Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

VT: Dozens get inked with free Sanders tat

"Fans of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are wearing their support for him on their sleeves -- and on their rib cages, calves, necks and backs. Several dozen people have flocked to Aartistic Tattoo in Montpelier, Vermont, to get a free tattoo of the senator, complete with his unkempt hair and thick-rimmed glasses. The Burlington Free Press reports that the promotion began a week ago. Tattoo artist Chad Fay says it will run as long as Sanders does. Tattoo artist Jessica Andrew tells the newspaper she inked Sanders' image on eight people in two days. Fay says he's done at least 15 tattoos of Sanders in the past week." [editor's note: This would seem to take bumperstickers and buttons a bit too far, and a lot harder to scrape off later - SAT] (02/08/16)


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China: Gays say life has changed much for the better

"A rising tide of public tolerance for gay people in China is beginning to erode official prejudice, activists here say. Last month, for the first time, a Chinese court agreed to hear a case brought by a gay couple against a government agency that had refused to register them as married. In another landmark decision late last year, government film censors approved for public release a joint Sino-French film featuring two homosexual men in romantic lead roles -- the first time such subject matter had passed official scrutiny." (02/08/16)


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Germany, Turkey vow diplomatic effort to end Aleppo violence

"As tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence massed at Turkey's border, Turkish and German leaders pledged Monday to redouble diplomatic efforts to end the fighting around the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo and prevent more refugees making their way into Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, that she was 'not just appalled but horrified' by the suffering caused by the bombing in Syria, primarily by Russia." (02/09/16)


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Pro-choice group cries foul over Doritos commercial “ultrasound”

"A pro-choice group kicked off a corn chip controversy Sunday night when it mocked a Doritos commercial as being 'anti-choice' for using the 'tactic of humanizing fetuses.' Some viewers laughed, while others were a little put off by the 'Ultrasound' ad, which showed a fictitious fetus kicking around in the womb as its oblivious and expectant father munched on Doritos. But few took the advertisement as seriously as NARAL Pro-Choice America, which tweeted '#NotBuyingIt -- that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight. #SB50.' The tweet (part of a barrage criticizing various aspects of Super Bowl commercials seen as sexist or anti-choice) received 348 retweets and 325 favorites." [editor's note: I am pro-choice and thought it was hilarious, as did a variety of people at the Super Bowl party I attended; NARAL needs to get a clue - SAT] (02/08/16)


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The “War on Terror” has cost US taxpayers $1.7 trillion

"According to data compiled by the Mercatus Center citing the Congressional Research Service, the cost of global 'War on Terror' operations (including both Afghanistan and Iraq) since 2001 had reached about $1.6 trillion by FY2014. When war funding approved by Congress for FY2015 is taken into account, the total reaches $1.7 trillion." (02/03/16)


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Saudi offer to send troops to Syria comes with uncertainty

"Saudi Arabia's offer to send troops to fight Islamic State in Syria is as much about the kingdom's growing determination to flex its military might as it is about answering U.S. calls for more help from its allies in the Middle East. A Saudi deployment runs the potentially explosive risk of confrontation between one of the Arab world's most powerful militaries and forces keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power." (02/08/16)


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War games in Middle East could prepare UK for “potential” Russian war

"The British Army is to deploy 1,600 troops in Jordan to take part in war games which could be preparation for a potential 'confrontation' between Russia and NATO member countries in Eastern Europe, the Daily Telegraph has reported, citing sources. Army sources told the paper that the exercise, which will simulate an Iraq invasion for the first time in over a decade, is not a prelude to sending ground troops to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL), rather Exercise Shamal Storm could be seen as a practice routine to fight off any potential Russian invasion of Ukraine or Eastern Europe." (02/08/16)


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Clinton has, controls transcripts of speeches she’s been dodgy about releasing

"Hillary Clinton, who faces mounting pressure to release transcripts of her paid speeches, routinely demanded that a stenographer be present at her events so she could maintain a record of what she said. At least four of Clinton's contracts include a clause stating a transcript would be produced for Clinton and that the former secretary of state would own them and control their release, according to contracts obtained by McClatchy. ... In response to a question about whether she would release transcripts Thursday during the fifth and final debate before voting begins in New Hampshire, Clinton said, 'I will look into it. I don't know the status, but I will certainly look into it.' 'I don't think voters are interested in the transcripts of her speeches,' top Clinton adviser Joel Benenson told reporters Friday. And on Sunday, she said she would release the transcripts -- if everyone who has ever given a paid speech also did." (02/08/16)


