Today's Edition


India: Three killed, four injured in Manipur explosion

Hindustan Times [India]

"Three people were killed and four others seriously injured in a powerful blast in Manipur's capital city of Imphal Sunday morning, police said. 'An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that was planted by the roadside near Khuyathong area, close to Imphal market, exploded killing three labourers and wounded four others,' a police official said. ... No militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast as yet." (12/21/14)


Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school carnage

Newnan Times-Herald

"Authorities made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on Sunday, officials said. 'Quite a few suspects who were facilitators in one way or the other have been taken into custody,' Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said, adding that the interrogations were 'moving ahead in a positive manner.' He did not disclose their identities or say how many they were." (12/21/14)


NJ: Police union warns of “heightened hostility”

San Francisco Chronicle

"New Jersey's statewide police union issued an email alert to the group's 33,000 members Sunday warning them to take extra caution after two NYPD officers were murdered. New Jersey State PBA Executive Vice President Marc Kovar said in the email that all members and officers should take extra caution and change up routines in the coming weeks, citing heightened hostility from nationwide protests that he says has led to a 'fever pitch of anti-police sentiment.'" (12/21/14)


Egypt opens border with Gaza after two-month closure

Gulf News [UAE]

"A Palestinian border official says Egypt has opened its border post with the Gaza Strip for the first time in two months, offering temporary relief to Palestinians seeking to leave the coastal enclave. Maher Abu Sabha, the Gaza official in charge on the Gaza side, says the Rafah crossing is only to remain open for two days. It’s the main gateway to the outside world for Gaza’s 1.7 million residents. Egypt had kept the border closed since an October 24 attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. About 250 Palestinians as well as ambulances with medical patients crossed into Egypt on Sunday." (123/21/14)


North Korea threatens strikes on US amid hacking claims

Raleigh News & Observer

"North Korea says President Barack Obama is 'recklessly' spreading rumors of a Pyongyang-orchestrated cyberattack of Sony Pictures and warns of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and 'the whole U.S. mainland, that cesspool of terrorism.' Such North Korean rhetoric during times of high tension with Washington is routine. But a long statement from the powerful National Defense Commission late Sunday also underscores Pyongyang's sensitivity at a movie whose plot focuses on the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un." (12/21/14)


US releases Gitmo detainees to Afghanistan

Christian Science Monitor

"Four Afghans held for over a decade at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent home, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in a gradual push by the Obama administration to close the jail. The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a US military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009. With the repatriation of the four Afghans, Guantanamo’s detainee population has been whittled down to 132." (12/21/14)


US mulls putting North Korea back on terror list

BBC News [UK state media]

"President Barack Obama has said the US is considering putting North Korea back on its list of terrorism sponsors after the hacking of Sony Pictures. A decision would be taken after a review, he said, calling the attack an act of cyber-vandalism, not of war. North Korea denies the attack over The Interview, which depicts the fictional killing of its leader Kim Jong-Un." (12/21/14)


FL: SCOTUS declines to keep marriage apartheid in place


"Florida appears set to recognize same-sex marriages on January 6, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined to further delay a lower court's finding that the state's ban on the unions is unconstitutional. The high court Friday night, without explanation, rejected the Florida attorney general's request to intervene. A U.S. District judge in Florida had ruled in August the state's ban was unconstitutional but stayed the ruling to allow for appeals." (12/20/14)


Staples says nearly 1.2 million cards exposed in security breach

America Herald

"About 1.2 million customer payment cards information is expected to have exposed to the hackers during the security breach earlier this year, Staples Inc. said on Friday. Staples said that an initial investigation has showed that the hackers made use of malware for the cyber attack that may perhaps have allowed the easy access to confidential information about the card users and details of their transactions at 115 of over 1,400 shops in the US. According to the company, the leaked information incorporates cardholder names, payment card numbers, card verification codes and expiration dates." (12/21/14)


Weekend Special Edition, 12/20/14

Yes, it's a weekend special edition -- five news stories, five commentaries -- for several reasons:

First, we have a holiday break coming next Thursday (and possibly Friday), so I figure it's a good idea to get some content out there on other off days to keep you stocked up.

