Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

Fundraiser update, 12/02/16

Dear readers,

Our year-end fundraiser has an ambitious goal of $5,000 by December 31. So far we've raised $863.

What's missing from our fndaising? UR!

We've been the freedom movement's daily newspaper since 1991 under various names. In three weeks we will have published for 14 years as Rational Review News Digest. If you find our work valuable, please return some of that value. Our editors don't eat a lot, but we do have to eat. Help out at:

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com/support-rrnd

Have a great weekend!

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Publisher
Rational Review News Digest / Freedom News Daily


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WikiLeaks releases 2,000 files from German inquiry into NSA spying scandal

"Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released a 90GB-sized trove of data relating to the ongoing German parliamentary inquiry into the relationship between the county's foreign intelligence agency -- the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) -- and the National Security Agency (NSA). According to WikiLeaks, the disclosure consists of 2,420 documents from 'various agencies" of the German government submitted as exhibits to the inquiry last year. The probe was set up after the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013 which exposed close surveillance links between the agencies. ... In a previous release in 2015, WikiLeaks published documents that suggested the communications of over 120 top German government officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, were being intercepted by the NSA. The files showed how the surveillance operation had been active for years." (12/01/16)


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Internet Archive successfully fends off secret FBI order

"A decade ago, the FBI sent Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a now-infamous type of subpoena known as a National Security Letter, demanding the name, address and activity record of a registered Internet Archive user. The letter came with an everlasting gag order, barring Kahle from discussing the order with anyone but his attorney -- not even his wife could know. But Kahle did eventually talk about it, calling the order 'horrendous,' after challenging its constitutionality .... Now, Kahle and the archive are notching another victory, one that underlines the progress their original fight helped set in motion. The archive, a nonprofit online library, has disclosed that it received another NSL in August, its first since the one it received and fought in 2007. Once again it pushed back, but this time events unfolded differently: The archive was able to challenge the NSL and gag order directly in a letter to the FBI, rather than through a secretive lawsuit. In November, the bureau again backed down and, without a protracted battle, has now allowed the archive to publish the NSL in redacted form." (12/01/16)


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Obama supports registering women for military enslavement

"President Obama supports requiring women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18, becoming the first president to endorse universal draft registration since Jimmy Carter. 'As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports (as a logical next step) women registering for the Selective Service,' said Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama's National Security Council. The White House had previously expressed neutrality on the controversy, but took a position in a statement to USA TODAY on Thursday. But the timing of Obama's support makes it mostly symbolic, coming in the final weeks of his presidency and the day before the House will vote on a defense policy bill that strips a Senate-passed provision to add women to Selective Service. Instead, the compromise version now calls only for a commission to study two related issues: Whether women should be included in Selective Service, and whether the Selective Service system itself should be abolished." [editor's note: Option B, please; end this imperialst nonsense - SAT] (12/01/16)


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ND: 2,000 veterans just arrived At Standing Rock

""Over two thousand veterans have begun arriving at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp in North Dakota, intending to form a 'human shield' protecting the protesters from the violent militarized police force that is defending the desecrating construction company. The protesters, which number in the thousands, have been fighting to halt the construction of an oil pipeline which would desecrate lands sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and threaten the health of local water supplies." (12/01/16)


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Wisconsin first state to start presidential election recount

"The first candidate-driven statewide recount of a presidential election in 16 years began Thursday in Wisconsin, a state that Donald Trump won by less than a percentage point over Hillary Clinton after polls long predicted a Clinton victory. The recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein carries none of the drama of the Florida presidential recount of 2000, when the outcome of the election between Al Gore and George W. Bush hung in the balance. Almost no one expects Stein's push for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to result in a Clinton victory over Trump." (12/01/16)


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UK could pay EU for access to single market, ministers admit

"Britain could end up paying the European Union to retain access to the single market, David Davis and Philip Hammond have said, in a concerted attempt to signal that the government is willing to take a flexible approach to the looming Brexit negotiations. Theresa May has never made ongoing financial contributions a red line -- unlike controlling immigration -- but Davis still surprised MPs when he conceded on Thursday morning that the government may be willing to pay to retain single market access, a point Hammond then reinforced in a speech in Scotland." (12/01/16)


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Study: Cannabis might held treat sexual dysfunctions

"Sexually frustrated couples may have to try marijuana to spice up the bedroom, a new study finds. In a recently published study featured by the National Institutes of Health, experts from Italy’s University of Catania and the Czech Republic’s Charles University and Masaryk University found that both sexes can use cannabis to treat sexual dysfunctions such as Erectile Dysfunction or Sexual Arousal Disorder. 'For centuries, in addition to its recreational actions, several contradictory claims regarding the effects of cannabis use in sexual functioning and behavior (e.g. aphrodisiac vs anti-aphrodisiac) of both sexes have been accumulated,' the study reads. 'The identification of delta-9 THC and later on, the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) have opened a potential therapeutic target for sexual dysfunctions, given the partial efficacy of current pharmacological treatment.'" [editor's note: Or at least it can make them matter less? - SAT] (12/01/16)


