Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

Linux turns 25

"The Linux operating system kernel is 25 years old this month. It was August 25, 1991 when Linus Torvalds posted his famous message announcing the project, claiming that Linux was 'just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu.' But now, Linux is far bigger and more professional than Torvalds could have imagined. Linux powers huge portions of the Internet's infrastructure, corporate data centers, websites, stock exchanges, the world's most widely used smartphone operating system, and nearly all of the world's fastest supercomputers. The successes easily outweigh Linux's failure to unseat Microsoft and Apple on PCs, but Linux has still managed to get on tens of millions of desktops and laptops and Linux software even runs on Windows." (08/25/16)


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Former Colombian Minister of Agriculture detained in US

"Former Colombian Minister of Agriculture Andres Felipe Arias has reportedly been captured in his last few hours in the United States. On Twitter, former President Alvaro Uribe blamed the Juan Manuel Santos’ administration for the incident. So far no details of the arrest or the city in which he was captured are known. The former official was sentenced in Colombia to a term of 17 years and four months in prison for the scandal involving the Agricultural Income Security (AIS) and irregular subsidies." (08/25/16)


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University of Chicago: “We do not support so-called trigger warnings”

"In their acceptance letter, the incoming class at the University of Chicago were given a strong mandate by the institution they have elected to join: 'Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.' One way to ensure this, writes Dean of Students Jay Ellison in the letter obtained by Intellectual Takeout, is to eliminate 'trigger warnings' and 'safe spaces,' two topics of frequent discussion in recent years." (08/25/16)


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South Africa: Archbishop Desmond Tutu admitted to hospital

"South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has admitted himself to a Cape Town hospital for treatment of a recurring infection, according to his family foundation. The 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is expected to remain in the hospital for a week or two, said the statement issued by the foundation late Wednesday. Tutu underwent similar treatment last year, when he was hospitalized several times." (08/25/16)


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AR: Lawsuit claims judge created debtors’ prison

"A judge in Sherwood, Arkansas is accused of running a 'modern-day debtors' prison' that victimized a 44-year-old cancer patient, among others, the Huffington Post reported. ... [Sherwood District Court Judge Milas 'Butch'] Hale sentenced Lee Robertson to 90 days in jail for owing the court $3,054.51. Robertson has been living with pancreatic cancer since 2009, which has affected his ability to pay back past debts. But according to the suit, Robertson and his fellow defendants unknowingly sign away their right to an attorney in order to be let into the courtroom. The court also bars defendants' family and friends from witnessing the proceedings, and no transcripts are kept of the hearings." (08/25/16)


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FL: Scott to take Zika funding pitch to Congress

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is headed back to D.C. next month amid an escalating battle with the federal government over its lack of response to the spread of the Zika virus in Florida. Scott said Thursday that he will arrive at the Capitol on Sept. 6, the first day lawmakers return from their seven-week summer break. For both parties, the biggest priority will be the looming deadline for the government spending bill -- expected to contain at least some funding for Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause birth defects in the newborns of women who are pregnant when they contract the disease." (08/25/16)


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US Department of Education bans ITT from taking students with federal aid

"The U.S. Department of Education is banning the for-profit college chain ITT Educational Services from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid. Department officials announced the ban Thursday among a series of measures meant to increase financial oversight of the company, which has been the subject of state and federal investigations focusing on its recruiting and accounting practices." [editor's note: A good reason why private education companies shouldn't accept students on federal aid -- once they get used to that revenue stream they're at the mercy of demanding bureaucrats; this probably means ITT declares bankruptcy in the near future - TLK] (08/25/16)


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NY: State university offering “Stop White People” course

"The State University of New York at Binghamton is under fire over a new course called 'Stop White People' it's offering to resident advisors. The course is taught by three RAs and is described as a tool to 'understanding diversity, privilege and the society we function within.' The description goes on to say, 'Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with 'good' arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond?' The school's conservative publication slammed the course calling it racism against white people." (08/25/16)


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Ex-pharma CEO Martin Shkreli defends EpiPen price increase

"Pharmaceutical firebrand Martin Shkreli has injected himself into the debate over the skyrocketing price of a life-saving allergy treatment, arguing that the manufacturer of EpiPen doesn't make much money and instead blaming insurers for not covering the tab. Shkreli -- who famously insulted members of Congress earlier this year but refused to testify officially over his own decision to increase the price of a life-saving pill -- is now hopping at the chance to defend generic drug manufacturer Mylan." (08/25/16)


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GA: Trucker sentenced to 40 years for pouring boiling water on sleeping couple

"A truck driver who poured boiling water over a sleeping gay couple in a homophobic attack has been jailed for 40 years. Martin Blackwell, a 48-year-old from Atlanta in the US, was sentenced after a jury found him guilty on Wednesday. Victims Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert, who had been dating for about six weeks, were sleeping on a mattress in Mr Gooden's mum's living room when the attack happened. Long-haul trucker Blackwell stayed at the house whenever he passed through and after seeing the two men sleeping, went to the kitchen, boiled a saucepan of water and poured it over the men." (08/25/16)


