It's a crowded house tonight on Fox Business Network at 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT, when your favorite three-month-old cable television news program comes at you live from beautiful midtown Manhattan. Tonight’s episode of The Independents will include but not be limited to:
* Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), currently my favorite Democrat in the House of Representatives, will talk about his inspired stunt last week to defend Bitcoin by sarcastically proposing to ban the dollar.
* Party Panelists Kayleigh McEnany ("Conservative writer and commentator") and filmmaker/TakiMag beardsmith Gavin McInnes will be on to talk about Justin Bieber’s punchable deposition, Edward Snowden’s South by Southwest performance, the awful celebrity campaign to "ban" the word "bossy," and the libertarian strains at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Speaking of CPAC, here’s a Reason.tv vid on topic:
And throughout the show we'll be doing some BREAKING NEWS LIVE UPDATES of the sure-to-be-thrilling Senate Climate Change-a-thon.
For your sexy after-show needs, head over to the show website.
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 620,000 Americans used heroin in 2010. But according to a new report commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, something like 1.5 million Americans were "chronic heroin users" that year. That group includes anyone who has consumed heroin on four or more days in the previous month.According to the
This dramatic discrepancy results from the report's attempt to count heroin users missed by NSDUH, whether because they did not respond honestly, because they did not respond at all, or because they were not part of the household population sampled by the survey. To adjust for such undercounting, Beau Kilmer and eight other drug policy analysts at the RAND Corporation rely mainly on data from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM), which includes urinalysis as well as a survey. Because it focuses on arrestees, ADAM is more likely than NSDUH to identify heavy drug users. But its sample, unlike NSDUH's, is not nationally representative, so Kilmer and his colleagues must perform a series of calculations to convert ADAM numbers into total male arrestees testing postive for heroin and divide those users by frequency of use. Then they add estimates for men who were not arrested as well as for women and teenagers, based partly on NSDUH and information about overdoses, emergency room episodes, and treatment admissions.
The RAND researchers convert their estimate of heroin users into estimates of total consumption and spending. They use similar methods to estimate the size of the cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana markets. In the case of marijuana, a drug for which NSDUH seems to be a better guide, Kilmer et al. rely mainly on numbers from that survey, inflated by 25 percent and supplemented by ADAM data for respondents with criminal records. It is an impressive, headache-inducing feat, but one that is subject to "great uncertainty" because of the assumptions involved and the limits of the data, as the authors repeatedly acknowledge. "In many cases," they say, "the extent of the uncertainty cannot be bounded or quantified." They do not really know, for example, "the extent to which one can trust arrestees' self-reports about their spending on illegal drugs" or "how to extrapolate just ten urban areas' arrest records to the country as a whole."
The RAND estimate for frequent heroin users is much higher than the one reported by NSDUH. In a recent USA Today op-ed piece, Kilmer and one of his collaborators, Jonathan Caulkins, say "estimates from the 2010 NSDUH suggest there were only about 60,000 daily and near daily heroin users"—i.e., people who used heroin on 21 or more days in the previous month. They argue that "the real number is closer to 1 million."
Yet whether you look at NSDUH data or at the RAND estimates, the trend from 2000 through 2010 looks similar. "Heroin consumption remained fairly stable throughout the decade," Kilmer et al. write, "although there is some evidence of an increase in the later years." They note that "there was a steady increase in the amount of heroin seized within the United States and at the southwest border from 2007 through 2010," but they caution that seizure levels may reflect enforcement efforts and traffickers' tactics rather than consumption. The RAND estimates of heroin consumption indicate "essentially no change" from 2000 to 2010. The report does not cover the two subsequent years, when NSDUH reported an increase in the number of past-month heroin users, from 239,000 in 2010 to 335,000 in 2012.
The trends for the other drugs are also similar to what the NSDUH data suggest. "Multiple indicators are consistent with an increasing trend in meth consumption over the first half of the decade and a subsequent decline through 2008," Kilmer et al. write. "From 2002 to 2010, the amount of marijuana consumed in the United States likely increased by about 40 percent while the amount of cocaine consumed in the United States decreased by about 50 percent." Throughout the period covered by the report, estimated annual spending on the four drugs in the United States totaled about $100 billion, although the breakdown changed substantially. "In 2000," say the RAND researchers, "much more money was spent on cocaine than marijuana; in 2010 the opposite was true."
The big crisis is truancy, she argues, and she and several Democratic lawmakers introduced today a package of bills to fight it. In her big press release, she makes no bones about what the goal of reducing truancy is; in the very first paragraph, Harris mentions how absences cost the state school system $1.4 billion a year, because state school funding is tied to attendance.
In a way, I’ve always appreciated how nakedly honest California is about the reasons it’s fighting truancy. They want their money and they want it now. Whether the quality of education or the way students (or parents) are treated contributes to student truancy is not a concern. The law says students need to be in school, the school gets money for students being in school, and so the law is going to drag students into school so that the schools will get their money. Oh, hey, and maybe the law can make some money on the side, too, by fining the parents.
Before looking at these proposed solutions, let’s look at a moment at what Harris calls a crisis:
“According to the California Department of Education, 691,470 California elementary school children, or 1 out of every 5 elementary school students, were reported to be truant in the 2011-2012 school year.”
Holy crap, that’s a lot! But wait just a minute. Here is how the State of California describes “truant”:
In California, a student is truant if he/she is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse on 3 occasions in a school year.
Yeah, so if Mom or Dad gets caught in traffic or is somehow late three times in a school year that means the kids are well on their way to becoming hardened criminals. California schools really, really want their money, folks. Harris further notes that one school reported that 92 percent of its students were truant in one year, but given the state’s definition, it’s a little hard to feel any outrage. She explains further that 250,000 elementary school students miss more than 10 percent of the school year and 20,000 elementary school kids miss more than 35 days of school a year. She describes this statistic as “shocking,” even though that works out to less than a percent of the total students in California’s school system.
Something has to be done, folks! Truant kids don’t learn things, and then they drop out of school and cause crime. Clearly, the solution would be to give parents flexibility in educating their kids and provide a system that allows for choices that work for families with different needs. Ha! Ha! Just kidding. You will accommodate the state’s schedule, citizens! Instead, Harris and lawmakers are suggesting more studies, more recordkeeping, more reports, and a mandate that every county create a special review board to deal with student attendance issues. That last one is an interesting item, as the state already allows for these boards. As part of the legislation mandating their creation, they are adding that a board must include a representative from the county’s district attorney’s office. And if there are costs because of this mandate (like, say, requiring somebody from the district attorney's office to attend), the state is required to reimburse them. How much money are they going to end up spending chasing after this $1.4 billion lost from student absences?
Does the Second Amendment protect the right of gun owners to possess magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition? A group of California gun owners says it does, and today they asked Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to block the implementation of one such ban as they mount a Second Amendment challenge to it in federal court.
At issue in Fyock v. City of Sunnyvale is that municipality’s 2013 law banning the possession of high-capacity magazines. Last week the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, refused to grant a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the city from enforcing the ban while the litigation moved forward, arguing that the ban represents “only the most minor burden on the Second Amendment.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit likewise refused to block the law from going into effect.
The plaintiffs now seek redress at the hands of Justice Kennedy, whose duties include fielding such motions originating from the 9th Circuit. “Granting the injunction will simply preserve Applicants’ rights while the case is decided on the merits,” the plaintiffs’ motion states. By contrast, the lower courts have endorsed a “Hobson’s choice,” requiring otherwise law-abiding gun owners to either hand over their property “or continue exercising their constitutional right to possess the items in violation of the law, subjecting themselves to criminal penalties.”
However bad your spending habits may be, chances are it's better than that of the average national government. The political class around the world has been running the credit cards up with such glee, you have to wonder how officials plan to pay the loans back (that's rhetorical—of course they don't plan to pay them back). Riding a tide of government borrowing, global debt markets rose to $100 trillion in mid 2013 from a mere $70 trillion in 2007. Wait. $100 trillion? Yup.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, which basically acts as a bank for central banks:
Global debt markets have grown to an estimated $100 trillion (in amounts outstanding) in mid-2013 (Graph C, left-hand panel), up from $70 trillion in mid-2007. Growth has been uneven across the main market segments. Active issuance by governments and non-financial corporations has lifted the share of domestically issued bonds, whereas more restrained activity by financial institutions has held back international issuance (Graph C, left-hand panel).
Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers (Graph C, left-hand panel).
Graph C is below, and it shows that global debt is soaring and poised to achieve orbit.
