Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Airbnb offers free lodging to COVID-19 responders

As Tourism Craters, Airbnb and Hotels Offer Shelter to Coronavirus Responders | Reason - Scott Shackford:

March 26, 2020 - "The spread of the coronavirus has decimated tourism across the world, shutting down hotels, restaurants, airports, tourism destinations, amusement parks, beaches, cruise ships, and concert halls.... The result is a devastating drop in demand for home-sharing services provided by companies like Airbnb. People aren't staying in hotels, and they're also not renting Airbnb units.

"Eventually, tourism and room rentals will recover. But for now, Airbnb is announcing that it is trying to assist with the coronavirus fight by encouraging its hosts to offer their rental units to temporarily house coronavirus responders, such as doctors, nurses, and other health care workers.

"According to Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky on Twitter, the program was piloted in France and Italy, where nearly 6,000 hosts volunteered to allow coronavirus responders to stay in their rentals. Today, the service announced it's expanding this program worldwide and is looking for 100,000 hosts to participate.... Airbnb is currently working with the International Rescue Committee, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the International Medical Corps in order to connect responders and hosts.

"In order to offer up your space to host, you have to follow a strict cleaning and disinfecting regimen to prepare the space, and no other people can be present at the listing. You can't just rent a spare bedroom to a nurse or aid worker. Airbnb is also waiving all of its own fees. Unit owners and operators have the option to host for free if they want to 'donate' their rental, but it's not necessary in order for them to participate.

"On Twitter, Chesky is noting that hosts have been quick to volunteer. As of noon today, he says 1,500 Airbnb hosts have offered up their homes since this morning's announcement. It's not clear how many of these homes or rentals are proximate to locations where health care workers need to be, or what percentage of hosts have reduced their rates....

"Hotels are getting in on the act as well, both in America and other countries. Veronique de Rugy noted that the private sector is working to solve a number of problems the government is too slow to tackle. Hotels and private residences make for better and safer resting places for coronavirus workers than some tent cities that will force these people (who themselves are at constant risk of infection) into regular close proximity."

Monday, March 30, 2020

Private sector tackling coronavirus emergency

The Private Sector's Heartening Response to COVID-19 | Reason - Veronique de Rugy:

March 26, 2020 - "It's easy to feel depressed and scared these days. News about the impact and death toll of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, is constant. Government responses have been chaotic, ranging from near-indifference to suddenly shutting down the economy, with politicians offering to pay for everything. Yet we shouldn't lose sight of the exceptional vitality that the private sector is demonstrating during this mess. It will make a difference....

"After what can only be described as a multilevel government failure that resulted in the United States having practically no coronavirus tests available for weeks after the onset of the pandemic, the private sector ramped up its production so much that we're now testing 65,000 people every day. This number is bound to grow..... Singapore's Veredus Laboratories, for example, said it will soon release "Lab-on-Chip" kits to test patients for three kinds of coronavirus within two hours. Four American startups had also launched at-home tests for COVID-19, until the Food and Drug Administration unwisely demanded they stop....

"[O]nly a few weeks after the beginning of this outbreak in the United States, many pharmaceutical firms worked at lightning speed to develop a vaccine. Last week, the first doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine were administered to a group of volunteers....

"Companies nationwide are shifting resources to produce more masks. The firm 3M, for instance, announced that it 'ramped up to maximum production levels of N95 respirators and doubled our global output to a rate of more than 1.1 billion per year'.... A group of American apparel and textile companies like Fruit of the Loom and Hanesbrands came together almost overnight to create a medical face mask supply chain....

"Researchers trying to understand where best to send supplies or how to mitigate outbreaks are now being helped by Facebook's disease prevention maps that display population density, demographics, and travel patterns. As George Mason University's Tyler Cowen also explains for Bloomberg, 'Skype and Zoom sessions will replace many a class, and the textbook companies are stepping forward with electronic portals that present classroom materials, interactive exercises and grade student answers'....

"In Canada, an anesthetist managed to turn one life-saving ventilator into nine. In Italy, a company used its 3-D printer to manufacture much-needed ventilator valves to be used in that country's overwhelmed hospitals. These entrepreneurs then ... modified 'a snorkeling mask already on the market to create a ventilation-assisted mask for hospitals in need of additional equipment, which was successful when the hospital tested it on a patient in need.' And where I live in Virginia, a couple has been 3D-printing shields to protect N95 masks. The Washingtonian reports, 'For each request received, the Filkos are covering shipping costs and sending four free masks to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers'....

"Burger King is giving out two free kids' meals to everyone who orders food through their app. U-Haul is providing one month of free storage for students displaced from their universities by the virus."

Read more: https://reason.com/2020/03/26/the-private-sectors-heartening-response-to-covid-19/

Sunday, March 29, 2020

U.S. Congress triples 2020 federal deficit

$2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Presents A Reckoning For Libertarians | NPR - Ron Elving

May 22, 2018 - "Let us all have a moment of sympathy – and perhaps even understanding — for Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky. Massie was the guy who caught hell from all sides Friday when he tried to force a roll call vote on the coronavirus relief bill in the House of Representatives. He said he wanted every individual member to record his or her vote on the gargantuan $2 trillion package, which he called the biggest relief bill in the history of mankind. For Massie and many like him, the bill that aims to forestall economic disaster in the face of a pandemic is, in itself, a fiscal calamity and a radical turn in governing philosophy. Letting this go without a recorded vote was capitulation on a profound scale....

"'If this bill is so great for America, why not allow a vote on it?' he fumed on Twitter.... 'I’ve been told that they don’t even have 1 minute available for me to speak against this bill during the 4 hour debate. The fix is in. If this bill is so great for America, why not allow a vote on it?  Why not have a real debate? #SWAMP'....

"Massie had a point.... Explicitly, the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act spends money faster than any legislation in history, shoveling it out with an air of near-desperation....  Implicitly, the act says that when the chips are down, we as a nation turn to our national parent — the federal government....

"Speaking about federal outlays decades ago, Republican Senate leader Everett Dirksen once joked: 'A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.' Have we now translated that to the language of trillions?

"If one were writing a 30-second TV spot attacking a free-spending Congress ... one might have written something like this: 'This is an unprecedented gusher of taxpayer money — with no offsetting revenues or spending cuts — that not only balloons the federal budget but triples this year's anticipated deficit of a trillion dollars (already among the highest in history). With this single vote, Congress has added as much to the national debt as was accumulated in the first 200 years of the Constitution's existence'....

Yet the power of this current crisis and the force behind this bill in this hour was such that even the leading fiscal conservatives who would normally be front and center were conspicuous by their absence. President Trump wanted the bill on his desk now. The Senate had voted 96-0. So even members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus stood back as a big bipartisan majority of the House played the matador and let the bull roar past.

"That's what Massie decided he could not brook without a protest.... But the derision arrived without delay.... President Trump demanded Massie be ousted from the Republican Party.... Back on Capitol Hill, the floor leaders of both parties scrambled to stymie Massie. Within a few hours, they had established the rule of debate on the bill so that the Senate's version of CARES could be approved without a roll call vote....

"[W]hile his lonely crusade was joined by none of the leaders of his own party, Massie was at least speaking for others across the country who could scarcely believe what they saw unfolding on C-SPAN — and the lack of any meaningful opposition in Washington.

"Matt Welch, an editor-at-large for Reason, a libertarian magazine, called the CARES Act 'a massive course of experimental economics' and compared the American public to 'laboratory rats.' Even the trillion-dollar stimulus package of President Barack Obama, opposed by Republicans in 2009, had not been so robust. 'There is no more politics of fiscal prudence in America,' Welch added."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Governments prevented early coronavirus testing

How Delays in Testing Set Back the U.S. Coronavirus Response | New York Times - Sheri Fink & Mike Baker

March 10, 2020 - "Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, knew that the United States did not have much time. In late January, the first confirmed American case of the coronavirus had landed in her area. Critical questions needed answers: Had the man infected anyone else? Was the deadly virus already lurking in other communities and spreading?

"As luck would have it, Dr. Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region. To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Dr. Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began.

