Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

Two congresscritters urge FDA to lift blood ban for gay men

"Two Democratic lawmakers joined the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and others Tuesday in urging the Food and Drug Administration to change its blood donation policy. The FDA restricts gay men who have had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months from giving blood. One of the lawmakers to speak Tuesday, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, who is openly gay, has been fighting to overturn this policy. Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who represents Orlando, suggested using this month's Pulse nightclub shootings to show renewed respect for people's rights. He said blood donation screening should be based on science and a donor's safe and monogamous sexual behavior, no matter their orientation." [editor's note: Hey, here's an idea -- how about shutting down the FDA? Blood banks, not bureaucrats or politicians, should make decisions for blood banks - TLK] (06/28/16)


-----

Turkey: At least 36 killed, 140+ injured as blasts rock Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

"At least 36 people have been killed and over 140 injured in three blasts that rocked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, according to Turkish officials. Foreigners could be among the dead. The blasts occurred in the airport’s international arrivals terminal. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed to the media that the death toll from the attacks has risen to 36, adding that foreigners could be among the victims. Five of those killed in the attacks were officers. Another 147 people were injured in the blasts, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said." (06/28/16)


-----

SCOTUS turns down Washington pharmacy’s appeal against state enslavement

"The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to take up a challenge to a Washington state law that makes it illegal for pharmacies to refuse to dispense medications for religious reasons. The court's action, bypassing an invitation to wade back into the issues of religion and contraception, allows the state to enforce the law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito called the court's refusal to hear the case 'an ominous sign.' The case involved a small family-owned business whose owners objected to stocking birth control pills." (06/28/16)


-----

MS: Government clerks can’t use religion as excuse to not do jobs, judge rules

"A federal judge has ruled that Mississippi clerks cannot cite their own religious beliefs to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves'[s] ruling on Monday blocks the state from enforcing part of a religious objections bill that was supposed to become law Friday. Reeves is extending his previous order that overturned Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage. He says circuit clerks are required to provide equal treatment for all couples, gay or straight." (06/27/16)


-----

Rolling Stone wins dismissal of defamation lawsuit over rape article

"A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by three former University of Virginia fraternity members who accused Rolling Stone magazine, its publisher Wenner Media and a journalist of defamation over a since retracted article describing a gang rape. U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said details about the attackers in the November 2014 article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely were "too vague and remote" to make readers, family and friends believe that the plaintiffs George Elias IV, Ross Fowler and Stephen Hadford had a role in the alleged rape. 'In the plaintiffs' own words, any "apparent connection between the plaintiffs and the allegations is an (unfortunate) coincidence,"' Castel wrote. Erdely's article, 'A Rape on Campus,' described a September 2012 rape of a female student named Jackie at the university's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house." (06/28/16)


-----

FL: Police release new narrative report detailing Orlando horror

"An incident narrative of 911 calls, texts and related information released Tuesday by the city of Orlando reflects the horror of a gunman's reign of terror that left 49 people dead at the Pulse nightclub June 12. The first 911 call came in at 2:02:54 a.m., according to the fire department's report, which identifies the incident as 'unknown trouble.' Three seconds later, the report cites 'shots fired' and seven seconds later 'shots still being fired.' Within three minutes the report merges multiple calls to build a narrative. One caller is hiding in a closet, another 'upstairs.' The report notes that a caller is whispering and that multiple people can be heard screaming. Several times over several minutes the report says gunshots can be heard." (06/28/16)


-----

Germany: Court restarts trial after judge repeatedly nods off

"A German court had to restart the trial of two men suspected of robbing a grocery store because a judge kept nodding off during the proceedings. The Muenster state court told the dpa news agency on Tuesday that the presiding judge decided it was better to start things over than provide immediate grounds for an appeal. German trials are typically heard by a panel of five judges: three professionals and two lay judges. In this case, it was one of the lay judges who couldn't stay awake on Monday. Fortunately, it was the first day of the trial and it was able to start again from scratch after an alternate judge took his place." (06/28/16)


-----

A lawsuit over an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade just cost Microsoft $10,000

"A travel agent in California recently took Microsoft to court over the company's Windows 10 upgrade tactics, and she won. After an unauthorized Windows 10 upgrade borked her small business PC, Teri Goldstein from Sausalito, California sued Microsoft over the issue, as first reported by The Seattle Times. In the end, the judge sided with Goldstein and Microsoft had to pay $10,000 to compensate her for her troubles. Microsoft told the Times it opted not to appeal the matter in order to avoid further legal expenses." (06/27/16)


-----

Science: Helium discovery “a game-changer”

