Saturday, August 31, 2019

'Cone of silence' creates Amash campaign buzz

Justin Amash Has Been Coy About a Presidential Bid, Leaving Never Trumpers Searching for Clues - Sam Brodey, The Daily Beast:

August 31, 2019 - "Rep. Justin Amash’s political future has been the subject of intense fascination and interest in Republican circles these days. After his call to impeach Trump and his subsequent exit from the GOP, the libertarian congressman from Michigan has attracted tons of buzz over a possible run for president as a third-party candidate.

"Amash’s plans remain opaque. Publicly, he insists he’s running for re-election to his House seat until he says otherwise. Privately, he’s told supporters the same thing. And while those people believe Amash is actively considering a presidential bid, his political inner circle is so tight-knit about the possibility that allies have little idea what the congressman is actually planning.

"That cone of silence has fueled speculation that Amash will join former Govs. Bill Weld and former Rep. Joe Walsh in formally challenging President Trump. And it has supercharged outside efforts to get him in the race. Several officials in the Libertarian Party, which would be the most logical vehicle for an Amash presidential run, told The Daily Beast they have been reaching out to the congressman’s camp to indicate that he’d have strong support among the activists who decide the party’s presidential nomination.

"Those who know Amash say he may be waiting on two things before making a decision: a clearer sense of Libertarian Party support, and a clearer statement of plans from another rumored Trump challenger: his former House colleague Mark Sanford. The South Carolina Republican, who served as governor and a member of  Congress before losing his seat last cycle, has not yet officially launched a bid but is considered likely to challenge Trump in the GOP primary.

"The Daily Beast spoke with six people who either know Amash personally or have worked with him, three of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly about what his plans may be. One of them said that the congressman is almost certainly waiting to see if Sanford will run, and that he would not run himself if his old friend were to get in the race....

"Unlike other Trump challengers, Amash would not be competing against him in a primary. The damage he could inflict, instead, would come in a general election contest, where a conservative alternative to the sitting president could, potentially, pull away some Republican votes in key states. But there is a sense that he will need to announce soon in order to make a bid count — most likely by the end of the year.

"In the meantime, Amash is clearly benefiting from the aura of mystery around his current plans, ... Liz Mair, a GOP strategist and Trump critic with libertarian views ... told The Daily Beast. 'No one knows what Amash is doing. People like a mystery.'”

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Friday, August 30, 2019

MD man jailed 82 days for possession of honey

A Man Spent 82 Days in Jail on Meth Charges. The Meth Was Actually Honey. – - Billy Binion:

August 27, 2019 - "Leon Haughton, a legal green card holder from Jamaica who has lived in Maryland for almost 10 years, arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport on December 29 following his yearly pilgrimage back home. U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained him. For what, he wasn't sure.

"Maryland Transportation Authority Police then arrested him, telling him that the bottles in his bag labeled 'honey' had tested positive for methamphetamine. A police dog sniffed Haughton's bag raising suspicion that he had drugs, and a field test at the airport yielded positive results for meth. He spent the next 82 days in jail.

"Except the bottles really were full of honey. Maryland State Police lab test results confirmed that on January 17, and prosecutors dropped three felony drug counts six days later.

"Yet he stayed in jail. The state was still pursuing a misdemeanor possession charge, the lab results notwithstanding, because Maryland's lab is not fully equipped to test liquids. On January 24, Haughton and his lawyer sought his immediate release on bail. It was denied. Citing the K-9 hit and the positive field test, prosecutors maintained the lesser charge while law enforcement sent the bottles to a Homeland Security lab in Georgia for more testing.

"Normally, Haughton would've been released on his own recognizance since the charges levied against him had been whittled down to one misdemeanor. But the original felony counts triggered an active Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer — so if the state released him, the feds could arrest and deport him. Haughton's legal saga took place in the midst of the winter's lengthy government shutdown, meaning that no one could get in touch with the agency to have the detainer lifted....

"Haughton would not go home until March 21, when the new lab results came in and the state finally dropped the remaining charge.... During the ordeal, Haughton lost both of his jobs, one as a cleaner and the other as a construction worker."

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

US Libertarian chair moves to Free State

There's a new Porcupine in town: Libertarian National Committee chair moves to Manchester from Arizona | Manchester Ink Link:

August 26, 2019 - "Nicholas Sarwark, Libertarian National Committee Chair, moved to the Queen City from Arizona this week with his wife and four young children. He says coming to New Hampshire has been the goal for a while.

“'When I first signed up for the Free State Project in 2002, I knew I wanted to live in the most libertarian state in the country. It’s a great place to raise a family and it’s closer to Washington DC and the Libertarian Party National Headquarters'....

"Nationally, the Libertarian presidential ticket of New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and his running mate former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld – now running for the Republican nomination – received more than 4 million votes or 3.28 percent of the total vote. NH State Rep. Max Abramson is among those seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination in 2020....

"As chair, Sarwark has played a prominent role spreading the ideas of Libertarianism, with his appearances in Reason magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, Salon, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as on “Kennedy” and “Stossel” on Fox Business, “Stossel on Reason,” the “Glenn Beck Program,” MSNBC, RT TV, NPR, and many more....

"The Sarwarks are also participants in the Free State Project (FSP), a non-partisan, non-profit organization that encourages liberty leaning people of all stripes to come to NH to grow and strengthen the liberty community in the state. Some equate it to creating a real-life 'Galt’s Gulch,' a reference from fiction author Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, including  Rachel Goldsmith, Interim Executive Director of the Free State Project.

“'The FSP is thrilled to welcome the Sarwark family to the growing community of liberty activists in New Hampshire.  We wish Nick and Valerie the best as they settle into their new home and, we look forward to their flavor of "Liberty in our Lifetime,”' Goldsmith said....

"The Free State Project is a non-profit organization, educating the public about the benefits of limited government, and community in New Hampshire. The hope is that the 'liberty movement' finds fertile ground in NH and spreads across the country. For more information see"

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trump's right: Press is 'enemy of the people'

National View Column: Trump is right: The press is the 'enemy of the people' | Duluth News Tribune - Gordon Marino:

August 28, 2019 - "[I]f there is one point Trump seems right about, it is his infamous declaration that the press is the 'enemy of the people.' After all, it was the press, and especially cable television, that, more than anything, helped elect the president who would carry on a fake war against 'fake news.'

"Media today are driven by a desperate need for ratings because it is the number of hits that reels in the lifeblood of advertising revenue. No cable networks have criticized and lampooned Trump more than MSNBC and CNN; for three years now, Trump and his antics have monopolized their offerings. Why? Because those of us who wince at the words of our self-described 'stable genius' revel in hearing him excoriated....

"Recently, MSNBC’s 'Hard Ball' host Chris Matthews ended a segment by shaking his head in disgust over Trump’s extreme indifference to immigrant children. Then, almost under his breath, Matthews archly chuckled something to the effect that it would be hypocritical of him not to acknowledge that cable networks love Trump, too — and for the obvious reason that Trump is a magnet for viewers.

"TV talk-show hosts Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, and Seth Meyers have been bottom-feeding off Trump for years, and even the incurious and uninformed president well understands that all publicity — or almost all — is good publicity. As for Fox, sometimes referred to as 'state television,' watch host Sean Hannity and company for a few days and you, too, might feel befuddled by people distraught over Trump’s behavior....

"The president’s mistruths are legendary, but hear something enough and it becomes hard to dismiss. Hear enough false blather, and it eventually drowns out both the truth and the demand for truth. It used to be a problem for a politician to blatantly contradict himself or herself, thanks in large part to never-ending press coverage. But the public now shrugs when Trump says one thing and then a few days later says the opposite — even when it is all caught on tape.