Secondly, we may have some shorter than usual editions between now and the new year. That period is known for its "slow news days" and many of our commentary sources pretty much just shut down during the period as well.

And, of course, we're continuing to do our year-end fundraising. Trying not to be TOO intrusive with it, but remember: We only get paid if you pony up, so we have to ask now and then.

Earlier this month, reader Steven R Linnabary remarked on Facebook: "I haven't needed a daily newspaper in at least a decade since discovering RRND!"

That's the kind of thing I love to hear. After all, we ARE "the freedom movement's daily newspaper." That's what we do. Every non-holiday weekday, we put together a digest of the most important news stories and the most compelling political commentaries we can find for the edification of libertarian readers.

If we accomplish our goal, we save you time and money. And then we ask you to send us what you think our publication is worth in terms of those savings and that value.

Have YOU replaced your old daily newspaper with RRND or FND? If so, how about returning value for value and helping us keep this up? We've been around in one form or another (Libernet, Freedom News Daily, Rational Review News Digest) since 1991; RRND proper will celebrate its 12th anniversary next Tuesday. We deliver the goods, consistently and over the long term. But we need your support to keep doing so. Kick in at:

We'll be back with the regular daily edition on Monday -- and in case you don't see another personal note between now and the new year, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at RRND/FND!

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


North Korea: Regime denies Sony hack, wants joint probe with US


"North Korea said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander" and that it was wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States. An unnamed spokesman of the North's foreign ministry said there would be 'grave consequences' if Washington refused to agree to the joint probe and continued to accuse Pyongyang, the official KCNA news agency reported on Saturday." (12/20/14)


Cuba: Parliament backs move to restore diplomatic ties with US

CBC [Canadian state media]

"The Cuban national assembly announced on Friday that it would back the agreement of President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago. 'In the name of the Cuban people, we fully back the speech to the president of the council of state and of ministers, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, this past Dec. 17,' read Yolanda Ferrer, the president of the National Assembly's International Relations Commission." (12/20/14)


Turkey: Court issues arrest warrant for exiled Erdogan opponent

Charlotte Observer

"A Turkish criminal court issued an arrest warrant Friday for Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish religious scholar who lives in self-exile in Pennsylvania and has become public enemy number one of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic president. The charges paralleled Erdogan’s accusations against his former ally. The court said Gulen had “established an illegal criminal organization with a hierarchical structure that is separate from the state’s own structure” in order to 'seize influential posts that govern Turkey’s social, economic, military and administrative mechanisms.'" (12/19/14)


MS: Google sues one of movie industry’s pet politicians

CNet News

"Google on Friday filed a lawsuit trying to block a probe by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, accusing him of violating federal law in a campaign against the search giant. ... The lawsuit cites leaked emails from a high-profile hack against Sony Pictures, which were the source of The Verge's story. The emails suggest Hood worked with the Motion Picture Association of America, which has long been an adversary of Google over piracy issues, in carrying out his campaign against illicit drugs." (12/19/14)


MO: Pol wants McCulloch investigated for rigging Brown/Wilson grand jury


"A state lawmaker from St. Louis is asking a legislative committee to investigate whether St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch 'manipulated' the grand jury in the Michael Brown case. ... Rep. Karla May, a St. Louis Democrat, sent a letter Thursday to committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, asking that the investigation expand to look at whether McCulloch committed prosecutorial misconduct." (12/19/14)


Nigeria: Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185

Altoona Mirror

"Islamic extremists killed 35 people and kidnapped at least 185 in an attack near the town where nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken hostage in April, witnesses said Thursday. In Sunday night's attack on the village of Gumburi, most of the kidnapped were young women, children and members of a civilian defense group fighting Boko Haram, according to residents, a security official and a local government officer." (12/18/14)


Iraq: US airstrikes allegedly kill three Islamic State leaders

FRANCE 24 [France]

"US-led airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq have killed three of the group’s top leaders, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. In an interview with the newspaper, General Martin Dempsey said the senior leaders were killed in recent weeks as part of expanding effort with partner nations to combat the militants. 'These are high-value targets, senior leadership,' Dempsey told the Journal." (12/18/14)