"Scientists have discovered a large helium gas field in Tanzania. With world supplies running out, the find is a 'game-changer,' say geologists at Durham and Oxford universities. Helium is used in hospitals in MRI scanners, as well as in spacecraft, telescopes and radiation monitors. Until now, the precious gas has been discovered only in small quantities during oil and gas drilling. Using a new exploration approach, researchers found large quantities of helium within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley. They say resources in just one part of the Rift valley are enough to fill more than a million medical MRI scanners." [editor's note: A gas field of helium? Can you go to Tanzania now, and walk around singing like a Munchkin? - SAT] (06/28/16)


-----

SWIFT hackers steal $10 million from Ukrainian bank

"A Ukrainian bank has become the latest victim of the widespread cyber attack on global banking and financial sector by hackers who target the backbone of the world financial system, SWIFT. Hackers have reportedly stolen $10 Million from an unnamed bank in Ukraine by exploiting the SWIFT international banking system, according to an independent IT monitoring organization called the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)." (06/27/16)


-----

Russia: US destroyer gets dangerously close to patrol boat in Mediterranean

"The US guided-missile destroyer Gravely breached international navigation safety rules by coming within dangerous proximity of the Yaroslav Mudry, a Russian frigate, in the eastern Mediterranean, the Russian Defense Ministry has said. The USS Gravely approached the Yaroslav Mudry, a Russian frigate, on June 17, passing across her course at a 'dangerous' distance of 180 meters (55ft), the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The encounter occurred in international waters. The Yaroslav Mudry did not deviate from her course and refrained from engaging in dangerous maneuvering with the US warship, the ministry added." (06/28/16)


-----

Johnson faults pollsters for sub-15% standing

"Gary Johnson needs at least 15 percent in five mainstream national polls to qualify for the presidential debates, and the Libertarian nominee would like a little more recognition from pollsters. The former governor of New Mexico on Monday turned his attention toward polling organizations for excluding his name from the initial ballot test between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and instead inserting his name as part of a three-way contest or a four-way race with Green Party candidate Jill Stein." (06/27/16)


-----

CA: Airbnb sues San Francisco over idiot supervisors’ tyrannical edicts

"Executives of Airbnb have often said that officials in San Francisco, the company's hometown, understood how to work with innovative technology companies. Two years ago, the city and the startup drafted a law that allowed [sic] Airbnb to operate widely there, despite blowback from advocates for affordable housing. ... Now Airbnb is suing over whether it should have to help enforce the law it helped create. The company Monday sued the city over a unanimous decision made June 7 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to fine Airbnb $1,000 a day for every unregistered host who used the service. If the company fails to comply, it may face misdemeanor charges." (06/28/16)


-----

Hawking on AI dangers: “We’re not getting any less greedy or stupid”

"World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has a few thing to say about the future of humanity and the development of artificial intelligence, and he wasn’t feeling optimistic. Hawking was interviewed by Larry King on Monday. 'Governments seem to be engaged in an AI arms race,' Hawking told King. 'Designing planes and weapons with intelligent technologies. The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening seems a somewhat lower priority.' The way that AI can be influenced by humans became painfully clear earlier this year when Microsoft’s chatbot, dubbed 'Tay,' had to be taken off line because she had learned to spew foul language and racist hatred from Twitter users." (06/28/16)


-----

NC: House leadership drafts HB2 changes amid pressure from NBA

"New legislation drafted by leadership in the North Carolina House of Representatives seeks to walk back portions of a controversial bill passed during a special session this spring restricting the rights of transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their choice. House Bill 2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate, among other things. The bill was passed in a one-day special session and was signed by Governor Pat McCrory later that night." (06/28/16)


-----

Blue Origin breaks ground on Florida’s Space Coast

"In an email Tuesday, Jeff Bezos said his private spaceflight company has begun construction on the new 750,000-square-foot rocket factory it's building in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The factory will be 'custom-built from the ground up to accommodate manufacturing, processing, integration, and testing,' he wrote. ... Blue Origin first announced plans to set up shop in the Sunshine State in September. The new manufacturing facility is conveniently located near Complex 36, a launch site Blue Origin is leasing in Cape Canaveral." (06/28/16)


-----

Civil rights leader Walter Fauntroy arrested at Dulles International Airport

"Walter E. Fauntroy, Washington's legendary former congressional delegate, was arrested Monday morning at Dulles International Airport and jailed in Loudoun County after returning home from a four-year sojourn in the Persian Gulf, authorities said. Fauntroy, who helped plan the 1963 March on Washington with his friend the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested about ­8:15 a.m. on an outstanding warrant by Border Patrol officials while he was clearing customs, said Aleksandra Kowalski, a public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office. ... In January 2012, Fauntroy left the United States after a bench warrant was issued for him to appear in Prince George's County, Md., on a charge that he wrote a bad check for $55,000 to help pay for a 2009 ball he organized for President Obama's first ­inauguration." (06/27/16)