"By Feb. 25, Dr. Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval. What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on American soil without anybody realizing it.... In fact, officials would later discover through testing, the virus had already contributed to the deaths of two people, and it would go on to kill 20 more in the Seattle region over the following days.

"Federal and state officials said the flu study could not be repurposed because it did not have explicit permission from research subjects; the labs were also not certified for clinical work. While acknowledging the ethical questions, Dr. Chu and others argued there should be more flexibility in an emergency during which so many lives could be lost. On Monday night [March 1], state regulators told them to stop testing altogether.

"The failure to tap into the flu study ... was just one in a series of missed chances by the federal government to ensure more widespread testing during the early days of the outbreak, when containment would have been easier. Instead, local officials across the country were left to work in the dark as the crisis grew undetected and exponentially.

"Even now, after weeks of mounting frustration toward federal agencies over flawed test kits and burdensome rules, states with growing cases such as New York and California are struggling to test widely for the coronavirus. The continued delays have made it impossible for officials to get a true picture of the scale of the growing outbreak, which has now spread to at least 36 states and Washington, D.C."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Colorado Libertarian convention cancelled

Colorado Libertarians cancel state convention, blast state's 'draconian regulations' | Colorado Politics - Ernest Luning:

March 19, 2020 - "The Colorado Libertarian Party on Thursday canceled its annual convention in response to an order issued by Gov. Jared Polis limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. The party, which counts more than 46,000 registered voters in Colorado, is developing 'a digital option for conducting necessary party business,' state party chairman Victoria Reynolds said in an online post that called the public health order issued late Wednesday 'draconian regulations.'

"State Libertarians had been planning to convene April 3-5 at a Lakewood hotel after moving their annual meeting from Glenwood Springs earlier this week, due to an order by a local health department banning large gatherings.

"Polis issued a series of executive orders Wednesday night to further restrict public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, including extending an order requiring all schools to close through April 17 and keeping downhill ski areas closed through April 6. The Colorado Department of Public Health issued an order Wednesday prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people, in accordance with federal recommendations, Polis said.

"Reynolds told Colorado Politics that the party had expected at least 100 people to attend the weekend convention, which featured speakers, panel discussions and a Roaring '20s party. At the meeting, the Colorado Libertarians [were] planning to nominate candidates to Colorado's general election ballot and send delegates to the national convention, as well as elect board members and take care of other party business."

Reynolds said ... that the government restrictions fly in the face of the party's basic tenants. 'It has long been a cornerstone of Libertarian beliefs that the world works best when people use personal responsibility and exercise their right to freely assemble,' she said. 'Not only are political and activist organizations forced to set their work aside when people need them most, but businesses have been forced to close, as well. By shutting down our convention and others like it, the state of Colorado has compounded the economic damage already being done through our society grinding to a halt.'"

Read more: https://www.coloradopolitics.com/quick-hits/colorado-libertarians-cancel-state-convention-blast-state-s-draconian-regulations/article_7ee5a7c8-69fd-11ea-9bfb-477374d4fdfb.html

Thursday, March 26, 2020

2020 Libertarian National Convention in limbo

Libertarian Party's Presidential Nominating Convention in Coronavirus Limbo | Reason - Matt Welch:

March 25, 2020 - "On Tuesday, the city of Austin, Texas, issued a coronavirus-avoidance stay-at-home order that permits residents to leave their homes only for 'essential' work and activities, such as providing medical care or buying groceries. The order, which lasts preliminarily until April 13, could have at least an indirect impact on the 2020 presidential race....

"Austin is the site for what was scheduled to be the May 21-25 Libertarian National Convention, ... the sole venue and mechanism by which the party's presidential and vice presidential nominees are determined. Rather than arrive with delegate slates earned in binding state primaries and caucuses the months before, Libertarian candidates show up, vie for scarce space on the debate stage, then endure however many rounds of voting it takes (lowest candidate lopped off after each round) among the 1,000 or so delegates in attendance until someone wins 50.1 percent of the vote.

"'We are evaluating all of our contingency plans,' Libertarian National Chair Nicholas Sarwark told Reason Friday.... The Libertarian National Committee (LNC) is scheduled to discuss precisely that [at] a special meeting conducted via Zoom Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Sarwark reckons that some kind of remote meeting, or an Austin plus remote hybrid, might be set up with a pared-down agenda focusing mainly on candidate selections both for the presidential ticket and the LNC.

"The convention website on March 19 informed delegates, 'The Coronavirus crisis is of an incredibly fluid nature, and as of the writing of this 61 days before our event, it is still too early to make any "permanent" plans.... Expect more definitive guidance as to the plan for the event about one month before the delegates and attendees are scheduled to arrive for registration and credentialing. For now, we can expect release of more definitive guidance on 4/20.'

"Added Sarwark: 'Basically the convention oversight committee meets weekly with updates and is in constant contact with the venue, and then they give me updates at a slightly lower periodicity. We're looking at probably somewhere around 30 days out, maybe three weeks out, to make a final decision.'"

"There have been seven nonbinding Libertarian primaries and caucuses thus far.... In the overall popular vote thus far, according to this Wikipedia page, [Jacob] Hornberger leads [Vermin] Supreme 22 to 10 percent, with 1996 L.P. vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen just behind with 9 percent. The rolling shutdowns across the country — postponing primaries and most large gatherings — alter the basic calculus for winning delegate votes, which is usually: Show up to state conventions, glad-hand, and perform in debates....

"The L.P.'s presidential nominating process can be a lengthy event, filled with horse-trading and intrigue. Since the goal is to win a majority of delegates on-site, ... candidates have in prior cycles invested much energy into making sure friendly state delegates show up. Canceling or significantly physically altering the Austin gathering will certainly upend business as usual for America's third party."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Amash may delay new coronavirus stimulus bill

Rep. Amash Signals He May Single-Handedly Delay Coronavirus Relief Bill | National Review - Mairead McArdle:

March 25, 2020 - "Representative Justin Amash signaled Wednesday that he may delay the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package Senate leaders reached with the Trump administration hours earlier, calling the plan 'a raw deal for the people.'

"The Michigan independent, who left the Republican Party last year, suggested he may block unanimous consent should the House choose to use it for the coronavirus package, forcing a roll call vote on the emergency funding bill that would require lawmakers to return to Washington. Such a move would delay consideration in the lower chamber of the package, which was agreed to after five days of marathon negotiations between Senate leaders and the Trump administration.

"'This bipartisan deal is a raw deal for the people,' Amash wrote in a Wednesday morning tweet. 'It does far too little for those who need the most help, while providing hundreds of billions in corporate welfare, massively growing government, inhibiting economic adaptation, and widening the gap between the rich and the poor.'

"The bill, the third coronavirus stimulus package passed by Congress, provides $367 billion in loans to help small businesses hit hard by the outbreak to keep making payroll, $100 billion for hospitals, and $150 billion for state and local governments. The plan also provides for Americans who make up to $75,000 to receive a one-time payment of $1,200. A $500 billion fund earmarked for corporations that have been economically damaged by the pandemic will be overseen by an inspector general and a congressional panel in accordance with Democrats’ demands....

"Amash’s office did not respond immediately to request for comment."

Read more: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/rep-amash-signals-he-may-single-handedly-delay-coronavirus-relief-bill/

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

MT GOP county commissioner runs Libertarian

Republican Commissioner to Run for Senate as Libertarian | U.S. News & World Report - Associated Press:

March 19, 2020 - "Lewis and Clark County Commission Chair Susan Geise has announced she will run for the U.S. Senate race as a Libertarian Party candidate after serving as a Republican because of differences with the Republican Party leaders and concerns about the toxicity of partisan politics. Geise filed Wednesday as a Libertarian after formerly serving as the chair of the Montana Republican Party in the 1990s....

"Geise was selected by the Libertarian Party on Tuesday to replace Eric Fulton of Bozeman, who withdrew on the last day of the regular election campaign filing period, meaning the party had until Wednesday to nominate a replacement candidate, she said. Geise told the Independent Record that she was concerned by allegations that Fulton was linked to the Republican Party and his dropping out was a political move to prevent the Libertarian Party from fielding a candidate.