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Migrants drown as boats capsize near Greece

"More than twenty migrants died on Monday when two boats sank between the Turkish and Greek coasts. Both were headed for the island of Lesbos, only a few miles from Turkey's Edremit coastal district and the town of Dikili, from where they set sail. The death toll ranged from 22 to 33 dead as both governments worked to determine the exact number of casualties. Several people were rescued by a fisherman and by the Turkish coast guard, which told the press it had deployed more boats and helicopters to search for around 13 passengers who remained unaccounted for." (02/08/16)


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White House seeks $1.8 billion to fight Zika virus

"The White House is seeking $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, hoping to halt the spread of the relatively unknown disease. The mosquito-borne virus, which was recently declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization, has infected 51 people in the United States, as of last Friday. While the virus causes mild symptoms in adults, it has been linked to birth defects in newborns as well as the paralyzing condition Guillain Barré syndrome in adults." (02/08/16)


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India: Regulators rule against Internet access for poor people because “net neutrality”

"Facebook's Free Basics -- the company's zero-rated mobile service -- has been under fire in India over net neutrality violations for months, and now the country’s regulator has weighed in hard on the issue: FreeBasics and services like it have been banned, according to an announcement from TRAI. ... TRAI notes that the regulations will be in place for two years but may be open for review -- which could see Facebook tweak FreeBasics and try to get the service turned on again." (02/08/16)


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TX: FBI arrests Crystal City officials

"Joel Barajas was the only Crystal City council member to show up to the office Friday. That's because everyone else he works with is facing felony charges. Five top officials in Crystal City, Tex., were arrested Thursday under a federal indictment accusing them of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and helping the operator of an illegal gambling operation who went by the nickname 'Mr. T.' The indictment swept up the city's mayor, mayor pro tempore (who both have city council votes) and a council member, as well as the city manager, a former city council member and the alleged gambling operator, Ngoc Tri Nguyen." (02/08/16)


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Ireland: Continuity IRA claims killing at Dublin boxing weigh-in

"An Irish Republican Army faction has claimed responsibility for killing a reputed member of a drug-dealing gang in a machine gun attack on a Dublin boxing pre-match event, and is threatening to kill more criminal rivals. The Continuity IRA issued a statement Monday to the BBC in Belfast saying its members were responsible for Friday's killing of 33-year-old David Byrne." (02/08/16)


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TX: Billionaire asks Dallas pols to block convention that offends him

"Billionaire oilman Ray Hunt, one of downtown’s highest-profile property owners, emailed the Dallas City Council this weekend asking them to vote Wednesday against allowing a porn convention to open shop at the city-owned convention center. Hunt, who owns more than 30 acres downtown, including everything from the Hyatt Regency and Reunion Tower to the old Reunion Arena parking garage's air rights, says he believes Exxxotica 'constitutes an activity that runs totally counter to the values, mores and beliefs of the vast majority of the citizens of the City of Dallas.'" [editor's note: You'd think that kind of money would soothe the ache associated with not being allowed to run everyone else's lives, but I guess not - TLK] (02/07/16)


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India: Man thought to be first ever killed by meteorite

"A man was killed after being struck by a meteorite in India over the weekend, apparently becoming the first person in recorded history to die in such a manner. A bus driver, identified as V. Kamaraj, died after suffering severe injuries while he was walking close to the cafeteria at the Bharathidasan Engineering College .... Three others were injured in the blast. ... The meteorite left a 4-foot deep crater and shattered windows of classrooms and nearby vehicles." (02/08/16)


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North Korean rocket puts object into space

"North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday carrying what it called a satellite, but its neighbours and the United States denounced the launch as a missile test, conducted in defiance of U.N. sanctions and just weeks after a nuclear bomb test. The U.S. Strategic Command said it had detected a missile entering space, and South Korea's military said the rocket had put an object into orbit. North Korea said the launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, named after late leader Kim Jong Il, was a 'complete success' and it was making a polar orbit of Earth every 94 minutes. The launch order was given by his son, leader Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be 33 years old." (02/07/16)


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Erdogan: US should choose between Turkey, Kurdish forces

"Turkey's president lashed out at the United States a week after President Barack Obama's envoy visited a northern Syrian town that is under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces, which Ankara considers terrorists. In comments published Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Washington should choose between Turkey and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, as its partner." (02/07/16)


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Study: “Wrong type of trees” in Europe increased global warming