AL: Federal court upholds major parties’ election-rigging scheme

San Francisco Chronicle

"A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld Alabama's requirement that third-party political candidates must submit tens of thousands of voter signatures before they can get listed on a statewide ballot. The decision was a setback for Libertarian and other smaller political parties who have sought to increase their visibility to voters. The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a lower court decision, said the political parties and candidates who challenged Alabama's threshold failed to show how the requirement is overly burdensome." [editor's note: Great. If it's not "overly burdensome," then surely the Republicans and Democrats won't object to having it imposed on them as well, right? - TLK] (12/18/14)


Idiot pols file frivolous suit over Colorado’s legal marijuana

Los Angeles Times

"A pair of states on Thursday filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to strike down Colorado's laws that legalize recreational marijuana. Citing federal antidrug laws, particularly interstate drug trafficking, Nebraska and Oklahoma said in the lawsuit that Colorado's marijuana laws have 'created a dangerous gap in the federal drug-control system enacted by the United States Congress.'" (12/18/14)


Security theater: Sony hack is pols’ latest excuse for attempted Internet power grab


"White House Economic Council Director Jeff Zients pointed fingers at Congress on Thursday for not acting fast enough on cybersecurity legislation, in the wake of news that North Korea was behind the Sony Entertainment cyberattack. ... The Sony hack attack has breathed new life into controversial legislation often called the 'zombie bill' by opponents because of its failure to launch. The proposed cybersecurity bill is intended to [pretend to] help companies and the government work together to thwart hackers through increased data sharing. Privacy advocates have opposed the legislation -- and it's [sic] House companion -- at every turn, since it was first introduced in 2012. They argue the bill's broad language could breach the public's privacy and civil liberties." (12/18/14)



For truly better relations with Cuba, open the door and get out of the way!
by Ron Paul

"What is particularly encouraging about this move is that the 50 year freeze in US/Cuba relations was thawed by a simple telephone call between President Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro. I have opposed the isolationist policies of sanctions and embargoes and have encouraged US presidents to simply use diplomacy -- even a simple telephone call -- to clear up differences. There is a lesson in this for similarly tense US relations with Iran, Russia, Syria, and others. I am optimistic about this policy shift by the US government but I am also very cautious." (12/22/14)


Socialism still alive and well in Cuba

In These Times
by Tom Hansen

"In 1992, a ragtag group of 106 caravanistas confronted some 400 federal officials at the U.S.-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. Under the leadership of the late Rev. Lucius Walker, we were loaded with medicines, school supplies and used bicycles bound for Havana. This was the first public challenge to the U.S. blockade of Cuba since the blockade’s establishment in 1961. It was a time of fear and boding—for us, for Cuba, and for the Left as a whole. Months before the caravan, the U.S. Treasury Department sent the caravan’s participants letters threatening 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000 each if we went through with our plans." (12/19/14)


Drug wars and neoliberalism

by Ron Jacobs

"If one is to believe the agencies involved in this “war on drugs” and the media that slavishly repeats their version of events, the current battle in this war is between criminal cartels involved in drug trafficking and the law enforcement and military of the nations affected. Furthermore, goes the story, the only purpose of this war is to end the trafficking of drugs. Once that is done, the war will be over. Naturally, this begs the question: what will it take to win the war? The answer to that does not exist, simply because it is a war that cannot be won. Instead, it is a war designed to go on forever, making money for those who profit from its very existence." (12/19/14)


Over-privileged discourse

Unqualified Offerings
by Thoreau

"For any social or political topic, there will be a multitude of useful frameworks within which one might analyze it. Using every possible framework would eventually paralyze one, and amount to an inability to see that some framings are more useful for some issues than for others. On the other end, focusing primarily on one sophisticated framework that the audience does not subscribe to does not seem like a good tactic for public persuasion, but it might be a good tactic for educating people if they have shown up with the understanding that they will focus on a particular framework in a particular setting. However, focusing on a framework that the audience does not subscribe to can also be a good way to make a display about oneself." (12/19/14)