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New Yorker: President Obama should declare end to “War on Drugs”

"President Obama should formally declare an end to the $55 billion per year war on drugs as a coda to late-term efforts to reverse one of America’s most disastrous domestic policies, says The New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb in this weekend’s issue. 'The armchair forecast holds that the President’s legacy will be anchored by his handling of two wars abroad. But history may have equal regard for the means by which he handles the one he inherited at home,' Cobb writes. He notes that -- unlike America’s 'wars' on cancer, pornography or terror -- the War on Drugs included 'military-style armaments, random violence, and significant numbers of people taken prisoner. It has been prosecuted throughout eight Administrations and has had the type of social and cultural impact that few things short of real warfare do.'" (08/24/16)


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NC: Man exonerated after 24 years in prison awarded $3.25 million

"A North Carolina man who served 24 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit has been awarded $3.25 million in a settlement with the city of Hickory. In a special meeting held Wednesday, Hickory City Council voted unanimously to approve a settlement agreement with Willie Grimes in the amount of $3,250,000. Grimes was convicted in 1988 of raping a 69-year-old Hickory woman and sentenced to life plus nine years. ... His claim of innocence was investigated by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which found finger prints from the case did not match Grimes'[s] prints. That same year, the commission decided enough credible evidence of innocence existed to refer Grimes'[s] case to a three-judge panel, which then exonerated him." (08/25/16)


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UK: Authoritarian pols criticize Google, Facebook, Twitter for not censoring on command of authoritarian pols

"In the first-ever widespread criticism of US technology giants and social media platforms, the British Home Affairs select committee has slammed the internet behemoths of becoming a 'recruiting platform for terrorism' and 'passing the buck.' Led by Keith Vaz, the British parliament's longest-serving Indian-origin MP, the panel rapped Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, saying the companies were deliberately failing to stop terrorists from using their platforms to promote their sinister agenda, The Telegraph reported on Thursday." [editor's note: Hopefully all of those firms will note the names of the people on the panel and close/ban their accounts - TLK] (08/25/16)


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Iranian vessels conduct “high-speed intercept” of US destroyer

"A US Navy official told CNN four Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels conducted a 'high-speed intercept' of the USS Nitze in waters near the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday, deeming the incident 'unsafe and unprofessional.' The official said two of the vessels slowed and turned away only after coming within 300 yards of the US guided-missile destroyer as it transited international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, and only after the destroyer had sent multiple visual and audio warnings." (08/24/16)


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Establishment exchanges call for regulatory clarity over blockchain use

"A lack of clarity over regulation is holding back the development of blockchain technology for cutting the cost of share trading, the world's trade body for exchanges said on Thursday. The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) asked its members about their plans to use blockchain, a tamper-proof shared ledger that can automatically process and settle transactions using computer algorithms, with no need for third party verification. ... Blockchain looks to combine elements of trading, clearing and settlement but current legal and regulatory rules treat each of those separately, the WFE said. Vested interests in the preservation of the existing system was also a barrier to developing blockchain, the WFE said." (08/25/16)


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TX: UT-Austin students snatch up free dildos for gun protest

"Students, alumni and spectators eagerly snatched up more than 4,500 donated dildos Tuesday evening at the University of Texas at Austin, preparing to assuage their frustration over a new state law allowing handguns to be carried on public university campuses. Cocks Not Glocks, a protest group formed last fall, is urging students and others to openly carry the sex toys around campus, offering a multicolored counterpoint to the concealed weapons that holders of handgun licenses can now legally carry inside UT classrooms and most buildings." (08/23/16)


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France: Burkini ban faces legal challenge amid mounting outcry

"France's highest court will examine Thursday whether local bans on burkinis -- full-body swimsuits worn by some Muslim women -- are legal. Several French towns and cities have banned burkinis from their beaches this summer, sparking outcry from religious groups who say the moves are discriminatory and illegal. In levying the bans, local authorities have cited security and the risks of public disorder amidst the ongoing terror threat. France's southern Muslim federation has fired back and said the bans seek only to stigmatize and inflame religious tensions, showing the country has taken a 'grave turn.'" (08/25/16)


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Syria: Turkey invades, with US air support but to fight US-backed Kurds

"Turkish tanks and troops backed by U.S. air support flying out of Incirlik Air Base crossed into Syria on Wednesday with the intent of taking the border town of Jarablus -- partly to stop it from falling to U.S.-backed Kurdish militias. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the cross-border action, called Operation Euphrates Shield, was in response to recent terror attacks claimed by ISIS in Turkey but was also aimed at the Syrian Kurdish PYD, or Democratic Union Party. The military wing of the PYD is the YPG, or People's Protection Units, which has been the most effective U.S.-backed opposition force in northeastern Syria." (08/24/16)


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Afghanistan: One killed, 18 injured as gunmen target American University