-----

Idiot mayors ask Congress to repeal Second Amendment

"U.S. mayors are asking Congress to break a logjam over limiting gun purchases. The U.S, Conference of Mayors gathering in Indianapolis approved more than 100 policy recommendations, but in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre, the gun issue may be the most closely watched. Mayors called for restrictions on assault weapons, and limits on purchases by the mentally ill and people on the terrorist no-fly list." (06/27/16)


-----

First quarter US economic growth exceeds previous estimate

"The world's largest economy expanded more than previously projected in the first quarter as improved performance in trade and business investment more than made up for weaker consumer spending. Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 1.1 percent annualized rate, compared with a previously estimated gain of 0.8 percent, a Commerce Department report showed Tuesday in Washington. Corporate profits at the start of the year were also revised up, giving a brighter picture to gross domestic income." (06/28/16)


-----

UN chief criticizes Gaza blockade after Israel-Turkey deal

"The U.N. chief on Tuesday criticized Israel's blockade of Gaza, a day after Israel and Turkey reached a broad reconciliation pact that looked to ease, but not eliminate, the isolation of the coastal strip. In a visit to the region, which included a stop at a Gaza school, Ban Ki-moon bemoaned the plight of Gazans, saying that 'the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts.' 'It's a collective punishment for which there must be accountability,' the secretary-general added. Meanwhile, in low-key affairs, Israel and Turkey formalized their agreement to restore full diplomatic relations after six years of animosity between the once-close allies. ... The agreement with Israel will include an exchange of ambassadors and Israeli compensation for the [murders] of 10 Turkish citizens [and one American] from a 2010 Israeli [pirate] raid on an activist flotilla that aimed to breach the Gaza blockade." (06/28/16)


-----

Lebanon: Army detains 100 Syrians after Qaa bombings

"Lebanon's army has detained more than 100 Syrians for entering the country illegally following a series of suicide bombings in a border village. The raids took place at informal refugee camps in the Baalbek region. On Monday, at least eight bombers blew themselves up in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, killing five people and injuring almost 30 others. No group has said it was behind the attacks, but suspicion has fallen on jihadist militants from Islamic State. IS has carried out previous suicide bombings that have killed scores of people in Lebanon." (06/28/16)


-----

US House: Benghazi committee releases final report

"House Republicans on the Benghazi Select Committee released their long-awaited report this morning on the events surrounding the 2012 Libya terror attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The report says there was intelligence leading up to the attacks that the diplomatic consulate and CIA annex there were not safe, and that top officials in the U.S. State Department, including Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, should have realized that. It is also critical of top officials' deliberations during the attack and the lack of troop mobilization as it unfolded." (06/28/16)


-----

SCOTUS rejects Kwame Kilpatrick appeal

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's appeal of a public corruption conviction, possibly ending his bid to overturn a decision that sent him to prison for 28 years. The court announced its decision not to review the case on its order list Monday without comment. ... A three-judge panel last August upheld Kilpatrick's conviction on 24 counts that include bribery, extortion and fraud for steering work to a longtime friend, Bobby Ferguson, who also was convicted." (06/28/16)


-----

UK: Labour MPs pass Corbyn no-confidence motion

"A motion of no confidence in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been passed by the party's MPs. The 172-40 vote, which is not binding, follows resignations from the shadow cabinet and calls on Mr Corbyn to quit. The leader's allies have told his critics to trigger a formal leadership contest if they want to challenge him. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Corbyn was 'not going anywhere,' accusing his critics of trying to 'subvert democracy.' ... Mr Corbyn faced calls to resign at a stormy meeting in the House of Commons on Monday after more than 20 members of his shadow cabinet and a similar number of junior ministers walked out, questioning his performance during the EU referendum and ability to lead the party." (06/28/16)


-----

Israel: Regime bans Jews from Jerusalem holy site

"Israeli police on Tuesday banned non-Muslims from a contentious Jerusalem holy site [the Al-Aqsa Mosque] until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan following repeated clashes with Palestinians rioters. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said rocks and other objects were hurled toward police forces and Jewish worshippers in a nearby plaza. He said a 73-year-old woman was lightly wounded and police arrested 16 suspects in the disturbances. As a result, police decided to close access to Jewish worshippers and other visitors for the remainder of the week to prevent tensions with Muslim worshippers until Ramadan is over." (06/28/16)


-----


Commentary


| News |

The case against raising the US minimum wage

"When it comes to a mandated minimum wage, politicians irrationally trip over themselves in a classic case of good intentions, bad policy. President Obama has called for raising the minimum wage to USD $10.10 an hour. Hillary Clinton favors a $12.00 minimum wage, and Mr. Sanders supports the labor union call to raise the wage to $15.00 an hour. Many believe that minimum wage laws are necessary to insure that low-skilled workers, especially new entrants, teens and minorities earn a living wage and are not exploited by greedy capitalists. But do minimum wage laws produce the desired results?" (06/28/16)


