Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

Massive fracture in Antarctic ice shelf is 70 miles long, a football field wide, and a third of a mile deep

"A massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf has been growing steadily, threatening to cut all the way across. If it does, an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware -- and perhaps even bigger -- will float off. New observations by scientists on NASA's IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice, reveal that the rift is now about 70 miles long. And it cuts down about 1,700 feet, all the way through the floating shelf of ice." (12/05/16)


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The Hague: Ugandan rebel pleads not guilty to rape, murder charges

"An alleged senior commander in the militia of fugitive warlord Joseph Kony pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 70 charges including murder, rape, forced marriages and using child soldiers during the group's insurgency in northern Uganda. Dominic Ongwen, whom prosecutors say is a commander in the Lord's Resistance Army, listened intently as an official at the International Criminal Court in The Hague read out 70 charges. 'In the name of God, I deny all these charges,' he replied. ... Ongwen was himself abducted as a 14-year-old and forced to fight with Kony's forces before rising through the ranks to allegedly become commander of the LRA's Sinia brigade." (12/06/16)


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South Korea claims North Korea carried out cyber attack from Chinese IP

"A South Korean military source says it has identified the source of North Korea cyberattacks that targeted the internal networks of the military. The Internet Protocol address linked to the attacks was traced to a location in Shenyang, China, and a malicious code associated with the address was similar to the one used in North Korean cyberattacks against the South, Yonhap reported. Seoul's military believes the evidence points to North Korean involvement in a hacking incident aimed at the army's intranet." (12/06/16)


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Saudi Arabia: Regime sentences 15 people to death for spying for Iran

"A Saudi court has sentenced 15 people to death for spying for Iran, Saudi-owned media has reported, in a ruling that could further stoke tension between the two rival powers. The specialised criminal court in Riyadh sentenced 15 other suspects to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years, and acquitted two, the Arabic-language al-Riyadh newspaper reported. The suspects -- 30 Saudi Shia Muslims, one Iranian and an Afghan -- were detained in 2013 on charges of spying for Iran and went on trial in February. The rulings are subject to appeal, and death sentences must go to the king for ratification." (12/06/16)


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Fundraiser update, 12/06/16

Thanks to TH, EC, TP, DFD, TI, JR, BB, MB, another MB, EG, SS, PS, DJ, GR, JJJ, GB, KM and KML, whose contributions over the last few days bring our year-end fundraiser total to $1040 (versus our goal, by December 31, of $5,000)!

We're more than 20% of the way there ... and YOU can help get us to 100% by visiting:

http://rationalreview.news-digests.com/support-rrnd

So I hope you will :)

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


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SC: Judge declares mistrial in Walter Scott murder trial

"A judge declared a mistrial Monday afternoon in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man at the hands of a South Carolina former patrolman, after the jury said they could not come to a unanimous verdict. ... The defense in ex-patrolman Michael Slager's the five-week trial claimed that he feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter Scott got control of the officer's stun gun and pointed it at him. But Scott was shot five times in the back while running from Slager during a routine traffic stop." [editor's note: And the shooting, as well as Slager's placement of his stun gun next to the body to support his fake "he got my Taser" story, was caught on video. There was no reasonable doubt here - TLK] (12/05/16)


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Oil tops $55 for first time in 16 months as OPEC deal fuels buying

"Brent crude oil prices rose above $55 a barrel on Monday, trading at a fresh 16-month high, as optimism spread about the prospect of a tightening market after OPEC members agreed on a landmark deal to cut production last week. Monday's gains take the rally since the agreement was struck on Wednesday to 19 percent for Brent, the highest in almost eight years, and 16 percent for U.S. crude." (12/05/16)


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Abe will become first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor

"Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor, he said on Monday, becoming the the first sitting Japanese leader to visit the site of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack of the U.S. naval base in Hawaii, which killed more than 2,000 and pulled America into World War II. Abe will travel to the base with President Obama on Dec. 26 and 27, the New York Times reports." (12/05/16)


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UK: Supreme Court hears landmark challenge to Brexit plans

"Britain's Supreme Court began hearing a landmark case Monday that will decide who has the power to trigger the U.K.'s exit from the European Union -- the government or Parliament. The legal battle has major constitutional implications for the balance of power between the legislature and the executive, and has inflamed Britain's already raw wound over how and whether to leave the EU. ... Neuberger and 10 other justices at the country's top court must decide whether Prime Minister Theresa May's government can invoke Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, the trigger for two years of divorce talks, without the approval of lawmakers." (12/05/16)


