Thursday, December 31, 2015

NH libertarians offer free rides New Year's Eve

Giving Drunks a Ride Home On New Year's Could Be a $500 Fine in the "Live Free Or Die" State - Keith Farrell, Libertarian Republic:

December 31, 2015 - "If you’re giving a drunk person a ride home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this New Year’s Eve you could face a stiff fine. To be sure, you better not accept any gas money or a tip for your time. It’s part of the city’s crackdown aimed at the ride share service Uber. For one local man, the regulation spurred the idea to launch a free ride service for the holiday in protest.

"'I just want to get as many people home safely as possible,' said Christopher David.... David is a libertarian and a Free State Project activist. He says that the Portsmouth regulation and enforcement of ride share restrictions are motivated by pressure being exerted by special interests; specifically the owner of the area’s largest taxi company, Great Bay Taxi. As is usual in areas where Uber has begun to operate, companies like Great Bay Taxi lobby to restrict Uber’s operation as a way of limiting competition. In Portsmouth, it has gone even farther.

"Great Bay’s owner, John Palreiro, actually pulled his cabs out of the city the night before Thanksgiving in protest. He threatened to do the same on New Year’s Eve unless the city cracked down and began enforcing an existing ordinance against Uber.

"The restrictions and pressure angered David, who used to drive for Uber.... In protest, David has organized a free ride share service for the evening. He’s already had 40 passengers sign up for rides. David and the 10 drivers he has organized will be doing a great service for the community, providing safe rides for people who will most likely be inebriated.

"Originally, David and his drivers were going to accept tips, but when local police got word of their plans ... Portsmouth Acting Deputy Police Chief Frank Warchol disagreed. If the drivers offer completely free rides, 'then it doesn’t fall under the ordinance,' he said. 'If they accept donations, they would fall under the ordinance.'

"The penalty for violating the ordinance is $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for any subsequent offense.

"So David assures me that for tonight all rides will given completely free of any compensation. But he doesn’t plan on stopping there.

"'My plan is to launch a decentralized competitor to Uber,' David informed me.

"He’s already in the process of developing an app which he says will launch in about a month’s time. It’s called Arcade City.

"'The police are already threatening to fine users and it isn’t even out yet,' David laughed.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ohio Libertarians being kept off 2016 ballot

Sandusky Register: Libertarians not allowed to file in Ohio - Tom Jackson:

December 23, 2016 - "When last week's filings for office concluded, the candidates included plenty of Democrats and Republicans and a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, Joseph DeMare.

"But the filings didn't include any Libertarian candidates.

"Ohio Libertarian Party spokesman Aaron Keith Harris said the party is still battling in federal court before U.S. District Judge Michael Watson in Columbus to try to overturn state ballot access law in court that made it harder for smaller political parties in Ohio to be recognized. Watson has not issued a final ruling in the case.

"Secretary of State Jon Husted's office advised election boards not to accept Libertarian Party filings for office, Harris said.

"Several would-be Libertarian candidates tried to file, while others were ready but did not go ahead after being told their petitions would not be accepted....

"'We are obviously very disappointed Husted has chosen to enforce a law that is still being challenged in the courts,' Harris said. 'We are frustrated that the court proceedings have taken this long.' If Libertarians lose their court case, "we'll appeal until we can't appeal any more," Harris said.

"Joshua Eck, a spokesman for Husted, said the Libertarian Party currently is not a recognized political party in Ohio.

"To gain recognition, a minor party must collect at least 3 percent of the vote in the most recent race for president or governor in Ohio. Green candidate Anita Rios got 3.3 percent when she ran for governor in 2014, Eck said.

"The Libertarian candidate for governor in 2014, Charlie Earl, was tossed off the ballot....

"Eck said if Libertarians want to be recognized as a political party, they must turn in petitions signed by 1 percent of people who voted in the last presidential or gubernatorial election. At least 500 signatures must be collected in at least half of the state's U.S. House districts, he said."

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 highlight: Canada's Red Tape Reduction Act

Backgrounder – Legislating the One-for-One Rule:

"On January 29, 2014, the Government of Canada introduced the Red Tape Reduction Act in Parliament to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on business.  The Act received Royal Assent on April 23, 2015, which  fulfills a commitment made in the Government's October 2012 Red Tape Reduction Action Plan and reaffirmed in the October 2013 Speech from the Throne.

"The One-for-One Rule, which came into effect on April 1, 2012, places strict controls on the growth of regulatory red tape on business. Under the One-for-One Rule, for every new regulation added that imposes an administrative burden on business, one must be removed.

"The One-for-One Rule is one of six systemic reforms under the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan. The Action Plan committed to reducing regulatory burden on Canadians and businesses, making it easier to do business with regulators and improving service and predictability in the federal regulatory system.

  • The Red Tape Reduction Act helps to permanently control federal regulatory red tape.
    During its first two years of implementation, the One-for-One Rule provided a successful, system-wide control on regulatory red tape impacting business. 
  • Between 2012 and June 2014, under the One-for-One Rule, the Government has reduced the net annual administrative burden on business by over $22 million, resulting in an estimated annual savings of 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with regulatory red tape, and has achieved a net reduction of 19 regulations taken off the books. 
  • Canada is now the first country in the world to legislate the One-for-One Rule to control regulatory red tape."
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Monday, December 28, 2015

CT Libertarians challenge out-of-state petitioner ban

Libertarian Party files lawsuit against Connecticut - Christine Stuart, New Haven Register:

 December 23, 2015 - "The Libertarian Party of Connecticut wants Connecticut to stop enforcing its law that says only state residents can collect signatures for candidates seeking to petition their way onto the ballot.

"Connecticut law says only Connecticut residents can gather those signatures, but a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Libertarian Party in federal court alleges that the provision is “unconstitutional” and violates its First Amendment rights....

"The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in anticipation of the start of the 2016 election cycle. Candidates wishing to get on the 2016 ballot can start collecting signatures starting on Jan. 1, 2016, but the residency requirement is a hinderance, according to the complaint.

"If a candidate uses an out-of-state firm to circulate a petition, each of those professional circulators has to be accompanied by a Connecticut resident. The complaint argues that limiting the pool of professional circulators to in-state professionals creates a monopoly for Connecticut professional circulators and decreases the party’s ability to negotiate favorable contract terms.

"The complaint also says that out-of-state circulators tend to get better results that generate a 'much higher percentage of valid signatures....

"'The prohibition on non-resident circulators therefore reduces the quality of circulators that the Party may use, which in turn reduces the percentage of valid signatures and increases the cost of securing sufficient valid signatures to place the Party’s candidates on the State’s general election ballot,' the complaint states.

"The lawsuit was filed against Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who is Connecticut’s chief election official. Merrill’s office will be represented by the Attorney General’s office who had no comment on the complaint."

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Existentialism & libertarianism (video)

Free Market Existentialism? | Bleeding Heart Libertarians - Davis S. 'Amato:

October 21, 2015 - "William Irwin’s latest book, The Free Market Existentialist, is a novel attempt to ground libertarian political theory in existentialism.... Irwin more than accomplishes his goal of establishing for free market existentialism a place in the 'marketplace of ideas.' He develops, in clear, absorbing prose, a compelling, if controversial, vision of libertarianism based on a wholesale 'rejection of objective values,' just the kind of values (for instance, natural rights) that commonly provide the foundation for libertarian arguments.