"Yes, Trump is right; the press is the 'enemy of the people,' because it is the press that not only provides him with boundless coverage but gets us to bite on the glittering lures Trump casts whenever he seems to want to divert attention from something like the Mueller testimony.... Trump loves to gin up conflicts and then congratulate himself for protecting us from the self-created conflicts. Likewise, the media created this Frankenstein’s monster of a president, and for all their vitriol against Trump, the talking heads know they depend on the man they love to hate."

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Chinese gov't shuts down pro-market thinktank

China’s Crackdown on Dissent Claims Free-Market Think Tank - Bloomberg - Matthew Campbell & Peter Martin:

August 27, 2019 - "One of China’s most prominent independent think tanks will cease operations after years of attempts by government officials to silence it. The Unirule Institute of Economics, which advocated free-market economic theories and is well known in U.S. academic circles, has decided to shut down after district officials in Beijing declared that it was operating without authorization, the organization said in a statement dated Aug. 26. Although Unirule said it intends to fight the government determinations, it will nonetheless halt its activities and stop updating its website apart from notices relevant to the winding-down process.

"The end of Unirule closes down one of the last venues for open debate on economic issues in China. Founded in the early 1990s by a pair of celebrated Chinese economists, Mao Yushi and Sheng Hong, Unirule once enjoyed a broad following in business and political circles, producing widely read analyses of government policies and financial issues. But that changed dramatically under President Xi Jinping, who has implemented a broad crackdown on dissent since taking power in 2012.

"The banning decisions 'seriously violate Article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China,' which guarantees freedom of speech, Unirule said in its statement. The measures, it said, 'infringe on the general constitutional rights of all citizens and organizations'.... China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Unirule’s statement.

"Unirule’s fate signals that the space for uncensored discussion in China is narrowing even further as Xi navigates a trade war with the U.S. and continuing protests in Hong Kong. While Mao and Sheng mostly confined their advocacy to economics, not politics, both have frequently criticized China’s failure to rein in state-owned companies, arguing that only a vibrant private sector can deliver prosperity....

"Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair of China Studies at the Center for Strategic International Studies, said ... the government declaration that Unirule Institute was operating without authorization ... 'raises profound questions about the direction of China’s political development. Without independent voices offering alternative viewpoints, how can China’s leaders make effective decisions?'"

"Before this week’s decision, Unirule had endured years of official and unofficial efforts to halt or circumscribe its activities. Its website and social media channels were blocked from access within mainland China in 2017, shortly before the institute was forced to move from its longtime Beijing office. It was later evicted again, by a landlord so eager to bar access to Unirule’s premises that some of its staff found themselves briefly welded inside. Sheng, meanwhile, was barred from leaving the country in 2018 on the grounds that he was a threat to national security."

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Ferguson seeks new term as Ontario LP leader

August 26, 2019 - Rob Ferguson, leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party, announced on Facebook on August 11 that he will be seeking another term as leader, with the goal of leading the party in the 2022 provincial general election.

Ferguson, a 10-year party veteran, was elected deputy leader at the 2017 Ontario LP convention, and became leader following the 2018 election after the resignation of Allan Small. The following is Ferguson's Facebook announcement in full:

"I have been in the trenches with our candidates and members for 10 years promoting liberty. I have spent the last year rebuilding the party now it is time to move forward. We have a stronger foundation to build on. If elected party leader will start on the road to 2022 which includes platform development, candidate recruitment & promotion of the Ontario Libertarian Party. The biggest part of being leader is respect, I respect our members. I ask for your support, vote but most importantly your trust. Vote Rob Ferguson Ontario Libertarian Party Leader. To join the party of choice visit us Feel free to email me at"
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Sunday, August 25, 2019

“David Koch walked the walk” says Reason editor

“David Koch walked the walk” - Vox - Jane Coaston:

August 23, 2019 - "David Koch, the billionaire industrialist who, together with his brother Charles, ran one of the most influential (and controversial) political giving operations, died Friday at the age of 79. A libertarian, Koch was nevertheless one of the most powerful forces in conservative politics, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to back conservative candidates in elections on every level and pouring millions more into think tanks....

"At their core, the Koch brothers were 'fundamentally, philosophically libertarian,' says Nick Gillespie, editor at large of Reason Magazine , a monthly libertarian publication ... published by the Reason Foundation.... Koch served as a trustee of the foundation for 36 years and was a major donor....  I spoke with Gillespie, who was also formerly Reason’s editor-in-chief, about David Koch’s impact on libertarian politics and politics at large"....

Nick Gillespie; "David and Charles Koch, ... more than any two people, are responsible for the postwar, post-’60s libertarian movement. They’re fundamentally, philosophically libertarian — they believe that individuals should be given as much freedom to innovate and to create the wealth that they want to, based on mutual respect for people’s rights and things like that. If you look back toward the end of the ’80s, in an MIT alumni survey, they asked, 'Graduates, what are you most proud of?' And Koch said he was most proud of running for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980....

"They’re fundamentally libertarian. They think that individuals have rights that should be respected always and everywhere. And that also meant that they’re not religious, they’re not pushing a narrow morality. They were anti-intervention, ... they were against corporate welfare, they were against special rules for connected people. David Koch walked the walk. He believed in free minds and free markets, and believed in making the world better through good business practice and good philanthropic practice...."

"It’s impossible to underestimate or to understate the impact that he had in growing a variety of institutions that created an intellectual architecture of framework for libertarian ideas. So whether it’s through his board membership and contributions to Reason or to other groups, including philanthropic groups, he helped fund a ton of people who learned how to think about ideas in a pre-political way. And I think this is part of what neither the right or the left nor journalists get about the Kochs ... that ultimately they’re more interested in what happens before politics.

"It’s about a worldview, and it’s a worldview that, again, is classically liberal in that it celebrates local cultures and local traditions, but then it also blends that with the kind of cosmopolitanism that comes out of a kind of appreciation for universal human rights and the idea that we’re all equal and we should try and discover how best to live our lives. And I think that’s his main legacy to the libertarian movement: helping to bolster and create and fund the institutions that allow libertarian ideas and thought to flourish."

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Koch legacy alive and thriving: The Guardian

The Kochtopus: sprawling network keeps David Koch's legacy thriving | US news | The Guardian - Ed Pilkington:

August 23, 2019 - "In September 2010, David and Charles Koch, the fabulously rich brothers who turned an oil and manufacturing empire inherited from their father into a cash cow for rightwing causes that would change American politics, sent out a letter to conservative power brokers inviting them to ... an event that was to become known as 'Freedom Partners': a twice-yearly gathering, convened in utmost secrecy, of some of the most wealthy and powerful rightwing players in the country. To attract their guests they included a brochure from a previous Koch gathering in Aspen, where the elite attendees had sat around in mountainous splendor discussing, among other issues: 'Is America on the Road to Serfdom?'

"The most intriguing part of the brochure was a roll-call of names of those lured to previous 'Freedom Partner' gatherings. It included the current vice-president, Mike Pence; the Wisconsin politician Paul Ryan, who would go on to become speaker of the House of Representatives; super-donors such as the hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, and most intriguingly of all two conservative justices of the US supreme court, Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia. That the brothers could bring under one roof top politicians, billionaire donors and senior judges to plot the future of America on a free-market, anti-government course illustrated the scale of their ambitions and the influence they wielded....

"Many date the rise of the Kochs to 2010, the year in which the highly contentious landmark supreme court ruling Citizens United (approved by both Scalia and Thomas) opened the floodgates to corporate money in elections. The Kochs leveraged their affiliated organizations to raise well over $100m in the 2012 presidential election alone....