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White House: The law means whatever we want it to mean

"The Obama administration has determined it can target the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia under the war powers legislation that Congress approved to target al-Qaida after the 9/11 attacks. It's part of a report shedding new light on the president's evolving interpretation of the law to justify responses to new threats overseas -- and to support the expanded war powers he's handing off to his successor." (12/05/16)


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Study: Human evolution “not over yet”

"The regular use of Caesarean sections is having an impact on human evolution, say scientists. More mothers now need surgery to deliver a baby due to their narrow pelvis size, according to a study. Researchers estimate cases where the baby cannot fit down the birth canal have increased from 30 in 1,000 in the 1960s to 36 in 1,000 births today. Historically, these genes would not have been passed from mother to child as both would have died in labour. Researchers in Austria say the trend is likely to continue, but not to the extent that non-surgical births will become obsolete. Dr Philipp Mitteroecker, of the department of theoretical biology at the University of Vienna, said there was a long standing question in the understanding of human evolution." [editor's note: Well I would hope so; hard to believe this is as far up the scale as we can get - SAT] [additional editor's note: There is no "scale" - TLK] (12/05/16)


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Brazil: Citizens protest against changes to anti-corruption bill

"Anti-corruption protests swept across Brazil as citizens took to the streets to protest against rampant perceived graft and abuse of power. Although the demonstrations were not as large as those in 2015 against Dilma Rousseff, the biggest marches took place in the Sao Paulo’s business district, and on the beach in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro." (12/05/16)


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WY: Police to dole out donated money for good deeds

"A good deed could turn into a $50 tip from Jackson law enforcement officials who will dole out donated money ahead of the holidays. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen says anonymous donors have contributed enough for deputies, officers and troopers to give $50 to $100 gifts. Whalen said the money could be given out for almost anything, including good drivers or people who are simply down on their luck. He said the cash gifts are about spreading goodwill. Donations last year helped officials run a similar effort. Whalen said all of this year's donors were Jackson Hole residents. The area has a number of wealthy residents who own large estates." (12/05/16)


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CA: Bill would require reporting of “superbug” infections & deaths

"A California state senator introduced a bill on Monday that would mandate reporting of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths and require doctors to record the infections on death certificates when they are a cause of death. The legislation also aims to establish the nation’s most comprehensive statewide surveillance system to track infections and deaths from drug-resistant pathogens. Data from death certificates would be used to help compile an annual state report on superbug infections and related deaths. In September, a Reuters investigation revealed that tens of thousands of superbug deaths nationwide go uncounted every year. The infections are often omitted from death certificates, and even when they are recorded, they aren’t counted because of the lack of a unified national surveillance system." (12/05/16)


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Medical marijuana may soon be available in Ireland

"Medical marijuana may soon be available for patients in Ireland after the minority government approved Thusday a new amendment allowing use of the plant. The bill, drafted by Ireland’s People Before Profit group, still has another round of approval by the government before it can become law. The bill, which was presented to the Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Lower House Parliament, intends to legalize the use of cannabis products for those suffering from chronic pain and other ailments with doctor recommendation. Health Minister Simon Harris said he would not prevent the bill from progressing to Committee Stage, where high-ranking government officials will decide on full legalization of medical marijuana use for people suffering from chronic pain, cancer, epilepsy, fibromyalgia and MS." (12/05/16)


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NASA spots electric-blue clouds over Antarctica

"NASA is reporting its spacecraft has detected high-altitude clouds over Antarctica. According to a press release by the agency, 'Data from NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, spacecraft shows the sky over Antarctica is glowing electric blue due to the start of noctilucent, or night-shining, cloud season in the Southern Hemisphere -- and an early one at that.' As to what these clouds are, NASA explains, 'Noctilucent clouds are Earth's highest clouds, sandwiched between Earth and space 50 miles above the ground in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere. Seeded by fine debris from disintegrating meteors, these clouds of ice crystals glow a bright, shocking blue when they reflect sunlight.'" (12/05/16)


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Ghana: Fake US embassy shut down after “about a decade”

"A fake U.S. embassy that operated for 'about a decade' in Ghana's capital issuing counterfeit and fraudulently obtained visas has been shut down, the U.S. State Department announced. The scam was orchestrated by 'Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings' and a Ghanaian attorney, a statement said. Several suspects have been arrested, though others remain at large." (12/05/16)


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Argentina: Regime ramps up drug war with artillery speedboats to patrol rivers