Markets describe reality; models should explain market reactions

by Scott Sumner

"Paul Krugman has a new post that explains why he is pessimistic about monetary stimulus at the zero bound. He briefly describes his 1998 paper on the zero bound problem. This paper shows that if base money and bonds are perfect substitutes at the zero bound, and if monetary stimulus is expected to be temporary (i.e. not to affect future money supplies) then conventional open market purchases are ineffective at the zero bound. From a technical perspective, there is nothing wrong with Krugman's model. The real problem is the way he uses the model." (12/20/14)


Persian cats and bureaucrats

Bleeding Heart Libertarians
by James Taylor

"My wife and I used to own a small grey Persian cat, called 'Peen.' Peen had a number of endearing characteristics, among them a very obvious 'WTF?!' expression whenever something occurred that he considered an affront to the world as it should be. His eyes would grow wide as saucers, an expression of extreme indignation would cover his face, and his head would dart from side to side as though asking everyone around him to explain the bizarre event that had just occurred 'WTF is that cat doing in my spot?' 'WTF is this flavor of cat food?' 'WTF is this new puppy doing here?' I had a 'Peen moment' a couple of days ago at a Public Hearing at a Planning Board meeting in Hopewell Township, New Jersey." (12/20/14)


To praise or to push?

Liberty Unbound
by Jo Ann Skousen

"'No two words are more harmful in the English language than 'Good job.'' So says Terence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons) when asked why he humiliates and browbeats his students. Fletcher is the menacing, profanity-spewing, name-calling, face-slapping, chair-hurling, off-balancing dictator of the Shaffer School of Music, who also happens to be the most sought-after band coach in the most sought-after music school in New York -- which, as everyone knows, is the same as saying in the world." (12/18/14)


Sony hack reveals Hollywood’s bitter civil war

by Neal Gabler

"Nobody ever plunked down 14 bucks to see a movie executive on screen. That may be an odd takeaway from the Sony hacking scandal that has been wracking the company and the film studio it owns, Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the relative invisibility of these executives vis-a-vis their talent (and what looks like the executives' anger about this) are among the biggest revelations in the document dumps. What the most incendiary emails unveil is that Hollywood, for all its outward intramural amity, is a community deeply divided between those who are ostensibly in power (the studio execs and producers) and those who really hold power: the stars and major directors." (12/19/14)


Oil and dictators

Independent Institute
by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

"Will the collapse of oil prices benefit or erode petrodictators in the Middle East, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America? At first glance, the answer would seem obvious. Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iran need crude prices as high as $110 per barrel to fund their states in their present condition. Russia, half of whose government budget depends on black gold, is not far behind. Saudi Arabia, which did much to reverse the 'Arab Spring,' announced in recent years new oil-funded projects costing about $500 billion and aimed at pre-empting adversaries who could use the discontent with the regime in Riyadh to agitate the mind of the masses. But things are more complicated than they seem." (12/19/14)


Bankers earn more than medics: What can we do?!

Adam Smith Institute
by Vishal Wilde

"A common criticism leveled against the financial services industry concerns their remuneration compared to those from more 'noble' professions -- such as Medical Doctors. Proclamations such as 'it's ridiculous that the average Doctor earns less than the average investment banker' are not unusual to hear in common parlance; Doctors cure ailments and save lives whereas Investment Bankers supposedly wreck households and exploit taxpayers. It is, therefore, unfair that Bankers are paid more than Doctors. The oft-proposed solution is heavier taxation and regulation on Investment Banks. However, these critics conveniently forget the other side of the coin -- the inadequate remuneration for noble professions." (12/20/14)


Now hear this

The Price of Liberty
by MamaLiberty

"[Y]ou can believe that I am very, VERY careful to maintain good hearing protection when I shoot. I’ve made the big mistake of firing a gun, or being nearby when one is fired without protection, and it has not happened often if I could do anything about it. But yesterday, at the start of the weekly shooting clinic I host here, I had the misfortune to be exposed to that first shot without much protection at all. I fired a 9mm pistol at an indoor range. It hurt, and my ears buzzed for several hours." (12/18/14)


