Friday, May 31, 2019

$28B bailout of farms hurt by Trump tariffs

Trump’s $16-billion farm bailout means you’re paying for his tariff war twice - Los Angeles Times:

May 24, 2019 - "President Trump ... is unshakably convinced that his tariffs are a tax on China. He repeated this grossly erroneous claim just Thursday, during his announcement of a new $16-billion bailout for farmers harmed by, yes, his tariff war. 'Just so you understand,” he said, 'these tariffs are paid for largely by China. A lot of people like to say by "us."’

”Well, the people who say ['us'] are economists and other experts who have done the math, and found that the tariffs Trump has imposed on imports from China cost American consumers $68.8 billion last year.... But our main topic here is that $16-billion bailout, and what it says about who pays for Trump’s trade war and how much. The newly announced bailout comes on top of $12 billion in emergency farm aid he announced last year, aimed heavily at soybean farmers whose exports to China have fallen to zero, thanks to the trade war.

"The $68.8-billion tariff cost estimated by a team of economists led by Pablo D. Fajgelbaum of UCLA is reflected in the prices of imports, which are passed through almost entirely to U.S. consumers. The money is paid by importers to the U.S. government, which can redistribute it to the direct victims of the trade war, such as farmers, if it wishes. But that’s a narrow recompense.

"It doesn’t help collateral victims, such as the buyers of foreign-made washing machines, the median price of which rose to $835 from $749 after tariffs were imposed on the appliances (at the behest of Whirlpool, a domestic manufacturer). It won’t help the estimated 40,000 beer industry workers who have lost their jobs, in part because of tariffs on the aluminum used to make cans, according to industry reports. Nor will it help others who lose their jobs if the tariffs foment a general economic slowdown.

"Nor are the agricultural bailouts evenly distributed within the farm sector. They’re heavily concentrated among Midwestern growers, including soybean farmers, leaving dairy farmers and others wanting. It’s proper to note that the pain in this sector isn’t a direct result of U.S. tariffs.... It’s the result of retaliatory tariffs from China and other trading partners, which destroys foreign demand for U.S. production. No one pockets any gains from these tariffs; they’re simply a deadweight loss to international trade.

"As farmers are well aware, the bailouts won’t compensate them for the longer-term damage to their export prospects. Soybean farmers can’t count their losses simply in terms of lower annual exports while the tariffs are in effect; they’re fearful, rightly, that when former customers such as the Chinese turn to other countries for their supplies, they may never come back....

"So U.S. consumers are paying a tax to the U.S. government in the form of higher prices for imported goods. Some of those funds are circulated back into the economy as emergency aid — but it’s not going back to all the consumers who paid the tariffs. Nor is it certain that the tariff revenue is actually going to the trade war victims.... Moreover, because the farm losses are due to foreign, not domestic, tariffs, no revenue at all is coming to the United States as a result. The bailouts are our expense, completely. That’s another way in which the tariffs are paid not by China but by 'us.' Mr. Trump."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Rand Paul disagrees with impeachment call (video)

Rand Paul on fellow libertarian Amash's impeachment call: Russia probe was 'un-libertarian' | Fox News - David Montanaro:

May 30, 2019 - "Sen. Rand Paul does not agree with Rep. Justin Amash - a fellow libertarian Republican - that the House of Representatives should move forward with the impeachment of President Trump.

"Amash, R-Mich., made headlines in recent weeks for his lengthy Twitter threads laying out his argument for impeachment based on the Mueller report.... Paul, R-Ky., said on America's Newsroom Thursday that he takes the opposite view from Amash, seeing the origins of the Russia investigation as being 'un-libertarian.' He explained that the powers, specifically FISA surveillance, utilized in the FBI counterintelligence probe are the kind that libertarians have long warned could be abused by the government.

"'I see an abuse of power from Comey, Clapper, Brennan, from all these guys,' Paul said. 'I think they took this great power we entrusted with them to spy on foreigners and they directed it against Americans for partisan reasons.... I think it’s wrong for any Republican to think, 'Oh gosh, this is a legitimate investigation.' I think it’s a very partisan investigation."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Amash gets standing ovations in his hometown

Justin Amash Gets Standing Ovations After Calling for Impeachment Proceedings – Mother Jones - Inae Oh:

May 29, 2019 - "Rep. Justin Amash returned home to Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Tuesday for his first public event since becoming the first — and so far only — Republican in Congress to back impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. That may be a lonely position on Capitol Hill, but it inspired multiple standing ovations and rounds of applause from voters attending the town hall.

"'I want to salute your courage,' one man told Amash, sparking cheers from the audience.

"As he has previously done on Twitter, Amash spent much of the event outlining his belief that Trump had committed impeachable offenses, as well as why he considered it Congress’ duty to hold the president accountable for such actions. Amash repeatedly referred to the allegations outlined in the Mueller report to explain how he had arrived at that conclusion.

"But not everyone at Tuesday’s packed event appeared pleased. After one woman wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat accused him of drinking the same 'Kool-aid' as Democrats, Amash — who is a founding member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus — was forced to defend both his position on impeachment and conservative voting record.

“'I’m not even a middle-of-the-road Republican when it comes to these scorecards,' he responded. 'So, I haven’t changed. I’m who I said I was: I’m a principled, constitutional conservative who has stayed consistent regardless of whether we have President Obama in office or President Trump....

"Amash also told voters that many of his Republican colleagues privately agreed with him but were unwilling to say so publicly....

“'If you have a society where all we care about is that the other side is bad, and therefore we don’t have to do the right thing, that society will break down and you will have no liberty,' he continued, again drawing applause."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Liberal tax hike on rich led to $4B revenue drop

Trudeau’s Class-Warfare Tax Hike Produces Less Revenue | International Liberty - Dan Mitchell:

January 7, 2019 - "Canada in recent decades has been 'very sensible' with regard to economic issues (spending restraint, welfare reform, corporate tax reform, bank bailouts, regulatory budgeting, the tax treatment of saving, school choice, and privatization of air traffic control). But 'very sensible' is not the same as 'totally sensible'....

"The nation’s current top politician, Justin Trudeau ... increased the top tax rate from 29 percent to 33 percent after taking office in late 2015. In the real world, however, ... increasing tax rates is not the same as increasing tax revenue. From a story in the Globe and Mail:
The Liberal government’s tax on Canada’s top 1 per cent failed to produce the promised billions in new revenue in its first year, as high-income earners actually paid $4.6-billion less in federal taxes.… The latest available tax records show that revenue from Canadians earning about $140,000 or more – which had previously been the fourth and highest tax bracket – dropped by $4.6-billion in 2016, the first full year that the Liberal tax changes were in effect. Further, 30,340 fewer Canadians reported incomes in that range for 2016 compared with the year before. …The new top bracket with a 33-per-cent tax rate was predicted to raise about $3-billion a year in new revenue… 
"[S]ome of the foregone revenue might be the result of one-time changes, such as upper-income taxpayers shifting income from 2016 to 2015 (rich people do have considerable control over the timing, level, and composition of their income). A report from Global News reviews ... the degree to which revenues dropped for transitory reasons::
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office ... has maintained that the revenue drop for 2016 was a one-off event.… But an analysis of the data that adjusts for the impact of the dividends maneuver and economic factors still shows that the tax hike would have fallen far short of the hype.… Studies have shown that top earners are more likely than lower-income taxpayers to react to tax increases by reducing their taxable income. This may be because the wealthy have access to more sophisticated tax advice, are more easily able to shift assets to lower-tax jurisdictions or can afford to simply decide to work less given that they get to keep less of their money....
"[E]xperts at the C.D. Howe Institute believe the central government will eventually collect more revenue from the higher tax rate, but:
  1. The revenue will be less than projected by static revenue estimates because of permanently lower levels of taxable income.
  2. The added revenue for the central government is more than offset by lower tax receipts for subnational levels of government.
"In other words, Trudeau’s tax hike was a big mistake. The only tangible results are that the private sector is now smaller and the country is less competitive."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, May 27, 2019

Cyberattacks use National Security Agency tech.

