Today's Edition


Russia: Snowden is surprise guest on Putin phone-in

Hindustan Times [India]

"Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US spy agency contractor who leaked details of US intelligence eavesdropping, made a surprise appearance on a TV phone-in hosted by Vladimir Putin on Thursday, asking the Russian president if his country also tapped the communications of millions. The exchange was the first known direct contact between Putin and Snowden since Russia gave the American refuge last summer after he disclosed widespread monitoring of telephone and internet data by the United States and fled the country." [editor's note: What's most interesting to me is Putin's response -- unlike American politicians ("whatevah -- we do what we want"), for some reason he felt constrained to at least pretend to a respect for rule of law - TLK] (04/18/14)


Report: Ukraine deal aims at de-escalation

Christian Science Monitor

"Nations involved in the Ukraine crisis pledged an easing of tensions Thursday, opening a possible path toward resolving Ukraine’s future without further Russian military intervention. US Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union issued a joint declaration after hours of talks Thursday in Geneva, agreeing on the need to end violence, to disband 'illegal armed groups,' and for Ukraine to undertake sweeping constitutional reforms. Secretary Kerry framed the deal as a start down the path of de-escalation, but said the test will be whether the 'words on a paper' are matched promptly by deeds on the ground." (04/17/14)


Iraq: 106 killed, 79 wounded

"At least 106 were killed today in Iraq, and another 73 people were wounded. Over half the fatalities were militants, but security forces and civilians were also harmed. ... A suicide bomber attacked an army base in Mahallabiya at the start of an attack that left 12 soldiers killed and 15 wounded, while another eight militants were killed." (04/17/14)


Afghanistan: Three guards, one inmate killed in prison break

Greenfield Daily Reporter

"An official says three Taliban insurgents escaped from a prison in northern Afghanistan using weapons smuggled into the facility in a jailbreak that killed three police guards. A spokesman for the Faryab provincial government, Ahmad Jawad Dedar, said on Friday that the breakout took place the previous night. A fourth inmate who was also trying to escape was killed in a shootout with security forces." (04/18/14)


Pakistan: One killed in attack on regime troops near Peshawar

Geo News [Pakistan]

"Militants opened fire on a security forces convoy on Frontier Road. The attack left a security forces vehicle badly damaged claiming the life of a security officer and injuring two others. The injured have been shifted to CMH Peshawar." (04/18/14)


TX: State steals polygamist group’s secluded ranch

San Francisco Chronicle

"The secluded Texas ranch where followers of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs lived in near isolation was seized by state agents on Thursday, nearly six years after FBI agents raided the property and removed hundreds of children amid child sex abuse allegations. The Texas Department of Public Safety said its agents took possession of the Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado. In a statement, DPS said only eight adults were still living on the West Texas property and agreed to leave after meeting with agents. DPS said authorities helped them vacate the ranch and take an inventory." (04/17/14)


IAEA: Iran’s higher-enriched uranium stock “cut by half”

BBC News [UK state media]

"Iran has neutralised half of its higher-enriched uranium stockpile, as per a deal agreed earlier this year, the world's nuclear watchdog says. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been checking Iran's adherence to the deal, struck with six world powers. The US has authorized the release of $450m (£270m) in frozen Iranian funds following the IAEA's latest findings. Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in return for partial sanctions relief in November." (04/17/14)


UN Security Council meets on rights in North Korea

Gainesville Sun

"The head of the commission of inquiry that accused North Korea of crimes against humanity told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that it must take action against 'a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world,' and he told reporters that most council members 'expressly said' the matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court. It was the first time the council had met to discuss the unprecedented U.N. report that contains graphic details and an urgent call to action. The informal meeting comes as members of the commission push for its findings to be formally referred to the council and the ICC." (04/17/14)


Scientists create stem cells from adults


"Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved 'therapeutic cloning' of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease." (04/17/14)


Guantanamo Bay: Trial in 9/11 veers off track again

ABC News

"An effort to prosecute the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and four co-defendants veered off track again Thursday as a pretrial hearing ended with new obstacles that threaten to further derail the case before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. Teams of lawyers managed barely four hours of court time over four days at the U.S. base in Cuba, bogged down by the potential legal implications of an apparent FBI investigation of the defense." (04/18/14)