"Gunmen tried to storm the American University of Afghanistan here Wednesday evening after setting off a powerful explosion nearby, sending panicked students at evening classes scrambling for safety on the highly guarded campus in the Afghan capital. The Health Ministry reported late Wednesday that one person, a guard, was killed and 18 were wounded, including a foreign teacher, according to the Associated Press. Students remained trapped inside the campus for more than three hours while Afghan security forces exchanged fire with the gunmen." (08/24/16)


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North Korea test fires missile toward Japan

"North Korea fired a submarine-based missile toward Japan Wednesday, CNN, Reuters and other news organizations are reporting, attributing the word to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and its Defense Ministry. The missile was fired at around 5:30 a.m. local time from the city of Sinpo on North Korea's east coast, Reuters reported. The act is one of a series of launches conducted by the country in defiance of United Nations sanctions. The launch comes during an annual drill between the United States and South Korea that involves 25,000 U.S. troops, CNN reported. North Korea has called the exercises preparation for invasion and has threatened retaliation, according to Reuters. The missile traveled more than 300 miles toward Japan and U.S. Pacific Command tracked it into the Sea of Japan, CNN reported." (08/24/16)


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France, Germany: Idiot fascist pols call for war on math

"A fresh chapter of the crypto wars looks to be opening up in Europe, after the French and German interior ministers took to a podium yesterday to lobby for a law change that would enable courts to demand that Internet companies decrypt data to help further criminal investigations. So, in other words, to effectively push for end-to-end encryption to be outlawed. ... Giving a joint press conference in Paris yesterday with Germany's Thomas de Maiziere, France's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for the European Commission to change the law to afford security agencies the ability to access encrypted data." (08/24/16)


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LA: Lawmaker wants Cajun Navy to train, pay fee before saving others

"The Good Samaritans who rescued hundreds, maybe thousands of people during the 'Great Flood of 2016' say they're not happy after a state lawmaker announced that he wants government to regulate future actions by citizen heroes. A loosely organized group called the 'Cajun Navy,' took it upon themselves to save strangers, hundreds upon hundreds of them, by boat even when their own property was flooding. ... Republican state Sen. Jonathan Perry of the Vermillion-Lafayette area, announced he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee to allow these volunteers to get past law enforcement into devastated areas. He said some were turned away." (08/24/16)


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Johnson says he is the true Republican

"Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he represents the Republican party rank-and-file better than GOP nominee Donald Trump and argues that the country will realize it if he participates in the first presidential debate next month. Johnson told CNBC that Trump has tapped into the anger that many Americans feel toward the status quo, but Johnson said, 'That is not, in my opinion, representative of the majority of the Republican Party. And where's that representation? Well, I think it's me. I think it's me right now. It's the Libertarian Party. It's a big six-lane highway down the middle that Bill Weld [Johnson's vice presidential running mate] and myself are occupying.'" (08/23/16)


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Canada’s Mounties allow women in uniform to wear hijabs

"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, known as the Mounties, is to allow women in uniform to wear hijabs. Government spokesman Scott Bardsley said the move was to reflect the diversity in Canada's communities and to attract more female Muslim officers. The iconic uniform, famed for its wide-brimmed hat, has barely changed since it was introduced two centuries ago. Recent figures show women make up about a fifth of the RCMP but it is not clear how many this measure will affect. Three types of hijabs were tested before one was selected as suitable for police work, local media reported. According to the Montreal newspaper La Presse, an internal memo said the hijab could be removed quickly and easily if needed, and did not encumber officers." (08/24/16)


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MN: Canine candidate re-elected town mayor

"The four-legged mayor of a northwestern Minnesota village greets voters like a true politician. Duke, a 9-year-old Great Pyrenees, won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant Township on Saturday. The big, shaggy white dog was overwhelmingly re-elected at the sixth annual Cormorant Daze Festival. Anyone could pay a dollar and cast a vote. Cormorant resident Karen Nelson says Duke 'greets everyone' who comes to the village of about 20 people nestled among lakes about 180 miles northwest of Minneapolis." (08/24/16)


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Commentary


| News |

Seeds of Liberty Podcast, episode 72

"Please enjoy this recent episode of the Seeds of Liberty Podcast. This week we were joined by Joe Allen, one of the co-hosts of the Anarchy Roundtable. Herein we discussed dealing with statists online, converting vs. planting seeds and walking away, false derivative definitions, the Manhattan Project, the 4th annual Midwest Peace & Liberty Fest, the failures of incrementalism, the non-collapse of the Soviet Union, and more!" [various formats] (08/25/16)


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Walking while black: Encounters with police in New York City

"My love for walking started in childhood, out of necessity. No thanks to a stepfather with heavy hands, I found every reason to stay away from home and was usually out (at some friend’s house or at a street party where no minor should be) until it was too late to get public transportation. So I walked. The streets of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1980s were often terrifying; you could, for instance, get killed if a political henchman thought you came from the wrong neighborhood, or even if you wore the wrong color. Wearing orange showed affiliation with one political party and green with the other. No wonder, then, that my friends and the rare nocturnal passerby declared me crazy for my long late-night treks that traversed warring political zones." (08/25/16)


