Sunday, May 31, 2015

What Magna Carta can teach libertarians about strategy

What Magna Carta Can Teach Us About Libertarian Strategy - - Sheldon Richman:

May 24, 2015 - "Magna Carta was an agreement a group of rebellious barons forced on King John on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede, a meadow on the Thames in England, about midway between London and Windsor Castle....

"The charter is one of those things that virtually everyone across the political spectrum (however defined) has invoked in support of his or her cause. As the scholars point out in the "Liberty Matters" discussion, dissidents have held it up as a shield against tyrants, while kings have used it to defend the legitimacy of their rule. It’s been enlisted in a variety of missions. Advocates of slavery took refuge in Magna Carta, but so did the proto-libertarian Levellers....

"As Magna Carta scholars point out, the interpretation (mythology) and impact of the charter over the last eight centuries are as important as — maybe more important than — the document and the authors’ intentions themselves. Even if it wasn’t actually a charter of liberty, it is regarded as such — by people, as I’ve already noted, who have widely differing views on liberty.

"This has implications for libertarian strategy today.

"That genuine liberty — in the sense of what Roderick Long calls 'equality of authority' — can grow out of efforts intended to achieve something less is worth keeping in mind. I claim no profound insights in the matter of strategy, but I do know that social processes, like the people who actuate them, are complex, and therefore unintended consequences — good and bad — are ubiquitous and to be expected. This makes devising a strategy for social change complicated and more likely impossible. There’s no algorithm for changing a society from unlibertarian to libertarian. We have no script. That’s an argument for the 'let a thousand flowers bloom' strategy."

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fix the PATRIOT Act or let it die

Editorial: Reform Patriot Act or let it expire | Chicago Sun-Times:

May 26, 2015 - "The Patriot Act has always been a bad law. Passed in a panic weeks after the 9/11 attacks, it erodes our civil liberties without adding measurably to our national security.

"Some 14 years later, cooler heads in the House, in a bipartisan effort, have approved a bill, the USA Freedom Act, that would rein in one of the Patriot Act’s most objectionable practices, the government’s dragnet of private phone records. But ... the bill fell three votes short in the Senate, where Republican leaders would rather simply extend the relevant provisions of the Patriot Act, set to expire on June 1.

"Too bad for that. The USA Freedom Act represents a bare minimum in necessary reform. We wish it went further in restoring a balance between personal freedoms and national security. But if the Senate can’t pass even this bill, so be it — let the government’s program for collecting phone records in bulk come to an end. Let Section 215 of the Patriot Act expire.

"Congress then could craft a new law, from scratch, that puts a premium on our liberties. It wouldn’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be easy.

"We’re unclear why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others defend this provision of the Patriot Act so strongly to begin with. Just three weeks ago, a federal appeals court released a blistering opinion that Section 215 does not legitimately allow for the 'sweeping surveillance' of phone records and other data in 'staggering'' volumes. And all that data collection, according to testimony and government reports, has never made the difference in thwarting a terrorist attack.... NSA overstepped its authority. The NSA relied on a radical and incorrect interpretation of the Patriot Act to launch its mass surveillance program.

"Congress will take one last shot next week at reining in the Patriot Act. If it fails to do so — if it does nothing to curb the government’s bulk collection of phone records — let the program expire."

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Do chimpanzees have habeas corpus rights?

Chimpanzee Rights Get a Day in Court | WIRED - Brandon Keim:

May 27, 2015 - "More than a year after the starting fight for legal personhood for the research chimpanzees Hercules and Leo, the apes and their lawyers got their day in court. At a hearing in Manhattan on Wednesday, a judge heard arguments in the landmark lawsuit against Stony Brook University, with a decision expected later this summer. At stake: the question of whether only human beings deserve ... rights.

"A decision could set a precedent for challenging, under human law, the captivity of other chimpanzees — and perhaps other species. It’s a radical notion, and many legal experts doubted whether the lawsuit, one of several filed late in 2013 by the Nonhuman Rights Project, would ever reach court.

"But Justice Barbara Jaffe decided to consider the arguments. 'The law evolves according to new discoveries and social mores,' she said while presiding over the hearing. 'Isn’t it incumbent on judiciaries to at least consider whether a class of beings may be granted a right?'

"Jaffe posed that question to New York assistant attorney general Christopher Coulston, who represented the university, where the two chimps are housed. Coulston had argued that Jaffe was bound by the previous decisions of two appellate courts, which had ruled that other Nonhuman Rights Project chimps didn’t qualify for habeas corpus, the legal principle that protects people from illegal imprisonment.

"Both those decisions are controversial. In one, judges decided that habeas corpus didn’t apply because the chimp would be transferred from one form of captivity to another — in this case, a sanctuary. But illegally-held human prisoners have been released to mental hospitals, and juveniles into the care of guardians.

"In the other appeals court decision, judges declared that chimps are not legal persons because they can’t fulfill duties to human society. But that rationale arguably denies personhood to young children and mentally incapacitated individuals, as several high-profile legal scholars, including Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe, pointed out. He filed a brief on behalf of the Nonhuman Rights Project, saying the court 'reached its conclusion on the basis of a fundamentally flawed definition of legal personhood.'"

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nebraska legislature votes to end death penalty

How Nebraska Abolished the Death Penalty - The Atlantic - Russell Berman:

May 27, 2015 - "Nebraska on Wednesday became the first conservative state in more than four decades to repeal the death penalty. Its legislature, officially non-partisan but dominated by Republicans, voted by the narrowest of possible margins to override a veto by Governor Pete Ricketts, and enact a law scrapping a punishment that the state has struggled to carry out....

"In the end, a growing coalition of liberals, religious groups, and libertarian-minded conservatives overcame more traditional tough-on-crime Republicans who saw the death penalty as the appropriate, ultimate punishment for murder. Underlying that ideological debate, however, was a far more pragmatic consideration. Nebraska has been unable to kill any of the murderers sentenced to death by its legal system since 1997.... That failure has given momentum to opponents of capital punishment, including a new group of conservatives that has invoked fiscal and religious arguments to woo right-leaning legislators to their side.

"'It’s not just about the procurement of drugs,” said Marc Hyden of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, an organization that sprouted up in Montana several years ago and has since expanded nationally. 'It’s not pro-life because it risks innocent life. It’s not fiscally responsible because it costs millions more dollars than life without parole.'

"Yet Nebraska's bumbling and occasionally shady attempts to carry out death sentences — along with incidents in neighboring states like the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma — have given rise to another argument that sells among conservatives: the death penalty is just another example of government run amok.

"'At the end of the day, this is just another big government program that’s really dangerous and expensive but doesn’t achieve any of its goals,' Hyden told me, summarizing his pitch to Republicans. 'They don’t need to ask themselves, "Do some people deserve to die?" The question they need to ask themselves is, do they trust an error-prone government to fairly, efficiently and properly administer a program that metes out death to its citizens? I think the answer to that is a resounding no'...