-----

Federal drug enforcement tyranny in Colorado and Washington

"Although Colorado and Washington have legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes, possession and distribution of the drug remain a crime under federal law. However, the U.S. government, including the DEA, has been exempting the residents of those two states from federal drug law enforcement. That is obviously a good thing for people selling or consuming marijuana in those two states. However, it is not a good thing when it comes to the rule of law and the principle of equal treatment under law." (06/29/16)


-----

Free Talk Live, 06/28/16

"4chan Spams Brexit Re-Do Petition, Fools BBC :: Scary Court Decision About Online Privacy :: DAO Tokens :: Electoral College :: Running Down Pedestrians :: EU Superstate Proposal? :: Psychological Distance :: Flat Earth Nutjob :: Anxiety :: Rude Canadian Staples :: Game of the Week Update." [Flash audio or MP3] (06/28/16)


-----

Benghazi report reveals folly of interventionism

"The partisan argument about Clinton's culpability in an attack that led to the killing of four Americans by Libyan militants misses the broader argument about aimless interventionism. A spokesperson for the State Department responded to the report by saying the department's 'priority continues to be carrying out our national security mission while mitigating the risks to our employees.' Democrats insist the State Department has boosted security, so the problem is solved. Republicans argue the White House didn't do enough militarily .... The reality is the U.S. should not have participated in the Libyan civil war in the first place ..." (06/28/16)


-----

Why libertarians should applaud the SCOTUS ruling against Texas abortion regulations

"I found this case particularly clear cut as a libertarian -- this was an obvious case of over-regulation, which caused more than half of the clinics in Texas to close. If any other industry faced this sort of punitive regulation, conservatives would have been up in arms, but since it was the abortion industry, many were perfectly fine with the law. The result of this law meant 10 abortion-capable clinics would exist in Texas to serve the 5.4 million women of childbearing age. Abortions, of course, are sometimes medically necessary, and this would literally put women's lives at risk, as well as creating undue burden on the right to abortion." (06/28/16)


-----

Think gays don’t need gun rights? Check your privilege

"A predictable response to the horrific massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, in which a gunman murdered 49 people and injured 53 others, mostly Latino, is to restrict gun ownership to police only. But this response ignores the real relationship gay and ethnic minority populations have had with police. It's a history of violence, targeted specifically at queer and brown bodies." (06/28/16)


-----

The hunter

"There is no Miss Manners for exchanging pleasantries with a man the government has trained to be the digital equivalent of a Navy SEAL. Though I had initiated the contact, I was wary of how he might respond. The hacker had publicly expressed a visceral dislike for [Edward] Snowden and had accused The Intercept of jeopardizing lives by publishing classified information. One of his memos outlined the ways the NSA reroutes (or 'shapes') the internet traffic of entire countries, and another memo was titled 'I Hunt Sysadmins.' I felt sure he could hack anyone's computer, including mine. ... I got lucky with the hacker, because he recently left the agency for the cybersecurity industry; it would be his choice to talk, not the NSA's. Fortunately, speaking out is his second nature." (06/28/16)


-----

Why I nullify.

"I get asked this question often. Why nullify? Well, I write and volunteer to help nullify because I care about my community. I care about my neighbors, my friends, my family and my state. I want the best for each and every person. The nullification of certain federal acts should not be construed to mean we necessarily object to the intention, but rather we oppose the act being done by the federal government. And why would I object to this? Because we know our community better than bureaucrats and busybodies in Washington do." (06/28/16)


-----

Fascists against freedom, unite

"Everyone expects neo-Nazis to be thuggish and simpleminded. They're losers who need a movement that tells them they are winners, so they troll for grievances and battles from which they can emerge as both morally superior and victims. They hate freedom. Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach even wrote a piece, 'I Hate Freedom,' in which he explained, 'Freedom is a word and a concept that everyone loves and enjoys because of the license that it gives us as a society; that is why freedom failed and that is why freedom must die.' Like I said, white supremacists are losers." (06/28/16)


-----

How anger ruins liberty

"The libertarians are right about many things, and the general populace is notably libertarian in many ways. And yet, relatively few people have any interest in the libertarian 'movement.' At this point, two or three generations of libertarians have wondered why they couldn't get more people, but they have few answers, save for being more and more flamboyant. There are many reasons for the lack of libertarian ideas spreading of course, but my point today is a very simple one: Libertarians major in anger, and that chases millions of decent people away." (06/28/16)