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Mexican billionaire Slim: Trump could be good for Mexico

"Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says a Donald Trump presidency could be good news for Mexico. At a forum with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday, Slim discarded the pessimistic narrative about how Trump's hard-line views on immigration and free trade could shake Mexico. The telecommunications magnate, who is one of the world's richest people, said that if Trump achieves his promises to expand the U.S. economy, create millions of jobs and lower middle-class taxes, it will be 'fantastic' for Mexico by increasing U.S. consumption. And Trump's promise for big spending on infrastructure projects would mean more jobs for Mexicans because there are not enough Americans to fill them, Slim said. He added that Trump's tough talk toward Mexico should spur the country to refocus on investing in its own economy." (12/01/16)


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Putin: Russia “not seeking conflict”

"Russia is 'not seeking conflict with anyone,' President Vladimir Putin has said in his annual Kremlin speech to parliament and the nation. 'Unlike some foreign colleagues who see Russia as the enemy, we do not seek (and never sought) enemies. We need friends,' he said. But 'we will not permit harm to our interests,' he added. He said Russia was ready to work with the new US administration to fight terrorism. Mr Putin has previously said he hopes for better relations with the US once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. He praised the courage of Russian military personnel fighting rebel groups in Syria, in support of President Bashar al-Assad, and drew applause in the ornate Kremlin hall." (12/01/16)


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Johnson & Johnson hit with over $1 billion verdict on hip implants

"A federal jury in Dallas on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit to pay more than $1 billion to six plaintiffs who said they were injured by Pinnacle hip implants, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said. The jurors found that the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks. The six plaintiffs in this case are California residents who were implanted with the hip devices and experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws. Plaintiffs claimed the companies promoted the devices as lasting longer than devices that include ceramic or plastic materials. J&J and DePuy are facing nearly 8,400 lawsuits over the devices, which have been consolidated in federal court in Texas. Test cases have been selected for trial, and their outcomes will help gauge the value of the remaining claims." (12/01/16)


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CT: Top court to hear appeal in frivolous Sandy Hook suit

"The Connecticut Supreme Court has agreed to hear a direct appeal by families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, whose lawsuit against makers and sellers of the assault rifle used in the 2012 attack was dismissed in October. Connecticut’s highest court on Tuesday said it would consider whether families of nine victims, plus one survivor, can recover damages from Remington Outdoor Co and others over the gunman’s use of a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 students and six staffers. The court’s decision to take the case, just two weeks after the families requested it, was announced on Thursday in a statement from the families’ lawyers. Other defendants include the gun’s distributor, and the gun shop where Adam Lanza’s mother Nancy had bought the AR-15." (12/01/16)


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Trump names Mattis as next Secretary of Defense

"President-elect Donald Trump has chosen James N. Mattis, a highly respected retired Marine four-star general, to head the Defense Department, filling in a critical national security position in the emerging Cabinet. Mattis served 44 years in the Marine Corps before he retired in 2013. He headed U.S. Central Command in his final three years and oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other military operations in the Middle East." (12/01/16)


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Guatemala: Army to patrol capital in push against high crime rate

"Security military brigades in Guatemala will now help patrol the city streets in an effort to lower the higher crime rate, its city council recently decided. This past Wednesday, November 30 the city council approved a new program that would allow for the creation of security military brigades that will mix with regular police in order to quell crime." (12/01/16)


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More than a million google accounts hacked by “Gooligan” Android malware

"If you own an Android smartphone, Beware! A new Android malware that has already breached more than 1 Million Google accounts is infecting around 13,000 devices every day. Dubbed Gooligan, the malware roots vulnerable Android devices to steal email addresses and authentication tokens stored on them. With this information in hands, the attackers are able to hijack your Google account and access your sensitive information from Google apps including Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, Google Play, Google Drive, and G Suite." (11/30/16)


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NM: Cops get off scot free despite shattering handcuffed man’s face, cracking his skull on video

"Two Las Cruces cops were caught on video, severely beating a handcuffed man, and they will face no consequences for their crimes. The victim, Ross Flynn was in jail for being accused of pulling a gun on his neighbor -- a crime of which later he'd be found not guilty. Flynn was beaten so badly that he suffered several broken facial bones and a cracked skull. When video of this incident surfaced, the officers weren't immediately fired. It took an 'investigation' lasting over 5-months before they were relieved of duty." (12/01/16)


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Magic pipe: Carnival’s Princess pays $40 million fine for sea waste

"Princess Cruise Lines will pay a $40 million penalty after pleading guilty to seven federal charges in an illegal ocean pollution case that involved one ship's use of a so-called magic pipe to divert oily waste into the waters, authorities said Thursday. Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told a news conference the penalty is the largest ever of its kind. ... the illegal practices came to light when an engineer aboard the Caribbean Princess discovered the 'magic pipe' in 2013 off the coast of Great Britain and told investigators about it. Authorities later learned the 952-foot ship had been illegally discharging oily water into the ocean since 2005." (12/01/16)


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Kazakhstan: Russian space cargo ship destroyed in failed launch, debris burns up