"Koch’s ... self-interested desire to drive government out of the US economy by undermining regulations and slashing corporate taxes started to firm up in 1980, when he stood as the Libertarian party’s vice-presidential candidate.... In 1977 he supported Charles in founding and funding the libertarian Cato Institute. But it was not until 2004 that the true embodiment of the brothers’ desire to reshape the country was born: Americans for Prosperity.... Through AFP, the Kochs spawned a nationwide web of impassioned conservative volunteers, empowered by the new voter technology they supported through the political data firm i360. Among the key targets of their campaigning: the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare... But it also took on climate crisis regulations, public education and taxes and championed the nascent 2010 Tea Party movement.

"In the past couple of years, David Koch, and his arguably even more ideologically driven brother Charles, have perhaps been less prevalent on the right as their political pulling power has appeared to wane a little. That might be in part due to David’s deteriorating health.... It is also in large part due to the advent of Trump. There has been much discussion in recent months about the very public spat between the president and the Koch brothers, with the Kochs calling Trump’s trade tariffs 'detrimental' and Trump lashing back that the billionaires were 'a total joke'.... [T]he truth about Trump, though, is that he has adopted many of the rightwing postures the Kochs have long espoused....

"In David Koch’s passing on Friday America has lost a lion of conservatism whose backing for ultra-rightwing causes was cherished by fellow billionaires, corporations, polluters – even some supreme court justices. But members of that elite club of 'Freedom Partners' should find solace in the thought that – though David Koch will no longer be there to greet them at their secretive retreats – his influence is still very present, right there in the White House."
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Friday, August 23, 2019

David Koch dead at 79

David Koch, billionaire conservative activist and donor, dead at 79 | CBC News - Associated Press:

August 23, 2019 - "Billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, who with his older brother Charles transformed American politics by pouring their riches into conservative causes, has died at age 79. 'It is with a heavy heart that I now must inform you of David's death,' Charles Koch announced Friday.

"David Koch, who lived in New York City, was the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He was a generous donor to conservative political causes, as well as educational, medical and cultural groups.

"The brothers were best known for a vast political network they built that became popularly known as the Kochtopus for its far-reaching tentacles in support of conservative causes. The two founded the anti-tax, small government group Americans for Prosperity.

"'I was taught from a young age that involvement in the public discourse is a civic duty,' David Koch wrote in a 2012 op-ed in the New York Post.... While dealing with prostate cancer for 20 years, he told a reporter following the 2012 Republican convention that he was thinking about what he will someday leave behind....

"Koch donated $100 million in 2007 to create the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also gave millions to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston, and other institutions.

"The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History named in his honour a wing dedicated to the story of human evolution over six million years. Koch donated $15 million to fund the 15,000-square-foot hall.

"Koch, an engineer trained at MIT, joined Koch Industries in 1970, and served on its board. He also served as chief executive officer of Koch Chemical Technology Group, LLC, a Koch subsidiary. He retired from the company in 2018.

"The Koch brothers, each with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion, tied in fourth place in 2012 on Forbes 500 list of the nation's richest men."

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Chafee open to Libertarian POTUS run

Lincoln Chafee: ‘I’d Be Open’ to a Libertarian White House Bid:

August 22, 2019 - "The 2016 presidential election was not kind to Lincoln Chafee: the former Rhode Island governor, U.S. senator, and metric system enthusiast flopped when he mounted a long-shot campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination.... But ... on Wednesday, the former Republican, former Democrat, and former independent confirmed that he’s open to running again in 2020 — as a Libertarian.

"'I'm very motivated as an anti-war American, and also by the deficit,' said Chafee in an interview. 'Those are two big issues that, if the Libertarian convention next summer thinks that someone with a long record on those issues ... if I fit that, then yes, I'd be open to that.'

"A member of one of New England’s most prominent political families, Chafee recently left his home state and moved to Wyoming, citing his family’s love of the outdoors. Upon arrival, he switched his official party registration to Libertarian, marking his fourth different party affiliation in his political career.

"That news, announced via op-ed column, got Libertarian Party politicos chattering about the possibility that Chafee could carry the party’s banner for 2020.... In conversations with The Daily Beast, several Libertarian Party officials and members mentioned Chafee as a possible candidate-in-the-wings for the party’s nomination in 2020. Larry Sharpe, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for governor in New York, told The Daily Beast he is encouraging Chafee, along with other possible third-party candidates like Howard Schultz, to get in the race.

"Chafee framed his jump to the Libertarian Party as a matter of principle, not opportunism, and explained that he didn’t join the party with dreams of a presidential run. 'People always say, Chafee jumps from party to party, but I’ve always been fiscally conservative and socially liberal,' he said. 'I’ve been very, very consistent… I was surprised how well the Libertarian Party fit when I moved to Wyoming.'

"While Chafee holds some positions that are hallmarks of the Libertarian Party — he advocates a peacenik foreign policy, fashions himself a deficit hawk, and says he’s 'passionate' about the Fourth Amendment — ... [he] received a 'D' grade from the Cato Institute, a libertarian-aligned think tank, for his plan to increase taxes in order to balance the state’s books. He also earned an 'F' rating from the National Rifle Association for his stances on gun control....

"Chafee told The Daily Beast that he would be likeliest to jump in the race if there was tangible clamoring among Libertarian activists for him to make a run. The party chooses its presidential nominee at the convention, rather than through a traditional primary process, which could be a way in for an unorthodox candidate."

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Legal cannabis supported by large plurality in UK

Is the UK about to legalize marijuana ahead of the United States? | The GrowthOp - Brendan Bures:

July 23, 2019 - "[I]n the U.K. ... a recent poll ... by YouGov .. represents a 'clear and growing appetite' for reforming drug laws in the UK, says the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, which commissioned the study....

"The poll shows a vast majority support medical marijuana legalization in the UK (77 per cent). Meanwhile, those who support legalizing adult-use cannabis double the number of those who oppose it (48 per cent compared to 24 per cent). That’s an increase of five per cent, according to Dazed Digital.

"'This survey shows the government and politicians are significantly behind the public’s thinking,' Rob Wilson, CDPRG’s chief executive, told The Independent. 'It illustrates the widening gulf between the stubborn, decades-old policies of blanket prohibition and the developing attitude of millions of voters willing to apply new approaches focused on improving harm reduction and healthcare outcomes,' he added.

"Whether this results in widespread change remains debatable, though that is the goal of CDPRG. The U.K. legalized some forms of medical marijuana last year, but [it] remains difficult to access for many families due to bureaucratic and financial burdens."

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

1.7 million join unsanctioned Hong Kong protest

Hong Kong: 1.7m people defy police to march in pouring rain | World news | The Guardian - Verna Yu & Lily Kuo:

August 18, 2019 - 'An estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong – a quarter of the population – defied police orders to stage a peaceful march after a rally in a downtown park, after two months of increasingly violent clashes that have prompted severe warnings from Beijing and failed to win concessions from the city’s government.

"'Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas. At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, and surrounded government headquarters.

"Police had turned down a plan for Sunday’s march submitted by the Civil Human Rights Front group and gave permission only for a rally in the park. Those defying the ban risked being charged with unlawful assembly, which can lead to up to five years in prison....

"Throughout the afternoon, streets around Victoria Park were so densely packed that the march frequently came to a complete standstill..... Protesters were orderly but burst into choruses of slogans as they waited to move forward....