-----

On demand, and demanding their rights

"Travis Kalanick, Uber’s founder, recently recalled that when he first started the company seven years ago, 'it was easy to communicate with the handful of drivers using the app.' Uber’s marketing manager called each of the drivers regularly, Kalanick said, 'to get their feedback and make sure things were working well.' Nowadays, Uber has far more than a handful of drivers -- it has more than 400,000 in the United States alone, and many drivers complain that Uber’s managers no longer listen to them to make sure things are working well. 'They do whatever they want,' said Bigu Haider, an Uber driver in New York who is furious at Uber over fare cuts and other moves that have reduced his income. 'I don’t see any voice for the drivers.'” [editor's note: At some point, if you are not someone else's "employee," you have to deal with life as it is and how you create it; musicians and other artists have done this for generations, ever since "patronage" went out of style - SAT] (06/28/16)


-----

Waving magic wands in Montgomery County, Maryland

"Apparently worried about a looming shortage of rental units in Montgomery County, MD, some government officials there propose legislation to require, among other things, that all landlords offer two-year lease renewals ('Montgomery Co. to consider bill on security for renters,' June 27). This legislation is counterproductive. Because nothing now prohibits two-year lease renewals -- and because landlords prefer the security of longer leases to the uncertainty of shorter leases -- a landlord who offers a tenant a lease renewal only for less than two years obviously does so for a reason." (06/28/16)


-----

Conservatives have groomed perfect suckers for Trump’s epic scam

"In 2000, Donald Trump boldly told Fortune magazine, 'It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.' Sixteen years later, he’s structured an entire presidential campaign around making good on that boast. While Trump is turning out to be a disaster for the Republican Party, the real estate magnate is pretty much guaranteed to come out richer. That was the plan all along. And conservative voters, conditioned by decades of right-wing politicians and media exploiting and enhancing their gullibility, make the perfect victims for his ruse." (06/28/16)


-----

Nevermind the Brexit, UK will emerge with a good trade deal

"The British never wanted to be part of a German-dominated European federal super state. The exit from the EU will allow the U.K. to reclaim parts of national authority that its political elites ceded to unelected Brussels officials free of any meaningful democratic oversight. The scare-mongering about the end of the U.K. and the unraveling EU is meaningless. My guess is that the U.K. will do better that the unwieldy 'union' of 27 countries whose leaders have yet to figure out where they are going." (06/27/16)


-----

Nationalism and democracy, an exit to nowhere

"Elites will never be stripped of their privilege by the method of their ascension. The impoverished will never stop being robbed of their potential by handing it over to new elites. The decision by the majority of voting British citizens to leave the European Union has been seen as a mandate against unaccountable technocratic governors in the EU. Objections to this technocracy are not always pretty though. In place of a centralized system of control in Europe, those who voted to leave the EU wish for the tools of power to be shifted back to Britain. No matter their intentions, and really no matter which side of the vote British citizens found themselves on, very little has changed for the control people have over their own lives." (06/28/16)


-----

In Gaza, the drones never sleep

"Israel’s 'Operation Protective Edge' rained death and destruction on the besieged population of the Gaza Strip for 50 days between July 7 and August 26, 2014. More than 1,400 civilians, including more than 500 children and 250 women, were killed. The maimed and wounded topped 11,000, and over 18,000 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged. Reading such a list of statistics of casualties during war can outrage and horrify if one identifies with those who are killed (or simply identifies them as fully human). Feminist philosopher Judith Butler, in her book Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?, writes about war as a time when lives are divided into those considered fully human (and thus grievable) and those that are not." (06/28/16)


-----

After Brexit — why not unilateral free trade?

"Brexit is a precedent. So, even if member states' own interest would suggest negotiations should reach a free trade agreement as smoothly as possible (think about Italy, where roughly speaking 7% of exports is with the UK), EU negotiators may try, perceiving it as their own self-interest, to produce a different outcome. A single market should remain far superior, in terms of lower transaction costs, to whatever trade agreement may be reached. And yet perhaps negotiators may aim to 'teach a lesson,' besides this point. Handersblatt reports that Germany's Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schsuble, is himself carefully weighing the alternatives. So, what should Boris Johnson or Theresa May, or whoever is going to be the next prime minister, do? Perhaps it is time to be bold: unilateral free trade, at least with EU member countries." (06/28/16)


-----

Six times a government hack was bigger than first disclosed

"In July 2014, the New York Times reported that Chinese hackers broke into the servers of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that functions as a kind of government-wide human-resources department. More than a year later, in May 2015, the Internal Revenue Service announced that more than 100,000 taxpayer accounts at the IRS had been breached. Both would have been bad by themselves. But since then, the number of people affected by both of those hacks have grown. ... The difficulty of pinning down even the most basic details of critical hacks -- what was actually stolen, the number of people affected -- is the result of an outdated but still prevalent way of thinking about cybersecurity." (06/28/16)