How I put away my Atari 2600 and learned to love school choice

by Todd Krainin

"I was like a lot of 13-year-old kids growing up in New York City. I had no sense of my own future, much less a concrete political ideology to guide me. All I knew for sure was that my junior high school was stiflingly, soul-numbingly dull. Another thing I didn’t realize at the time: I was zoned for a public high school that was no different. Until somewhere around the 8th grade, I had assumed public high schools were like every other consumer good, that my parents could choose the school that was best for me. So it came as a strange shock to learn that public schools were not like shoes or cars or even public universities." (12/20/14)


Enougher is enougher: ANOTHER Citi nominee

Our Future
by Dave Johnson

"Another Citigroup alumni has been nominated to a key high-level position in the Obama administration. This time it’s a lateral move: Marisa Lago, who has been serving in the Treasury Department as Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development since 2010, is nominated for the position of deputy U.S. trade representative (USTR). Her duties at USTR will include trade relations with Africa and the Western Hemisphere, as well as labor and environment issues. Ms. Lago was Global Head of Compliance for Citigroup’s corporate and investment bank from 2003 to 2008. She also headed the Office of International Affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1997 to 2001." (12/19/14)


Book review: The American Revolution of 1800

Tenth Amendment Center
by TJ Martinell

"Forty years ago, a book was published that foreshadowed the use of nullification to combat unconstitutional federal laws. Today, it is as timely as it is eerily prophetic. Dan Sisson’s The American Revolution of 1800: How Jefferson Rescued Democracy from Tyranny and Faction -- and What This Means Today is a historical account of how Jefferson successfully challenged the attempts by the Adams Administration to reconstruct an oligarchy they had fought so hard to remove from their country nearly twenty years before." (12/20/14)


Cold War spy games show the moral bankruptcy of the US national security state

Future of Freedom Foundation
by Jacob G Hornberger

"Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, the Cuban government official who was released from prison as part of a spy trade between the U.S. government and Cuba, is being hailed by U.S. officials as a hero. Of course, that’s not the view of the Cuban government, which considers Sarraff a traitor. At the same time, former U.S. officials Walter Kendall Myers and his spouse Gwendolyn Myers, who spied for Cuba, are considered bad people by the U.S. government. U.S. officials say that by sending classified information to Cuba, they betrayed their country and that that’s why they’re now jailed in a federal penitentiary." (12/19/14)


Enjoy celebrating your own way

Clovis News Journal
by Kent McManigal

"Maybe I’m sappy, but I love Christmas and the festive atmosphere surrounding it. If you do too, and like for things to come together the way you hope they will, be grateful for voluntary individual actions. Part of the magic of Christmas is its voluntary nature and its decentralization." (12/18/14)


It doesn’t matter who does the lobbying: Trade agreements aren’t the place for Internet regulations

Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Maira Sutton

"The Associated Whistleblowing Press released portions of draft text proposed by the United States for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) this week, revealing some alarming provisions that indicate how tech companies have been involved in influencing a secret international deal. The language of the leaked treaty shows provisions that could impact privacy online, and net neutrality -- with no public consultation or opportunities for open debate. What is dispiriting is some of the language of these Internet regulations almost certainly comes from tech companies, who have joined the many other lobbyists fighting for their special interests behind closed doors." (12/19/14)


More disturbing revelations about the CIA torture program

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman

"One of the essential disagreements in the debate we've been having about the CIA's torture program concerns the people who managed it and carried it out. ... The torture defenders argue that they were patriotic, highly trained professionals concerned only with their country's safety, reluctantly using some distasteful methods because that was the only way to get the information necessary to save American lives. I've heard some liberals say that they were a bunch of sadists who took the opportunity to act out their darkest fantasies on prisoners. My own view is that the truth is more complicated." (12/19/14)


A manifesto for the right to abortion

by Ann Furedi

"Pollitt’s writing blows like a breeze through an open window across the self-absorbed introspection of much of this recent discussion. Pro is a manifesto for abortion as a woman’s right and a social good. It is a pacy presentation of why abortion is a fact of life for modern society that will never be made rare as long as women aspire to control when and by whom they bear children. Instead, Pollitt argues abortion should be seen as part of the reproductive experience of motherhood -- not its antithesis. It should be understood as a positive experience that reaffirms the importance of women’s lives." (12/19/14)