"Argentina’s government plans to buy Isreali artillery speedboats to combat drug trafficking on the Paraná River, one of the country’s principal entry-points for Marijuana. The Paraguay-Parána waterway reportedly sees the circulation of some 10,000 tons of cannabis, making up 20 percent of Paraguay’s production, but now Argentina is trying to lower that percentage." (12/05/16)


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ND: DAPL corporation just told the Army corp they will do what they want

"Don't celebrate the death of the 'Black Snake' just yet? No sooner than we at camp got word that the Army Corps. of Engineers denied the easement permit for Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to drill under the river and continue their illegal pipeline through protected Native Land, the corporations just announced that the Obama Administration’s statement Sunday that it would not at this time issue an 'easement' to Dakota Access Pipeline was a purely political action." (12/05/16)


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TX: Satanic Temple strikes out against new abortion rules

"The Satanic Temple is striking out against the Lone Star State's new rules requiring burial or cremation of aborted fetal remains. The controversial religious group boldly declared its members would not comply with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services's new enforcement plans, citing First Amendment concerns. 'The Satanic Temple believes burial rites are a well-established component of religious practice. This is undisputed in the entirety of US legal history,' the group said in a statement published on its homepage, adding that the Temple's belief in the "inviolability of the body" stands in direct conflict with the new rules." (12/04/16)


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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successor completes first test flight

"Virgin Galactic's successor to its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft has successfully performed its first unpowered glide and landing. The event comes two years after the tragic fatal crash of the spaceship's first iteration over the Mojave Desert, when pilot Michael Alsbury was killed and his co-pilot Peter Siebold seriously injured. In July 2015, a nine-month investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the incident was caused by pilot error and poor safety procedures. On 4 December the second iteration, VSS Unity, was safely steered by pilots Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay after being taken to an altitude of 50,000 feet by Virgin's four-engine WhiteKnightTwo. The entire flight took one hour and 20 minutes, only ten of which consisted of the free-glide, during which VSS Unity reached a maximum speed of Mach 0.6 (about 735 km/h). It was the VSS Unity's fifth flight with WhiteKnightTwo carrying it, but the first time it was piloted and landed alone." (12/05/16)


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FCC gang warns AT&T, Verizon against saving customers money on bandwidth

"U.S. regulators are calling out AT&T and Verizon for exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers' cellphones. ... The Federal Communications Commission sent letters to the country's biggest wireless carriers Thursday saying the way they handle the practice, known as 'zero rating,' can hurt competition and consumers. The agency had warned AT&T in November and said in its Thursday letter that AT&T's response did not ease its concerns. Other services -- say Hulu or Netflix -- can pay Verizon and AT&T so that consumers could also use those apps without eating up cellphone data. The FCC says that could harm the market for streaming services as it makes it more expensive for internet companies to compete with video services that are owned by the carriers." (12/05/16)


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Trump picks Carson to head HUD

"President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Ben Carson, a rival in the GOP presidential primary who became a top supporter, to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Trump chose Carson despite the pediatric neurosurgeon's protestations that he lacked the experience to run a federal agency. The announcement Monday that Carson has been picked for the post came after weeks of negotiations during which Carson said publicly he had little interest in serving in Trump's Cabinet, but then expressed more openness to the idea as Trump publicly courted him." (12/05/16)


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European Commission berates tech companies for insufficiently enthusiastic censorship

"Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft are not acting quickly enough to tackle hate speech, according to the European Commission, which has told the companies to buck up their ideas. If the Silicon Valley companies do not speed up their response to tackling illegal hate speech on their platforms, they will be be brought to book under European law, the Commission said Sunday. Back in May the companies all voluntarily [sic] signed up to a code of conduct, in which they promised to remove hate speech within 24 hours .... Signing the code was an alternative to the EU drawing up laws on the matter. But now the EU Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova has said that the Commission may be forced [sic] to enact laws after all, as only 40 percent of posts are being removed within the timeframe." (12/05/16)


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UN appeals for record $22.2 billion humanitarian funding in 2017

"The United Nations on Monday appealed for $22.2 billion in funding to cover humanitarian relief projects to aid 93 million people and 33 countries in 2017. 'The world is facing a state of humanitarian crisis not seen since the Second World War: more than 128 million people are affected by conflict, displacement, natural disasters and profound vulnerability,' the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said in a statement released along with its annual report. OCHA said the $22.2 billion in funding that will 'deliver urgent relief, protection and support' to the 'most vulnerable and marginalized people' is the highest consolidated humanitarian appeal ever." (12/05/16)