"Irwin’s attempt ... spotlights and challenges the Marxist political commitments of Jean-Paul Sartre, 'the person most identified with existentialism.' Irwin argues that Marxism is actually inconsistent with Sartre’s view of freedom, which posits the individual as a dynamic and responsible agent who creates value and meaning for himself. Sartre thus sees human freedom not as an aspect of human nature, the existence of which he emphatically denies, but as an implication of authorship and accountability. Because the individual is the ultimate source of his own values, forever remaking his reality in accordance with those values, he is, Sartre says, 'condemned to be free'....

"And individualism, Irwin argues, is 'the main link between existentialism and libertarianism.' Both stress the primacy and responsibility of the individual, the importance of autonomy and choice to living a meaningful, fulfilling life....

"Irwin is a master of rendering abstruse philosophical ideas clear and understandable to the layperson. He shows that 'a world without morality' is not necessarily the grim dystopia that we might imagine, that it is better to discard the fallacy of objective morality than to remain in a state of self-delusion.... Irwin’s libertarianism rests on the idea that we should refrain from theft and assault not because of some moral duty, but because prudence recommends that we refrain. Guided selfishly by our long-term interests, we recognize the benefits of living with others in a free society; we therefore agree to forswear certain behaviors in which we are otherwise perfectly free to engage."

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

'Hardcore libertarian' Kurt Russell interviewed

Kurt Russell Talks Cowboys, Guns, and Life as Hollywood’s Most ‘Hardcore’ Libertarian - The Daily Beast - Marlow Stern:

December 22, 2015- "Russell began his acting career as a young teen, appearing in family-friendly films for Disney. When Walt Disney passed away in 1966, it was discovered that the final words he ever wrote were 'Kurt Russell.' To this day, the actor has no idea why....

"Today, Russell, 64, is known as an actor who marches to the beat of his own drum. He’s a libertarian in an industry of liberals, recently branding the link between gun control and terrorism 'absolutely insane.' He has a ranch in Aspen, Colorado, far from the Hollywood bubble, where he hunts elk and deer. And he makes daring cinematic choices, many of which, from Escape from New York to Big Trouble in Little China, aren’t fully appreciated until years later. Like his iconic character of Snake Plissken, Russell is an unapologetic rebel....

"The Daily Beast sat down with a very animated and fun Russell in New York to discuss the film, his political beliefs, and his fine career....

"What’s it been like to be a libertarian in Hollywood? You’re in the extreme minority.

"I’ve heard some pretty rough things through the years that were really undeserved, but the number one thing was my case was worse, because I couldn’t say, 'I’m a Republican, sorry.' I wasn’t a Republican, I was worse: I was a hardcore libertarian. I’m not a Bill Maher libertarian. That’s faux-libertarianism. He doesn’t know what it is. I like him, and he’s a nice guy, but seriously, that’s not libertarianism. The other thing I’ve found is that a lot of liberals in Hollywood are faux-liberals, and a lot of Republicans in Hollywood are faux-conservatives. When I was a young guy, I was finding myself not quite being able to see the things that were going on and buy into a political culture. I didn’t know what to do, so I finally said, 'Why don’t I go back and see what the Founding Fathers were all about, and see how that stacked up.' Well, I found them and I found libertarianism. They were pretty radical guys, and damn smart, and I just believe in that old-time stuff and think they had great ideas.

"Years later, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Cato Institute’s 20th anniversary and spend some real time with some amazing people. I met some great people there, and that cemented it for me. I felt, guess what, there is a place where I can have a conversation and not be laughed at or smirked at."

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas not just for Christians

An Atheist Celebrates Christmas - Marco den Ouden, The Jolly Libertarian:

December 16, 2015 - "I was raised in a fairly religious Christian family. We dutifully went to Sunday school each week, but after attending confirmation classes at around age 12 or 13, I declined to be confirmed.... To their credit, my parents agreed....

"It wasn't until I discovered Ayn Rand in university that my atheism became explicit. I came to understand and respect 'that religion is an early form of philosophy'. Rand says 'that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points.' But their ultimate problem is they are based on faith, not reason.

"So while disagreeing with the supernatural aspect of religion, I find much of value in religious teachings, and much to learn from....

"For myself, there is just one ritual that has great meaning. And that is Christmas. I love Christmas. Our whole family loves Christmas. Christmas means good will, family get togethers and family dinners, colorful lights, and joyful music. I love to hear Christmas music. Even the religious carols are full of joy, hope and optimism.

"Again Ayn Rand puts it much better than I can.
The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men - a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property of the Christian religion.... The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: 'Merry Christmas' - not 'Weep and Repent.' And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form - by giving presents to one's friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance....
And while many decry the 'commercialism' of Christmas, Rand finds this one of its best features. 'The gift-buying stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure.' 'One would have to be terribly depressed,' she goes on, 'to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle' (of lights, colors and decorations)....

 "For our family, Christmas has always been special. And we have traditions, rituals as it were, that we follow year in and year out. Decorating the tree (my daughter always places the tree topper), opening one gift on Christmas eve, everyone gathered around the tree on Christmas morning as I, sporting a Santa hat, hand out the gifts, the hugs and appreciation all around, the big turkey dinner, games and other fun activities, and so on....

"And we love the Christmas movies. Although we have seen them all many times, every year my wife and I watch four in particular in the weeks leading up to Christmas - Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. There are a few others we watch occasionally, but those are our favourites.

"The essence of Christmas is the greeting we often see on Christmas Cards - Peace on earth and good will towards all men! Even in wartime, combatants usually call a one day truce on Christmas Day. One wonders why, if they can stop fighting for a day at the drop of a hat, why they can't stop fighting altogether. Peace on earth. This is, as I have written in a previous blog, the very essence of libertarian philosophy. Another reason Christmas is a special time."

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

The crimes of Santa Claus

Will the Feds Bust Santa Claus? | Libertarian Party blog - George Getz:

December 25, 2008 - "When Santa Claus comes to town this week, he'd better watch out – because the federal government may be making a list of his crimes (and checking it twice), the Libertarian Party warned....

"Does Santa belong in the slammer? Instead of stuffing stockings, should he be making license plates?

"Yes ... if he's held to the same standards as a typical American. For example:
  • Every December 25, the illegal immigrant known as Santa Claus crosses the border into the United States without a passport. He carries concealed contraband, which he sneaks into the country in order to avoid inspection by the U.S. Customs Service. And just what's in all those brightly colored packages tied up with ribbons, anyway? The Drug Czar and Homeland Security want to know. 
  • Look at how this international fugitive gets around: Santa flies in a custom-built sleigh that hasn't been approved by the FAA. He never files a flight plan. He has no pilot's license. In the dark of night, he rides the skies with just a tiny bioluminescent red light to guide him – a clear violation of traffic safety regulations. 
  • Pulling Santa's sleigh: Eight tiny reindeer, a federally protected species being put to hard labor. None of these reindeer have their required shots, and Santa's never bothered to get these genetically-engineered animals registered and licensed. It's no wonder: He keeps them penned outside his workplace in a clear violation of zoning laws. 
  • But Crooked Claus the Conniving Capitalist harms more than just animals – he's hurting hard-working American laborers, too. Isn't Santa's Workshop really Santa's Sweatshop, where his non-union employees don't make minimum wage and get no holiday pay? Add the fact that OSHA has never inspected the place, and you have a Third-World elf-exploitation operation that only Kathy Lee Gifford could love. 
  • No wonder Santa is able to maintain his monopoly over the toy distribution industry: He's cornered the Christmas gift market. Santa dares to give away his products for free in a sinister attempt to crush all competition – just like Microsoft's Internet Explorer.... 
"It might be tough sledding for Jolly St. Nick this Christmas if the government decides to prosecute him."

