Friday, March 31, 2017

Registered Libertarians top 10,000 in Nebraska

Libertarians see proposal as chance to continue growing party | Nebraska Legislature | - Zach Pluhasek, Lincoln Journal & Star:

March 29, 2017 - "Nebraska's growing ranks of Libertarian voters could see more of their candidates on local ballots if a proposal that is working its way through the Legislature succeeds. The bill would allow any political party with 10,000 or more registered voters to remain recognized in the state, regardless of how its candidates perform in statewide elections.

"In recent years, Libertarians have been forced to run 'sacrificial lamb' candidates for statewide offices in hopes of securing 5 percent of the vote, the minimum threshold for the party to maintain its officially recognized status.

"'If this passes, that whole sacrificial lamb mentality goes away and we can focus on growing the party,' said Gene Siadek of Omaha, treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Nebraska. 'We can maybe focus on elections that might be more winnable for us.'

"Sponsored by Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, the proposal (LB34) received first-round approval Wednesday on a 30-0 vote.

"The change would apply to any third party that qualifies, but so far the Libertarians are the only ones who come close.

"Their party has hit some major milestones in the past year, including Ebke's decision to ditch the GOP and register as a Libertarian. She became the state's highest-ranking Libertarian elected officeholder and the only Libertarian in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.

"Last fall, the party topped 10,000 registrants for the first time, which Siadek attributed in part to Ebke's switch and also to Donald Trump securing the Republican presidential nomination."

And this year, the party submitted its first financial statement to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission after exceeding $5,000 in donations for the first time."

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Legal cannabis cuts opioid abuse, study suggests

Legalized Marijuana Could Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic, Study Finds - NBC News - Reuters:

March 27, 2017 - "In states that legalized medical marijuana, U.S. hospitals failed to see a predicted influx of pot smokers, but in an unexpected twist, they treated far fewer opioid users, a new study shows.

"Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medicinal purposes, the analysis found. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average.

"At the same time, fears that legalization of medical marijuana would lead to an uptick in cannabis-related hospitalizations proved unfounded, according to the report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

"'Instead, medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers,' said study author Yuyan Shi, a public health professor at the University of California, San Diego....

"[T]he opioid epidemic - sparked by a quadrupling since 1999 in sales of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin - kills 91 Americans a day.

"Shi analyzed hospitalization records from 1997 through 2014 for 27 states, nine of which implemented medical marijuana policies. Her study was the fifth to show declines in opioid use or deaths in states that allow medical cannabis.

"In a 2014 study, Dr. Marcus Bachhuber found deaths from opioid overdoses fell by 25 percent in states that legalized medical marijuana....

"Nonetheless, a 1970 federal law puts cannabis in the same category as heroin, Schedule 1 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, and finds it has no medicinal value. Consequently, doctors can only recommend, not prescribe, marijuana, and physicians who work for the federal government cannot even discuss the weed.

"Federal prohibition also has led to severe limitations on marijuana research.

"Bachhuber lamented the dearth of research on the best ways to use marijuana as medicine.

"We have information that it works based on the National Academies' report," he said. "But we don't know who it works best for, at what dosage, for how long.""

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Liberty Festival loses venue after bomb threat

ANTIFA Terror Threats Cause Venue to Drop Libertarian Festival; Event Now in Jeopardy | The Liberty Conservative - Shane Trejo:

March 25, 2017 - "Terror threats from ANTIFA leftists have put next weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Liberty Festival in jeopardy. After left-libertarians released a call to arms vowing resistance, bomb threats were allegedly called in to the Hilton in Harrisburg, who were forced to cancel the event.

“To me, it is horrifying that in the United States a fringe group can get away with its threats of violence, but such is the world in which we live,” event organizer Steve Scheetz said in a public Facebook post explaining the situation.

"The entire controversy arose after a debate was scheduled between former Libertarian Party Senate hopeful Augustus Invictus and Will Coley of Muslims for Liberty on the issue of border security. ANTIFA-aligned left-libertarians took umbrage with the fact that Invictus, who they allege to be a fascist without any clear evidence, was allowed to speak at the event. Instead of finding a like-minded group that doesn’t respect the values of free speech and free expression, they declared war against the event instead."
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Steve Scheetz, Facebook: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am VERY sad to say that the Mid-Atlantic Liberty Festival will not be held at the Hilton in Harrisburg. We are working on an alternate venue at the moment, and information about that will be available soon for those traveling. However, in the mean time, to those of you who have reservations at the Hilton, Please cancel them at your earliest convenience. Mention the Festival to make certain that you are not charged any fees for canceling.

"Apparently, Antifa had called in potential bomb threats, sabotage against the hotel, and promised violence....

"Again, we are working on an alternative venue, the location will be announced once it is known, though there will not be much time between then and when we are going to start our event, so stay tuned! ....

"PLEASE do not call the hotel and complain... This is NOT their fault."
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

US House committee passes Audit the Fed bill

House panel passes bill to audit the Fed - MarketWatch - Greg Robb:

March 28, 2017 - "A House panel on Tuesday approved legislation that would let a government watchdog audit the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions, a move bitterly opposed by the central bank.

"The House Committee on oversight and government reform passed the measure by voice vote after roughly 30 minutes of debate.

"The bill was the brainchild of Ron Paul, the former House Republican and libertarian presidential candidate and sharp critic of the U.S. monetary policy. Versions of the bill have twice passed the House by wide margins but then stalled due to lack of support from Democrats in the Senate and the Obama administration.

"Analysts said the measure has a better chance to become law now that Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House. Paul’s son, Rand, the Republican senator from Kentucky, has introduced a similar measure in the Senate.

"Democrats in the committee were firmly against the bill.... Republicans said the measure was needed to rein in the Fed.

"'It is ironic that the arsonists that caused the financial collapse are now being given credit...for putting out the fire. Almost every macroeconomist concedes in retrospect that [the Fed’s] extended period of easy money led to the financial crisis,' said Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky."

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Monday, March 27, 2017

WWE wrestler Kane to run for mayor

WWE's Kane Runs For Mayor - Being Libertarian - Brandon Kirby:

March 25, 2017 -  "Best known for lighting people on fire and chokeslamming his enemies, World Wresting Entertainment’s Glenn Jacobs, better known as Kane, sets his sights on the political ring to run for Knox County [Tennessee] mayor, according to the Associated Press.

"Standing at 6’9 and weighing over 324lbs, The Devil’s Favourite Demon had a successful 22-year career in the WWE.... Outside of the world of wrestling, Jacobs and his wife own and operate Jacobs Insurance Associates, LLC, offering auto, business, flood, home, life, and motorcycle insurance.