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Commentary


| News |

Environmental fears over DAPL overblown

"The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is more than just a pipeline. It is a political hot potato. There are a lot of issues underlying the DAPL conversation, including indigenous peoples' access to ancestral lands, environmental concerns of a potential spill, water rights, and social justice. One false assumption is that rejecting the DAPL would result in fossil fuels staying in the ground. The lack of a pipeline has not stopped growth in oil production from the Bakken shale formation yet. This oil is currently transported by rail or road, where it has a significantly higher chance of spillage, explosion or tragedy. Higher prices will be passed on to consumers, a regressive policy that inordinately affects the poorest citizens. Climate change activists have also entered the fray." (12/06/16)


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The dumbest thing Batman ever said

"No one should be a utilitarian. But from a utilitarian point of view, Batman's logic is superficially appealing: He can sacrifice one life to save 7 billion humans with 1% probability, for a net expectational gain of 69,999,999 lives. Until, of course, you pause and reflect. Consider the following utilitarian counter-arguments, in ascending order of quality." (12/05/16)


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Ben Carson and the future of cities

"President-elect Donald Trump has tapped neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While pundits are focused on their primary feuds, a more important question is whether HUD's mission will change under Carson's tenure. On the surface, Carson's appointment might seem to be a simple patronage job, a reward for his loyalty to the Trump candidacy. Carson's only urban policy experience appears to be a passion for urban areas, particularly low-income minority communities, and his life experience growing up in Detroit. Yet, HUD is a federal agency where a personal philosophy and approach to public policy can make a difference in agency priorities." (12/05/16)


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The joys of swamp draining

"There are those who claim you can't look at a government budget the same way you do a business or household budget. Well, yes, yes you can. Rule number one -- you don't spend more than you have. Period. Full stop. Otherwise you finally end up with unrecoverable debt and like it or not, someone will have to pay for that. Our enlightened leadership has tried to kick that payback can as far down the road as they can, well, far enough that it won't effect them or their reelection chances in they lifetime. Their, yours and my grandkids? Aw, screw em." (12/05/16)


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James Bovard: Time to end the war on drugs

"Watch FFF policy adviser James Bovard present his perspectives on why America needs to end the war on drugs. This presentation is part of FFF's Drug War Video Project, whose aim is to accelerate the end of this immoral and destructive government program." [Flash video] (12/06/16)


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Free Talk Live, 12/05/16

"Man With Rifle 'Investigates' Pizzagate Restaurant :: Bizarre Allegations :: Libertarian Principle and Awareness :: Government Wind Turbines Fail :: LED Bulbs vs Incandescent :: Julian Heicklen Arrested After Attempting to Start Revolution :: Parking Lot Deaths :: Traffic Court :: Officer of the Court :: Amazon Go." [Flash audio or MP3] (12/05/16)


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Hacking America’s antiquated elections

"No single change can unlock voters and spark a democracy where the best ideas rise to the surface and policymakers are able to implement the will of the people with respect for all. But this year we saw a true glimmer of hope for change: with 52% of the vote, Maine voters adopted ranked choice voting (RCV) for all their elections for governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state legislature in a campaign endorsed by the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and hundreds of major party elected officials from across the spectrum. Starting in 2018, Mainers will be able to vote for the candidates they like the most without helping elect the candidates they like the least. They will earn what we all deserve: a fair vote and a truce in the battle over whether minor party and independent candidates can have an enduring seat at the electoral table." (12/05/16)


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Libertarianism as extreme middle-of-the-roadism

"While the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate Gary Johnson unsuccessfully tried to sell voters a lukewarm version of libertarianism as the good policies from both Democrats and Republicans but none of the bad ('neither too hot nor too cold'), there's an argument to be made for libertarianism as the 'golden middle.' But it is not a middle position between those two evils, but between two destructive extremes in social cooperation: the power of one and the power of none." (12/05/16)


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The 5-step process for playing defense against Trump’s bad ideas

"By now we should be familiar with the pattern: President-elect Donald Trump tweets out some crazy-sounding policy-related ideas, journalists and Democrats freak out, the conversation quickly progresses from an argument over the proper adjectives to describe the idea to meta-arguments over Trump's possible motives and whether we should even be paying that much attention to what the president-elect tweets in the first place. Then before you know it there's a new crazy-sounding policy-related idea transmitting from Trump Tower through social media, and away we go again. From flag-burning to alleged massive voter fraud, it's a profoundly unsatisfying way to process an unusual politician's public utterances. Instead of beginning with generalized hyperbole and speculative divinations of dark motive, I suggest something closer to the opposite: Working from the practical specifics backward, and saving the ominous political vagaries for last, so that you can rally defenses where necessary and also arrive at a bit of perspective before declaring every impotent brainfart proof of incipient fascism." (12/05/16)