"The assumption that planting new forests helps limit climate change has been challenged by a new study.
Researchers found that in Europe, trees grown since 1750 have actually increased global warming. The scientists believe that replacing broadleaved species with conifers is a key reason for the negative climate impact. Conifers like pines and spruce are generally darker and absorb more heat than species such as oak and birch. The authors believe the work has implications for current efforts to limit rising temperatures through mass tree planting." (02/05/16)


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Germany: Police search homes of suspected extremists

"German police on Sunday searched the homes of two men suspected of being part of an extremist organization, prosecutors said. Federal prosecutors said that the raid took place near the western city of Mainz. The two men are 'suspected of taking part in the Syrian civil war as members of a foreign terrorist organization,' prosecutors' office spokesman Michael Neuhaus said in an email." (02/07/16)


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Verizon accused of “net neutrality” foul

"Verizon, the parent of TechCrunch's parent AOL, is being accused of violating net neutrality principles by excluding its own mobile video streaming service, go90, from data charges -- thereby creating an unequal playing field. On Friday it emerged (via The Verge) that Verizon would not be charging its own customers for the data they consume over go90. An end of January update to the go90 Android app (v1.4.0) notes the service can now be used over LTE without it counting against Verizon customers' data plans ..." [editor's note: For those of you who thought that "net neutrality" would benefit consumers, have you noticed yet that every time there's a complaint the point is to force companies to NOT treat their customers well? - TLK] (02/07/16)


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IL: Cop who killed college student and 55-year-old mother sues teen’s estate for HIS trauma

"A Chicago police officer who fatally shot a college student and his 55-year-old neighbor has filed a lawsuit against the teenager's estate that blames the mentally ill 19-year-old for causing the officer 'extreme emotional trauma.'" [editor's note: Well, that's something completely different anyway - TLK] (02/07/16)


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Republican 2016 hopefuls claim success following debate

"Republican presidential candidates fanned out across New Hampshire on Sunday following a debate that focused on Marco Rubio's lack of experience, Chris Christie's aggressive attacks on Rubio, and a relative lack of criticism of front-runner Donald Trump. Christie told Fox News Sunday that Rubio's awkward responses during Saturday night's debate (including word-for-word recitations of talking points) underscored his argument that the first-term senator from Florida is simply not ready to take on the Democrats and become president. 'You have to be prepared, you have to be experienced, you have to be ready,' the New Jersey governor said, arguing that he has these qualities and Rubio doesn't." (02/07/16)


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SD: Low pay forces teachers to hold second, third jobs

"Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate -- a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean. Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout." (02/07/16)


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Volkswagen to offer compensation for US customers

"Volkswagen will offer generous compensation packages for the roughly 600,000 U.S. owners of diesel vehicles that emit an illegal amount of emissions, the head of its claims fund told a German paper. The German car maker has still not decided whether vehicle owners will be offered cash, car buy-backs, repairs or replacement cars, Kenneth Feinberg told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Volkswagen in December asked Feinberg -- who earlier headed the compensation funds for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and General Motors' ignition switch crashes -- to create and administer the program." (02/07/16)


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Report: Drought could be new normal for US Southwest

"Hang tight, Golden state. Californians longing for 'good old days' of steady rainfall might be waiting for a long time. California's current drought could become a more regular phenomenon, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters arguing that the storms that usually bring rain to the Southwestern states are becoming rarer. 'Droughts are occurring there more easily,' Andreas Prein, the study leader and a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the Associated Press. The study, based on broad storm patterns rather than day-to-day rainfall, suggests the Southwest's rain and snow comes primarily from low-pressure storms in the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington." (02/06/16)


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Commentary


| News |

The candidate of Republican nostalgia

"John Kasich begins his town hall gatherings in New Hampshire with a trip down memory lane. On a sparkling Super Bowl Sunday, at his 101st town hall, he came before jam-packed auditorium at a Nashua Community College and made a point of countering the doom-and-gloom jeremiads of his Republican rivals by summoning remembrances of past glories. He told of how he sat alongside his parents and watched men walk on the moon; how as a kid he met Ronald Reagan and, better still, Jimmy Stewart (after whose manner, minus the stammer, he somewhat models his own); how Reagan and Tip O’Neill relaxed over drinks and saved Social Security; how the Berlin Wall came down thanks to Reagan’s resoluteness. Into this flow of world historic moments, he weaves an account of his own career, taking credit for the federal budget surpluses of the late 1990s (he was then chair of the House Budget Committee) and for balancing the budget while creating jobs in Ohio." (02/08/16)