"'I have read the allegations, I don’t have any facts about it and I hope that’s not true, that this individual was a Republican and it was maybe a tactic, or what I might call a dirty trick, so that suddenly the Libertarians would have no one,' she said. Fulton previously ran as a Republican for the Legislature, but said in an email he chose to withdraw after Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock entered the race to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines....

"Geise served as a Republican on the commission since 2013, but recently attempted to make the commission elections nonpartisan in the future. She also was a state lawmaker representing Great Falls about 30 years ago. 'I want to be very clear, the Republicans and I have been unhappy with each other for a very long time, certainly since the 2016 election,' she said. 'I have elected dozens and dozens if not a hundred Republicans to elected office. I have invested my life to this and I feel that the Republican leadership profanes what we used to stand for and I can’t stomach it.'"

Read more: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/montana/articles/2020-03-19/republican-commissioner-to-run-for-senate-as-libertarian

Monday, March 23, 2020

MB biotech firm fast tracks coronavirus treatment

Winnipeg biotech company says COVID-19 treatment nearing production | Global News - Skylar Peters

March 22, 2020 - "A Winnipeg company is working on a way to treat those who have become ill with COVID-19. Emergent Biosolutions is developing experimental treatments for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. At the same time, it has partnered with two American pharmaceutical companies to work on a vaccine for COVID-19.... Emergent has teamed up with clinical-stage vaccine company Novavax as well as biotech company Vaxart to develop two oral vaccines.

"As senior vice president of therapeutics Dr. Laura Saward tells 680 CJOB, the company has a bit of a head start. 'We started right away, looking across our different platforms for how we could have an impact, and of course everyone is doing this quickly,' Saward says. 'We looked at some of our proven technologies – platforms that have supported several licensed drugs, and we put those to work on coronavirus.'

"Saward explains while many researchers are focused on a vaccine that would make someone immune to COVID-19, they’re focused on therapeutics for those who would have already contracted the illness. 'When you use a vaccine, you’re developing antibodies over time. This is a way to give someone a dose of these antibodies right away, and that would help to remove the infection or the virus from their system,' Saward says. 'It’s an approach we’ve used with many other infectious diseases where you isolate these antibodies from plasma sources. There’s hundreds of years of research behind this type of approach. It does take some of the risk out, and our focus is on going as fast as possible.'

"Winnipeg epidemiologist Dr. Cynthia Carr tells 680 CJOB while any vaccine could still be over a year away, it’s important to remember we might not get one at all, as none of the previous seven strains of the coronavirus has had a vaccine, so developing treatment is equally important....

"Saward explains her group is making great progress.... 'We will work with regulators to ensure we’re doing this in a way that’s safe — but our target is to get in the clinic by the end of summer. We will be manufacturing at our Winnipeg site by the beginning of summer.'"

[Statistics appended to the article report 1,510 cases of coronavirus in Canada, of which 20 people have died and 18 were pronounced recovered - gd.]

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/6716475/winnipeg-researchers-covid-19-treatment/

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The morality of cannabis

Morality of marijuana comes down to this: Let adults decide | Fresno Bee - Andrew Fiala:

January 24, 2020 - "Fresno may soon join the rest of California in making cannabis commercially available. So let’s reconsider the morality of marijuana.

"The basic argument for legalization ... is libertarian. The legalization of marijuana is part of a rising tide of libertarianism with regard to issues such as abortion, physician assisted suicide, pornography, and gay marriage. Libertarians allow adults to do whatever they want, as long as they are not harming others. Marijuana use can harm others: through second-hand smoke, driving under the influence, and ... Libertarians should want to find ways to minimize those harms. But for the most part libertarians want to leave people alone, even if this means allowing people to make their own mistakes.

"Paternalists disagree. Paternalists want to prevent people from harming themselves. They worry that people are not virtuous enough to choose well. They think people can be profoundly mistaken about what is good for them — and should be prevented from misusing their liberty.

"Libertarians reject this as nosy and intrusive. The libertarian argument has prevailed in California with regard to marijuana legalization. But the question still remains as to whether cannabis consumption is a wise use of freedom or a mistake. Said differently, is there anything wrong with getting high?...

"The Catholic Church teaches that recreational drug use is a 'grave offense' that 'inflicts very grave damage on human health and life.' This argument has been made in philosophical terms by Robert P. George and Patrick Lee, who argue that ... when people masturbate or get high, the body is used as an instrument to be manipulated in order to obtain pleasure. They say that masturbators and drug users express 'contempt' for their bodies. Hedonists see things differently. The hedonist’s goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. This means that hedonists will want to avoid the downside of getting high.... But defenders of marijuana often argue that marijuana has less of a downside than alcohol.

"Lee and George allow alcohol use ... if used as a social lubricant to enhance social interactions. But there is a difference, they argue, between social drinking and getting drunk. Of course, ... marijuana is also a social drug. And there is a cannabis culture that includes Bob Marley, Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson. This reminds us that culture matters. Alcohol is the drug of choice for mainstream culture, which takes the consumption of beer and wine for granted. But marijuana is (or was until recently) counter cultural, a drug for Rastafarians, rappers and hippie cowboys. A cultural analysis of marijuana shows how competing views of the drug reflect our thinking about race, culture, and class.

"This cultural divide cuts into our thinking about consciousness.... Philosophers, scientists, lawyers, and mathematicians celebrate rational thought, logic, and problem-solving. Cultures and careers that value quick wit and critical thinking will tend to emphasize sobriety and what [Andrew] Weil calls 'straight' thinking. But artists and mystics view things differently.... For the artist or mystic, there is value in in the stoned mind. Instead of logic and calculation, mysticism values intuition, sensuality, and creative insight.

"These differences in culture, religion and consciousness run deep. That’s why the libertarian solution is best. We’re going to disagree about the morality of marijuana. But as long as harm to others can be minimized, adults should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to get stoned or stay straight."

Andrew Fiala is a professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State: fiala.andrew@gmail.com.

Read more: https://www.fresnobee.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/andrew-fiala/article239585358.html


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Canadian gov't defends cannabis legalization

Canada Defends Marijuana Legalization In Response To International Skepticism | Marijuana Moment - Ben Adlin:

March 10, 2020 - "The Canadian government touted the benefits of its legal, regulated marijuana market in comments to the United Nations recently.... The remarks were delivered last Monday to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs by Michelle Boudreau, director general for Health Canada’s controlled substances department. As a whole, they portray the country’s decision to legalize cannabis as a victory for public health....

"Canada passed legislation to legalize marijuana for adults in 2018, becoming the largest nation ever to do so. The move technically ran afoul of international drug treaties that still forbid marijuana legalization, but the country nevertheless proceeded with the change.

"In her remarks to the UN commission, Boudreau stopped short of encouraging other countries to legalize, which may have further rankled UN officials, but she pushed back against international concerns that legalization would endanger public health and young people.

“'The illegal market has already lost 30% of its market share, and we have seen no corresponding increase in the overall size of the market,' Boudreau said, according to a written copy of her remarks. 'This represents nearly $2 billion in sales that did not go to criminal organizations.' She added that 'initial data suggests that rates of cannabis use have not changed among youth and young adults,' nor has the country seen an increase in movement of cannabis across international borders....

"Canada’s comments were delivered less than a week after the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) expressed skepticism around legalization, writing in an annual report that it 'remains concerned at the legislative developments permitting the use of cannabis for "recreational" uses.' 'Not only are these developments in contravention of the drug control conventions and the commitments made by States parties,' the UN report said, but 'the consequences for health and well-being, in particular of young people, are of serious concern.'

There are signs, however, that global drug policy could be changing soon. The international prohibition on cannabis legalization is nearly 60 years old at this point, as contained in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. And many, including the president of INCB itself, have openly wondered whether its cannabis provisions are out of date. Discussing cannabis and synthetic drugs during a UN presentation late last month, INCB President Cornelis P. de Joncheere questioned whether blanket prohibition is still the right approach....