"Organisers of the rally, who estimated that 1.7 million people turned up at the park and in the nearby Causeway Bay and Tin Hau areas, said many more were unable to get there. Train services to the metro stations near the park were suspended intermittently throughout the day due to the huge numbers of people.

"The crowd was a mix of young protesters, families and elderly residents. Parents walked alongside small children.

"By early evening, protesters occupied a six-lane road outside the government in Admiralty, shining lasers at the building and the nearby People’s Liberation Army garrison and yelling insults at the police. After convoys of police vans were seen entering the government complex, protesters called for a retreat and the crowd gradually dispersed."

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Monday, August 19, 2019

People's Party holds 1st national conference

Bernier tries to walk line between libertarianism and identity politics at People’s Party’s first national convention | Toronto Star - Alex Boutilier:

August 18, 2019 - "Sunday afternoon, ... at the PPC’s first national convention ... Benjamin Dichter — a former Conservative candidate in Toronto-Danforth and co-founder of LGBTory — was warning the crowd about 'political Islam' and how it has infiltrated both Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives....

"Dichter, who stood at Bernier’s side in a closing news conference, declined to say what he meant by 'political Islam,' and instead recommended a book. Bernier also declined to explain what he thinks 'political Islam' signifies. When asked if he subscribes to Dichter’s position, Bernier dodged the question.... 'It’s important to have that discussion [about “political Islam”] in Canada,' Bernier told reporters.... '["Political Islam"] can be a threat, yes, and we have to have that discussion'....

"A year after his dramatic split from the Conservative party and the formation of the PPC, Bernier still insists his fledgling political movement is all about individual liberty and personal responsibility. But somehow, the conversation around the PPC keeps going back to other topics, such as drastic cuts to immigration and doing away with Canada’s official multiculturalism.

"The party said 500 people — candidates and party volunteers — attended the three-day conference at a hotel near the Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, just a short drive away from Parliament Hill.... The conference was largely closed to the public — party volunteers and candidates only....

"Bernier has ... lost organizers in Vancouver and practically an entire electoral district association in Winnipeg over concerns his libertarian project was being hijacked by far-right voices. The Star has previously reported that far-right personalities have recommended their followers join the PPC to find a more mainstream avenue to promote their fringe beliefs.

"Bernier told conference attendees that the PPC would campaign on their founding values: the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility, fairness and respect ... — suggesting it’s a central message the party hopes to tell Canadians in the upcoming election campaign.

"But culture and identity are at the very top of the PPC’s platform. Bernier has pledged to end Canada’s official multiculturalism policy, cut annual immigration levels by more than half, and promote “Canadian values” and freedom of speech. In his speech to the crowd, Bernier tied his project to the 'growing populist option that is quickly taking its place in almost every western democracy'....

"The PPC has polled between 0 and 5 per cent according to CBC’s compilation of public polling over the last month. Bernier’s most passionate support seems to live on message boards, blogs and YouTube channels. It’s an open question how that will manifest at ballot boxes.

"Even if public polling is lowballing Bernier’s popular support, there is the further question of how concentrated that support is in individual ridings. While a party can poll at 5 per cent nationally, that doesn’t necessarily translate into enough votes to win a given riding in Canada’s first-past-the-post system."

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Free Country: 5 libertarian country music songs

Leave a Country Boy Alone: Five Country Songs for Libertarians - Caleb Shumate, Libertarian Republic:

August 10, 2019 - "[T]here are many country songs which embody the spirit of the Libertarian philosophy which is all about individual freedom and independence. I’d like to take you through a list of five songs my fellow liberty lovers might enjoy.

1. "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams Jr. ... talks about how people in the country can survive, no matter what you throw at them. This tune is the definition of a libertarian song talking about being completely self-sufficient and not giving a damn about what anybody thinks.... []

2. "White Lightning” by George Jones ... tells a story about an old man back in the mountains of North Carolina who made moonshine, and was always dodging the government.... As lovers of liberty, we despise prohibition in any form.... []

3. "Working Man Blues" by Merle Haggard ... [is] a tale of a 'salt of the earth,' blue-collar type of guy who will do anything in the world to provide for his family. He absolutely refuses to be on the welfare system and breaks his back every week to ensure it never becomes a reality.... []

4. "Man in Black" by Johnny Cash ... is one of Johnny’s many protest songs. He spoke out against many issues of his day, from people who were held back because of wrongful incarceration to America’s bad foreign policy.... Cash’s lyrics in this song could describe core beliefs of libertarians from criminal justice reform to a foreign policy that doesn’t police the world and get Americans killed for no morally justifiable reason. []

5. "The Coalition To Ban Coalitions" by Hank Williams Jr. ... talks about ... the government and social justice warriors who organize coalitions to ban everything good and pleasurable in our daily lives.... Hank talks about how he isn’t a politician, but has a few views of his own. He suggests we ban coalitions since they want to try to tell us how we can run our lives. Hank repeatedly asks, 'why can’t everybody else leave everybody else alone?' []

"All these songs have a strong message ... in favor of the individual liberty we all hold dear. It makes me echo John Denver by saying, 'Thank God I am a country boy!'"

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Amash wants Sanford to primary Trump

Trump critic Justin Amash welcomes potential Sanford presidential run | News | - Haley Byrd, CNN:

July 17, 2019 - "South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford already has one supporter in Congress for his potential long-shot bid to challenge President Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary: newly independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash.

"Amash, who left the Republican Party in early July and has repeatedly declined to rule out a presidential bid of his own, told CNN that Sanford 'would be a great candidate.' 'I know Mark. He's thoughtful, he's humble, he's learned from his mistakes and grown, and I think we really need a person like that in the White House," Amash said....

"Amash again brushed off questions about his own presidential ambitions, saying he was focused on providing independent representation for his constituents in Congress. He did rule out the possibility of running in the GOP primary as Sanford's running mate....

"A Sanford run would be quixotic. Once a rising star in the party, he resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2009 amid a scandal over his infidelity.... He was subsequently elected to Congress, where he'd served before becoming governor, but lost his primary in 2018.

"If he runs, Sanford would face a Republican Party increasingly unified behind Trump. An overwhelming 90% of Republicans approve of the President, according to Gallup polling last month. But Sanford could present an alternative for a subset of conservatives who are uncomfortable with supporting Trump and have sought a standard bearer in the 2020 race.

"In 2016, Trump faced pushback from conservative Republicans loosely aligned under the umbrella of 'Never Trump' all the way into the general election. But the likelihood of strong resistance to his nomination from within in 2020 has dwindled....  Reluctance to publicly split with Trump is increasingly a primary motivation among elected Republicans....

"Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran as the vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016, is already running against Trump in the GOP primary, but he has failed to gain traction. Sanford's conservative credentials on issues like abortion and government spending could appeal to religious anti-Trump voters who haven't been energized by Weld's moderate record on social issues.

"In the long run, a Sanford primary challenge, even if it fails as expected, may build a base of supporters who could ultimately rally behind a third-party candidate in the general election -- potentially Amash, now that he's left the Republican Party."

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Wrongfully convicted man freed after 23 years

After Spending 23 Years in Prison for a Murder He Didn’t Commit, Ricky Kidd Is Going Home – - Zuri Davis & Joe Seyton:

August 15, 2019 - "Ricky Kidd was charged in 1996 for a double murder that he did not commit ... and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Wednesday, Judge Daren L. Adkins of Missouri's 43rd Judicial Circuit granted Kidd habeas corpus relief. After 23 years behind bars, Kidd will finally get to go home a free man, unless state prosecutors opt to retry him within 30 days of the Adkins' ruling....