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Free trade and labor market displacement

"Nobody said that free trade was 'costless' to adapt to. I do economic history. I see cases of industries being protected for decades. Protectionism not only raise prices, but it changes relative prices between different inputs. It incites the adoption of an artificially profitable production method. It is profitable to do so, but it is by no means the most efficient approach. It was made profitable only by the artifice of regulation and duties. Once you eliminate that artifice by removing the barriers, you still have 'time to build' problem and a need to change production methods. That takes time. However, governments are very good at making sure this takes more time than needed ..." (02/08/16)


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The Tom Woods Show, episode 588: Tom and Lew discuss the New Hampshire debate

"Lew Rockwell joins me for another debate analysis! The second-place slot is fluid in New Hampshire right now, so this debate could prove crucial." [various formats] (02/08/16)


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Rewriting the progressive playbook

"Wisconsin, that one-time bastion of progressivism, is now a policy laboratory of the American Right. Since 2011, Republicans have used their lock on the governorship and the legislature to pass right-to-work legislation, gut environmental protections and dumb down a once-vaunted education system. In 2015, the state’s GOP-dominated Supreme Court squelched a criminal inquiry into the scheme that made this possible -- specifically, how at least $9.1 million in dark money from the Wisconsin Club for Growth corrupted the recall elections of six GOP state senators in 2011 and Gov. Scott Walker in 2012. The untold millions the Koch brothers and friends funneled into Wisconsin is only part of the story. Badger state Republicans have also outsmarted their Democratic opponents. Wisconsin progressives (and indeed, their counterparts nationwide) suffer from a 'strategy gap,' says Robert Kraig." (02/08/16)


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Heartland Daily Podcast, 02/08/16

"In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Tim Bishop, a partner in the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Practice at MayerBrown LLP, who is serving as counsel for the American Farm Bureau Federation, joins Host H. Sterling Burnett to discuss new EPA regulations that give it authority over land that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed." [various formats] (02/08/16)


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Three reasons to be worried about the economy

"On January 12, America's central planner-in-chief gave his State of the Union address. The president promised nothing less than to feed the hungry, create jobs, shape the earth's climate, and make everyone a college graduate. There's nothing new here, though. ... Despite our leader's unwavering confidence in America's fortunes, a quick peak under the hood reveals a pretty grim state of American commerce." (02/08/16)


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Russia having success in hybrid war against Germany

"The attack came in the form of a Saturday evening newscast from Moscow. It would take days before the German government realized what was happening, but by that time the damage was already done. Germany’s sizable Russian-speaking community (made up of migrants from the former Soviet Union) was up in arms about a report that refugees from the Middle East had gang-raped a 13-year-old Russian girl in Berlin -- and that the local police was covering up the crime. Until recently, Germany had largely been spared the wrath of Russia’s state propaganda machine." (02/07/16)


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People prefer neo-traditional buildings

"It seems obvious to me -- and I think to most people -- that housing built since the 1930s is by and large much less attractive than housing built before. But if this is true, and if we are much richer now than we were in the 1930s and before, then why would we build, buy and live in housing we don't like? We have some sort of market in housing; surely if we really all preferred traditional housing styles we'd just buy it." (02/08/16)


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Women who don’t support Hillary Clinton are probably going to hell

"Last week, there was a Hill story about an organized pressure campaign on Elizabeth Warren, designed to shame her into openly supporting Hillary Clinton rather than the person who fits better with her New England socialist lifestyle, Bernie Sanders. This week, there's word that Clinton surrogate Madeleine Albreight has damned Bernie's feminist legions to Hell for their gender apostasy, openly declaring that they'll be chewed alive by Satan himself in the 11th circle if they don't wise up and get on the Clinton bus." (02/08/16)


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Inequality vs. democracy: Ten facts about the 1 percent

"Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, a movement that in a few short months transformed our political discourse with the concept of the '1 percent' and the '99 percent.' Today the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders is altering the political landscape with a call to reduce inequality. Why does this theme resonate with so many voters? How does it intersect with other issues like social justice, national security and the environment? Is inequality irreversible? ... What follows are 10 facts about the 1 percent – but they’re not just statistics. They’re a paint-by-numbers picture of an economy, and a democracy, in urgent need of change." (02/08/16)


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It’s almost over for Hillary: This election is a mass insurrection against a rigged system