The United States government's official national debt is currently $17.5 trillion. Peter Suderman recently pointed out that the proposed White House budget would leave us with a debt that’s $8.3 trillion higher than it is now over the next decade.
So the next time somebody starts talking about "austerity," you can explain just how austere the past few years have been for poor, strapped governments.
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has criticized his colleague Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in an op-ed for Breitbart News, in which he takes Cruz to task for saying that the GOP has nominated insufficiently conservative presidential candidates in the past and for his frequent references to Reagan.
- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says that U.S. intelligence did not fail ahead of the Russian invasion of Crimea.
- The Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection, thereby temporarily halting U.S. legal action against the Japan-based company.
- Thai officials say that tickets used to board the missing Malaysia Airlines plane that were linked to stolen passports were purchased by an Iranian man.
- Inmates are signing up to Obamacare in order to receive benefits once they’re released.
- NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden told the SXSW conference via video link that mass surveillance carried out by governments across the globe is "setting fire to the future of the internet."
House Republicans are plotting a $1.7 billion tax increase aimed at America’s most elite colleges and universities, reports Ira Stoll. The tax increase is buried on page 879 of Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) 979-page tax reform bill. Camp is chairman of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Stoll notes, and his draft legislation is likely to provide a road map for tax reformers in years ahead.View this article
Destroy Build Destroy Host, and Master Partyer Andrew W.K. is "not an expert on anything except having fun."Musician,
In the short monologue above, he explains three simple truths that partying has taught him about money. Here's one of them:
Some people have tried to make me feel guilty about spending money on things they call "frivolous," but the beauty of money is that it is up to you to decide how to spend it. That's the freedom. And there should never be any feelings of regret or sadness when you use your money for joyful experiences. If paying to go on a roller coaster makes me happy, then money really can buy happiness. When we have experiences of joy that last, we're not only investing in our own direct happiness, but the happiness of the world in general.
Neeson is currently battling New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over the mayor's proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages in NYC. Over the weekend, Neeson escorted more than a dozen City Council members on a tour of a Manhattan horse stable.Liam Neeson is best known for fighting Nazis and Sith and sex traffickers, but the action hero's latest foe is of a decidedly more mundane variety.
He had invited de Blasio along, too, but the mayor declined. "He should have manned up and come," said Neeson.
Upon taking office in January 2014, de Blasio announced that one of his top priorities was “to quickly and aggressively" eradicate horse-drawn carriages from the New York City landscape. The mayor said he would replace the "inhumane" option with “electric, vintage-replica tourist-friendly vehicles."
"That's exactly what New York needs, more cars," scoffed Neeson on Sunday's stable tour. "This experiment has been tried with electric cars in San Francisco: Failed, abysmally."
As New York magazine points out, "there is no shortage of celebrity animal-rights activists who support Mayor de Blasio's plan," but Neeson is one of the first celebrities to side with "the 300 plus drivers and stable workers who may be put out of work by the ban." On the tour, Neeson and company met with both carriage drivers and animal caretakers to see how horses were "well cared for."
Neeson also suggested that something other than animal welfare might be motivating de Blasio and others who support doing away with the carriages—and their associated horse stables. "The great white elephant in the room," said Neeson, is the "four prime locations on the West Side of New York that realtors must be salivating to get their hands on."
Also on the show was Washington Times columnist Emily Miller, author of Emily Gets Her Gun: …But Obama Wants to Take Yours, to describe the arduous process she went through to obtain a handgun in the District of Columbia after suffering a home invasion:
These and many more segment-videos from The Independents can be found on this page.
Alright alright alright!
A coupla dozen Democratic and two independent senators are going to "pull an all-nighter" tonight to raise awareness about climate change.
Over at Huffington Post, Tom Weis summarizes it this way:
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-R.I.], ... Co-Chair of the [Senate Climate Action] Task Force, declares there is a "vast and broad array of armies" that understands the danger of the crisis and are willing to fight, but they are confronting a "barricade of special-interest lies around Washington and around Congress." He is absolutely right.
Weis, head of Climate Crisis Solutions, isn't exactly the greatest salesman in getting people to tune in:
If the climate talkathon is anything like Secretary of State John Kerry's remarkable speech in Jakarta, this could prove an event worth staying up for.
Whew, there's an edorsement for you.
list on speakers, the star power here isn't in danger of lighting up the sky:Judging from the task force's
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Senator Angus King (I-ME)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Back in 2009, Reason's Ronald Bailey laid out a sensible and effective way to deal with climate change - that didn't revolve around top-down schemes to control every aspect of our activities and beggar the planet in the name of the great god Gaia. Read his prescriptions here.
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- Visual Content Fellowship – Promote freedom through your excellent graphic design skills.
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Ukraine's crisis drags on as invasive pro-Russian forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and gain more ground. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying help stabilize Ukraine, not through military action, but better bookkeeping.
Entering their second week of aggression, both “pro-Russian militias and Russian troops” reportedly seized a military hospital in the city of Simferopol today. The Kyiv Post writes:
Some 20-30 men in military uniforms captured the military hospital at about noon today. They carried truncheons and threatened hospital workers and some 30 patients, who are Ukrainian soldiers or veterans.
"People are really fearing for their lives," said Evgen Pyvoval, the hospital's director. He said the captures crammed him into a bus and kept him there for 30 minutes. "We don't know what their demands are," Pyvoval said.
“About 10 unidentified armed men” also fired warning shots at a Ukrainian naval base today and demanded 10 military trucks, according to Reuters.
These are just the latest in a string of strategic locations Russians have captured or attacked on the peninsula, which President Vladimir Putin hopes to bring under his control. A former Ukrainian military officer claimed on Sunday that a Russian troops took one airfield and surrounded a checkpoint at another. On Friday, around 200 troops stormed a missile base, but eventually relinquished control back to Ukrainian personnel. On Wednesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that two more missile bases had “come under partial control by pro-Moscow forces” that day.
“Russian troops preparing to install air defense systems on the peninsula territory, which includes the use of air defense missile battalions of Ukrainian Armed Forces that are being planned to be taken over,” explained Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis.
casus belli as Georgia did in 2008.So far, Ukraine's government has resisted responding to these sieges with force, lest it provide Russia a
And although the U.S. is flexing some military muscle by sending a warship to the Black Sea, it doesn't want to go too entangled. Instead, it is helping Ukraine's new government sort out the economic mess left behind by deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych. American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said at a press conference today:
We have already on the ground here, in Ukraine, experts from the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury who are working with their Ukrainian counterparts to support the Ukrainian investigation… to uncover the financial crimes that were committed by the previous regime and to see what can be done to recuperate some of those assets (stolen from the state).
Ukraine's unrest, which began in November 2013, was sparked in part by a worsening economic situation. The nation's interim president is planning a trip to Washington to meet with President Obama this Wednesday.
For more Reason coverage of Ukraine, click here.
The tongue-in-cheek game Nothing to Hide was born out of creator Nicky Case's dedication to privacy rights. Using the game, he intends to chip away at confidence in National Security Agency (NSA) procedures and give advocates something to think about.
The “anti-stealth” framework is an “inversion” of more familiar stealth-based video games. In the Panopticon-inspired environment, players must control behavior to please monitoring powers. Rather than avoid surveillance equipment, players actively work to remain in sight of yellow, triangle cyclops-eyed cameras. If a player walks outside the view of the camera, he or she risks death by summary, trial-free execution — because clearly he or she is a criminal with something to hide.
The name Nothing to Hide is, of course, taken from a common blasé reaction to state surveillance: “Well, I've got nothing to hide.” The game confronts this attitude by drawing attention to the unpleasantness of being constantly monitored. Players are thrust into a dystopian environment devoid of privacy. Digital posters with creepy comments like “Smile for the camera” and “Thank you for participating in your own surveillance” cover the walls.
Case's opposition to surveillance stems from the National Security Agency leaks, but his time in Singapore also shaped his disapproval. He told Vice's Motherboard in an interview:
William Gibson once described it as “Big Brother with a smile.” There is quite limited free speech there—you need a permit to write about the government in newspapers, and they try to jail filmmakers and bloggers for subversion.
The surveillance platform offers up an interesting platform for tricky puzzles. Spooky — if kind of groovy — music guides players through a dark maze of silver floors exposed by spotlights projected by the surveillance devices.
The Nothing to Hide crowdfunding campaign ends March 12. It pledges 10 percent of the proceeds to Mozilla, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, Demand Progress, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, “because we need our digital rights in this digital age.” You can try the demo on the website.