"An uncrewed Russian cargo spacecraft fell back to Earth shortly after launching toward the International Space Station (ISS) today (Dec. 1). The Progress 65 freighter lifted off atop a three-stage Soyuz-U rocket at 9:51 a.m. EST (1451 GMT) today from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. About 6 minutes into the flight, Russian mission controllers stopped receiving telemetry from the cargo ship, and radar stations were subsequently unable to pick it up on its planned orbit, said officials with Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency." (12/01/16)


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FL: Greens and Feds declare a war on cats

"In 2014, the Fish and Wildlife Service implemented a pest management plan designed to trap cats the agency perceived as a threat to the Key Largo woodrat. The furry targets of this sting operation were accused of trespassing on federal land, which is a woodrat habitat, and doing what cats do best: hunt and kill rats. Instead of focusing only on the large swaths of feral cats that pose the primary threat to the rats’ survival on the island, the Fish and Wildlife Service went overboard. Resident cat owners complained that agents set baited traps adjacent to the private property of the owners who live next to the federal park." (12/01/16)


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France: Hollande will not seek re-election as president

"Francois Hollande, the least popular French president since the second world war, has announced he will not run for a second term in office. With a satisfaction rating so low it recently dropped to just 4%, the Socialist president appeared emotional as he said in a live televised address from the Elysee palace that he would not attempt to run for a second term, conscious of the 'risks' to the French left. He is the first French president since the war not to attempt to run for re-election." (12/01/16)


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UN rejects UK regime’s appeal of Assange arbitrary detention ruling

"The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention threw out a UK appeal against its previous ruling, when the panel had said that Mr Assange's detention was unlawful. Although Mr Assange voluntarily sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London more than four years ago, the panel ruled that the fact that he would be arrested as soon as he attempted to leave amounted to an arbitrary detention. In throwing out the appeal, the UN said the British Government had not brought forward any new evidence to allow a review of the case. Following the ruling, Mr Assange said in a statement: 'Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free.'" (12/01/16)


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UN further tightens North Korea sanctions

"The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to further tighten sanctions on North Korea following months of diplomatic wrangling over how best to respond to North Korea's latest nuclear test in September and their repeated defiance of international sanctions and diplomatic pressure. The council unanimously approved the sanctions resolution with diplomats hailing it as a major step forward in its efforts to get the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abandon its nuclear ambitions." (12/01/16)


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SpaceX tentatively sets return to flight for December 16

"The satellite communications provider Iridium says it has a tentative launch date of December 16 for the first batch of its Iridium NEXT satellites, which would mark the return to flight for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. The company made the announcement Thursday morning on its website. Any launch remains contingent on Federal Aviation Approval of SpaceX's investigation into the cause of its September 1 accident, which caused a total loss of the rocket and payload on a Florida launch pad. However that investigation is near a resolution, and the setting of a launch date indicates some confidence in its successful conclusion." (12/01/16)


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Gambia: Regime cuts off Internet, blocks international phone calls ahead of election

"Gambia has shut down the internet and blocked all international phone calls as the nation goes to the polls for its presidential elections. Analysts say there is a chance the people of the small west African nation will vote out the dictatorial regime of President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a military coup in 1994 and later amended the constitution to remove presidential term limits. Up against Mr Jammeh is the former London security guard Adama Barrow, who is supported by an alliance of eight opposition parties clamouring for regime chance. But the sitting government has not made things easy. Phone and internet services to the country’s 1.9 million people were cut in the hours before polling stations opened, int an apparent bid to prevent the unified opposition from mobilising -- though officials said it was to reduce the risk of unrest." (12/01/16)


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Court orders Coinbase to rat out customers to IRS gang

"The company Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin exchange in the United States, may be required to turn over customer data to the Internal Revenue Service because the agency is concerned the cryptocurrency is being used to avoid paying taxes. A federal judge in San Francisco granted a request by the IRS and U.S. Department of Justice to issue a 'John Doe' summons that would require Coinbase to identify users in the U.S. who made transactions on the service between 2012 and 2015, based on at least three previous cases showing Bitcoin could be used to evade federal taxation." (12/01/16)


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Commentary


| News |

LGBT lives are better than ever, yet the culture war grows louder

"[W]hat I'm seeing from pieces like this bizarre one from BuzzFeed, and from things like a gay politician's attempt to promote a boycott of a beer company owner for supporting Trump, is an inability to accept a norm that we live side-by-side in a world with significant ideological diversity, and an inability to place an emphasis on policy-making over signaling and culture war judging. Debate over DeVos'[s] actual anti-gay background and how that might or might not affect federal education policy (libertarian disclaimer: we shouldn't even have a federal education policy) shouldn't be fighting for attention with the church habits of a couple of televised home renovators. I've said repeatedly while watching this election play out that one of the primary attitudes driving the culture of these campaigns has been the desire to punish one's foe. ... Self-segregation and social punishment seem to be the order of the day as the left and the right drift further and further apart culturally, even as policy differences seem less pronounced than they used to be." (12/01/16)


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Is flag burning protected speech?