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Hillary’s tax plan will cost everybody, not just the rich

"Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has proposed a number of changes to the income tax code, targeted mainly at high-income earners. The tax changes would have little impact on 90 percent of the population in terms of tax liability. However, households in the top ten percent of the income distribution, who currently pay 53 percent of all federal taxes, would pay 80 percent of the additional tax collected." [summary -- full paper available as PDF download] (08/25/16)


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The forgotten Millennials

"At a Democratic primary debate in January, a 23-year-old voter named Connor Franta posed a question to the candidates via YouTube. 'Getting my generation’s vote should be a priority for any presidential candidate,' he said. 'How are all of you planning on engaging us further in this election?' Hillary Clinton went in for what should have been an easy layup. 'Look,' she began, 'this election is mostly about the future. And therefore it is of greatest urgency for young people.' But then, instead of talking about all 'young people' -- the 75 million Americans aged 18 to 35 -- she narrowed her focus. ... When Clinton talks about millennials, she tends to use the word interchangeably with 'college students.' But millennials with university degrees don’t represent their entire generation, just those with the greatest economic and educational advantages. A full 40 percent of young people never made it past high school." [editor's note: Don't any progressive pundits read oout side their cocooons? Polls already show Millennials planning to vote for neither war party wing - SAT] (08/25/16)


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Economic growth or economic liberty?

"Some conservatives have actually opposed reductions in government power in the name of promoting growth! For example, instead of joining Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul in supporting any and all efforts to reduce tax burdens on the American people -- and eventually eliminate all taxes -- many conservatives only support 'pro-growth' tax cuts. This means they oppose tax cuts to middle-and-working class Americans. Some even complain that the government should not 'waste money' on tax cuts that do not produce growth. These 'conservatives' implicitly buy into the Marxist premises that government owns all property, therefore any reduction in what we 'owe' government is a gift from government. They also ignore the Austrian insight that money left in the hands of individuals will always be spent more efficiently than money confiscated from people and spent by government bureaucrats." (08/25/16)


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How the Washington Post sells the politics of fear

"[Dana] Milbank ends his column with the words: 'If opposing Trump is subscribing to the politics of fear, then put me down for a lifetime subscription.' Indeed. That's what the emissaries of the establishment want: Just a lifetime of servitude. How troublesome is that, really? It's just your life and your political freedom. Why shouldn't you fork that over without troubling your pretty little head about possible ways out? All this is exactly what VotePact.org is designed to over come. It's what Milbank -- as well unfortunately as Chomsky and even Stein and Nader -- have all ignored: Is there an actual solution to the 'spoiler' problem?" (08/25/16)


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Why Syria’s war may be about to get even worse

"How important is a name to a terrorist group’s identity? When the militant organization Nusra Front announced recently that it was calling itself something else, analysts had good reason to be skeptical about whether the new label really did signal a genuine break from its parent organization al Qaeda. In fact, it probably doesn’t matter. Even if symbolic, the mere rebranding of Nusra could be enough to prolong Syria’s civil war. The worst-case scenario is that the group, now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), or Front for the Conquest of the Levant, could embed itself within the Syrian rebel opposition and emulate the staying power that Hezbollah has demonstrated in neighboring Lebanon. The likely motive behind JFS announcing such a split, whether real or simply a feint, is an attempt to unite the disparate Syrian rebel groups into a more coherent force and allow JFS to further ingratiate itself within the broader rebel movement." (08/25/16)


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Why Democrats keep winning presidential elections

"Since the 1828 election of Andrew Jackson that historians consider the birth of the modern two-party system, no party has ever won the presidential popular vote six times over seven elections. Even the nation's most successful political figures have fallen short of that standard. Throughout American history, a partisan advantage that lasts across so many presidential elections doesn't happen by accident, or simply because one side nominates more attractive candidates or develops better campaign techniques. Instead, parties have established the kind of lasting presidential edge Democrats have enjoyed since 1992 only by cementing the allegiance of critical -- and usually growing -- voting blocs in the electorate." (08/25/16)


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First Thiel, now the Trumps: How billionaires threaten free speech

"Less than 24 hours after Gawker.com was killed by billionaire Peter Thiel's legal crusade against it, another billionaire couple -- Donald and Melania Trump -- is already using the same law firm Thiel did to threaten more media organizations into silence. And this time, it could have a direct effect on the presidential election. The Guardian reported late on Monday night that Melania Trump's lawyers have sent threatening letters and are considering filing lawsuits against a variety of media organizations -- including the Daily Mail, Politico and the Week -- for reporting on rumors of Melania Trump's past, including her alleged immigration status when she came to the United States." (08/25/16)


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MN: GOP in “total confusion” after Trump left off state ballot