A police officer defies the “blue tribe”

Pro Libertate
by William Norman Grigg

"David Mack was dying of strangulation in front of his horrified teenage sons while nearly a dozen Buffalo Police Officers looked on with indifference. The man who was killing Mack, Gregory Kwiatowski, was a member of their privileged tribe. The other cops at the scene understood that their duty was to protect the assailant, rather than to aid the victim. 'My father was laying there blue, I ain’t never seen him like that,' Wesley Mack later testified in court. 'A lady cop went up to him and said, 'Chill, Greg, you're choking him,' and she pulled his arm and he jumped up and popped her.' 'Get the hell off me, you black bitch!' snarled the uniformed embodiment of all that is good and decent, slugging the female officer in the face." (12/18/14)


The FCC is unnecessarily undermining its legitimacy

Heartland Institute
by Scott Cleland

"The FCC’s legitimacy comes from the authority of law written by a duly-elected Congress under the U.S. Constitution, and from the official votes from duly-appointed FCC commissioners, who in turn abide by: the powers vested in the Commission by the Communications Act; due process; and the Administrative Procedures Act. Process matters. Making rate regulation without an official vote of the Commission can create the public perception that a majority of the Commission may not support some, or all of the new rate regulation." (12/20/14)


Explaining money to your children

Liberty Blitzkrieg
by The Dissident Dad

"Everyone loves making money. Just a few hours ago, my 3-year-old daughter brought me a cup of coffee with her mom. I thought it would be fun (since she helped make it) to hand her some change sitting on my desk, kind of like a tip. I told her 'thank you' and handed it to her. Her little face lit up, smiling and giggling. She was so happy to run off to her piggy bank and make some new deposits." (12/18/14)


Rent too high?

Common Sense
by Paul Jacob

"Remember Jimmy McMillan? He's 'the rent is too damn high!' shouting, six-time New York City mayoral candidate with the, er -- Rent is Too Damn High Party. McMillan is at least partly right. It's no mystery that rents are so high. Government policies are aimed at just that result." (12/19/14)


Farewell to the jester

Center for a Stateless Society
by Joel Schlosberg

"The Colbert Report‘s windup completes its namesake’s shift from the gadfly who tore into George W. Bush at an official White House event to the court jester who gave softball publicity to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It is thus the perfect symbol of the evolution of American liberalism from the tail ends of the administrations it spanned." (12/18/14)


Pessimism and optimism for police cameras

Students For Liberty
by Nick Coughlin

"The Obama administration recently announced a plan to give $263 million to local law enforcement, which is somewhat concerning considering how this intrusion of the federal government may affect local governments. There may be a silver lining in this plan as $75 million will go to providing officers with body cameras. This is interesting to say the least as many people have been calling for this move to make the police more accountable. Yet while body cameras may prove to be a good tool to keep the police accountable, what the rest of this money will go to is not quite clear." (12/18/14)


Political science, part 2

Liberale et Libertaire
by dL

"Of course, Pravda, Inc disseminates the Sony breach as being the handiwork of the North Korean government. LOL. Even if we concede the claim for the sake of argument, there is the conspicuous omission of any argument why bad movies and George Clooney gossip fall under the purview of national security. Then again, the hallmark of a national security state is that 'national security' is what the national security state says it is. This, of course, is classic doublethink." (12/20/14)


CheneyXmas ghost

The Cagle Post
by Steve Sack

Cartoon. (12/19/14)


Students need choice, not pie-in-the-sky solutions

Show-Me Institute
by James Shuls

"No, simply consolidating school districts will not solve St. Louis’ educational problems. The editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch realizes as much. When they called for a city-county school district in April 2014, they wrote that their ideal school district would utilize 'some form of open enrollment.' The editorial board implicitly recognized that school choice must be a part of any plan to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged students in the Saint Louis area. Though the city-county school district will likely never happen, there are ways in which we can expand options for students. For starters, it should be easier for students in low-performing schools to take the dollars allotted for their education to the school of their choice." (12/18/14)


Self-interest and social order in classical liberalism: Joseph Butler, continued
by George H Smith