"'This has been a slow, steady move toward repeal,' said Stacy Anderson, executive director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Danielle Conrad, executive director of the state chapter of the ACLU, cited the state’s unicameral, non-partisan legislature — unique in the U.S. — and a recent term-limits law that facilitated the election of more libertarian-leaning senators in recent years."

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marijuana legalization debate revived in Germany

Germany marijuana legalization push revives debate over drug policy - Washington Times: - Angela Waters:

May 26, 2015 - "A conservative politician who crossed the aisle and has joined the German Green Party’s campaign to legalize marijuana has revived a long-running debate about the drug in Europe’s largest economy.

"Lawmaker Joachim Pfeiffer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, recently co-sponsored legislation that would lift Germany’s ban on marijuana and regulate the drug like alcohol and tobacco — and, supporters say, bring in billions more marks in tax revenue.

"'The current restrictive drug policy failed because, despite the ban, the number of consumers hasn’t dropped,' said Mr. Pfeiffer, who filed his bill with opposition Green Party lawmakers last week. 'More than two million Germans use weed regularly, making it the most commonly used illicit drug'....

"'The Christian Democratic Union has been a cement wall in the way of legislation,” said Georg Wurth, head of the German Hemp Association, a pro-legalization group in Berlin. 'But for the first time we have a CDU politician publicly speaking out for legalization, which is a big step forward. You can assume there are others with similar opinions in the CDU.'

"Currently, Germany has partial decriminalization of marijuana that varies from state to state, with some states maintaining strict prohibitions and others, including liberal Berlin, allowing people to carry as much as 15 grams of pot without prosecution....

"But a poll last year by Stern magazine uncovered a deep reservoir of popular suspicion about easing the country’s pot laws, with 65 percent of Germans polls saying [they] opposed easing laws restricting the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. Fewer than a third — 29 percent — favored legalization, while even in the Green Party only 51 percent said they favored full legalization....

"The pro-business German Free Democratic Party, which was part of Ms. Merkel’s coalition government until 2013, added the regulated distribution of cannabis to the party’s platform this month."

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

GA mom arrested for son missing 12 school days

Truancy Law Goes Too Far When Georgia Mom Is Arrested - Lina Bryce, Libertarian Republic:

May 26, 2015 - "Julie Giles, a Georgia mother of two said she was arrested and placed in shackles because her 10-year-old son had too many unexcused absences from school.

"She received a warrant for her arrest the day before Mothers’ Day because her fourth-grade son, Samuel, who happens to be an honor-roll student, missed 12 days for illness – twice the amount that is permissible by the school district....

"Giles said that she turned herself in and was placed in ankle shackles, which she was told was part of the procedure. Although she was not fingerprinted, she says that she was booked and had her mug shot taken before she was able to leave on her own recognizance.

"Far from being a criminal, Giles has also worked as a substitute teacher for the school district. Her son is an honor-roll student, who just days after his mother was arrested, was presented with his prize for being 'Student of the Month'....

"Giles is scheduled to appear in court on July 14 and as a result of all the media attention surrounding her case, she is currently receiving free legal aid from the National Association of Parents....

"Elizabeth Marie McKeithan from Brunswick County, North Carolina was jailed for 15 days in 2010 for violating a 36-probation sentence for a riot truancy case when her child missed 11 days of school.

"In 2014, a parent was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida for missing too many days of school, when his child suffered from epilepsy and another mother was arrested in Chesterfield, VA last year for her child’s excessive absences as well.

"In the past two years, the parents of 30 Alameda County, CA children were dragged into Superior Court and charged with violating state truancy laws.

"Last year, a Philadelphia mother of 7 was found dead in her cell who was jailed for outstanding truancy fines....

"Often these laws are set in place with the intention of being for the well-being of the children, as well as their parents, but what it essentially works to do is the opposite - often times having impacted the most poor families who will face legal fees and absence from their children."

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Scaremongering about PATRIOT Act sunset

Scaremongering about the Patriot Act Sunset | Just Security: Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union:

May 24, 2015 - "In a last-ditch effort to scare lawmakers into preserving unpopular and much-abused surveillance authorities, the Senate Republican leadership and some intelligence officials are warning that allowing Section 215 of the Patriot Act to sunset would compromise national security.  (One particularly crass example from Senator Lindsey Graham: “Anyone who neuters this program is going to be partially responsible for the next attack.”)  Some media organizations have published these warnings without challenging them, which is unfortunate.  The claim that the expiration of Section 215 would deprive the government of necessary investigative tools or compromise national security is entirely without support.

"First, there’s no evidence that the call-records program is effective in any meaningful sense of the word.   The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which reviewed classified files, 'could not identify a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.'  The President’s Review Group ... determined that the call-records program had 'not [been] essential to preventing attacks,' and that, to the extent the program had contributed to terrorism investigations, the records in question 'could readily have been obtained in a timely manner' using targeted demands.

"Second, there’s no evidence that other forms of collection under Section 215 have been any more effective.... [A] report by the Inspector General released this past week states that FBI personnel were 'unable to identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained through use of Section 215 orders'...

"Third, the sunset of Section 215 wouldn’t affect the government’s ability to conduct targeted investigations of terrorist threats.... It can use administrative subpoenas or grand jury subpoenas.  It can use pen registers. It can use national security letters. It can use orders served under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  If Section 215 sunsets, it can use the provision that Section 215 amended, which will allow it to collect business records of hotels, motels, car and truck rental agencies, and storage rental facilities.

"The sunset of Section 215 would undoubtedly be a significant political loss for the intelligence community ... but there’s no support for the argument that the sunset of Section 215 would compromise national security."

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

PATRIOT Act extension blocked in U.S. Senate

Randstand: Republican Presidential Candidate Leads Bipartisan Opposition to PATRIOT Act - Bloomberg Politics: David Weigel, with Derek Wallbank & Terence Dopps:

May 23. 2015 - "Saturday morning, Rand Paul set off a few parliamentary explosions in the Senate.... Paul used a range of parliamentary maneuvers to block the Senate from extending the Patriot Act, the contentious anti-terror law that expires June 1, and forced his Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to call senators back for a rare Sunday session on May 31....

"Saturday during a marathon session in which senators hustled to wrap up matters before their vacation, ... McConnell failed to marshal enough votes to pass the Patriot Act extension.... He then asked for unanimous consent to approve an extension of the law until June 8, a move which would have given the Senate a week after returning from vacation to craft a deal.

"Paul stood up. 'Reserving the right to object: We have entered into a momentous debate,' Paul said.  South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, sitting a row in front of him, rolled his eyes....

"Before this, Paul and his allies — especially Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat — had been trying to negotiate for roll call votes on amendments that they wanted to add [to] the Patriot Act. According to a Senate staffer who had knowledge of the talks but who is not permitted to discuss them publicly, they foundered, with opponents and supporters wanting to see where the votes were before they really negotiated. On the floor, Paul proposed that the six amendments he'd been advocating could be boiled down to votes on 'two amendments on a simple majority vote.'

"That didn't happen, so Paul and his across-the-aisle allies dug in. 'I renew my request with an amendment to extend the provisions until June 5,' said McConnell. Wyden objected. 'I renew my request with an amendment to extend the provisions until June 3,' said McConnell. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat who, like Wyden, had joined Paul in a 10-1/2-hour speaking marathon against the bill on Wednesday, objected.