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Medical marijuana legalized in Colombia

New regulations make medical marijuana fully legal in Colombia | The City Paper Bogotá:

December 22, 2015 - "Medical marijuana emerged from a legal gray area in Colombia on Tuesday, as President Juan Manuel Santos signed a new law regulating its production.

"'Today, Colombia took an important step into the vanguard of the fight against sicknesses,” said Santos in a statement. 'We want to facilitate the research and production of medications created from cannabis, just as we do with any natural element that can provide relief from sickness and pain,” he explained.

"Santos also clarified that the new regulations do not mark a shift in the country’s stance on drug controls or in the fight against drug trafficking.

"Technically, medical marijuana is already legal in Colombia, but Tuesday’s signing provides a framework to regulate its production.

"That means that companies growing cannabis, producing medicines and even exporting products made from marijuana can do so with assurance that such activities are permitted.

"It will also allow the Colombian government to monitor commercial-scale marijuana operations to ensure that they are conducting legal and legitimate businesses.

"Personal possession of marijuana is legal in Colombia as well, though law enforcement can be spotty. The law signed Tuesday refers only to medical and scientific use, however.

"Permits under the new law will be issued by the National Council on Narcotics (CNE) and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MSPS). A permit allows for the cultivation, fabrication of medicines and other medical goods, and exportation of cannabis-based products."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

KY Libertarian, Constitution parties sue for ballot status

Libertarian Party of Kentucky, and Constitution Party of Kentucky, File Lawsuit on Definition of “Party” | Ballot Access News - Richard Winger:

December 4, 2015 - "On December 4, the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky definition of a qualified party. The case is Libertarian Party of Kentucky v Grimes, e.d. 3:15cv-86.

"Kentucky is the only state in which it is impossible for a party to ever be ballot-qualified until it polls a particular share of the vote for President. The law requires 2% for President. No other index of support matters. Kentucky is one of only five states in which the only ballot-qualified parties since November 2000 have been the Democratic and Republican Parties. The others are New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.... In the last 100 years, only four parties have met the Kentucky 2% presidential vote test....

"History shows that voters are far more likely to support a party, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, for office other than President. The Libertarian Party of Kentucky polled 3.08% for U.S. Senate in 2014, but that doesn’t count. Also it has almost 5,000 registered members, but that doesn’t count either."

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Snowden keynote speaker at NH Liberty Forum

Edward Snowden To Appear At New Hampshire Convention: NSA Whistleblower To Be Keynote Speaker Via Video Link - Aaron Homer, Inquisitr:

December 21, 2015 - "Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who exposed the government’s bulk phone data collection and other surveillance practices, will be the keynote speaker at a New Hampshire convention of libertarians, The Valley News is reporting.

"Snowden will speak to the New Hampshire Liberty Forum via a video conference from Russia, where he’s been granted political asylum while he faces federal charges here in the United States. The New Hampshire Liberty Forum is an annual conference held in Manchester, New Hampshire (population: 109,000). The 2016 Liberty Forum will take place February 18-21."

"The Liberty Forum is sponsored by the Free State Project, a political advocacy group with the stated goal of moving 20,000 libertarians – or, as the Free State Project describes their audience, 'liberty lovers' – to New Hampshire. Once there, the 'liberty lovers' can affect change through local activism and, if they chose, through voting. The movement is not officially associated with the Libertarian Party, although the Free State Project is founded on libertarian ideals, such as smaller government and individual rights....

"[T]he Free State Project has been courting Snowden for a convention appearance for some time, but wasn’t able to make it happen until this year. They got help from other privacy activists, including Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower.

"Edward Snowden became a household name in June 2013, when the self-described “computer wizard,” at the time working for National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor Booz Hamilton, illegally copied and then released tens of thousands of pages of classified information to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who then released them to the public.

"Snowden’s files revealed surveillance systems within both the United States (via the NSA) and Europe (via the British government’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)) that, among other activities, collected bulk so-called “metadata” on Americans’ telephone communications records, as well as some of their internet activities. Those data collection programs were carried out without warrants, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

"After releasing his files, Snowden was charged with espionage, theft of government property, and similar charges, He fled the country, eventually making his way to Moscow, where he was granted asylum and where he remains to this day....

"Snowden will host a 30-minute presentation and Q & A session at the Liberty Forum convention."

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Documents shed new light on origin of ISIS

ISIS, Al Qaeda And The CIA: The Documented Connection | Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden:

December 17, 2015 - "The Middle East is fertile ground for conspiracy theories, and one growing to towering heights these days says the US created the Islamic State.  But while the US may well have aided ISIS in its formative days with covert supplies of weapons and CIA funding (directly or indirectly, via Turkey leading political families) the one nation most responsible for iteration after iteration of 'terrorist organizations' is Saudi Arabia which 'created' not only the Islamic State, but al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and many other Sunni Jihadist groups.

"The US has long been aware of this, of course, and it has provided material support to some of them in the distant past, for example to the Taliban in the war against Russia. But the more reasonable among us have questioned recent claims that the US intentionally created the Islamic State, a group of the same lineage as the Saudi terrorists responsible for 9/11....

"Thanks to the resurrection of 'J Pierpont Morgan', these doubts and questions are no longer reasonable.... Yesterday ['Morgan'] tweeted three public source documents that conclusively show a Senior CIA Spy - a major figure in operations from South America to the Middle East - is lobbying the US Government to destroy Iraq and formally create an independent Sunnistan on behalf of a Sunni terrorist.

"That terrorist joined the Iraq insurgency in 2004 under the Al-Qaeda Iraq banner, and was given hundreds of millions of dollars by the CIA and CENTCOM to defect, joining the US-led coalition in the now famous 'Surge.' Known as H.E. Shaykh Abdalrazzaq Hatem al-Sulayman, this self-described prince is the head of a 4 million strong (mostly Sunni) tribe in Anbar, and lived the high life on US taxpayer money - that is until Obama declared AQ and AQI dead, bolted from Iraq and pivoted toward Asia....

"His Eminence [then] created an insurgency called The Anbar Tribes Revolutionary Council in 2013, and solicited funds from Sunni Monarchs and individuals throughout the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council]. The goal: destroy Baghdad and restore the Sunni to power in Iraq. His allies: the Ba’ath and ISIS.

"In late 2014 Sulayman connected with Jonathan Greenhill, 'former' Senior Operations Officer at the CIA who set up shop in DC as a lobbyist. Makes sense. CIA Spy since the early 1980s, probably living oversees under non-official-cover, comes home to lobby Congress. Anyway, Mr. Greenhill incorporated the Greenhill Group, and Sulayman retained him....

"[O]ne of the most important spies in the CIA, one with a major role in the Near East (probably Iraq), definitely was retained as a lobbyist by Sulayman. And Sulayman retained him to 'create an autonomous Sunni region in Iraq or an independent Sunni State.' In other words, destroy Iraq by formally creating and recognizing Sunni-Jihadi-stan. Or a safe-zone for Sunni terrorists. Or what it actually is, a caliphate."

