Wednesday, July 31, 2019

British PM gives key cabinet posts to libertarians

Leader: The tyranny of the free-market right | The New Statesman:

July 31, 2019 - "Boris Johnson’s ruthlessly efficient cabinet reshuffle was marked by the ascension of the libertarians in the modern Conservative Party.

"In 2012, a group of five recently elected Tory MPs published Britannia Unchained, a hymn to deregulation, tax cuts and privatisation. Two of its co-authors, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab, now hold two of the great offices of state (the Home Office and the Foreign Office). A further two, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and business minister Kwasi Kwarteng, are also cabinet members.

"As prime minister, Theresa May wanted to rehabilitate the state as an economic actor and denounced the 'libertarian right' as well as the 'socialist left'. But for Britannia Unchained’s authors, Brexit is a means further to roll back the frontiers of government. In May 2016, Ms Patel, the then employment minister, declared: 'If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3bn boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.'

"The appeal of leaving the EU without an agreement, as Mr Johnson has threatened, is precisely that it could create the conditions to impose policies unachievable in normal times. Libertarians are fond of recalling the words of Milton Friedman, who wrote in Capitalism and Freedom (1962), 'Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around'....

"Mr Johnson’s government is more ideologically heterogeneous than it may first appear. The Prime Minister is a political magpie who embraces or discards policies based on his own advancement....  As Mr Johnson is pragmatic enough to recognise, public support for higher government spending (funded by increased taxes) is at a 15-year high of 60 per cent, according to the most recent British Social Attitudes survey.

"Yet Mr Johnson, a career opportunist, does not represent a coherent alternative to his party’s libertarian wing. The predominance of the free-market right among his cabinet is another symptom of the closing of the conservative mind. Should the Prime Minister falter, Conservative MPs and their outriders will clamour for a 'true believer'. Mr Johnson’s premiership, then, may not mark the end of the great moving right show but yet another staging post along the route ... to becoming a fully Americanised market society."

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Canadian copyright term extension on hold

Canada Introduces USMCA Implementation Bill…Without a General Copyright Term Extension Provision - Michael Geist,

May 30, 2019 - The Canadian government tabled Bill C-100 yesterday, the bill to implement the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement.... [K]ey provisions ... include new criminal provisions on trade secrets and tampering with rights management information. The bill also features several provisions related to copyright term but notably does not touch the current general copyright term of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. There are several new terms included in the bill with extensions for anonymous works, performances in sound recordings, sound recordings, and cinematographic works. The bill expressly states that none of the extensions are retroactive which means that the works that are currently in the public domain will remain there even after the new terms are established.

Yet the big story is that Section 6 of the Copyright Act, which states that the general term of copyright is life of the author plus 50 years, remains unchanged despite a USMCA requirement of life plus 70 years. Why unchanged?

I am advised that the reason is that the Canadian government negotiated a 2 1/2 year transition period for the USMCA and it intends to use the time to consult with the public on the best way to meet the copyright term obligation. That holds the promise of the making the best of a bad situation given that few (other than the embarrassingly one-sided Heritage committee study) think that extending the term of copyright benefits Canadians.

For example, there has been some thought given to establishing a registration requirement for the additional 20 years. That approach would allow rights holders that want the extension to get it, while ensuring that many other works enter the public domain at the international standard of life plus 50 years. By providing for life plus 50 and the option for an additional 20 years, Canadian law would be consistent with Berne Convention formalities requirements and with its new trade treaty obligations. Copyright registration would not eliminate all the harm to the public domain, but it would mean that only those that desire the extension would take the positive steps to get it, thereby reducing the costs of the USMCA’s unnecessary copyright term extension.

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Article copyright Michael Geist. Licensed Creative Commons BY 2.5.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Canadian government monitoring social media

Government monitoring social media for posts critical of Trudeau’s immigration record – True North News - Andrew Lawton:

July 23, 2019 - 'Bureaucrats in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada were 'monitoring' social media posts and Reddit threads for 'misconceptions' about immigration last summer.

"Internal emails obtained exclusively by True North under Access to Information [law] reveal a team of 12 communications and social media staffers reporting and conducting 'detailed analysis' on tweets posted not only by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, but also ordinary Canadians. The documents date to August 2018, when Bernier took aim at 'extreme multiculturalism,' sparking a national discussion....

"One of the key issues from the emails involved a Reddit thread discussing a Toronto Sun article about refugee housing at a Radisson hotel. The 'social care' team lead with IRCC said in an email that the thread 'had become bigoted in nature'.... 'The comments are unfavorable to the Prime Minister and government, and are also very un-sympathetic (sic) to those claiming asylum,' he wrote.

"In another email in the chain, a staffer says her department will 'continue to monitor' the Reddit thread, which is still online though closed for commenting by moderators in the r/Canada subreddit.... She directed one colleague to share the information with the Privy Council Office, which is the bureaucratic wing of the Prime Minister’s Office. She also assigned someone to prepare notes to brief the deputy minister, the highest ranking bureaucrat in Canada’s immigration department.

"The document also contains a two-page chart of tweets from Canadians critical of the government on immigration, labeled by whomever compiled them with descriptions such as 'Condemnation of the Trudeau government' and 'Commends (Maxime Bernier) for standing up for Canada/rails against diversity and irregular migration.' All of the tweets tagged Bernier and the department’s official Twitter handle, the report noted. It’s not known how the government is storing or using the database of tweets it’s amassing through this....

"These emails prove the public service is monitoring private citizens’ social media comments critical of the government – and sharing them with the Privy Council Office. They also show that Rempel’s and Bernier’s tweets about immigration last summer triggered enough backlash that the government needed a dozen people to work to address 'misconceptions,' suggesting they believe anyone criticizing the government’s ham-fisted approach to running immigration by virtue signalling is wrong, and in need of a dose of the state narrative."

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Ex-Muslim speaks out on "Islamophobia"

Op-ed: Ex-Muslims – a community in protest | mnamazie - Maryam Namazie, The Free Thinker, Patheos blog:

July 21, 2019 - "When the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) started ... in June 2007, we were hard pressed to find 25 people who would come out publicly to break the apostasy taboo.... Today, we are witness to an international ex-Muslim 'community' – a tsunami of atheism.

"For me, though, this has never been about community as identity politics (people boxed into homogenised, segregated communities with culturally-relative rights managed by 'community leaders'). But rather, a community in protest: insisting on freedom from religion and the right to conscience ... a movement that insists on our common humanity and equality – not difference or superiority. A movement of people who refuse to live in fear and in the shadows. And who are speaking out for social change in unprecedented ways, particularly via social media.

"This movement matters because thirteen states punish atheism with the death penalty – all Islamic.... Because a series of laws in Saudi Arabia define atheism as terrorism with Ahmad Al-Shamri being sentenced to death for atheism.... Because Sina Dehghan has been sentenced to death in Iran for 'insulting Islam'.... Because a Pakistani High Court Judge has said that blasphemers are terrorists with Ayaz Nizami and Rana Noman facing the death penalty. This movement matters because you can be killed for leaving or criticising Islam....