"Democrats are deeply loyal to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton who didn't so much reconcile their party's conflicts as engross them within their protean personalities. Hillary accuses Sanders of disloyalty to them and to the modern party they held together. When Sanders suggested that some progressive groups might be part of the establishment, she ripped into him, denying there even is such a thing. There is, of course. Its main components were once grass-roots movements that traded independence for access and are now Washington lobbies with grass-roots mailing lists. They were better off when they played harder to get." (02/08/16)


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New Hampshire: Where Hillary Clinton’s campaign lost its way

"I’d be willing to put a few dollars on the proposition that, when the history of the 2016 presidential race is written, the past week in New Hampshire will go down as the place where the Clinton campaign lost its way. Bernie Sanders didn’t do her in. She did it herself, with two unforced errors. The first error was her transparently false attempt to recast herself as a bank-busting progressive. This gave rise to a very public airing of a very inconvenient fact: After leaving the State Department, Hillary got rich selling her services to the highest bidder. ... Hillary’s second mistake in New Hampshire was boasting that she gets things done. This invites the public to focus on her record and opens a door that leads to an empty trophy room." [editor's note: A concise summary of what she has NOT done in her many career stops, as well as some of horrific things she has supported - SAT] (02/08/16)


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Only a barbaric nation drafts its mothers and daughters into combat

"The most disappointing moment of Saturday night's debate came when Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio each embraced the idea that women should register with the selective service, making it possible for America to draft women into ground combat. The argument for registration is based on the new Pentagon policy opening up all combat jobs to women." [editor's note: Only a barbaric state drafts ANYONE, period - TLK] (02/09/16)


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The rise and fall of Rand Paul

"On Jan. 5, 2011, the day Rand Paul was sworn in as a United States senator, he already was a star. Well-wishers crowded a hallway and reception room in the U.S. Capitol. Journalists were everywhere. In fact, the Kentucky Republican already had been on network television that morning, broadening his already expanding national image as a new figure in American politics. I was the Washington correspondent for The Courier-Journal of Louisville, so Paul’s arrival in the Senate that January day was the start of my regular exposure to him -- and the beginning of a years-long chronicle of a man in a hurry to make his mark." (02/08/16)


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Why Google can’t criticize EU much for ruling it dominant and anticompetitive

"In the next several weeks, expect the EC's Competition Directorate to decide that Google is in fact dominant with >90% share of Internet search in Europe and that Google has abused its search dominance by biasing its own Shopping service over competitors. It also could formally charge Google for abuse of its search dominance in contractually tying Google Search and other search-driven apps like Maps, YouTube, etc. to Android to extend its search dominance to mobile search and to the operating system market where Android now owns >80% share. In taking a most extreme and ultimately indefensible legal and PR position, that the EU antitrust case is 'wrong as a matter of fact, law and economics,' Google has painted itself into a corner, PR-wise and politically, much more than many appreciate." (02/08/16)


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Cruz makes play for libertarian voters. Is anybody game?

"Cruz is now lowering the volume on social issues and trying to sound like Rand Paul. CNN reports, 'Gone Wednesday morning was the vow to investigate Planned Parenthood. In was [Rand Paul's] punchline about the White House tapping your cell phone.' He's talking about the Fourth Amendment, eminent domain, and auditing the Federal Reserve. He's downplaying the social issues that he emphasized in Iowa. (Maybe he'll bring them back next week in South Carolina.) But will libertarians buy it?" (02/08/16)


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The awful state of Republican foreign policy debate

"Daniel DePetris said last week that Paul's exit from the race would hurt the quality of the foreign policy debate in the primaries .... The treatment of foreign policy and national security issues on Saturday in the eighth Republican debate showed just how true this is. Whether it was Cruz's insistence on defending his ignorant carpet bombing rhetoric, Trump's promise to bring 'a lot worse' than waterboarding back into use on detainees, or Bush and Rubio's silly belief that a Sunni Arab army can be conjured up to fight ISIS in Syria, virtually everything that the candidates said about foreign policy was either irresponsible or delusional or both." (02/08/16)


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The curse and failure of identity politics

"I think we've all had enough of the bullshit: identity politics has been a curse to leftist movements in the U.S. for far too long. How could anyone argue otherwise? During the Obama years, leftists were chastised for their critiques, with many, including myself, being accused of racism. Racism, really? I've spent the last ten years of my life dedicated to progressive social movements, yet I'm a racist because I think that Barack Obama is an imperialist scumbag? Piss off ... Today, the same is happening in the context of Hillary Clinton's run for U.S. President. Any and all critiques of Hillary are deemed 'sexist' by HRC's bootlickers." (02/08/16)


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Section 1332, where are you?