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Censorship: Tech firms should abandon the EU to its madness

"The European Union has a censorship addiction, and a desire to inflict the costs of indulging that addiction on the world's top tech companies. Vera Jourova, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, complains that Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft respond too slowly to demands that they delete posts deemed 'hate speech' from their platforms." (12/05/16)


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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

"On this day, marking the one-year anniversary of the San Bernardino terror attack, I pause to remember the victims and the survivors. And yet, somehow, we have survived. There is a culture of life in this country, but especially in this city, New York City, the grandest city on earth, which in 2001 suffered a horrendous attack of its own. Nothing seems to dampen this country's (or this city's) ability to rise above the rubble, not even a contentious election that has left many of us with the feeling that Armageddon is around the corner." (12/02/16)


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Trump is FDR with the fireside tweet

"President Clinton said, 'I feel your pain.' President Franklin Roosevelt had 'fireside chats.' And now President-elect Donald Trump is reaching out to forgotten Americans with a message that he cares about their problems, and wants to help. This could be the Democrats’ worst nightmare. As Walter Russell Mead notes in The American Interest, it’s an old style of politicking that more recent politicos seem to have forgotten. Trump’s Carrier event saved only a tiny fraction of jobs that are being lost around the country, and it might not make much difference in the long run, but that wasn’t the point." (12/05/16)


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There are no allies in fascists

"For decades, Antiwar.com has been the leading voice of the anti-war movement, injecting a consistently anti-authoritarian message into the conversation about foreign conflict and foreign policy. Their journalism has been celebrated among independent media and legacy media alike over the years, and their commentators are unmatched in their commitment to peace, liberty and the end of war. Well, for the most part. Because while you've definitely got all that, you also have to contend with a steady flow of nationalist apologia from Justin Raimondo, Antiwar.com'’s editorial director. His latest piece, 'A World to Win,' is a gleeful ode to the second wave of fascism currently knocking on humanity’s door." (12/05/16)


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Tarheel heist: How the charter school industry is hijacking public ed

"If the American Dream (the one that includes a good job and a house with a yard, kids, and a two-car garage) is still alive, you can see it taking shape in Wake County in the heart of the state of North Carolina. Signs of surging prosperity are everywhere this morning as I make my way to West Lake Middle School in Apex, NC, on the outskirts of Raleigh. ... Wake County is home to five of the fastest growing cities in the Tar Heel State, which is the state with the nation’s fastest growth in economic output in 2015 at 13.4 percent. At West Lake Middle this morning, cars and busses in the drop-off lane back up out to the main road, where commuter traffic pushes impatiently to get by. I angle my car to a visitor spot because I’m not here to drop off a child. I’m here for a protest rally. The protest is happening because the rising tide of North Carolina’s economic resurgence has yet to raise all boats." (12/05/16)


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The Walking Dead and America’s income tax slavery

"We are all familiar with the standard concept of slavery. When we hear the term, we naturally think in terms of the plight of pre-Civil War blacks. ... We also think of the slaves that lived in ancient times under the pharaohs. Coming to mind is the movie The Ten Commandments, which depicted Jewish slaves who lived their lives under the control of Egyptian masters. The Jews were forced to spend every day of their lives making bricks and doing other things to build the pyramids for the pharaohs. Under slavery, they too could not just walk away. None of that type of thing is occurring in The Walking Dead. Rick Grimes, the star of the show, and the people in his group, are pretty much free to live their lives the way they want, except for one big thing: A man named Negan, along with his followers, wields the power to seize anything he wants from Grimes'[s] camp, including food, bedding, and other assets that Rick and his group acquire." (12/05/16)


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Italy’s referendum is Europe’s next test in its fight for survival