"Yet when CEMB took to the streets of London Pride last year, the East London Mosque filed a complaint against our 'Islamophobic' placards.... when #ExMuslimBecause became viral overnight with over 120,000 Tweets from 65 countries with so many realising they were not alone for the first time in their lives, BBC Trending said it was an excuse for 'Muslim-bashing' and 'Islamophobia' ... when we showed our solidarity with those persecuted in Saudi Arabia for eating or drinking during Ramadan, armed metropolitan police came to the Saudi Embassy’s rescue saying our 'eat-in' and fast-defying solidarity action was “offending” those at the embassy …

"In my opinion, accusations of 'Islamophobia' are less about opposing bigotry (after all you cannot stop racism by outlawing blasphemy and apostasy) and more about defending religious privilege and the status quo. It is used to scaremonger ex-Muslims into silence and impose de facto apostasy and blasphemy laws where none exist. Where they do, we are accused of blasphemy and apostasy and persecuted without any such 'niceties'....

"The charge of 'Islamophobia' protects religion and the religious-Right, not believers.... Conflating criticism of Islam and Islamism with 'Muslim-bashing' sees dissent as bigotry rather than for what it is – a defence of blasphemy and apostasy when one can be killed for it.

"That doesn’t mean that bigotry against Muslims, migrants, minorities doesn’t exist. Of course it does..... And, yes of course, there are ex-Muslims who are bigoted against Muslims just as there are Muslims who are bigoted against ex-Muslims.... But individuals – not a 'community' –  must be held accountable for their choices. We are not extensions of our 'communities' to be defended or condemned depending on which 'tribe' we belong to....

"Whilst touted as progressive, identity politics is a politics of difference AND superiority – these are two sides of the same double-edged sword. The politics of difference has always been the fundamental principle of a racist agenda, not the other way around – whether it is Nazism, the biological theory of difference and racial superiority or expressions of difference in cultural and religious terms. Identity politics is the corruption of the fight for social justice by degrading it to a mere defence of culture and the homogenous 'community' – no matter what.

"In an age of regressive identity politics and cultural relativism, an ex-Muslim community in protest matters because it reaffirms universal values, anti-racism, secularism, the fight for equality, social justice and our common humanity. A movement that is about equality not privilege. Rights without permission. And gives no apologies."

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

PPC scraps liberty for pragmatism, says Moen

The tragedy of Mad Max - The Post Millennial - Tim Moen:

June 14, 2019 - "When Stephen Harper resigned, I, and many of my libertarian colleagues, saw an opportunity for a Canadian Ron Paul to emerge. We wanted a mainstream libertarian conservative who was against foreign interventionism, central banking, corporate bailouts, government-issued marriage permits, the income tax and the war on drugs ... who supported property rights, free trade, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, sound money, laissez-faire, and a strictly limited government.

"We immediately thought of Maxime Bernier. He had written prolifically about free market economics and criticized the central banking cartel from an Austrian economics perspective. He regularly quoted Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard who are highly regarded in libertarian circles. We reached out to Max and invited him to Calgary to introduce him to a number of individuals and groups and show him that he’d have western support if he threw his name in the ring to run as Leader of the CPC....

"The fact that Max nearly won the CPC leadership on a fairly economically libertarian platform was a testament to the work libertarians have done to popularize liberty. Turns out there are many people that think these ideas matter and Max promised to be their champion, but he lost....

"Immediately after his loss I reached out to him to thank him for running. I also publicly invited him to make history and take my spot as Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada.... This was an opportunity to take his place in the pantheon of libertarian icons like Ron Paul and take Canada’s liberty movement to the next level....

"Now I’m not so sure.... Pragmatism informs much of Max’s policy. His policy completely avoids drug legalization even though criminality and the opiate crisis is clearly driven by prohibition. There is nothing on monetary and banking reform even though central banking robs us and drives a harmful business cycle. His foreign policy position entails sending troops to the middle east to fight terrorism even though this policy has done nothing but nurture terrorism, open slave markets, a migrant crisis and made the world more dangerous for Canadians. He continually says he respects our constitution which codifies equalization payments, has weak free speech protection, enumerates no right to bear arms, and doesn’t codify property rights. These are all issues that principled libertarians care deeply about that he either gets wrong or avoids....

"This is one of the problems with pragmatism. It paints you into a corner. Now that Max has secured support from populists who see immigration, cheap labour and automation as existential threats, how is he going to be able to speak like the economically literate leader Canada needs?

"Populists tend to be economic protectionists. He is going to have to tone down talk on free trade and appease collective economic ignorance. If he achieves conventional success, eventually his policies will look no different [from] the CPC running polls to figure out what they believe."

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Civil asset forfeiture ended in Arkansas

Arkansas Halts Civil Asset Forfeiture and Closes Federal Loophole - Steve Byas, The New American:

July 24, 2019 - "'There shall be no civil judgment under this subchapter and no property shall be forfeited unless the person from whom the property is seized is convicted of a felony offense that [is] related to the property being seized and that permits the forfeiture of the property,' said State Senator Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), the sponsor of a bill that went into effect July 24 to abolish civil asset forfeiture in practically all cases in the state of Arkansas.

"The vote was unanimous in both houses of the Arkansas Legislature, and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the bill into law back in March. According to the new law, the state is prohibited from taking a person’s property unless there is a criminal conviction first.

"Previously, the state had already taken action to withdraw from a federal program known as 'equitable sharing' [under which] state and local police, and prosecutors, were able to essentially ignore state restrictions on the practice known as civil asset forfeiture (CAF) by passing cases off to the federal government via what is known as adoption....

"CAF is a legal process by which law-enforcement agencies take assets from persons they suspect of having committed a crime, without necessarily even charging the owners of the property with any crime.... This is contrasted with criminal asset forfeiture, where the accused is afforded all of the constitutional and statutory procedural safeguards available under criminal law, and must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before any property is forfeited.

"Some states, recognizing the inherent injustice involved in civil forfeiture, have passed laws to rein in the practice....  Enter adoption forfeiture, or 'equitable sharing,' the practice by which local law enforcement can circumvent state laws against CAF by 'sharing' part of their seized cash or property with federal authorities.

"The Arkansas Legislature has moved to curtail this effort to circumvent state sovereignty. Under their law, ... No state or local law-enforcement agency may transfer any property seized by the state or a local agency to any federal entity for forfeiture unless the circuit court having jurisdiction ... enters an order, upon petition by the prosecuting attorney, authorizing the transfer.... [T]he transfer shall not be approved unless it reasonably appears that the activity is giving rise to the investigation or the seizure involves more than one state, or if the nature of the investigation or seizure would be better pursued under federal law.

"Unfortunately, a compliant judge could still circumvent state law by, as the Tenth Amendment Center warns, simply becoming a 'rubber stamp' to the requests of law enforcement. The Tenth Amendment Center suggests that Arkansas needs to tighten up this loophole by withdrawing from the federal equitable sharing program completely."

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Second Michigan congressman bails on GOP

Another Mich. GOP congressman has bailed because of Trump | News Hits - Lee DeVito, Detroit Metro-Times: 

July 24, 2019 - "Rep. Paul Mitchell is the latest Michigan Republican congressman in recent months to have bailed on the congressional GOP because of President Donald Trump. The second-term Republican ... announced on Wednesday that he will not run for re-election — surprising news considering it is only months after he won re-election and his district is not at political risk.