Check out the GamePlay Trailer:
[Dontadrian] Bruce was summoned out of first-period English by assistant principal Todd Nichols, who showed him the photo. “You’re suspended because you’re holding up gang signs in this picture,” said Nichols, according to Bruce.
Bruce explained that he was simply representing the number on his football jersey, “3,” and that all the kids did it in football practice. He also said he had no idea the gesture was known to signal affiliation with the Vice Lords, a Chicago-based gang with a strong presence in Memphis, Tenn., 20 miles north of Olive Branch.
A quick Google search finds some examples of the purported Vice Lords hands signs. One website includes three versions, including the one the student was accused of making, and another that’s basically the Vulcan salute. It should put into perspective the dubious ground on which these kinds of allegations are founded. NBC News uses the incident to delve into the broader issue of zero tolerance and the racial disparities thereof, tracing the explosion of zero tolerance policies to the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, which required expulsion for bring a firearm to school. That opened the flood gates to rapid escalation of zero tolerance policies.
NBC News notes Olive Branch doesn’t refer to its anti-gang policies as “zero tolerance,” but does warn students violating anti-gang policies could face penalties up to expulsion. Bruce reportedly returned to school after 21 days. The school was apparently spurred by local news reports and social media activity. Twenty-one other students posed making the same gesture as Bruce did in protest of his punishment, including his older brother, and they were all suspended too.
Bruce, his family, and his friends all say he doesn’t belong to a gang, and there’s no reason to believe he does. The student athlete says the three is for his football jersey number. Nevertheless, suspension would be inappropriate even if a student in a gang made an innocuous hand gesture in a photo snapped by a teacher. Zero tolerance policies allow administrators to avoid making their own judgments on discipline. Coupled with “anti-gang” policies, they conflate non-violent activity (like hand gestures, colored clothing, or even hanging out with a group of more than two) with “gangs,” especially while targeting minority students, and feed the perception that schools need to be mini-police states.
Following the Boston Marathon Bombing, FBI agents ended up investigating the possibility that one of the alleged bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now deceased, may have also been involved in a triple homicide in 2011 possibly connected to the drug trade. Their investigation put them in connection with a friend of Tsarnaev’s named Ibragim Todashev, also apparently a suspect in this triple homicide.
But we may never know the truth, as FBI agents shot him to death during an interview in May 2013 and have been concealing the details of what happened on that fateful day. Now in a detailed long piece in Boston Magazine, a journalist who knew one of the victims of the triple homicide attempts to put together the chain of events from the trio’s killing to the FBI’s post-bombing efforts, which appear to involve forcing anybody who knew Todashev out of the country.
A few useful nuggets from Susan Zalkind’s piece:
- Of the three victims of an extremely gory homicide from 2011, at least two were drug dealers. Police naturally assumed their careers were involved and interrogated friends and family. Zalkind notes: “Then there were leads that the detectives seemed to ignore. They never visited the Wai Kru gym in Allston, where Brendan [Mess, one of the men killed] practiced mixed martial arts several times a week, according to gym owner John Allan. They never spoke to his training partner and best friend, Golden Gloves champion Tamerlan Tsarnaev, even though several friends gave the police his name in a list of Brendan’s closest contacts.”
- The police at that time didn’t seem to feel much pressure to solve the case. Ten days after their bodies were found, the mother of one of the victim’s was told the detectives weren’t actively pursuing leads anymore and were waiting for somebody down the line to offer up potential information to get a plea bargain for something else.
- Thus Zalkind suggests, “If Waltham police had figured out who hacked three men to death on September 11, 2011, there’s a good chance we would not be talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev might be alive and in jail. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might be just another mop-headed, no-name stoner at UMass Dartmouth. There would be no One Fund. Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard would still be alive. Sean Collier would have graduated from the MIT police department to the Somerville Police Department by now. And for the friends and family of the three men who died in Waltham, perhaps their grief would not still be paired with such haunting questions.”
Read Zalkind’s full piece here, and take note of the FBI’s post-bombing behavior. Ibraham’s roommate/girlfriend was deported, and she claims it was because she spoke to Boston Magazine. Furthermore, when Ibraham was still alive and FBI was tracking him, they apparently watched as he got into a violent fight in a parking lot and didn’t do a thing.
While we still don’t know for sure why the drug dealers were killed, it’s always worth a reminder that a certain amount of violence in the drug trade is a direct result of its black market status. Whatever disagreement may have led to this violence, if it involved drugs, the men couldn’t go to the law for help. And even after they got murdered, the police didn’t seem to care enough to make solving the case a top priority.
Who cares what happens to a couple of drug dealers, right?
Feminist polygamists? Why not? There’s a strain of feminism that doesn't trust women to make their own (however atypical) relationship choices. I am not one of those feminists, and neither are the sister wives of the Williams family. But they are explicitly feminist—all five women, along with family patriarch Brady Williams, eagerly identified with the label in an interview with writer Natalie Dicou.
Why does this matter? Because the Williams family are the newest polygamous unit to grace reality television. My Five Wives debuted on TLC March 9, featuring Brady, his five wives, and their combined 24 children.
The family, based outside of Salt Lake City, are former members of a fundamentalist Mormon sect that believes polygamy is necessary to get into heaven. “The church’s male-dominated doctrines didn’t sit right with the evolving Williams parents who, over time, concluded they didn’t want their kids to feel compelled to rack up spouses to please God,” Dicou notes.
The Williamses teach their children that gender doesn’t determine a person’s value, that girls can be anything boys can be, and that it’s okay to be gay — or even have “multiple husbands,” Nonie noted — if that’s your jam.
“Whatever form marriage and family comes in, as long as it’s about love and commitment, that’s okay,” Brady said. “Where no one’s a victim. Where no one’s being compelled to be in it. Consenting adults who love each other should be able to express that in a family setting.”
Where no one's a victim. It's a telling sentence, and an important one. Polygamous women are perpetually portrayed as victims, by both Christian conservatives and state feminists alike.
TLC's previous polygamy series, Sister Wives, and HBO's Big Love have somewhat changed the face of polygamy in pop culture, but many people still associate the practice with sexism, spousal abuse, child abuse, and fanaticism. And it's this unsavory image of polygamy that gets used to justify its ban in the United States, much in the same way that tales of homosexuals' depravity were long used to deny them priveleges reserved for monogomous, heterosexual, Christianity-abiding U.S. citizens.
Not to put too much faith in reality TV programming, but showing America that polygamists can be culturally progressive, egalitarian, and otherwise normal-ish could be a good step in overcoming social skepticism toward the practice. A practice that, as Brady says, really comes down to “consenting adults who love each other.”
Innocence of Muslims, the low rent, 14-minute propaganda video released in 2012, has sparked a new controversy. This time it’s not protests in the streets of Benghazi, but shock and indignation among copyright experts. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that one of the video’s actresses has a copyright interest in it and can therefore force YouTube to take it down. If this ruling is allowed to stand and it becomes precedent, get ready to see dozens, if not hundreds, or lawsuits by actors claiming they own copyright in their performances, separate and apart from the copyright in the movie itself. Worse, writes Jerry Brito, by creating a new right in actors’ performances, this case may make any number of works unavailable at the behest of actors.View this article
passed a bill that addresses some of the concerns that patients have about new restrictions on medical marijuana. S.B. 5887, introduced by Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), is substantially more permissive than H.B. 2149, the medical marijuana bill approved last month by the state House of Representatives, although both bills would abolish dispensaries, require patients to register with the state, and reduce limits on possession and cultivation. The patient-friendlier provisions of S.B. 5887, which passed by a vote of 34 to 15, include:On Saturday the Washington Senate
Collective gardens. The House bill would ban dispensaries (a.k.a. "collective gardens") as of May 2015, while the Senate bill would let them continue to operate until that September. Even after then, the Senate bill would let patients (or their designated providers) pool their resources and grow marijuana together for their own medical use. S.B. 5887 includes rules aimed at preventing collective gardens from evolving into dispensaries: Just one garden is allowed per location, no more than four patients may grow together at a time, and at least 15 days must elapse after one member leaves before a new member may join.
Cultivation limit. Each patient (or a designated provider) would be allowed to grow up to six plants (down from 15 currently), but there would be no limit on how many of those six plants could be flowering at one time.
Purchase limits. Patients could buy up to three ounces of marijuana (more if a health professional says it is necessary), 48 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form, 216 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids, and 21 grams of concentrates from the state-licensed pot stores that are supposed to start opening this summer. Those are three times the limits for recreational customers. The current possession limit for patients is 24 ounces of marijuana.