"Police in Kansas City, Missouri, received a call in 1996 after neighbors believed they heard gunshots. Upon investigation, the lifeless bodies of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges were discovered at Bryant's property. An anonymous tip, which was likely called in by those connected to the crime, named Kidd as a suspect. That tip — and a number of Brady violations committed by the prosecutor — sealed Kidd's fate.

"Multiple witnesses attested that around the time of the shooting, Kidd was driving to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office at Lake Jacomo, Missouri, to apply for a gun permit [but] Kidd's alibi was not enough to save him from a sloppy police investigation. Nor did it convince the Jackson County lead prosecutor, ... Amy McGowan, [who] acknowledged in a 2017 deposition that 'there is no physical evidence tying [Kidd] to the crime scene that I recall.'

"McGowan did not disclose the depositions of Gary Goodspeed Sr. and Gary Goodspeed Jr., both of whom are now considered 'viable alternative suspects' in the murders of Bryant and Bridges, according to Adkins' ruling. Kidd's lawyers have spent years arguing that this was a Brady violation that ultimately helped doom Kidd.

"Though Kidd was sentenced to die alone in a cell, he had the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) in his corner. Thanks to that group's years-long effort, Kidd received a Rule 91 hearing in April, which allowed him one final shot at habeas corpus relief.... On Wednesday, Adkins ordered the state of Missouri to release Kidd from prison.

"'Based on a careful consideration of the record and these proceedings, this Court finds that the evidence is clear and convincing that Kidd is innocent of the murders of George Bryant and Oscar Bridges,' Adkins wrote in his 107-page decision.....

"'If anything, Ricky's case shows just how hard it is to correct an injustice,' Tricia Bushnell, executive director [of] the MIP and a member of Kidd's legal team, told the AP. 'It shouldn't take 20 years to bring a man home. Ricky's case is solved. We know who committed this crime,' she added.... And even if he does get to come home, which seems likely, there's no getting back the 23 years Kidd lost while incarcerated."

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Who is Ken Armstrong?

Libertarian candidate for President brings his campaign to North Iowa - Mike Bunge, KIMT3 News:
July 18, 2019 - "A man whose life has taken him from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean is now traveling across America on his 'Healing Tour' for President. Ken Armstrong is running for the nomination of the Libertarian Party and his unusual campaign brought him to Iowa on Thursday. 'We’re going by car,' says Armstrong, ... [whose] staff consists of his road manager and Armstrong's dog Duke....

"Armstrong says he was working on the Alaskan Pipeline at 18, joined the U.S. Coast Guard and wound up serving with NATO, was named representative to the Pelagie Islands for the U.S. Consul General at Palermo, and also attended highly classified training under the auspices of the FBI and CIA in Management of Terrorist Situations. 'There’s been only one President in the last 40 years,' says Armstrong, 'that has more qualifications than I do in national security, government, international relations.'

"Armstrong says one of the goals of his campaign is to correct abuses of power by the men sitting in the Oval Office. 'One of our biggest problems right now is the Emergency Powers Act, the fact that the President can act without declaration of war and pretty much write his own check.'

"The Libertarian Party’s nominating convention is set for May 2020. To find out more about Ken Armstrong and his quest for the White House, click here."

Why Ken is a Libertarian – Ken Armstrong for President:
"Ken has identified as a 'libertarian' (with a small 'l') for nearly a quarter-century, but it’s only been the last dozen years or so that he became convinced that the Libertarian Party was a good fit for his world view.

"Like many people, it took Ken some time to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the Libertarian platform. 'It seemed to me,' Ken said, 'that Libertarians just wanted to legalize every kind of questionable behavior I could name. I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of that.'

"Eventually, Ken came to understand that Libertarians weren’t advocating for behaviors, but for rights and liberty. As he became more familiar with many of the passionate people within the party, he began to grasp the nature of the one party that truly advocates for the Bill of Rights, and the only party that stands firm on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. 'When the framers of the Bill of Rights wrote the First Amendment, they weren’t encouraging offensive speech, but they were advocating for the freedom to speak offensively. Understanding the important difference,' he said, 'is to understand why I am a Libertarian.'"
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sanders to legalize cannabis by executive order

Bernie Sanders Says He Would Legalize Marijuana by Executive Order - Andrew Whalen, Newsweek:

August 7, 2019 - "Legalizing marijuana has long been part of Bernie Sanders' policy platform.... But in a recent interview, Sanders got specific, pledging to legalize marijuana by executive order.

"'When I ran for president for the Democratic nomination in 2016, I talked about a broken criminal justice system, which ends up having in the United States more people in jail than any other country,' Sanders told Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. And what I call for then, and I call for now, is the legalization of marijuana in America'....

"Sanders' approach to marijuana legalization takes aim at the Controlled Substances Act, which puts cannabis in the same Schedule One category as heroin, MDMA and psilocybin.

"'That is insane. Heroin is a killer drug,' he said on the episode. 'You can argue the plusses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain't heroin. So we have to end that and that's what I will do as President of the United States. I believe we can do that through executive order and I will do that.'

"In 2016, Sanders became the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization. That position followed The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, a Senate bill he authored that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill received no co-sponsors....

"'I think ultimately we have got to legalize marijuana, and what's good news is some communities, some cities, are expunging the records. So if you were arrested [and] have a criminal record for selling marijuana, that is being expunged. And that is the right thing to do,' Sanders told Rogan....

"Other Democratic candidates have agreed with Sanders, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, all of whom have signaled their intention to legalize pot and expunge criminal records for marijuana convictions."

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

McFadzean runs for LP of Canada in Lakeland

McFadzean joins the race for Lakeland MP - Bonnyville Nouvelle - Robynne Henry:

July 23, 2019 - "Robert McFadzean is once again in the running for Lakeland [Alberta] MP as the candidate for the Libertarian Party of Canada. While he doesn’t consider himself a politician, McFadzean’s main priorities are to decrease taxes and government regulations. 'Our contention is if you do that, we find that people will prosper,' he said, adding he would be opposed to any legislation put forward that would increase either.

"According to McFadzean, the basic philosophy of libertarianism is the government having minimal impacts on people’s lives. 'That’s the right that everybody has to choose for themselves, and where that leads to is that any income that a person earns, for example, is their property. They decide what to do with it,' he explained. 'When a government comes along and taxes away a part of that income, then they’re violating the liberty of that person. They’re taking away their property, which is a violation of that person’s rights.'

"McFadzean noted the main libertarian belief is people are free to decide how to interact with each other as long as no one’s rights are breached.... McFadzean believes people should be allowed to live how they choose, and the government shouldn’t interfere in that respect.

"According to McFadzean, the basis of libertarianism started back in the 1700s after the American war of independence when ... a relatively free society was established. 'It spread into the western countries, and led to a tremendous progress of wellbeing of people. We would argue that was because of liberty, that was because of the freedom people had, and since then, it seems like the governments in this country have gradually backtracked on that… We’re still free enough that our economy and lives are tremendously better than 200 years ago, but we would suggest it could be even better if we were more free than we are now'....

"McFadzean ... first ran for the position in the 2015 federal election. 'Libertarians typically get approximately one per cent of the vote, so when you run as a Libertarian you’re not exactly expecting to get elected. But, as a Libertarian, I wanted to vote for liberty. I want to vote for a Libertarian, so I run as a Libertarian so I and other like minded people have a Libertarian to vote for.'”

"The Vermilion native spent 23 years teaching at Lakeland College in economics and financial management in the agriculture department. He’s married with seven children and has been involved in the community through his church and the local music festival.

"When he ran during the 2018 provincial election for the Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright riding, McFadzean pledged to cover his own expenses and to put any salary he earns, if elected, into a fund toward promoting liberty. He also promised to do the same if he’s chosen as MP for the Lakeland."