"The news comes just days after Mitchell condemned Trump for his racist tweets, in which Trump told four congresswomen of color, including Detroit's Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, to 'go back' to their own countries. All are American citizens.
@RealDonaldTrump, we must be better than comments like these. I share the political frustrations with some members of the other party, but these comments are beneath leaders.
"Later, after Trump followers at a rally began chanting 'send her back' in reference to Omar, Mitchell had reportedly requested a meeting with Trump to discuss the issue....

"Regarding his decision not to seek re-election, Mitchell told Politico he was frustrated with Congress and the party: 'You look at the rhetoric and vitriol, it overwhelms policy, politics becomes the norm,' he said. 'Everything’s about politics. Everything’s about an election. And at some point of time, that’s not why I came here'....

"Earlier this month, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash ... announced in an op-ed published in The Washington Post that he was leaving the Republican Party, citing a 'partisan death spiral.' He is now an independent. Although he did not mention Trump by name, Amash blasted the two-party system, which he says has become bound by loyalty to party over duty to the American people or the Constitution.

"'The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost,' he wrote. 'Instead of acting as an independent branch of government and serving as a check on the executive branch, congressional leaders of both parties expect the House and Senate to act in obedience or opposition to the president and their colleagues on a partisan basis.'"

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Indian government wants to ban Bitcoin

Its Official: Indian Government Wants to Ban Bitcoin - Davit Babayan, Bitcoin News:

July 22, 2019 - "The inter-ministerial committee set up by former Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley recommends a ban on bitcoin.

"According to a report published today, the Subhash Garg committee believes that cryptocurrencies cannot serve the purpose of currency. Calling them “'rivate cryptocurrencies” over their non-sovereign nature, the committee wrote that they are inconsistent with the essential functions of money/currency, adding that they support the stance taken by the Reserve Bank of India [RBI] to impose a banking ban on them.
The committee endorses the stand taken by the RBI to eliminate the interface of institutions regulated by the RBI from cryptocurrencies. The Committee also recommends that all exchanges ... and other financial system participants should be prohibited from dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Accordingly, the Committee has recommended a law banning the cryptocurrencies in India and criminalising carrying on of any activities connected with cryptocurrencies in India.
"The inter-ministerial report follows months of confusions regarding the bitcoin’s legal status in India. Bloomberg Quint in early June claimed that the Narendra Modi government wanted to impose 10-year prison-time on cryptocurrency traders. The news service cited a piece of paper that allegedly was a part of an anti-crypto draft bill. A month later, another document from the same law showed that the Indian government was looking to ban cryptocurrencies. Nevertheless, Ministry of Finance representative Anurag Singh Thakur ... wrote in response to lawmakers that a government-appointed Interministerial Committee [was] looking into the matter....

"India’s Ministry of Finance is now able to stamp the Garg committee proposal, meaning it would soon come before the lawmakers in the lower and upper house of the Indian parliament. A ban would go into effect once the majority of politicians would approve it, which is most likely since both the houses have the Narendra Modi government in [a majority].

"The last thing standing between Garg Committee’s proposal and a full-fledged bitcoin ban is the Supreme Court of India. On July 23, the apex court is likely to give verdict on whether or not the RBI ban on bitcoin [is] unconstitutional."

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Congress must limit POTUS's emergency powers, says Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul says it's time for Congress to rein in the President's power | News |

June 14, 2019 - "Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said President Trump is acting too much like a king, and it is time for Congress to do its job of checking presidential power. Paul, a Republican who generally supports the president, pointed to Trump’s declaring a national emergency to fund a border wall.

“'You may remember me sometimes saying President Obama was abusing the separation of powers and acting too much like a king. Well, now there's a Republican doing some of the similar things,' Paul told WDRB News ... in Louisville. 'I'm for spending for some border security. I think we do have to have secure borders, but I think Congress has to appropriate the money. I don't think the president should be allowed to.'

"Paul said the separation of powers also applies to tariffs. 'I'm not a big fan of tariffs,' he said. 'I think they're hurting Kentucky. But I really am not a big fan of one person being able to decide there are tariffs.'

"Paul has co-sponsored a bill with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon to limit the president's emergency powers. Paul said he is 'absolutely' concerned that a president’s power should be checked regardless of which party controls the White House....

"Paul was in Louisville to talk to a meeting of the Kentucky Bar Association about criminal justice reform. He was a big supporter of the First Step Act, which reduced mandatory life sentences for some non-violent drug offenses to 25 years and funded programs to help ex-felons return to society. He believes the federal and state governments should do even more. 'In Kentucky, believe it or not, you can kill somebody and be eligible for parole in 12 years,' he said. 'But you can sell drugs, and be in jail for life. I think we have to reassess.'

"But Paul said he does not want to be misunderstood as supporting drug use. 'I think drugs are a bad thing,' he said. 'I don’t want our kids on drugs. I don’t want our adults on drugs. But the thing is I also don’t want to put people in jail for it either.'

"Justice reform is an issue he pushed during his 2016 presidential campaign, and Paul is not exactly ruling out a second run in 2024. 'It’s just hard to imagine in the future, but I did it once, and it was an exciting time,' he said. 'Unless something would dramatically change, I don't see it happening again. But we'll see.'”

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Mow your lawn or lose your home in Dunedin FL (video)

Stossel: Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! – - John Stossel:

July 9, 2019 - "Jim Ficken left his home to take care of his recently deceased mother's estate. While away, the man he paid to cut his lawn died. The grass in Ficken's yard grew more than 10 inches long.

"The City of Dunedin has an ordinance against long grass. The Florida city fined Ficken $500 a day. Over time the fines added up to almost $30,000.... Ficken doesn't have $30,000, and now the city wants to foreclose on his home.

"Ficken's lawyer, Ari Bargil of the Institute for Justice, points out that the city could have 'hire[d] a lawn service to come out and mow the grass, and send Jim a bill for 150 bucks, but they didn't do that.' The reason, says Bargil, is that the city 'wants the money. Code enforcement is a major cash cow for the city.' Dunedin collected $34,000 in fines in 2007. Last year, the fines ballooned to $1.3 million.

"Bargil argues Dunedin's big fines violate the 8th Amendment. That protects us not only from cruel and unusual punishment but [also] from 'excessive fines.' Stossel agrees. What's more excessive than politicians taking your home because you didn't cut your grass?

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Spain's parliament extends rights to great apes

Spanish parliament approves 'human rights' for apes | Law | The Guardian - Lee Glendinning:

June 26, 2019 - "Great apes should have the right to life and freedom, according to a resolution passed in the Spanish parliament, in what could become landmark legislation to enshrine human rights for chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos.

"The environmental committee in the Spanish parliament has approved resolutions urging the country to comply with the Great Apes Project, founded in 1993, which argues that 'non-human hominids' should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.

"The project was started by the philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri, who argued that the ape is the closest genetic relative to humans – that it displays emotions such as love, fear, anxiety and jealousy – and should be protected by similar laws.

"The resolutions have cross-party support and it is thought they will become law, meaning that potential experiments on apes in Spain will be banned within a year, according to a Reuters report....

"Using apes in circuses, television commercials or filming will also be banned and while housing apes in Spanish zoos, of which there are currently 315, will remain legal, supporters of the bill have said the conditions in which most of them live will need to improve substantially.