Tax exemptions. When they buy cannabis from stores with "medical marijuana endorsements," registered patients would not have to pay the standard sales tax or the retail-level excise tax, but the latter exemption would expire in September 2015. "I am not happy about that, and we'll be fighting for its reinstatement this week," says Philip Dawdy, media and policy director at the Washington Cannabis Association.
Supply and access. The state Liquor Control Board, which would be renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Board, would be required to "increase the amount of square feet available for production by marijuana producers if the producer agrees to use the extra space to grow products for medical use and for sale to medical marijuana endorsed stores." On the retail end, the board must "reconsider the maximum number of retail outlets permitted and allow for a new license period and a greater number of retail outlets in order to accommodate the medical needs of qualifying patients." When it does so, "a preference may be given to those license applicants who intend to operate a medical-only store."
Medical strains. The Liquor and Cannabis Board must "adopt rules on products sold to qualifying patients under an endorsement, including THC concentration, CBD [cannabidiol] concentration, and THC to CBD ratios appropriate for patient use." State-licensed pot stores would be allowed to "identify the strains, varieties, THC levels and CBD levels" of their products, although state regulations prohibit the sort of symptom-specific advice currently available from dispensaries. "We'll have to work with LCB in rule making to straighten out what people can say," Dawdy says.
Recommendations. An amendment to S.B. 5887 defines "principal care provider"—the person authorized to recommend marijuana for a patient—as a "health care professional who is designated by a qualifying patient." That provision should help veterans who receive primary care through V.A. hospitals where doctors are not allowed to recommend marijuana.
Affirmative defense. Patients with doctor's recommendations would continue to have an affirmative defense against marijuana charges until April 1, 2016, after which they would have to register with the state, which would give them immunity from arrest.
Registry privacy. In addition to confirming a patient's eligibility for higher purchase limits and tax exemptions, information from the registry could be shared with a law enforcement agency "engaged in a bona fide specific investigation of suspected marijuana-related activity that is illegal under Washington state law." Illegally sharing information from the registry would be a Class C felony.
"I'm not calling it good," Dawdy says, "but it is a workable framework for medical going forward." The Senate and the House have until Thursday to agree on a compromise bill.
summer internship, which begins in June, is coming up (March 26).The deadline for Reason magazine’s paid ten-week
Given that the deadline is a little over two weeks away I thought it would be worth reiterating the advice my former colleague Mike Riggs gave to potential intern applicants almost a year ago:
Write the hell out of your cover letter
Show some familiarity with the publication
Tell me what you can do for us, because we know what we can do for you
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking these tips seriously. As I mentioned back in November, talented applicants have ruined their chances of being considered for an internship at Reason by failing to do something as simple as following instructions.
Something I have been noticing since I have started looking over intern applications is the tendency for applicants to write almost identical cover letters to dozens of publications. These cover letters express an interest in a career in journalism but oftentimes do not mention why they want to be at Reason in particular. An application with a cover letter that mentions issues Reason is known for covering or the writings of a particular editor is going to grab my attention much more than an application with a cover letter that mentions Reason once in the introductory sentence.
Interns here get to write for Reason.com and Reason magazine about topics that interest them. Our current intern, Alyssa Hertig, has been writing about technology, Bitcoin, and civil liberties. Zenon Evans, who did such a fine job as an intern we hired him, interviewed Russian libertarian activist Vera Kichanova during his internship. Guy Bentley, who now works at the London-based City A.M. (which you should all be reading), wrote about foreign affairs while he was an intern here.
As well as writing, Reason interns provide admin assistance to the office, assist staff with research, and transcribe interviews. The internship is based in Washington, D.C., and interns are encouraged to attend events in the city that interest them.
If you want to pursue a paid journalism internship in Washington, D.C. that will allow you to write about topics that interest you please send in an application. But make sure to take the tips above seriously.
If you have a question send me an email: email@example.com.
How hard is it to read the “nutrition facts” label on a package of food? According to the Obama administration, it’s nearly impossible. But do we really need the government’s help figuring out what’s best to eat? A. Barton Hinkle says we don’t, and then explains why more government involvement in food labeling will only make things worse.View this article
Wacko Birds vs. Angry Birds split in today's tumultuous GOP has tended to distract from the split-within-the-split when it comes to Tea Party types and foreign policy.The long-interesting
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), representing the anti-interventionist strain, has insisted from the get-go that the Tea Party is an explicit rejection of neoconservative belligerence. While that seemed like wishful thinking in 2011, the notion gained more plausibility by September 2013, when many TP groups and politicians went all-in against the Obama administration's neocon-backed attempts to use force in Syria. When Paul's ambitious and considerably more hawkish Wacko Bird Senate colleagues Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) joined the doves on Syria, it was a telltale sign that the intervention was doomed.
Well, that was then. Vladimir Putin's thuggish takeover of Crimea and menacing gestures toward Eastern Ukraine are generating a lot of hawk-talk about the alleged consequences of American "weakness," and its possible embodiment in anti-interventionists like Paul. On ABC News yesterday, O.G. Wacko Bird Ted Cruz made it explicit:
"I'm a big fan of Rand Paul. He and I are good friends. But I don't agree with him on foreign policy," Cruz said. "I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad. But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did… The United States has a responsibility to defend our values." [...]
"A critical reason for Putin's aggression has been President Obama's weakness," Cruz told Karl on "This Week." "That Putin fears no retribution… [Obama's] policy has been to alienate and abandon our friends and to coddle and appease our enemies."
"You'd better believe Putin sees in Benghazi four Americans are murdered, the first ambassador killed in service since 1979, and nothing happens," Cruz added, echoing comments by other Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "You'd better believe that Putin sees that in Syria, Obama draws a red line and ignores the red line. You'd better believe that Putin sees all over the world."
When asked about Russia's record of aggression before Obama became president, including its invasion of Georgia during the presidency of George W. Bush, Cruz instead slammed Obama [...]
Rand Paul, who one year ago went to the Heritage Foundation to unveil what he portrayed as his Reaganesque vision for foreign policy, did not take kindly to Cruz's co-opting of the Gipper, writing a Breitbart.com column titled "Stop Warping Reagan’s Foreign Policy." Excerpt:
Reagan clearly believed in a strong national defense and in "Peace through Strength." He stood up to the Soviet Union, and he led a world that pushed back against Communism.
But Reagan also believed in diplomacy and demonstrated a reasoned approach to our nuclear negotiations with the Soviets. Reagan’s shrewd diplomacy would eventually lessen the nuclear arsenals of both countries.
Many forget today that Reagan’s decision to meet with Mikhail Gorbachev was harshly criticized by the Republican hawks of his time, some of whom would even call Reagan anappeaser. In the Middle East, Reagan strategically pulled back our forces after the tragedy in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 Marines, realizing the cost of American lives was too great for the mission.
Without a clearly defined mission, exit strategy or acceptable rationale for risking soldiers lives, Reagan possessed the leadership to reassess and readjust.
Today, we forget that some of the Republican hawks of his time criticized Reagan harshly for this too, again, calling him an appeaser. [...]
I also greatly admire that Reagan was not rash or reckless with regard to war. Reagan advised potential foreign adversaries not to mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.
What America needs today is a Commander-in-Chief who will defend the country and project strength, but who is also not eager for war.
Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, there is little difference among most Republicans on what to do. All of us believe we should stand up to Putin's aggression. Virtually no one believes we should intervene militarily.
So we are then faced with a finite menu of diplomatic measures to isolate Russia, on most of which we all agree, such as sanctions and increased economic pressure.
Yet, some politicians have used this time to beat their chest. What we don't need right now is politicians who have never seen war talking tough for the sake of their political careers.
Tart, substantive exchanges like that are one of the reasons I lament the GOP's decision to condense its 2016 presidential nominating schedule. The Republican Party's approach toward foreign policy is up for grabs, and with it the party's potential popularity. Surely on questions of life and death, more debate is better than less.
testimony published last week by the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs, NSA snooping whistleblower Edward Snowden told lawmakers that mass spying has proven to be an especially ineffective means of deterring wrongdoing. NSA claims to have prevented multiple terrorist attacks evaporate upon actual scrutiny. Worse, he says, the NSA is so busy probing the general public's gaming habits and personal communications that it has no time or resources to devote to anything useful—like stopping terrorists.In
According to Snowden (PDF):
The first principle any inquiry must take into account is that despite extraordinary political pressure to do so, no western government has been able to present evidence showing that such programs are necessary. In the United States, the heads of our spying services once claimed that 54 terrorist attacks had been stopped by mass surveillance, but two independent White House reviews with access to the classified evidence on which this claim was founded concluded it was untrue, as did a Federal Court.