"Donald Trump is reportedly not on the Minnesota state ballot. So, as of today, the GOP doesn't have a presidential candidate on the state's ballot at all, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State's site. It's unclear if there was an accident on the part of the state or a catastrophic misstep on behalf of the campaign, but it will cause an electoral crisis if nothing can be done. ... According to Minnesota PR and communications guru Michael Brodkorb, a former Republican operative, the process for a candidate to be on the ballot isn't complicated." [editor's note: - SAT] (08/25/16)


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Originalism, changing meanings, and stable meanings

"One of the criticisms of originalism by historians is that originalism fails to take into account that word meanings change over time. In particular, historians argue that during important periods, such as the time leading up to the Constitution, word meanings changed. Therefore, originalism is problematic because it assumes that traditional word meanings are stable. Unfortunately, this charge by historians turns out to be largely mistaken." (08/24/16)


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John Oliver slams charter schools, critics totally miss the point

"Sometimes it takes a funnyman to make sense. Earlier this week, British comedian John Oliver devoted a 'Back to School' segment on his HBO program 'Last Week Tonight' to examining the rapidly growing charter school industry and what these schools are doing with our tax dollars. The Washington Post's education blogger Valerie Strauss watched the segment and reports that while Oliver declined to address whether or not charters provide high quality education, he focused mostly on how often these schools are 'terribly (and sometimes criminally) operated.' ... Editors at Rolling Stone watched Oliver’s broadcast as well and reported Oliver focused much of his attention on three states (Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio) that have 'especially depressing charter track records -- including negligence in the approval process and school executives embezzling funds.'" [editor's note: I saw the Oliver piece, and was alternately amused and disgusted; most of his challenges were quite legit - SAT] (08/25/16)


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Why Say’s Law is always true

"One of my regular readers has raised the important subject of Say's law, the denial of which both Keynesian and modern monetarists are emphatic. They need this fundamental axiom to be untrue to justify state stimulation of aggregate demand. Either Say's law is right and state intervention is economically disruptive, or if it's wrong modern economists are right to ignore it and progress their science beyond it." (08/25/16)


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Terrorism fears create false feelings of insecurity

"Anxiety must be strangely addictive, because Americans can't seem to get enough of it. We enjoy a measure of national security and personal safety that is the envy of people around the world -- from Ukraine to Syria to Nigeria. But many of us manage to feel perpetually endangered, in good times and bad. One of these people, surprisingly, is Martin Dempsey, a retired four-star Army general who stepped down last year as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In an interview in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, he solemnly said of the present moment, 'It's the most dangerous period of my lifetime.'" (08/25/16)


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ISIS is Islamic, but most of Islam is not ISIS

"President Obama and Hillary Clinton are wrong when they say ISIS is not Islamic. Let me be perfectly clear. The majority of Muslims are not terrorists, but al-Qaeda and ISIS are part of an Islamic fundamentalist tradition. The idea of narrowly interpreted the Koran to justify terrorism can be traced to numerous Islamic scholars over the centuries. Out of the four major schools jurisprudence (madhhabs) within Sunni Islam (Hanbali, Hanafi, Shafi'i and Maliki), the most rigid in interpreting the Koran is the Hanbali." (08/25/16)


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Uber loses at least $1.2 billion in first half of 2016

"The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta. On Friday, Gupta told investors that Uber's losses mounted in the second quarter. ... In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber's losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion. Subsidies for Uber's drivers are responsible for the majority of the company's losses globally, Gupta told investors, according to people familiar with the matter." (08/25/16)


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Trump is a vanity project run amok

"The dust of history takes many years to settle, but if he loses in November, here is how Donald Trump will likely be remembered 50 or 100 years from now. He’ll be seen by historians as a vanity project run amok; an outlier nominee, an old man with a lifelong flair for hucksterism and unparalleled conceit. Dropped into a vat of bubbling economic and cultural uncertainty and stirred by ratings-starved television executives, the result was a noxious stew that sickened much of the country. He’ll be remembered as having less in common with earlier Republican nominees who fell short, like John McCain and Bob Dole (war heroes who devoted themselves to a lifetime of public service) than with flat-out eccentrics who wormed their way into the system." (08/23/16)


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Millennials love free markets, but don’t understand them

"In a recent Reason-Rupe Survey, 58 percent of Americans ages 18–24 said they viewed socialism favorably. However, when asked if they favored a free market economy or a government-managed economy, 64 percent of Millennials said they favored the free market. How is it possible for Millennials to favor both a socialist government and a capitalist economy? The answer is simple, Millennials simply do not understand what either of these words really mean, especially capitalism." [editor's note: Sort of like how Mises Institute writers simply do not understand that "capitalism" and "free markets" are mutually exclusive concepts? - TLK] (08/25/16)


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Obama goes nuclear

"President Obama is preparing to cement his legacy with several big changes in U.S. nuclear-weapons policy -- and he's willing to go around the GOP-controlled Congress to do it. 'Top administration officials,' according to Josh Rogin of the Washington Post, 'briefed lawmakers and congressional staffers ... about President Obama’s decision to push for ... U.N. action this September, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.' 'U.N. action' could include a Security Council resolution calling for more states to ratify the CTBT, and for the treaty's current signatories to meet their commitments. The problem is that the administration has chosen yet again to circumvent the legislative branch." (08/25/16)