"The European political landscape best resembles croquet, the game popularized by the British in the 19th century. Its rules seem simple enough: players compete by knocking balls through hoops on a lawn. But like so much else, it’s more complicated than it seems. It’s a game of positions, as is the shifting politics of Europe. In the next year, balls must be knocked through a number of crucial hoops for the European Union to survive. If they are not, then the Union is likely to collapse. Indeed, each one of the hoops might be labelled 'if,' to remind the players -- the EU member states -- that if they miss, the damage may be fatal to their Union. One of the hoops has already been missed. Britain’s June vote to exit the European Union is now widely seen as a retreat into surly isolation by a slim majority who don't like foreigners. It largely isn’t that, though, and the decision was quite unlike the movement which elected Donald Trump as U.S. president. In large part, the Brits voted to make clear that the Westminster parliament, not a confusing jumble of acronyms in Brussels, was their lawmaking institution." (12/04/16)


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Alex Nowrasteh on The Bob Zadek Show

"Alex returns to the show to explain how Republicans went astray, and to offer a history lesson on political parties that ushered their downfall through misguided nativist platforms. They will also discuss why Trump's proposed policies would be a disaster for the Republic, if they can be implemented at all." [various formats] (12/04/16)


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Freedom Feens Radio, 12/05/16

"Tonight Michael W. Dean, Bradon X, and Murder Dogg talk about photos that are signed by 'Celebrities' and hung up in restaurants, 'Dean Syndrome,' The upcoming 'Cash Newmann Vomited Here' app, some guy in Poland that was captured on camera doing hilarious things whilst frying on LCD, Feens apps, Jeremy causing trouble at his sister's wedding, pot smoking in bars is now a thing in Denver, and BipCotting EVERYTHING! Bill O’Reilly 'Fuck it we'll do it live' is discussed, how Jeremy became a Bipinare, A film called 'Deprogrammed' directed by Mila Aung-Thwin and how Michael is connected to him." (12/05/16)


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Laughing at liberals as they lose their minds

"The liberals are truly going nuts, and it’s beautiful. They recently resurrected Nancy Pelosi for another glorious term winnowing away the House Democrat caucus. Pretty soon it’s just going to be her and some guy representing Berkeley who they recruited while he was shouting 'Workers of the world unite!' at bored coeds on Telegraph Avenue. You know, if you want to reach out to the kind of hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, normal Americans who voted for the black guy then allegedly refused to vote for the woman because they are racist, you totally want an ancient, rich, snooty, San Francisco leftist and Botox after-picture like the Nanster." [editor's note: This guy is laughing; I'm still just wondering when they get out of the denial and start dealing with the reality - SAT] (12/05/16)


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The NATO campaign against freedom of expression

"This is a long story which extends over fifteen years. NATO first attempted to silence those citizens who were trying to discover the truth about the attacks of 11 September 2001. Then it turned on those who contested the oficial version of the Arab Springs and the war against Syria. One thing leading to another, it then attacked those who denounced the coup d'etat in Ukraine. Now NATO is behind the accusations by a pseudo-NGO that the people who campaigned for Donald Trump are Russian agents." (12/05/16)


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Trump’s promised “new foreign policy” must abandon regime change for Iran

"Some people say that 'personnel is policy,' and that much can be predicted about Trump's foreign policy by the people he has appointed to serve his Administration. That is where we might have reason to be worried. Take Iran, for example. While Trump says he wants the US to stop overthrowing governments, on the issue of Iran both the candidate and his recent appointees have taken a very different view." (12/05/16)


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Secession — California style — preparing for it

"There doesn't need to be a 'constitutional procedure' to secede, as it is included in the Tenth Amendment. Remember that? 'All powers not ...' That, legally, including the power (not the 'right') to leave. Provided, of course, that you can find the military power to support your decision. ... The entire War Between the States simply proved that tyrants sometimes do win: there was no legal attempt to deny the right of states to secede, and in fact, Congress's mandating that the former members of the Confederate States of America had to be 'readmitted' to the ('new, improved') Union was de facto evidence that even the Radical Republican ruled Congress DID recognize that the eleven states had withdrawn from the Union: HAD seceded." (12/05/16)


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The Jason Stapleton Program, 12/05/16

"We've got some great examples of what debt does to nations staring us in the face so why do so many people still push this false narrative that debt doesn't matter?" [various formats] (12/05/16)


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Democrats need to pick a leader, now

"As president-elect, Donald Trump has quickly proven to be every bit the nightmare his opponents feared. He’s continuing to tweet absurd lies (such as his claim that he won the popular vote), and now he’s tapping extremists for high positions, like white nationalist Stephen Bannon, conspiracy-minded General Michael Flynn, and civil-rights antagonist Senator Jeff Sessions. What makes the lurch to the hard right all the more galling for Democrats is the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes (roughly 2 percent). That means Trump (with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress) will be able to inflict a radical agenda on the country with minority support. (Just how little support is reflected in Trump’s favorability rating of 42 percent, a whopping 16 points lower than the norm for president-elects at this point.)" (12/05/16)