In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc - The New York Times - Nicole Perlroth & Scott Shane:

May 25, 2019 - "For nearly three weeks, Baltimore has struggled with a cyberattack by digital extortionists that has frozen thousands of computers, shut down email and disrupted real estate sales, water bills, health alerts and many other services. But here is what frustrated city employees and residents do not know: A key component of the malware that cybercriminals used in the attack was developed at taxpayer expense a short drive down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the National Security Agency, according to security experts briefed on the case.

"Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard. It is not just in Baltimore. Security experts say EternalBlue attacks have reached a high, and cybercriminals are zeroing in on vulnerable American towns and cities, from Pennsylvania to Texas, paralyzing local governments and driving up costs.

"The N.S.A. ... has refused to discuss or even acknowledge the loss of its cyberweapon, dumped online in April 2017 by a still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers.... Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University, called the Shadow Brokers episode 'the most destructive and costly N.S.A. breach in history,' more damaging than the better-known leak in 2013 from Edward Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor....

"Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it. Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it often crashed computers — a risk that could tip off their targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism missions....

"North Korea was the first nation to co-opt the tool, for an attack in 2017 ... that paralyzed the British health care system, German railroads and some 200,000 organizations around the world. Next was Russia, which used the weapon in an attack ... aimed at Ukraine but spread across major companies doing business in the country.... In the past year, the same Russian hackers who targeted the 2016 American presidential election used EternalBlue to compromise hotel Wi-Fi networks. Iranian hackers have used it to spread ransomware and hack airlines in the Middle East....

"One month before the Shadow Brokers began dumping the agency’s tools online in 2017, the N.S.A. — aware of the breach — reached out to Microsoft and other tech companies to inform them of their software flaws. Microsoft released a patch, but hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide remain unprotected."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 26, 2019

‘Crazies’ hijacking PPC, charges former exec

‘Crazies’ now completely in control of PPC, says former executive - iPolitics - Martin Patriquin:

May 21, 2019 - Angelo Isidorou ... is a former PPC [People's Party of Canada] executive who has since become an outspoken critic of the party. Attracted to the libertarian, free speech planks espoused by the party and its founder/leader, former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, Isidorou became disillusioned with the PPC for failing to disavow ... what he called 'the crazies' who had attached themselves to the party. Among them: Alain Deng, ... who once called Islam a 'disgusting religion' [and] is now the PPC candidate for the riding of Vancouver South. (I twice emailed Deng for comment, once in December and once this week. He didn’t respond.)...

"Deng is illustrative of how the PPC has gone from upstart party to potential threat to a veritable clown car in less than a year.... Far from being an isolated case, it seems loud, hateful and fundamentally unelectable elements within the party have taken over. 'We always thought we would outnumber the crazies. Now the crazies outnumber everyone else,' Isidorou says now... 'When I came to the PPC, the overall ethos was, "Look, it’s a new party and it’s going to attract people who are problematic." But with proper policies, a constitution, a national board, we would ice the crazies out'....

"Today, less than 250 days after Bernier officially registered the PPC in a hail of Twitter invective, the party has no constitution, no national board and little in the way of policies. Instead, it has Bernier and [PPC spokesman Martin] Masse — who, according to Isidorou, is largely responsible for the surreal, malignant Twitter stream appearing under Bernier’s name.

"The policy vacuum has ... been filled with equal parts white nationalists and social conservatives. The former includes the hosts of The Ensign Hour, a podcast whose hosts pine for a 'European homeland.' Former PPC candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, meanwhile, is the party’s most prominent social conservative — a movement that by definition is anathema to Bernier’s own brand of libertarianism. 'There is a giant civil war in the PPC between the libertarians like Max and the social conservatives,' Isidorou says. 'Max knows it’s going on, he just doesn’t give a shit.'

"PPC could well have been a going concern in the upcoming election.... Bernier’s rise late last summer coincided with a similar rise in discontent with both Trudeau’s Liberals and the Conservative party’s ability to defeat them. Unimpressed by Conservative Andrew Scheer’s timidity, Isidorou’s ilk — young, motivated and, like Bernier, alarmed at what they see as an erosion of free speech in the country — are political orphans. Seemingly, the PPC was a natural home.

"There was a period ... where it seemed Bernier’s party could have wrought meaningful change in conservative politics in this country. Instead, it seems the PPC has become a gong show of racial politics, embarrassing diatribes and social conservative castoffs. And there’s more gong show to come ... says Isidorou. 'The crazies are now completely in control.'"

'via Blog this'

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The 2020 Libertarian field so far

Meet the 2020 Libertarian Candidates · 71 Republic - Kevin Damato:

May 23, 2019 - "As the 2020 presidential election approaches, there is much talk about the boisterous and ever-growing [D]emocratic field. However, However, the 2020 [L]ibertarian candidates seem rather unknown. Information on the candidates is limited, but outlets like Chris Spangle’s 'We Are Libertarians Network' have done their best through their presidential candidate and debate series...

"Adam Kokesh is an Iraq war veteran who authored the book “FREEDOM”. He used to host the show “ADAM VS THE MAN” on RT America. Kokesh also creates videos for the sites Steemit and Youtube (where he has nearly 250,000 followers).... Kokesh ... is also the founder and leader of the Iraq Veterans Against the War movement.... Kokesh, as an outspoken anarchist, made his platform simple. Once in office, he plans to sign an executive order to dissolve the government in what he describes as a 'peaceful manner'....

"Arvin Vohra is a business owner and former Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party. Arvin is a steep critic of the moderates in the Libertarian Party. His aim is to ensure that the message of a free society is not hindered by a watered down message. Vohra is passionate about getting the government out of education, abolishing the federal income tax, and implementing a non-interventionist foreign policy.

"John McAfee is a technology entrepreneur and former 2016 libertarian candidate for President of the United States. People [know] McAfee for his eccentric personality and affinity for personal freedom and privacy. His platform claims that talking about policy is pointless due to our lack of power over an unwieldy government....

"Kim Ruff has been a registered libertarian since 2005. She has party experience in the LP of Arizona and the LP of New York.... Ruff has also worked directly with the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus. Kim’s goals are to reduce executive power, end the federal reserve, and pull the US out of foreign conflicts. She also aims to pardon nonviolent criminals and return all government power to the states.

"Ben Leder ... boosted his presence within the LP after the 2016 election, maintaining that the Libertarian Party must move forward in a different direction. Leder lists his main goals as ending the federal reserve along with the hidden tax of inflation. He also wants to fix the country’s funding mechanism....

"Dan 'Taxation is Theft' Behrman is not a politician, and he wants others to know that.... Behrman believes that the three largest issues facing Americans today are taxes, national debt and our general loss of freedom.

"Christopher Marks ... is a relatively new member of the Libertarian Party.... His dissatisfaction with government stems from his experience in the broken family law process paying child support payments. Marks lists his largest priorities as breaking the two-party system, ending the 'corporate government,' [and] reforming our monetary policy.