"In 1999, scientists and lawyers petitioned New Zealand's parliament to pass a bill conferring 'rights' on chimpanzees and other primates. The government gave the great apes something less than human rights, but ... legal protection from animal experimentation. The first country to take such a decision was Britain: Home Office guidelines now forbid experiments on chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas."

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Libertarians, the party of peace and freedom

The party of peace: Why I joined the Libertarian Party - The Boston Globe - Lincoln Chafee:

July 19, 2019 - "As an American, I have been saddened and embarrassed by recent failures of American presidents to exercise their global duties responsibly. We have entered into never-ending, illegitimate conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa; bypassed our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment by eavesdropping without warrants on people at home and around the world; shredded free-trade and other international agreements; sanctioned extrajudicial assassinations by drone strikes, which also kill innocent civilians; shredded the Geneva Convention protocols on treatment of prisoners; and worst of all, never apologized to the world for all the lies about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq....

"The sad fact is that the two major political parties are either enthusiastically guilty of these crimes or, at best, negligent of proper American values. I am alarmed about the direction of the two parties, aided and abetted by the pro-war mainstream media. These hawks, many of whom have never seen combat, seem ignorant to the reality that American aggression and arrogance has frightening consequences, particularly in the era of nuclear weapons.

"Thankfully, there is a political party that is willing to fight against irresponsible American global behavior and against the inexorable march to more senseless wars.... I would argue that the Libertarian Party is stronger on many important issues than either the Democrats or Republicans: protection of Fourth Amendment rights, opposition to capital punishment, opposition to crony capitalism, support for balanced budgets, opposition to cruel and unusual torture, support for free trade and, most important to me, 'an America at peace with the world.' The Libertarian Party is also strong on LGBT rights and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions and has an enlightened approach to the corrosive and failed war on drugs.

"I was a Republican in the days when the party had a place for those who stood for fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Those days are long gone, since Republicans have squandered a surplus by cutting taxes without cutting spending, on top of promoting a $6 trillion unnecessary war in Iraq....

"After I was the only Republican senator to vote against the Iraq war, I was elected governor of Rhode Island as an Independent.... I also dipped my toe into the waters of the Democratic Party, even seeking its nomination for president. What I learned is that the Democratic Party machine is pro-war. By joining with the pro-war mainstream media, they corrupted the process to ensure a war hawk of their liking was nominated....

"Recently my wife and I moved to Wyoming.... Before I registered to vote in the state, I considered the Libertarian Party. With no home for me in either of the two war parties, I decided to read the Libertarian platform on their website. Of the Libertarian Party’s 34 platform principles, I decided that I agree with most of them, disagree with two or three, and a half-dozen I’d need to study up on and think about it. For my children’s sake, my favorites are the planks numbered 3.1 and 3.3, promoting a strong defense but also opposed to foreign entanglements such as the quagmires of Vietnam and Afghanistan....

"If you are a restless Democrat or Republican fatigued by partisan gridlock and the resulting politicization of even the Supreme Court, look up the Libertarian Party’s platform and score yourself. I happily registered as a Libertarian earlier this year. I’m proud to stand with the party of peace and freedom."

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Friday, July 19, 2019

LP POTUS candidates go negative on Amash

Libertarian Presidential Candidates Prefer Each Other Over Justin Amash – - Matt Welch:

July 15, 2019 "Saturday night just outside of Boston, at one of the first L.P. presidential debates this cycle, ... I was moderating, and had just asked the assembled candidates — [Kim] Ruff, Arvin Vohra, Adam Kokesh, New Hampshire State Rep. Max Abramson, and Dan 'Taxation Is Theft' Behrman — whether they would support Amash.... Vohra, then Kokesh, then Behrman, each said that they would support everyone on stage before the newly independent libertarian congressman. And even the two other comparative moderates were critical of his potential candidacy.

"'We aren't Republican light; we're not Democrat light,' said Ruff, an Arizona-based manufacturer.... 'We're advocates of full, unencumbered liberty. And that means taking positions that make the public squeamish.... I don't see somebody who is personally conservative being comfortable saying, "Yeah, I think we should legalize all narcotics. I think sex work is work. I think that you should have body autonomy. And if that means you want to end your life or ask a friend to do it for you, you should have that right." So no, I don't think he would be a great candidate for us. He's got a lot to learn.'

"Vohra ... dismissed the idea that Amash's defection from the GOP represents any kind of bravery. 'It does not take courage to speak out against a president that is unpopular with more than half the population,' said Vohra.... 'We don't need somebody who's ... just pandering to a large group of people who believe that the orange man is bad.... I would support any of the people sitting here in a second — in a second — over Justin Amash, because they have shown real boldness, not just pandering. They have been willing to say things that are true, honest, and unpopular, and that to me is the true measure of leadership.'

"Kokesh ... portrayed it as a referendum on institutional self-confidence. 'We cannot elect or nominate a former Republican…for the fourth cycle in a row. I just think that would set the party back so far,' Kokesh said.... 'Gary Johnson was better than [2008 nominee] Bob Barr, and Justin Amash might be that much better than Gary Johnson even. It's the worst temptation we've ever seen from this vector. But it's the most important time to resist it'....

"Even Abramson, the only elected official of the bunch (and he was elected as a Republican ... before ... switching back to the party he ran for governor in 2016 with), lamented the 'Republican savior' complex..... 'We have our own message. We're a different party. We're not Republican light, we're not cheap Democrats, we're something completely different. We want a free society'....

"'We need to be doing this now,' said Behrman.... 'And if Justin Amash is busy doing something else that he can't commit to this.... Let him stay where he is, do what he's doing; let him choose his own path. But we need to put our support behind myself and these other great candidates so we can start getting this message out and start getting people to see our faces'....

"The decision by potential contenders to go negative on Amash ... makes all the sense in the world from an incentives point of view. They're running to win, and there is pent-up grassroots Libertarian frustration at the tendency for their presidential nominations to be handed to temporary Libertarians like Bob Barr rather than longtime activists such as Mary Ruwart. (Indeed, Ruwart was singled out for praise by three of the five candidates on stage.)

"As for Amash, he has little incentive to make any premature declaration about running for president. The first major-party primaries are seven months away, and God only knows what American politics will look like then."

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Conservative attacks on libertarians misguided, says Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Conservatives Against Liberty – FITSNews:

July 15, 2019 - "Recently several prominent social and populist conservatives have attacked libertarianism. These conservatives, some of whom are allies in the fight against our hyper-interventionist foreign policy, blame libertarianism for a variety of social and economic ills. The conservative attack on libertarianism — like the attack on the freedom philosophy launched by leftists — is rooted in factual, economic, and philosophical errors.

"Libertarianism’s right-wing critics claim libertarianism is the dominant ideology of the Republican establishment [yet] the Republican leadership embraces anti-libertarian policies like endless wars, restrictions on civil liberties, government interference in our personal lives, and massive spending increases on welfare as well as warfare.

"Anti-libertarian conservatives ... blame libertarians for the American middle class’s eroding standard of living. Conservatives are correct to be concerned about the economic challenges facing the average American, but they are mistaken to place the blame on the free market. The American people are not suffering from an excess of free markets. They suffer from an excess of taxes, regulations, and, especially, fiat money. Therefore, populist conservatives should join libertarians in seeking to eliminate federal regulations, repeal the 16th Amendment, and restore a free-market monetary system.....