-----

Our five Benghazi conclusions

"On Sept. 11, 2012, as fire engulfed the State Department’s temporary mission facility in Benghazi, Libya, the survivors and a CIA security team who had come to their rescue made a desperate dash for a CIA annex located nearby. From there they would fend off a continued and determined jihadist attack. Despite heroic efforts that night, four Americans lost their lives. For the first time in more than 30 years, a U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, was assassinated. Another State Department employee, Sean Smith, was also killed. Two former Navy Seals who worked for the CIA, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, died defending their fellow Americans at the annex." (06/28/16)


-----

The tower of babble

"God does a lot of really human stuff in the Old Testament; he even has to move around to keep track of us. If I were to adhere too closely to the story in Genesis, I'd need to believe not only that he has no idea what's going on until he comes down to see it but also that he thinks people are able to succeed in doing whatever they attempt, which obviously they can't. Nevertheless, the story seems to be true about certain people's intentions. Consider those of the people who run the EU. Instead of constructing a more prosperous and harmonious world for everybody, as they claim, the faceless bureaucrats appear to want to rule over us all. Ruling the world is an ambition even older than the Bible. It shows no sign of dying out today." (06/27/16)


-----

Toward a federal regulatory budget

"How much do regulations cost? That is a very good question. Some compliance burdens aside, tabulating the subjective and indirect costs of regulations experienced both at the individual level and economy-wide is virtually impossible. Yet, try we must. Even if government collected a negligible percentage of Americans’ incomes in taxes, we would still keep track of taxation to prevent its abuse. The same applies to regulatory costs imposed on the private sector, which are far from negligible." (06/28/16)


-----

Why, journalists, why?

"In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Mrs. Clinton was reported to enjoy a seven-point lead, but when voters were offered all likely ballot options, including Johnson, the Libertarian, and Stein, the Green, Hillary bettered Donald by only one point: 39-38 percent. But why would journalists and editors systematically rig the reporting of politics?" (06/28/16)


-----

After the referendum, the ugly scourge of ageism

"We live in a time obsessed with -isms and -phobias. There is a penchant for calling out anything deemed to be transphobic, homophobic, sexist, disablist, racist, classist ... the list goes on. But ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, there is one -ism that has been excused by the offence-seekers: ageism. It seems that hating old people is the new socially acceptable prejudice. Just like it's apparently okay to degrade Americans and fat people. Since the EU referendum, granny-bashing has become mainstream. Polls have revealed that the older population tended to vote Leave, in contrast with young voters who were predominantly in favour of Remain, and, with that information, some Remain supporters have turned ugly." (06/28/16)


-----

Bernie’s “political revolution” = vote for Clinton and the neocons

"How do Democrats continue to let themselves get bowled over time and time again? Wasn't it enough to watch their own party rig the primaries against their preferred candidate, but now their guy Bernie wants them to vote for that same party and their warmongering candidate? The sad thing is that many, many 'liberals' will follow suit and do as told. 'We have to do everything possible to stop a Trump presidency' is the rallying cry. But what about doing everything possible to stop a Clinton presidency?" (06/28/16)


-----

Gun policy is hard

"It's time for a collective freak-out on guns. It's time to spend too long debating your wife's cousin on Facebook, who seems to have been spoonfed his lines by the NRA/Everytown for Gun Safety. It's time to unfriend those who keep posting obstinate things about the need for concealed carry/an assault weapons ban. It's time to facepalm about those who just don't get it. And it is time to just fix the problem, right? I wish it were that simple, but, like most questions in public policy, it is not. Gun policy is hard, and getting it right -- or even starting to get it right -- requires calling out the bad arguments from both sides and understanding inevitable trade-offs and unavoidable facts." (06/27/16)


-----

Why all the post-Brexit hysteria?

"The night after the vote for an independent United Kingdom from the European Union had concluded I found myself at dinner with my wife trying to explain why the world portrayed by many financial analysts and news outlets was so filled with doom and gloom. 'Why does the UK leaving the EU necessitate a global or UK financial meltdown?' she asked. And then it hit me, this was the question the world's largest financial publications were failing to ask, or at the very least to answer honestly. The answer to this question can be as complex as you would like to make it, but the clear and simple answer is this: the UK leaving the EU fundamentally necessitates neither of these things." (06/28/16)


-----

Brexit: Which kind of dependence now?