"The successful businessman and entertainer’s bid for mayor is sure to excite libertarians. Jacobs is actively involved in libertarian politics, supporting Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, is a member of the Free State Project, and spoke at the New Hampshire Liberty Forum and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

"In an interview with Fox Business, Jacobs cited Harry Browne, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Mary Ruwart as influences on his political thinking. The former world champion also cited the non-aggression principle as his guiding principle.

"In an interview with Tom Woods, Jacobs elaborated, 'Then I realized that it really is a philosophy that we’re talking about, you know — the nonaggression axiom, that the government should be bound by the same moral laws that the rest of us are. Once you realize that, you’re like, "Oh!" Your entire world opens up, and then your entire paradigm changes.'

"In the interview he also indicated that he believes taxation is theft."

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mr. Smith, the ultimate libertarian

Mr. Smth: The Ultimate Libertarian | The Liberty Conservative - Ron Capshaw:

March 25, 2017 -"With its patriotism and lone-man-against-the-system theme, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) is a popular favorite among conservatives. But, although directed by conservative populist Frank Capra, the script was in actuality penned by a then-member of the Communist Party named Sidney Buchman.

"It is difficult to believe in our era of flag-burning and bomb-throwing leftism that once upon a time American Communists promoted patriotism, which depending upon your point of view, was either authentic or a pose to meet the needs of Moscow. But Buchman may have been the real deal, as evidenced by his clashes with director Frank Capra and his later abandonment of Communism....

"Capra, an immigrant, accused Buchman of being a communist because the screenwriter expressed what we would call today a libertarian streak by stating the Jeffersonian view that the American government should be constantly watched for any power-grabs. Capra, by contrast, supported the American government en mass, which led Buchanan to accused Capra of fascism....

"There is a sprinkling of leftism in the film, as when it is revealed that Jefferson Smith’s father was murdered by a mining syndicate for defending a lone miner’s claim. And the chief villain of the film, Jim Taylor, is an arm-twisting capitalist who owns politicians and a considerable part of the media....

"But there the leftism ends. Smith, played by conservative actor Jimmy Stewart, who was certainly intelligent enough to detect any Stalinism in the script, runs afoul of the capitalist villain’s bill designed to spread graft by disguised under the project of building a dam. Smith’s bill is patriotic; he wants to build a boy’s camp, , which would be built on the land set aside for Taylor, funded by contributions from citizens, and designed to teach boys woodcraft and patriotism....

"Taylor unleashes ... what we today call the 'mainstream media' on Smith. Taylor could be George Soros, who today uses his money to influence, if not buy off, politicians, as well as fund violent protests movements. Senator Paine, Smith’s previous sponsor in the Senate, who turns on him and then defends him, by being in the pocket of Taylor affirms Thomas Jefferson’s warning about special interest politicians – ruling not for the common good but for their wealthy benefactors.

"Smith would be Capra’s final moment in the sun, and the director would spend the rest of his career trying to duplicate its success. Meanwhile, Buchman would leave the Communist Party after World War II because he no longer believed communism could be applied to American conditions."

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friedrich Hayek and the 'collective brain'

Friedrich Hayek and the collective brain - CapX - Matt Ridley:

March 23, 2017 - "It is possible to go through an entire education to PhD level ... without any of your teachers or professors breathing the words 'Friedrich Hayek'.... If Hayek is mentioned at all in academia, it is usually as an alias for Voldemort. To admire Hayek is to advocate selfishness and individualism. This could not be more wrong. What Hayek argued is that human collaboration is necessary for society to work; that the great feature of the market is that it enables us to work for each other, not just for ourselves; and that authoritarian, top-down rule is not the source of order or progress, but a hindrance....

"Hayek’s point in his famous essay of 1945, 'The Uses of Knowledge in Society', is that central planning cannot work because it is trying to substitute an individual all-knowing intelligence for a distributed and fragmented system of localised but connected knowledge, much of which is tacit.... In Hayek’s words, 'how valuable an asset in all walks of life is knowledge of people, of local conditions, and of special circumstances ... the method by which such knowledge can be made as widely available as possible is precisely the problem to which we have to find an answer.' His answer, of course, was the price mechanism....

"Trade creates a collective problem-solving brain as big as the trade network itself. It draws upon dispersed and fragmented knowledge to create things that nobody can even comprehend, wholes that are more complex than the sum of their individual mental parts. No other animal does this....

"As Hayek put it, 'That the division of labor has reached the extent which makes modern civilization possible we owe to the fact that it did not have to be consciously created but that man tumbled on a method by which the division of labor could be extended far beyond the limits within which it could have been planned.'

"The invention of exchange had the same impact on human culture as sex had on biological evolution – it made it cumulative. So human technological advancement depended not on individual intelligence but on collective idea sharing....

"Which is, of course, why the internet is such an exciting development. For the first time, humanity has not just some big collective brains (called trade networks), but one truly vast one in which almost everybody can share and in which distance is no obstacle....

"Truly something very weird has happened to the world when, for advocating this bottom-up, egalitarian, collectivist idea, for advocating freedom for people to exchange ideas and serve their fellow human beings thus encouraging social change, Hayek is condemned by left-leaning commentators as a right-wing zealot....

"Hayek taught us to distrust the idea of putting people in charge of other people. Given that government has been the means by which people have committed unspeakable horrors again and again and again, from Nero and Attila to Hitler and Mao, why are people so forgiving of the state and so mistrustful of the market?"

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Bernier tops Tories with $1M raised in 2016

Maxime Bernier, the 'Albertan from Quebec' | CTV News - Laura Payton:

March 2, 2017 - "Maxime Bernier, the Quebec MP with the Montreal banking background and expensive suits, ... is a staunch libertarian who outpaced all his competitors in fundraising last year. He raised more than a million dollars, outpacing Kellie Leitch, the next closest contestant, by close to $200,000.

"Among the reasons Bernier is doing well among Conservative members: he promises to deregulate the telecommunications and airline industries, cut taxes and -- most notably for an MP from the riding with the most dairy producers in Canada -- eliminate the supply-management system that lets the industry set the price for its products.

"He's also staunchly opposed to boutique tax credits, the targeted rebates offered to narrow slices of the Canadian population that complicate the tax code, and which many fiscal conservatives oppose....

"'The philosophy of the [last] government was to buy votes with special interest groups. And I'm doing the opposite. I don't want to buy votes with special interest groups like the farmers, like the big corporations and all that,' Bernier said, sitting in his Parliament Hill office. ''Maybe the dairy producers won't vote for me in the next election, but I will gain more votes with the population because of that position'.... .