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

GOP sells out on omnibus spending bill

Articles: RIP Republican Party - Brian C. Joondeph, The American Thinker:

December 19, 2015 - "If there was any question about the relevance of the Republican Party, this week’s budget deal removes all doubt. The Republican Party might as well close up shop and merge with the Democrats. Not as a merger of equals, but more of a capitulation, a surrender, a sellout. There is no need for two parties in Washington DC as only one party is relevant in terms of advancing an agenda. The irony is that the agenda driving party is in the minority and despite losing badly in two midterm elections, the Democrats are still running Congress.

"Another 2000-plus page bill passed by Congress with little transparency or discussion. You mean ObamaCare? No: Paul Ryan’s $1.1 trillion spending bill, his first major legislative 'achievement' as House Speaker.

"The deal suspends the debt limit until 2017, well after the presidential election, effectively taking unsustainable debt off the table as a campaign issue. Obama doubled the national debt? So what? Republicans are helping him. Don’t worry though, the spending cuts will take place in 2025....

"What has this latest budget deal done to thwart the Obama agenda? Very little. The omnibus bill fully funds Obama’s executive amnesty program. Sanctuary cities are funded.... The student and fiancée visa programs are funded, along with green card and other refugee programs.... Illegal aliens coming across the southern border? Ryan’s bill funds their resettlement.... Illegals even have their tax credits funded by Ryan’s bill.... Any funds allocated to complete the southern border fence promised in 2006? No. Somehow Congress ran out of money for that. But not for a tall security fence around Paul Ryan’s own home....

"Planned Parenthood is fully funded.... No funding cuts to ObamaCare either, kicking down the road some of the onerous ObamaCare taxes. Even Obama’s global warming climate change bill receives funding without any restriction.

"Instead of opposition to the Obama/Democrat agenda, Republicans have not only surrendered, but are also advancing this agenda.... Impeachment is off the table. So is Republicans' 'power of the purse' because the leadership has ruled out any government shutdown....

"Republican establishment types wonder why Donald Trump is leading in the polls.... The smart set at Fox News can’t understand why 'we the people' aren’t flocking to Jeb or Marco, and instead supporting racist/fascist Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

"These two may be the last and only hope of maintaining a two-party system. If the establishment manages to destroy Trump and Cruz, then it’s lights out for the Republican party. The base will stay home and the Founding Fathers will roll over in their graves. As for any future support for the GOP, my answer be a Mrs. Clinton refrain, 'What difference does it make?' The Republican Party will be six feet under and we will have one-party rule in Washington, DC."

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Friday, December 18, 2015

U.S. LP reaching out to Muslim Republicans

Inside the Beltway: Libertarian Party woos Muslim Republicans - Washington Times - Jennifer Harper:

December 15, 2015 - "The Libertarian Party is out to win over some new fans, fueled by Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that Muslims be temporarily banned from immigrating to the U.S.

"'Republicans like to talk a good game about our Constitution, but clearly, many are making an exception when it comes to religious liberty,' Libertarian National Committee Chairman Nicholas Sarwark said in an open letter to Muslims who identify as Republicans. 'If you have not previously considered the Libertarian Party, I encourage you to do so now. We are an extremely diverse group of people who are passionate about liberty — about all rights, of all people, all the time.'

"Mr. Sarwark said libertarians will stand by Muslims, concluding, 'Friend, if you find that the Republican Party continues to disparage you, please consider a home in the Libertarian Party where we respect all rights, of all people, all the time'....

"While Muslim voters may be a small portion of the American population, they are concentrated in some of the states that could play a decisive role in 2016, including Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Those states can be decided by razor-thin margins. 'At that point, every constituency matters,' noted reporter Clark Mindock in a recent International Business Times analysis."

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

1.5M Muslims back fatwa against ISIS terrorism

70,000 clerics issue fatwa against terrorism, 15 lakh Muslims support it - Times of India - Priyangi Agwaral:

December 9, 2015 - "On the last day of Urs-e-Razvi of Dargah Aala Hazrat [the annual memorial festival for Ahmed Raza Khan (1856-1921), held at his tomb / shrine in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India - ed.],  nearly 70,000 clerics came together and passed a fatwa against terrorist organizations, including IS, Taliban and al-Qaida. These are 'not Islamic organizations,' the clerics said to a sea of followers, adding that the members of these outfits were 'not Muslims'. Around 15 lakh [1.5 million - ed.] followers who visited the Urs put their signatures to a document circulated at the Urs, protesting terrorist strikes.

"Mufti Mohammed Saleem Noori, one of the clerics who passed the fatwa told TOI on Tuesday, 'From Sunday onwards, when the annual Urs began, members of Dargah Aala Hazrat have been distributing forms among followers seeking signatures to show that those signing stand against terrorism. Nearly 15 lakh Muslims have recorded their protest. Around 70,000 clerics from across the world, who were part of the event, passed the fatwa'....

"Hazrat Subhan Raza Khan, chairperson of the influential Dargah Aala Hazrat, said that following the Paris attacks, it was decided that a fatwa should be passed at the Urs this year, so the message went out loud and clear that the Muslim community condemns terrorism.

"'It is written in the Quran that killing one innocent person is equivalent to killing all humanity,' said Mohammed Ehsan Raza Khan, Sajjadanasheen (hereditary head) of [Khan's] shrine.

"Mohammad Farogh-ul Quadri, secretary-general, World Islamic Mission, UK, said, 'I condemn the barbaric terrorist attack in Paris on innocent civilians and call for an international ban on the radical extremist IS and its counterparts with different names across the world'....

"Clerics also opposed the move by France and other countries to bomb Syria, saying innocent people, including women and children, have died in such strikes. They said the powerful western nations should focus on stopping terrorists, but not at the cost of taking the lives of innocent people.

"Dargah Aala Hazrat has been campaigning against terrorism for the last one year. On Eid this year, clerics here announced that if a man involved in terrorism is killed, 'namaz-e-janaza' would not be read during his funeral services. This prayer is an important part of the last rites in Islam."

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Paul confronts warmongering in 5th GOP debate

How Rand Paul Proved His Usefulness | New Republic - Jamil Smith:

"While the other Republicans spent debate night measuring their manhood, the senator from Kentucky provided the lone voice of reason."

December 16, 2015 - "Rand Paul should not have been on the Las Vegas stage Tuesday night for the fifth Republican presidential debate.... But  ... it is inarguable the senator from Kentucky emerged as a key figure during the debate....

"Nearly all the GOP candidates and CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer discussed on Tuesday night was the kind of terrorism associated with radicals espousing Islam. But that gave Paul a chance to shine during the discussions about military force and surveillance — which, not coincidentally, are virtually the only policy areas where he remains an actual libertarian. Paul stood out in a debate lacking in viable ideas for avoiding another endless cycle of war and the continued infringement of personal liberty.

"After warning that regime change in Syria would only exacerbate the challenge presented by ISIS, Paul confronted the reckless and alarming suggestions Republican frontrunner Donald Trump made earlier in the debate that bombing the families of terrorists and closing parts of the Internet might be necessary to alleviate the terrorist threat. 'That entails getting rid of the First Amendment, okay? No small feat,' Paul said. 'If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America.'

"He called out [Marco] Rubio for supporting increased surveillance by law enforcement — an issue that Rubio was using to paint Ted Cruz as insufficiently tough on terror. But the exchange Paul had with fellow also-ran candidate Chris Christie about Russian planes was a pivotal moment in the debate....