"The upshot was that the Senate will return on May 31, a Sunday, the day before the Patriot Act is due to expire. Instead of a vote one week before the deadline, there would be a vote hours before the deadline. Backers of the bill hope the coming week will be used to work out a deal to extend the law.... But Paul signaled via social media that he'll also be using the time to build opposition to the Patriot Act....

"In Philadelphia, on Monday, Paul acknowledged that he did not have the votes to win the amendments he wants, but hoped he had enough support outside the Capitol to make the process infamous.... In Philadelphia he repeated a common make-my-day anecdote about just how ready he was to go beyond the Patriot Act's renewal deadline, if it meant he could have a debate and end the bulk data collection.

"'One senator came up to me and said, "If you defeat the Patriot Act, what will happen? How could we possibly survive?"’ Paul recalled. 'And I said maybe, just maybe, we could rely on the Constitution for a few hours.'"

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Social tolerance, mistrust of government increasing in U.S., polls find

The Libertarian Moment is Everywhere Around Us (Increasing Social Tolerance Edition) - Hit & Run : - Nick Gillespie:

"For the past 15 years or so, Gallup has charted how Americans describe themselves when it comes to social and economic issues.

"For the first time ever, equal percentages of us define ourselves as liberal and conservative on social issues.

"Even among Republicans, social liberalism is ascendant, with self-described conservatives dipping from a low of 67 percent in 2009 to just 53 percent now. The key issues driving the growth of social liberal views and the decline of social conservative views, says Gallup, are gay marriage and pot legalization. Support for both of those things has skyrocketed in the 21st century, with a velocity that is nothing short of stunning.

"I think you can safely add to these issues a more broad-based embrace of what Matt Welch and I dubbed the 'Libertarian Moment,' or comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives. More and more choices in everything are busting out all over the place and such change is even coming to those areas still controlled by relatively top-down governmental edicts (education, health care, retirement).

"According to a composite index of libertarian views on social and economic issues developed by pollsters at CNN, something clearly is afoot. The pollsters look at whether people believe that government is trying to do too many things individuals should be doing and whether or not people think government should enforce a particular set of morals. In 1992, the index of libertarian belief stood at 92 points. It's now at 113 points. Virtually all surveys show trends of people thinking the government is doing too much, is incompetent or untrustworthy, or represents a larger threat to the future than big labor or big business.

"This is a major shift that the Republican Party has failed to acknowledge or understand. At the very moment that Americans are embracing skepticism toward government — long a rhetorical mainstay of GOP politics — the leaders of the party are often doubling or tripling down on all sorts of reactionary positions toward same-sex marriage, the drug war, immigration, and social tolerance more broadly. That's no way to win the future (WTF).

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Friday, May 22, 2015

StockHouse Media founder runs for LP of Canada in Vancouver Centre

Libertarian Party of Canada Nominates Financial Mogul Jeff Berwick in Vancouver Centre :: Wire Service Media: (press release)

May 13, 2015 - "The Libertarian Party of Canada has nominated Jeff Berwick for the riding of Vancouver Centre. Jeff is an entrepreneur, businessman, and financial analyst. He is best known in Canada for founding StockHouse Media, which was and still is Canada's largest financial website. At its peak, StockHouse was worth $240 million and employed 250 people in 6 countries.

"Since selling StockHouse in 2002, Jeff founded, and is CEO of, TDV Media and Services. Jeff is regularly featured on media outlets such as CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business and CBC Radio.

"When party leader Tim Moen was asked about Berwick's nomination, he said 'We couldn't be happier. Adding a candidate like Berwick for 2015 cements us not just as an emerging party, but one that will win ridings come October. Jeff is world renowned for his entrepreneurial prowess and a champion of free markets, and I know he is looking forward to hopefully taking that expertise to Ottawa.'

"Berwick, who is new to the realm of politics, had this to say about his nomination: 'The Libertarian Party represents a fresh approach to politics: One that encourages entrepreneurship and economic growth in a significantly different way than the other parties. People across Canada can sense that something is wrong. They keep voting in the false left-right paradigm that has kept them trapped in this cycle of less freedom, as the passing of Bill C-51 showed. Not only that, oppressive government control and destruction of the economy via egregious taxation and regulation is just another example of that trend. There is only one party in Canada that stands for freedom and has the ideas that will make real change for the betterment of all Canadians; and that is the Libertarian Party. For this reason I will be putting my full effort and resources towards helping Tim Moen create real change in Ottawa this October.'"
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

USA FREEDOM Act does not end NSA spying

No, Congress did not just vote to end NSA spying | TheHill - Jeff Lyon & Danny Shaw:

May 21, 2015 -  "The USA Freedom Act is being hyped as a prohibition of the N.S.A.’s controversial mass surveillance practices, but it actually extends the PATRIOT Act for years and opens up new avenues for more invasive forms of government spying. Its passage into law would be more damaging to civil rights than if Congress did nothing at all. To understand why, it’s important to note that the N.S.A.’s practices were never lawful to begin with.

"Indeed, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the N.S.A.’s phone metadata surveillance program was never actually authorized by Congress. In a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union, the N.S.A. sought to justify its dragnet surveillance practices by pointing to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allows the government to collect records 'relevant to an authorized investigation.' But the court (and even Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the PATRIOT Act’s original author) rejected this argument, saying the law was never meant to authorize such wide-scale data collection.

"All of this should be a moot point, because Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is set to expire on June 1 if Congress does nothing. But USA Freedom would extend this provision until 2019, and, crucially, it would tweak the language to allow the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs to continue, with only minor limitations....

"The bill expands the type of data the government [can] access from landline call data to VoIP calls, video chats and smartphone activity. The government will still be able to use broad search terms to target large portions of the population, and they can collect even more information from contacts “connected” to those targets. Companies that hand customer data over to the government will be rewarded with blanket immunity from lawsuits, even when they violate their own privacy agreements with customers. The N.S.A. will share information with the F.B.I., which can then use the information for investigations unrelated to counterterrorism. And the government can block the F.I.S.C. advocate from seeing anything they want to keep secret....

"What Congress says and what Congress does are two very different things. The USA Freedom Act is a perfect example — it took a stunning act of bipartisanship for so many lawmakers in the House to say that N.S.A. surveillance went too far. But what they did is pass a bill that would do little to change the status quo, while skillfully packaging it as a victory for American privacy. The U.S. public and news media should not be fooled so easily."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Hispanic libertarian tradition

Opinion: Hispanic voters and our forgotten libertarian tradition | Fox News Latino - Johnnes Schmidt:

May 19, 2015 - "The prevailing Hispanic alignment to the political left is far from set in stone.  After all, modern day libertarianism was born, in many ways, in the Iberian Peninsula and followed the conquistadors to the New World.  Although some Hispanics might not realize it, a love of liberty is very much a part of our cultural heritage....

"It is no coincidence that the first use of the word 'liberal,' the internationally accepted term for a libertarian, was first used in the 1800s in the context of the Spanish struggle for liberation from Napoleon and his absolutist rule. It is not, in fact, an 'Anglo' word like some scholars would have you believe.