"Is Brexit a move toward British independence? Some Leave and Remain partisans may believe so, differing only over whether that's good or bad. But, as usual, things are more complicated. We should hope that, in one respect, Britain's exit from the EU will create a kind of dependence that did not exist while it was still a member of the union." (06/27/16)


-----

If you are not angry about the Democratic platform TPP scam you are not paying attention

"We got an email chiding us for expressing anger in our last message, wherein we condemned the draft Democratic party platform's non-position on the TPP. Yeah, well guess what, we, and a LOT of other people, are just beginning to get angry about this. And unless you want #TrumpTheFraud as your next president of the United States, the Democratic party better get a damn clue, and get it fast. What Part Of No TPP Don't You Get? ... We are not demanding that Hillary Clinton adopt Bernie's position on this. NO ... we are demanding she adopt her OWN stated position on this, or at least what she led us to believe." (06/28/16)


-----

The Libertarian Angle, 06/28/16

"FFF president Jacob Hornberger and Richard Ebeling talk about Britain's vote to exit from the European Union." [Flash video] (06/28/16)


-----

Positively natural, part 1

"Over the years, any number of psychological experiments have been conducted in order to validate -- or at least to give a veneer of academic corroboration to -- a truth already well established by practical experience; namely, that we humans must continually struggle to overcome our basic animal instinct to seek instant gratification of our wants. Seen from a different perspective, it is just this capacity for forward thinking that underpins, even defines, our very humanity. As such, the idea that the phenomenon represents a major facet of our behaviour much should not be in any way controversial." (06/28/16)


-----

Free Talk Live, 06/27/16

"How was the CNN Libertarian Town Hall? :: The Roads :: Johnson Intends to Continue Drug Prohibition :: Death Penalty :: Johnson and Weld Say Some Good Stuff :: College Student Stumps Johnson :: Snowden Update :: More Disappointing Answers From Johnson Weld :: Supreme Court Rules Warrantless Blood Draws for DUI Checks Are Unconstitutional." [Flash audio or MP3] (06/27/16)


-----

Education reform: One size does not fit all

"Lately, education scholars at Washington, D.C.-based, nominally conservative think tanks have spun themselves into a tizzy about the education reform movement's splintering into quarreling factions. Who knew such a monolithic movement existed? Even among strong advocates of parental choice, lively arguments have raged for decades over vouchers versus tax-credit scholarships, with each side arguing its proposal is the most powerful and/or practical way to empower families. Debate is healthy in a democracy, is it not?" (06/27/16)


-----

ACLU fights Dems’ dishonest war on due process

"House Democrats took a page out of Donald Trump's playbook by using ad hominem attacks, fear-mongering and deliberate disinformation in a cynical, shortsighted attempt to score political points at the expense of Americans' constitutional rights. Their indecorous protest turned the House of Representatives into an infantile reality TV show. As legal expert Alan Dershowitz put it during an appearance on CNN, the House Democrats behaved like 'a bunch of buffoons.' Dershowitz was being kind. ... While the House Democrats were making fools of themselves on the floor of Congress, lawyers for the ACLU had already appeared before a U.S. district court in a lawsuit that resulted in rulings that the No Fly List is unconstitutional." (06/27/16)


-----

SCOTUS: Amply serving law enforcement’s interests versus society’s

"Searching the shed behind my house would certainly be 'significantly less intrusive' than searching my closet or requiring me to open the lock box in which I keep important personal documents. Does this mean that the police should be free to poke around in my shed without procuring a warrant based on probable cause to believe I've committed a crime, if doing so happens to 'amply serve their interests?' No, it doesn't. The Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures isn't there for the convenience of law enforcement. It's there to protect everyone else's rights from abuses BY law enforcement." (06/27/16)


-----

No, there’s not a market liberal case for Brexit

"According to the 2015 Economic Freedom of the World report's overall measure for regulatory burden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Ireland, and Romania are all less regulated than the UK. The most recent Heritage index of 'business freedom' ranks Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden ahead of the UK; for labor freedom, Denmark, Austria, and Ireland. In all these cases, these relatively-liberal EU countries compare favorably with other developed countries in or out of the EU. None of these measures are perfect, but they shouldn't be systematically biased against the UK. And what they tell us is: a) Membership in the EU is perfectly compatible with maintaining a light overall regulatory burden by developed country standards; and b) the UK is not pushing the deregulatory envelope inside the EU, is not running into an EU constraint in its attempt to minimize the regulatory burden." (06/27/16)


-----

Libertarians for drug prohibition?

"During a CNN town hall last week, a member of the audience asked Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, about heroin legalization. Although the former New Mexico governor correctly pointed out that prohibition makes heroin use more dangerous, he disclaimed any interest in repealing it, saying his legalization agenda is limited to marijuana. He thereby undercut the utilitarian case against drug prohibition and missed an opportunity to make a moral case for individual freedom." (06/27/16)


-----

Bill Keebler and the FBI’s entrapment elves

"Who is William Keebler, that the Regime's secret police took such an interest in him? A resident of minuscule Stockton, Utah (population circa 700), Keebler, 57, earned a modest measure of media attention five years ago when he was profiled in a story dealing with state-subsidized coyote hunting. He also exhibited the proper attitude toward the people who presume to rule us, which was described by the state-aligned media as 'extreme hatred' for the federal government. Like hundreds of others from around the country, Keebler traveled to Bunkerville, Nevada in April 2014 when Cliven Bundy called for help in recovering his stolen cattle from the BLM. After spending about two weeks in Nevada, Keebler returned to Utah and announced -- to anyone who was listening, which included FBI informants -- his intention to create a militia called the Patriots Defense Force." (06/27/16)