"William Hurst is an Army National Guard veteran [who] describes himself as “between Republican and Democrat ideas,” but focusing on civil freedoms. His platform, outlined on his website, includes detailed positions pertaining to national security, the climate, and governing strategy, which he labels 'politics'....

"Zoltan Istvan has already dropped out of the race and with murmurs of Justin Amash running, this campaign has the potential to become very competitive. However, still with so much time before the 2020 election, we can only sit back and observe our current choices. Hopefully, soon we will see who is the best candidate to represent the Libertarian Party on a national stage."

'via Blog this'

Friday, May 24, 2019

Big GOP donors abandoning Amash

Following call for impeachment, where will Justin Amash get his money from now? - Raymond Arke, Center for Responsive Politics:

May 23, 2019 - "Taking a lonely stand, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first and so far only Congressional Republican to suggested that President Donald Trump conducted impeachable conduct. As a result, the libertarian-leaning Amash has been abandoned by many prominent Republican leaders and donors who have given him thousands of dollars in financial backing. And now he faces a Trump-supporting primary challenger.

"Amash, who was first elected to the House as part of the Tea Party Republican wave in 2010, is a founding member of the ultra-conservative [House] Freedom Caucus. The caucus voted on May 20 to condemn Amash’s stance on impeachment....

"Amash never brought in much money compared to the average for House members. Throughout his career, he has raised a total of $5.6 million....

"Amash’s top career contributor is the free-market, conservative Club for Growth. Its affiliates have given $275,630, almost all of which were earmarked contributions from Club members, over his five successful campaigns. They even helped him successfully fend off a primary challenge in 2014 by spending $440,557 against businessman Brian Ellis and $70,802 in support of Amash.... After his support of impeachment, the Club for Growth criticized Amash, though it’s still unclear whether they will back his Republican opponent.

"He’s already lost the support of another important group of donors — the powerful and wealthy DeVos family. The family of Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ...  have been supporters of Amash since his first election. In his recent 2018 reelection campaign, DeVos family members contributed a total of $24,300.

"One of his top contributors in 2018 was the House Freedom Fund, affiliated with Freedom Caucus leaders, which contributed $27,748 in mostly earmarked gifts. Another of the founders of the caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) contributed $4,000 from his campaign committee to Amash in 2018 — yet another financial flow likely to be cut off as Jordan is one of Trump’s staunchest supporters....

"Much of Amash’s PAC money came from GOP-linked PACs which are unlikely to fund a candidate attracting party anger....

"Amash has said that he 'can’t rule out' a third-party run for president in 2020, possibly as part of the Libertarian Party. However, when asked on May 21, he said 'I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m defending the Constitution.'"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. 
For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

38 US A-G's endorse SAFE Banking Act

Majority Of State Attorneys General Tell Congress To Pass Marijuana Banking Bill - Tom Angell, Forbes:

May 8, 2019 - "The top law enforcement officials from 38 U.S. states and territories are calling on Congress to pass legislation to increase marijuana businesses' access to banks. The move comes just days after the treasurers of 17 states issued a separate call in support of the pending cannabis financial services bill.

"Even as a growing number of states adopt laws to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, federal prohibition remains intact — for now — and ... banks ... could, they fear, be prosecuted under federal money laundering laws. Legislation to shield financial services providers from being punished by regulators for working with the cannabis industry has been gaining momentum in Congress, and now the effort is getting a boost from the National Association of Attorneys General, which is officially endorsing the bill.

"'Businesses are forced to operate on a cash basis. The resulting grey market makes it more difficult to track revenues for taxation and regulatory compliance purposes, contributes to a public safety threat as cash-intensive businesses are often targets for criminal activity, and prevents proper tracking of billions in finances across the nation,' the attorneys general wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.... '[R]regardless of how individual policymakers feel about states permitting the use of medical or recreational marijuana, the reality of the situation requires federal rules that permit a sensible banking regime for legal businesses'....

"In March, the House Financial Services Committee approved the marijuana banking bill in a bipartisan vote of 45 to 15. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), now has 173 cosponsors — substantially more than a third of the entire chamber's membership. It is expected to be considered on the House floor within the next several weeks.

"An identical companion bill on financial services for cannabis businesses in the Senate has 25 lawmakers signed on — fully a quarter of the body. Despite the advancement of the cannabis banking bill in the House, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) refused to commit to hold a hearing or vote on the bill in his panel when asked last month.

"The proposals have already been endorsed by the American Bankers Association and a number of other organizations representing financial services industry interests, as well as by drug policy reform groups....

"The treasurers, in their letter, offered further encouragement.... 'Without banking services, cannabis businesses are less able to obey the law, pay taxes, and follow state regulations of the industry,' they wrote. 'The public safety risks posed by these businesses are easily mitigated through access to banking service providers and keeping the cash off the streets. Nearly every U.S. state has a stake in this issue.'"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Amash 4 President buzz grows

Buzz grows Amash will challenge Trump as a Libertarian | TheHill - Jonathan Easley:

May 21, 2019 - "There is growing buzz that Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) will leave the Republican Party to mount a challenge against President Trump as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate.

"Amash, a former attorney who was first elected to Congress during the 2010 Tea Party wave, has thrust himself into the spotlight by becoming the first Republican in the House to support impeachment proceedings for Trump based on special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.... Amash’s remarks energized Libertarians and united the 'Never Trump' Republicans, who have been unable to recruit a candidate of their own to take on the president in 2020.

"In interviews this year, Amash has toyed with the idea of abandoning the Republican Party to run for president as a Libertarian.... There’s a full-scale effort underway to convince Amash to take the plunge.

"'There are a lot of Libertarian Party members actively encouraging Rep. Amash to switch parties and seek the Libertarian nomination,' said Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the Libertarian [Party]. 'This is probably the most organized recruitment effort I’ve seen going back to 2012 when people were trying to recruit [former Texas Rep.] Ron Paul.'"

Read more:

Libertarians want Justin Amash to run for president, and he may do it - Steven Nelson, Washington Examiner: 

May 22, 2019 - "Libertarian activist Larry Sharpe, a New York gubernatorial candidate last year, said he spoke twice recently with people close to Amash..... 'They wanted to know: Can they make impact as a Libertarian?' Sharpe said, describing the most recent call. 'He wants to make impact for a freer America. If Justin Amash believes the Libertarian Party is the best way to do that, I’m sure he will come aboard'....

"If Amash does run for president, he will be eagerly embraced by Libertarians, who see him as an eloquent evangelist for a political ideology on the decline under Trump. 'He’s terrific,' said former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, an ex-Republican who ran as the Libertarian candidate in 2012 and 2016, taking 3.3% against Trump.....

"Iowa Libertarian Party Chairman Joseph Howe said Amash 'comes off as more principled on free market principles' [than Johnson] and may be less prone to gaffes. 'Amash has probably had more press in the past few days than Johnson in the whole campaign,' he added.

"Howe is leading a national effort to draft Amash, coordinating with the Facebook group Amash 4 President, which has about 800 members."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Russian Libertarian Party leader assaulted again

Russian Libertarian Party Leader Hit With Feces In Kazan - Mikhail Svertov, RFE/RL:

May 19, 2019 - "The head of Russia's libertarians has had feces dumped on him in the Tatar capital, Kazan, before a scheduled talk on May 19.

"Mikhail Svetov, head of the Libertarian Party of Russia, was met by the attackers as he exited a car in front of the Amaks Hotel, where he was to give a lecture on how the Russian education system 'deprives children of opportunities.' At least two people dumped feces on Svetov as he approached the hotel and then ran away, Svetov aides told RFE/RL.