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Election Demons

"As a professor of Russian literature, I’ve come to realize that it’s never a good sign when real life resembles a Fyodor Dostoevsky novel. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, with its riotous rhetoric and steady stream of scandals, calls to mind Dostoevsky’s most political novel, Demons


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Venezuela’s new firing squad

"Socialism has failed, again, and in doing so demonstrates something more than economic shortcomings. As the late President Ford warned, 'A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take everything you have.' The Venezuelan people have the right to recall the president enshrined in their constitution, a particularly popular right at present ... but the Maduro dictatorship refuses to take prompt, lawful action to facilitate the recall. Not to mention unjustly arresting citizens circulating the recall petition or telling high government ministers to fire any government worker who signs." (08/25/16)


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Long live the Night Tube

"After what seems like a lifetime since it was initially announced, the Night Tube is finally here. From now on, the Central and Victoria lines will run on Friday and Saturday nights, ferrying central-London partygoers back home to the suburbs. And more lines will be added soon. ... But what's the point of a Night Tube if there is nobody around to ride it? Though this is a big step towards a truly 24-hour London, there are various factors -- from panics about binge drinking and sexual assault to local-council clampdowns on clubs and bars -- that are standing in the way of the Night Tube being a success. Worse still, this culture of risk-aversion and puritanism is teaching young people to fear the night, rather than embrace it." (08/25/16)


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Another stupid capitalist propaganda meme

"[C]apitalism -- in the sense of the actual historic system of political economy that succeeded feudalism five or six hundred years ago -- had its origins in massive robbery and enclosure of most of the earth's land and mineral resources, and continues to get the overwhelming bulk of its profits from rents on state-enforced monopolies, entry barriers, enclosures and subsidies. The present system, both in its origins and its present structure, in no way even remotely approximates a free market. It is a system of massive state subsidies and massive state-enforced monopolies, all in defense of enormous concentrations of stolen property and continuing guaranteed returns on that stolen property. So St Onge and those of their ilk are left with one of two options. Either 1) All that robbery and continued state-enabled wealth extraction is an essential prerequisite of economic progress; or 2) There has been a reduction in poverty DESPITE the capitalist extraction framework, from all the productivity it DIDN'T manage to enclose and rob." (08/25/16)


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Punishing the messenger: Israel’s war on NGOs takes a worrying turn

"Israel is, no doubt, feeling embattled. Its carefully carved brand -- that it is an oasis of democracy in an arid authoritarian desert -- is now full of holes. Its occupation, wars and siege in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and the dissemination of images and information about such conduct throughout the Internet and social media platforms is making it impossible for Israel to sustain its official hasbara. Thus, the angry backlash. The Israeli Knesset has been busy passing laws and proposing bills aimed at restricting the work of its own rights groups, or any independent civil society organization that seems, in any way, critical of the government and sympathetic towards the Palestinians." (08/25/16)


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A “House of Cards” in Nicaragua

"When Nicaragua is in the news, it is usually bad news, and so it is once again as it descends into another dynastic dictatorship. The man currently building the latest family-run state is the incumbent president Daniel Ortega, although apparently the irony is lost on him since he led a socialist revolution 40 years ago to overthrow the previous dynasty. The history of Nicaragua is a cycle that runs from dictatorship to democracy and back to dictatorship again; a hope and change story that is now ending very badly. There are heroes of liberal democracy, Nicaraguans from all socio-economic classes who understand the value of democratic capitalism and want to be free, and they deserve our praise and pity, for they have suffered the cruelest fate of having put their country on the right track only to see it return to the road to serfdom." (08/24/16)


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41 straight years of trade deficits yet America still stands strong

"There has been no shortage of hand-wringing about the U.S. trade deficit over the years. Since the 1980s, scolds have been warning about the unsustainability of running trade deficits and the perils that would follow. Today, the heirs of that perspective consider trade balance or a trade surplus to be the objective of trade policy -- and trade deficits proof that the United States is losing at trade. This misguided belief that the trade account is a scoreboard measuring the success or failure of trade policy explains much of the public's skepticism about trade and trade agreements, lends plausibility to Trumptastic claims that the United States is routinely outsmarted by shrewder foreign trade negotiators, and provides cover for the same, recycled protectionist arguments that have persisted without merit for centuries." (08/24/16)


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Postcard from the End of America: Fort Indiantown Gap, PA

"It's remarkable that I've been friends with Giang for nearly four decades. We've spent but a year in the same state and, frankly, have little in common. Giang studied computer science, business administration, and engineering technology. He makes more in a year than I do in ten. He drinks Bud Lite and recycles corny metaphors and analogies. A director of marketing, Giang actually told me, 'I can sell a freezer to an Eskimo.' Driving from California last week, Giang stayed at my sweltering apartment for two nights. Since he had never been to Philly, I took Giang to a decent cheesesteak joint, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell. ... What my friend really wanted to see was Fort Indiantown Gap. In 1975, Giang stayed there as an 11-year-old refugee. The same age, I was at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas." (08/25/16)