"Before the Supreme Court ruled that burning your own flag in public is lawful, federal law and numerous state laws had made it criminal to do so. In analyzing those laws before it declared them to be unconstitutional, the Court looked at the original public understanding of those laws and concluded that they were intended not as fire safety regulations -- the same statutes permitted other public fires -- but rather as prophylactics intended to coerce reverence for the American flag by criminalizing the burning of privately owned pieces of cloth that were recognizable as American flags. That is where the former statutes ran into trouble. Had they banned all public fires in given locations, for public safety sake, they probably would have withstood a constitutional challenge. But since these statutes were intended to suppress the ideas manifested by the public flag burning, by making the public expression of those ideas criminal, the statutes ran afoul of the First Amendment." (12/01/16)


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Wrong on crime

"The fiscal argument for penal reform obscured the reality that successful decarceration will likely cost more money, not less, at least over the short and medium term. People reentering society after prison need significant educational, vocational, housing, health, and economic support to ensure that the communities they are returning to are not further destabilized by waves of former prisoners. If we are serious about alternatives to incarceration, then community-based mental health and substance abuse programs will need major cash infusions." (12/01/16)


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OSU’s foreign policy blowback

"Those who keep hoping that gun control will protect them from terrorist retaliation for U.S. interventionism in the Middle East had their hopes dashed last week at Ohio State University. That's because the lack of gun didn't stop Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali-born Ohio State student, from intentionally driving a car into pedestrians and then slashing people with a butcher knife. This is what all too many Americans just don't yet get -- that local, state, and federal government officials cannot keep everyone safe all the time from the threat of terrorist retaliation for the U.S. national-security state's continued interventionsim in the Middle East and Afghanistan." (12/01/16)


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Taking control

"What is needed, as Mama points out, is NOT for Trump or his appointees to take control of the FedGov and therefore 'save' Americans from the mess, but for US -- individually -- to take control of our OWN lives. To take the control BACK from the FedGov, the state governments -- yes, and even the local governments, and assume the control for ourselves: the responsibility for making our own decisions and living by the results of those decisions: our actions. NOT the actions of a billionaire in DC or New York, and NOT the actions of 535 people in Congress, NOR eight (or nine) Nazgul in robes, nor of nearly uncountable bureaucrats, but rather, each of us." (12/01/16)


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Jamie Raskin has a fierce, funny message for dispirited Democrats

"On Wednesday, House Democrats doubled down on the same old, same old, voting for Nancy Pelosi and a leadership team with an average age of 76 -- a group that, for all its virtues, doesn’t exactly offer a fresh message to inspire the left. But on Wednesday night in the D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, a vibrant new left-wing voice in the House made himself heard—with exactly the message that Democrats across the country sorely need. 'The resistance begins right here and the revival begins tonight,' said Representative-elect Jamie Raskin, whipping up the crowd at a rally he called 'the first true-blue, overflow Democratic revival meeting of 2016.' The curly-haired 53-year-old representative-elect is already a household name in Silver Spring." (12/01/16)


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The terrifying lessons of the Philippines’ vigilante president

"Every morning in the Philippines, a handful of bodies are found littering the streets. Their faces are often covered in black plastic tape. Sometimes there are signs of torture. Usually, they have been shot in the head. Few bother police; they are usually suspected of being responsible. No one, frankly, should be surprised that it is happening. The country’s democratically elected leader, after all, was elected promising to do just this, cracking down on what he has described as a 'drug menace' in the country. If one world leader exemplifies some of the more alarming trends taking place in politics this decade, it is Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. His election and the policies he has pursued since entering office represent a comprehensive rejection of decades, if not centuries, of hard-won moves toward respect for human rights and the rule of law." (12/01/16)


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Signs of a creepy government conspiracy at Standing Rock

"The demonstration at Standing Rock, North Dakota is the largest gathering of indigenous people in modern American history. Over 280 tribes and thousands of non-native volunteers have gathered to protect the Sioux's ancestral water supply, which they believe will be poisoned when the North Dakota Access Pipeline inevitably leaks. Most of the coverage you've seen has probably come in the form of Twitter and Facebook rage-screaming in all-caps gibberish, or it looks like this: '... hundreds clash with police over Dakota Access Pipeline.' That vague title leaves a lot open to interpretation. And if the internet has taught us anything, it's that interpretation is not the average person's strong suit ... or even their medium suit, for that matter. 'Clash' suggests an equal meeting of force, and that's really not the case when one side has military hardware and the backing of a multi-billion-dollar corporation, and the other side ... well, doesn't. " (12/01/16)


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A cabinet for the deep-pocket ages

"People holding personal fortunes worth over $5 million this year make up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the world’s adult population. People worth over $5 million may also this year make up nearly 100 percent of the picks Donald Trump chooses for his cabinet and inner circle. President-elect Trump’s choices for top slots so far include at least two billionaires, two former Wall Street executives at Goldman Sachs, and assorted other mega-millionaire heirs and corporate honchos. Donald Trump, notes the Washington Post, 'is assembling the richest administration in modern American history.' The Trump choice for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, holds all by himself ten times more personal wealth than the entire cabinet George W. Bush appointed back in 2001." (12/01/16)