"In my last essay I explained some basic themes found in Bishop Butler’s theory of ethics, much of which includes what we now call 'psychology.' In this essay I recap those themes, expand upon them, and summarize Butler’s theory of conscience. I strongly recommend that you read the previous part before tackling this one." (12/19/14)


Slave to a myth

Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux

"If slavery made cotton especially 'cheap' (meaning especially abundant) -- so cheap and abundant to have supplied the necessary spark for the greatest economic transformation in human history -- we can only wonder why this millennia-old institution failed to supply such a spark at any earlier time and only in Britain. Yet even greater wonder is caused by the data’s failure to show that the price of cotton was lower, and the supplies of cotton higher, with slavery than without it." (12/20/14)


It’s about time

by Timothy J Taylor

"At long last, we’re going to open a U.S. embassy in Havana and start loosening some of the draconian embargo restrictions that have crushed the Cuban people economically and frustrated most American citizens for more than half a century. We can all thank Pope Francis for his help, and we finally have something to thank President Obama for. After six years in office he got something right." (12/19/14)


So, to summarize …

by Thomas L. Knapp

"Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un's regime declared that the impending release of a film, The Interview, constituted an act of war. And we all laughed. Well, most of us laughed. I know I did. Then, earlier this month, the studio releasing the film -- an American subsidiary of a Japanese company -- came under cyber attack by hackers unknown. Part of the fallout from that hack was disclosure that, well, the production and planned release of The Interview WAS pretty much an act of war. That is, the US government encouraged and facilitated its production for the clearly stated purpose of encouraging the assassination of Kim Jong Un and the overthrow of his regime. Oops." (12/19/14)


A trek to Raymond, Washington

Living Freedom
by Claire Wolfe

"Raymond, in deepest rural Washington, has been a hard-luck timber town for the last 100 years. Repeated efforts to turn it into something -- a tourist destination, a bedroom community for a state prison (ugh!), anything but a dying berg rotting under the coastal NorthWet's drenching skies -- have failed. Now ... Raymond is becoming the cannabis capital of Washington. THE cannabis capital. The cannabis capital isn't Seattle. It's not Olympia. Not Spokane. Not Yakima. None of the notable cities. Not any of the pleasant ag areas on the fringes of Puget Sound nor the vast, famous ag areas east of the Cascades (think apples). But little, lost, inconvenient, unlucky, out-of-the way Raymond. THE cannabis capital." (12/20/14)


Monopoly and aggression

Future of Freedom Foundation
by Sheldon Richman

"The conventional notion of monopoly has also been subjected to the reductio ad absurdum. In deciding who is a monopolist, where do we stop? Only one shop can occupy the northeast corner of Elm and Main in Anytown. A particular consumer could decide it’s too costly in time or effort to cross the street and buy at the rival shop on the northwest corner. Does that make the first shop a monopoly?" (12/19/14)


Cuba isolationists just don’t get it

by US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

"The supporters of the embargo against Cuba speak with heated passion but fall strangely silent when asked how trade with Cuba is so different than trade with Russia or China or Vietnam. It is an inconsistent and incoherent position to support trade with other communist countries, but not communist Cuba. Even the supporters of the embargo agree that it has not worked." (12/19/14)


Renegade liberals and “oppressed” elite feminists

The Daily Bell
by Wendy McElroy

"Politically-correct feminists are today's renegade liberals. They speak about oppression from elite universities, powerful bureaucracies and political office. At tax-paid conferences and from tax-paid offices, they champion the downtrodden, as long as the downtrodden do not disagree. To advance a PC vision of social justice, they attempt to silence women who dissent or who unwittingly spread mistaken doctrines. Women who question are slandered as 'rape apologists' or paid lackeys of the patriarchy; women who are 'mistaken' -- for example, they prefer the traditional family -- are called brainwashed, which is another word for weak-minded or stupid." (12/18/14)


Why did they torture?
by Justin Raimondo

"Why did they torture? The Cheneyites claim they wanted information on a follow-up attack to 9/11 they were sure was coming, but the logic of this falls apart under the most cursory examination. After all, the recipient of torture is certain to say whatever he (or she) thinks the torturers want to hear -- just to make the pain stop. Some within the CIA protested and no doubt brought up this very point -- one the policymakers at the top knew full well. They knew torture was ineffective in getting at the truth -- but it wasn't truth they were after." (12/19/14)