Looking at the US government's reports here is valuable. The most recent of these investigations, performed by the White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, determined that the mass surveillance program investigated was not only ineffective--they found it had never stopped even a single imminent terrorist attack--but that it had no basis in law.
Specifically, the board concluded, "we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation."
When it comes to legal concerns, the board noted "There are four grounds upon which we find that the telephone records program fails to comply with Section 215," that "the program violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act," and that "The NSA’s telephone records program also raises concerns under both the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution."
The board's report also cautioned, "the bulk collection of telephone records can be expected to have a chilling effect on the free exercise of speech and association, because individuals and groups engaged in sensitive or controversial work have less reason to trust in the confidentiality of their relationships as revealed by their calling patterns."
Needless to say, the White House glibly rejected the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board's conclusions.
Snowden went on to point out the failings of the NSA's all-you-can-hoover approach to surveillance.
I believe that suspicionless surveillance not only fails to make us safe, but it actually makes us less safe. By squandering precious, limited resources on "collecting it all," we end up with more analysts trying to make sense of harmless political dissent and fewer investigators running down real leads. I believe investing in mass surveillance at the expense of traditional, proven methods can cost lives, and history has shown my concerns are justified.
Despite the extraordinary intrusions of the NSA and EU national governments into private communications world-wide, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "Underwear Bomber," was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device. While even Mutallab's own father warned the US government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn't get Mutallab a dedicated US investigator. All we gave him was a US visa.
Nor did the US government's comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn't do more than a cursory investigation--although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching--and failed to discover the plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.
Snowden's testimony also ranged over disclosures to come, and the complicity of European spy agencies in snooping on each other's citizens—and then sharing the data with the NSA, which gets the full package. Countries even modify their privacy laws to make the NSA's job (and that of their own agencies) easier.
All of this, to suck up more data than the spies can process, at the expense of targeting real threats.
succeeded in stifling sales for innovative genetic testing company 23andMe. "It has slowed up the number of people signing up," 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki said during a speech at music/tech/everything festival South by Southwest (SXSW) on Sunday.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
The public largely supports direct-to-consumer sales of gene screening tests, which for as little as $99 can reveal information such as ancestry and the presence of hereditary diseases and conditions. But the FDA worried that consumers may make unwise medical decisions based on their results. The FDA wants to stop consumers from accessing important health information for their own good, see?
Meanwhile, in foreign countries, scholars and government agencies are going ahead and partnering with 23andMe to continue moving medicine into the 21st century. At the SXSW panel, Wojcicki said 23andMe now has 650,000 people in its database and is "being inundated with requests from academics and foreign partners."
Genetics is going to become extremely cheap and part of our daily life, she said. In China, the Beijing Genome Institute is now the largest genome testing firm in the world, and Saudi Arabia, the UK and others are all strong in this area.
Wojcicki also talked about how genetic screening can be used to reduce health care costs and shift focus from disease treatment to prevention. This, however, makes it unpopular with both pharmaceutical companies and their buddies in the FDA, who have more motive to make sick people better than to keep well people from getting sick. Wojcicki said she was told by one doctor that, "the problem with 23andMe is that you generate non-billable information."
Non-billable, private information—23andMe allows consumers to access their genetic info without a physician, insurance company, or government middleman (which is probably another strike against it in the FDA's eyes). “Everyone has the right to their genetic information and to use it," said Wojcicki. For now, however, 23andMe doesn't have the right to tell you how to get that information.
story about a study in southeast Asia. After examining pollen samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand, and Vietnam, the magazine reports, the paleoecologist Chris Hunt and the archeologist Ryan Rabett concluded that "humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years." That may sound uncontroversial, but it isn't: "Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age."Here's a doubly interesting Smithsonian
The article goes on to explain the evidence and reasoning that led Hunt and Rabett to their conclusions, as well as how their findings feed into "a larger discussion about when and how our species began shaping the world around us." All very interesting stuff, especially for those of us who do not fetishize "untouched" "wilderness" and see human beings as a part of nature, not an intrusive alien force.
And then we get to the other reason the piece is interesting. Hunt thinks there's a political dimension to his work, a way to help indigenous people stake out a Lockean claim to their territories:
This kind of research is about more than glimpsing ancient ways of life. It could also present powerful information for people who live in these forests today. According to Hunt, "Laws in several countries in Southeast Asia do not recognize the rights of indigenous forest dwellers on the grounds that they are nomads who leave no permanent mark on the landscape." The long history of forest management traced by this study, he says, offers these groups "a new argument in their case against eviction."
Such tensions have played out beyond Southeast Asia. In Australia, for example, "the impact of humans on the environment is clear stretching back over 40,000 years or so," says environmental geoscientist Dan Penny, of The University of Sydney. And yet, he says, "the material evidence of human occupation is scarce." Starting in the 18th century, the British used that fact "to justify their territorial claim" to land inhabited by Aboriginal Australians—declaring it terra nullius (belonging to no-one), establishing a colony, and eventually claiming sovereignty over the entire continent.
It would be a stretch, of course, to treat that pollen alone as a property title, especially so many centuries later and among men and women who aren't necessarily the descendents of the people who lived in those forests 11,000 years ago. But as a way to change the terms of the conversation around those seizures and evictions—to show that mixing your labor with the land can take many forms, and that individuals can intervene in their environments in ways that aren't always obvious to outsiders—Hunt may well be right about his study's implications.
You can read the rest of the Smithsonian article here. And if you're willing to shell out $35.95 for it—or if you have access to the site through an academic institution—you can download Hunt and Rabett's paper from the Journal of Archaeological Science here.
Amtrak is excited to announce the official launch of the #AmtrakResidency program.
#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.
Amtrak is one of those worst of both worlds public/private hybrids. Instead of using the power of privatization to improve services previously offered by government (what happens in successful public private partnerships), Amtrak is a “for-profit” corporation that doesn’t actually turn a profit because it gets annual funding from the federal government and various state governments who have stepped in any time the feds have tried to trim funding.
How bad is it at Amtrak? Their 2013 budget and business plan (pdf) spun nearly 40 years of operating deficits as a good thing because the “history of operating deficits demonstrates consistent improvement over a long period”, when viewed in 2012 U.S. dollars. In nominal U.S. dollars, operating deficits have remained relatively constant.
Amtrak has just one profitable division to speak of, the Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. On this route, Amtrak tickets are most expensive. They help off-set much lower prices in other parts of the U.S., where local members of Congress tend to lobby Amtrak to keep prices down even when price hikes might not bring the routes to profitability. And even in the case of the Northeast Corridor, it’s only “profitable” excluding the route’s capital costs, for which Amtrak insists it still needs a government subsidy, as it does for most of its “business”.
So what’s the wisdom of a “Residency” for a company that’s never managed to even break even? Amtrak still advertises, and its support among enough Washington politicians probably ensures it will continue to be able to bleed money and get away with it. Is the “Amtrak Residency” a transparent attempt to buy some positive press from participants? Amtrak skeptics, libertarians, and other critics of the government appear to need not apply. The official terms of the program outline that applications cannot “[d]isparage sponsor, its agencies, any other person or entity affiliated with the Program or products, services or entities that are competitive with any of the foregoing.” At an estimated retail value of $900 per “residency,” it could be cheap but useful propaganda for a company that relies on money from politicians and not a profitable business model.
Via the Twitter feed of Doug Stanhope
The International Narcotics Control Board insists that all countries conform to its reading of anti-drug treaties, regardless of what their own laws say. Jacob Sullum writes that the escalation of the INCB's zero-tolerance scolding may signal a worldwide re-evaluation of the never-ending, always failing war on drugs.View this article
CNN/ORC International survey released today almost 60 percent of Americans support the U.S. and its allies using sanctions against Russia in order to pressure Moscow into removing forces from Crimea. The poll also found that more Americans approve than disapprove of how President Obama has been handling the ongoing crisis in Crimea by 48 percent to 43 percent.According to the
Although most Americans do support sanctions on Russia in response to the situation in Crimea the use of sanctions is opposed by 55 percent of Americans under the age of 35. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland believes that young Americans’ comparative hesitancy regarding sanctions on Russia may have something to do with the fact that they don’t have the memories of the Cold War that older Americans do. From CNN:
More than six in 10 older Americans support sanctions, but 55% of Americans under the age of 35 oppose them," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It's possible that generation gap is due to older Americans' memories of the Soviet Union as the chief threat to the U.S.; many younger Americans may have no memory at all of the Cold War and most of those under the age of 25 were not even born when the Soviet Union collapsed."