"Last year, the World Health Organization recommended that marijuana be removed from the most restrictive category of controlled substances under the 1961 treaty. The proposal would shift cannabis and THC to the drug convention’s least-restricted category. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs was set to vote on the WHO recommendation this month, but the vote has been pushed back until December."

Read more: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/canada-defends-marijuana-legalization-in-response-to-international-skepticism/

Friday, March 20, 2020

FDA allows commercial coronavirus testing

FDA opens the gates to commercial coronavirus testing without agency review | Fierce Biotech - Conor Hale:

Mar 17, 2020 - "In the face of urgent need, the FDA has opened its floodgates to commercial coronavirus testing. The agency is now allowing companies to proceed with their diagnostic tests without first submitting them for federal review or obtaining an official emergency clearance.

"The move comes as epidemiologists estimate that the U.S. is just days behind seeing large-scale spread of the virus similar to what is currently happening in countries such as Italy — which as of March 17 has reported nearly 28,000 confirmed cases, the most outside of China, while the U.S. now stands at over 4,600 cases, according to international health authorities.

"Tens of companies have already signed up to test under the new 'unprecedented policy,' according to Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who said the FDA aims to expand the capacity as well as the variety of COVID-19 molecular diagnostics available — and that the agency is, essentially, trusting companies and labs to make sure their tests in the field are well-validated. 'We urge state authorities and commercial developers to take all necessary steps to ensure the availability of accurate tests,' Hahn said in an agency statement....

"The policy is a broad expansion in scope from the FDA’s previous moves to accelerate testing, including allowing certain CLIA-certified, 'high complexity' labs to proceed with their own tests while submitting their data and emergency use application to the agency for review within 15 days. Commercial developers will be held to the same paperwork requirement.

"It is also a dramatic, if temporary, change in the FDA’s stance toward regulation of testing, which over the past 10 years has warned of the personal health risks that could follow erroneous test results as lab-developed tests and complex molecular diagnostics have become much more common tools in guiding clinical practice."

Read more: https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/fda-opens-gates-to-commercial-coronavirus-testing-without-agency-review

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bill Weld suspends his presidential campaign

Bill Weld Suspends Presidential Campaign | WBUR - Roberto Scalese:

March 18, 2020 - "Former Mass. Gov. William Weld has suspended his presidential campaign for the Republican nomination. 'While I am suspending my candidacy, I want to be clear that I am not suspending my commitment to our nation and to the democratic institutions that set us apart,' Weld said in a statement released Wednesday.

"In departing the race, Weld took a moment to emphasize his commitment to the reasons he ran, including restoring the rule of law to the presidency and Justice Department, reining in the federal deficit, instituting a carbon tax to combat climate change, strengthening relationships with military allies, and addressing income inequality.

"'Because of the damage that has been done to our social fabric during the past three years, in order to maintain national unity the U.S. Government must now directly address income inequality, by cutting taxes for lower income wage earners and families living below the federal poverty line,' he said.

"Weld, who ran as a Republican challenger to President Donald Trump, never caught on with voters, even in his home state. He was shellacked by Trump in the Massachusetts primary, losing to Trump by 78 percentage points. Weld won just two tiny Bay State towns: Gosnold in Buzzard's Bay and Pelham on the shores of the Quabbin Reservoir.

"Several states didn't bother with a Republican primary at all, even with Weld and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh running for the party's nomination. Weld could have faced a similar ignominy in Massachusetts, where the state Republican party submitted only Trump's name for the primary. Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin added Weld to the list of candidates despite the state party's protests."

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Five 2nd amendment sanctuary counties in AZ

Arizona’s Most Populous County Becomes Second Amendment Sanctuary | American Greatness - Catherine Smith:

February 27, 2020 - "Arizona’s most populous county on Wednesday joined a growing movement in which areas are declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and protecting their rights to keep and bear arms.... The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Phoenix voted 4-1 to adopt a resolution that declares one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties a “Second Amendment Preservation County.” The move follows recent trends across the southern and western United States for municipalities to reaffirm their support for gun rights and stave off gun-control policies that could be seen as unconstitutional.  Arizona’s Apache, La Paz, Yavapai, and Mohave counties  have all adopted similar symbolic resolutions.

The resolution in Maricopa County, which has about 4.4 million residents ... introduced by Chairman Clint Hickman essentially shows Maricopa County’s support for constitutional Second Amendment rights, the right to own guns.

"Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a Democrat who cast the only 'no' vote, denounced the politically charged resolution.... 'A resolution should not be divisive,' he said. 'It should not be partisan'.... Chairman Hickman countered that multiple constituents had expressed support for the sanctuary designation that was first used in 2018 in Illinois and quickly spread to California, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Virginia and other states....

"In Arizona, gun owners are already free to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. They can also bypass background checks if they buy their firearms at a gun show. However, federal background checks are required for other purchases."

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NOTA got most votes in Massachusetts LP primary

by George J. Dance

Results of the Libertarian Party (LP) primary in Massachusetts held on Super Tuesday, March 3,have been posted on Wikipedia. 4,158 people voted in the primary, making it the third-largest poll of LP members so far, after two other Super Tuesday states (California with 22,021 votes case, and North Carolina with 6,914).

324 Massachuetts LP voters, or 7.8% of the total,  cast blank ballots. Of the 3,834 marked ballots, the largest number of votes went to None of the Above (NOTA). NOTA received 804, or 21%, more than twice as much as any candidate.

Vermin Supreme received the highest total of any candidate, 398 votes (10.4%), and was declared the primary winner by the Secretary of State's office. Close behind was Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger, with 369 (9.6%).

No other candidate beat the blank ballot total. Dan "Taxation is Theft" Behrman received 294 votes (7.7% of marked ballots), and 224 votes were cast for Kim Ruff (who withdrew from the race in January). Arvin Vohra was the only other candidate to break 150 votes, with 151 (3.9%).

Massachusetts was the final Super Tuesday state to release LP totals. Of the three states that held Libertarian primaries that day, NOTA took the most votes in two (North Carolina with 33% and Massachusetts with 21%), while Hornberger won California with 19%. (NOTA was not on the ballot in California.) Hornberger also won the March 10 LP primary in Missouri, where NOTA was the only other option, with almost 75% of the vote.

Three candidates who entered the race late - Mark Whitney (who filed in December), former Senator Lincoln Chafee (filed in January), and John Monds (filed in February) - have not yet appeared on any Libertarian primary ballots. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Oglala Sioux vote to legalize cannabis

Oglala Sioux Tribe Legalizes Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis | MG Magazine - Danny Reed:

March 13, 2020 - "A referendum to legalize both medicinal and recreational cannabis use has been approved in South Dakota.... This week the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the seven subtribes of the Lakota people, voted to pass a referendum that would allow cannabis on the Pine Ridge Reservation ... which, according to the Associated Press, will make it the 'only tribe to set up a cannabis market in a state where it’s otherwise illegal.'

"In its next steps, the Tribe Council will work on establishing cannabis laws and setting up a regulatory framework. According to initial plans, the tribe will not be directly involved in production or retail, but will issue licenses and institute a retail tax. The council is expected to formally discuss regulations on March 31....

"The Oglala may soon offer the only legal THC products available anywhere in the region. Cannabis is illegal not only in South Dakota, but in neighboring states as well....

"Tribe President Julian Bear Runner sees cannabis legalization as a way for the tribe to shed some of its problems related to violence and meth addiction. Without adequate federal funding, Bear Runner believes the tribe needs to think outside of the box to raise enough revenue.....

"The official results of this week’s vote will be certified by the end of the month. Voting precincts have reported 82 percent of tribe members voted to legalize medicinal cannabis while 74 percent approved recreational use. A separate proposal to legalize alcohol, which President Bear Runner recently referred to as 'poison,' failed approval by 12 points. Bear Runner referred to cannabis as a 'healing plant.'