"Svetov said in a tweet after the incident that he had been 'splashed in the face with some crap,' but added that the lecture would still take place. After a 20-minute delay, Svetov appeared in the lecture hall inside the hotel and was greeted with applause.

"He said hotel security cameras would be checked to try to determine the identity of those who attacked him. Svetov, who said he has been attacked several times before, said after the lecture that those who attacked him must have been 'hired.'

"In April 2018, Svetov said he was accosted and beaten after arriving at the Kemerovo airport, where he was going to give a lecture titled 'Why you should not trust the government.' After the attack he was immediately put on a return flight to Moscow."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, May 20, 2019

Amash calls Trump's conduct 'impeachable'

GOP throws up impeachment shield around Trump - CNNPolitics - Stephen Collinson:

May 20, 2020 - "Republicans are moving fast to squelch Justin Amash's rebellion against Donald Trump before his conclusion that the President 'engaged in impeachable conduct' -- the first by a GOP lawmaker -- can gather momentum.....

"Amash's act of conscience on Saturday sparked immediate speculation over whether a tiny leak in the Republican dam could grow into a torrent of support running away from the President.... The early signs are that Amash's protest will not materially shift political dynamics in Washington that mean any attempt to impeach Trump remains a long-shot scenario....

"Amash warned in a string of tweets Saturday that few members of Congress had even read the Mueller report that he said contained 'multiple examples' of Trump's obstruction of justice. 'Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,' Amash wrote....

"Amash's call for impeachment predictably ignited an angry Republican backlash.

"'Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy,' Trump tweeted. 'Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!'

"Republican National Committee chair Ronna [Romney] McDaniel accused Amash of 'parroting the Democrats' talking points on Russia.'

"House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, a staunch Trump ally, questioned whether Amash was a genuine conservative. 'He's been in Congress quite some time. I think he's asked one question in all the committees that he's been in,' McCarthy said on Fox News. 'He votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me. It's a question whether he's even in our Republican conference as a whole.'

"According to the American Conservative Union, however, Amash had an 88% record of voting with the group's positions last year."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Millennial socialism based on entitlement

College Student: My Generation Is Blind to the Prosperity Around Us - Foundation for Economic Education - Alyssa Ahlgren:

April 24, 2019 - "'I'm sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around.

"I see people talking freely, working on their MacBooks, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it....

"We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

"Our unappreciation is evident as the popularity of socialist policies among my generation continues to grow. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently said to Newsweek talking about the millennial generation, 'An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity.'

"Never saw American prosperity. Let that sink in. When I first read that statement, I thought to myself, that was quite literally the most entitled and factually illiterate thing I’ve ever heard in my 26 years on this earth.... I do think she whole-heartedly believes the words she said to be true. Many young people agree with her, which is entirely misguided. My generation is being indoctrinated by a mainstream narrative to actually believe we have never seen prosperity....

"Let me lay down some universal truths really quick. The United States of America has lifted more people out of abject poverty, spread more freedom and democracy, and has created more innovation in technology and medicine than any other nation in human history. Not only that but our citizenry continually breaks world records with charitable donations, the rags to riches story is not only possible in America but not uncommon, we have the strongest purchasing power on earth, and we encompass 25 percent of the world’s GDP. The list goes on....

"Why then, with all of the overwhelming evidence around us, evidence that I can even see sitting at a coffee shop, do we not view this as prosperity? We have people who are dying to get into our country. People around the world destitute and truly impoverished. Yet, we have a young generation convinced they’ve never seen prosperity, and as a result, elect politicians dead set on taking steps towards abolishing capitalism.

"Why? The answer is this, my generation has only seen prosperity. We have no contrast. We didn’t live in the Great Depression, or live through two world wars, or see the rise and fall of socialism and communism. We don’t know what it’s like not to live without the internet, without cars, without smartphones. We don’t have a lack of prosperity problem. We have an entitlement problem, an ungratefulness problem, and it’s spreading like a plague....

"My generation is becoming the largest voting bloc in the country. We have an opportunity to continue to propel us forward with the gifts capitalism and democracy has given us. The other option is that we can fall into the trap of entitlement and relapse into restrictive socialist destitution. The choice doesn’t seem too hard, does it?"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Saturday, May 18, 2019

McDonald's: America's community centers

McDonald's: you can sneer, but it's the glue that holds communities together | Business | The Guardian - Chris Arnade:

June 8, 2016 - "On the morning of their wedding, Omar and Betty shared a breakfast of egg McMuffins at a small McDonald’s table, dressed in their finest clothes.... They don’t have a lot of money, and McDonald’s is part of their life. It is that way in many poor and middle-income neighborhoods, where McDonald’s have become de-facto community centers and reflections of the surrounding neighborhood.

"When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald's.

"Walk into any McDonald’s in the morning and you will find a group of mostly retired people clustering in a corner, drinking coffee, eating and talking. They are drawn to the McDonald’s because it has inexpensive good coffee, clean bathrooms, space to sprawl. Unlike community centers, it is also free of bureaucracy....

"In Natchitoches [Louisiana], on Tuesdays, there is a bingo game. On weekends, a Bible group sets up in the opposite corner, and offers prayers and Bibles to whoever wants to come. In other McDonald’s, politics are central. In one near downtown Kansas City ... each Friday morning the sitting area is turned over to a community meeting.....

"It isn’t just groups who use McDonald’s. For many of the poorest, for the homeless, and for people caught in an addiction, McDonald’s are an integral part of their lives. They have cheap and filling food, they have free Wi-Fi, outlets to charge phones, and clean bathrooms. McDonald’s is also generally gracious about letting people sit quietly for long periods – longer than other fast-food places....

"In almost every franchise, there are tables with people ... escaping from the streets for a short bit. They prefer McDonald’s to shelters and to non-profits, because McDonald’s are safer, provide more freedom, and most importantly, the chance to be social, restoring a small amount of normalcy. In the Bronx, many of my friends who live on the streets are regulars.... Steve, who has been homeless for 20 years, uses the internet to check up on sports, find[s] discarded papers to do the crossword puzzle, and generally escape[s] for a while.... Beauty, who has been homeless for five years, uses the internet to check up on her family back in Oklahoma when she can find a computer to borrow.

"Most importantly though, McDonald’s provide many with the chance to make real and valuable connections. When faced with the greatest challenges, with a personal loss, wealthier Americans turn to expensive therapists, others without the resources or the availability, turn to each other."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Friday, May 17, 2019

Same sex marriage legalized in Taiwan

Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage in historic first for Asia - CNN - Julia Hollingsworth:

May 17, 2019 - "Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.

The vote came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law -- which said marriage was between a man and a woman -- was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island's parliament two years to amend or enact new laws.

"On Friday -- only a week off the two-year deadline -- lawmakers in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality. It will go into effect on May 24.

"Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage....

"Tens of thousands of people braved pouring rain Friday to demonstrate in favor of same-sex marriage outside the parliament, as lawmakers began voting on three draft bills, one tabled by the island's Cabinet -- which would ultimately prove successful -- and two watered-down rival bills tabled by conservative groups.

"The successful Cabinet bill was the only one to use the word 'marriage.' It was backed by LGBTQ groups, despite the fact it could see same-sex couples denied rights enjoyed by hetrosexual couples, such as adoption and cross-national marriage....

"In 2015, veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei -- who has spent 30 years fighting for marriage equality -- filed a request to the Constitutional Court asking for a ruling on an article in the island's civil code stating that marriage is between a man and a woman.... In 2017, the court ruled the law violated the constitution....