"In an October interview with The Washington Post, Paul had deemed the idea of a no-fly zone over Syria a terrible one.... On Tuesday night, Blitzer asked Christie whether he would shoot down Russian aircraft if one or more encroached over such a no-fly zone. 'Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means'.... Christie added, ... 'Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now'....

"'Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate,' Paul said, earning applause. 'My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, "Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes." Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with, the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.' Paul added that Hillary Clinton also supports a Syria no-fly zone — she called for one in October — but he circled back to criticizing the kind of leadership that GOP candidates like Christie are demonstrating during this long job interview process.

"'We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war,' Paul said, before dropping a zinger about the Bridgegate scandal. 'I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends.' Christie shrugged off the dis, but the damage was done.

"I don’t want Rand Paul anywhere near the White House, except perhaps to visit the next Democratic president.... But his presence in the race is serving a key purpose.... Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Christie in particular, have a politics fed by the tough-guy act that their passionate audiences crave, without betraying any understanding of the consequences of unfettered warmongering.... Trump and others in the field are proving that you just need to talk bold to win conservative hearts; it’s irrelevant how many people you talk about casually spying on or murdering to pacify overblown fears of terrorist attacks here in the United States.

"Polling as low as he is, Paul may not prove to be an antidote to all this talk. But it was still heartening to see him — to see someone — inject some sensibility into a debate that seemed more a measurement of manhood than of presidential qualifications."

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New York City's unscientific war on salt

Salt is New York City’s new public-health enemy - MarketWatch - Marie LaMagna:

December 2, 2015 - "Starting on Dec. 1, diners in New York City are seeing a new symbol on menus ... a salt shaker inside a black triangle — next to individual menu items that contain more than the total daily recommended limit of sodium, which is 2,300 milligrams, or about one teaspoon.

"The new labeling applies to restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide and was passed unanimously by the New York City Board of Health on Sept. 9. About 10% of menu items in these restaurants will require the salt-shaker labeling, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Restaurants that don’t comply with the new policy will start to be penalized starting March 1, 2016.

"Jim O’Hara, the director of health-promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based nonprofit and consumer advocacy group, said he is hopeful the labeling will lead to a reduced-sodium diet for those purchasing food in New York. 'We’re encouraging health departments from Boston to San Francisco and everywhere in between to follow New York City’s lead, he said."

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It's Time to End the War on Salt - Scientific American - Melinda Wenner Moyer:

July 8. 2011 - "For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt.... But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain?...

"[A] meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine — an excellent measure of prior consumption — the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous....

"Intersalt, a large study published in 1988, compared sodium intake with blood pressure in subjects from 52 international research centers and found no relationship between sodium intake and the prevalence of hypertension. In fact, the population that ate the most salt, about 14 grams a day, had a lower median blood pressure than the population that ate the least, about 7.2 grams a day. In 2004 the Cochrane Collaboration, an international, independent, not-for-profit health care research organization funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published a review of 11 salt-reduction trials....  The review concluded that 'intensive interventions, unsuited to primary care or population prevention programs, provide only minimal reductions in blood pressure during long-term trials.' A 2003 Cochrane review of 57 shorter-term trials similarly concluded that 'there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake.'

"Studies that have explored the direct relationship between salt and heart disease have not fared much better. Among them, a 2006 American Journal of Medicine study compared the reported daily sodium intakes of 78 million Americans to their risk of dying from heart disease over the course of 14 years. It found that the more sodium people ate, the less likely they were to die from heart disease. And a 2007 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology followed 1,500 older people for five years and found no association between urinary sodium levels and the risk of coronary vascular disease or death. For every study that suggests that salt is unhealthy, another does not."

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Monday, December 14, 2015

DMR poll gives Ted Cruz 10-point lead in Iowa

'Big shakeup' in Iowa Poll: Cruz soars to lead - Jennifer Jacobs, Des Moines Register:

December 14, 2015 - "Seven weeks from the caucuses, Ted Cruz ... has made a rapid ascent into the lead in the GOP presidential race here, with a 21 percentage-point leap that smashes records for upsurges in recent Iowa caucuses history.

"Donald Trump, now 10 points below Cruz, was in a pique about not being the front-runner even before the Iowa Poll results were announced Saturday evening. He wasted no time in tearing into Cruz — and the poll — during an Iowa stop Friday night.

"Ben Carson, another 'Washington outsider' candidate, has plunged 15 points from his perch at the front of the pack in October. He's now in third place.

 "'Big shakeup,' said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll. 'This is a sudden move into a commanding position for Cruz.'

"Cruz, a Texas U.S. senator famous for defying party leaders and using government shutdown tactics to hold up funding for the Obamacare health care law and abortion provider Planned Parenthood, was the favorite of 10 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in the last Iowa Poll in October. He's now at 31 percent....

"Carson's zenith was 28 percent in the poll two months ago. Trump's highest support was 23 percent back in August, when he led the field by 5 points.

"And there are signs Cruz may not have peaked in Iowa yet. Another 20 percent of likely caucusgoers say he's their current second choice for president. Cruz hits 51 percent support when first- and second-choice interest is combined, again leading the field.

"With Cruz's popularity and his debate proficiency, 'it's certainly possible that he could win Iowa big — very big,' said Frank Luntz, a Nevada-based GOP focus group guru who follows the Iowa race closely."

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

The racist roots of the progressive movement

Progressive and Racist. Woodrow Wilson Wasn't Alone. - Bloomberg View - Virginia Postrel:

December 8, 2015 - "Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era, by Thomas C. Leonard, reveals the largely forgotten intellectual origins of many current controversies, including disputes over tightening voter identification laws, raising the minimum wage and restricting immigration....

"Early 20th-century progressives transformed American institutions, and the movement’s premises continue to inform thinking and policy across the political spectrum. 'It was the progressives who fashioned the new sciences of society, founded the modern American university, invented the think tank, and created the American administrative state, institutions still defined by the progressive values that formed and instructed them,' writes Leonard, a research scholar at Princeton’s Council of the Humanities.

"The progressives believed, first and foremost, in the importance of science and scientific experts in guiding the economy, government, and society. Against the selfishness, disorder, corruption, ignorance, conflict and wastefulness of free markets or mass democracy, they advanced the ideal of disinterested, public-spirited social control by well-educated elites. The progressives were technocrats who, Leonard observes, 'agreed that expert public administrators do not merely serve the common good, they also identify the common good.' Schools of public administration, including the one that since 1948 has borne Woodrow Wilson’s name, still enshrine that conviction....

"In the early 20th century, the progressive definition of the common good was thoroughly infused with scientific racism.... Leonard argues [that] eugenics and scientific racism fit particularly well with progressive thought: 'Eugenics was anti-individualistic; it promised efficiency; it required expertise, and it was founded on the authority of science.' Equally important, 'biological ideas,' Leonard writes, gave progressive reformers 'a conceptual scheme capable of accommodating the great contradiction at the heart of Progressive Era reform -- its view of the poor as victims deserving state uplift and as threats requiring state restraint.' They could feel sorry for impoverished Americans while trying to restrict their influence and limit their numbers.

"Take political participation. Nowadays, people argue about whether stricter voter identification laws are good-government protections against fraud or discriminatory attempts to deter minority and low-income voters. A century ago, leading progressives happily embraced both goals. 'Fewer voters among the lower classes was not a cost, it was a benefit of reform,' Leonard writes. After progressive reforms, including Jim Crow restrictions sold in part as anti-corruption measures, voter participation plummeted. In New York State, turnout dropped from 88 percent in 1900 to 55 percent in 1920, while national turnout fell from 80 percent in 1896 to 50 percent in 1924.