"Bernier also opposes loans for companies like GM and Bombardier, calling them corporate welfare. He wants to renegotiate Canada's equalization system, in which some provinces send money to the federal government to be redistributed to less prosperous provinces. On health care, he wants the federal government to get out of the way of the provinces and territories.

"'Health care, it is 100 per cent provincial jurisdiction. And you must give the means for the provinces to be able to do what they have to do," he said. 'The best way for them to be independent and accountable in front of their population, it is transferring tax points. So you lower the personal income tax at the federal level and you let the provinces tax for their own responsibility.

"'If you respect the Constitution and transfer tax points, [Canadians] will know who to blame for the wait times... that will give the right incentive for the provinces,' Bernier added."

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

FEC won't appeal presidential debates ruling

FEC Won't Appeal Ruling against Debate Commission - - Shawn M. Griffiths:

March 8, 2017 - "The FEC [Federal Elections Commission] released a press release Wednesday that it will not appeal a federal judge’s decision against current rules governing the Commission on Presidential Debates in Level the Playing Field v. FEC:

"'On February 1, the District Court ordered the Commission to reconsider Plaintiffs’ allegations and evidence, issue a new decision on the two administrative complaints and issue a new decision on the rulemaking petition. The Commission voted on February 22 not to appeal the District Court’s decision.'

"The FEC has chosen to comply with Judge Tanya S. Chutkan’s order and must issue three new decisions related to the administrative complaints that were previously dismissed by the FEC by April 3."

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Regulation chokes cannabis market in Uruguay

Legalizing weed: how Uruguay tripped up - - Meagan Campbell:

March 17, 2017 - "One Thursday morning in December 2013, marijuana became legal in Uruguay. Before midday, in the country’s two largest cities, 10 people walked into post offices, provided thumbprints, photo ID and addresses and received cannabis registration cards, which would limit their purchases — at designated pharmacies — to the equivalent of two fat joints per day. As the first country to legalize and regulate the drug, Uruguay appeared, at least for a moment, to have cannabis under control.

"Four years later, much of the policy has gone to puff. Pharmacies were supposed to start selling the drug to the newly registered citizens, but because the product is cost-controlled, pharmacists have no incentive to deal it. As a result, Uruguayans still have nowhere to legally buy marijuana. Even if pharmacies were stocked, most pot smokers are reluctant to join the registry, which they believe invades privacy, sets arbitrary monthly limits and would bind them to buying weed during business hours.

"'On the positive side, Uruguay has legalized marijuana, and the country hasn’t collapsed,' says José Miguel Cruz of the Latin American Marijuana Research Initiative. Yet, he says, 'the problem in Uruguay is that the government is regulating absolutely everything.' Citizens are permitted to grow six plants in their homes or more if they move their plants to registered 'cannabis clubs,' but Cruz says, 'They don’t want to grow it. They don’t want to join a club. They just want to get it.'

"And get it, they do. Police are seizing almost triple the amount of black-market marijuana as before the policy change — last year, the equivalent of about 13 million joints, based on numbers reported by the newspaper El Pais. Marijuana tourism also appears to be mushrooming; Brazilian and Argentinean police are seizing more of the drug, and Uruguayans, who can now legally grow it, have admitted selling weed to their international neighbours."

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

McLean runs in Saanich for police accountability

Man who filed complaint against police enters political arena - Wolf Depner, Saanich News:

March 14, 2017 - "The person who filed a successful complaint against a Saanich Police officer will run in the next provincial election. Andrew McLean will run in Saanich South for the Libertarian Party of B.C.....

"McLean filed the complaint following his January 2016 arrest during which he refused to show identification to the officer who was investigating a suspected arson case. The officer then put McLean in a wrist lock, taking him to the ground and placing a knee onto his back.

"Retired judge Wally Oppal later found this conduct constituted abuse of authority 'by using unnecessary force and by detaining and searching [Andrew McLean] without good and sufficient cause.'

"McLean said he had already made the decision to run before this incident. 'I didn’t know whether it was going to be provincial or federal at that point,' he said. 'But that experience certainly heightened concerns around police accountability.'

"McLean says he is not running to wreck anybody’s reputation. 'But I think it is an important issue, along with a variety of other things,' he said. 'It is more of a symptomatic issue. It is a symptom of a larger problem … that being, too much power in the hand of the state.'

Canada is 'severely lacking' police accountability, he said. 'We do have the (OPCC), but police as a matter of routine investigate themselves, which is a clear conflict of interest. That shouldn’t be happening and that is an issue I hope to be able to effectively address in this campaign. We need accoutabilty when it comes to policing.'

"McLean also wants to raise a number of socio-economic issues such as house affordability and illegal drugs during his campaign.

'I’m running primarily because I am getting really tired of big government interventionism within our lives,' he said. 'It seems the government’s solution to every problem is to tax it and if you can’t tax it, then want to ban it. It is all about taking more and more and more from families, which makes it harder, harder, and harder to for families to get by on a dailybasis....'

'The only acceptable role for goverment as far as I am concerned is in the defence of freedom, liberty and personal property,” he said. 'That is why we have law enforcement [and a military force]. I would describe myself as a minarchist libertarian, meaning that I support the idea of government, but to a limited extent.'"

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Thomas wants SCOTUS to review forfeiture laws

Clarence Thomas Is Skeptical of Civil Asset Forfeiture | Cato @ Liberty - Adam Bates:

March 7, 2017 - "Justice Clarence Thomas yesterday signalled that the abusive practice of civil asset forfeiture is ripe for expanded constitutional scrutiny.

"The case is Lisa Olivia Leonard v. Texas.  James Leonard (the petitioner’s son) was stopped by police for a traffic infraction in 2013 'along a known drug corridor.'  Police searched Mr. Leonard’s vehicle and discovered a safe containing $201,100 and the bill of sale for a home. Arguing that the money was either proceeds from a drug sale or going to be used in such a sale, the state initiated forfeiture proceedings and took the money.  The safe actually belonged to James’ mother Lisa, who brought suit to protect her property from the government seizure.

"The Supreme Court denied certiorari for procedural reasons, but Justice Thomas had some harsh words for civil forfeiture anyway, and suggested that it’s time for the Supreme Court to take another look at the practice:
Civil proceedings often lack certain procedural protections that accompany criminal proceedings.... Partially as a result of this distinct legal regime, civil forfeiture has in recent decades become widespread and highly profitable....