"The move by the Oglala may challenge tribal sovereignty and attract negative attention from federal authorities. Currently, cannabis is still illegal under U.S. law though Scott James, Oglala Lakota’s attorney general, believes the federal government may have bigger issues to worry about."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Students for Liberty cancel 2020 LibertyCon

Important Update on LibertyCon 2020 - Students for Liberty:

"Students For Liberty values our community of supporters from all over the world. However, in light of the current health climate, we deeply regret to inform you that we have decided to cancel this year’s scheduled LibertyCon on April 3-5, 2020 in Washington, DC.

"Due to the ongoing concern and spread of Covid-19, many academic institutions are closing, corporate leaders are halting travel for their staff, and the threat of quarantines is increasing exponentially.

"Safety for our attendees and staff is always our first priority and LibertyCon brings together over 1,000 people from around the world each year. Due to all of these factors, and the uncertainty of what the next few weeks will bring, we came to the conclusion that it is not possible for us to host this annual conference successfully....

"If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at libertycon@studentsforliberty.org.

"We hope that you will all join us at our next LibertyCon in DC, happening on February 5-7, 2021!

Read more: https://www.libertycon.com/blog/important-update/

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Libertarians speak out on coronavirus

What libertarians would do in response to coronavirus | The Week - Bonnie Kristian:

March 13, 2020 - "The novel coronavirus is a novel situation for modern libertarianism:... COVID-19 is forecast to be a unique situation in the last century. Realistically, there won't be a single libertarian view on the state's role in a pandemic. What we call 'libertarianism' is a big tent with significant division on issues including immigration, abortion, and whether the state should exist at all. (There are anarchists in the tent.) Nevertheless, pandemic-era libertarianism is emerging, and it remains distinctly libertarian. Here are the trends I'm seeing.

1. "Praise for the free market's role.... 'That gallon jug of hand sanitizer delivered to your front door less than 48 hours after you ordered it online? It didn't show up because Trump tweeted it into existence'... Reason's Eric Boehm wrote.... Libertarian author Jeffrey Tucker likewise explained how in 'a disease panic, the market is your friend,' and some libertarians have proposed tariff relief as a response to the pandemic's economic damage.

2. "Advice of personal responsibility. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) has encouraged voluntary social distancing. Reason's coverage has done the same, emphasizing the seriousness of the illness and offering tips for continuing education at home while school is canceled. A piece at the Libertarian Institute promoted conservative personal finance decisions to limit COVID-19's disruption.

3. "Condemnation of counterproductive regulations and lack of transparency.... For weeks, the FDA and CDC wouldn't let medical workers and academics move forward with COVID-19 tests they'd developed without lengthy processes of federal approval. In fact, these agencies actively discouraged independent testing until the end of February while offering a faulty test kit and too-strict guidelines for who could be tested.... While the testing situation is beginning to improve, the Trump administration has classified its coronavirus meetings.... Amash complained lawmakers weren't given enough time to read last week's coronavirus relief bill before it passed, and the Foundation for Economic Education slammed Beijing for repressing the message of heroic coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang.

4. "Rejection of corporate bailouts and price controls. Trump is exploring plans for corporate bailout loans and other economic stimuli which libertarians generally oppose. The Cato Institute has argued against 'big bailouts and ... throwing money at businesses that will not be viable in the new post‐​epidemic world'.... The libertarian take on targeted tax breaks like Trump wants for energy and travel-related industries will be more mixed: We disagree on whether tax cuts like this should be opposed as favoritism amounting to corporate welfare or supported because any tax break is a good thing. Not mixed is the opposition to price controls, as higher prices are a useful signal of growing demand that discourages hoarding and encourages increased production.

5. "Mixed feelings on emergency social welfare. Libertarians have a reputation for universal opposition to all social safety net spending, and many do take that position. But perhaps the most famous libertarian economist — Nobel Prize winner F.A. Hayek — supported a limited welfare state, including a universal basic income. This fault line will extend into libertarian stances on pandemic responses like state-provided testing, treatment, and income subsidies. (In my experience, most thoughtful libertarians get less worked up about real needs being filled in a way we consider non-ideal than about more egregious state overreaches like unjust wars or police violence.)...

6. "Skepticism of mandatory lockdowns, travel bans, and the like.... Some libertarians have categorically rejected forced quarantines, arguing the risk of infection is not a direct enough threat to justify impeding people's rights. Most have not taken that view, instead expressing skepticism of the effectiveness of broad quarantines and travel bans — a skepticism public health experts share, by the way — while conceding there could be circumstances where these measures are appropriate for a time. The legal uncertainty around state and federal powers to require quarantines and limit public gatherings has libertarians predictably worried about due process rights.

7. "Insistence on temporary changes. Fierce opposition to expansions of the surveillance state to fight the novel coronavirus is likely widespread among libertarians in no small part because privacy rights, once lost, are very rarely recovered. But the risk of this pandemic permanently expanding the power of the state will shape the libertarian view on every proposed solution.... For many libertarians, our worries about robust government responses to COVID-19 are less about the responses proper than the possibility that the changes they bring will never end, even after the disease is under control. There are libertarians in a pandemic, and we're as preoccupied by coronavirus as everyone else. We're just preoccupied by liberty, too."

Friday, March 13, 2020

Hornberger wins with 75% in Missouri LP primary

by George J. Dance

Unofficial results of the Missouri Libertarian Party (LP) presidential primary, held on March 10, have been posted on Wikipedia.

2,256 votes were cast in the Libertarian primary. Of those, Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger received 1,683 votes (74.6%).

The remaining 573 votes (25.4%) were cast for None of the Above (NOTA). Hornberger was the only candidate on the ballot.

NOTA actually won the 2016 Missouri LP primary, with 1,170 votes (40% of the vote), followed by Missouri native Austin Petersen with 851 (29%) and Steve Kerbel with 401 (14%). Gary Johnson, the eventual winner of the LP nomination that year, was not on the ballot.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Liberal MP tables drug decriminalization bills

Liberal MP introduces bills to tackle opioid crisis through decriminalization, diversion | Halifax Chronicle Herald - Andrea Gunn:

March 9, 2020 - "According to federal government statistics, more than 14,000 Canadians have died from opioid overdose in the last four years. The situation is so dire, it has caused a stall in the increase in life expectancy for Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, and has even decreased the life expectancy in provinces that have been hit the hardest, such as Alberta and B.C.

"There is a growing body of evidence that one small change could save lives: the decriminalization of possession for personal use. The Global Commission on Drug Policy, the United Nations and the World Health Organization all support the treatment of drug use as a public health issue, not a criminal matter, and support the repeal of laws that criminalize drug use and possession of drugs for personal use.

"In a 2018 paper on the opioid crisis, Canadian Mental Health Association researchers looked to Portugal, which has decriminalized all substances for personal use, and found in the years following decriminalization improved health outcomes, including an increase in the number of people seeking treatment, a decrease in new cases of HIV and AIDS among drug users, and a reduction in the number of deaths associated with substance use.

"This growing body of evidence is why Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith has recently tabled two private member’s bills that look to change drug policy in Canada with the aim of saving lives. One bill, C-235, called the Ending the Stigma of Substance Use Act proposes to delete the simple possession offence in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Possession for the purpose of trafficking would remain illegal....

"Conservatives ... Deputy Opposition Whip John Brassard and Markham-Unionville MP Bob Saroya issued a statement this week warning that the Liberals are looking to 'legalize hard drugs like heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth'.... 'During the last election campaign, the Liberals denied their secret plan to legalize hard drugs.... But now, a member of Trudeau’s minority Liberal government has introduced legislation to do just that.'

"Erskine-Smith takes issue with what he says is misinformation in his opponents’ attack — for starters, legalization and decriminalization are two different things, he says. But ... Erskine-Smith said he wouldn't expect full support within his own caucus on the matter. 'I’ve seen the prime minister say decriminalization is not where the Canadian public is,' he said...

"[S]o, Erskine-Smith [also] introduced Bill C-236, a compromise that focuses on evidence-based diversion measures for simple possession. The bill would allow police to proceed with criminal charges for drug possession only in situations where it’s insufficient to issue a warning or to refer an individual to a health-care provider.... This means the discretion of police officers to lay criminal charges would be reduced in many situations, such as for first-time recreational users or addicts, where a warning or referral would be best suited, but it does not affect how police deal with trafficking and production. It also still gives the police and prosecutors discretion to proceed with criminal charges, if necessary, in certain circumstances...