"Taiwan's vote sets it apart from other parts of Asia where LGBTQ rights have regressed.... In April, the ruler of the tiny, oil-rich kingdom of Brunei announced he would introduce death by stoning for those convicted of gay sex. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has since said the death penalty will not be imposed, although he did not repeal the law. In Indonesia ... two men accused of being gay received 87 lashes for gay sex in the country's conservative Aceh province."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 16, 2019

NJ Democrats renege on cannabis legalization

New Jersey marijuana legalization off the table 'at this time,' top state lawmaker says | TheHill - Zack Budryk:

May 15, 2019 - "New Jersey’s top state lawmaker announced Wednesday that the legislature will not pursue legalizing recreational marijuana this year. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) said lawmakers will ask New Jersey voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana in November 2020, according to

"Sweeney said lawmakers will push forward two related bills that would expand New Jersey's medical marijuana program and wipe clean the records of residents with past convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

"Legalizing marijuana was a key campaign promise and major priority for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who called for the legislature to take it up in his January State of the State address.

“'By legalizing adult-use marijuana — first and foremost — we can reverse the inequality and unfairness left from years of failed drug policies and shift public safety resources to where they can do the most good,' Murphy said. Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also endorsed the measure....

"The New Jersey legislature canceled a vote planned in March on legalizing recreational weed use after Sweeney said that it did not have the votes to pass. The measure would have legalized recreational marijuana use among Garden State adults 21 and older. It will now be on the general election ballot for voters in 2020."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Kentucky Libertarian makes governor's ballot

Kentucky governor's race 2019: Libertarian candidate joins - Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier-Journal:

May 14, 2019 - "After a federal judge temporarily blocked a new section of a state law related to filing deadlines, a Libertarian Party candidate has officially joined the 2019 race to become Kentucky's next governor.

John Hicks officially became a candidate Monday, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State's office.

"Hicks is a Louisville native and information technology consultant who made a bid to represent the 43rd District in the Kentucky House of Representatives in November. He lost the race to Democrat Charles Booker. Hicks, 72, is ... a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam, and he previously taught in Jefferson County Public Schools and published a community newspaper in Fern Creek.

"The Libertarian candidate's running mate is Ann Cormican, a native of Paris, Kentucky, who works at the Toyota Kentucky manufacturing facility in Georgetown. Cormican also made an unsuccessful bid last November to represent the 72nd District in the Kentucky House of Representatives....

"State legislators approved a measure, House Bill 114, in March that retroactively moved up the filing deadline for third-party and independent candidates from April 1 to January 11. Hicks said he had filed his candidacy before April 1 but after the January deadline.

"The Libertarian Party of Kentucky took the matter to federal court, arguing the measure denied its candidates access to the statewide ballot in 2019. On May 9, a U.S. District Court judge in Covington agreed and temporarily blocked the section of the state law related to filing deadlines....

"Hicks and Cormican already won the Libertarian Party's state primary back in March, meaning they will appear on ballots in November. (The Libertarian Party is not included in the May 21 primary involving Republican and Democratic candidates.)"

Read more:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Toronto cop collects $1M while suspended

Toronto cop earned $1M over 12 year suspension - Cristina Howorun, CITY News:

May 7, 2019 - "Const. Ioan-Florin Floria, who has been off the job since he was nabbed in a big drug sweep in 2007, earned over $300,000 in salary over the past three years and has been taking home a regular paycheque for the past 12 years, without even clocking in for a shift.

"Floria is one of 20 Toronto police officers currently on paid suspension, according to data obtained by CityNews through a Freedom of Information request. The names of the officers weren’t released but their suspension dates, divisions, and ranks detail an ongoing problem for Toronto Police – and many other police services across the province. Officers bringing home six-figure salaries – sometimes for years – without providing any level of public service....

"Arrested in 2007 and charged with several criminal offences linked with organized crime, the traffic services officer has stayed on the payroll for over a decade without delivering a single ticket. In 2012 a jury acquitted him of six criminal charges ... but his charges under the Police Services Act still lingered. Nearly two years ago, he was found guilty on four Police Service Act charges, including breach of confidence and discredible conduct, but he appealed that ruling and last year, earned over $100,000 while his appeal makes its way through the tribunal process.

"Floria’s isn’t the only case. There’s the Toronto Courts officer who was suspended in 2004 and continued collecting a salary until 2013 when he or she was suspended without pay.... Or Constables Leslie Nyznik, Joshua Cabero and Sameer Kara, who were suspended with pay in 2015 after being charged with sexually assaulting a female parking enforcement officer during a night of partying....

"While cases like this make up a small percentage of all police behavior – ... there are over 5,000 TPS officers on payroll and only 20 are suspended – they can be costly. As of 2016, a first class constable earned over $98,000 per year – meaning even with the current suspensions, TPS has spent about $2-million [a year] on wages for work that couldn’t be done....

"That’s because under the current legislation, one of the only ways officers can ... be suspended without pay is when they are convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to jail time. Officers can also be suspended without pay if charged with a 'serious offence' under the criminal code – something that has not yet been defined – and a far cry from what the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has been lobbying for, for years – namely to be able to suspend without pay if serious charges are laid under the Police Services Act....

"City News reached out to Toronto Police several times for this story but have not yet received a statement or comment at the time of publication."

'via Blog this'

Monday, May 13, 2019

Libertarian Party Mises Caucus forms PAC

Mises PAC Launches to Support Libertarian Candidates Across the U.S. · 71 Republic - Michael Heise:

April 30, 2019 - "While some people counted out the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus after the 2018 national convention, we have been working diligently to grow our influence and our body of work. Spurred on by an endorsement by Ron Paul, and a slew of popular libertarian podcasters joining the LP, the LPMC now boasts over 40 organizers across the country.

"These organizers have worked hard to get several members elected as party officers at all levels of the LP, creating county affiliates where they hadn’t existed prior, creating the first-ever blockchain committee, supporting candidates such as Chad Williams, who was recently elected to city council of Choctaw City in Oklahoma, and supporting Decriminalize Denver’s effort to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in the city of Denver....

"Today they are unveiling their biggest project yet: Mises PAC. The Mises PAC is a hybrid political action committee that will use one bank account to donate to primarily local and county level Libertarian candidates around the country. The other account, a Super PAC, will primarily start or support already-existing ballot initiative efforts where possible and utilize issue-based coalitions to lobby at the local to state level where initiatives are not available in partnership with the fine folks at the 10th Amendment Center. In short, we are fomenting a decentralized revolution across the country.....

"The Mises Caucus hopes to bring back some of what made the Ron Paul revolution so special. Anybody that experienced it knows what I’m talking about. The energy, the cohesion, the passion, but most of all the hope that something can be done about the state and its infringements on our liberties. That can occur most effectively within our own communities to insulate ourselves from the tyranny of the federal government....

"This is a long-view game, but it can be done. Several states have legalized gold and silver as money. Several more have legalized the permitless carrying of firearms. Marijuana is now recreationally legal in 10 states and Washington DC. Alabama’s Senate recently passed a bill to remove government from marriage altogether. Psilocybin looks to be the next domino in the drug war between the Decriminalize Denver effort and Oregon’s effort to pass a medical shroom program at the state level.

"Many members of the Libertarian Party rightly complain that there is a lack of infrastructure. It’s true.... But now we have something that can support our candidates and causes wherever in the country they may be. We can’t do this alone. We need volunteers, we need money, and we need you to spread the word. Please consider signing up as a monthly supporter for as low as $5.00 a month, or signing up as a volunteer to create some new county LP affiliates, support a candidate or cause. Join our email list. It’s going to take sustained, purposeful action by a tireless minority to carry out our big break-up with the federal government.... #TakeHumanAction."