PA: HS principal allegedly faked class, grades

Fox News

"The former principal of a prestigious performing arts high school that turned out Grammy Award winners Boyz II Men hit a sour note in October -- when he was accused of passing out fake grades for a concocted history class. John Dunphy Jr., who was named principal of Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in July, was removed by the district in October for allegedly creating a phony world history course and then doling out fake grades to 18 juniors at the school, the Philadelphia Daily News reports." (04/17/14)


Gulf Arab states strike new deal to heal rifts

Bismarck Tribune

"A statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council says the bloc has agreed on the mechanisms to implement a security pact, marking a possible first step toward bridging deep rifts among its six energy-rich Arab states. Qatar's official news agency says Doha's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah took part at in the GCC Foreign Ministers meeting held in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh. The GCC statement was released after the meeting late Thursday." (04/17/14)


MO: Suspect arrested in string of Kansas City-area highway shootings

Fox News

"Police arrested a suspect Thursday in a string of random vehicle shootings on Kansas City-area highways over the past few weeks that have wounded three motorists and frightened many more. Police Chief Darryl Forte said at a news conference that the suspect is male and lives in Grandview, a suburb south of the city that is home to the Grandview Triangle, where several highways intersect and where at least six of the reported shootings happened. Forte didn't release the name or age of the suspect, saying he hoped to be able to discuss the case in further detail at a news conference Friday." (04/18/14)


Hagel: “Non-lethal” military aid for Ukraine

Raw Story

"The United States will send helmets, medical supplies and other non-lethal military aid to Ukraine amid fears of another Russian incursion there, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said he had informed Kiev that President Barack Obama 'has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies.' The aid includes medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukrainian troops, as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine’s border security force. But it does not appear to contain any combat equipment, such as bulletproof vests or night-vision goggles." (04/17/24)


Fourth US Navy official charged in bribery scheme

Myrtle Beach Sun News

"A fourth member of the U.S. Navy has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a multimillion-dollar scheme involving a Singapore-based defense contractor accused of providing cash, vacations, electronics and prostitutes in exchange for classified information. 'The camera is awesome bro!' Japan-based Petty Officer Dan Layug wrote in an email to the vice president of a military contractor that is included in a complaint unsealed Thursday. 'Thanks a lot! Been a while since I had a new gadget!'" (04/17/14)


Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

Los Angeles Times

"Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist whose 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' enchanted millions of readers around the world and popularized the emerging Latin American literary genre known as magic realism, has died. He was 87. Garcia Marquez died Thursday at his home in Mexico City, Mexican media reported. A cause of death was not immediately annnounced, but Garcia Marquez had been in failing health for some time." (04/17/14)


Turkey: Parliament approves law expanding snooping powers

Business Standard [India]

"Turkey's parliament today approved a controversial law expanding the powers of the spy agency and setting prison terms for publishing leaked information as the government fights back against a widening corruption scandal. The legislation, passed after a heated debate in parliament, was first introduced by lawmakers from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party in the run-up to last month's local elections. The party won a resounding victory despite a corruption scandal that emerged last December, which has been fuelled by a steady flow of leaked classified information. " (04/18/14)


Israeli arrest of Arab citizen over Lebanon visit angers rights groups

Los Angeles Times

"An Arab Israeli citizen was arrested on charges of visiting an enemy state after the man returned from a trip to Lebanon, the Israeli government announced. The April 12 detention of Majd Kayyal, 23, described as a freelance journalist and Web editor for a group that advocates for the Arab minority in Israel, angered human rights groups and others who have pushed to liberalize travel rules to neighboring Arab countries that Israel has labeled enemy states." (04/17/14)


OR: Reservoir to be flushed because of urinating teen

Washington Post

"The mix of 38 million gallons of treated water and one teen’s urine has proven unacceptable to Portland officials who plan to flush away the whole lot -- the second time in less than three years the city has gone to such lengths to keep its water pure. In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland after a man urinated in the water supply. This time, water from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act of urinating." (04/17/14)


General Mills: Facebook “like” voids right to sue

New York Times

"Might downloading a 50-cent coupon for Cheerios cost you legal rights? General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, 'join' it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways." (04/17/14)


