarian movement is being taken over by leftists.... Even the charges of fascists and Nazis don’t make sense because the Nazis were just leftists – like, duh bro.

"Be an enormous hypocrite.... You can make up for your history of heavy drinking, adultery and polyamorous love nests by peddling the most uncharitable view of alternative lifestyles. Humility is a lefty, feminine thing."

Read more: https://beinglibertarian.com/how-to-write-like-an-alt-right-libertarian-opting-out/
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