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How can a libertarian say that? (On incompetent voters and competent market agents)

"Roughly 35% of my published work responds to problems of voter ignorance and irrationality. I sometimes get pushback from both libertarians and non-libertarians that goes roughly as follows: 'Wait, so you think average people aren't competent to rule? How can you, a self-described bleeding heart libertarian, say that? Aren't you libertarians committed to the view that people are smart and can run their own lives? That they don't need government to run their lives for them? How can you say that they're smart in the market but dumb at politics? Isn't that a contradictory view of human nature?'" (08/24/16)


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Alcohol bans won’t put dent in campus sexual assault

"Students at Stanford University will be greeted with a ban on hard liquor this fall, all in an effort to control irresponsible behavior among its students and, in part, to address campus sexual assault. Alcohol bans are unlikely to have much of an effect on campus sexual assault and, in fact, might make matters worse. The core of the sexual assault problem on college campuses is one of character, not errant drinking or drug abuse, and prohibition will make it harder, not easier, to address this problem." (08/24/16)


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Free Talk Live, 08/24/16

"Live from NH Hempfest day 1 of 4." [Flash audio or MP3] (08/24/16)


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On feeling the Johnson

"As a longtime, fairly hardcore libertarian, this year I have felt like I'm stuck between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand, I am supposed to be horrified that once again the Libertarian Party has picked an ex-Republican (and this time, another one as his running mate) to represent to the public what libertarianism means. On the other hand, I feel like promoting this ticket to my progressive friends, as a clear alternative to the presumed 'choice' between a neocon warmonger and a raving-lunatic crony corporatist! (I also expect to be accused of attempting to 'polish a turd' -- a metaphor all too familiar to my fellow songwriters. Oh well ... !)" (08/24/16)


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Travel advice for the Islamo-fraidycat set

"On August 18, three siblings boarded an EasyJet flight at London’s Stansted airport. Maryam, Sakina and Ali Dharas were en route to Italy for a holiday. But before the flight could take off, they were asked to debark for questioning by police. Another passenger, apparently an amateur detective, deduced that because they are brown people and the two sisters wear hijabs -- Muslim head scarves -- they must be Islamic State terrorists. Which, of course, they weren't. The plane eventually took off, but presumably the incident cast a pall over the Dharas family's holiday, as well as throwing the other passengers' travel plans at least a little off-kilter. This is far from the first reported incident of its kind. It's probably far from the last. But it COULD be the last if those suffering from constant, crippling fear of sudden violent death at the hands of terrorists read this and follow a few simple rule of the (so to speak) road." (08/24/16)


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A political safari through the wilds of Washington DC

"Welcome to the Political Safari, folks. My name is Able S. Kordt and I will be conducting this expedition into the national preserve known as the District of Columbia, a zoological garden set aside for the country's lower order of vertebrates. There are many bizarre creatures one can spot here in just a relatively small area. The best place to see a large variety of life forms is here in this natural-looking manmade habitat. Today we will be observing them during feeding time as they gather at their favorite watering hole." (08/23/16)


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America’s communist program

"Why hasn't Zubaydah come to trial? After all, isn't that what the Pentagon's 'judicial' system is supposed to be -- an alternative to the judicial system established by the Constitution? Isn't 14 years a sufficient amount of time to give a person a trial? The reason he hasn't been provided a trial in 14 years is because the Pentagon and the CIA don't want to give him a trial. Equally important, they know that none of the other three branches, including the judicial branch, wields the power to force them to give him a trial. What they've done to Zubaydah is no different from how the North Korean communists treat people who they consider are threats to the national security of North Korea. Don’t forget, after all, that North Korea is a national-security state too, just like the United States became to fight the Cold War." (08/24/16)


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Statists run amok in France

"There are laws on the books that beg to be flouted. Yes, I hated, for example, the mindless Drug Wars from the beginning and defied the statists without any sense of guilt. Thankfully I never got caught. Many did, however, and too many of them had their lives ruined without mercy. It wasn't so much the drugs that caused the damage; it was the government thugs who trapped them in their nets. It seems that the statists have learned nothing from the days of liquor prohibition when the American people flouted the laws en mass. Today the French resort of Cannes has banned full-body, head-covering swimsuits -- burqinis -- from its beaches." (08/24/16)


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Will America finally stop privatizing [sic] everything?