Ukraine: Three killed in clash at military base

Fox News

"Ukraine's Interior Minister [sic] said Thursday that three pro-Russian protesters were killed, 13 more were wounded, and 63 were arrested in a confrontation at a military base in the east of the country. ... News of the latest violence came as as diplomats from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and Russia prepared to meet in Geneva, Switzerland Thursday for the first time over the burgeoning crisis that threatens to roil the [junta] in Kiev." (04/17/14)


Federal judge overturns North Dakota abortion law

WKMG 6 News

"A federal judge ruled Wednesday that North Dakota's abortion law, considered one of the most restrictive in the nation, is unconstitutional. The law banned most abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be first detected." (04/16/14)


Iraq: 104 killed, 95 wounded

"At least 104 people were killed today. Many of them were militants, but a large number of security forces and civilians were among the casualties. At least 95 people were wounded. The most significant attack was on a government compound housing the Anbar governor’s office and provincial council building." (04/16/14)


Afghanistan: Taliban say they killed seven policemen

Houston Chronicle

"A group of Afghan policemen were kidnapped Wednesday while traveling in civilian clothes, and the Taliban later claimed they had killed seven of them. In a statement emailed to journalists, the militants said they had killed the policemen in an ambush in the Said Abad district of Wardak province, and that they found documents on the policemen that showed they were members of the Afghan Civil Order Police, an elite police unit." (04/16/14)


Pakistan: Rebels refuse to extend ceasefire

The Peninsula Online [Qatar]

"The Pakistani Taliban yesterday said they would not extend a ceasefire called to help peace negotiations with the government, but insisted they were still committed to the talks process. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced a one-month ceasefire at the start of March as the government sought a negotiated end to their bloody seven-year insurgency. The TTP extended the ceasefire to April 10, but complained there had been 'complete silence' from the government since then and hinted that the military was trying to thwart talks." (04/17/14)



Obama and the appeasement myth

by Steve Chapman

"The stark fact is that Ukraine is not a place over which the U.S. and NATO should be ready to go to war, and nothing short of going to war will change its fate." (04/17/14)


The shocking secret behind Obamacare enrollment numbers

Cato Institute
by Michael F. Cannon

"Barack Obama wants you to know he enrolled 7.5 million Americans through Obamacare’s health insurance Exchanges. What he doesn’t want you to know is how. Federal courts may soon rule that President Obama induced the majority of those enrollees to enroll by offering them taxpayer dollars he has no legal authority to spend." (04/16/14)


The black market correction

Center for a Stateless Society
by Gabriel Amadej

"It’s intriguing to see the progressive Left uniting against drug prohibition. They’re not with us in spirit, nor should they be, but they’ve laid the groundwork for its critique, and in a way that is sewn with the same threads of our passing commonalities. Many hold that only 'hard' drugs should be combated with force and other 'safe' drugs regulated in their consumption. This is certainly disappointing, but we, the decentralist Left, can exploit this opportunity." (04/16/14)


Police brutality is a crime against civilization

Zero Gov
by Bill Buppert

"The state is driven by the notion that it can commit immoral acts to achieve moral ends. Absent terroristic styles of governance, it has no authority to exact the shaping of society it desires. Terrorism is the politically motivated threat or use of violence against innocents and non-combatants." (04/18/14)


The next IRS tactic vs. expats and accidental Americans?

The Daily Bell
by Wendy McElroy

"An 'accidental American' is a person who lives in Canada (or another non-U.S. nation) and holds dual citizenship, whether or not he knows it. For example, it includes every Canadian child born to an American parent even if he never sets foot on U.S. Soil. America requires citizens living abroad to file tax forms on the money they earn and to report foreign bank accounts as well as other assets. The foreign income is usually considered taxable by the IRS. But, even if no taxes are owed, the possible penalty for not reporting is $10,000 per undisclosed asset per year." (04/17/14)


Solar flares up

Heartland Institute
by Marita Noon

"It is amazing that something that seems as up-beat as 'free' electricity from the sun can have such a dark side. I started covering some of the shenanigans from the solar industry last summer when I wrote about the 'Green Tea Party' in Georgia. I had no idea what a can of worms I’d opened." (04/17/14)


The middle class is not “normal”

Our Future
by Thom Hartmann

"There’s nothing 'normal' about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class. Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels." [editor's note: He's not far from wrong about "capitalism"; he just doesn't know squat about "free markets" - SAT] (04/17/14)