"One of the reasons he believes it can get support is the fact that diversion is already a significant part of Canada’s justice system.... Erskine-Smith said codifying these practices in law would provide structure and consistency for the criminal justice system and ensure these measures are being used whenever possible, and not applied unfairly to certain demographics. Moreover, he said, evidence shows that criminal sanctions are a primary stigma and barrier to people seeking treatment, and anything to reduce that would be a step in the right direction."

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

MN counties adopting 2A sanctuary resolutions

Second Amendment ‘sanctuary’ movement gets some traction in rural Minnesota | Minnesota Public Radio - Kirsti Marohn:

March 2, 2020 - "Five northwestern Minnesota county boards — Clearwater, Marshall, Red Lake, Roseau and Wadena — have voted to declare their county as a Second Amendment 'sanctuary,' or otherwise dedicated to defending gun rights. Similar efforts have surfaced in at least two dozen other counties, with some expected to vote in coming weeks. The resolutions are similar, with language saying local resources will not be used to enforce laws believed to infringe on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms....

"Second Amendment resolutions began in Illinois in response to proposed gun measures, then spread rapidly in other states including Virginia and Colorado. More than 400 communities nationally have now adopted them.

"It’s 'a pushback to the metro-centric vision for creating additional barriers, additional hurdles for gun owners to jump through in order to exercise their rights without actually having any effect on public safety,' said Rob Doar, political director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.

"Those proposals include expanded background checks and red flag laws that let family members or law enforcement petition a judge to temporarily remove guns from someone deemed a risk to themselves or others. The DFL-led Minnesota House passed both measures last week, although they are all but certain to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. Polls show most Americans support red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders. But they spark fierce opposition from advocates of gun rights who see them as government overreach.

"Michael Starry of Ironton, who is helping organize an effort to declare Crow Wing a Second Amendment 'dedicated' county, sees red flag laws as an attack on constitutional rights. 'They come and take your personal property, and then you have to spend thousands of dollars and countless man hours proving your innocence for a charge filed by somebody you never get to know,' Starry said.

"In Mille Lacs County, Josh Bretzman, who grew up with family traditions of hunting and sport shooting, launched a Facebook group to press county leaders for a Second Amendment sanctuary designation. It quickly grew to more than 1,700 members. 'They want to stop criminals, and I’m OK with that,” said Bretzman.... 'But criminals acquire these firearms illegally. It’s not stopping them. It’s hindering us, the people who are stand-up citizens in the community.'

"The idea for the resolutions was inspired by so-called sanctuary cities that have limited their cooperation with federal enforcement of certain immigration laws..... The Minnesota County Attorneys Association is expected in the next few weeks to take a position on the Second Amendment resolutions. Regardless of how that group sees them, some advocates say the measures send an important message to St. Paul that Minnesotans outside the Twin Cities metro area are fed up with efforts to restrict guns."

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Senate committees OK cannabis bill in Mexico

Mexico edges towards Marijuana Legalization | Grizzle - Martin Green:

March 7, 2020 - "Efforts to legalize marijuana in Mexico edged forward this week as draft legislation cleared three key committees in the Senate.

"A Supreme Court mandate had given lawmakers a deadline of Oct. 30, 2019 to legalize marijuana after declaring a ban to be unconstitutional. The government was handed a six-month extension after failing to agree a consensus, so it now has until April 30, 2020....

"This week the draft bill gained approval from the Senate committees of Justice, Health, Public Safety and Legislative Studies. The combined committees voted 26-7 in favour of the draft legislation.....

"The bill would permit Mexicans aged 18 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use. They would be able to grow up to 20 plants for recreational use, and more for medicinal use. It would also legalize commercial cannabis sales. A tax of 12% would be imposed, and some of that revenue would go towards substance abuse programs. The bill would also create a Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis to oversee licensing and regulation.

"The measure will now be debated and voted on next week in the plenary session of the Senate. If it gains approval, it would need to be ratified by the Chamber of Deputies and then enacted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). AMLO campaigned on a pledge to reform cannabis laws.... However, he has recently suggested that he is only in favour of medical marijuana legalization and not recreational use.

"In 2018, Mexico’s highest court ruled in favour of two complainants who said a ban [on] marijuana impinged upon their fundamental right to personal development. That meant the Supreme Court had made five rulings on this issue and therefore passed the threshold needed to create jurisprudence, setting a precedent that all Mexican courts must now follow. The Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks was ordered to allow the complainants ... to use cannabis for recreational purposes and all other courts must make identical rulings, meaning marijuana is essentially legalized in the country."

Monday, March 9, 2020

Incorrect results reported in NC LP primary

NC election officials confirm voting irregularities in one county, blame human error | Raleigh News & Observer - Will Doran:

March 5, 2020 - "Officials in a North Carolina county accidentally inflated the votes in one Super Tuesday primary election, but fixed the problem on Thursday. Tuesday’s election results are still unofficial everywhere in the state, and officials at the N.C. State Board of Elections will do audits all around the state regardless of whether voting results appear wrong. In one rural area, however, they have already found an issue and say it was due to human error....

"'It’s very important to note that the results on the election night reporting system are unofficial and this is ongoing,' Pat Gannon, a spokesman for the elections board, said in an interview Thursday morning.

"Warren County, a small community north of Raleigh on the Virginia border, has only 41 registered Libertarian voters. But on Tuesday the county reported more than 800 votes cast in the Libertarian presidential race. The county also has just one registered Constitution Party voter and one registered Green Party voter — but mistakenly reported dozens of votes cast in both primaries.

"By Thursday afternoon, however, the county had figured out what went wrong and submitted the correct numbers. In reality, the new numbers show, both of the county’s single Constitution Party and Green Party voters cast a ballot. So did five — not 863 — Libertarians, most of whom voted for “No Preference” ....

"Before each election, counties run what are called 'logic and accuracy' tests of their voting software to ensure there are no problems. A top state election official, Katelyn Love, wrote in a press release ... on Thursday afternoon that on election night, Warren County officials accidentally reported those test results.... 'The error ... would have been caught by one of the numerous audits that take place prior to canvass,' Love said."

Read more: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article240917261.html

[Corrected figures have been posted on the North Carolina State Board of Elections site. The change does not substantially change the previously reported ranking and percentages. None of the Above's vote share increased, from 30% to 33%. - gd ]

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Why Jorgensen opposes LP abortion plank

Jo Jorgensen Talks Diversity-Less Democrats, DOPE, Dershowitz, And The Elephant In The Room | The Libertarian Republic - Gary Doan:

March 5, 2020 - TLR: "This is Gary Doan ... talking to Jo Jorgensen. She’s best known for being Harry Browne’s running mate on the ’96 Libertarian presidential ticket and is currently running for the nomination, herself.... How far off do you think the Libertarian Party is from being competitive in ... an actual electoral sense? And how do you get there?
JJ: "Well, I think ... that in order to get anywhere, we need to have candidates at all levels: state, local and federal. And we need to have, of course, supporters, donors, people knocking on doors and all of that. So in 1996, Harry Browne and I focused on membership, and we doubled the party during those two years, and that’s been the largest growth in Libertarian Party history. And that’s what I think we need to replicate.... I think we need to become so big that people can’t ignore us. I’m not sure that the best way to do it is to look for people ... who’ve been elected for years, and then try to convince them to go our way. A lot of times, they got there by money from the special interests, from lobbyists. There have been a few exceptions. I will point to Ron Paul, I think Ron Paul is a libertarian....

TLR: "You’ve talked a lot, even here, about your connection to Harry Browne, as his VP in ’96. However, a lot has changed in the last 14 years. Why are you the best choice to head the ticket in 2020? And what have you done since ’96 that makes you more qualified for the top slot than then?
JJ: "First of all, there are some things that haven’t changed. Government is still too big and there are still a lot of the same philosophical reasons, some of the same history..... I was on something like 300 radio shows back then. I’ve had a lot of experience. So I can speak to a lot of these things. So that’s one thing that I think would help me that would carry over from ’96. But you’re right, things are different now. We’ve got social media, which we didn’t have before. And for those types of things, I do have other people....