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Hong Kong airport shut down by protests

Hong Kong airport authority set to resume flights Tuesday after cancellations on 4th day of protests | CBC News:
August 12, 2019 - "The Hong Kong airport will restart flights starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday after it shut down operations when thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators occupied its main terminal. Hong Kong cancelled all flights not yet checked in by Monday afternoon, the agency said, as anti-government protesters peacefully demonstrated at the airport for a fourth day."
Read more:

Hong Kong's civil unrest: What's driving today's protests? | CBC News:
August 12, 2019 - "Why are there tensions?
"Hong Kong, a major Asian commercial hub, returned to China in 1997 after 156 years of British rule. That transfer of power on July 1, 1997 — known as 'the handover' — came with certain conditions designed to guarantee Hong Hong 'a high degree of 'autonomy.'

"Under the 'one country, two systems' principle, Hong Kong is considered a Special Administrative Region of China and maintains independent legislative and legal systems that afford residents freedoms not available in mainland China. But Hong Kongers have long accused Beijing of encroaching on this autonomy....

"An extradition bill proposed by the the Hong Kong government this year triggered the latest wave of demonstrations.... The controversial extradition bill was proposed on April 3 as a response to the Hong Kong government's inability to extradite a Hong Kong man to Taiwan after he allegedly killed his girlfriend on a trip there. But proposed amendments to the bill would also allow Hong Kong to send people to both Taiwan and the mainland to face charges.

"Critics contend that defendants extradited to mainland China may not have access to a fair trial in the judicial system there and that Beijing could also use the law to crack down on Hong Kong dissidents.

"Intense protests then followed on June 9 as hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were joined by civil servants and others, including business professionals. The bill was declared 'dead' as of last month by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam but she didn't withdraw it, and protests have continued....

"Beijing has labelled the latest protests an ... act of 'terrorism' after local authorities shut down the city's international airport on Monday due to continuous demonstrations. China's military —​ the People's Liberation Army — has a garrison of 6,000 soldiers in Hong Kong. Lam has the authority to request their help to 'maintain social order.'

"If this happens, many fear a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, where the army cracked down violently on democratic protesters in Beijing. China has never disclosed how many people died in the clashes but human rights organizations have estimated the death toll to be [from] several hundred to several thousand."

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

‘Kids for Cash’ scandal documented (video)

Corrupt ‘Kids for Cash’ judge ruined more than 2,000 lives - Larry Getlen, New York Post:

February 23, 2014 - "Hillary Transue, 14, created a fake, humorous Myspace page about her school’s vice principal. Justin Bodnar, 12, cursed at another student’s mother. Ed Kenzakoski, 17, did nothing at all. It didn’t matter.

"As we see in the documentary “Kids for Cash,” ... all three Luzerne County, Pa. teens met the same fate for their minor infractions.... They were brought before Judge Mark A. Ciavarella and, without warning or the chance to offer a defense, found themselves pronounced guilty, shackled and sentenced to months of detention in a cockroach-infested jail. They were trapped in the juvenile justice system for years, robbing most of them of their entire high-school experience.

"Judge Ciavarella, who sentenced around 3,000 children in a similar manner, was later sentenced himself to 28 years in prison for financial crimes related to his acceptance of $2.2 million as a finder’s fee for the construction of a for-profit facility in which to house these so-called delinquents. The scandal was called 'Kids for Cash,' and it rocked the state in 2009.... Ciavarella had 2,480 of his convictions reversed and expunged....

"At the end of 'Kids for Cash,' directed by Robert May, information flashes across the screen saying: 'Two million children are arrested every year in the US, 95% for non-violent crimes'; that '66% of children who have been incarcerated never return to school'; and that 'the US incarcerates nearly 5 times more children than any other nation in the world.'”

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Amash sponsors bill to end US death penalty

Justin Amash teams up with 'squad' member to end federal death penalty ahead of announced executions - Conservative Review - Nate Madden, BlazeTV:

July 26, 2019 - "Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican Party over his feud with President Donald Trump, has teamed up with a member of the anti-Trump 'squad' to keep the Department of Justice from executing five convicted murderers.

“'Michigan abolished capital punishment in 1846,' Amash tweeted Friday morning. 'The U.S. government has had a moratorium on this horrendous practice since 2003. Now, President Trump and AG Barr want to resume executions. This week, I joined @RepPressley to introduce a bill to prohibit the federal death penalty.'

"The short bill, less than two pages, simply states that 'no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after the date of enactment of this Act for any violation of federal law.'

"The move is in response to a Department of Justice announcement Thursday that the Trump administration would seek to carry out the first federal executions in 16 years....

"Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is a member of the far-left group of House Democrat freshmen known as the 'squad.' She responded to Thursday’s news by bringing up President Trump’s calls, when he was a private citizen, to bring back the death penalty for the Central Park Five....

"The death row inmates in this situation, according to Thursday’s announcement, have been convicted of murdering 'the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly'....

"The last person to be executed by the federal government, as opposed to a state government, was in 2003. While Obama stopped short on efforts to put an end to the practice at the federal level in 2015, his administration put a de facto moratorium on executions."

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Friday, August 9, 2019

Luxembourg plans to legalize adult-use cannabis

Pass the Duchy: Luxembourg’s grand plan to legalize cannabis – POLITICO - Jillian Deutsch:

July 30, 2019 - "Luxembourg has ambitions to legalize recreational cannabis and convince other European countries to do the same.... Its health ministry is slated to unveil a proposal to start the legislative process this fall, and the goal is for it to become law within two years.

"If that happens, Luxembourg will join a small but growing list of countries — Canada, Uruguay and 11 U.S. states — reversing decades[-]long drug policies that saw the substance banned and people jailed for violations.

"One of the main advocates is Health Minister Etienne Schneider, who cites health reasons as the most important driver. He said young people are already getting weed on the black market, coming into contact with drug dealers who provide cannabis of unknown quality, and getting access to more potentially dangerous drugs....

"Under the legislation to be proposed by Schneider and Justice Minister Félix Braz, Luxembourg would legalize the entire cannabis market, from issuing licenses for its production to legalizing its consumption, under a highly regulated structure. It would ban home cultivation and likely impose an age restriction — possibly 18 — for purchase. Schneider also envisions prohibition on purchases by non-residents, as a way to avoid drug tourism....

"For now, support for the bill looks strong. The three parties that form the governing coalition in Luxembourg all included legalizing recreational cannabis in their governing agenda, largely driven by young members.

"But Luxembourg is grappling with the fact that it's a small country to which an estimated 200,000 people travel for work each day. Schneider admits it will be difficult striking a balance between keeping borders open and regulating this new market, especially if Luxembourg's neighbors fear undesired spillover. But he said he wants to get other countries on board and is talking to fellow health ministers....

"Alexandra Curley, head of insights at the cannabis consultancy group Prohibition Partners, said Luxembourg is right to try learning from other countries that have made cannabis accessible....  'Luxembourg is a very small country, but it's also quite a powerful one,' she added. 'Everybody's just waiting for that first person to take the plunge and see how it works out.'"

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Ohio Libertarian civic candidate back on ballot

Libertarian candidate for Reynoldsburg City Council returned to November ballot - News - The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, OH - Marc Kovac

July 23, 2019 - "The Franklin County Board of Elections returned a Libertarian candidate for Reynoldsburg City Council to the November ballot on Tuesday, about a week after being ordered to do so by the Ohio Supreme Court. Robert Bender had filed suit seeking reinstatement in the race for the Ward 3 council seat after elections officials invalidated several petition signatures he had submitted....