"Advocates similarly didn’t deny that imposing a minimum wage might throw some people out of work. That wasn’t a bug; it was a feature -- a way to deter undesirable workers and keep them out of the marketplace and ideally out of the country. Progressives feared that, faced with competition from blacks, Jews, Chinese, or other immigrants, native-stock workingmen would try to keep up living standards by having fewer kids and sending their wives to work. Voilà: 'race suicide.' Better to let a minimum wage identify inferior workers, who might be shunted into institutions and sterilized, thereby improving the breed in future generations....

"Although they generally assumed black inferiority, progressives outside the South didn’t worry much about the 'Negro question.' They were instead obsessed with the racial, economic, and social threats posed by immigrants.... So restricting immigration was as central to the progressive agenda as regulating railroads. Indeed, in his five-volume History of the American People, Wilson lumped together in one long paragraph the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1887 Interstate Commerce Act as 'the first fruits of radical economic changes and the rapid developments of trade, industry, and transportation' -- equal harbingers of the modern administrative state. With a literacy test and ban on most other Asian immigrants enacted in 1917 and national quotas established in 1924, the progressives bequeathed to America the concept of illegal immigration."

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rand Paul's Iowa problem: Ted Cruz

Rand Paul's Problem: Ted Cruz | National Review Online - Tim Alberta:

December 5, 2015 - "Cruz has been poaching Paul’s libertarian supporters since last January, when the Texas senator touched down in Iowa for a forum organized by Representative Steve King. The first thing Cruz did on that trip — before visiting with King or any of the state’s evangelical leaders — was stop at the Holiday Inn by the airport for a private roundtable discussion with Iowa’s 'liberty' leaders. In the eleven months since, Cruz has made significant inroads with this constituency — the one Ron Paul created, and Rand Paul had counted on as the backbone of his campaign.

"It’s an effort even longer in the making for Cruz. Over the last two years, the fiery Texan has followed Paul’s political lead on a number of key votes — from the 2013 budget showdown to the NSA-reforming USA Freedom Act and the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year — in an effort to win over his libertarian fans. As the broader GOP electorate has soured on Paul-style non-interventionism over the same period, Cruz has charted a 'third way' on foreign policy, positioning himself in between Paul and the more traditionally hawkish Marco Rubio in an effort to court both camps’ voters. That’s hurt Paul, whose libertarian base of support was never the largest segment of the primary electorate to begin with....

"Paul has struggled to reconstruct his father’s base in Iowa — and therefore has struggled to remain viable in the run-up to the state’s Feb. 1 caucuses. Ron Paul had no opposition for the votes of libertarian-leaning Republicans in 2012, and wound up winning 21 percent of the overall caucus vote. His son, however, facing a field twice as large — and direct competition from Cruz — has been mired in the single digits for five months. He currently registers at 3 percent support in Real Clear Politics’s polling average, and hasn’t earned more than 6 percent in any poll since July.

"Paul dismissed the threat from Cruz in a meeting with reporters ... saying that nine of the ten state central committee members who supported his father are backing him in 2016. 'We still think the vast majority of the liberty vote is coming to us,' he said.

"But unaffiliated Republicans around the state say otherwise. The emerging consensus is that while Paul still probably has the support of most liberty-minded voters, Cruz has peeled away enough of them — from a pool that wasn’t very large in the first place — to make Paul a non-factor in the race....

"Paul was never going to win Iowa, or the GOP nomination, unless he could grow his father’s base of support, which hasn’t happened. Instead he finds himself bleeding family loyalists to Cruz, and struggling to stay relevant because of it."

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Court strikes down Nova Scotia's cyberbully law

Rehtaeh Parsons-inspired anti-cyberbullying law struck down | Canada | News | Toronto Sun - Canadian Press:

December 11, 2015 - "A judge struck down a Nova Scotia law inspired by the death of Rehtaeh Parsons on constitutional grounds Friday, ruling it violates Charter rights to freedom of expression and liberty.

"Justice Glen McDougall of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia also declined a Crown request to suspend his decision for 12 months to allow the legislature time to amend the law.

"In his decision, McDougall said striking down 'offending provisions' of the law wasn't practical either because they are 'inextricably connected' to the act's definition of cyberbullying.

"'The act must be struck down in its entirety,' McDougall said....

"Lawyer David Fraser challenged the Cyber-safety Act on constitutional grounds as part of a case involving client Robert Snell, who was placed under a cyber safety protection order sought by his former business partner last December....

"Giles Crouch was granted an order under the act after he told a justice of the peace that Snell began a 'smear campaign' against him on social media.... The protection order prohibited Snell from cyberbullying or communicating with or about Crouch. It also ordered Snell to remove any online comments about Crouch.

"McDougall found Snell had engaged in cyberbullying as defined in the act, and he concluded the behaviour was likely to continue. However, his decision to strike down the law voids the protection order.

"Under the act, cyberbullying is defined as 'electronic communication ... that is intended or ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation'....

"'By casting the net too broadly, and failing to require proof of intent or harm, or to delineate any defences, the act limits the right to liberty in a way that has no connection with the mischief it seeks to address,' the ruling says.

"The judge goes on to say the protection order procedure is unfair because it fails to provide notice of a hearing to respondents, even if their identity is known or easily determined."

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

America's Liberty invests $500K in Iowa & NH

Rand Paul super PAC launches ad buy ahead of Iowa, N.H. - POLITICO - Alex Isenstadt:

November 25, 2015 - "A Rand Paul super PAC, hoping to give the struggling candidate a burst of momentum, is launching what it describes as its opening offensive ahead of the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests.

"The group, America’s Liberty PAC, is purchasing $500,000 in radio airtime in order to boost the Kentucky senator. America’s Liberty PAC will run five separate flights of advertisements — each flight lasts about 10 days....

"The first flight, the group says, will consist of two ads. One, focusing on Paul’s faith, will air on Christian-focused stations. Religious voters are expected to play an especially central role in Iowa.

"Another, which highlights Paul’s plan to combat the Islamic State, will air on news, sports, country and other stations. 'In the face of deadly attacks by ISIS, who will keep us safe? While politicians in both parties push liberal immigration policies that put us at risk, Paul is looking to strengthen our security,' says the ad....

"In total, America’s Liberty PAC plans to produce 10 radio ads to air over the five flights. The group’s strategists say the radio commercials are the “first salvo” in a final march to the Iowa and New Hampshire contests. It also plans to roll out TV ads, direct mail and a digital program in the coming weeks.

"Paul has been trailing in national and early state surveys. But backers argue that the libertarian approach that propelled him to national prominence will ultimately provide dividends. The senator is aggressively wooing college-age voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who flocked to his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, in the 2012 Republican primary."

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Libertarian enters North Carolina Senate race

Libertarian joins race for Senate seat here - Mooresville Tribune: Local News:

December 9, 2015 - "Nic Haag of Denver, an information security professional and Marine Corps combat veteran, has filed to run as a Libertarian candidate for the North Carolina Senate District 44 seat.

"Haag joins a race that includes two Republicans – incumbent David Curtis and challenger Chris Carney – who will square off in a March 15 GOP primary. If no additional Libertarians file for office, Haag will be on the November ballot....