Why I’m cheering for fossil fuels this Earth Day

Fox News Forum
by John Stossel

""The heavens reek, the waters below are foul ... we are in a crisis of survival." That's how Walter Cronkite and CBS hyped the first Earth Day, back in 1970. Somehow we've survived since then, and most of life got better, although I never hear that from the worrywarts. Of course, some things got better because of government: We passed environmental rules that got most of the filth out of the air and sewage out of lakes and rivers. Great -- but now we're told that we're in big trouble because greenhouse gases cause global warming. I mean, climate change." (04/16/14)


Online illegal drugs markets show us the potential benefits of legalisation

Adam Smith Institute
by Daniel Pryor

"Growing up in Essex has made me appreciate why purchasing illegal drugs online is a far more attractive option. I have experienced the catastrophic effects of drug prohibition first-hand, and it is part of the reason that the issue means a great deal to me. Friends and acquaintances have had terrible experiences due to contamination from unscrupulous dealers with little incentive to raise their drugs’ quality, and every reason to lace their products with harmful additives. The violence associated with buying and selling drugs in person has affected the lives of people close to me." (04/17/14)


Can National Popular Vote end the voting wars?

by Rob Richie

"One of the most pernicious outcomes of the intense political struggle between Democrats and Republicans is the parties’ breathtaking capacity to game our voting rules. Nothing makes voters more cynical than seeing political leaders seemingly supporting or opposing election laws based solely on their partisan impact -- from redistricting reform to fights over whether to allow early voting. But a reform win in New York could foreshadow a cease-fire in the voting wars. On April 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making New York the 10th state to pass the National Popular Vote (NPV) interstate compact for president." [editor's note: Short answer? Umm, no? - SAT] (04/17/14)


Soldiers: Strippers, smiters, mockers, spitters, gamblers, thieves, liars, scourgers, bribe takers, assaulters, mutilators and crucifiers
by Laurence M. Vance

"The Bible on several occasions likens a Christian to a soldier (Philippians 2:25, 2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2). As soldiers, Christians are admonished to 'put on the whole armor of God' (Ephesians 6:11). The Apostle Paul, who himself said: 'I have fought a good fight' (2 Timothy 4:7), told a young minister to 'war a good warfare' (1 Timothy 1:18). But it does not follow, as some Christians think, that because Christians are likened to soldiers in the New Testament that it is okay for a Christian to join the U.S. military and bomb, maim, kill, and destroy for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan." (04/18/14)


The saddest job in the world

San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Morford

"Were you thinking parenting? Compost truck driver? Michele Bachmann’s twitchy left eyelid? Close. ... You might be right. Or rather, you might be almost right. But I tend to think there’s a job that’s even worse, given how it’s an even more boring form of halfhearted evil, a laborious orientation so numbing and heartless that it’s regularly applauded by the jaded minions of the Devil himself, albeit indifferently. Which, of course, makes it even worse. Indeed, I believe there’s a special place in purgatory reserved for people who create, track, heartily defend and then barely enjoy the sidelong profits from the dregs of American fast food." (04/15/14)


White noise, black politics

The Nation
by Melissa Harris-Perry

"This year, Harvard admitted a record number of black students, and it boasts the highest black graduation rate in the Ivy League. The faculty, facilities and programming budget at Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute make it the envy of the American academy. There is an active, thirty-seven-year-old Black Students Association on campus. The Hutchins Center houses a hip-hop archive and publishes the well-regarded Du Bois Review. The president and first lady of the United States are both graduates of Harvard Law School." (04/17/14)


On strategy

Daily Anarchist
by Michael Hendricks

"Life is a giant competition. Opportunities and threats constantly present themselves and the people with the most efficient, and decisive strategy are rewarded with success. Though many people are attached to the notion of “fairness,” the reality is that life isn’t fair, and it pays to be a winner. Strategy is used in all aspects of life, but for some reason strategy is seldom taught. I’d like to rectify that situation by introducing formal strategic thinking to activists, hopefully increasing their understanding of how to effectively accomplish their goals." (04/18/14)