"But the libertarian tradition in Spain begins much earlier than the 19th century; it predates the Enlightenment and even the signing of the Magna Carta.

The Charter of León, issued in 1020 under Alphonso V, for example, granted municipalities judicial and administrative jurisdiction and recognized individual rights.  This check of absolute monarchal power was in place 200 years before the signing of the Magna Carta and was considered a precedent for the United States Constitution by many of the Founders, including John Adams.

"Centuries later, the School of Salamanca would have similar influence and as former Mont Pelerin Society President Leonard Liggio noted in his essay Liberty and Morality: The Neglected Hispanic Tradition, 'modern economics, human rights, and international law were founded in the Iberian universities of the 16th and 17th centuries.'

"Latin America, too, played an important role in the development of libertarian thought. The debates over the humanity and rights of Native Americans (think Bartolomé de las Casas) influenced John Locke and the American Founders.

"Scholars such as Juan de Mariana, Roberto Bellarmine, and Francisco Suárez, both directly and indirectly, helped shape the minds of the fathers of modern day libertarianism. It is for good reason that F.A. Hayek believed that the Spanish Scholastics were the forerunners of the Austrian School of Economics....

"Whether we be first, second or third generation immigrants, we should recognize that we are in the United States because of a lack of political and economic freedom in our native countries. We know that authoritarianism and limited market freedom does not work. It is, without a doubt, why my parents and I left Ecuador in the 1990s.

"It is for this reason that we must be part of the movement to stop the astronomical growth of government that the Bush and Obama years brought to this country. We need to be part of the demographic that elects a politician that stands for limited government and free markets. We are, after all, the original libertarians."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ohio GOP paid $300K to get Libertarian off ballot

Ohio Republican Party paid $300,000 in legal bills to keep Libertarian candidate off ballot | - Jeremy Pelzer, Northeast Ohio Media Group:

May 19, 2015 - "The Ohio Republican Party paid $300,000 to the law firm involved with successfully keeping would-be Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl off last year's ballot, according to Ohio Elections Commission filings.

"The payments, detailed by attorneys representing Gov. John Kasich's re-election campaign and GOP activist Terry Casey, came after Republican Party Chair Matt Borges denied in federal court last year that his party was behind the challenge to Earl's candidacy.

"Casey and Kasich's campaign brought up the payments as evidence that Kasich's re-election campaign did not collude to disqualify Earl, as the Libertarian alleges in an elections commission complaint.

"According to separate motions filed earlier this month by Casey and Kasich's campaign, the Ohio Republican Party made three separate payments to the law firm of Zeiger, Tigges and Little between November 2014 and February of this year.

"Those payments were documented on campaign finance reports submitted to the Ohio secretary of state's office.

"When the Libertarians filed a federal lawsuit to try to force Earl's name on the ballot, Borges testified in March 2014 that the party did not pay any money to fund the pair's cases.

"'Anyone who's looking for the conspiracy behind it – it's just not there,' he said at the time."

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Reason interviews Liberland founder

Interview with the Founder of Liberland, a Possible Libertarian Paradise - - Jack Davies:

May 12, 2015 - "Like a lot of people in Europe, Czech activist Vit Jedlicka was dissatisfied with the state of affairs in his country.

"'You know, it was rising taxes every single year, rising number of regulations every single year,' he said. 'So I felt like I had to do something about it'....

"'Everybody told me, "You should start your own country to prove that your ideas of liberty work,"' he said in a phone interview. 'So I did.'

"There’s something charmingly maniacal about Liberland’s self-proclaimed president. Despite giving more than 200 interviews in the last fortnight, he’s chatty and his voice trills with a ha ha ha when something pleases him. But underneath this quaint exterior lies a Napoleonic self-assurance that he will build a second Dubai on a seven square kilometer patch of land on the west bank of the River Danube as it runs between Croatia and Serbia....

"On April 13, Jedlicka and his compatriots planted a yellow and black flag in the Serbo-Croatian no-man’s land and gave birth to Liberland. A little over two weeks later they have already received more than 300,000 applications for citizenship. Impressive, considering the only permanent residents for the last thirty years have been wild pigs; doubly so, given that the Croatian border police are refusing to let anybody into Liberland.

"Publicly, the Croatian government is dismissing Liberland as a bad joke — a 'virtual quip' unworthy of comment, is the foreign ministry’s official line. In private, however, Jedlicka insisted Zagreb is taking the issue very seriously indeed. Jedlicka claimed to have insider knowledge regarding an extraordinary meeting held last Sunday in the Croation government to discuss options for dealing with the country’s tiny new neighbor. His insider source? Wannabe citizens present at the meeting, he said.

"Whether the meetings are real or not, Croatia has been remarkably reluctant to claim Liberland for itself. Jedlicka claimed his presidential assistant is thrashing the issue out with an assistant to the Croatian president. Despite Zagreb’s frostiness, Liberland’s president is confident that 'we will be able to set up good relations no matter what they do.'

The Serbian foreign ministry was less equivocal. Its stance is that Liberland's formation was 'a frivolous act which needs no further comment.'

"But that is apparently not a position shared across the Serbian government. When I spoke with Jedlicka, he had just come out of a meeting with the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly, Vladimir Marinkovic. In this meeting, Jedlicka claimed, Marinkovic endorsed Liberland’s sovereignty."

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Over 1.3 million killed In U.S.-led "War On Terror"

At Least 1.3 Million People Killed In US War On Terror - Ben Swann's Truth In Media - Rachel Blevins:

March 31, 2015 - "A recent report found that in the estimated number of casualties from the United States’ “War on Terror,” at least 1.3 million people were killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. While the report emphasizes that this is a 'conservative estimate,' 1.3 million is 10 times higher than the number of casualties previously reported by mainstream media in the US.

"The report, titled Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the War on Terror, was put together by the groups Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. They recorded the lives taken in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan from 2003 to 2013 which occurred as a result of the 'War on Terror' declared by the United States in the aftermath of September 11, 2001....

"According to the report, the total estimate of 1.3 million casualties was a 'conservative estimate,' due to the fact that the total number of deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan 'could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely'....

"'This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Irag, 220,000 in Afghanistan, and 80,000 in Pakistan,' stated the report. 'Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen'....

"The report cited multiple studies, which claimed that by 2008, there were already 'over one million Iraqis' that had died as a result of war, occupation and indirect consequences.

"In Afghanistan, the report found that from Oct. 2001 to Dec. 2013, 55,000 individuals defined as members of the 'Taliban' were killed, along with 22 journalists, 281 NGO workers, 1,700 civilian employees of the US government, 3,000 private US security forces, 3,409 ISAF and OEF solders, 15,000 Afghan security forces, and between 106,000 and 170,000 Afghan civilians.

"The report stated that in Pakistan, from 2004 to 2013, while 26,862 individuals described as 'militants' were killed, 45 journalists, 5,498 Pakistani security forces and 48,504 Pakistani civilians were also killed. Between 416 and 951 civilians were killed by drone strikes."