Read more, see videos:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Roger Ver keeps attention on Ross Ulbricht case

'Bitcoin Jesus' Preaches Libertarian Gospel of Crypto & Crack Cocaine - P.H. Madore, CCN:

May 11, 2019 - "Roger Ver took to YouTube to read another letter from Ross Ulbricht, creator of the first darknet market using Bitcoin. The libertarian idealist used the opportunity to rail against the war on drugs.... Ver – once nicknamed 'Bitcoin Jesus' for his rabid crypto evangelism –  is more recently best known as a major proponent of Bitcoin Cash, which he views as remaining more faithful to the vision of Satoshi Nakamoto than Bitcoin....

"Ulbricht ... is currently serving a [double] life sentence in federal prison for his role in providing a safe place for people to buy and sell drugs online. Some have argued that Silk Road created the first real demand for Bitcoin, which was the only currency used on the website....

"After reading the letter, Roger Ver unleashed an emotional monologue about the war on drugs, of which he believes Ross Ulbricht is an unfortunate victim. He presented a boilerplate libertarian stance that drugs should not be illegal, in any form....
And just because some people get together and write some words down on paper and call it a law, that doesn’t alter morality one bit. And if people have the right to drink alcohol, they have the right to smoke marijuana – they have the right to smoke crack. Because their lives and their bodies belong to them and their lives and their bodies don’t belong to the politicians or the police officers or any of these other people....
"Ulbricht never sold drugs himself. The most involvement in the drug trade Ulbricht had was trying to grow mushrooms. Even so, he received the harshest sentence out of anyone ever arrested related to darknet markets.

"Governments worldwide have gone the opposite route from what Roger Ver and libertarians might prefer. Recently, DeepDotWeb, a clear net site devoted to the underworld of the web, was shut down and its domain seized. At least two of its operators have so far been arrested. This follows the capture of the proprietors of Wall Street Market, which had recently exit scammed.

"A substantial darknet bust coincided with the closure of Dream Market, leading some to speculate the events were correlated.

"In theory, it’s challenging to track users on the dark web and transactions made using certain privacy-enhancing technologies like cryptocurrency. The reality is that law enforcement often gets a big boost when it compromises just one or two individuals."

Read more and watch video:
'via Blog this'

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rand Paul sees return of congressional gridlock

Rand Paul on How Libertarian Philosophy Can Connect Divided Partisans | Duke Today:

November 9, 2018 - "What should we expect from Congress between January and the presidential election in 2020, now that Democrats have won back the House? Not much, according to one U.S. senator.

"'I think very little will happen,' said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky who spoke Friday at the Sanford School. 'I think Democrats will bring forth initiatives in the House and they will die in the Senate.'

"Paul, who earned his medical degree from Duke in 1988 and has a son who’s a sophomore here, also talked about how his fellow Republicans can work more productively with Democrats.... Paul said he agrees with liberals on a number of issues, including: war ('I’m as anti-war as you can get'); relaxed criminalization for drug offenses ('There is a racial disparity in drug policy and we should do something about it'); less government eavesdropping on Americans in the name of fighting terrorism; and not allowing a U.S. citizen to be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant without a trial....

"Most of the compromising in Washington involves too much shared back-scratching: the left gets its welfare spending so the right can get its military spending, he said.  He believes the main role of government is to protect liberty.... 'I think we should really self-examine what government is.'

"Asked how he reconciles smaller government with economic disparity, Paul said, “There is no world in which there is no inequality'.... He said there’s 'more mobility than you think,' and that while not perfect, the United States’ and other nations’ embrace of capitalism has helped reduce extreme poverty from around 85 percent worldwide in the 1800s to around 9 percent of the world today.... He disagrees with Trump on immigration, which he said is an asset, especially in today’s hot economy where workers can be hard to find.

"Asked about gun control in the wake of recent mass killings ... Paul said he doesn’t believe that’s the answer since '99 percent of gun owners aren’t killing people'.... Better law enforcement work would help, especially investigating potential threats to the fullest extent, he said....

"Asked how he can be against government intrusion into private lives yet oppose a woman’s right to an abortion, Paul said it’s a question that divides Libertarians, but noted their political philosophy typically opposes aggression. 'If you think the baby is not a person, do what you want,' he said. 'If you think it’s a person then Libertarians say the government has a role to stop it.'

"The event was hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty student organization and POLIS: Duke's Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service."

Read more:

'via Blog this'

Friday, May 10, 2019

Joe Biden takes libertarian line on licensing

Biden Echoes Libertarians' Call on Occupational Licensing | RealClearPolitics - Philip Wegman:

May 9 2019 - "Speaking before the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before declaring his third bid for the presidency, Biden settled on one example in particular: occupational licensing reform. 'You know if you are a hair braider, you braid people’s hair, you have to get a license to do something like 400 hours of training,' he said before ... concluding that licensing requirements were part of a greater unseen effort 'not to help the worker.'

"The union crowd in Washington, D.C., gave the gaffe-prone politician a laugh, and three weeks later at his presidential campaign kickoff, Biden recycled the talking point. 'Why should someone who braids hair have to get 600 hours of training? It makes no sense,' he told another labor crowd, this one packed into a union hall in Pittsburgh. 'They’re making it harder and harder in a whole range of professions, all to keep competition down.'

"The union members in the crowd and the workers standing behind the candidate applauded again -- reliably Democratic voters all cheering the kind of government deregulation that has been the pet project of libertarian billionaires like Charles and David Koch for half a decade....

"Well known to limited-government types, occupational licensing reform is the sort of thing discussed by wonks at libertarian think tanks. Until now, the issue hasn’t been fodder for presidential politics. This could change, thanks to Biden, and it could begin a larger national discussion about state and local licensing rules that govern everything from hair braiding to pet walking.

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly half of U.S. workers hold an occupational license, a dramatic increase since 1950 when just 5% of the workforce held such permits. Attorneys, construction contractors, and surgeons are all expected to obtain legal certification to ensure quality and public safety. But critics complain that licensing requirements have gone too far when hairdressers and interior decorators have to obtain permission from the government to do their jobs....

"Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ... Democrat and close Biden ally ... eliminated licensing requirements for more than a dozen jobs.... Pennsylvania barbers were required to train for 1,250 hours, pass written exams, and spend thousands of dollars just to legally give a buzz cut. And anyone who want[ed] to auction off antiques, manage a campground, or even sell cemetery plots in his state had to obtain legal certification to do so. Critics like Wolf argue that those hoops do more to harm workers looking for opportunity than they do to protect consumers.

"Biden agrees and the longtime liberal is getting rare accolades from an unusual source for making the argument: the conservative Koch network.... Erica Jedynak, director of employment initiatives at the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, told RealClearPolitics that Biden’s comments show the 'issue is now coming to the forefront'....

"Clark Neily, a vice president at the libertarian CATO Institute, is normally no fan of the former vice president ... Neily told RCP, but Biden is a persuasive politician who has grasped onto 'something that is fundamentally true, namely that occupational licensing is destroying the engine of American prosperity.... If he is prepared to translate that into terms his constituency can understand and respond to, it’s going to be a winning message,' Neily said. If Biden [also] backed the libertarian case for further criminal justice reform, the CATO scholar added, 'heck, I might even vote for him.'”