The Great Writ

Future of Freedom Foundation
by David S. D'Amato

"Among libertarians generally, there is a somewhat dependable tendency to hark back to the halcyon days of a supposed free age somewhere in the past, and to spotlight certain related features of Anglo-American legal history in service to that narrative. As those features are romanticized, they become totemic symbols of the classical-liberal tradition and its precursors, and are thus held away from criticism and analysis to a regrettable extent. In his new book, The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror, Anthony Gregory attends to this propensity as it applies to the recondite legal doctrine of habeas corpus." (04/16/14)


A cubicle of one’s own

In These Times
by Chris Lehmann

"It’s odd to come to the end of a sprightly historical tour of the vexed, overplanned world of the modern workplace and realize that the emerging trends are represented by, well, you. Let me explain. In Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, Nikil Saval plumbs the management theories and competing design philosophies that produced, in high modernism’s mid-20th century heyday, the arid, soul-crushing, dubiously efficient built environment known as the information workplace. Saval, an editor with n+1, speculates that the lovingly choreographed cubicle-and-corridor organization of work may be consigned to history’s dustbin by today’s knowledge workers. " (04/17/14)


Why won’t Medicare pay for medical tourism?

Independent Institute
by John R. Graham

"The costs of health care in Mexico are 60 percent to 80 percent lower than in the United States. Cash-paying Americans travel to Mexico for many medical procedures. Joffe cites estimates of around half a million Americans annually visiting Mexico for medical care (although the number travelling only to fill prescriptions is not reported). Joffe notes that 25,000 Americans living in Mexico in 2011 were receiving Social Security deposits. Unlike half a million other Americans who travel to Mexico for treatment, these retirees and their spouses return to the United States for treatment. The reason is that Medicare does not pay for their treatment out of country. Joffe doesn’t estimate how much money Medicare would save if it paid for their treatment in Mexico, but a back of the envelope estimate is not hard to figure out." (04/16/14)


The establishment’s war on Rand Paul
by Justin Raimondo

"The war is on -- no, not that war, this war: I’m talking about the GOP establishment’s war on Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, whose presidential campaign has taken wing and soared. And it isn’t just the Karl Roves and Peter Kings of this world who are up in arms over the prospect of an anti-interventionist libertarian in the White House: they’re getting plenty of tactical support from 'liberals' like David Corn. Why do they hate him?" [editor's note: I'm confused. Raimondo starts talking about Rand Paul, then switches tracks to reference some un-named "anti-interventionist libertarian" (Paul says he's not a libertarian, and he's clearly not an anti-interventionist) - TLK]


Judging Obama’s “evolution” on marriage equality

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"Years from now, Barack Obama will almost certainly be seen as the most significant American president in the history of the gay rights movement. Under his watch, the military ended its policy of discrimination against gay service-members, the Defense of Marriage Act was abandoned by the administration and then overturned by the Supreme Court, and a majority of Americans came to embrace marriage equality -- not least, the president himself. But there's another way to look at that story, which is that on marriage, at least, Obama had to be dragged to the position he eventually took." (04/17/14)


Some more touchy-feely thoughts on immigration

Free Advice
by Robert P. Murphy

"First, I don’t describe my position as 'open borders.' That would be like saying I’m 'closed schools' if I’m against government funding of education. Second, the poster that got 18,000+ shares on Facebook wasn’t merely saying, 'Look at the hypocrisy here.' No, it actually said, 'I wish my Federal Government would put this many resources on our Southern Border instead of on Cliven Bundy’s cattle ranch.'" (04/17/14)


Liberating the poor from poverty

National Center for Policy Analysis
by Peter Ferrara

"Poverty has exploded to record levels under President Obama. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have offered plans that would sharply reduce poverty in America." (04/17/14)


Tunnel vision

Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux

"The tunnel is an example of privately constructed infrastructure. Even if you believe that this tunnel’s construction and use are socially wasteful, you cannot doubt that the tunnel and its fiber cable are hard evidence against the proposition that only government has the vision, incentive, and wherewithal to construct big and pricey physical pieces of infrastructure." (04/17/14)


CEI Podcast, 04/17/14

Competitive Enterprise Institute

"Iain Murray, CEI’s Vice President for Strategy, along with Freedom Association Director Rory Broomfield, won second place in the Institute for Economic Affairs’ Brexit Competition. The goal of the competition is to devise a strategy for Britain’s exit from the European Union." [Flash video or MP#] (04/17/14)