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Stossel plans to vote for Rand Paul for POTUS

Why I plan to vote for Rand Paul for president | Fox News - John Stossel:

April 22, 2015 - "Sen. Paul confuses people. Some Ron Paul fans say Rand is not as committed to liberty as his father. But some of their complaints seem ambiguous.

"Yes, Rand avoids alienating conservatives because he wants the Republican nomination. But has he violated his principles?

"He doesn’t call for drug legalization but wants to decrease penalties, and he doesn’t rule out legalization.

"He voted for sanctions on Iran, which bothers hardcore libertarians, but of the policies under consideration, sanctions were better than war....

"He supported increases in defense spending, but at least he said they should be offset by reductions in other spending.

"Paul disappoints me by opposing gay marriage and saying a 'moral crisis allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage'.... At least Rand did not ask the government to ban gay marriage. It’s a relief when a politician draws a line between what his religion tells him and what government ought to do.

"Where Rand Paul shines is in the clarity of his plans to shrink government.... Paul presented budget proposals (visible online) that left-wing critics like Vox say are 'the most radical vision of limited government ever presented by a major American presidential candidate (apart, perhaps, from Paul’s father, Ron Paul).'

"He wants to eliminate the Department of Education, Amtrak subsidies, the Department of Energy, foreign aid and other programs that do more harm than good. He would privatize Medicare and partially privatize Social Security.

"Paul criticizes crony capitalist subsidies, and, unlike most politicians who suck up to Midwestern farmers by offering ethanol subsidies, he proposes merely eliminating regulations that inhibit ethanol production. That’s libertarian.

"Paul’s practicing politics, but it’s still pretty libertarian politics. In fact, he seems to lean over backward to stick to libertarian principles – even while trying to sound like a mainstream politician."

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Super PAC spends $7 Million in Philadelphia primary

3 Libertarians Fuel $7 Million Super PAC In Philadelphia's Mayoral Democratic Primary - Paul Blumenthal, Huffington Post:

May 14, 2015 - "Voters will cast ballots in the Democratic primary for Philadelphia's mayoral race on May 19, but three libertarian donors from the suburbs could really influence the contest.

"According to city campaign finance records, Arthur Dantchik, Joel Greenberg and Jeff Yass – heads of the trading firm Susquehanna International Group – have pumped almost $7 million into the American Cities super PAC, which backs state Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D). The total contributed by the three financial executives through May 4, the cutoff for the latest reports, not only dwarfs the amount spent by each candidate in the race, but also is nearly equal to all candidate and other super PAC fundraising combined.

"The contributions come amid a continued uptick in large campaign donations from financial investors to city, state and municipal elections sent through super PACs in recent years. The funds are largely given in support of market-based education reforms including the privatization of public schools, the diversion of public school funds to charter schools and the breaking of teachers unions....

"In the state Senate, Williams was the architect of an expansion of the state tax credit diverting public funds to charter schools by allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to be refunded with public money when they pay for a scholarship, or 'voucher,' for a public school student to attend a charter school. He also served on the education commission created by former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a proponent of charter schools and vouchers.

"Williams is not a new commodity for the investors based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Dantchik, Greenberg and Yass spent at least $6 million through their Students First PA PAC to support Williams' bid for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination in 2010."

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Johnson sues for presidential debate access

Libertarian Party sues for access to presidential debates, calls exclusion 'unfair and illegal' - Washington Times - Jennifer Harper:

May 13, 2015 - "Independent and third party candidates have yet to stand on flashy podiums of officially sanctioned presidential debates. Now the Libertarian Party is pushing back. Fed up with ongoing exclusion and the valuable national exposure that is beyond their reach, the Libertarians have launched a lawsuit against the 'duopoly' of Republican and Democratic candidates who have a guaranteed national forum - when alternative candidates do not....

"'The legal challenge will maintain that the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private organization, formed by the chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, unfairly and intentionally limits participation in the nationally-televised debates to the Democratic and Republican nominees - placing other national party nominees at a severe and unjust disadvantage,' notes Ron Nielson, an advisor to Our America Initiative, an interest group that is mounting the challenge and counts former Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson as its chairman.

"'With polls showing that independent voters now constitute a majority of the American electorate, this duopoly simply isn’t fair - and must be changed,' Mr. Neilsen says.

"The ultimate goal is a chance on the mighty 2016 podium for the aforementioned Mr. Johnson and his former running mate Jim Gray, plus Green Party nominees Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala. The Libertarians have already launched a public petition to help their cause, and staged a two-hour Google-plus hangout to discuss the lawsuit, fundraising and future strategy."

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Alan Borovoy, civil libertarian (1932-2015)

In memoriam: Alan Borovoy, 1932-2015 - NOW Toronto Magazine - Think Free - Bernie Farber:

"Alan Borovoy General Counsel Emeritus of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), probably Canada’s best-known defender of civil rights, a human rights driver in a career spanning more than 60 years fighting for the little guy, has died.

"Alan was a man of deep principle, stark honesty, razor wit and man with a whole lot of heart for the most vulnerable amongst us.... His fights were often lonely, though arguably he relished being the lone fighter for a cause he believed in. He took on popular concepts that were populated by unpopular people. He cherished freedom of speech as an absolute and in order to defend the concept against new hate laws he had to bear hateful anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers....

"Growing up as a young boy in the downtown core that was the home of many other Jews in the 1930s and 40s, Borovoy learned firsthand what it meant to be a minority. It led him into seeing the world for what it was and his goal was always to try and level the playing field.

It was while he was at the University of Toronto that political schisms most dominated the Canadian Jewish scene. A young Canadian Jewish activist community became fertile ground for an even younger and altruistic Borovoy. He saw how communism could become a destructive force and railed against it, but always with the view to achieve what he called 'a responsible anti-communism'....

"As editor of a Jewish university newspaper, Borovoy held strong to his conviction that free speech trumped everything. He advocated strongly in favour of a letter written by a Communist sympathizer. The establishment came down on him like a ton of bricks but he held strong.

"But perhaps his most controversial stand was as an opponent of Canada’s anti-hate laws. This put him on the outs with the leadership in the Jewish community which strongly supported it. When confronted about the evil of hatemongers, Borovoy’s favorite retort was that 'They should be left to wallow in the obscurity they so richly deserve'....

"And so it went throughout Alan Borovoy’s tumultuous career. Whether it was our nation’s struggle with national security or victimized minorities fight for decent housing; whether it was challenging the police complaints procedures or his battles with the Quebec government over the Oka crisis, Alan Borovoy was our moral barometer."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Utah LP first to qualify under new election law

Utah Libertarians become first 'qualified party' under new election law | Salt Lake Tribune - Lee Davidson:

May 12, 2015 - "The Utah Libertarian Party has become the first official 'qualified political party' under a controversial new election-reform law.

"So far, the party is the only one qualified to appear on future ballots with an official roster of candidates — with the party affiliation listed by their names.

"The Utah Republican Party and the Constitution Party have filed a lawsuit challenging the new law, called SB54, contending that it is unconstitutional because it infringes on their ability to select their nominees as they choose.