"Haag said his campaign will focus on issues 'regarding individual liberties, restoring the rights of the people in the era of ever-expanding government. (My) guiding principle in regards to good government has always been: The government is best, that which governs the least'....

"Haag said he has 'always been against government where [it] does not belong,' hence his positions on 'abolishing the ABC spirits monopoly. NC citizens should be allowed to buy spirits in a competitive free market, where selection is greater and prices are cheaper,' he said.

"Haag also advocates the legalization of marijuana in North Carolina and “using the tax revenue to abolish property taxes on vehicles and reduce income tax rates'....  Haag said he is 'confident a state with such deep roots in the tobacco industry will be more than welcoming to a cash crop that will bring about long-term economic stability.'

"Haag spent more than 10 years in the Marines and works as a technical advisor for a venture capital firm. He said he supports the idea 'that entrepreneurial spirit is among the most important things for a government to nurture. This is done by ensuring people are free from burdensome regulations, economic protectionism, and bureaucratic meddling.'"

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pussy Riot headlining 2016 Students for Liberty conference

Pussy Riot to Headline the World's Largest Libertarian Conference - Belén Marty, Pan-Am Post:

December 8, 2015 - "Anti-authoritarian punk band Pussy Riot will headline the 9th International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC16), to be held in Washington, DC, on February 26-28, 2016, the organization announced on November 30.

"The event, which gathers libertarian university students from across the world, will also feature key speakers such as US political satirist and journalist “P. J.” O’Rourke, Vietnamese rapper Nah, and North Korean defector and human-rights activist Yeonmi Park.

"Students For Liberty (SFL) is the world’s largest pro-­liberty student organization, with over 1,500 affiliated groups worldwide. Their annual conference is the largest annual libertarian event, but it’s open to the public, students, and non-students alike.

"Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, member of the Russian band and a political activist, will open the conference. In February 2012, Russian police famously arrested her after performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. She was released after spending two years in jail.

"Then, only two months after her release, 'Tolokonnikova was famously attacked with whips by Cossack militia members at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi,' the ISFLC16 website states.....

"SFL President Alexander McCobin tells the PanAm Post regarding Pussy Riot’s confirmation: 'Too often, activists are pigeonholed as "conservative" or "liberal," but the truth is that the fight for liberty transcends these tired labels. The fact that 2,000 libertarian students can stand in solidarity with Pussy Riot at ISFLC16 shows the true cosmopolitan nature of the liberty movement.'

"'Disillusioned by the two-party system,' McCobin says, 'tens of thousands of students have become involved with Students For Liberty since our founding in 2008 in search of an alternative to the empty rhetoric and broken promises of our elected officials.'

"McCobin cites a Harvard University study that revealed that 41 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds identify as independents, as opposed to Republicans (24 percent) and Democrats (33 percent).

"'Our generation is not easily categorized according to the historical political mold. We do not rally around a single political party, strategy of social change, or philosophical stereotype,” he argues."

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Quebec man fined $1.30 for marijuana possession

Gatineau judge calls Canada's marijuana laws "antiquated and ridiculous" - Cantech Letter - Terry Dawes:

November 30, 2015 - "A judge in Gatineau, Quebec has imposed a fine of $1.30, 'one dollar fine and 30 cents surcharge”, to an Outaouais man arrested for possession of 30 pot plants, adding that he is tired of having to deal with Canada’s 'antiquated and ridiculous' marijuana laws.

"The prosecution had demanded a sentence of 90 days detention and a $250 fine for the accused, reports La Presse....  The accused was Mario Larouche, a 46-year-old man suffering from the physical aftereffects of a road accident, [who] had tried unsuccessfully in the past to apply for a medical marijuana prescription.

"The judge appeared exasperated not only at having his and the court’s time wasted, but also decided to comment on the overall hypocrisy inherent in a system that’s simultaneously tough on crime and blind to the fact of widespread use.

"'If the accused had met with a responsible doctor, he would probably now have his prescription,' said Judge Chevalier. 'He wouldn’t be in front of this tribunal today. The gentleman is caught up in a completely mixed up system that does not allow access to a natural medicine going back centuries, or millennia.'

"Picking up on signals sent by the Liberal government, which intends to legalize marijuana and tax the proceeds, Judge Chevalier continued, 'And I think that society is becoming less naive on this subject, or at least the politicians are. We’ve got one now with a responsible attitude who isn’t afraid to go in that direction,' presumably referring to Prime Minister Trudeau....

"'We’re living in a society where we can accuse people of consumption and possession of marijuana, even though at least half of the population has already done it themselves,' said Chevalier. 'These laws are antiquated and ridiculous. When we’re dealing with laws that dictate that half of Canada should have a criminal record…'

"The judge let the remainder of that phrase hang in the air before continuing, '... and probably most crown and defense attorneys, and maybe judges, but I won’t comment on that.'"

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Star Wars libertarian special (video)

The Star Wars Libertarian Special -

December 4, 2015 - "Just in time for the holidays, The Star Wars Libertarian Special features Senate filibusters, border patrol stops, eminent domain, a guest appearance by Edward Snowden, and rarely seen footage from Chewbacca's galaxy-trotting documentary series about free-market economics.

"About 3 minutes.

"Written by Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg, and Andrew Heaton. Featuring Andrew Heaton and Austin Bragg. Produced by Austin Bragg and Meredith Bragg. Edited by Austin Bragg."

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

355 U.S. mass shootings in 2015; give or take 351

How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really? - The New York Times - Mark Follman:

December 3, 2015 - "On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that 'The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year.' Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics. Grim details from the church in Charleston, a college classroom in Oregon and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado are still fresh, but you could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.

"At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four 'mass shootings' this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

"What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for 'mass shooting.' Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

"While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

"For at least the past decade, the F.B.I. regarded a mass shooting as a single attack in which four or more victims were killed.... When we began compiling our database in 2012, we used that criteria of four or more killed in public attacks, but excluded mass murders that stemmed from robbery, gang violence or domestic abuse in private homes. Our goal with this relatively narrow set of parameters was to better understand the seemingly indiscriminate attacks that have increased in recent years, whether in movie theaters, elementary schools or office parks.

"The statistics now being highlighted in the news come primarily from, a website built by members of a Reddit forum supporting gun control called GunsAreCool. That site aggregates news stories about shooting incidents — of any kind — in which four or more people are reported to have been either injured or killed....

"The founder of the 'shooting tracker' project, who currently goes by the handle 'Billy Speed,' told me it was his choice: 'Three years ago I decided, all by myself, to change the United States’ definition of mass shooting.' It’s also not clear how many of those stories — many of them from local outlets, including scant detail — are accurate."

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Canadian government moves to legalize marijuana

Canada’s Health Minister Studying Marijuana Legalization Models | Marijuana - Tom Angell:

November 28, 2015 - "Canada’s brand new top health official is actively looking into the best way for the country to legalize marijuana.

"Minister of Health Jane Philpott, who assumed office a little more than three weeks ago, told the CBC that government scientists are already briefing her on possible legal regulations for cannabis.

"'The world is going to be looking to Canada to make sure we do the job well,' she said.

"Even though the government doesn’t yet know all the details of how it wants to regulate marijuana, Philpott didn’t hesitate to harshly criticize the current prohibition model....

"The health minister told CBC that in order to craft the best possible regulations for cannabis, the government will convene a task force of experts who can apply prior experience with other legal products like tobacco.