This system - where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use - has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses…
"The opinion goes on to explain that while the court has historically upheld the constitutionality of civil forfeiture, the modern practice of forfeiture has strayed far from its narrow historical use and purpose:
Historical forfeiture laws were narrower in most respects than modern ones.... Proceeding in rem in those cases was often justified by necessity, because the party responsible for the crime was frequently ... beyond the personal jurisdiction of the United States courts [and] typically covered only the instrumentalities of the crime (such as the vessel used to transport the goods)....
"In his opinion, Justice Thomas refers to the Institute for Justice’s Policing for Profit survey of forfeiture laws around the country, and also to Sarah Stillman’s expose Taken, documenting several instances of forfeiture abuse. Both of those sources are worth reading for a better idea of just how bad the incentives of civil forfeiture are and the abuses that have resulted.

"It’s heartening to have a Supreme Court Justice so squarely acknowledge and raise questions about a predatory government practice that has proceeded unchecked for so long."

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reconciling freedom and morality

Freedom Is Essential For True Morality | Foundation for Economic Education - Alex Salter:

March 19, 2017 - "C.S. Lewis once explained the different aspects of morality by using the metaphor of a flotilla. Every ship must be well run on its own, but each must also coordinate with all the others so that they avoid collisions and stay in formation. Finally, the fleet must be set on a destination, which constitutes the purpose of their journey. This is a helpful way to think about morality regarding self, others, and our ultimate end.

"The personal aspect of morality ...  is about the cultivation of virtue.... An efficient and well-run ship is like a virtuous person.... There is one crucial difference, however: a ship’s crew is run hierarchically, under the command of a captain. But a person, in order to be truly virtuous, must be free to cultivate the virtues, or not.

"There is no virtue in being temperate when you are being forced not to indulge. There is no virtue in being charitable when someone is forcing you to give up what is yours. Virtue can be guided by cultural traditions and social institutions, but it cannot be coerced. A virtuous man must also be a free man.

"The interpersonal aspect of morality is more about rule following. These rules are important because, like the rules governing ships in a fleet, they prevent us from 'colliding' with each other.... Here too, liberty is essential....

"A society of domination will be a society that never reaches its full potential in the human sciences, physical sciences, and creative arts. Liberty affords us the greatest space possible to pursue our projects, in a way that enables us to live well with one another.

"Finally, there is the question of ultimate ends.... This will necessarily be the most contentious since the idea of a final end for man often goes in tandem with a specifically religious view of man’s vocation....

"But having a final end does not obviate the need for liberty. Freedom remains essential. To paraphrase Lord Acton, freedom is so precious that God will not override it, even when we badly misuse that freedom. In other words, we can’t get where we’re going if we’re not free to walk the road. I think this is a point on which religious, spiritual, agnostic, or even atheist persons can agree.

"Thus, freedom is essential to a genuinely good human life at all the levels of morality. In my view, the classical liberal tradition remains the keeper of the flame of liberty, and I want to spend the rest of my career advancing classical liberalism as a research program. I look forward to sharing with you what I find."

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

CRTC rules keep Libertarians' M103 video off air (videos)

M103 is ALREADY censoring the press - Josh Steffler, Freedom Free for All:

February 21, 2017 - "As many of you know, M103 has been introduced to the House of Commons ... 'on how the government could develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia'.... This has many free speech advocates quite concerned, especially since “islamophobia” is not defined. The Libertarian party of Canada recently put together [a video] about this dangerous motion....

"Freedom Free For All is a new media show on public access TV Shaw channel 4 in Victoria. We tried to broadcast this video on our show to provide some counterbalance to the Mainstream Media narrative. We believe that almost all MSM in Victoria have been playing highly biased in favour of this motion.... Shaw .. will not broadcast this video on TV.... Have a look at what we have been told about this video.
All Community broadcasters including Shaw TV are responsible for putting content on the air that balances all viewpoints.... To only present one side is a violation of the CRTC’s Community Television Regulatory Framework. At present, we have no such content to fulfill this nor do we have the resources to do so in a timely way....
"Luckily FFFA is nimble and smart enough to find ways to work around this, and while we cannot air the video as of yet, we DO have the Libertarian Party Of Canada Leader, Tim Moen, available to come speak on our show via Skype to discuss this attack on one of the foundations of a free society, Freedom of Speech."

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Garrett, Amash, Young co-sponsor cannabis bill

A Republican Has Revived Bernie's Bill To End The Federal Weed Ban:

March 13, 2017 - "Last month, Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia introduced a bill that seeks to remove virtually all traces of pot from the federal Controlled Substances Act so as to let states regulate themselves in our country's ongoing Green Rush. Garrett's office announced last month that the bill, originally put forth by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in 2015, was re-ignited to '[fulfill] a responsibility to create a level playing field across the country.'

"With help from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), lead original cosponsor for the bill, and from fellow Virginia republican Rep. Scott Taylor, Garrett submitted HR 1227 to the GOP-heavy 115th U.S. Congress on February 27, referring it [to] both the House Energy and Commerce and House Judiciary committees. In the two weeks since, Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), and Justin Amash (R-MI) have also signed on.

"Rep. Garrett commented in a release, 'Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce." He noted, too, that Virginia is "more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.'"

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Marine veteran Rohrman running for NJ governor

Meet your Libertarian candidate for N.J. governor | - Brent Johnson:

March 15, 2017 - "New Jersey's Libertarian Party has nominated Peter Rohrman, a Marine veteran from Bergen County, to run in this year's race to succeed Chris Christie as the Garden State's governor.

"Rohrman, 47, of Ramsey, has never held elected office. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Bergen County freeholder in 2015.

"Rohrman works for an operations director for an internet-service provider and is a single father with two teenage boys.

"The party said his platform will include tax reform, school choice, legalizing marijuana, and ending corporate welfare.

"'I believe in maximizing personal freedom,' Rohrman said in a statement. 'I cherish the Constitution and every one of the rights afforded to us in the "Bill of Rights.'

"The party picked Karese Laguerre, 32, a dental hygienist from Sayreville, to run with Rohrman as his prospective lieutenant governor. Laguerre had been running an independent campaign for governor.

"Rohrman faces long odds in November's general election. There are 6,100 registered Libertarians in New Jersey, the third most of any political party in the state. But that's compared to 2 million Democrats and 1.2 million Republicans."

"In the 2013 governor's race, Libertarian candidate Kenneth Kaplan drew 12,000 votes, finishing third to Christie, the Republican nominee, with 1.2 million votes, and then-state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic nominee, with 800,000 votes."