"Libertarian Party Chairman W. Andrew McCullough filed a letter with the lieutenant governor's office saying his organization intends to comply with SB54, and thereby became the state's first qualified political party under that law....

"A party also must allow candidates to qualify for the primary ballot either by gathering signatures, or through the old caucus-convention system.

"McCullough wrote that Libertarians "will maintain our present convention system, and acknowledge that candidates may alternatively seek ballot status through petitions. For our party, we do not think that is likely.' The Libertarian Party has only 8,728 registered members.

"A qualified party also must allow either participation by alternate convention delegates for those who are absent, or remote voting....

"SB54 also requires parties to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in party primaries. That is important because 43.5 percent of all Utah voters are unaffiliated, and reformers sought to give them a greater role in determining who appears on the final general election ballot

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Texas marijuana legalization bill passes committee

Texas House Panel Approves Full Legalization Of Marijuana In ‘Unprecedented’ Move « CBS Houston - Benjamin Fearnow:

May 7, 2015 - "A proposal which would make Texas the fifth state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana use was approved in a bipartisan House panel vote – with the bill’s author citing his Christian values as cause for his support.

"Being hailed as a historic victory and a surprise to Lone Star state lawmakers, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would make it legal to buy and sell marijuana in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports. The panel’s three Democrats were joined by two Republicans to give House Bill 2165 a 'decisive 5-2 victory.'

"The panel’s move in support of recreational marijuana legalization comes two days after their 4-2 vote in favor of a bill to decriminalize marijuana – the first such proposal to make it out of a Texas legislative committee.

"And although the bill is not expected to survive the full path to becoming a law in this legislative session, Texas anti-drug law advocates are labeling the move as historic....

"Authored by Republican David Simpson of Longview, House Bill 2165 is listed as 'an Act relating to repealing marihuana offenses.' The bill seeks to have those convicted of a first-time 'state jail felony' to have their sentence suspended and instead be placed 'on community supervision,' along with providing probationary protections to students and minors. The bill passed its final vote after tweaking language to ensure it would remain illegal for minors to consume marijuana without parental supervision.

"The deeply conservative, Tea Party-backed Simpson explained in an op-ed last month that his belief in God, distrust of government and criticism of the 'War on Drugs' led him to sponsor the marijuana legalization bill.

"'As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same,' wrote Simpson. 'I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.'"

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder as 'libertarian matriarch'

The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder, One of America’s First Libertarians | TIME - David Boaz:

May 9, 2015 - "Laura Ingalls Wilder is a bestselling author again, 83 years after she began publishing her Little House on the Prairie books and 58 years after her death at age 90. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is a 472-page edition of Wilder’s original memoir, for which she couldn’t find a publisher in 1930....

"Wilder was born just after the Civil War in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin. Life was hard on the frontier, and with her parents and then her husband she moved to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Florida, and eventually Mansfield, Missouri. She also became, unexpectedly, a sort of libertarian matriarch.

"Laura’s only child was Rose Wilder Lane. Lane was born in DeSmet, South Dakota, and grew up on her parents’ Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri. After high school she drifted to San Francisco, married briefly, and began a career as a writer.... [B]y the 1930s ... she was a staunch libertarian. In 1935 she wrote in the Saturday Evening Post:
I am now a fundamentalist American; give me time and I will tell you why individualism, laissez faire and the slightly restrained anarchy of capitalism offer the best opportunities for the development of the human spirit. Also I will tell you why the relative freedom of human spirit is better — and more productive, even in material ways — than the communist, Fascist, or any other rigidity organized for material ends.
"Those ideas can be found in the Little House books, which Lane is said to have helped edit or ghostwrite. In Little House on the Prairie, young Laura hears the Declaration of Independence read and thinks, 'Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. … When I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good'....

"Lane wrote two novels of her own about her family’s homestead, Let the Hurricane Roar (later retitled Young Pioneers) and Free Land, which made her a bestselling, well-paid writer. But her interests turned more to politics, and she became a vociferous adversary of President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, which she saw as 'creeping socialism'....

"In the dark year of 1943, during World War II, Lane and two other remarkable women published books that could be said to have given birth to the modern Libertarian movement. Lane published a passionate historical book called The Discovery of Freedom....

"Also in 1943 Lane met Roger MacBride, the 14-year-old son of her editor at Reader’s Digest. MacBride was fascinated by her ideas, visited her frequently at her Connecticut home, and came to think of himself as her ''dopted grandson.'

"[MacBride] was made a Republican elector in Virginia in 1972.... He cast his electoral vote for the new Libertarian Party ticket of philosopher John Hospers and journalist Tonie Nathan, the first woman to receive an electoral vote. He became the 1976 Libertarian presidential candidate and put the party on the map with ballot status in 32 states, a widely distributed campaign book, and a distant third-place finish....

"As Lane’s heir, he published another of Wilder’s manuscripts, The First Four Years, arranged for the popular 1970s television series, and wrote eight novels of his own about Rose’s early life, continuing in the vein of Little House."

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

A libertarian perspective on the Baltimore riots

Nick Pandelidis: A Libertarian perspective on the Baltimore riots - York Daily Record:

May 8, 2015 - "I ... offer some reflections on the Baltimore riots. My purpose is not to present rigorous arguments regarding causes and potential solutions but rather to make a few broad observations from a libertarian perspective.

"The first observation is the changed nature of inner-city policing. Not so long ago, inner cities were composed of mostly civil neighborhoods where police protected and served the law-abiding citizen majority from a small population of criminals. Now, those neighborhoods have morphed into war zones where many young black men are (often not inappropriately) designated as criminal elements and have their constitutional rights routinely violated — including being beaten or killed for 'resisting arrest.' On the other side of the equation, police legitimately fear for their lives patrolling armed-drug-gang-controlled neighborhoods. And law-abiding citizens are caught in the crossfire....

"The second observation is that a misguided and failed war against drugs has significantly contributed to the breakdown of inner-city civil order. Criminalization of drugs has driven up prices and made drug dealing the most profitable and seemingly most glamorous employment option available to many inner-city youth.

"U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $1 trillion over the four decades of the war on drugs. And yet, the U.S. is the first in the world in illegal drug use, addiction rates are no lower, overdose death rates are at all-time highs, and tens of thousands of persons have died in drug-related violence in the U.S., Mexico and South America. In addition, our legal system has more than 500,000 individuals in prison for drug violations.

"The third observation relates to another failed government war, the war on poverty. Since the beginning of the Great Society in 1965, taxpayers have spent $15 trillion on anti-poverty programs and continue to spend more than $700 billion annually. And yet, the poverty rate which fell dramatically during the economic expansion of the prior 25 years has essentially remained unchanged since the war on poverty began.

"However well-meaning the original intent of our welfare system, it is undeniable that this "social safety net" program has resulted in unwed motherhood rates exceeding 80 percent and families nearly completely absent of fathers. The sons of single mothers in these fatherless communities are the principal perpetrators of violent crime in our cities today.