While almost 59 percent of Americans do support the U.S. and its allies imposing sanctions on Russia slightly over half oppose sending economic aid to Ukraine, and over 75 percent are against sending military supplies to Ukraine.
When it comes to possible military responses to the Ukraine crisis Americans are overwhelmingly opposed, with only 12 percent of respondents saying they would support having American troops on the ground in Ukraine and 17 percent saying they would support U.S. airstrikes on Russia forces in Ukraine.
This is not the first time during Obama’s presidency that polling has shown that Americans oppose military responses to international crises.
Shortly after the chemical attack in Syria last summer Reuters/Ipsos poll found that only 9 percent of Americans favored a U.S. military response.
Earlier today Reason.com published an article by Steve Chapman on the futility of sanction on Russia.
More from Reason.com on Ukraine here.
- Malaysia say they’ve identified one of those passengers. No trace of the plane has been found yet. Malaysia Flight MH370 went missing en route to Beijing over the weekend. Two of the passengers were reportedly on stolen EU passports, and police in
- Rand Paul won the presidential straw poll at CPAC for the second year in a row.
- The army’s top sexual assault prosecutor was suspended after being accused by one of his attorneys of sexually assaulting her at a sexual assault conference in Alexandria, Va.
- 73 students were arrested and four officers were injured while cops tried to break up pre-St. Patrick’s Day’s festivities at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
- A family in Florida was hospitalized after eating meat from Wal-Mart that was apparently laced with LSD.
- A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit off the coast of California, but no tsunami is expected.
- George Zimmerman signed autographs at the Orlando Gun Show, whose original venue cancelled, citing community pressure about the planned Zimmerman appearance.
In 1912, when the federal government tried to send militia units into Mexico, the militias balked, noting that the Constitution allowed them to be called out only to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or enforce the law — not to invade other countries. Surprisingly, perhaps, Attorney General George Wickersham agreed, leading to a change in the law that produced the modern-day National Guard, a force that is not so limited. Since then, America has been far more active abroad.
But this departure from the system the Framers set up has encouraged more intrusive law enforcement at home, and more military action abroad. So I'll ask you: If a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, then are we insecure? Or unfree? Or both?
New York Times bestselling author of JULIET, Anne Fortier, will talk about her new book, The Lost Sisterhood, a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation--and her life--on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed (read more at www.annefortier.com).
Join us following the launch event, for an after–party at Reason's DC office where Anne will discuss literature and liberty with friends and supporters.
- Date: Wednesday, March 12
- Time: 7:00pm – Book Launch and Signing Event; 8:30pm – After-party celebration at Reason
- Location: Books-A-Million in Dupont Circle 11 Dupont Cir NW, Washington, DC; Reason DC HQ 1747 Connecticut Ave NW (5 minute walk north on Connecticut Ave.)
In 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter came up with a way to retaliate: stopping grain sales to Moscow. The boycott, said Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick, would prove to the world that "aggression is costly" and induce the Soviets to "halt their aggression." The Soviets did halt their aggression and pull out of Afghanistan. But that didn't happen until nine years later, and it had nothing to do with the grain embargo. The fact that those sanctions proved useless has not stopped President Barack Obama or congressional Republicans from proposing new ones after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is a very slim possibility that Western economic sanctions will undo Russia's ambitions in Ukraine, writes Steve Chapman. There is a better chance that those ambitions will undo themselves.View this article
ROTC student with a ceremonial, replica rifle. Bessey Hall is where the ROTC program is located.Michigan State University was briefly locked down after someone reported seeing a man with rifle at Bessey Hall. The man turned out to be an
"Sick: NYC's Bill de Blasio Puts Politics Before Poor Kids," produced, written, and edited by Jim Epstein.
This video originally aired Mar 6, 2014 Original writeup is below:
About 11,000 charter-school students and their parents descended on the state capitol building in Albany on Tuesday to protest New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to block two new charter schools from opening next year and to halt the expansion of a third.
De Blasio will allow 16 other charter schools to move forward with their plans to open next year. So what does he have against these three schools in particular? The answer: He's settling an old political score on behalf of his cronies in the teachers union.
The three schools sunk by the mayor are part of Success Academy, a charter network that posts exceptional test scores and had five applicants for every opening last year. "You're stopping one of the best charter schools with the highest grades," says Dyreeta Donahue, whose child attends a Success Academy school. "That just doesn't make sense. If the school was failing, then I would understand."
But Success Academy happens to be run by a former politician named Eva Moskowitz, who made enemies with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) during her tenure as chair of New York City Council's education committee.
In November 2003, Moskowitz held a multi-day hearing on how union contracts imposed inane work rules on public schools and made it nearly impossible for principals to fire bad teachers. At the hearings she went toe to toe with one of the most powerful political figures in the city, UFT President Randi Weingarten.
During her testimony, Weingarten was flanked by the head of New York City’s Central Labor Council,Brian McLaughlin, who would later go to prison for embezzlement. McLaughlin told New York's Daily News that he showed up because he "wanted to remind the city council members that the entire labor movement in the city is watching them.”
They got the message. Bill de Blasio, at the time a member of the city council, did what he could to distance himself from Moskowitz during the hearing. When a group of witnesses spoke about how the UFT contract made it difficult to remove bad teachers, de Blasio was dismissive. "I served in the Clinton administration, so I know what spin looks like when I see it," de Blasio said. "And this is spin."
Two years later, when Moskowitz ran for Manhattan borough president, Weingarten and the teachers unioncampaigned against her. Moskowitz lost the election, which (for the time being at least) ended her career in politics.
During a public forum held on May 11, 2013, which was hosted by the UFT, de Blasio told the audience: "It's time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place.... She has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported."
Now that he's the mayor, de Blasio is doing what he can to please the teachers union and undermine Eva Moskowitz’s schools—even if it means taking away the opportunities for thousands of kids to get a better education.
But at Tuesday’s rally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) and several state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle threw their support behind Eva Moskowitz and the kids she serves. Because many of the rules and funds governing charters are set at the state level, Cuomo in many ways has more control over the issue than de Blasio—and he may intervene and provide the funding that Moskowitz’ schools need to open after all.
New York’s battle over school choice is just getting started—and nobody has more at stake than the parents and kids who may be forced to return to their failing district schools next fall.
About 5 minutes.
"You wouldn't necessarily expect–and certainly the establishment press doesn't expect–to hear a discussion about criminal justice reforms and prison reform at the Conservative Political Action Conference," stated Americans for Tax Reform Founder Grover Norquist. "But in point of fact this is a big problem, it's an expensive problem, [and] it's a problem that creates more expensive problems."
"CPAC: The Conservative Case for Criminal Justice Reform" is the latest offering from Reason TV. Watch the video above or click the link below to see full text, links, downloadable versions, and more.View this article
9 Extremely Successful People You Never Knew Were Libertarians”. Regular Reason readers should be familiar with all ten (yes, there are ten people on the list of nine people), though some may dispute whether everyone on the list is actually a libertarian. Here are the ten people Taylor highlighted with a relevant Reason item for each. You can decide who belongs and who might not in the comments…Robert Taylor at Policy Mic has a list of “
1. Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn on Ron Paul and Fountainhead – Brian Doherty
2. Glenn Jacobs, a.k.a. Kane
Kane on Rothbard – FBN’s The Independents
3. Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia and Beyond – June 2007 issue of Reason
4. Neil Peart
Matt Welch is a libertarian in good standing even though he doesn’t like Peart’s drumming
5. Julian Assange
The Age of Easy Leaks – Jesse Walker
6. Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell, Flexible Libertarian – O’Reilly Factor transcript excerpt
7. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson Endorses Ron Paul – Mike Riggs
8. Drew Carey
9. Trey Parker and Matt Stone
South Park Libertarians – Nick Gillespie & Jesse Walker
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles city council joined a growing list of city governments that have banned e-cigarette use in parks, restaurants, and most workplaces.
The decision came after a heated debate at the City Council that highlighted the backlash smokeless cigarettes have generated as their popularity grows. Inform yourself on the new smoking trend with this Reason TV documentary short.