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The legal marijuana middle ground

"With more than 65 million people living in states that have passed marijuana legalization, and a Gallup poll showing that 60% of the country supports legalizing marijuana use, national legalization may seem inevitable. ... California was the first state to allow medical marijuana, starting nearly 20 years ago. Its approach was extremely loose; over time it became easy for essentially any adult to obtain a medical recommendation, and dispensaries abounded. ... There are many ways to legalize marijuana supply besides the for-profit approach. I understand why some may be worried about creating an industry that will likely be incentivized to lobby against regulation and taxation to maximize profits. And if the marijuana businesses end up following the lead of alcohol companies, they will work hard to create and maintain heavy users, since they account for the vast majority of sales." [editor's note: A good analysis of the variances between limited "legal" cartels and decriminalization - SAT] (11/30/16)


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The indefensible Electoral College

"When someone as manifestly unfit for office as Donald Trump can be elected president of the United States, it represents a collective institutional failure. But it is important to keep one crucial fact front and center: The American electorate did not choose him. By the time the vote counting is finished in California, Hillary Clinton will have received roughly 2.5 million more votes than Trump. This is a larger margin than Richard Nixon in 1968 or JFK in 1960 had achieved. The people’s choice did not become president because an indefensible anachronism malfunctioned for the second time in less than two decades. The lessons of this should be clear. In the long term, the Electoral College must be eliminated or circumvented; in the short term, the fact that Donald Trump was not the choice of the American people needs to be front and center to the progressive opposition to his administration." [editor's note: Another whine from the "progressive" front, ignoring the incompetence of "their own" troops and the unfit nature of "their own" candidate(s) - SAT] (11/30/16)


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Freer immigration does not lead to bigger government

"The election of Donald Trump leads many libertarians to fear for the future of the American immigration system. This is because libertarians consistently support immigration. Nearly all metrics support the libertarian position. For this reason, only fear-mongering remains for those who oppose the peaceful travel of individuals." (12/01/16)


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The starvation of Yemen continues

"The starvation of Yemen's civilian population is one of the greatest man-made disasters of this century, and it has been brought about in large part by U.S.-backed clients as they pursue a senseless and atrocious war against one of the world's poorest countries. When the starvation of Yemen occasionally receives some decent coverage, there is barely any mention of the responsibility of the Saudi-led coalition and its Western patrons for helping to create these horrible conditions. The coalition and its Western backers, including the U.S., are not the only ones responsible, but they bear the largest responsibility because they are the ones that have been blockading the country and devastating its infrastructure and ports with bombs, and they were the ones that escalated and prolonged the war for all this time." (12/01/16)


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So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, 12/01/16

"Martin Garbus is our guest today on So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast. This is the inaugural episode in a series that will profile the careers of some of the world’s most prominent free speech advocates." [Flash audio or MP3] (12/01/16)


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The Price is right! Trump’s choice of health secretary indicates push to repeal and replace ObamaCare

"Donald Trump's choice of Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-GA) as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services indicates the Trump administration will make a serious effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered health reform. After some initial signs of hesitation to try to achieve this six-year old campaign promise, Obamacare's opponents can now be confident that skilled leadership will wage a sophisticated and likely successful effort to restart health reform." (12/01/16)


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Revitalizing liberalism in the age of Brexit and Trump

"Commitment to liberal ideals and institutions is slipping around the world. It's happening in Great Britain, in Hungary, in Poland, in Turkey, in the Philippines. Illiberal nationalist leaders and parties are on the rise in traditional bastions of liberty, such as France, the Netherlands, and in these United States. That means it's time -- way past time, really -- to restate the truths of liberalism for the era of Uber, Celebrity Apprentice, Twitter, Telemundo, terror panic, and type-2 diabetes. We've got to fix the pipes and patch the potholes, update from copper to fiber. We've got to roll the damn rock back up the damn hill." (11/30/16)


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Elijah the inventor

"Elijah McCoy was born in 1843 in Colchester in the province of Ontario, Canada, where his parents had settled as fugitives from slavery. The family returned to the United States five years later and settled in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Though poor as church mice, their hard work and thrifty habits eventually paid off. Elijah was sent to Scotland at age 15 to study mechanical engineering, and he returned afterward to work for the Michigan Central Railroad. Locomotives at the time overheated easily, and trains were forced to stop often to apply oil to engine parts to reduce friction. McCoy invented a 'lubricating cup' that applied the oil without the need to halt the journey. He secured a patent for it in 1872 and continued to improve the device for years thereafter." (12/01/16)


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United States of Corruption

"President-elect Donald Trump's international business deals seem ... what? His first diplomatic meeting -- with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- included his daughter and partner-in-business Ivanka. It seems to at least wander into conflict-of-interest territory, if not stake claim and hoist up a flag proclaiming Trumpistan America! So I was very pleased, yesterday, when the President-elect vowed to step out from the running of his global business and branding empire." (12/01/16)


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What if fake news was merely an attempt at political entrepreneurship?