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Decriminalize Denver initiative wins by under 1%

Magic mushrooms decriminalization: Denver poised to become first in U.S. to loosen restrictions - Jon Murray, Denver Post:

May 8, 2019 - "Denver is poised to become the first city in the nation to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. After closing an early vote deficit Tuesday night and early Wednesday, final unofficial results posted late in the afternoon showed a reversal of fortune — with Initiative 301 set to pass narrowly with 50.6 percent of the vote. The total stands at 89,320 votes in favor and 87,341 against, a margin of 1,979.

"The Denver Elections Division will continue accepting military and overseas ballots, but typically those numbers are small. Results will be certified May 16....

"Denver’s vote has attracted national attention. While efforts are afoot to get psilocybin-related measures on the ballot in Oregon and California in 2020, Denver hosted the first-ever U.S. popular vote on the matter, according to organizers. An earlier effort in California last year failed to qualify for the ballot.

"Though Initiative 301 attracted no organized opposition, critics of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana lamented the prospect of Denver blazing yet another trail they see as misguided and potentially harmful.... 'We’ll see what the final numbers are, but we’re a little stunned to see a 7,000-vote flip overnight on that,' said Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, who initially questioned on Twitter whether vote-tampering was involved....

"Supporters extolled emerging research showing potential health benefits with psychedelic mushrooms. The measure likely was put over the top by younger voters, who tend to cast their ballots closer to or on Election Day, even though all registered voters receive their ballots in the mail about three weeks earlier.

"Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin 'breakthrough therapy' designation for its potential to help with treatment-resistant depression, a status that speeds up the development and review process for a medicine containing the substance....

"Some national media outlets as well as the Centennial Institute wrongly called I-301 a bust ... based on the early results. But the gap tightened throughout the night. By 1 a.m. Wednesday, when Denver Elections put out its last release before pausing counting for the night, the measure still was losing by 3.4 percentage points. It overcame that margin in the next — and final — round of results shortly after 4 p.m."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mushrooms get more votes than mayor in Denver

Initiative to decriminalize 'magic mushrooms' in Denver fails | - Erin Powell:

May 8. 2019 - "A push to essentially legalize 'magic mushrooms' in Denver failed in Tuesday’s citywide vote. Close to 52 percent of voters decided against Initiative 301, which would have decriminalized possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms for adults who are at least 21-years-old. *

"The 68,711 Denverites who voted for 'magic mushrooms' is more than the total for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who received 56,179 votes as of the 5 a.m. results.

"Had it passed, the measure would have 'deprioritize[d], to the greatest extent possible,' charging people for taking the mushrooms, which are considered a hallucinogenic drug. Police would have also been prohibited from using any resources to go after anyone who took them.

"Organizers in Denver gathered more than 5,500 valid signatures late last year to get Initiative 301 on the ballot, giving voters the chance to prevent police and prosecutors from citing or charging anyone for having psilocybin mushrooms.

"Supporters said psilocybin is a medicine and people shouldn’t be jailed for using it. If caught, people could get a yearlong sentence for possession."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

*In the final count posted later May 8, the initiative had overcome that deficit and won by a slim margin. See Decriminalize Denver initiative wins by under 1%

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Florida Libertarians set up whistleblower site

Local Libertarians Launch Site to Report Government Waste - Bradenton Times:

April 21, 2019 - "The Libertarian Party of Manatee County [Florida] hopes to provide citizens and government employees an opportunity to anonymously report acts of government waste. The political party launched this week, where residents can upload pictures or documents that show government waste, fraud or corruption, without the posts being traced back to the person who submitted them.

"'While some agencies may have ways to report fraud, often a report must be made to the very agency involved, for example the School Board website,' says LPMC Chair Ray Wolff. 'This is bit like the fox watching the hen house. is a better way to make such reports.'

Wolff says local Libertarians seek to establish more transparency and accountability to Manatee County....  'As the Libertarian Party of Manatee County, we see one of our roles as a third party is to bring openness, trust and transparency to our local government,' Wolff says. "With help from the public and government employees, GovStoppers can be the impartial and anonymous way to bring local government waste and corruption to light.'

"The website is built with anonymity in mind, said Wolff, using anonymous third-party messaging and email to access GovStoppers and send files. Its photo upload feature does not log or store information that could link the photos with the sender.

Wolff says that the Libertarians — America’s fastest growing political party — face ballot access restrictions engineered by the major parties, intended to discourage independents and third-party candidates from winning office and affecting political change, but that GovStoppers is a way for members to magnify their impact."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Monday, May 6, 2019

Psilocybin decriminalization makes Denver ballot

'Magic mushroom' decriminalization on Denver ballot - Associated Press, Dayton Daily News:

May 6, 2019 - "Voters decide this week whether Denver will become the first U.S. city to decriminalize the use of psilocybin, the psychedelic substance in 'magic mushrooms.'

A citizen-led initiative appearing on ballots Tuesday follows a path that led to marijuana's legalization in Denver and later in Colorado. Campaign organizers, though, say their only goal is to prevent people from going to jail for possessing or using mushrooms.

"The federal government still classifies psilocybin as a Schedule I drug, defined as having no medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. The decision stymied research into its medical use for decades but small studies have resumed in recent years.

"Medical researchers have found the substance can help treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Those studies were small and closely supervised but the preliminary results gave researchers hope that psychedelic drugs could be used to treat cancer anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder....

"Psilocybin is among the substances described as psychedelics or hallucinogens. Researchers say they have been used in religious practices for decades for their effects on users' perceptions and spiritual experiences....

"Denver's initiative would effectively decriminalize use or possession of psilocybin by people 21 and older, making it the lowest enforcement priority for local police and prosecutors. The proposed ordinance also prevents city funds from being used for criminal penalties on possession or use and creates a panel of officials to study the effects of the change.

"The initiative does not legalize psilocybin or permit its sale by Denver's cannabis businesses.

"The city's mayor and district attorney have publicly opposed the proposal.... But there is almost no organized opposition to the pro-psilocybin campaign, Decriminalize Denver....

"A California effort to decriminalize the use, possession, growth, sale and transportation of psilocybin failed to qualify for the statewide ballot in 2018. Organizers in Oregon are trying to gather enough support to put a similar initiative to a statewide vote in 2020."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A graphic novel on libertarian Rose Wilder Lane

Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story by Peter Bagge | Drawn & Quarterly:

"Peter Bagge returns with a biography of another fascinating twentieth-century trailblazer —the writer, feminist, war correspondent, and libertarian Rose Wilder Lane.... Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story is a fast-paced, charming, informative look at the brilliant Lane. Among other achievements, she was a founder of the American libertarian movement and a champion of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in bringing the classic Little House on the Prairie series to the American public....

"Bagge’s portrait of Lane is heartfelt and affectionate, probing into the personal roots of her rugged individualism. Credo is a deeply researched dive into a historical figure whose contributions to American society are all around us, from the books we read to the politics we debate."
Read more:
'via Blog this'

Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story – - [from article intro by Brian Doherty]:

June 2019 -  "Rose Wilder Lane was born on December 5, 1886, in the territory of South Dakota. Her early years were a hardscrabble settler's life similar to that of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder.... After an early career writing for newspapers and penning popular biographies of figures such as Jack London, Charlie Chaplin, Herbert Hoover, and Henry Ford, Lane worked with the Red Cross in Europe in the 1920s. She adventured through Albania and parts of the Middle East....