This video originally aired Oct 29, 2013. Original writeup is below:
Electronic cigarettes are creating a frenzy among politicians, health experts, and the media. Local banson using e-cigarettes indoors are popping up all over the country, and many interest groups are clamoring for top-down FDA regulations, which are expected to be released in the coming weeks.
“E-Cigarettes currently exist in a complete no-man’s land,” says Heather Wipfli, associate director for the USC Institute for Global Health. Skeptics such as Wipfli worry about the lack of long-term data available because the product is so new.
But according to the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association’s Greg Conley, calls for regulation are "a perverse interpretation of the precautionary principle.” The precautionary principle holds that until all possible risks are assessed, new technologies shouldn't be allowed to move forward.
Conley points to preliminary studies, like this one from Drexel University, which confirm these smokeless, tobacco-less, tar-less products are not a cause for concern - or at least not a cause for the same concerns that accompany traditional cigarettes and second-hand smoke.
“That [Drexel University] professor concluded that there was absolutely no worry about risks to bystanders from e-cigarette vapor,” says Conley.
The ingredients of e-cigarettes certainly have very little in common with tobacco cigarettes. Nicotine, the only ingredient found in both products, is mainly used to wean smokers off traditional cigarettes and is not one of the harm-inducing ingredients associated with lung cancer in smokers. The other ingredients in the “e-juice” at the core of e-cigarettes are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and food flavorings— all of which are used in other food products.
“All we are doing is steaming up food ingredients to create a vapor,” says Ed Refuerzo, co-owner of The Vape Studio in West Los Angeles. The Vape Studio is one of the many boutique e-cigarette shops popping up that might be significantly affected or even shut down by both local legislation and FDA regulations.
Conley says it's the currently unregulated customizability of the e-juice that allows these small businesses to thrive. “The availability of liquids is what is allowing a lot of these small stores to open and prosper because they are able to mix their own liquid and sell it to consumers without having to go through a big manufacturing process,” says Conley.
The higher costs of complying with regulations would most likely be passed on to consumers, which would impact people who are looking towards e-cigarettes as an effective way to quit smoking.
“We’re using technology, and that’s what we do in America, we use technology to solve really complicated problems,” says Craig Weiss, president and CEO of NJOY. NJOY is a leading manufacturer of electronic cigarettes - and a donor to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason TV. Weiss says that despite regulations, the potential of the industry is only just starting to be realized.
“The electronic industry is growing at quite a dramatic pace. It’s more than doubled each of the last four or five years," says Weiss. "This piece of technology could have such an potential impact on the world.”
About 6 minutes.
During the 2012 campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” an observation that yielded him ridicule from his Democrat detractors. Then-Senator John Kerry made a joke about Romney living in the world of Rocky IV, a comment the Obama campaign even turned into a “movie poster.” In 2014, John Kerry, now the secretary of state, has resorted to having to tell Russian President Vladmir Putin that when it comes to Ukraine “this is not Rocky IV.” So was Mitt Romney right? Yes and no, writes Ed Krayewski. Russia may be a geopolitical force, but it's not America's foe.View this article
If you haven't seen The Dallas Buyers Club, which took home three Oscars last Sunday, you should. It's the most flat-out libertarian movie since Ghostbusters and one of the best message movies I can think of (of course, like all quality message movies, it's first and foremost a powerful piece of art).
Specifically, it shines a harsh light on the Food and Drug Administration's obstructionist role in approving life-saving medicines.
From my Daily Beast column on the topic:
During a good chunk of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the federal government, in the guise of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) did just about everything it could to keep dying patients and their caregivers from responding quickly and effectively to terminal illness. It was only after massive, coordinated pressure applied by gay-rights groups that the FDA made partial and selective exceptions to its lengthy and widely criticized drug-approval processes.
Worse still, the FDA continues to choke down the supply of life-saving and life-enhancing drugs that will everyone agrees will play a massive role not just in reducing future health care costs but in improving the quality of all our lives (in 2000, Columbia University’s economist Frank Lichtenberg estimated that"increased drug approvals and health expenditure per person jointly explain just about 100 percent” of the seven-year increase in life expectancy at birth between 1960 and 1997). Little wonder, then, that the movie is “the libertarian favorite of the year,” in the words of film critic Kyle Smith....
...the FDA’s often arbitrary but always time-intensive requirements have created a system in which new drugs take somewhere around 10 to 15 years to come to market, at a typical cost of $800 million or more. As my Reason colleague Ronald Bailey has written, this means the FDA’s caution “may be killing more people than it saves.” How’s that? “If it takes the FDA ten years to approve a drug that saves 20,000 lives per year that means that 200,000 people died in the meantime.”
More, including lots of links to Reason.com stories, here.
Related in Reason: Peter Huber (interviewed here) lays out how to overcome "20th-century regulations to allow 21st-century cures."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry made an impromptu appearance at a recent CPAC party, stealing the spotlight from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as he was addressing the crowd. Amash would later jokingly tweet that Perry "crashed" his event.
You can check out Reason TV's in-depth, Rick Perry free interview with Amash from April 1, 2013. Original writeup is below:
"If you allow people to make people to make their own decisions, you actually get good outcomes for society," says Rep. Justin Amash in his recent interview with Reason Magazine's Nick Gillespie. "And that really is something that I think about a lot as a legislator."
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), often touted as "the next Ron Paul" had a rocky start to his second term in Congress. After overcoming a redistricting effort to win re-election by a comfortable margin in November, Amash was welcomed back to Washington with a pink slip: He and a group of libertarian-leaning backbenchers were stripped of their committee assignments by the GOP leadership. Adding insult to injury, the party establishment claimed that the rebuke wasn't ideological; that it had more to do with what Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) termed "the asshole factor."
Amash, seen as the ringleader of the House "liberty movement," responded by leading a failed coup against House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in what was supposed to be a rubber-stamped re-election as majority leader. Meanwhile, on a series of crucial votes -- the "fiscal cliff" tax hike in January and the March agreement to raise the debt ceiling -- Amash and several of his uppity libertarian colleagues voted against party leadership. If Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is the leading liberty-movement troublemaker in the United States Senate, Amash is shaping up to be his main counterpart in the House.
Endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus and Young Americans for Liberty, the 33-year-old Amash has made waves by explaining all of his votes on social media, a practice he began during his single term as a Michigan state legislator. He has earned a 100 percent rating from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, and has taken up where Ron Paul left off on civil liberties.
The son of Syrian and Palestinian immigrants, Amash has made a name for himself as a non-interventionist. "It's very dangerous if we get in the habit of deciding who the good guys are and who the bad guys are," he says of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and other unsavory characters. He's also a social conservative, describing himself as "100 percent pro-life," but opining that ultimately, "marriage is a private contract that has nothing to do with government."
In March, ReasonTV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie interviewed Amash in his office, where the walls are adorned with likenesses of Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Carl Menger, Murray Rothbard, and Ayn Rand.
Runs about 38 minutes.
Laws passed in Texas and elsewhere in the name of increasing patient safety are doing an effective job of shutting down abortion clinics. As Reuters reports
Two more Texas abortion providers said they will shut down this week, saying their doctors were unable to get admitting privileges to nearby hospitals as required under new restrictions enacted by the state last year....
Whole Women's Health will close two of its five clinics in the state, shutting facilities in McAllen and Beaumont because they cannot meet the new regulations, including one that a physician have admitting privileges at an appropriately equipped hospital within 30 miles.
The reduction will cut the number of abortion providers in the state to 19 from 32 before the restrictions went in place, according to the group and state data.
more here and here.Read
These sorts of regulations are likely to have a more lasting effect on the number of abortion providers than bans on abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected (as Alabama is pursuing) or other laws that cut into the first-trimester zone first articulated in Roe v. Wade. North Dakota, for instance, has passed a ban on abortions that could limit the procedure at six weeks after fertilization. That's because the new regulations don't specifically attack abortion rights per se, but instead focus on supposed medical risks for women.
While a large majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in at least some situations - only 20 percent say abortion should always be illegal, according to the most recent poll on the issue - there is wide and growing agreement that it should be more restricted.
From a CNN poll:
According to the poll, 27% say that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 13% say it should be legal in most circumstances, 38% say that it should be legal in few circumstances, and 20% say abortion should always be illegal.
Whatever your perspective on abortion (an issue that divides libertarians along with Americans of every other ideology), however, it's clear that abortions as performed in clinics is an incredibly safe procedure for the women involved. The video above, which Reason TV released in December, focuses on Virginia's experience with new restrictions:
In a reversal of conventional positions, SB 924 has political conservatives arguing for increasing regulations on small businesses and liberals arguing against them. The bill initially passed the Democratic-controlled state senate in 2011 by a vote of 20-20 (Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a pro-life Republican cast the tie-breaking vote). Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell eventually signed it into law after numerous rounds of political back-and-forth....