"Is this the beginning of the end of the three-decade-long project of privatizing public functions? Ronald Reagan started us down the privatization path in the 1980s, championing the myth that private enterprise is always and forever more efficient than the government. Last week’s Justice Department decision to not renew 13 contracts with companies managing incarceration facilities for the Bureau of Prisons (and phase out of all federal private prisons over time) has cracked that foundation, perhaps irreparably. Thirteen contracts may seem like too small a disruption to threaten the entire private corrections industry and its $629 million in annual profits. But DOJ’s repudiation has already spurred demands to close other privatized facilities." [editor's note: Like far too many "progressive" pundits, this one confuses cartelization with favored corporate interests with "privatization" - SAT] (08/24/16)


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A mandateless election

"Less than half of both Trump and Clinton voters say that they 'strongly support' their candidate. Overall, 57 percent of voters say that they are dissatisfied with both candidates, including 31 percent who are 'very dissatisfied.' Only 13 percent report that they are 'very satisfied' with their choice. Since, barring a Gary Johnson upset or intervention by the Sweet Meteor of Death, one of them will have to win, millions of Americans will be voting for someone they don’t think should be president. In fact, half of all those voting for Clinton and 55 percent of those voting for Trump say that they are actually voting against the other candidate rather than for their choice. That's not exactly what one would call a mandate." (08/24/16)


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Mises destroys socialism, again and again

"We need Mises now more than ever. The Federal Reserve is weighing which month to increase their target rate by a quarter of a percentage point, sending the media into a flurry whenever Janet Yellen so much as sneezes. As millions of US voters fall behind a self-avowed socialist, Venezuela's socialist experiment is crashing and burning: Coca-Cola has shut down operations, toilet paper is a luxury item, power outages are regular, and violence and looting are on the rise. This is a prime opportunity to show others the prescience of Mises." (08/24/16)


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The difference between Mr. Chakrabortty and us on foreign aid

"Aditya Chakrabortty tells us that it's very important indeed that the UK continue to shift 0.7% of GDP overseas as foreign aid .... We agree entirely that aiding the poor in becoming rich is a moral imperative. We also agree that there's much that we can do to aid in this process. However, we are with Peter Bauer here, in that foreign aid is all too often taking money from poor people in rich countries to give it to rich people in poor countries." (08/24/16)


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The foreign invasion of American politics

"As one of my Twitter followers put it so succinctly: 'Globalization: Where leaders from any country get to pick US Presidents.' As the Clinton campaign's Robby Mook tears a page out of Joe McCarthy's book and smears Donald Trump as being 'Putin's puppet,' the irony is that this election has seen foreign interference in American politics to an unprecedented degree -- on Hillary's behalf. In the past, foreign actors tried to hide such activities, rightly thinking that they might encounter resentment -- or even legal consequences -- for trying to meddle in affairs that are none of their damned business. Not anymore." (08/24/16)


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Public option would fix health insurance marketplace [sic]

"Last week's announcement by Aetna that it would stop selling health insurance in 11 of the 15 states where it offers coverage through public exchanges is not a death blow to the Affordable Care Act, but it’s certainly not good news for President Obama’s signature health-care law. Aetna maintained it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars on the health law’s marketplaces, and the company is one of more than a dozen major insurers that have announced plans to bail out of the exchanges. The failure of the marketplaces to generate robust competition, as Obama had predicted, should focus liberal attention on what many on the left now regard as a major policy objective: establishing a public option for the health insurance exchanges." [editor's note: Only if the word "fix" being used as you would when neutering a pet; also note the oxymoronic "health insurance marketplace" - SAT] (08/24/16)


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Defending free speech down under

"On Q&A ... spiked editor Brendan O'Neill once again prompted the right-thinking first to tweet their spleen, and then to fire off snarky op-eds. And the reason for the riling? Was it O'Neill's criticism of the Australian state's incarceration of migrants on the micro-island of Nauru, 'a kind of purgatory, a limbo where aspiring migrants are stuck between a place they don't want to be and a place they want to be,' as he described it? Or was it perhaps his criticism of pro-refugee campaigners, whom, as The Australian reports, O'Neill accused of 'infantilising' migrants .... Nope, none of the above. What got up the nose of the unthinkingly politically correct was O'Neill's attack on Section 18C of Australia's Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech 'reasonably likely ... to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people' because of their 'race, colour or national or ethnic origin.'" (08/24/16)


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Whose side are they on?

"Excuse me if I drive over familiar roadways. But we are witnessing one of the great revolutions in human cooperation. And our governments and politicians are working mightily to block traffic. I refer, of course, to Uber and Lyft and the like." (08/24/16)


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The LAVA Spurt, episode 10

"The free market saved countless lives in Louisiana the last several days while the government fiddled. Thank you for joining me on the tenth episode of The LAVA Spurt, The Don't Wait for Government Edition." [various formats] (08/23/16)


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Let’s make work free!

"It's fundamentally unfair that great things like a college education, Caribbean vacations, luxury sports cars and gambling in Las Vegas cost so much. Clever statists have already solved that problem (they created government jobs and corporate welfare), but so many other innocent good people have been left out of the luxury economy! I have a solution. Let's make work Free! Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tried really hard, but they never thought of something this grand. If you thought college loan forgiveness was a bold proposal, nothing touches my idea of making work totally free and clear." (08/21/16)


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