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

BC Libertarians have candidate in Maple Ridge

New candidate in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows - Maple Ridge News - Phil Melynchuk:

March 6, 2017 - "There's a new candidate seeking to win the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows riding in the May 9 provincial election.

"Bryton Cherrier is running for the B.C. Libertarian Party to get out the party's message of maximum personal freedom and minimal personal taxes.

"I mostly wanted to get into politics in the last one and a half years," after seeing the rise of the NDP in Alberta, Cherrier said.

"The B.C. Libertarian Party wants to allow private medical insurance, education vouchers (which allow parents to allocate provincial funds to schools of their choice) and lower income taxes, while also eliminating the carbon tax.

"The party also thinks housing prices can be dropped by allowing higher density in single-family areas.

"'Right now, we just have two parties that do not represent economic conservatism,' said Cherrier. 'We do.'

"Both the Liberals and NDP represent big business, while the Libertarian party is grassroots, he added.

"Cherrier is a high-function autistic and wants to run to provide a role model for other people with autism."

"Even if he's not elected, he's hoping that his campaign will encourage others, 'pass on the torch, so to say. Liberate themselves to do something.'"

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

With Vault 7 revelations, paranoia is justified

Vault 7: What it Means for You - The Libertarian Institute - Thomas Knapp:

March 9, 2017 - "On March 7, the transparency/disclosure activists at Wikileaks began releasing a series of documents titled 'Vault 7.' According to the New York Times, Vault 7 consists of 'thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the [U.S. Central Intelligence Agency] to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.'

"If the documents are authentic — and WikiLeaks has a sterling reputation when it comes to document authenticity — every paranoid thriller you’ve ever watched or read was too timid in describing a hypothetical surveillance state. Even the telescreens and random audio bugs of George Orwell’s 1984 don’t come close to the reality of the CIA’s surveillance operations.

"In theory, the CIA doesn’t spy on Americans in America. In fact, digital traffic pays no heed to national borders, and the tools and tactics described have almost certainly been made available to, or independently developed by, other US surveillance agencies, not to mention foreign governments and non-government actors.

"Bottom line: You should accept the possibility that for the last several years anything you’ve done on, or in the presence of, a device that can connect to the Internet was observed, monitored, and archived as accessible data.

"Paranoid? Yes. But the paranoia is justified....

"If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear? Everyone has something to hide. Somewhere, some time, you’ve said or done something you regret or wouldn’t want the world to know. And you probably said or did it within a few feet of your smartphone, your laptop, or your Internet-connected television. Maybe nobody was listening or watching. Or maybe someone was. The only plausible conclusion from the Vault 7 disclosures is that you should assume the latter.

"Vault 7 confirms that as a state entity, the CIA answers to philosopher Anthony de Jasay’s description of the state as such. Just as a firm acts to maximize profits, the state and its arms act to maximize their own discretionary power. Even if it doesn’t do some particular thing, it requires the option, the ability to do that thing. It seeks omnipotence."

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Facebook acts to limit police use of user data

Facebook says police can’t use its data for ‘surveillance’ - The Washington Post - Elizabeth Dwoskin:

March 13, 2017 - "Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists.

"The move, which the social network announced Monday, comes in the wake of concerns over law enforcement’s tracking of protesters’ social media accounts in places such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. It also comes at a time when chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says he is expanding the company’s mission from merely 'connecting the world' into friend networks to promoting safety and community.

"Although the social network’s core business is advertising, Facebook, along with Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram, also provides developers access to users' public feeds. The developers use the data to monitor trends and public events. For example, advertisers have tracked how and which consumers are discussing their products, while the Red Cross has used social data to get real-time information during disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

"But the social networks have come under fire for working with third parties who market the data to law enforcement. Last year, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cut off access to Geofeedia, a start-up that shared data with law enforcement, in response to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU published documents that made references to tracking activists at protests in Baltimore in 2015 after the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody and also to protests in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 after the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

"On Monday, Facebook updated its instructions for developers to say that they cannot 'use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.'

"The company also said, in an accompanying blog post, that it had kicked other developers off the platform since it had cut ties with Geofeedia."

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Supreme Court hears The Slants' trademark suit

The Slants: The Band Who Must Not Be Named - - Meredith Bragg,  Reason, April 2017:

March 11, 2017 - "Simon Tam didn't think it would be a big deal when he applied for trademark protection on the name of his band, The Slants. It was 2011, and the band — a dance-rock group whose members are all Asian-American — had been getting some buzz. A lawyer buddy told Tam he'd do the application, saying the process would take a couple hundred bucks and six months, tops.

"'Things turned out a little bit different,' Tam told Reason several years later, on the eve of Supreme Court oral arguments over his trademark case.

"Since 1946, the federal Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has been charged with blocking the registration of trademarks that 'may disparage…persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.' It was on those grounds that the agency denied Tam his trademark....

"Since that initial PTO denial, the case has slowly, painfully worked its way through the legal system. Early on, an administrative review board conceded that the band's name was 'an attempt not to disparage, but rather to wrest "ownership" of the term from those who might use it with the intent to disparage,' but rejected the claim anyway, finding that the usage was still 'objectionable.'

"In 2015, a federal appeals court sided with Tam, noting that 'the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech.' As the majority explained, 'whatever our personal feelings about the mark at issue here, or other disparaging marks, the First Amendment forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find speech likely to offend others.' The PTO defended its decision by saying that Tam's speech wasn't being restricted — he can call the band whatever he likes, he simply can't have a trademark on that name. The PTO also argued trademarks are akin to government speech. But as noted in a brief filed on the band's behalf by the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this magazine), and others, that argument was pretty weak, considering that the list of currently registered trademarks 'includes such hallowed brands as "Capitalism Sucks Donkey Balls" and 'Take Yo Panties Off."'

"In January, shortly after Tam sat down with Reason TV's Meredith Bragg, the Supreme Court heard The Slants' case, now known as Lee v. Tam. The justices appeared skeptical of the government's argument, pushing back on the law's vagueness, its circular reasoning, and its uneven application, suggesting that the Court might overturn the 71-year-old rule standing between The Slants and their trademark."

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Replacing Obamacare with ... Obamacare

Trump's Voters Have Been Betrayed on Healthcare, Bigly | Foundation for Economic Education - Jeffrey Tucker:

March 11, 2017 - "It’s now clear where this 'repeal and replace' thing is headed. A small cadre of the GOP House leadership hammered out a few tweaks of Obamacare in secret. All the essentials of Obamacare were left in place: the mandates, the regulations, the strictures, the entitlement expansions, the preset packages, and many taxes....