Defenders of the new regulations say that they are simply protecting the safety of women.
"This is really necessary to ensure that woman are treated with care consistent with their human dignity,” says Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBL), a pro-life organization. A woman who chooses to have an abortion, says Quigley, should be able to do so without fearing for her health and safety.
While horrific cases of unclean and disgustingly run abortion mills in Philadelphia, Houston, and elsewhere lend credence to the safety issue, they are clearly outliers. In Virginia, for instance, "since 1974 state data show only three deaths during legal abortions. For first-trimester abortions, the complication rate is 0.3 percent."
Again, that isn't an argument per se for or against abortion. But everyone interested in good-faith arguments should acknowledge that piling on regulations that do not demonstrably improve safety are mistaken at best and disingenuous at worst.
From the start, Americans have had a love-hate relationship with work. We tend to rhapsodize about labor, but, as Sheldon Richman notes, the classical economists and the Austrians (at least from Ludwig von Mises onward) stressed the unpleasantness — the “disutility” and even sad necessity — of labor. Adam Smith and other early economists equated work with “toil,” which is not a word with positive connotations.View this article
Produced by Paul Detrick: "Juggalos vs. the FBI - Why
Insane Clown Posse Fans are Not a Gang"
Originally published on March 5, 2014. Original text is below:
You may already know Juggalos, the fans of Detroit horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse (ICP), from Buzzfeed lists, television shows like Workaholics, or music videos like "Juggalo Island." But, you may not know that Juggalos are one of the best examples of a self reliant (but demonized) community.
Juggalos began to garner a lot of mainstream attention in 2011 when they were classified as a "hybrid gang" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their National Gang Threat Assessment report. The report says Juggalos could "exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence."
Juggalos at the 2013 Gathering of the Juggalos, a music festival held in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, told Reason TV that they disputed the claims made by the FBI.
"That's stereotyping pretty much," said one Juggalo. "You know people who don't listen to the music or are not a fan or a family are going to think we are violent people when they see hatchet men [emblem of Juggalos] or Juggalo stuff."
Insane Clown Posse’s members, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, agree and are suing the FBI along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, claiming that profiling Juggalos as a gang violates Juggalos' constitutional right to express themselves. Further, the gang classification could subject Juggalos to routine stops, detainment, and interrogation by local and federal law enforcement based solely on their music preferences.
"I think it's ridiculous to consider the Juggalos a gang," says journalist Camille Dodero, who has written about Juggalos and Insane Clown Posse for Gawker and the Village Voice. "In some ways it's almost ironic. These are a group of people that no one else in America has ever cared about and then this one band gave them a sense of identity–like it was a support group."
Dodero says Juggalos often come from lower class backgrounds and although some of them commit crimes, not all of them do.
"And that's not to say that there are that many kids doing it. It just so happened that somebody caught onto the fact that those kids who have that hatchet man sometimes steal things," says Dodero. "That is part of who ICP has been reaching though, people with really bad upbringings."
ICP, who grew up in lower class households just like their fans, have targeted victims as their audience. These include kids who were homeless, came from an abusive family, or were molested. The result is a world where these young people have escaped the life they were dealt for a supportive community they've helped create. One they lovingly refer to as "family."
The FBI said it could not comment on pending litigation, but the effects of the gang label may have already impacted the next Gathering of the Juggalos. The 2014 music festival had to change locations multiple times thanks in part to the fears of local residents, fears Insane Clown Posse has said are associated with the gang classification.
For a behind the scenes look at the filming of this documentary short check out Reason TV's Instagram account:
Written and produced by Paul Detrick. Field produced by Alex Manning and Detrick. Additional camera by Jim Epstein.
Scroll down for downloadable versions of this video and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky pulled another first place win in the Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll with 31 percent of the vote. Sen. Ted Cruz came in a distance second with 11 percent of the vote, and Neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson came in third place.
Rand Paul’s office released a statement contending:
“The fight for liberty continues, and we must continue to stand up and say: We’re free and no one, no matter how well-intentioned, will take our freedoms from us.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in fourth with 8 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Sen. Rick Santorum tied with 7 percent.
While Marco Rubio finished second to Rand Paul in CPAC 2013’s straw poll, this year he only garnered 6 percent of the vote. Rep. Paul Ryan and Texas Gov. Rick Perry tied at three percent.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Gov. Sarah Palin tied at 2 percent.
New York Times bestselling author of JULIET, Anne Fortier, will talk about her new book, The Lost Sisterhood, a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation--and her life--on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed (read more at www.annefortier.com).
Join us following the launch event, for an after–party at Reason's DC office where Anne will discuss literature and liberty with friends and supporters.
- Date: Wednesday, March 12
- Time: 7:00pm – Book Launch and Signing Event; 8:30pm – After-party celebration at Reason
- Location: Books-A-Million in Dupont Circle 11 Dupont Cir NW, Washington, DC; Reason DC HQ 1747 Connecticut Ave NW (5 minute walk north on Connecticut Ave.)
Last year, Rand Paul rocked the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the wake of his famous #standwithrand filibuster, walking away the winner of the event's annual straw poll. Early indications are he'll do the same this year, and that it won't even be close.
So is libertarianism still on the rise? Stay tuned to Reason TV for coverage of this year's CPAC, but for now, check out coverage of last year's event.
This video originally aired March 15, 2013. Original writeup is below:
Reason's Matt Welch and Kennedy attended the first day of CPAC to take the temperature of the political organizers, media observers, and grassroot activists who are central to the Republican Party's identity and political fortunes. What did they find? A movement that seems to gravitating to a baldly libertarian stance when it comes to everything from economics to social issues to foreign policy.
About 3 minutes. Produced by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg. Hosted by Matt Welch and Kennedy.
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This weekend the Roseland Ballroom in midtown Manhattan will play host to the 17th Annual New York City Tattoo Convention, a three-day event featuring hundreds of artists from around the world. Attendees will have the opportunity to get inked, get pierced, or simply gawk at a wide assortment of colorfully adorned bodies. It’s a weird and wonderful display of what the philosopher Robert Nozick once called “capitalist acts between consenting adults.”
Yet if the same convention had been staged in the same location just two decades earlier, writes Senior Editor Damon Root, every tattooist at work could have been arrested on the spot. That’s because New York City only legalized tattooing in 1997. As Root explains, the story of New York City’s tattoo ban presents the classic case of government regulators using a bogus public health pretext to hound an unpopular activity out of existence.View this article
With the recent implosion of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox and the publication of a questionable story about the indentity of bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin has stayed in the headlines these past few weeks. And while some commentators and skeptics have been quick to pronounce its demise at every turn, the value of the cryptocurrency has hovered between $600-700 a coin through it all.
Reason TV interviewed Mercatus Center policy analyst and bitcoin expert Jerry Brito in April 2013, and he predicted a long, lasting future for the technology. The original writeup is below:
Don't bet on the decentralized currency Bitcoin as a retirement investment, says Mercatus Center policy analyst Jerry Brito, but go long on it as the payment system of the future. Reason's Nick Gillespie talks with Brito, the editor of the new anthology Copyright Unbalanced, about Bitcoin bubbles and why governments are so afraid of this virtual payment system.
For Reason's archive on Bitcoin click here.
About 5.20 minutes.
Interview by Nick Gillespie. Shot by Amanda Winkler and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain.
Scroll down for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube Channel to receive automatic notifications when new material goes live.
Conservative movement types are converging on the National Capital Area this weekend for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This is the second year that CPACers won’t have to have to wade into Washington’s swamps. They’ll be confabbing at the National Harbor complex on the banks of the Potomac, shielded behind the Beltway from all the urban ills that afflict the “District of Corruption.” But John Vaught LaBeaume is forgoing the pilgrimage to the right’s annual Mecca this year. Why, he asks, should libertarians travel to CPAC, again, and subject themselves to conservative gripes for being libertarian?View this article
Local food advocates and the USDA both encourage you to get to know your farmer. Many consumers choose to do just that. But what if USDA regulations make futile the time and effort and money that a farmer and a consumer put into building this acquaintance? That's exactly the case, writes Baylen Linnekin, when it comes to USDA mis-management of the process for slaughtering the animals we eat, a fact that recent events have hammered home.View this article