-----

Dems (selectively) outraged about lenient sentences

"Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Michele Hanisee was gobsmacked when California lawmakers raged against the light sentence meted out to a former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting a woman while she was passed out behind a campus trash bin. Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, 20, to six months in jail (he's likely to serve a mere three months), as well as three years of probation and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Outraged at this headline-grabbing punishment, 16 Democratic Assembly members and senators wrote to Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen urging him to appeal the sentence, which they described as a 'slap on the wrist.'" (06/26/16)


-----

Blade of p’Na — a preview of a new novel

"In just a few weeks, my 30-somethingth book (I can never come to the same total twice in a row) will be released, electronically, and in dead-tree form, by my esteemed publisher Shahid Mahmud at Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick. I've really been looking forward to this event, because this novel is very important to me. Following my stroke in 2014, it means that I've climbed back on the horse. On the surface, Blade of p'Na, which is set on an alternative version of Earth, is a fast-moving science-fiction action-adventure prequel to my 2000 novel Forge of the Elders, and features many of the same wonderful alien-like characters -- giant spiders,one of whom plays the banjo, and star-nosed moles -- and strange situations as the larger book. Like Forge, which also made a deeper argument about Darwinism and the 'Forge of Adversity,' Blade focuses on the all-important ethical differences between conservatives and libertarians." (06/26/16)


-----

Sex, violence and unions

"On May 3, the wrestler Ryback, a generic strongman notable for his penchant for quoting The Secret, revealed on Tumblr that he had asked to be removed from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) television over ethical concerns about the disparity in wrestlers’ pay. 'It blows my mind,' he wrote, 'how in a sport which is pre-determined from a company standpoint, winners are paid so much more than the losers.' Ryback’s speaking out has once again encouraged hope of labor action within the sport. As wrestling journalist Abbey Arthur noted in an op-ed in Top Rope Press, 'It’s long past time these men and women realize that no promoter can punish them or hold them back or hold them down if they present a united front.'" (06/27/16)


-----

America should exit from NATO and the national security state

"Like the U.S. national-security state, NATO is a Cold-War era governmental apparatus, one whose mission was ostensibly to protect western Europe from an attack by the Soviet Union, which was America's and Britain's World War II partner and ally. But as everyone knows, the Cold War ended more than 25 years ago. A question naturally arises: Why then didn’t NATO go out of existence once the Cold War was over?" (06/27/16)


-----

Why are betting markets failing so hard this year?

"Do prediction markets have any idea what's going on these days? They persistently and wildly underestimated both Trump and Brexit. If betting markets can get the two most well-studied, well-polled, and consequential political events in recent history dead wrong, how valuable are they really? Of course, nobody ever said prediction markets were perfect, but many people (myself included) have repeated the conventional elite wisdom that betting markets are better predictors than polls. But in these cases, they were not only no better than polls, they were much, much worse." (06/27/16)


-----

Democratic Party Platform Committee undermines Clinton on TPP

"The Democratic party’s elites must not think that trade and jobs will be big issues in the coming election. Apparently, they’ve never listened to a Donald Trump speech, and didn’t notice that working-class people in the United Kingdom just voted to 'brexit' from the European Union (EU) over these issues. The Democratic platform writing committee has voted not to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the pro-TPP majority saying that doing so would undercut President Obama’s efforts to pass the agreement. The problem is, this hands Trump, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, powerful ammunition as he says Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton is only 'pretending' to oppose the agreement." (06/27/16)


-----

Instead of penalizing junk food, just stop subsidizing it

"The welfare state is so vast and complex that it often works against itself. Regulations and taxes kill jobs and work incentives, but EITC subsidies are supposed to boost incentives. The government tells women to breastfeed, but the federal WIC program subsidizes baby formula. The food stamp program provides billions of dollars for people to buy junk food, but liberals are pressing governments to penalize junk food with special taxes. Philadelphia just passed the first special tax on soda. May I suggest that health do-gooders wanting people to eat less junk food focus on cutting subsidies rather than imposing taxes?" (06/27/16)


-----

Brexit, Sexit, Texit

"In the short time since the Brits voted to exit the EU, much of the commentary I've read views the vote as a move toward isolationism. Regardless of the motivations of the voters, a more accurate way to look at it is that the British voted for self-government rather than government from afar. ... The long term consequences of Brexit depend on how the EU responds to Britain's withdrawal. They can work out trade agreements to leave arrangements between Britain and the EU essentially unchanged, to everyone's benefit. Or, they can erect trade barriers and place demands on Britain that reduce welfare for both the Brits and the remainder of the EU." (06/27/16)


-----