"[M]any populist conservatives support increased infrastructure spending and tariffs and other forms of protectionism. Like all forms of central planning, these schemes prevent goods and services from being used for the purposes most valued by consumers. This distorts the marketplace and lowers living standards — including of people whose jobs are temporally saved or created by these government interventions. Those workers would be better off in the long term finding new jobs in a free market.

"Anti-free-market conservatives ignore how their policies harm those they claim to care about. For example, protectionism harms farmers and others working in businesses depending on international trade.

"The most common complaint of social conservatives is that libertarianism promotes immorality. These conservatives confuse a libertarian’s opposition to outlawing drugs, for example, with moral approval of drug use..... [L]ibertarians support the right of individuals to use peaceful means to persuade others not to engage in destructive or immoral behaviors. Libertarians also support the right of individuals not to associate with, or to subsidize in any way, those whose lifestyles or beliefs they find objectionable.

"Social conservatives object to libertarians because social conservatives wish to use government power to force people to be good. This is the worst type of statism because it seeks to control our minds and souls.

"Most people accept the idea that it is wrong to initiate force against those engaging in peaceful behaviors. Libertarians apply this nonaggression principle to government. Making government follow the nonaggression principle would end unjust wars, income and inflation taxes, and the destruction caused by the use of force to control what we do with our property, how we raise our children, who we associate with, and what we put into our bodies. Making governments abide by the nonaggression principle is the only way to restore a society that is free, prosperous, and moral."

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mark Sanford thinking about primarying Trump

Mark Sanford, Old Trump Foe, May Enter Republican Presidential Primary –

July 16, 2019 - "President Trump may have another primary challenger in the 2020 election. In an interview with The Post and Courier, former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford said that he planned to spend the next month deciding whether or not he would enter the upcoming presidential Republican primary.

"Sometimes in life you've got to say what you've got to say, whether there's an audience or not for that message," he said in the interview....

"Sanford, who largely advocated for limited government during his time in Congress, has criticized Trump several times in the past for lacking a firm grasp on the Constitution, wanting to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and even his "shithole" countries comment.

"Sanford lost his Republican primary in 2018. His loss was believed to be an early indicator of the weakness of anti-Trump Republicans in the face of a newer, more Trumpian party.

"So far, Trump's only primary opponent is former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld. Upon making the announcement, Weld referred to himself as a 'Reagan Republican.' He has since criticized Trump for not being economically conservative.

"There is also speculation that Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) could join the race. Amash has very recently left the Republican Party, as well as his congressional committees. Whether he chooses to run as a Republican, Libertarian, or independent, it's possible that his entry into the race could disrupt both Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee's 2020 dreams."

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sheriffs won’t enforce new Washington gun law

Sheriffs Say They Won’t Enforce New Washington Law Raising Gun Purchase Age to 21 – - Ben McDonald:

July 5, 2019 - "Washington state has raised its minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle to 21, along with other new rules governing gun ownership. The age restriction went into effect in January, with the other changes taking effect July 1. But some in state law enforcement have vowed not to enforce the measure, arguing that it violates the Second Amendment.

"Under the new law, someone buying a semi-automatic rifle has to be at least 21 years old, pass a stricter background check, take a safety training course, and complete a 10-day waiting period. The law does not impose a retroactive ban on people under 21 owning such guns, but it does increase the restrictions on where they can possess them. Washingtonians under 21 can only have a gun in their homes, in a fixed place of business, or on real property under their control.....

"And people of all ages are supposed to comply with strict new storage requirements. 'A person who stores or leaves a firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm' is now 'guilty of community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm' if 'a prohibited person' accesses the gun and uses it. This requirement has been met with heavy backlash, with critics pointing out the potentially dangerous consequences of making weapons more inaccessible in a life-threatening situation....

"Sheriffs across the state have denounced the law, saying it is harmful to the people they are sworn to protect by making it harder for them to defend themselves. Some go further, declaring that they will not enforce it.

"Bob Songer, a sheriff in Klickitat County, told KTTH: 'I understand there's an argument that a sheriff has to follow the rule of law [but] as an elected sheriff, I have the authority and right to protect the rights of the citizens of Klickitat county that I serve.'

"The Spokesman Review reports that Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke and his deputies 'won't be issuing citations or making custodial arrests for most suspected violations'....  'When my 19-year-old daughter can't carry a .22 rifle off our property but we can send her off to war — I don't agree with that at all," Manke told the Chinook Observer.

"In February, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that sheriffs who do not enforce the law will be held liable.... 'In the event a police chief or sheriff refuses to perform the background check required by Initiative 1639, they could be held liable if there is a sale or transfer of a firearm to a dangerous individual prohibited from possessing a firearm and that individual uses that firearm to do harm,' Ferguson said.

"In September of last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed similar legislation raising the minimum age for rifle and shotgun purchases to 21. The Second Amendment rights groups Calguns Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition are now suing California over that law. John Dillon, an attorney representing the groups, told the Los Angeles Times that when people turn 18 they are legally considered adults and should be able to benefit from the same rights other adults have. 'Law-abiding adults are entitled to fully exercise all of their fundamental rights, including their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes, not just hunting or sport,' Dillon said."

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Massie may also have 2020 primary challenger

Kentucky Republican Massie may be challenged in 2020 primary election - Philip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier-Journal:

July 3, 2019 - "U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie may be a darling among libertarians and constitutional conservatives, but the Kentucky Republican is the target of some who are actively recruiting a primary challenger for 2020.

"Two independent sources with knowledge of campaign discussions say state Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, is being groomed for a possible bid against the congressman, who has gained notoriety for opposing bipartisan measures big and small. Moser acknowledged in an interview with the Courier Journal that she's been approached by national party figures about taking on Massie in next year's Republican primary....

"The two sources, who requested anonymity, told the Courier Journal that U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who has made putting more women in Congress a personal passion, was among those looking for a challenger for Massie. But a Stefanik spokeswoman ... said Stefanik's group, Elevate PAC, 'has a firm policy of not recruiting against or endorsing against Republican incumbents.'

"Moser declined to comment when asked if Stefanik was among those who had approached her about running next year. She added that Massie is well liked, but that many constituents want a less ideological representative in Washington....

"In May, Massie gained national attention for temporarily blocking a $19 billion disaster relief plan before it ultimately passed.... 'Certainly, it was shocking to me that he was a 'no' vote on disaster relief,' Moser said.... Moser also cited Massie being among the 26 members who three years ago voted against the 21st Century CURES Act, which directed $6.3 billion to speed up drug treatment, as one of the troubling things about the congressman's record.

"If Moser were to run, it would set up an interesting primary, pitting Kentucky's grassroots conservatives against the GOP establishment. 'The tea party folks in the 4th Congressional District understand that Kim Moser is not the constitutional conservative Congressman Thomas Massie is,' said Scott Hofstra, a spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party....

"Massie, who was affiliated with the tea party movement, assumed office in 2012.... He has easily defeated every Democratic opponent by more than 30 percentage points in the four general elections since. But there is some speculation that he could be vulnerable in a primary election....

"The conservative activists who helped send Massie to Washington seven years ago, however, remain fiercely loyal. 'Congressman Massie doesn't go with the status quo and doesn't play into party politics,' said Stacie Earl, a Florence conservative activist who ran for state House in 2018. 'Republicans have always tried to get someone against him [but] I don't see Moser or anyone ... as a credible challenger'.... Hofstra ...said ... 'Congressman Massie is the only representative from Kentucky who is willing to buck his own leadership to support the constitution and the citizens."