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There’s a war for your technology

"Odds are that your smartphone is critical to your life and that you would be almost helpless without it. If you really want to see how much it affects you, have a friend of yours take your phone away from you for one day, and let me know how long you last before you're begging and on the edge of tears, asking for your phone back. Now that -- that device we're talking about, the one critical to your mental well-being and your connectivity to the world -- that device that is the critical linchpin of your world -- is also the most insecure device in your world." (12/03/16)


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When wonks go rogue

"A narrow band of urban sophisticates wishes to take action against what they perceive as a social ill. The ban comes into force. Far from improving public behaviour, it makes it demonstrably worse. The Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution on 16th January 1920 introduced a national ban on the sale, production and transportation of alcohol throughout the United States. The intention of the 'dry' movement was to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, lower the tax burden caused by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in North America. It failed on every level." (12/05/16)


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Top-selling Christmas gifts since 1983

"It's absolutely exhilarating to watch the market in action, especially when you take the long view, such as going back to 1983. At first it seems crazy and random. Why did anyone care about 'Cabbage Patch Kids' or 'Barney' the dinosaur or 'Tickle Me Elmo?' It's all so silly, right? Maybe not. All these products fed the human imagination and enticed people to imagine worlds that could be. They are symbols of the wackiest, most wonderful, most unpredictable aspects of the human personality. None would have been chosen by any would-be central planner, whether on the campaign trail or from the office of some empowered bureaucracy. They could have only emanated from this beautiful, imaginative, productive, and empowering sector we call the market." (12/05/16)


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The end of the indispensable nation

"The ascension of Donald Trump to the imperial presidency marks the nadir of the declension of the United States as the global hegemon. While Trump's fantasies about 'making America great again' do not explicitly rely on promoting the US as the 'indispensable nation,' they, nonetheless, deploy strategies to resurrect the fossil fuel driven expansion of the military industrial state that marked the post-World War II period of US global dominance." (12/05/16)


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Teamsters election shows Hoffa’s days are numbered

"Teamster general president James P. Hoffa managed to hang onto power in the recent international Teamster election -- but barely. He was challenged for general president by Fred Zuckerman and the Teamsters United reform slate. Along with his running mate Tim Sylvester, the former president of New York Local 804, Zuckerman spent the last two years crisscrossing the country meeting with thousands of rank-and-file Teamsters infuriated by sell-out contracts, bankrupt pensions, and cascading corruption scandals. Besides narrowly losing the election in the United States to Zuckerman by 709 votes, Hoffa lost his “home local” 614 in Pontiac, Michigan, and Detroit Local 299, led for decades by his father Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. Hoffa eked out a win by a mere six thousand votes out of 213,000 cast in the United States and Canada in the closest election in Teamsters’ history." (12/05/16)


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The hell General Sherman made

'[W]ar with the lid off' was brutal, yes; Sherman intended it to be so, in order to send a message to the Southern population that their government couldn't protect them and so didn't deserve their support. But the brutality was also its own end, ordered and countenanced by Sherman to an extent that would land him in a courtroom at the Hague today. ... the definition of 'military value' was from the onset stretched so far as to lose any meaning. Whole towns were put to the torch, despite pleas not to dispossess their women, children, elderly, and infirm. Whole populations were uprooted and put on forced marches. Assaults, rapes, and murders, absent from the general's recollections, were liberally reported by Southerners; reading accounts less accommodating than McDonough's leads to the inescapable conclusion that war was 'all hell' largely because William Tecumseh Sherman made it that way. In Sherman's March was born No Gun Ri, My Lai, and a dozen other massacres perpetrated on a helpless and innocent civilian population by U.S. forces allowed to conduct 'war with the lid off.'" (12/05/16)


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Heading for trade war with China

"The US has recorded a trade deficit in every year since 1975. This is not surprising -- America spends more than it saves, and this deficit is financed by means of a virtually unlimited US line of credit with the rest of the world. Economies that save more than they spend, and which record corresponding trade surpluses, ship funds to the US to finance America's insatiable spending. Japan and, more recently, China have been the primary creditors for the savings-deficient US." (12/05/16)


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Decorum and the “armed society …” thesis