"People are starting to get excited about another Obamacare work-around: The section 1332 waiver. This refers to a section of Obamacare that allows states great flexibility in how they deliver Obamacare within their borders. The curious thing about section 1332 waivers is that they can only be issued as of January 1, 2017. Why? Why not allow states to get section 1332 waivers as of October 2010, when Obamacare's first regulations took effect? Or January 2014, when the gushers of tax credits began to flow through the exchanges? Who knows? Maybe the administration just thought they needed a few years for the cement around Obamacare to solidify." (02/08/16)


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Mandatory depression is screening is a depressing thought

"The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans." (02/08/16)


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Peace is the keystone of liberty

"The anti-war movement desperately needs libertarian leadership. And the libertarian movement urgently needs to be strongly anti-war. So in this essay I will offer some chief reasons for every libertarian to be 100% non-interventionist and actively engaged in the cause of peace." (02/08/16)


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Healthy economic growth is our missing ingredient

"This year's Republican presidential race has generated an unusual number of unusually bad ideas -- Donald Trump on Muslims, Ted Cruz on carpet bombing, Marco Rubio on male footwear. It has also has produced one of the best: Jeb Bush's 4 percent plan. No, that wasn't his desired share of the vote in the Iowa caucus, where he got less than 3 percent. It's his goal for annual economic growth, which he argues would 'restore the opportunity for every American to rise and achieve earned success.'" (02/08/16)


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Hillary Clinton, double agent?

"Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rails against a 'political system hijacked by billionaires and special interests.' Billionaire George Soros just wrote a $6 million check to a pro-Hillary SuperPAC. 'Our democracy should work for everyone,' states HillaryClinton.com, 'not just the wealthy and well-connected.' Last week, we discovered Mrs. Clinton was paid a whopping $675,000 by Goldman Sachs, the politically-connected Wall Street investment firm, for three speeches after she left the State Department. Nice work if you can get it." (02/08/16)


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Joseph Schumpeter the “father” of capitalist “creative destruction”

"Today is Austrian-born economist, Joseph A. Schumpeter's, birthday. Born on February 8, 1883, he died on January 8, 1950. Schumpeter is famous as a leading 20th century formulator of the notion of the entrepreneur as dynamic innovator of change, and also as a master of the history of economic ideas." (02/08/16)


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A new Cold War?

"Now, it may well be the case that Russia has given money to Front National or Golden Dawn or UKIP or Jeremy Corbyn for all we know. After all, funding other nations' opposition parties has always been bread-and-butter work for foreign powers, including the US secret service -- it funnelled money into the so-called Colour Revolutions and armed groups in Ukraine and the Middle East. I've no doubt Russia does it, too. However, the idea that Putin is behind the current refugee crisis and the longer-term political problems in the Eurozone is simply ludicrous. Not even the flimsiest understanding of the history of the past decade could support such a proposition." (02/08/16)


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Opposing the plutocracy means opposing the warfare state

"[Bernie] Sanders isn't a hawk. He opposed the invasion of Iraq and interventions in Libya and Syria. But he's not a consistent non-interventionist or opponent of the national security state. He favored the invasion of Afghanistan. He's even said he favors prosecuting courageous whistleblower Edward Snowden. And he's missed out on an obvious opportunity to challenge the warmongers precisely as a way of reducing economic inequity. The war-making budget, totaling in the vicinity of $1 trillion (when Pentagon allocations are combined with interest payments and appropriations for military-related activities in other departments), is a huge source of revenue for the wealthy and well connected." (02/07/16)


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When in Rome: “Criminal consequences” for Assange’s tormentors?

"Prior to this ruling, Assange's persecutors might have been able to plausibly claim legal uncertainty as an extenuating circumstance. That defense is no longer available. Assange's continued confinement after the ruling constitutes the knowing and intentional commission of several prosecutable war crimes." (02/06/16)


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Justice, not amnesty, for “illegal immigrants”

"It speaks volumes that the dirtiest word in the Republican and conservative lexicon is amnesty. At a minimum, it exposes as a flagrant lie the claim that Republicans and conservatives want to expand liberty and limit government power. One cannot consistently praise the principle, central to the supposedly beloved Declaration of Independence, that 'all men [that is, persons, not only Americans] are created equal' while also demanding that the government control some people's freedom to move. One also cannot claim to be a champion of liberty and limited power while calling for measures to prevent people without papers from finding work or making a home in the United States." (02/05/16)


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Don’t make women register for the draft. Just end draft registration for everyone.