“They’ll mess it up!”: Not an objection to a moral theory

Bleeding Heart Libertarians
by Jason Brennan

"I posted some initial thoughts about lying to voters in a recent post. In my book The Ethics of Voting, I argue that most voting is wrongful. In the recent post, I said that voters are kind of like the murderer at the door, and the principles that explain when you can lie to the murderer at the door explain when you can lie to voters. ... Many of the commenters said that my position can’t be right because people will misapply it in dangerous ways. They are right that politicians will misapply it in dangerous ways. In fact, I bet some politicians who wrongfully lie do so because they think that they mistakenly fall under a murderer at the door-type case. But that doesn’t mean that the principle is wrong. It just means that people tend to mess up the application." (04/17/14)


The sad state of the economics profession

Ludwig von Mises Institute
by Frank Hollenbeck

"It is not an exaggeration to say the current reputation of economists is probably just below that of a used car salesman. The recent failures of economic policies to boost growth or employment have tarnished this image even more. This, however, is in sharp contrast to the past when economists were seen as the intellectual roadblock to popular misconceptions, bad ideas, or more importantly, government policies sold to the public on false assumptions. Popular slogans such as 'protecting American jobs' play on nationalism, but in reality only serve special interests. The economist of the past would never have hesitated to highlight the fallacies in such reasoning." (04/17/14)


Bad news; industrial production is soaring

by Scott Sumner

"That looks like good news. To see why it is bad news, we need to take a brief digression. The recent recession has been rather unusual. RGDP fell sharply between 2008 and 2009, and since bottoming out in mid-2009 has grown at about 2.4% annually, which is below the 3% trend line of the past 100 years. This has led many to conclude that the economy is not recovering at all. A counterargument is that the unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10% to the current 6.7%, and in my view it will fall even further over the next year or two. A counter counterargument is that the employment/population ratio fell sharply in the recession, and has not been recovering. A counter counter counterargument is that this partly represents boomer retirement, as the over 55 year old category is where all the recent population growth has been occurring." (04/17/14)


Urban design and social complexity

Foundation for Economic Education
by Sandy Ikeda

"One of my heroes is the urbanist Jane Jacobs, who taught me to appreciate the importance for entrepreneurial development of how public spaces -- places where you expect to encounter strangers -- are designed. And I learned from her that the more precise and comprehensive your image of a city is, the less likely that the place you’re imagining really is a city. Jacobs grasped as well as any Austrian economist that complex social orders such as cities aren’t deliberately created and that they can’t be." (04/17/14)


Earth Day

Cagle Post
by Joe Heller

Cartoon. (04/17/14)


Antiquated law adds billions to fuel costs

Independent Institute
by William F. Shughart II

"An obscure 1920 law is costing Americans billions of dollars a year in higher fuel costs. The Jones Act requires that cargo shipped from one US port to another be carried on a US-registered vessel, built, owned and crewed by Americans. This protectionist law was designed to support a shipbuilding industry that no longer exists—but inertia and labor-union muscle keep it on the books." (04/16/14)


Nullification: Massachusetts in 1855 and Missouri in 2014

Tenth Amendment Center
by Michael Maharrey

"Northern states carried out arguably the most successful non-compliance campaign defying a federal act in history with their opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Today, a Missouri bill takes a page from that playbook to stop state cooperation with federal enforcement of unconstitutional gun laws." (04/17/14)


The case for voluntary private cooperation

Foundation for Economic Education
by Michael Munger

"To start with, the argument for liberty is not an argument for 'markets.' The market vs. State dichotomy was dreamed up by German sociologists in the nineteenth century. Don’t buy into that dichotomy; it’s a rhetorical straitjacket, and in any case it's not our best argument. The question is how best to achieve the myriad benefits of voluntary private cooperation, or VPC. Markets are part of that, a useful way of achieving prosperity, but a variety of other emergent social arrangements -- more properly viewed under the rubric 'society' -- are also crucial for prosperity." (04/16/14)


The duty to lie to stupid voters

Bleeding Heart Libertarians
by Jason Brennan

"Politicians routinely lie to voters. Some such politicians act badly and should be held accountable for their lies. But might lying be obligatory or praiseworthy in some circumstances? The duty to tell the truth is not unconditional. Rather, it’s a presumptive duty, one that can be trumped or overridden in certain circumstances, or one that might not apply in special circumstances." (04/16/14)