""A few smart, principled people in the party quickly objected, with Rand Paul in the Senate and Justin Amash in the House leading the charge. They know that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix a healthcare system that has been getting structurally less functional for many decades, burdened down ever more with a thicket of control, subsidies, pressure-group payouts, and bureaucratic layers of rules.

"They were there as Obamacare became the final disgrace of the welfare state, so bad that the former president himself didn’t even mention it, much less brag about it, in his farewell address. The election was an opportunity, finally.

"During the election’s final weeks, Trump opposed everything about Obamacare and brought out his rhetorical blowtorch against it in the final weeks, just as premiums rose astronomically. Clinton, in contrast, promised only tweaks to make the existing system work better.

"Voters revolted, hoping for some relief. Exit polls from the 2016 presidential election told the story. Trump had temporarily dropped even his obsessions with nationalism, protectionism, and strongman symbolism for just a few days to say something sensible: repeal and replace this monstrosity. The outrage against the prevailing system launched him into the presidency.

"Now it is mid-March and the great moment has arrived. As it turns out, nearly everything is left just as it was. It’s not as if Trump is doing his best to support the best-possible option.... Indeed, he has used the full weight of the presidency, all the power of his influence, and every bit of political clout he has to support the worst-available plan for dealing with the utter and complete failure of the status quo.

"Now the Congressional critics have a problem. The more they criticize the proposed reform, the less influence they will have over the process going forward. Or they can take a gamble that Trump might ultimately improve the bill under their influence, but they have to muzzle their criticisms themselves in order to be in the game at all.

"And here we have the 'art of the deal' in action. It is about getting something, anything, shoved through, with the right people given what they need to take credit or cast blame, depending on their appointed role in the political drama. The deal is what matters, not the actual results. I’m the last person to be a pessimist, but it looks to me like the end result will be: the codification of Obamacare in principle and practice."

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Marc & Jodie Emery charged with drug trafficking

Marc and Jodie Emery charged with drug trafficking, conspiracy, possession - Toronto - CBC News:

March 9, 2017 - "Toronto police have charged Canada's so-called Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, and wife Jodie, with drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession after they were arrested at Pearson International Airport on Wednesday night.... On Thursday, with the couple still in custody at Toronto police's 51 Division, law enforcement officers in three Canadian cities raided marijuana shops belonging to the Emerys....

"Mark Pugash, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said seven Cannabis Culture locations — five in Toronto, one in Hamilton and another in Vancouver — were searched on Thursday along with two homes in Toronto, one in Stoney Creek, Ont., and one in Vancouver.

"In addition to the Emerys, police charged three other people associated with the couple on Thursday. Chris Goodwin, 37, and Erin Goodwin, 31, both of Toronto, and Britney Guerra, 29, of Stoney Creek, Ont., face charges that include conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. The Goodwins are co-owners of the Cannabis Culture shop on Church Street in Toronto....

"Pugash would not discuss why Cannabis Culture, which sells recreational marijuana, was the target of the operation in a city with dozens of marijuana shops....

"Emery and his wife run about a dozen marijuana shops in Canada under the Cannabis Culture banner. Marc Emery was released from a U.S. prison in 2014 after spending just over four years behind bars on charges of selling marijuana seeds in the United States."

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Charles Murray attacked by mob at Middlebury

Another campus, another speaker, another riot - World Net Daily:

March 3, 2017 - "Hundreds of students rioted at Middlebury College in Vermont this week, preventing a respected libertarian scholar from speaking and leaving one female professor in a neck brace.

"Charles Murray was invited by the American Enterprise Institute Club on campus to discuss his book, Coming Apart, which chronicles the struggles facing the white working class in the United States. However, a mob first protested and later assaulted both Murray and Professor Allison Stanger.

"More than 450 alumni at the college released a statement before the event declaring Murray’s invitation to speak was 'unacceptable and unethical' and 'directly endangers members of the community.... We hope many of you dissent, and we hope you make that dissent known to whosoever you see fit,' the statement concluded.

"The result was both verbal and physical abuse. Protesters turned their backs on Murray and chanted, preventing him from delivering his scheduled address. As an alternative, Murray was led to a different location where he was recorded on a closed-circuit telecast being interviewed by Stanger. However, even the recording was interrupted as students slammed chairs, screamed and pulled fire alarms, occasionally shutting down the building’s power.

"Masked demonstrators then physically attacked both Murray and Stanger as they tried to move to a college administrator’s car. Stanger’s hair was pulled by one of the attackers, twisting her neck and inflicting an injury which required hospital treatment and the use of a neck brace. Once Stanger and Murray made it to the vehicle, demonstrators climbed on the hood, slammed on windows, and ripped a stop sign from the ground and used it to prevent the car from moving.

"Even after security cleared a path, Murray’s ordeal was not over. He was later chased from a nearby restaurant when management was warned demonstrators had located him."

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Libertarians officially gain party status in Iowa

Libertarian Party obtains official political party status in Iowa | Local News |

"March 5, 2017 -  "Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announces the Libertarian Party of Iowa has obtained official political party status in Iowa, effective March 1.

"The Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, received 59,186 votes, which was 3.8 percent of the vote in the November 2016 general election, surpassing the two percent threshold required by Iowa Code to obtain official political party status....

"Political party status gives the Libertarian Party the ability to participate in primary elections in 2018. The Libertarian Party will be included as an option for Iowans on voter registration forms as well.

"The party's candidates for president and governor must keep receiving at least two percent of the total votes cast in each general election to remain an officially recognized political party. If a party's nominee does not receive two percent of the total votes cast, the party's status is cancelled.

"The last instance when a non-party political organization was successful at gaining political party status in Iowa was in the year 2000. Iowa Green Party nominee Ralph Nader received 29,374 votes, or 2.2 percent of the total votes cast for president."

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Libertarian advocates arrested in Cuba

Two men have been arrested in Cuba for preaching capitalism, reminding us Castro’s tyranny is alive and well | Rare - Tho Bishop:

March 2, 2017 - "Fidel may be dead, but in Raul Castro’s Cuba, you can still go to jail just for lending out books on capitalism.

"On Feb. 2, Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez, a member of Mises Institute Cuba, and Manuel Velazquez Visea, a human rights activist, were arrested by an undercover officer outside the Benjamin Franklin Library. The library, a project on which Hernandez and Visea had both worked, opened last December. It is dedicated to spreading the ideas of individual liberty and economic freedom that have long been suppressed on the island.