The latest twist in the bizarre prosecution of Barrett Brown

The Intercept
by Michelle Garcia

"Barrett Brown entered the federal courtroom shackled, with a slight swagger in his step and squinting into the light. He took his seat next to his defense team and quietly set about flipping through a stack of loose-leaf papers and then began writing. When asked by the judge if he knew why he was in court that day, Tuesday, Brown -- who has spent two years in federal custody -- leaned into the microphone and with a warbly Texas accent, said clearly and plainly, 'I am to be sentenced today.' And then he returned to his papers." (12/17/14)


Want to help someone rebuild her business? Better lawyer up!

Competitive Enterprise Institute
by Iain Murray

"Neighbors and people across the nation were appalled when local shops in Ferguson, Missouri, burned down during the recent disturbances there. Thankfully, family, friends, and some kind-hearted strangers have pitched in to help local entrepreneurs rebuild their businesses. Unfortunately, some obscure, Great Depression-era federal and several state laws prohibit such acts of generosity, by making it illegal to help at a for-profit business." (12/17/14)


France seeks liberalizations, but bans Uber

by Alberto Mingardi

"Mixed signals from France. The Financial Times, among others, has stressed the potential of the liberalisation plan pursued by the new Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron. The bill aims at lowering barriers to entry in liberal professions -- notaries, pharmacists, et cetera. ... Interestingly enough, however, France has also just announced that it will ban UberPop (which in the US goes by the name of UberX) starting in January of next year. This in spite of a court decision that allowed Uber to continue to operate in Paris." (12/17/14)


A Cold War breakthrough

Future of Freedom Foundation
by Jacob G Hornberger

"More than 50 years after the U.S. government’s imposition of its brutal economic embargo against the Cuban people, yesterday’s announcement by President Obama calling for a lifting of the embargo represents a major breakthrough for libertarians and others who are committed to the principles of individual liberty, free markets, private property, liberty of contract, freedom of travel, and freedom of association. In fact, the shift in Obama’s position is a testament to the power of ideas on liberty and the importance of perseverance." (12/18/14)


Global warming true believers the ones in “denial”

San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders

"I have a theory as to why Americans don’t worry all that much about global warming: High-profile purveyors of climate change don’t push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of 'the science' -- yet focus on ideology more than tangible results. Their language is downright evangelical. Recently, science guy Bill Nye joined other experts who objected to the media’s use of the term 'climate skeptic.' They released a statement that concluded, 'Please stop using the word 'skeptic' to describe deniers.' Deniers? Like Judas?" (12/18/14)


Fewer victimless crimes, fewer Eric Garners

The Canal
by Ruben Pacheco

"The murder of Eric Garner demonstrates that economic freedom is inseparable from civil liberties. If we want laws that are applied equally and without prejudice, we need police reform and regulatory reform. The United States has immense overcriminalization, and illegal commerce is one of the many ways the state criminalizes peaceful people. Regulation, in practice, means brutalizing those who don’t obey." (12/18/14)


Swiss give positive lesson in negative rate policy

by Edward Hadas

"There are some unlikely ideas in both mathematics and finance. For example, the square root of negative numbers and negative interest rates both look impossible. To make sense of them, it is necessary to understand numbers and money in a new way. The Swiss National Bank has put the deeper monetary theory into practice, by cutting its overnight policy rate to -0.25 percent on Dec. 18. The central bank is trying to keep Switzerland neutral in the global currency wars. With other countries trying to push down the value of their currencies, traders are desperate for safety."" (12/18/14)


A tale of two stories

Foundation for Economic Education
by Sarah Skwire

"Everyone knows Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The Victorian nostalgia! The adorable Tiny Tim! The festive Fezziwig party! The miserly villain who can only be redeemed by complete financial irresponsibility! It's just about the time of year when economists line up to give Dickens his annual kicking. ... But there's a much better response available. It's a story by one of the greatest writers in the English language, written at the height of his popularity, touching on many of the same topics. It's a novella called The Chimes." (12/18/14)


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