"Bender submitted his candidacy declaration in early February, and elections officials determined that he had the requisite number of valid petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. He was unopposed in the primary and was subsequently certified for the Nov. 5 ballot.

"However, another resident protested Bender’s petitions, challenging some of the validated signatures. In June, the county elections board formally heard the challenge, compared signatures on Bender’s petitions with those on file with the board, determined that several did not match, and removed Bender from the general election ballot.

"The Ohio Supreme Court determined that the elections board had abused its discretion by acting more than two months after the primary and that evidence was lacking that the protester was a Libertarian Party member with standing to challenge the signatures.

"On Tuesday, without comment, the elections board certified Bender for the ballot, adding his name to nine other candidates earlier approved for several Reynoldsburg City Council races."

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Senate committee hearing on SAFE Banking Act

SAFE Act Passage Would Mean Safe Cannabis Banking For All:

August 1, 2019 - "Last week, cannabis banking was once again discussed on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a hearing to review a leading bill that would allow federally overseen financial institutions to serve cannabis-related businesses. If passed, the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would protect banks from federal prosecution as long as the cannabis businesses they work with comply with the laws in the states where they operate....

"Despite bipartisan support in the House and except for committee chairman Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho), no Republican members attended. Interestingly, Sen. Crapo’s state has yet to even legalize medical cannabis. He will, however, be influential in determining whether this bill ever reaches the President’s desk.

"Sen. Crapo’s attendance and comments Tuesday surprised many SAFE Banking Act watchers, indicating he may be more willing to see cannabis banking progress than previously thought. Just a few months ago, he expressed reservations about cannabis banking legislation.... On Tuesday, however, he seemed receptive to arguments in favor of the bill.

"For example, the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), explained that conducting business solely on cash transactions widens the chances of money laundering and other crimes. Other speakers noted the extreme obstacles small businesses face, including that many are unable to even break into the industry because of the lack of access to financial services and insurance. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), another co-sponsor, pointed to the bill’s unprecedented bipartisan support, which is rare in today’s political climate.

"Many of the arguments made during the hearing harken back to a letter banking associations from all fifty states and Puerto Rico sent to Sen. Crapo and the committee in May. The letter argued that an urgent need exists for banks to serve the cannabis industry, which can only be solved with federal action like the SAFE Banking Act. It was yet another sign of unity on this issue and growing support for the bill....

"At the close of Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Crapo agreed that the problem of cannabis banking should be resolved. While it is unclear whether this means he will advance the SAFE Banking Act, the comment alone provided another small glimmer of hope that we’re taking a step in the right direction."

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Iowa Libertarians challenge early filing deadline

Iowa Libertarians sue for equal access to state ballot | Cedar Rapids Gazette:

August 5, 2019 — "Iowa Libertarians are challenging an Iowa law they claim puts them at a disadvantage because their candidates must file months earlier than Democrats and Republicans seeking office. The lawsuit filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines claims state law violates Libertarians’ rights of association and voting under the First Amendment, and denies them the equal protections guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

"The lawsuit names 'Paul D. Tate' as the plaintiff, an apparent reference to Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate, the state commissioner of elections. Pate’s office had no comment regarding the suit other than to say the law change did not originate in the Secretary’s office.

"The Iowa Libertarian Party and Jake Porter of Council Bluffs, who plans to run for the U.S. Senate, also ask for an injunction barring enforcement of the law and for the state to pay their attorney fees.

"The law stems from a change the GOP-controlled Legislature made earlier this year to require candidates nominated by a non-party political organization — often referred to as an NPPO — must file with the state in mid-March of an election year while political party candidates don’t have to file until August.

"Under Iowa law, NPPOs are organizations that sponsor candidates, but their candidates did not receive at least 2 percent of the votes cast for president or governor in the previous election. Iowa Libertarians have been recognized as a political party in the past, but their current status is as an NPPO.

“'A filing deadline in mid-March imposes heavy burdens on NPPOs,' according to the lawsuit.... There is no legitimate state interest in the earlier filing deadline, Libertarians argue, or in treating NPPOs differently from political parties."

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Monday, August 5, 2019

British trade secretary plans to create 'free ports'

Liz Truss's plan for tax-free zones condemned by Labour - Rowena Mason, The Guardian - Yahoo News:

August 1, 2019 - "Liz Truss, the new trade secretary, will promise to create up to 10 new tax-free zones at ports and airports in a move condemned by Labour as setting up tax havens and money-laundering opportunities along Britain’s coasts. The cabinet minister, a free marketeer whose political hero is former chancellor Nigel Lawson, said the plan for so-called 'free ports' could revitalise transport and trade hubs like Margaret Thatcher did for the London Docklands in the 1980s.

"Boris Johnson championed free ports when he took office last week, but the Singapore-style tax-free zones are controversial and have been identified by the EU as a money-laundering risk.

"Under the plans, ports including Teesport, Milford Haven, Port of Tyne and London Gateway could become standalone economic zones, considered independent for customs purposes, that charge no taxes or tariffs on imports....

"Those advising Truss on a new free port panel will include Eamonn Butler, the director of the rightwing, libertarian Adam Smith Institute, and Tom Clougherty, the head of tax at the Thatcherite thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). Emma Jones, who runs a small business network, and Daniel Korski, a former adviser to David Cameron will also be on the panel....

"Speaking on a visit to Teesside, Truss will say: 'Freedoms transformed London’s Docklands in the 1980s, and free ports will do the same for towns and cities across the UK. They will onshore enterprise and manufacturing as the gateway to our future prosperity, creating thousands of jobs..... We will have a truly independent trade policy after we leave the EU on 31 October. I look forward to working with the free ports advisory panel to create the world’s most advanced free port model and launch the new ports as soon as possible.'

"The Department for International Trade described free ports as hubs for business and enterprise that 'could be free of unnecessary checks and paperwork, and include customs and tax benefits'.... The department pointed to 250 free trade zones in the US where 420,000 people are employed."

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Immigration and individualism

by George J. Dance

Immigration is one area in which libertarians have a hard time communicating meaningfully with otherwise libertarianish conservatives and centrists. One reason is that  we look at the topic from two different perspectives (or two different "paradigms" as Thomas Kuhn called them), a difference which, if noted at all, is not discussed.

Libertarians are methodological individualists. They look at social interactions in terms of the individual actors involved, and how their actions harm or benefit other individuals. They would look at why a person comes to this country - to make a better life for himself and his family - which means to work and profit from it. They ask if his coming here and working betters or worsens other individuals' lives.

If an immigrant does and achieves what he wants - if he contributes and earns a good living - then he is purely a benefit. Maybe he gets a job that a native-born Canadian could have held, but he does not stop the latter from working. Maybe the immigrant collects too much tax money, which counts as a harm to some taxpayers, but that makes him no different from the Canadian-born guy - that is how the Canadian tax system is designed, to subsidize some at the expense of others - and if we tolerate the one being subsidized, we  should tolerate the other.

The anti-immigration guy, on the other hand, looks at the problem collectively. He is not looking at Manuel or Mohammed coming here and working, but at "Mexicans" or "Moslems" as a group. He worries about the society's racial and cultural composition - which the libertarian, even if he understands the concern, does not see as something to be addressed by the criminal law.

But the idea of cultural composition is very hard for a libertarian to understand by itself. Libertarians do not deny (as anti-libertarian turncoat Murray Rothbard once claimed we did) that there are no group differences. Given their individualist perspective, though, they believe those differences to be insignificant, vastly overshadowed by differences among individuals within a group. The idea of groups is based on the abstract idea of "group identities," which the libertarian's observations lead him to reject: Group identities are simply averages, which say nothing about any actual group members.