"Fake news! The new plague that besets mankind! That is largely the new name given to what 19th century folks would have called 'yellow journalism.' Yellow journalism was sensationalist to the point of distorting the news in order to carry a very emotional message. Generally embedded in that message was a political narrative supporting progressive reforms (not all yellow journalists were progressive but it seems that most were). ... Progressives who indulged in yellow journalism merely wanted to replace one set of political entrepreneurs with another. Just like the Alt-Right, from which emanates most of the fake news. In a way, both are exactly the same." (12/01/16)


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Another Gracian aphorism: #114 never compete

"I do not take this aphorism literally because everyone competes with others on some level -- for jobs, for romance, for attention, to be first with an achievement ... That's not merely human nature but also a healthy mainstay of human growth and progress. But many people, including me, get involved in pointless competitions where nothing is won except, perhaps, the 'reward' of unsavory satisfactions that should remain unfed. We all have petty emotions that can be ignored and starved or encouraged to become personality traits: petty satisfactions such as inflicting pain on innocuous people you dislike, feeling superior by diminishing others, ridiculing something you cannot have, refusing to acknowledge someone's worth or achievements, smearing or backstabbing someone because of their worth or achievements. These low emotions involve a competition of sorts and almost always lead to expressions or acts of cruelty." (12/01/16)


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East Aleppo: A catastrophe of the west’s making

"There is a very specific narrative about the Syrian War in the Western mainstream media: America and European allies have stood by and let Syria burn, giving evil genius Putin a free hand to rearrange the Middle East. ... This narrative, of course, doesn’t stand up. To begin with, Russian intervention in Syria began in September 2015, when the Syrian government formally requested military help .... How did Syria fall into such a dire state in the four years before Putin got involved? This is the news about Syria that rarely makes the headlines. The Syrian War has dragged on agonisingly for years because America, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have sponsored various groups, including jihadi groups, to fight Assad. Far from a lack of intervention, America, Britain and other states have been intervening in Syria from the start of the Arab Spring, and it is this intervention that has kept the catastrophic war alive." (12/01/16)


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Freedom Feens Radio, 12/01/16

"Lou turns Jeremy and Hugo into 'persons held to service or labor' when Lisa gets droned by bad weather. The discuss a bunch of things to include economic illiteracy and people trying to undo progress, Uber contractors demanding employee benefits, government schools being a dinosaur thrashing in the tar pit, and everything you need to know, you can learn on the farm." [various formats] (12/01/16)


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How inflation ruined a chocolate bar

"Now that the presidential election is finally over, can we talk about something that actually matters? I'm referring of course to Tobleronegate, meaning the uproar surrounding the Swiss-based (but US-owned) chocolate company, Mondolez International. The company has widened the gaps between the segments of its iconic chocolate bar, reducing its total volume by some 10 percent. Although the reaction has something of an Old Coke-New Coke air to it, one can easily see it as a sign of the inflationary times, an effect of worldwide money creation coordinated by the leading central banks, with Toblerone being just one of many victims." (12/01/16)


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Unions as an alternative to state licensing

"Many skilled jobs, such as those in the construction, electrical, medical, and mechanic industries, are already heavily unionized. And in those industries, the unions pride themselves on their professionalism. Skilled unions require certain amounts of training or other qualifications before a person is allowed to join in many cases or provide training as part of union membership. Some unions pride themselves on their standards so much that chances are if you are getting your car fixed by one of their mechanics, you know you're in confident hands. Already many people look for certified union workers because they understand that if the union requires a base level of skill, then the services their members provide will be of quality. This system could easily be an alternative to the overly bureaucratic and authoritarian state licensing regimes." (12/01/16)


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Why flag burning matters

"There is no excuse for allowing your government to take your son or daughter and give you back a flag. There is no excuse for allowing your government to take someone else's son or daughter. Ever. Anywhere. No matter how scared you are. No matter what oath of loyalty you've robotically pledged to a colored piece of fabric since Kindergarten." (12/01/16)


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David S D’Amato: Time to end the war on drugs

"Watch FFF policy adviser present his perspectives on why America needs to end the war on drugs. This presentation is part of FFF's Drug War Video Project, whose aim is to accelerate the end of this immoral and destructive government program." [Flash video] (12/01/16)


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Muslim registry and the ghosts of our past

"The island of Zakynthos is on the southern end of the Ionian archipelago. Its beauty is legendary, with blue seas and sky, white sands, and lush green vegetation. On September 9, 1943, the island's occupation governor, a German major named Berenz, summoned the island's Greek mayor, Loukas Karrer, to demand that he turn over the names and addresses of all Jews living on the island. A deeply troubled Karrer immediately consulted with the highest-ranking church official on the island, Bishop Chrysostomos Dimitriou .... Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos returned to Berenz's office. They said they had complied with his order, and they handed him their 'list,' which contained only their own names and addresses. The Bishop told the Nazi: 'Here is your list. We are the only Jews on this island.' ... If Trump's registration plan actually comes to pass, we must all stand up. We must all register ourselves as Muslims." (12/01/16)