"The final observation is the evident pent-up anger and frustration manifested in the rioters' destruction of businesses and property within their own communities. This social unrest is less a product of poverty and more a product of a sense of hopelessness from a lack of economic opportunity and the humiliation of dependency....

"The poor in America are trapped on two sides. On one hand, they can't achieve because of the failure of inner-city government k-12 schools to provide the educational foundation for marketable skills, minimum wage regulation and occupational licensing preventing entrance into the work force, and general tax and regulatory burdens hindering small business formation. And on the other, welfare programs have provided an easy way to survive and promoted dependency.... In retrospect, the very social and tax policies that were conceived to help the poor have only ensconced dependency and hopelessness."

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Two B.C. cities want to allow OTC marijuana sale

Victoria becomes second B.C. city to propose regulating marijuana sales | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly - Travis Lupick:

May 8, 2015 - "Yesterday (May 7), Victoria city council received a report from staff that recommended a crackdown on the provincial capital’s growing number of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

"In a vote of seven to one, councillors opted to reject that suggestion. Instead, they requested staff draft new business and zoning bylaws that would regulate the over-the-counter sales of marijuana.

"In a telephone interview, Mayor Lisa Helps said Victoria is now on a path similar to that of Vancouver, which on April 28 saw city council send a proposed legal framework for marijuana sales to a public hearing....

"Helps said that for her, a decision in favour of regulation over prohibition largely came down to two factors.

"The first was the support of the Victoria Police Service. At the council meeting, police inspector Scott McGregor said the department was not opposed to regulating dispensaries.... Helps said that was a turning point....

"The second, Helps continued, was an identified need to address a problem created by a lack of action from higher levels of government.

"'There is a legal grey area,' she maintained ... between federal legislation and what the courts are willing to prosecute. That is a grey area. So municipalities are left to come up with solutions and that is what we are doing.'

"Helps emphasized that the rules councillors have requested from staff will not simply permit the sale of marijuana. They will also control who stores are selling to — banning minors, for example —and, ideally, bring some control over the sale of marijuana strains with excessively high THC levels that might exceed what is safe."

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

NSA's bulk collection of phone records is illegal, U.S. appeals court rules

US appeals court rules NSA's bulk collection of phone records is illegal, asks Congress to act - News1130 - Larry Neumeister & Ken Dilanian, Associated Press:

May 7, 2015 - "The unprecedented and unwarranted bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the government is illegal because it wasn’t authorized by Congress, a federal appeals court said Thursday as it asked legislators to decide how to balance national security and privacy interests.

"The National Security Agency’s collection and storage of U.S. landline calling records — times, dates and numbers but not content of the calls — was the most controversial program among many disclosed in 2013 by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden. Some NSA officials opposed the program, and independent evaluations have found it of limited value as a counterterrorism tool. Snowden remains exiled in Russia.

"On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan permitted the NSA to continue temporarily as it exists, but all but pleaded for Congress to better define where boundaries exist....

"'The statutes to which the government points have never been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here,' the court said. 'The sheer volume of information sought is staggering.'

"A lower court judge in December tossed out an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, saying the program was a necessary extension to security measures taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The appeals court said the lower court had erred....

"Opponents of the program say the information can enable the government to learn, for instance, whether someone has called a domestic violence, rape or suicide hotline or whether someone has reported a crime. They say it can also reveal civil, political or religious affiliations, an individual’s social status and whether the person is involved in an intimate relationship.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Australian Senator offers budget alternatives

Fire public servants, cut welfare, stop funding research; David Leyonhjelm's libertarian budget | - David Leyonhjelm, Financial Review

April 27, 2015 - "In its first budget the Abbott government dabbled with a theme of spending restraint and return to surplus.... Now, as the government prepares its second budget, it is dabbling with a theme of 'nothing dramatic'... But the case for spending restraint and a rapid return to surplus is as strong as ever.....So my plan is to cut more than $30 billion out of annual appropriation bills, which usually authorise around $140 billion in spending....

"I would not allow any spending on new policies or capital equipment (other than defence equipment) in the annual appropriation bills....

"I would then cut various existing programs that are not protected by an enduring appropriation.... A good number of these may actually be unconstitutional, given that the Commonwealth has no explicit authority in section 51 of the Constitution.....

"I would cut foreign aid..... Apart from the commitment of military and public health resources in response to natural disasters, the government does not need to be philanthropic on our behalf. Individual Australians who care about conditions in other countries can and should be encouraged to make donations from their own wallets.

"I would cut Commonwealth spending on the health bureaucracy, because healthcare is a state responsibility and government support is best provided directly to individuals rather than to health departments and institutions.

"I would also cut spending that promotes healthy lifestyles, as how we live is none of the government's business. I would nonetheless retain spending on immunisation, which provides benefits beyond the individuals who receive the vaccine.

"I would cut industry assistance, including for exporters, agriculture, the sports industry, the arts industry, and that part of the broadcasting industry we call the ABC and SBS. This is just corporate welfare for the favoured few.

"I would cut government spending on research. It crowds out philanthropic and business support, which would provide greater discipline to the direction of research.

"And I would cut indigenous programs, because race should not determine access to government services.

"Commonwealth grants for regions, infrastructure and schools that are in annual appropriations bills would be cut, because they are areas of state responsibility. I would cut spending on climate change programs because, among other things, I see the reality of global inaction. And I would cut other areas of symbolic spending such as the Human Rights Commission, family studies, and gender equality....

"My spending cuts would mean at least 15,000 public servants lost their jobs....  For the public servants that remain, I propose to cut their pay by 10 per cent. After a decade in which pay and employment grew faster in the public sector than the private sector, this is a reasonable option. And yes, politicians' pay should be cut by the same amount.

"Overall, my approach would deliver a surplus in the coming financial year, based on available numbers, without resorting to tax hikes."

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

IRS violates policy, seizes $100K from store owner (video)

North Carolina Civil Forfeiture | Institute for Justice - IRS Seizes $107,000 From Innocent Small Business, Despite Recent Policy Changes Meant To Prevent Exactly This Kind Of Case:

"Lyndon McLellan has spent more than a decade running L&M Convenience Mart, a gas station, restaurant, and convenience store in rural Fairmont, North Carolina. Then, one year ago, without any warning, agents from the IRS seized his entire bank account, totalling more than $107,000. With that, Lyndon entered the upside down world of civil forfeiture, where the government can seize and keep ordinary Americans’ property without ever charging them with a crime.

"The IRS and Department of Justice are pursuing forfeiture of Lyndon’s money despite a recent policy change designed to prevent precisely these kinds of cases. In October 2014, the IRS announced that (absent 'exceptional' circumstances) it would pursue forfeiture in cases like Lyndon’s only where there was evidence that the money being seized was derived from illegal activity. The U.S. Department of Justice announced a similar policy change in March 2015....

"Under these new policies, the government should not be pursuing forfeiture of Lyndon’s bank account. But the government has refused to back down, and is actively pursuing the forfeiture of Lyndon’s money.