"Throughout the 1930s, Lane assisted her mother with her fabulously successful series of children's books.... During that same period, under her own byline, Lane was a successful novelist and one of the most popular fiction writers for the Saturday Evening Post, a leading bastion of anti-Roosevelt, anti-New Deal sentiment. Lane worked with proto-libertarian editor Garet Garrett until he was no longer welcome at the publication, which reversed its stance after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"As war approached and the state grew, Lane saw her vision of old-fashioned American liberty on the ropes. In response, she produced one of the ur-texts of the modern American libertarian movement, 1943's The Discovery of Freedom, a song of praise to human growth and political liberty's role in furthering it.

"Lane was a revolutionary; while believing America's experiment in liberty arose organically from its frontier experience, she thought the American model could and should spread beyond the nation's borders. America 'is a totally new world,' she wrote. 'This new world is an intricate interplaying of dynamic energies, a living network enclosing the whole earth and linking all human beings in one common effort, one common fate'....

"The Little House books remain part of the American canon, with the Wilder family still standing as the template of the self-sufficient pioneer spirit. Lane herself was childless, but she had a habit of quasi-adopting young people, one of whom went on to change the political history of libertarianism: her 'grandson,' the eventual Libertarian Party presidential nominee Roger MacBride. Though her own writing is now less well-known, Lane undeniably served as an intellectual foremother to a foundational generation of mid-century libertarian educators and activists."
Read more, and see sample pages:

More sample pages here:

Saturday, May 4, 2019

UN organizations call for drug decriminalization

UN Organizations Unite In Call for International Drug Decriminalization | Marijuana Moment - Kyle Jaeger:

March 12, 2019 - "One of the most influential associations within the United Nations (UN) has endorsed the decriminalization of drug possession and use in a policy statement.

"The UN Chief Executives Board (CEB), which represents 31 UN agencies including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), adopted a position stipulating that member states should pursue science-based, health-oriented drug policies—namely decriminalization. Transform, a UK-based drug reform advocacy group, first reported this week on the policy statement, which was quietly released in January.

"The significance of the decriminalization endorsement is hard to overstate. Not only does it represent a substantial evolution on the part of certain UN agencies like the UNODC, which has historically supported the enforcement of punitive drug laws, but it also comes ahead of a major international meeting that will shape future UN drug policy.

"The UN CEB said the agencies ... will 'promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use'....
Other policies the organization is embracing include investing in harm reduction programs, calling for universal health care coverage for substance use disorders, addressing prison overcrowding and eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with drug use....

"As Transform explained, there have been a number of endorsements for decriminalization among certain UN agencies in recent years. The World Health Organization (WHO), The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Women and UN Development Program have each embraced the policy, as has former UN Secretary General ban Ki Moon and the current secretary general, António Guterres.

"Guterres, as Portugal’s prime minister, oversaw the passage of a national law to decriminalize drugs, a policy he touted in a speech to UNCND last year.

"But the unanimous adoption of a pro-decriminalization stance by the UN CEB ... sends an unambiguous message to member states that they should treat drug use as a public health, rather than criminal justice, issue."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Friday, May 3, 2019

NB cannabis monopoly lost $11.7M in first year

Cannabis NB lost $11.7M in its first year of operation | CTV News:

May 1, 2019 - "New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he'll look at all options, including privatization, after the province's Crown-owned cannabis retailer recorded a big financial loss in its first year of operation. Unaudited year-end results released Tuesday show Cannabis NB lost $11.7 million.

"Higgs said Wednesday  he wasn't surprised the operation lost money, and the government will look at whatever needs to be done to ensure that it is not a drain on the public treasury. He said the province will look for the best model to protect both consumers and taxpayers, and that could include privatization....

"Higgs noted that other provinces, including neighbouring Nova Scotia, have combined their liquor and cannabis sales in the same stores, while New Brunswick built stand-alone stores for Cannabis NB.

"Last October, then Cannabis NB president Brian Harriman said with overhead and start-up costs, he hoped the 20 stores would at least break even in their first fiscal year.

"As the parent company, NB Liquor will consolidate Cannabis NB's results into its year-end results."

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Oregon initiative to legalize medical psilocybins

Press – PSI 2020 - The Official PSI 2020 Campaign Website (news release):

March 11, 2019 - "The Oregon Psilocybin Society and the PSI 2020 ballot initiative campaign raised $79,370 in support of legalizing access to psilocybin assisted therapy in Oregon. The fundraising effort came in association with a benefit gala held on March 3rd at the Portland Art Museum. The sold-out event brought together leading scientists, grassroots policy reformers, and local leaders of an evolving coalition.

"Said Tom Eckert, who, with his wife Sheri, serves as Chief Petitioner of the ballot initiative: 'I think the Benefit was a significant step for this campaign, not just financially but also because it started a conversation between different aspects of the movement. We are excited to see how this unfolds.'

"The fundraising effort came after the release of polling numbers that showed a slim majority of Oregonians favoring the proposed legislation.

"The Benefit was keynoted by Robin Carhart-Harris, who is the Head of Psychedelic Research at the Imperial College of London, and Mark Haden, who is the Executive Director of Canada’s Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

"Said Chief Petitioner Sheri Eckert, 'It was definitely a boost to have these great voices – who are now friends of ours and friends of the campaign – speak at a fundraising event for psychedelic policy reform in our home state. Oregon has become ground zero for what could be a worldwide psychedelic policy reform movement.'"

Read more:
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Saskatchewan government expands civil forfeiture

Amendment could strip innocent people of their homes, critics warn | Regina Leader-Post - Arthur White-Crummey:

April 30, 2019 - "A Saskatoon defence lawyer said new civil forfeiture rules passed on Tuesday will line the pockets of his profession at the expense of people trying to hold onto their homes. 'I fully expect this to be a profitable area of practice, unfortunately, on the backs of our citizens, some of whom are going to be completely innocent of any wrongdoing,' Brian Pfefferle said of amendments to Saskatchewan’s Seizure of Criminal Property Act....

"The act governs the civil forfeiture process, laying out when and how the government can seize property allegedly connected to criminal activity. The changes mean that owners of property linked to sexual offences, gang or terrorist activity or impaired driving will have a harder time defending themselves. The burden will now be on them, rather than the Crown, to make their case. If they fail, the province could potentially take their vehicle, or even their home.

"Critics are especially worried that the amendments also apply to property subjected to community safety orders, which are not criminal. In their view, it means a person could lose their house without even being charged — let alone convicted — of an offence. 'Hopefully that doesn’t happen very often, but it’s certainly possible, because there’s no due process in that legislation,' Pfefferle said....

"NDP ... justice critic Nicole Sarauer [said] that perhaps 80 per cent of those facing forfeiture make do without a lawyer, as Legal Aid doesn’t doesn’t work on forfeiture cases. She warned that the changes will further stack the deck against them.... She said she’s seen community safety orders issued against an alleged drug dealer living at home with his mother.... 'For that mother now to have to lose their home because of this situation is quite devastating,' she said.

"Tammy Pryznyk, the ministry’s director of civil forfeiture, ... said her department chooses its cases 'wisely'. Sarauer said it’s dangerous for the legislation to leave that up to the Crown, adding there hasn’t been enough work to study the consequences of the legislation.... The criminal bar was not consulted on the amendments, officials confirmed.

"The money from civil forfeiture goes to support victims of crime, but also to pay for police operations. Pfefferle believes that creates 'bad optics'....

"Even if the safeguards work, Pfefferle thinks clients will be poorer for it. He’s said he’s already seen people spend thousands on legal bills while fighting forfeiture, and warned it will now happen more often. 'It’s going to cause significant costs for arguably innocent people,' he said."

'via Blog this'