"The undercover officer approached Hernandez and Visea and, without identifying himself, demanded to see ID and know what the two men were carrying. When both men refused to comply, the officer arrested both men for 'assault,' a charge the Cuban government has long used as an excuse to jail political opponents. Cuban police also threatened to arrest any other members of the library that attempted to interfere with the arrest.

"According to Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand, an attorney with Mises Cuba, the two men have since been transferred to Melena II, a maximum security prison in Melena del Sur known for appalling conditions. The prison has long been the unfortunate destination for human rights activists and independent journalists who questioned Cuba’s communist government. Reports from the detained men’s family also indicate that their legal counsel has been threatened, and they have been subjected to beatings by police. Both men face the additional charge of 'spreading enemy propaganda'....

"It is important to note that in spite of the disgusting actions of Cuba’s government, they certainly do not justify the reinstatement of sanctions removed by the Obama Administration. Such forms of economic warfare always end up doing far more damage to the people oppressed by authoritarian regimes than those in power....

"Still, the fact men like Hernandez and Visea can be arrested for the simple crime of educating Cubans on an alternative to communism highlights how repulsively naive useful idiots like Canada’s Justin Trudeau are for continuing to romanticize the brutal realities [of] the Castro regime."

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Libertarian Mulvaney in as U.S. budget director

House Libertarians encourage young Libertarians to fight on for majority voice in Congress - WatchdogWire - Katherine Rodriguez:

August 2, 2013 - "United States Congressmen Justin Amash, Mick Mulvaney, Raul Labrador, and Thomas Massie rallied an excited crowd of young Libertarians to fight for a majority in Congress Thursday night.
"The panel moderated by Next Generation TV host Michelle Fields, took place at George Mason University’s Arlington campus on the second night of the 2013 Young Americans for Liberty Conference....
"South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney mentioned how the Republican Party has has had difficulty reaching out to those younger voters, but urged libertarians to use that opportunity to grow the party.
”'Individual liberty means a lot more to them than folks of my generation, Mulvaney said, 'This [is] our opportunity to reach out to younger people and grow the party - you are the swing voters.'"

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Tea party gains voice as budget chief squeaks through | Ap | - Andrew Taylor, Associated Press:

"February 17, 2017 - The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to run the White House budget office, giving the Republicans’ tea party wing a voice in the Cabinet.
"U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) squeaked through on a 51-49 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
"U.S. Sen. John McCain ... opposed Mulvaney for the nominee’s past House votes supporting cuts to Pentagon spending.... Democrats opposed Mulvaney over his support for curbing the growth of Medicare and Social Security and other issues"

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Who was Frederic Bastiat's successor?

Remembering Bastiat's Successor | Foundation for Economic Education- Gary M. Galles:

March 3, 2017 - "I have met very few people committed to liberty who are not fans of Frederic Bastiat.... How much do those desirous of freedom to the fullest extent possible know about the person that Bastiat described as his successor from his deathbed in 1850? They know far too little of Belgian economist and philosopher, Gustave de Molinari, who David Hart termed 'the leading representative of the laissez-faire school of classical liberalism in France' in the ensuing period. As we pass Molinari’s March 3 birthday, his work, which Wikipedia accurately summarized as 'defend[ing] peace, free trade, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and liberty in all its forms,' merits far closer attention.

"Joseph Stromberg noted the thoroughness of his belief in the power of liberty, in that 'He appears to have been the first writer to draw the conclusion that government could, in effect, be replaced by competing companies or agencies offering to provide security and protection.' He saw that government as it has always existed — as an abuser of people’s natural rights — could be supplanted by an agency that had no mandate other than providing security for life, liberty and property.

"Molinari focused on sovereignty. He recognized the problems of government sovereignty, and argued for individual sovereignty as a far superior replacement from the perspective of justice and respect for natural rights, as well as that of effective social cooperation. It is worth revisiting his inspiring vision of the appealing consequences of self-ownership, applied far more broadly than it has been....
  • Government has abused its unlimited power over individual life and property....
  • The progressive rise in taxation and expenditure which has occurred in every State …must continue indefinitely for just so long as governments, charged with guaranteeing national security, maintain their right of unlimited requisition upon the life, liberty, and property of the individual....
  • What is the interest of the individual? It is to remain the absolute proprietor of his person and property and to retain the power to dispose of them at will... It is, in a word, to possess “individual sovereignty” in the fullest. Nevertheless … His property and liberty are limited by the property and liberty of others. Each individual sovereignty has its natural frontiers within which it may operate and outside of which it may not pass without violating other sovereignties. These natural limits must be recognized and guaranteed … such is the purpose of 'government'.
  • The sovereignty of the individual will … be the basis of the political system of the future community.… It will belong to the individual himself, no more a subject but proper master and sovereign of his person…. He will dispose, as he pleases, of the forces and materials which minister to his physical, intellectual, and moral needs.
"Molinari learned of 'the destructive apparatus of the civilized State' from the French Revolution.... He saw the far better alternative of vastly expanded liberty, enabling an explosion of human potential and human spirit. Our age needs to be inspired toward that recognition, as well."

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

The "terrible science" behind smoking bans

We Used Terrible Science to Justify Smoking Bans - Jacob Grier, Slate:

February 13, 2017 - "In the early 2000's, as jurisdictions across the country fought over expanding smoking bans to bars and restaurants, anti-smoking advocates seized on ... research showing that secondhand smoke exposure can affect coronary functions to promote fear of secondhand smoke..... A decade later ... better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks....

"England, which implemented a smoking ban nationwide, presented the first opportunity to study the matter on a national scale. Researchers there credited the ban with a heart attack reduction of just over 2 percent nationwide.

"A 2008 study covering the entire country of New Zealand — a population smaller than England’s, but bigger than the American towns previously studied — found no significant effects on heart attacks or unstable angina in the year following implementation of a smoking ban; hospitalizations for the former had actually increased....

"A clever study led by researchers at RAND Corp. in 2010 tested the possibility that the large reductions identified in small communities were due to chance.... The conclusion of the study was blunt: 'We find no evidence that legislated U.S. smoking bans were associated with short-term reductions in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction or other diseases in the elderly, children or working age adults'

"A 2012 study of six American states that had instituted smoking bans came to a similar conclusion. So did a 2014 study, which is notable for being co-authored by some of the same researchers who had previously published papers suggesting that the Colorado towns of Pueblo and Greeley had experienced reduced rates of heart attacks after implementing smoking bans. When Colorado enacted a statewide ban, the authors had an opportunity to see if their earlier results could be duplicated across the larger population of nearly 5 million people. No effect appeared. As an additional test, they re-examined the data excluding 11 jurisdictions that had already implemented comprehensive smoking bans: The statewide ban still showed no effect....