"Lyndon is unwilling to give the government a single penny of his hard-earned money. As he puts it, 'It took me 13 years to save that much money, and it took fewer than 13 seconds for the government to take it away.'"
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Monday, May 4, 2015

Justin Amash endorses Rand Paul for president

Amash endorses Paul for president | TheHill - David McCabe:

May 4, 2015 - "Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) endorsed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a fellow libertarian, for president on Monday.

"'Rand Paul is the strongest defender of liberty and the Constitution in the United States Senate,' Amash said in a statement. 'Every day, Senator Paul stands up to the Washington machine and puts regular Americans first.

"'With his focus on individual rights, economic freedom, and limited government, Rand Paul is connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds, including people who normally do not vote Republican,' he added.

"Amash previously endorsed Paul's father, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), when he ran for president in 2012.

"Amash has taken libertarian stances on issues including criminal justice reform and broken with other Republicans on normalizing relations with Cuba.

"His frequent clashes with House GOP leadership have made him a target of some Republican groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed his last primary opponent. Amash, though, won some financial support from the Club for Growth and was able to draw from his own personal wealth as he beat back the challenge.

"Amash is the sixth lawmaker to throw his support behind Paul, according to The Hill's list of 2016 endorsements."
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Gore-Tex heiress gives millions to promote liberty

Libertarian Gore-Tex Heiress Fuels Hidden Political Donations - Gregory Nickerson, WyoFile:

April 28, 2015 - "Susan Gore is arguably Wyoming’s most influential libertarian promoter....

"Since 2008, Gore has founded and financed three non-profit organizations that seek to reshape Wyoming politics and loosen restrictions on campaign spending nationwide. These include the Wyoming Liberty Group, Republic Free Choice, and the Pillar of Law Institute....

"Gore, a resident of Cheyenne, has lived in Wyoming for almost 20 years. Her Wyoming roots go back three generations in the southwest part of the state. She came to Wyoming in the mid-1990s after living for more than a decade in a transcendental meditation community in Fairfield, Iowa. Before that she lived in Delaware and Vermont.... And in Wyoming, she seems to have found her niche as a promoter of conservative-libertarian ideas....

"According to the Wyoming Liberty Group website, '[Susan Gore’s] aim is to ensure that the power of the people and individuals in Wyoming takes precedence over improper government presumptions of authority'....

"'The reason I started this was because I wanted to live in a place where I had better quality of life,' Gore told Bold Republic Radio. 'I didn’t want to see us overwhelmed by too much government, too many regulations, a loss of our culture'....

"The Wyoming Liberty Group opposes federal involvement in healthcare and education. It champions a free-market philosophy of privatization, where government ideally would stay out of areas where it believes private business can do a better job....

"The Wyoming Liberty Group is part of a nationwide organization called the State Policy Network, founded in 1991. The organization has think-tank chapters in all 50 states, and receives money from a sophisticated network of donors.

"Susan Gore told the Casper Star-Tribune in 2010 she founded the Wyoming Liberty Group after her brother David W. Gore formed a similar organization called the Cascade Policy Institute in Oregon, also a State Policy Network affiliate.

"Susan Gore provides the majority of financial support to the organizations through her family wealth,... IRS documents from 2008-2012 show Gore — and one other unlisted donor — provided more than 75 percent of the group’s $4.3 million in funding up to that time."

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The fraud of 'dolphin safe' tuna labelling

'Dolphin Safe' Labels On Canned Tuna Are A Fraud - Forbes - K. William Watson, Cato Institute:

April 29, 2015 - "After multiple condemnations from the World Trade Organization, it’s time for consumers to realize that U.S. 'dolphin safe' labels are a fraud cooked up by special interests. A WTO panel announced for the third time in three years that U.S. laws defining dolphin-safe are protectionist. This should be a wake-up call for eco-conscious consumers who want to make sure their grocery purchases aren’t harming the ocean. By providing cover for a handful of major brands the law actually makes it harder to purchase responsibly caught tuna....

"Most Americans think that the existence of a dolphin-safe label means that no dolphins were harmed when the tuna were caught. In truth, the label only means that one particular fishing method was not used in one particular part of the ocean.... Known as 'setting on dolphins,' the practice of circling dolphin pods with nets as a way to catch tuna was widely criticized for harming dolphin populations up through the 1980s. But that was before the creation of the International Dolphin Conservation Program, which places observers on tuna vessels to verify that no dolphins are harmed during the catch. Since then, dolphin mortality from this practice has virtually disappeared.

"In order to qualify as dolphin-safe, tuna may not be caught using this method regardless of whether dolphins are actually harmed.... One important aspect of the dolphin-safe labeling rules is that companies that do not meet the specific requirements are prohibited not only from using the label but from stating anything about how their practices impact dolphins. That means that Mexican tuna brands have no way to explain their fishing methods to consumers....

"Unlike Mexican fisheries, the major U.S. producers catch tuna using fish aggregation devices (FADs), a practice that activists have condemned as 'floating death traps' because of its high incidence of bycatch.... It is no accident then that the major U.S. tuna producers who support and benefit from the dolphin-safe label are counted by activists as among the worst offenders on sustainable fishing practices....

"And what does Greenpeace have to say about the dolphin safe label? 'Dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe. It means that one fishing method that targets tuna that swim with dolphins is not used to catch the tuna. What about the rays and turtles?'....

"The best way to empower consumers to make a difference in tuna practices is to keep government out of the labeling business. Open competition will foster more sharing of more accurate and relevant information. Groups like Greenpeace serve a vital function in the market by providing like-minded consumers with well-packaged information. The existence of federal rules, however, gives power to lobbyists that they would not have in a free market."

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Wyoming Liberty Group goes national

Wyoming Liberty Group starts national organization - Laura Hancock, Casper Star-Tribune:

April 4, 2015 - "A Cheyenne-based libertarian advocacy group is expanding to the national political scene, hoping to influence campaign finance laws in other states.

"The Wyoming Liberty Group has started a project called the Pillar of Law Institute. It will fight what it believes are restrictive campaign finance laws for candidates to raise money to run for office, which it characterizes as a free speech issue....

"The Pillar of Law Institute's focus will be litigation and communication, said Steve Klein, a Liberty Group employee who has moved to Alexandria, Virginia, for the institute, but will continue to commute to Wyoming when necessary for the Liberty Group.

T"he Liberty Group educates the public, lobbies the Wyoming Legislature and pursues litigation. It has entered cases for education and civil asset forfeiture reform, opposition to the Affordable Care Act and government incentives for businesses, and against campaign finance restrictions.

"'Wyoming Liberty Group, since founding its 2008, has had a really strong focus on free speech,' Klein said. 'That’s perhaps the only thing that we do that’s not confined just to Wyoming. Our outreach there was nationwide with litigation in Texas and Wisconsin, and of course having some Wyoming cases as well.'

"The Liberty Group submitted friend of court briefs in a Texas case involving former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay when he was charged and ultimately cleared of improperly funneling money to Texas House candidates. Klein said his organization was the only to note First Amendment issues in the case, which the court considered in its decision.

"In Wyoming, Klein said, the Liberty Group had in 2014 three of its biggest campaign finance successes in federal court. The state’s laws are not as problematic as other state campaign finance laws, he said."

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