"Top military brass made headlines this week when they called for expanding the Selective Service System -- as close as we come, these days, to a draft registry -- to include women. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both framed the issue as a matter of fairness: All eligible U.S. citizens should be included, Neller said, 'Now that the restrictions that exempted women from [combat jobs] don't exist.' But a better idea than requiring women to register is to do away with Selective Service altogether, for women and men. When it comes to the draft, or any lingering vestige of it, it's time for Congress to end it, not mend it." (02/05/16)


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The great candidate debate shows: Walking the fed carpet

"The presidential candidate debate After-Shows sound like something you would hear on Entertainment Tonight or Extra or Access Hollywood. They're like B List pundits commenting on the designer duds worn by the celebrities posturing in front of the cameras at the endlessly self-indulgent award shows. Critiquing the debate shows has become more like recapping the Oscars or the Grammys, except the presidential pretenders aren't walking the red carpet." (02/07/16)


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Rubio only looks foolish when he tries to out-trump Trump

"On Wednesday, President Obama made history, visiting an American mosque for the first time during his presidency. Appearing at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the president described U.S. Muslims as part of 'one American family.' Although he received a warm welcome from those in attendance, the president reserved part of his message for non-Muslims, when he cautioned against bigotry. 'And so if we’re serious about freedom of religion -- and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians who remain the majority in this country -- we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,' he said. Obama’s visit drew front-page coverage on newspapers from New York to London to the Middle East." [editor's note: Yep, the rest of the time MR just looks psychotic - SAT] (02/05/16)


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A frolic in Fort Collins

"Last week, the 66-year-old gravity furnace in our otherwise cozy little 1949 tract home failed us and apparently can't be repaired for lack of parts. It was like a relative dying. We found some nice folks to eject the old warp-core and install a new, technologically superior model without destroying us financially, and piggyback central air-conditioning on it so I don't have to take my usual summer 'sabbatical' any more (I can't think when it gets much above 85 degrees). A humidifier will save my wonderful collection of musical instruments (mostly guitars) until I've recovered from my 2014 stroke (I get microscopically better every day) and I can play them again. I will play them again." (02/07/16)


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Enormous, humongous December; record yearly trade deficit

"The U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday that the December goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $43.4 billion. Imports were up, exports were down. The cause was a 'stronger' dollar, decreased demand around the world thanks to 'austerity' policies that take money out of economies, and, of course, our job-killing 'free trade' policies. The 2015 goods and services deficit added up to $531.5 billion. This was $23.2 billion (4.6 percent) more than 2014. The goods and services trade deficit with China was a record $365.7 billion in 2015. That represents a billion dollars worth of jobs shipped to China every single day for a year." (02/06/16)


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Danger ahead

"I've been critical of Sen. Rand Paul's presidential campaign for waffling on the libertarian anti-interventionist position on foreign policy: however, he never gave an inch on the surveillance issue. With him out of the race, we hear only the Orwellian nonsense emanating from people like Ted Cruz, who now says he supported Rand's legislation to roll back Big Brother because he wants more surveillance. And of course the others, including Hillary Clinton, are just as bad. Bernie Sanders stands alone in opposing the National Security Agency's spying on the American people, but he has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, let alone the White House, and will eventually be endorsing Mrs. Clinton -- whose record on civil liberties and Internet freedom is appalling. These two issues -- war and civil liberties -- are inextricably linked: the more we invade the world, the more our rulers will demand the authority to police the home front, in the name of 'defending' the country. It's a dynamic that will continue to roll on, and that signals danger ahead." (02/07/16)


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You’re libertarian or you’re not

"Libertarianism is filled with wolves in sheep's clothing. People with anti-liberty ideals, when they share some pro-liberty ideals with libertarians, believe we share all their ideals. We don't. In fact, their anti-liberty 'values' are disgusting. I know there are also those who claim to be 'conservative' or 'liberal' who can't meet the minimum measure to fit the bill. Regardless of where you stand, I'm sure you can relate to the problem of wolves in sheep's clothing among any group." (02/04/16)


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Free Thoughts Podcast, 02/05/16: Socrates on trial

"Brian Wilson from Combat and Classics joins us for a discussion on the trial of Socrates, as told by his student Plato in the Apology." [various formats] (02/05/16)


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Rubio’s a robot, and other Republican revelations