When I look at immigration, I do not see an undifferentiated mass of Mexicans or Central Americans; I see Manuel and Manuel, guys whom I worked with at different companies for years. I do not see a homogeneous crowd of Moslems; I see Mohammed and Mohammed, Pakistani and Syrian-born neighbors in my apartment building. And so on: I think of these people and I ask myself: should what those men have done, and are continuing to do, be outlawed? And I have to say no.

In contrast, the anti-immigration guy sees only masses and crowds. He notices more colored faces in the city, for example, or he reads about their numbers and connects that with other numbers (like the fall in Canadian birth rates) to come up with trends that worry him. He focus is on the total social impact, which he thinks only the government has the power to do something about.

The individualist libertarian sees none of that. Like groups, social trends for him are only generalizations about what really goes on in a societry: real people trying to get on with their lives. And he believes that the latter (provided that those people are peaceful) is not something that the government should be trying to "do something" about.

Until we recognize those two different perspectives, and devise a language that reconciles them, there will be no real dialogue, no mutual understanding, and no possibility of agreement between individualist libertarians and their adversaries on this issue.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

U.S. cities turn to fines to raise revenue

Excessive fines? Florida city hits homeowners with massive penalties - Kristine Philips, USA Today:

June 19, 2019 - "'Fines are a reliable source of revenue for cash-starved cities, and they have become a big – and rapidly growing – business for local governments. States, cities and counties collected $15.3 billion in fines and forfeitures in 2016, according to the most recent financial records collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a 44% jump from a decade earlier....

"The ways in which cities levy fines have been under scrutiny since at least 2015, when Ferguson, Missouri’s law enforcement became a national symbol of racial bias in policing after the shooting death of a young black man, Michael Brown, at the hands of a white police officer. The Justice Department cleared the officer of wrongdoing but published a scathing report describing the city’s municipal court system as a moneymaking enterprise that trapped poor and predominantly black residents in an endless spiral of debt and incarceration.

"Hard-to-pay fines spring up seemingly everywhere as cities look for ways to ... collect money without raising taxes. In Miami, traffic violations usually add up to hundreds of dollars. Collection agencies also add a 40% surcharge, meaning someone with several tickets can owe fines of $3,000 to $7,000.

"Doraville, Georgia, fined one homeowner $1,000 for stacking firewood in his backyard, according to a lawsuit that accuses the city of aggressive ticketing practices. A government newsletter said in 2015 that Doraville’s court system, which collects the fines, brings in 'over $3 million annually' and 'contributes heavily to the city’s bottom line.'....

"Last year, the chief justice of Ohio’s Supreme Court condemned governments’ reliance on fines to make money. 'Courts are centers of justice, not automatic teller machines whose purpose is to generate revenue for governments,' Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor wrote in a letter to her fellow judges urging them not to succumb to pressure to generate revenue through the court system.

"In February, the U.S. Supreme Court ... ruled unanimously that the Eighth Amendment, which forbids 'excessive fines,' restricts the fees state and local governments can impose. 'Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield through Anglo-American history for good reason,' Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court. 'Such fines undermine other liberties.'

"The Supreme Court's decision alone will not stop municipalities' aggressive practices, said Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division who oversaw the Ferguson investigation. Instead, she said, it will take more lawsuits to flesh out the limit for what constitutes an excessive fine."

Friday, August 2, 2019

Russian LP leader jailed after unpermitted rally

Russian Libertarian Party Leader Sentenced For Unsanctioned Rally - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty:

July 30, 2019 - "A court in Moscow has sentenced Mikhail Svetov, the leader of the Libertarian Party of Russia, to 30 days in jail after finding him guilty of violating laws on holding public events. The court said on July 31 that Svetov broke the law on July 16 when he participated in an unsanctioned rally held by opposition and independent city-council candidates who are challenging the refusal of the Moscow election commission to register them for the September 8 election to the Russian capital's assembly.

"Moscow election officials barred some opposition candidates from the September poll for what they said was insufficient signatures on nominating petitions. The decision has sparked an outcry and several demonstrations this month, including one on July 20 in Moscow that drew an estimated crowd of 20,000 people.

'The latest such rally was held near the Moscow mayor's office on July 27, where security officials launched a violent crackdown on participants, using what human-rights groups and Western government have called 'disproportionate force' to break up the demonstration. Police said 1,074 arrests were made, while the independent OVD-Info organization reported 1,373 detentions....

"Svetov has characterized his sentence as 'retaliation' by Moscow officials for his refusal to accept their conditions regarding the site of a new rally on August 3 against the exclusion of the candidates from the ballot. Svetov, his party, and other activists and politicians want to hold the rally on the Lubyanka Square in front of the headquarters of the Federal Security Service.

"On July 30, Russia opened a criminal investigation into the July 27 protest. The potential charges include organizing or participating in 'mass unrest,' which could carry a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. After the launching of the investigation, police on July 31 began visiting people who took part in the protest, asking that they sign a document which threatens criminal prosecution if they ever again participate in a demonstration, according to Pavel Chikov of the rights group Agora."

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

FL woman fined $100K for home she left in 2011

Excessive fines? Florida city hits homeowners with massive penalties - Kristine Philips, USA Today:

June 19, 2019 - "Kristi Allen read the letter and thought it had to be a scam. It said she owed $92,600 in fines for overgrown vegetation and a stagnant swimming pool at a house she no longer owned. She must pay in two weeks, the letter said, and it hinted that she could be sued if she didn't. Including interest charges and other fees, her debt swelled to $103,559, about twice her yearly income.

'Three months later, in late 2018, the city of Dunedin sued to collect, setting off another legal fight over how local governments use their power to impose heavy fines on citizens....

"Dunedin, a small seaside city outside Tampa, cracks down on code violations, saddling homeowners with massive fines while its revenue grows. In 5½ years, the city has collected nearly $3.6 million in fines – sometimes tens of thousands at a time – for violating laws that prohibit grasses taller than 10 inches, recreational vehicles parked on streets at certain hours or sidings and bricks that don't match.... The city fined a man nearly $30,000 because of a 'chronic' overgrown yard. It fined a couple $31,000 for fixing their roof without a permit after a tree fell on it during a hurricane....

"Allen moved to Dunedin in 2005 to be with her boyfriend, Keith, who later became her husband. She bought a bungalow-style house on the same street where he was raised.... Then the financial crisis hit. Allen ... took a pay cut and lost her house in the wave of foreclosures that washed over Florida. She signed an agreement with U.S. Bank National Association allowing the foreclosure and moved out. She thought Dunedin was behind her.

"In early 2014, three years after Allen moved out, a code inspector came to the house, which had been vacant. Brown palm fronds littered the overgrown backyard. A neighbor told the inspector that something dead may have been rotting there. The swimming pool had turned into a bright green, mosquito-infested cesspool.

"City officials sent notices of the problems to Allen, who was still listed as the homeowner in county property records. Then they started fining her $100 a day. The letters mailed to Allen were returned undeliverable with no forwarding address. The city kept fining her anyway.... Her name stayed in property records because the foreclosure was not finalized until late 2014. By then, the city had been fining Allen for several months.... The daily fines continued for the next two years until a code inspector visited the house again and saw it had been cleaned and renovated....

"In Florida and elsewhere, unpaid fines can be attached to someone’s property through liens. That allows cities to foreclose and take the property to collect what they’re owed.... Dunedin expects to make a little more than $1 million this year from fines and forfeitures. That’s about five times as much as the city made a decade ago."

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