Bundy Ranch and the new age of anti-fed standoffs
by Lucy Steigerwald

"April 19 is the 21st anniversary of the holocaust which ended the 51-day standoff between followers of the Branch Davidians and federal authorities in Waco, Texas. Though it calmed down before any violence took place, all last week the news cycle was consumed with talk of a comparable, potentially bloody confrontation between supporters of lawbreaking cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents in Nevada." (04/17/14)


Praising failure and blaming mirror images

Libertarian News Examiner
by Garry Reed

"President Obama praising Kathleen Sebelius for her work on the disastrous Obamacare website rollout (she 'turned the corner, got it fixed and got the job done.') was an eerie echo chamber bounce from President Bush praising FEMA director Michael Brown during his disastrous Katrina Hurricane response ('Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.') Yes the situations were different but that's beside the point, which is that honest people don't praise failure; only politicians praise failure." (04/16/14)


So, how’s that Ukrainian “revolution” working out?

Come Home America
by Thomas L. Knapp

"The US government has been funding and backing unsavory 'color revolutionists' -- including a rogue's gallery of neo-Nazis and other thugs -- in Ukraine for years, hoping to peel the region away from its close relationship with Russia. After the last elections failed to go its way, the Obama administration went with 'the Pinochet option,' giving its operatives the green light for violent overthrow of the government and installation of a pro-US, pro-EU, anti-Russia junta. But for a coup to work, certain prerequisites must be met." (04/16/14)


District of compensation, just and otherwise

San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"Pete Stark's name didn't come up Tuesday night at the Castro Valley Library candidates forum for the congressional district Stark represented from 1972 to 2012. The fact that nobody seemed to miss Stark should serve as a warning to politicians who think they own their seats. So thought Stark, until Democrat Eric Swalwell knocked him off his perch in 2012, thanks in part to California's top-two primary election." (04/16/14)


Our cluster bomb Congress plants legislative IEDs
by Jim Bovard

"Tens of thousands of Americans have been bushwhacked by a single arcane sentence in a 673-page law Congress enacted six years ago. The Internal Revenue Service is seizing both federal and state tax refunds for individuals whom the Social Security Administration accuses of having received excessive benefits years ago. Except that the government often has zero evidence of the overpayments, and the feds have held children liable for the alleged debts of their long-dead parents." (04/16/14)


Cuomo’s wedge

The American Prospect
by Harold Meyerson

"On Monday, Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, signed legislation forbidding her state’s cities from enacting ordinances that set their own minimum wage standards or that entitle workers to paid sick days. Even in hard-right Oklahoma, citizens were collecting signatures to put initiatives raising the minimum wage and mandating sick-day on the Oklahoma City ballot. Fallin has now put an unceremonious end to such egalitarian frippery. As an increasing number of cities have considered setting their minimum wages higher than those of their states, conservatives in state government have moved to strip them of that power." (04/16/14)


Bloomberg and MDA to empower women?

The Price of Liberty
by MamaLiberty

"Unfortunately, these women are very eager to believe that they can live in the land of unicorns and fairy farts. They don’t want -- or cannot even conceive of -- personal responsibility for anything. They see oppression on every hand when their choices and actions result in pain and loss (when they can actually see and admit it at all) ... it’s someone else’s fault, of course -- and their lives would be so wonderful if EVERYONE they don’t like were forced to be mewling newborn kittens. They can’t even begin to see the hypocrisy here." (04/16/14)


How should Obama respond to Putin’s Ukraine provocations?

The Nation
by Bob Dreyfuss

"Unless you’re deaf, dumb and blind, it’s obvious that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s obstreperous president, is running a major covert operation in eastern Ukraine, including the dispatch of a limited number of Russian special forces and support for pro-Russian militias there. It isn’t quite clear yet whether Putin is (a) preparing the ground for a Crimea-style takeover of part or all of Ukraine (unlikely), (b) trying to destabilize Ukraine so that it, and its Western allies, agree to the radical decentralization and federalization plan that Russia has demanded, or (c) making it clear that Ukraine ought not to link its political and economic future with the West, or else. But whichever it is, it’s a dangerous game. So how should President Obama respond?" (04/16/14)


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