"Earlier this month, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directed Philpott and two other cabinet officials, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness and the minister of justice, to begin working together to craft a plan to legally regulate marijuana.

"Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which won a strong majority in last month’s federal elections, included support for legalization in its official platform. During the campaign, Trudeau pledged to begin work on ending prohibition 'right away' if elected....

"Philpott is confident her department will have the public support it needs to craft and implement an effective marijuana policy. 'Most thoughtful Canadians recognize that the current system isn’t working and they’re looking to us to make sure we make a wise decision,' she said."

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Scottish Libertarian Party launched

New Scottish Libertarian Party set to launch and call for independence | Politics | The National:

December 1, 2015 - "A fresh voice from the centre right will be added to the Yes movement when a new pro-independence political party formally launches later this week.

"The Scottish Libertarian Party (SLP) is led by businessman Alan Finlay and is planning to field candidates in all eight regions at next year’s Holyrood elections.

"As well as being pro-Scottish independence, the party has an agenda supporting further reform of the welfare state, low taxation and public spending and low regulation for businesses. It is also strongly in favour of an EU exit.... Other key policies include the decriminalisation of the use of cannabis, lifting legal restrictions on sex workers and combating the surveillance of individuals by the authorities.

"The party is holding a public launch event on Thursday evening at Strathclyde University when sex worker Charlotte Rose will put the case for decriminalising the sex industry and Dr Stephen Davies from the Institute of Economic Affairs will also speak.

"David Craig Ballantine, a Glasgow-based stockbroker and the party’s director of communications, said the SLP stands for the empowerment of the individual and is opposed to a large, centralising state. He denied the party was on the right of the political spectrum....

"'We are not a right-wing party, we cover the full shade of the political spectrum. We do believe in a small state, but we also believe in campaigning for changes in the law on social issues. We are in favour of decriminalising cannabis use, for instance, and are strongly in favour of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.'

"He added: 'The SLP is pro-independence, though we would advocate a very different independence to the pro-EU pseudo independence advocated by the SNP. The current welfare state doesn’t work. Since the early part of the 20th century, the creep of the state has intruded into the lives of those most vulnerable more than any other group....

"'The SLP propose to help the working poor by getting the state out of their lives, by eliminating income tax for the lowest paid, and improving flexibility in spending. The SLP plan to allow all local authorities to set whatever tax policy they wish and allow local authorities who have similar tax policies to combine with other local authorities and work together for tax collection and revenue policy. Local authorities will raise all their required taxation to cover their budget.'

"The party is also in favour of the reintroduction of the right-to-buy to allow those on low incomes to get on to the property ladder."

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

U.S. gov't seizes $5 billion/year with civil forfeiture

New report finds civil forfeiture laws cause growth of property seizures | - Karl Dickey:

November 10, 2015 -  "Aggressive state and federal civil forfeiture laws are fueling an unprecedented rise in property seizures nationwide, according to a new national study — and federal laws are among the nation’s worst. The study provides the most comprehensive examination of civil forfeiture laws and forfeiture statistics yet compiled.

"The federal government’s civil forfeiture scheme scores a D- in the new report, Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture, released today by the Institute for Justice [IJ].... Most state laws likewise fail to make the grade: 35 states receive a D+ or worse, demonstrating the poor state of civil forfeiture laws across the country. Only two states receive worse grades than the federal government....

"Under civil forfeiture laws, police and prosecutors can seize cash, cars, homes and other property on the mere suspicion that it is connected to criminal activity. No charges or convictions are required. And once property is seized, owners must navigate a confusing, complex and often expensive legal process to try to win it back before it is forfeited. Worst of all, most civil forfeiture laws give law enforcement agencies a powerful incentive to take property: a cut, or even all, of forfeiture proceeds. Such financial incentives, combined with weak protections for property owners, increasingly put people’s property at risk.

"Nationwide, forfeiture revenue has exploded. Since 2001, annual federal forfeiture revenue has increased from less than $500 million to more than $5 billion in 2014—a tenfold increase in just 14 years. And available data show forfeiture revenue across 14 states more than doubling from 2002 to 2013....

"State and local law enforcement can also take advantage of a controversial federal forfeiture program called equitable sharing, which enables them to circumvent their own states’ laws, which are often less lucrative, and forfeit under federal law instead — getting up to 80 percent of the proceeds back. Policing for Profit finds that DOJ equitable sharing payments to state and local law enforcement nationwide more than tripled between 2000 and 2013, jumping from $198 million to $643 million.

"Several states have adopted reforms to rein in rising property seizures, but so far, Congress has not. In just the past two years, six states and the District of Columbia have raised the legal bar for forfeitures, requiring more proof of criminal activity before people can be deprived of their property  with four of those states now requiring a criminal conviction, including New Mexico, which abolished civil forfeiture altogether. And New Mexico and D.C. now direct all forfeiture proceeds to the general fund, eliminating the perverse financial incentive to seize. Those jurisdictions have also opted out of the federal equitable sharing program, though the District’s equitable sharing reform does not take effect until 2018....

"In January, the Justice and Treasury Departments announced policy changes to the equitable sharing program purportedly intended to curb the practice. But IJ’s analysis of DOJ data shows the new policy is unlikely to reverse the upward trend. It targets a small slice of the program, the federal 'adoption' of locally seized property, and largely leaves intact joint task force and investigative seizures. Such joint operations accounted for 82 percent of DOJ equitable sharing proceeds from 2000 to 2013.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Police used as tax collectors, justice reform conference told

America's most conservative figures make case for criminal justice reform: Jarvis DeBerry |

November 6, 2015 - "You want to know why some Ferguson, Mo., residents hated their police? Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform and perhaps the most rigidly conservative man in the country, gave his opinion Friday morning (Nov. 6). Norquist, as everybody knows, hates taxes. And at a criminal justice reform conference hosted by the Charles Koch Institute, Norquist argued that humankind's antipathy for the tax collector explains the anger in that St. Louis suburb.

"As a March report from the Department of Justice revealed, city officials in Ferguson relied on tickets and fees to fund their government. Every year, officials were raising projections, that is, the amount they expected to extract from the people. And who were they expecting to bring them that money? The police.

"'We've turned these guys into tax collectors then we wonder why we hate them," Norquist said. 'Because we haven't read history. Take them out of the tax-collection business!'....<

"Stephanie Cutter, who served as a deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama in 2012 ... agreed with Norquist that it's problematic to send police out primarily to collect fees, but insisted that it's more complex than that. Cutter also stood with Norquist in opposition to civil asset forfeiture. That's when, for example, the police raid a house looking for drugs and take an occupant's property or cash. Even if the person is acquitted of a crime, he or she will likely have to sue to get their property back. Suing often costs more than the value of the seized property. 'There's nothing fair about it,' Cutter said....

"[O]ther conference panelists complained about the increasing militarization of our police forces. There was also lots of talk about 'overcriminalization.' Some of the panelists seem to equate increasing government regulations on businesses with overcriminalization, but Stephen Smith, a law professor at Notre Dame, said what's happening to individuals is far worse than anything happening to corporations.

"Many of our criminal statutes are vaguely written and judges interpret them in a way that's most favorable to prosecutors, Smith said, and in so many places, indigent defense is a joke....

"Citing the work of attorney Harvey Silverglate who says the average American unwittingly commits three felonies a day, Smith said that in the feds' eyes, 'Everything's a crime. You can try to fight it. Even if you have the money to fight it, you're still going to be convicted.'"

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