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Adam Smith on tariffs and trade restrictions

from The Timeless Wisdom of Adam Smith - Foundation for Economic Education - Richard M. Ebeling:

December 17, 2016 - "Adam Smith’s central contribution to economic understanding was surely his demonstration that under an institutional arrangement of individual liberty, property rights, and voluntary exchange the self-interested conduct of market participants could be shown to be consistent with a general betterment of the human condition.

"The emergence of a social system of division of labor makes men interdependent for the necessities, amenities and luxuries of life. But in the free, competitive market order every individual can only access what others in society can supply him with by offering them something in exchange that they value more highly than what is being asked from them in trade.

"Thus ... as if by an 'invisible hand' each individual is guided to apply his knowledge, ability and talents in ways that serve the trading desires of others as the means of fulfilling his own self-interested goals and purposes. Furthermore, not only is the need for government regulation and control of economic affairs shown to be unnecessary for societal improvement, Smith went on to argue that such government intervention was detrimental.... Smith explained in The Wealth of Nations (1776):
“To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic can be bought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful.

“It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.... What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better to buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage..... It is certainly not employed to the greatest advantage when it is directed towards an object which it can buy cheaper than it can make it....
"Smith was scathing in his criticisms of manufacturers, merchants and agricultural special interests who wished to maintain or gain market share and greater profits from restricting the free flow of goods and services between countries through government action.... Said Smith:
Commerce, which ought naturally to be, among nations, as among individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has become the most fertile source of discord and animosity. The capricious ambition of kings and ministers has not, during the present and the preceding century, been more fatal to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent jealousy of merchants and manufacturers.

The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit of remedy. But the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind, though it cannot perhaps be corrected, may very easily be prevented from disturbing the tranquility of any body but themselves.
"Smith warned of the 'interested sophistry' of those desiring anti-competitive interventions and protections in the private sector through the political power of governments by creating false notions that trade is a zero-sum game in which if one side wins the other side must have lost, or that imports and a trade deficit are inherently harmful to the material well-being of a nation. These distortions and errors had to be refuted so it would be better understood that, 'In every country it always is and must be in the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest.'"

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Border camp conditions dangerous, says DHS IG

DHS Watchdog Describes Crammed Detention Centers, A Ticking Time Bomb : NPR - Joel Rose & John Burnett:

July 2, 2019 - "The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General is warning about "dangerous overcrowding" in Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. In a strongly worded report, the inspector general said the prolonged detention of migrants without proper food, hygiene or laundry facilities — some for more than a month — requires 'immediate attention and action.'

"The report comes amid growing outrage over detention conditions for migrants and follows reports that migrant children were kept in squalid conditions without enough food and basic necessities in a Border Patrol station in West Texas.

"Inspectors from DHS's Office of Inspector General in June visited Border Patrol facilities and ports of entry across the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the busiest sector in the country for illegal border crossings. 'We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,' they wrote.

"In its response to the report, the Department of Homeland Security says the surge of migrants crossing the Southern border has led to an 'acute and worsening crisis.' In May, according to DHS, an average of more than 4,600 people a day crossed illegally or arrived at ports of entry without the proper documents, compared to less than 700 a day in the same period two years ago....

"The latest report from the Rio Grande Valley includes photos of migrants penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities — including one man pressing a cardboard sign to a cell window with the word 'Help.' The inspectors quote one unnamed senior manager calling the situation a 'ticking time bomb.'

"Inspectors found that hundreds of children were held for longer than the 72 hours, the maximum time federal rules allow. In some cases, kids were held for more than two weeks. And some adults were kept in standing-room-only cells, without access to showers, for more than a week."

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Friday, July 12, 2019

No authority for war with Iran, U.S. House votes

House Votes To Stop Trump From Attacking Iran Without Congressional Authorization – - Christian Britschgi:

July 12, 2019 - "Earlier this afternoon, the Democrat-controlled House voted 220–197 in favor of a $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will fund the Pentagon and its various foreign wars through the end of the next fiscal year.

"Included in the bill was a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.). It clarifies that Congress has passed no legislation that would allow the president to strike Iran. Their amendment says that 'no Federal funds may be used for any use of military force in or against Iran' unless Congress declares war on the country or passes some other statutory authorization for an attack.

"Stopping a war with Iran proved more popular than the spending bill as a whole. It earned the support of 20 House Republicans and passed with a commanding 251–170 vote....

"Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been rising throughout the summer, with the U.S. hitting Tehran with increased sanctions and sending more troops and ships to the Persian Gulf. Iran has reportedly responded by sabotaging oil tankers and shooting down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. Trump ordered air strikes on Iran in response to the loss of the drone but called the attacks off at the last minute.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been pitching lawmakers on the idea that the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) — passed in the wake of 9/11 to permit the U.S. to attack Al Qaeda — allows the U.S. to attack Iran without further congressional approval. Khanna and Gaetz's amendment makes it clear this is not the case, stating explicitly that the 2001 AUMF does not authorize any sort of hostilities against Iran.

"Having passed, the House's NDAA now goes to the Senate, which has already passed its own, larger $750 billion military spending bill. That bill does not include any additional limitations on Trump's ability to attack Iran, nor does it seem likely that Senate Republicans will agree to fold that into the final version of the legislation."

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hawaii decriminalizes cannabis possession

Hawaii becomes 26th state to decriminalize marijuana - ABC News - Bill Hutchinson:

July 10, 2019 - "Hawaii has become the 26th state in the nation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana -- but its governor cautioned it does not mean the state is ready to say aloha to legalizing recreational use of cannabis.

"While Hawaii Gov. David Ige declined to sign the decriminalization legislation, the change in law will take effect in January because he took no action by Tuesday's veto deadline.

"Under the new law, people caught with small amounts of marijuana will no longer face a misdemeanor charge that had been punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Now people caught with 3 ounces or less of weed can still be hit with a citation carrying a $130 fine, but no jail term.

"Ige ... said during a news conference last month that there are things about the bill 'I don't like'... The governor said one thing he disliked about the bill is that it does not include a provision to help young people who want to get into substance abuse programs.

"He also said the new law does not mean Hawaii, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, is on the verge of joining the bandwagon of states that have legalized recreational cannabis....

"Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Illinois became the latest state to legalize the recreational use of weed last month when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the first bill to legalize weed that was passed by a state legislature....

"Ige, a Democrat, noted that there were several bills voted down by the legislature this session to legalize recreational marijuana in the state."

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

SCOTUS limits states' alcohol licensing powers

US Supreme Court rules state liquor laws are unconstitutional - Sam Bloch, The New Food Economy:

June 27, 2019 - "Generally speaking, the Commerce Clause of the Constitution allows for most foods to cross state lines. That’s not the case with liquor, though. Most states require salesmen to ... hav[e] lived within their boundaries for a given number of years. But ... [y]esterday, the Supreme Court decided that those residency provisions are unconstitutional, ruling against a Tennessee trade association by a 7-2 vote....