"Rates of heart attack are not the only possible negative of secondhand smoke exposure.... There are also potential impacts on respiratory health, and of course lung cancer....

"'No clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer,' read a 2013 headline in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, hardly a pro-tobacco publication. That was a report on a cohort study tracking 76,000 women that failed to detect a link between the disease and secondhand smoke. The finding comports with existing literature suggesting that the effect is borderline and concentrated on long-term, high levels of exposure....

"There were good reasons from the beginning to doubt that smoking bans could really deliver the promised results, but anti-smoking advocacy groups eagerly embraced alarmism to shape public perception. Today’s tobacco control movement is guided by ideology as much as it is by science, prone to hyping politically convenient studies regardless of their merit and ostracizing detractors.

"This has important implications for journalism. As health journalists take on topics such as outdoor smoking bans, discrimination against smokers in employment or adoption, and the ever-evolving regulation of e-cigarettes, they should consider that however well-intentioned the aims of the tobacco control movement are, its willingness to sacrifice the means of good science to the end of restricting behavior calls for skeptical scrutiny."

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Friday, March 3, 2017

No right not to cater gay weddings, court rules

Florists Join Bakers, Photographers in Court Ruling Ordering Them to Serve Gay Weddings - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

February 17, 2017 - "Florists — at least those in Washington State — can be forced to provide their goods and services for gay weddings. That was the unanimous decision from the state's supreme court....

"The high-profile case ... pitted Baronnelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, against a gay couple who had come to her seeking her flowers for their wedding. She declined, citing her religious opposition to recognizing same-sex marriage.... Washington forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

"Stutzman's argument was that she wasn't discriminating on the basis of the men being gay but rather refusing to participate in the wedding (which wasn't even legally recognized by the state when they started planning it in 2013). She argued that government mandating her participation by requiring her to provide flowers violated her constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise, and free association.

"The court roundly rejected all of her claims. The decision noted courts had previously rejected claims that attempted to separate 'status' from 'conduct' in similar ways, that, for example, discriminating against somebody who is pregnant falls under sex discrimination. As for her attempt to invoke her religious freedoms, they noted that the Supreme Court has set the precedent that 'that individuals who engage in commerce necessarily accept some limitations on their conduct as a result.'

"As for her free speech claim, the court [says] Requiring Stutzman to prepare flowers for a same-sex marriage is not actually compelling her to endorse said marriages. This is very similar to how courts have ruled on wedding cakes. They have declined to accept the argument that the creation of a wedding cake is in and of itself expressive speech, but a baker does have the freedom to reject orders to pass along a particular textual message.....

"The Cato Institute submitted an amicus brief defending the florist's right to say no to the couple as a First Amendment issue.... The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the shop (and was just designated a 'hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center) is promising to try to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court."

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Poll finds most Canadians distrust governments

Majority of Canadians distrust government: poll suggests - Home | The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti | CBC Radio:

February 16, 2017 - "In a recent Edelman poll, only 43 per cent of Canadians say they trust their government — down from 53 per cent a year earlier.

"And 80 per cent of Canadians feel the country's elites are out of touch.

"The findings in the so-called Trust Barometer survey conducted annually by public relations firm Edelman is the first time in 17 years that Canada has joined the ranks of "distruster" countries in which more than half of citizens say they distrust their civic institutions.

"Author and journalist Susan Delacourt says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be really concerned. This spike in distrust and cynicism is the same sentiment that propelled Donald Trump to the White House, and it is gaining ground here....

"Compared to a year ago after Prime Minister Trudeau was first elected, Delacourt says trust in government and the media has slipped 10 per cent.

"The decline in numbers, Delacourt suggests, is most likely because of what is unfolding in the U.S. before and after Trump's election.

"'We saw a year in which the media and the people inside the political bubble had failed to anticipate Brexit and failed to anticipate Trump. And I think that people out there are noticing,' Delacourt tells Lynch.

"In September, Delacourt wrote a column suggesting Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Trump have 'similar disruptive styles to politics.' 'Trudeau ran as an outsider. I don't know if you remember the first day of the 2015 election campaign. He was the leader who chose not to be in Ottawa. He portrayed Ottawa as a problem'....

"The challenge for Trudeau to restore trust in Canadians, according to Delacourt, is to live up to the promise made in his speeches, which is to connect people back to politics."

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Indiana police salaries paid with forfeiture money

Indiana police used $400k in asset forfeiture funds to boost their own pay & benefits, audit finds — RT America:

March 1, 2017 - "A federal audit of Indiana law enforcement found nearly $400,000 in federal asset forfeiture funds went to pay the salaries, overtime, and benefits for its officers, which the law does not allow....  In total, auditors examined $802,206 in expenditures made by the sheriff’s office in 2014 and 2015, including $378,720 that was transferred to other law enforcement agencies as a part of the equitable sharing program, which allows police departments to prosecute asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law....

"Equitable sharing has become increasingly controversial, in part because agencies do not need to secure a criminal conviction, or even file criminal charges, before forfeiture can occur ... A 2014 in-depth investigation by the Washington Post found that of the $2.5 billion in cash and property seized by police nationwide between 2008 and 2016, no one was indicted for a crime in 81 percent of those cases....

"Under federal rules, transferred funds from the equitable sharing program cannot be used to pay the salaries and benefits of any law enforcement personnel. The guidelines state that the rule was made to ensure that the funds do not 'influence, or appear to influence, law enforcement decisions'....

"The auditors found $313,052 of the $378,720 transferred to other law enforcement agencies in the Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement (PACE) team was questionable.... The auditors found that the Henry County Sheriff’s Office used $178,328 of the transferred funds to pay for the salary and fringe benefit costs of a deputy assigned to the PACE team, with at least $40,875 considered to be unallowable.... They found the Greenfield Police Department did not have a separate accounting code for the transferred funds, so auditors were unable to see if the funds were being properly used....

"They also found the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office used $91,562 of the transferred funds to pay for personnel costs and equipment, with at least $5,200 considered to be unallowable. And, the audit found the Richmond Police Department used $125,819 in transferred funds to pay for the salary of an officer assigned to the PACE team, including $4,387 in overtime costs, but the auditors could not verify if the officer was ever hired by the department. They are questioning the remaining $121,432 as unallowable because the department did not comply with the laws on using equitable sharing funds for salary costs."

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