TLR: "You have called for the Libertarian Party to delete the abortion plank, which would presumably mean that the platform was actually silent on the matter and individual candidates could feel more free to run under their own interpretations on the interplay between that and the non-aggression principle. If there were no abortion plank, would you personally run as a pro-life Libertarian?
JJ:.... "I am not going to feature abortion, whether pro-choice, pro-life… I am not going to have that as part of something that I’m campaigning on or that I’m emphasizing. Because there’s something like 2% of the population, where that’s their number one voting issue. Something like 80% of Americans thinks that abortion should be okay in the first three months. It just seems like for the most part that’s been set aside for more urgent things. So I would not run on the issue one way or the other. And in fact… right now I just say I support the party platform.

"But let me point out, the reason I thought that the plank should be eliminated isn’t to have candidates who are pro- life, but [for] people outside the party.... So many times I see this [perceived] as a litmus test. And so many times I run into people who are just so frustrated with Republicans because they’re not following through on smaller government. They’re frustrated with the Democrats, because they’ve changed. They’re no longer for free speech. Now they’ve become, I hate to throw terms around, but let’s just say more authoritarian. So people are looking for another party, and they look towards the Libertarian Party and they say, 'Well, I can’t be in the Libertarian Party because I’m pro-life.'

"And a lot of Libertarians send that message out that if you don’t agree with us, 100/100, you can’t be in our party. The main reason I wanted to get rid of that plank is so that all of these many fine voters out there who are lost - who don’t have a small government party to go to - will look at us as an option. And my experience is that once people join the party, they become more Libertarian on all issues. In fact, I was just talking with somebody a couple of weeks ago, at the Florida convention. And he said, 'You know, when I joined the party, I was 80/100, but being around all the people in here and all the ideas now I’m 100/100.'

"So what I would like to do is drop that one barrier that seems to be a big barrier, so that we can increase membership and then get people to look at the other things."

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Underage cannabis use drops after legalization

Teen cannabis use is on the decline, while adult use is increasing overall: StatsCan | The Growth Op - Emma Spears:

February 20, 2020 - "Legalization seems to have put a damper on teens’ enthusiasm for cannabis consumption, perhaps indicating yet again that the best way to discourage teens from doing something is to get their parents into it. While cannabis use has increased in almost all age demographics across Canada since federal legalization came into force in October 2018, teenagers saw consumption decline, according to new numberts released by Statistics Canada.

"Pre-legalization, the number of teens aged 15 to 17 who reported having consumed cannabis over the past three months was just under 20 percent. Post-legalization, that number has dropped to just over 10 percent....

"A larger group of 15- to 24-year-olds also showed slightly declining rates of use, although they largely remained steady. Approximately 27.6 percent reported using cannabis within the past three months pre-legalization; post-legalization, that number had declined to 26.4 percent.....

"[A]ll other age demographics demonstrated increased cannabis use since legalization. The most dramatic bump was among 25- to 44-year-olds, who reported a 3.2 percent increase post-legalization, followed by 18- to 24-year-olds, who reported a 2.5 percent increase ... with 45- to 64-year-olds reporting an increase of users of just 1.9 percent, and seniors (those aged 65 and older) reporting a rise of just 1.8 percent."
Read more: https://www.thegrowthop.com/cannabis-news/teen-cannabis-use-is-on-the-decline-while-adult-use-is-increasing-overall-statscan

Another Survey Shows Teen Marijuana Use Declines After Legalization | Fresh Toast - Brendan Bures

March 3, 2020 - "And now, Denver is finding similar results.

"City officials surveyed 537 teenagers in 2019, so they could statistically measure how their High Costs campaign — a youth marijuana education program — affected consumption habits. According to the results, 81% of Denver teens ages 13-17 say they don’t currently use marijuana. Only 18% of male adolescents in that age range reported using marijuana, down from 27% in the previous year’s survey."
Read more: https://thefreshtoast.com/cannabis/more-than-80-of-denver-teens-dont-smoke-marijuana/

Friday, March 6, 2020

Registered Libertarians doubled in Massachusetts

Libertarian ranks swell amid voter dissatisfaction | Gloucester Daily Times - Christian M. Wade:

March 6, 2020 - "Driven by voter dissatisfaction with the two major parties, the state's Libertarians have seen a surge in numbers in recent years, even as other parties shrink. The Libertarian Party of Massachusetts had 19,851 members as of Feb. 12 — a more than 130% increase from 2017 when it regained its party status, according to Secretary of State's Bill Galvin's office. A sizable portion of its membership draws from Essex and Middlesex counties, where about 6,300 voters are registered as Libertarians.

"While Libertarians are still just a sliver of the electorate – only 0.43% of more than 4.5 million registered voters – their ranks are growing faster than any other political party. Cristina Crawford, the state party's chairwoman, attributes the growth to voter dissatisfaction with the two major parties, as well as the Libertarians' message of civil rights, economic liberty and limited government.

"'We're seeing a lot of support, which is very encouraging,' she said. 'We've become a refuge for disillusioned voters who are tired of big government, high taxes and politics as usual'....

"Dozens of candidates are vying for the Libertarians' presidential nomination this year. In Massachusetts, 10 candidates were listed on the party's ballot on Super Tuesday. The Libertarians hold their state convention on March 22, ahead of the party's May 21–25 national convention in Austin, Texas.

"Nationally, the Libertarian Party has seen a 92% rise in membership in the last decade, fielding candidates in dozens of states. Two years ago, the party saw more than 600 candidates in federal, state and local races in nearly 40 states....

"Increased interest in the Libertarians also helped the party reclaim official state recognition three years ago, due to the party's showing in the 2016 presidential election. New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was the party's candidate, with former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Bill Weld as his running mate.... The Libertarian ticket won 4.2% of the vote in Massachusetts – clearing a benchmark 3% necessary to be officially recognized and have its candidates listed on the next ballot.

"Two years ago, Dan Fishman of Beverly challenged Democratic State Auditor Suzanne Bump, and while he came in third [also with 4.2% of the vote - ed.] ... he boosted the party's profile.

"Independent parties come and go in Massachusetts.... Still, voter dissatisfaction with the two major parties continues to simmer, according to polls that cite frustration over divisive national politics. A 2018 Suffolk University survey found a strong appetite for strong third-party candidates, with only 22% of the respondents saying the Democratic and Republican parties do a good job of representing Americans’ views."

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Hornberger wins CA Libertarian primary with 18%

Libertarian Super Tuesday: Big Night for Jacob Hornberger, NOTA; John McAfee Drops Out and Backs Vermin Supreme | Reason.com - Matt Welch:

March 4, 2020 - "Libertarian Party primaries and caucuses are nonbinding, which means that no delegates are awarded.... Still, the election results provide a snapshot of what party members are thinking less than three months out.

"So far, the trend line is unmistakable — the Libertarian front-runner at this point is ... Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger. After previously winning the Iowa and Minnesota caucuses, and getting the second-most first-place votes in the New Hampshire primary as a write-in, Hornberger was the biggest human vote-getter in two of the three Super Tuesday primaries that have posted results so far.

"In California, with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Hornberger led a field of 13 candidates with 17.5 percent of the vote. Tied for second with 11.6 percent were former military officer and Honolulu County Neighborhood Board member Ken Armstrong, and political satirist Vermin Supreme, the latter of whom previously won the New Hampshire primary. Lagging just behind at 11.4 percent was 1996 L.P. vice presidential nominee and academic Jo Jorgensen.

""Massachusetts officials don't expect to have an official statewide count until next week. According to unofficial numbers ... comprising roughly three-quarters of ballots, ... 'None of the Above' (NOTA) was leading with around 19 percent of the vote, followed by Vermin Supreme with 11.5 percent and Hornberger with 9.4 percent. Write-ins, which have not yet been broken down, amounted to a combined 29.3 percent....