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Italian referendum could send global investors to Bitcoin

"December 4 will be an eventful day for worldwide markets, as the globe may get an economic shock. Italian citizens will vote on amending the constitution by changing banking resolutions -- alongside absolving powers given to the state, Parliament, and bureaucrats. During this time Italian government bonds and securities have been selling like hotcakes with many preparing for an economic crisis. Furthermore, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has detailed he will quit if people vote against the Italian bank resolutions. The European region is indeed preparing for a rude awakening as the Financial Times reported eight troubled banks could fall by the wayside if Renzi loses. If the Italian referendum goes sour, it could mean investors could turn to an uncorrelated asset such as bitcoin." (12/01/16)


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Free Talk Live, 11/30/16

"Barret Brown Released From Prison :: Chilling Free Speech :: Death Pool :: Violence in Response to Words :: Power Grid Problems :: Commie Sarah :: Another Corrupt Cop Unearthed in Silk Road Case :: Trump Wall :: Escaping from Venezuela By Sea :: Appeals :: Free Ross-a-Thon." [Flash audio or MP3] (11/30/16)


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Global elites put Christianity in the crosshairs

"The term global governance refers to the political dimension of globalization. Here the question is to what degree governance will be centralized and controlled by international institutions in ways that threaten to diminish national and local governmental capacity. Global governance advocates tend to prefer both transnational regulation of markets and the creation of new human rights norms marked by increased centralization. In the latter sense, global governance can imply much more than simple international coordination and cooperation, which has existed throughout modern international relations. Now it is also a deeply and widely embedded ideology that seeks global centralization and regulation of wide-reaching areas of international interaction. It is believed and advanced by its devotees with an almost religious zeal." (11/30/16)


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Ideology, identity politics, and politico-cultural conflict

"The past year's political events, especially the campaign for the presidency as it converged on a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have illuminated the way in which ideology, with the identity politics that springs from it, drives a dialectical process: political domination creates resentment, which feeds reaction and, on occasion, revolution against a previously entrenched ruling class and its belief system." (11/30/16)


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Hey, @RealDonaldTrump, hands off my flag

"If someone wants to set fire to a brightly colored piece of cloth, it's nobody else's business unless the flag is stolen, the flag-burner is trespassing, or burning the flag endangers other people's lives or property. That's true even if you’ve convinced yourself that your grandfather 'died for' that brightly colored piece of cloth (hopefully he died for something more consequential than your favorite rectangular textile pattern). It's true even if you profoundly disagree with the point the flag-burner is trying to convey (or, as may well be the case, even if you can't really tell what that point might be). It's true even if you're Donald J. Trump." (11/30/16)


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Don’t let Clinton off the hook

"President-elect Donald Trump seems to be harboring misgivings about the investigation and possible prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her email, national security and Clinton Foundation pay-for-play scandals. The president-elect has said that he 'does not want to hurt the Clintons,' and that is very gracious. But Clinton’s transgressions were not committed against him personally; they were committed against the nation at large. And it is to the American people that she must be held accountable." (11/29/16)


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All assistance should be voluntary

"It is once again the season to remember the less fortunate. On one hand, you shouldn't need an annual reminder to be good to other people, but on the other hand, sometimes it's fortunate the calendar has a few such reminders built in. If someone wants to help those in need, there is nothing stopping her from freely giving her own money and time to those she feels deserve help. Yet most who feel more money should be spent on their favorite government programs are never content to simply chip in -- they demand laws forcing everyone else to do the same. It's the opposite of generosity, compassion, or caring." (11/30/15)


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Donald’s flag hysteria delusion syndrome

"Trump should pull his foot out of his mouth, apologize, and recognize that our citizenship and the right to freedom of speech are far more important to Americans tha[n] a pretty piece of cloth. I feel sorry for Trump and others who become hysterical and feel offended by those who refuse to worship the American flag but they need to accept the fact that the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect offensive expression." (11/30/16)


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How the left learned to love Prevent

"Prevent, the British government's counter-extremism strategy, has been controversial since it was first proposed a decade ago. Under Prevent, teachers, lecturers and a host of other professionals have a duty to safeguard individuals considered susceptible to radicalisation. Anyone who appears to challenge British values, or whose behaviour attracts suspicion, can be reported to local authorities for monitoring and re-education. Nearly 4,000 people were referred under Prevent in 2015, almost three times as many as in the previous year. The youngest was just four years old. ... The left's public about-turn reflects growing numbers of people being referred under Prevent for holding far-right views. While suspected Islamic extremism still provides the most common justification for referral, the number of individuals referred for right-wing extremism increased by 74 per cent between 2014 and 2015." (11/30/16)