"The case began in 2016, when Total Wine, a Maryland-based liquor giant, and Affluere Investments, a small business owned by Doug and Mary Ketchum, each applied for licenses to sell liquor in Tennessee.... After the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) approved their petitions, the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association (TWSRA) appealed, saying that neither applicant was legally allowed to have a license. Tennessee is one of 35 states with a residency requirement for selling liquor. In this case, the trade association pointed out, neither applicant had been living in the state for two years. Additionally, the law requires 10 years of residency to renew the license, and for all company stakeholders to be residents, too.

"Lower courts found that Tennessee’s law was unconstitutional, but TWSRA took their suit against Russell F. Thomas, the commission’s executive director, all the way to the Supreme Court. The association said their law is protected by the second section of the 21st Amendment, which overturned prohibition. That particular section gives states the options to stop the import of liquor across their borders.

"And again, it’s failed to persuade the court. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority of the court, said the state’s two-year residency requirement, which doesn’t have an effect on public health or safety, is unconstitutional, and a violation of interstate commerce laws.... The [21st Amendment] clause 'is not a license to impose all manner of protectionist restrictions on commerce in alcoholic beverages'....

"Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers, a trade association that had submitted an amicus brief, cheered the decision. 'State alcohol laws that discriminate against out-of-state retailers for the purposes of protecting in-state interests are unconstitutional and not protected by the Twenty-First Amendment. The decision is a historic win for both free trade and wine consumers across the country,' he said in a press statement."

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Federal judge halts Arkansas ballot access law

Arkansas Libertarians get injunction that will likely assure its candidates have spots on 2020 ballot | Opinion |

July 6, 2019 - "Federal Judge Kristine G. Baker has issued an injunction overturning requirements imposed on 'new political parties' by Act 164 of the Arkansas General Assembly, adopted and signed into law in February.

"Act 164 increased the requirements for third parties to place their candidates on the ballot from 10,000 petition signatures to 3% of the vote in the last Gubernatorial election, presently 26,746 signatures. The Libertarian Party had argued that raising the bar for ballot access was unwarranted and unnecessary. Libertarians also complained about the limited 90-day window required for collecting petition signatures, as well as the fact that the deadline for turning in petitions had been moved forward to September 2019.

"Baker’s ruling agreed. 'There is no record evidence before the court that explains the state’s interest – let alone a compelling one – in requiring new political parties to meet the three percent requirement, file a petition more than a year in advance of the general election, and collect signatures in a 90-day window.'

"Michael Pakko, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, said Act 164 was 'nothing more than an effort to restrict competition in the political process.... The judge’s ruling gives us an opportunity to put Libertarian candidates before the voters in 2020, and I’m confident that a final ruling will help us level the playing field for all alternative political parties in the future.'

"The preliminary injunction stops Secretary of State John Thurston from enforcing Arkansas statutes that impose the three percent requirement, and from restricting ballot access to the Arkansas Libertarians as a new political party if it meets a 10,000-signature requirement. The ruling did not extend the time period for collecting petition signatures, nor did it change the contested deadline.

“The important thing is that our petitions will be counted and Libertarians will most assuredly be on the Arkansas ballot in 2020, Pakko said. In late June, the state Libertarian Party turned in a total of 18,667 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Election officials received the petitions but had not yet accepted them for validation, awaiting clarification from the court....

"A full hearing of the case, Libertarian Party of Arkansas et al v. Thurston (4:19-cv-00214) is scheduled for trial before Judge Baker May 11, 2020."

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Florida legalizes front-yard vegetable gardens

After 6-Year Fight, Florida Couple Wins Right to Grow Veggies at Home – - Billy Binion:

July 5, 2019 - "Vegetables are ugly. Or at least that's the view of the officials in Miami Shores, Florida, who implemented a ban on front-yard vegetable gardens at residential properties in 2013. The ordinance forced Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Laurence Carroll, to uproot the garden they'd maintained for nearly two decades.

"Now they can start planting again: The Florida legislature has passed a bill shielding vegetable gardens from local prohibitions. "After nearly six years of fighting…I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard," Ricketts said in a statement. "I'm grateful to the Legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property."

"The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on Ricketts' behalf in 2013. Florida's Third District Court of Appeals upheld the ban, and the state's Supreme Court declined to hear the case. So Ricketts and the institute lobbied the legislature, and it passed a law effectively invalidating the local ordinance. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it last week.

"How were city commissioners able to pass the rule in the first place, much less get it past an appeals court? It was billed as a zoning regulation, which cities have near-unlimited power in implementing. The Florida League of Cities opposed Ricketts' efforts until the end, arguing that code enforcement is an essential tool for maintaining a town's aesthetic. They also didn't like the idea of a state government preempting measures adopted at the local level.

"Ricketts now uses a wheelchair and has suffered from a litany of health issues in recent years, which she blames on stress induced by the legal battle. She's hoping that a little gardening might be the medicine she needs."

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

'Post-liberal' conservatives reject libertarianism

Conservative Divide: Libertarians, Moralists, and the Danger of Schism | National Review - Jonah Goldberg:

June 12, 2019 - "The idea holding together the conservative movement since the 1960s was called 'fusionism.' The concept ... was that freedom and virtue were inextricably linked..... Frank Meyer, the foremost architect of fusionism, put it: 'Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny.' This idea may have passed its sell-by date.

"The intellectual Right ... has always had ... internal fault lines.... These cracks were mostly paved over by opposition to Communism throughout the Cold War, but they started to reemerge once the Berlin Wall fell. Pat Buchanan’s 1992 call to revive the 'Old Right' vision of economic protectionism and socially conservative statism was more of a harbinger of the unfusing of fusionism than was widely appreciated at the time.

"Today, conservative forces concerned with freedom and virtue are pulling apart. The catalyst is a sprawling coalition of self-described nationalists, Catholic integralists, protectionists, economic planners, and others who are increasingly rallying around something called 'post-liberal' conservativism. By 'liberal,' ... they mean classical liberalism, the Enlightenment worldview held by the Founding Fathers.... They seek a federal government that cares more about pursuing the 'highest good' than protecting the 'libertarian' (their word) system of individual rights and free markets.

"On the other side are more familiar conservatives who, like George Will in his brilliant new book, The Conservative Sensibility, still rally to the banner of classical liberalism and its philosophy of natural rights and equality under the law. 'American conservatism has a clear mission: It is to conserve, by articulating and demonstrating the continuing pertinence of, the Founders’ thinking,' Will writes....

"The post-liberals think that Enlightenment-based liberalism is the disease afflicting society because it has no answer for how people should live. They have a point: It is not a religion or moral philosophy. But it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, as National Review’s Charles Cooke rightly put it, classical liberalism was a system designed to keep people of different religions from killing each other.

"This framing, however, obscures the path to reconciliation not just among the battling conservatives but in America generally. The liberalism of the Founders focused on freedom for individuals — but also encompassed institutions and communities. In the early days of the republic, for instance, some states had established churches and others didn’t. What the Founders opposed was a one-size-fits-all approach from the top.

"As far as I can tell, the so-called post-liberals now want Washington to dictate how we should all pursue happiness, just so long as it’s from the right. In a country of nearly 330 million people, however, it is impossible to define the “highest good” for everybody....

"What America needs is less talk of national unity — from the left or the right — and more freedom to let people live the way they want to live, not just as individuals, but as members of local communities. We don’t need to move past liberalism, we need to return to it."