"New Jersey Governor Chris Christie achieved his apotheosis in Saturday night’s Republican debate, settling happily into a role he was born to play. Christie is the bad cop in the interrogation room, slapping the detainee so silly that he’ll break down and say anything. His victim Saturday night was Florida Senator Marco Rubio, whom Christie accused not just of being an unready, callow youth, but of giving the same canned speech over and over again. Rubio was so rattled that he responded to Christie’s attack by delivering the same canned answer, verbatim, three times in the span of about a minute. It was not an effective reply." (02/07/16)


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Yet more on the alleged “losers” from free trade

"International trade produces no more losers, even in the short run, than does any other change in economic activity. To fall into the trap -- seemignly correct, but wholly inconsistent with the way that we typically treat domestic economic phenomena -- of agreeing that trade has 'losers' is not only to be incorrect, but to pave with this incorrectness the path to policies that do indeed create genuine losers." (02/07/16)


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Zoning and Zen

"Three years ago, tragedy struck Renee Bierbaum of Palmetto, Florida. Her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident, leaving her a widow with an 11-year-old son. Consumed by grief, she eventually found solace by practicing yoga -- and decided to quit her job and become a full-time instructor. 'When he died, I realized the brevity of my life,' she says. 'I hated what I was doing.' Now Bierbaum is a certified yoga instructor and the proud owner of an expansive yoga pavilion in her backyard. Her business is on hold, however, because the county government won't let her teach yoga -- on her own property -- unless she coughs up $7,000 for a permit." [editor's note: And it gets even worse -- some idiot claims to own something called "culture" and accuses her of trying to steal it - TLK] (for publication 03/16)


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Condom-nation hits middle schools

"The San Francisco Unified School District's board is poised to expand its Condom Availability Program for high school students into middle schools. The school district no longer offers Algebra I as an eighth-grade course -- Algebra I has been folded into a two-year, eighth-grade and ninth-grade class that is supposed to be more comprehensive. But the board is ready to bring a high school program to middle school by handing out condoms to sixth-graders. What could possibly go wrong?" (02/07/16)


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Consent under deceit, or why fraud is aggression

"I don't think anyone would consider consent under duress as a valid form of consent. If I threaten to kill you or harm you in some way if you don't consent to something, then the integrity of your consent has been compromised in a major way. That you meet my demand willfully and with volition cannot translate into legitimate permission because I have taken away your ability to choose freely. ... The validity of consent as a result of deceit is not so clear cut, but I consider it the basis for any argument that fraud is a form of aggression." (02/05/16)


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Closing the circle

"My mother, Ana Maria, died on July 14, 2000 at 78 years of age. For 40 years, ever since our flight from Cuba in 1960, she'd clung to the hope of outliving Fidel Castro Ruz, a man four years her junior. Almost more galling than having Castro outlive her was having her saint's day fall on July 26, the anniversary and official title of Fidel Castro's revolutionary movement. To a Cuban, one's saint’s day -- the birth date of the Catholic saint after whom one was named, in this case Santa Ana -- is a personal holiday second only to one's birthday. After our flight following the revolution, first to Mexico and then to the United States, she never again celebrated anything on that day." (02/05/16)


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A panic-inducing night for the GOP establishment

"The Republican establishment’s fondest hope before Saturday night’s debate was that Marco Rubio would deliver yet another solid (if unmemorable) debate performance, and that Donald Trump would fall on his face—compounding the damage he suffered in Iowa, and surrendering more, if not all, of his lead in New Hampshire over to Rubio, who’s in second place and climbing. Instead, the establishment got almost exactly the opposite." (02/06/16)


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The KN@PP Stir Podcast, episode 65: Anybody but Johnson and yes, that means McAfee

"In this week's episode: Thanks for Asking! (The British are coming and they don't give a damn about American football); Libertarian Party 2016 presidential nomination analyisis -- John McAfee." [Flash audio or MP3] (02/07/16)


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Insanity — is it catching?

"I have written about this pathetic form of insanity before: people who believe in the power of 'magic words' and mystic motions and incantations to make the minions (and even the bosses) of that corrupt organization we call government and the state to go away. This used to be limited to the likes of Lyndon LaRouche and deluded people like George McGovern and Bernie Sanders, but today ... maybe it is some weird genetic defect? People, government is force -- force AND delusion -- that God gave some people the right and power to lord it over other people and to abuse, defraud, steal from, and kill anyone they please with a monopoly of force in a given area split from other places by imaginary lines on the ground (admittedly, sometimes marked with fences or walls or massive fortifications)." (02/05/16)


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