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Fundamentals

"There doesn't seem to be any debate about the fact that things are seriously wrong in America. The octogenarians among us -- present writer included -- can recall a vastly different America, with no 'checkpoints' or rioting, or SWAT teams, or invasions of foreign countries which had not -- and could not -- attack us. But why has this happened? What is the ultimate cause of this deterioration? As far as I am concerned, at the root of our national disintegration is a moral decline. I recall Chesterton's remark to the effect that those who believe nothing will believe anything. And so we find our present sad state blamed upon labor unions, Muslims, corporate greed, global warming, etc. It's a big jump, however, from a disregard for eternal verities to a concern for the fate of the snail darter." (11/30/16)


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The real reason Hillary asked for a recount

"Why did Hillary Clinton join Jill Stein, the Green Party’s oddball presidential nominee, in asking for a recount of the votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania when everyone knows that such a recount won’t change the outcome of the 2016 election? Part of the answer is that people close to Hillary (Huma Abedin, Chelsea Clinton, and Sidney Blumenthal) encouraged her to ask for a recount as a way of lifting her spirits. ... In addition, President Obama convinced Hillary that it was in the best interest of the Democratic Party if the Clinton legal team got involved with the recount and didn’t leave it to Jill Stein." (11/30/16)


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Reconciling the NAP & “reality”

"In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else -- they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues. Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not." (11/30/16)


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Trump or no Trump, we’ll bury the carbon economy

"[F]ar more than government policies, laws of nature and economics that are beyond Trump's control are driving reduced fossil fuel consumption, and will continue to do so -- even if Trump greenlights Keystone, the Dakota Access pipeline and every other proposed pipeline project in the country. The basic laws of physics and geology behind Peak Oil and Peak Fossil Fuels -- most importantly the tendency of remaining sources of fuel to have lower and lower energy return on energy input (EROEI) -- have not been repealed. Current low oil prices result mainly, not from new unconventional fuel recovery techniques -- which are generally much lower in EROEI than older extraction methods -- but from Saudi Arabia pumping oil from its old reserves at unsustainable levels for political reasons and hastening their exhaustion." (11/30/16)


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Freedom Feens Radio, 11/30/16

"MWD was in a black-ice one-car wreck (he's OK, car will be OK after it's out of the shop), Jim Jesus was praying into the porcelain god. So MK Lords got her kitty angel wings by doing great as first time at first-chair Feen. Her host is unknown (possibly Libertarian Party Serial Stripper James Weeks II), but they rocked ... except for James or whosoever's background noise. MWD spent an extra 30 min cleaning up THAT mess in the editing, and named that host 'The Old Dirty Bad Audio Bastard of Liberty.'" [various formats] (11/30/16)


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What safe spaces & trigger warnings actually are

"The American university is quite the weird place to be right now. Despite it being harder and harder to get into a lot of schools, the current climate of the country tends to show less respect and more ever-growing middle fingers for kids in college. Universities aren't the bastions of education they used to be. Instead, everyone from 'grrrrrr, I'm angry' comedians to President Obama has told them to buck up and ditch the 'trigger warnings' and 'safe spaces.' I want this on record. Mr. President, you're wrong. And it starts with a fundamental misunderstanding of what these things actually are." [editor's note: This is actually a pretty objective consideration of this topic - SAT] (11/30/16)


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Because it’s our money to spend as we wish

"American CEOs get paid very much more than Japanese. American CEOs also appear to do a very much better job than Japanese. Our complicated answer would therefore be that higly paid CEOs are worth being highly paid. However, our simple answer is that up there in the headline. It is not up to the government to tell us what we may do with the money in our pockets. Whether my £5 is to be transferred into a pint, a bumper car ride, a pork pie or a nice healthy salad is up to me. For it is my money." (11/30/16)


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Growing far-right nationalistic movements are dangerously anti-Muslim — and pro-Israel

The specter of a growing far-right nationalism anywhere, but particularly in Central Europe, immediately -- and for good and obvious reasons -- raises fears of an anti-semitism revival. But at least thus far, the leaders of most of these nationalistic parties -- increasingly inspired and fueled by one another's success -- have showcased dangerous animosity toward Muslims, accompanied by strong policy support for Israel and a rhetorical repudiation of anti-semitism. Whether from cynical tactical considerations or actual conviction, the most successful leaders of this emerging movement -- while unrestrained with their reckless anti-Muslim fear-mongering -- not only repudiate anti-semitism in words but are incorporating steadfast support for Israel as part of their policy agenda. And in many cases, the Israeli government -- which itself exhibits many of the same far-right attributes as these movements -- is expressing support in return." (11/30/16)


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The left’s fidelity to Castro-ation

"I am critical of Cuba not because I am anti-Communist but because I remain a Communist. We all remember the classic scene from cartoons: a cat walks over the precipice and magically goes on, floating in the air; it falls down only when it looks down and becomes aware that it has no ground under its feet. In the same way, one can say that, in the last decades, Cuban 'socialism' continued to live only because it didn’t yet notice it was already dead. ... One gets tired of the conflicting stories of the economic failure and human rights abuses in Cuba, as well as of the twins of education and healthcare that are always trotted out by the friends of the revolution. One gets tired even of the really great story of how a small country can resist the biggest superpower (yes, with the help of the other superpower)." [editor's note: This one is here only to make you think a bit on this - SAT] (11/30/16)


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