"And in North Carolina, ... Hornberger again paced the biped field with 8.7 percent, though NOTA stomped with 29.8 percent. (NOTA wasn't on the ballot in California.) Just behind Hornberger with 8.2 percent was antivirus pioneer and international man of mystery John McAfee, who promptly dropped out, threw his support behind Vermin Supreme, and announced his candidacy for vice president....

"Not on any of the three Super Tuesday Libertarian ballots were recent entrants Lincoln Chafee (the former U.S. senator and Rhode Island governor, who finished second in the Iowa L.P. caucus and tied for fourth in Minnesota); entrepreneur/ex-convict Mark Whitney (11th and fourth, respectively, in same), and former million-vote-getting Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Monds (15th and fourth).

"Meanwhile, the leading fundraiser in the race, activist and veteran Adam Kokesh, finished sixth in California with 7.9 percent, tied for eighth in Massachusetts with 4.4 percent, and ninth in North Carolina with 3.5 percent."

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

NOTA wins North Carolina Libertarian primary

by George J. Dance

According to results posted on Wikipedia, None of the Above (NOTA) won the North Carolina Libertarian Party primary held on Super Tuesday, March 3. There were 6,904 votes cast in the primary, the largest number of Libertarians to vote a presidential candidate preference so far in 2020. Less than 500 people voted in the three previous contests (in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Minnesota) combined, making the Super Tuesday votes the first with a large enough sample size to indicate Libertarians' actual preference.

Of those 6,904 votes, 30% (2,060) went to NOTA. Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger placed first among the declared candidates, with 604 votes, or 9% of the vote (making NOTA's margin of victory more than 20 percentage points).

Close behind Hornberger were John McAfee with 570 votes, and Kim Ruff (who suspended her campaign in January after losing to Vermin Supreme in New Hampshire) with 545. The only other candidates to receive at least 5% of the vote were Supreme (410), Ken Armstrong (366), and Jo Jorgensen (316).

Neither former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee nor "million-vote man" John Monds received any votes, and they may not have been on the ballot. I have asked the North Carolina Party to clarify the point, and will update the article when received.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Colorado abolishes death penalty

Colorado to Become 22nd US State to Abolish Death Penalty | Voice of America:

February 27, 2020 - "Colorado is set to become the 22nd U.S. state to abolish the death penalty. Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill to end the practice Wednesday, and the state's governor has said he will sign it.

"Proponents of halting the use of the death penalty argued it is a punishment that cannot be reversed if later evidence emerges showing someone is innocent, and that it is disproportionately applied to minorities and the poor.

"Those who wanted to keep capital punishment as a sentencing option said the threat of the death penalty gave defendants incentive to seek agreements to plead guilty to crimes and accept lower sentences....

"The state last executed someone in 1997.  Nationally, there have been four executions this year.

Last year, the state of New Hampshire abolished the death penalty, while California Governor Gavin Newsom said last year there will be no capital punishment while he is in office."

Read more: https://www.voanews.com/usa/colorado-become-22nd-us-state-abolish-death-penalty

Monday, March 2, 2020

McKay opposes Canada's cannabis legalization

Conservative Party Leader contender Peter MacKay does not agree with cannabis legalization - Emma Spears, The Growth Op:

February 24, 2020 - "Cannabis is legal in Canada, but not everyone is happy about it. Wannabe Conservative Party of Canada leader Peter MacKay revealed in a recent interview with the Kelowna Daily Courier that he does not support the legalization of cannabis, which came into force in Canada in October 2018, and that the drug should have been decriminalized instead.

"Editor James Miller asked McKay if he agreed 'with the legalization of cannabis.' 'I don’t,' responded MacKay. 'It should have been de-criminalized and that’s where our government was heading on the advice of the Canadian Police Association and chiefs of police. Bringing in a phased-way with decriminalization would have been far preferable.'

"MacKay said his concerns lie with the drug’s potential effect on youth and those with mental illnesses and criticized the Liberal government’s policy and procedures with regard to cannabis legislation.... 'It was forced. The entire issue was rushed. I believe it wasn’t the highest priority for an incoming government. It was the back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made. I believe we have jumped the shark on that issue.'

"MacKay added that 'more emphasis on protecting people from other drugs, fentanyl and oxycontin has to be part of any plan that’s there for public health reasons.' However, he did not elaborate on how he would protect Canadians from those drugs.

"MacKay also criticized the fact that the 16-month-old legal cannabis industry has yet to displace the illicit market, which has existed for decades. 'The promise that it (legalization) was going to reduce the black market has been a complete failure,' he said. 'There’s now simply more marijuana available to more people, including young people. I don’t think that’s the most productive and highest priority that a government could pursue,' he added.

"Recent figures show, however, that young people are consuming significantly less of the drug since it was federally legalized.

"It is certainly not the only time politicians have made negative comments regarding cannabis, including those by ex-Conservative MP Julian Fantino. Fantino once compared legalization to murder, telling the Toronto Sun, 'I guess we can legalize murder, too, and then we won’t have a murder case' in 2004, and stating that he was 'completely opposed to legalization of marijuana' in 2015....The latter now sits on the board of Canadian cannabis producer Aleafia Health."

Read more: https://gdspoliticalanimal.blogspot.com/2020/03/mckay-opposes-canadas-cannabis.html

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Libertarians want to keep the borders open

Libertarian Presidential Candidates Champion 'Open Borders' | Reason.com - Matt Welch:

February 26, 2020 - "Donald Trump, the most anti-immigrant president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is running against a Democratic presidential field that almost unanimously favors providing government-run health insurance to illegal immigrants. Surely there is some middle ground....

"The Libertarian Party, still the country's number-three political grouping (however distantly), has a platform very copacetic toward immigrants.... 'Libertarians believe that people should be able to travel freely as long as they are peaceful,' the party's immigration plank reads. 'A truly free market requires the free movement of people, not just products and ideas.... Of course, if someone has a record of violence, credible plans for violence, or acts violently, then Libertarians support blocking their entry, deporting, and/or prosecuting and imprisoning them'....

"To a notable degree, the L.P.'s top 2020 presidential candidates are hewing to the party's radical-for-American-politics immigration platform. 'One of the proudest positions that we have in this party is our open-border plank,' Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger, who won the party's non-binding presidential caucuses in Iowa and Minnesota this month, said during a California debate that I moderated Feb. 16.... Adam Kokesh, whose big campaign idea is signing an executive order on day one that dissolves the federal government, posited that 'Government borders are not legitimate,' and that 'only private property borders' deserve respect....

"Vermin Supreme, who won the party's only other early-state contest so far (New Hampshire), quipped that 'You cannot outlaw people. If you outlaw people, only people will be outlaws.' Mark Whitney, an ex-convict comedy enthusiast who founded THELAWNET, said of undocumented immigrants, 'I not only want them to be citizens, I want them working on my campaign'....

"Jo Jorgensen complained that, 'Right now, we've got a system in which we keep everybody out, except we just let a few people in. What we need to do is flip it'.... And ... Lincoln Chafee stressed the political expediency of it all: 'I see this as a political advantage that with our open-border policy and libertarian views on immigration, especially the fastest-growing voting bloc in the United States, the Hispanics, are going to have the opportunity in 2020 to look at our platform and come to our side'....

"At the Massachusetts state Libertarian convention last July, months before he jumped into the race, Hornberger gave a fire-and-brimstone defense of open immigration as essential to a free society.... Part of what makes Hornberger's immigration message saleable to Libertarians is that he couples it with obliterating, not expanding, the welfare state.

"'We live in a society that is based on massive mandatory charity,' he said in Massachusetts. 'With the crown jewels of this system being Social Security and Medicare, along with a host of others. There is no way to reconcile a genuinely free society with mandatory charity. No way at all. Because people have a natural, God-given right to keep everything they earn, and decide for themselves what to do with it'....

"The L.P. presidential race, which will be settled at the national convention in Austin, Texas, May 21-25, has so far been a battle to see who can best represent the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party. As such it is striking, in this moment of major-party polarization and deep immigration-policy divides, to see a principled Libertarian immigration message emerging: Mr. Trump, tear down this wall."