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

McAfee launches POTUS campaign from Cuba

Fugitive millionaire antivirus guru John McAfee launches US presidential run … from yacht in Cuba | South China Morning Post - Katell Abivan, Agence France-Presse:

July 7, 2019 - "US millionaire John McAfee has added a new chapter to his tumultuous life story. From a yacht in Havana harbour, he says he is running for the US presidency. This will not, he deadpans, be 'an ordinary campaign.' 'I am wanted as a criminal by the government for which I am running for president,' McAfee says as he sits on his white yacht surrounded by an entourage of seven campaign aides and two enormous dogs....

"McAfee’s immediate goal is to win the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party, which supports free trade and a sharply reduced federal government. He tried but failed in 2016, beaten for the party’s nomination by Gary Johnson, who went on to win just over three per cent of the vote in the election.

"But McAfee has an unusual admission for a presidential candidate: 'I don’t want to be president, I really do not, nor could I be,' he says, puffing on a cigar.... 'I cannot be president. However, I do have a large following and I will influence this next election.”

"Since making a fortune with his antivirus software in the 1980s, the 73-year-old has become a self-styled cryptocurrency guru, claiming to make US$2,000 a day. He has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter....

"McAfee began his career as a Nasa engineer before working for several software companies, where he learned of the existence of a computer virus – and began figuring out how to destroy it. Thus McAfee Associates was born in 1987, quickly becoming a giant in the antivirus industry. He sold the company to Intel in 2010 and is now worth an estimated US$100 million.

"But [after] moving to Belize in Central America and living a sometimes chaotic life, he suddenly became tabloid grist when his neighbour was mysteriously murdered in 2012, a crime that has not been solved. When police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered a large arsenal of weapons in his home, McAfee disappeared on a month-long flight that drew breathless media coverage.

"In 2015, McAfee was arrested in the United States for driving under the influence. He again disappeared from view until January 2019, when he fled the country. 'I went first to the Bahamas because I was charged with income tax evasion,' he said, adding that when the FBI went there looking for him he fled to Cuba. 'I have not paid taxes for eight years. I will not pay taxes again – it is unconstitutional and illegal.'

"McAfee has offered to help Cuba launch a cryptocurrency of its own. The government said earlier it was studying how the virtual money might be used to get around US economic sanctions....

"US tax authorities, asked about his possible legal jeopardy, would not confirm whether he faces any charges. No extradition request has been filed with Cuban authorities. The mere fact of having sailed his yacht to Cuba, however, violates new US regulations that ban American citizens from travelling to the island on cruise ships or private boats."

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Justin Amash leaves Republican Party

Justin Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP. - The Washington Post:

July 4, 2019 - "My parents, both immigrants, were Republicans. I supported Republican candidates throughout my early adult life and then successfully ran for office as a Republican. The Republican Party, I believed, stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty — principles that had made the American Dream possible for my family. In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it....

"George Washington ... said of partisanship, in one of America’s most prescient addresses: 'The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty'....

"True to Washington’s fears, Americans have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law. The result has been the consolidation of political power and the near disintegration of representative democracy.

"These are consequences of a mind-set among the political class that loyalty to party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions. The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost. Instead of acting as an independent branch of government and serving as a check on the executive branch, congressional leaders of both parties expect the House and Senate to act in obedience or opposition to the president and their colleagues on a partisan basis.

"In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team... With little genuine debate on policy happening in Congress, party leaders distract and divide the public by exploiting wedge issues and waging pointless messaging wars. These strategies fuel mistrust and anger, leading millions of people to take to social media to express contempt for their political opponents, with the media magnifying the most extreme voices. This all combines to reinforce the us-vs.-them, party-first mind-set of government officials.

"Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape. Most Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

"Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans. But we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.

"Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it."

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Maduro regime using death squads, UN says

Venezuela death squads kill young men, stage scenes, U.N. report says - Reuters:

July 4, 2019 - "Venezuelan security forces are sending death squads to murder young men and stage the scenes to make it look like the victims resisted arrest, the United Nations said in a report issued by its human rights chief on Thursday.

"Government figures showed that deaths ascribed to criminals resisting arrest numbered 5,287 last year and 1,569 by May 19 this year. The U.N. report said many of them appeared to be extrajudicial executions.

"Families of 20 men had described how masked men dressed in black from Venezuela’s Special Action Forces (FAES) had arrived in black pickups without license plates. In the accounts, the death squads broke into houses, took belongings and assaulted women and girls, sometimes stripping them naked.

'They would separate young men from other family members before shooting them,' the report said. ''In every case, witnesses reported how FAES manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had ‘resisted authority’....

"The report said the killings were part of a strategy by the government of President Nicolas Maduro aimed at 'neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the government', which accelerated since 2016.

"The U.N. also released a written response to its findings by Venezuela’s government, which called the report a 'selective and openly partial vision' about the human rights situation in the South American country. It argued the U.N. relied on 'sources lacking in objectivity' and ignored official information."

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Needles CA a '2nd Amendment sanctuary city'

Needles declared itself a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” city; wants exemption to some state gun laws – San Bernardino Sun - Sandra Emerson:

June 24, 2019 - "One of San Bernardino County’s easternmost cities wants to be a sanctuary ... for gun owners. Needles this month declared itself a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary City' a message that city leaders say is partly about support for gun rights and partly a desire to get an exemption from state law so out-of-state gun owners can travel through town and for residents to purchase ammunition. The former railroad town of about about 5,000 is near the Colorado River, close to the Arizona state line, and city officials say that California’s gun laws are prompting Arizona residents to stay out of Needles, hurting business in the town....

"City Council, which made the declaration during a meeting on June 11, eventually could consider all or any of three possibilities — an exemption from the state’s gun laws for Needles and a 65-mile radius surrounding the town, a request [to] the state to allow the city to recognize concealed weapon permit holders from neighboring Arizona and Nevada, and a request to the county to allow sheriff’s deputies to not enforce weapons violations by California, Nevada and Arizona residents who are following their [own] state’s rules.

"California, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, does not recognize out of state concealed carry permits, nor does the state issue such permits to out-of-state residents. However, Arizona and 23 other states do recognize California permits....

"City officials may also request the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department to direct its deputies to use discretion [so] that an out-of-state resident would be asked to take their gun back across state lines, or be allowed to unload the weapon and place it in the trunk or locked container, as is required in California, rather than face potential criminal charges....

"In addition to exemptions for licensed gun owners, [Mayor Jeff] Williams said they are looking to lessen restrictions on ammunition purchases for California residents in Needles. It is illegal [to] purchase ammunition out of state, then transport it back to California. Ammo must be purchased in person at a vendor licensed with the state’s Department of Justice. Online orders must be shipped to one of these vendors, not to a buyer’s home. For Needles gun owners this means driving more than 100 miles [to] purchase ammunition in person, or to pick up online orders, from a California-licensed vendor, even though there are ammunition stores just a few miles across the river....

"Steve Lindley, program manager with the Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Los Angeles, said ... [h]e believes Needles isn’t likely to be granted an exemption from state gun laws, in part because such a move could set off a flurry of requests from other border communities ... 'asking for those same exemptions'....

"Williams ... said his community plans to meet with the Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and state legislators to discuss their request. He added that they are talking with other border cities that might be interested in joining them."

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