"It has been my experience that parts of the country one might describe as 'Western' are often as not in the West, geographically. Yet, one aspect common to these areas, and the people who inhabit them, is a far more refined sense of the line between being neighborly, and butting into someone else's business. Like it or not, humans both want to live in social settings, and yet have a large degree of autonomy. When that balance is struck, we do well together. When not, excuses for creating or strengthening institutions like the State, start to gain credibility. To everyone's detriment. ... The presence of guns is not the cause of a 'polite society.' It is an emblem of one." (12/04/16)


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Brexit to Italy: These aren’t revolts against liberalism

"Simplistic media accounts would have us believe that liberalism in Europe is fighting for its life against a populist upsurge. ... The slur of 'populist' is used by anti-populist elites who recognise that their values and worldview are now regarded with suspicion and even hostility by large sections of the European public. An even more grotesque myth is being promoted by sections of the media: that the so-called populist movement represents a revolt against liberalism. There may be a revolt, but it isn't against liberalism -- for the very simple reason that its target tends to be institutions, like the EU or the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who are conspicuously illiberal. Indeed, the constitutional reform proposals which the Italian people rejected in yesterday's referendum, causing Renzi to resign, were about strengthening the power of the ruling technocracy and restricting the role of popular sovereignty." (12/05/16)


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On the Italian referendum

"[T]he coalition against Mr Renzi basically include everybody else in Italian politics. Though he lost the referendum, the (soon to be former) prime minister had some 10 million Italians who clearly voted in his favour. The others do not share a leader nor a clear-cut agenda, besides kicking him out. Beppe Grillo, the former comedian who leads the Five Star Movements, wants to go to elections as soon as possible, as he senses he was the true winner of the referendum. Silvio Berlusconi would much rather sit down with Mr Renzi and work out some sort of collaboration for rewriting the electoral law and navigating through a not unlikely Italian banking crisis ..." (12/05/16)


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There are now so many “criminals” in America, Uber wants to hire some

"Last month, Uber announced that it would begin to accept drivers with criminal records. ... It is unlikely that Uber -- and the company's insurers -- would make such a move had it not already concluded that persons guilty of these offenses were unlikely to be a danger to the company's passengers. But perhaps more importantly, Uber is also willing to gamble on the fact that many of the company's customers won't care that their drivers possibly have a criminal history. And, Uber is probably right." (12/05/16)


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Notes towards the definition of capitalist culture

"Capitalism, adopted as part of a consistent program to institutionalize private property, is not a 'value-free' social arrangement. Adoption of such a program would immediately signify the elimination of public goods, which alone would create a culture radically unlike anything that has ever come before it. What will this new culture be like? Before its adoption, proponents of this new society are obligated to describe what's in store." (12/05/16)


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Open letter to “Dilbert’s” Scott Adams

"Mr. Adams: Commenting on Pres.-elect Trump's threats to punitively tax American consumers who purchase imports from U.S. companies that offshore some or all of their production, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) Tweeted 'American consumers are taxed even if no companies move. Tariff increases production costs & limits competition. This is basic economics.' In response to Rep. Amash, you disagree, Tweeting 'No, the whole point is that no company would move with that risk hanging over them. So no tax is triggered.' Rep. Amash is right and you are wrong." (12/05/16)


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Dana Rohrabacher for Secretary of State?

"From a noninterventionist perspective, Rohrabacher is the best choice of those reportedly in the running, with this caveat: 'realism' is not the same as non-interventionism. It depends on the context. In the present context -- escalating tensions with Russia, deepening US involvement in Iraq and Syria, and the hegemonic pretensions of our political class -- they are our allies. However, they are what I would call 'Asialationists,' i.e. they, like Mearsheimer, see China as a rising threat, and their proposed 'pivot' to Asia -- which was announced but never really implemented by the Obama administration -- spells possible trouble ahead." (12/05/16)


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Free Talk Live, 12/04/16

"India Mandates National Anthem :: Free Ross-a-Thon :: Rerouting Pipeline :: Flag Burning :: Military :: Killer Cops :: Alcohol-Detecting Patch :: Economics in One Lesson :: Government Loans :: Poor Risks and Usury." [Flash audio or MP3] (12/04/16)


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Economic ideas: David Hume on self-coordinating and correcting market processes

"David Hume emphasized that commerce and trade were among the most important avenues to offer opportunities to raise people's standards of living, and to bring refinement and cultural betterment to a growing portion of a nation’s population. Commerce also served as an important leveler of the material inequality of a society based on political privilege and government-bestowed monopoly. Through trade, a wider variety and quality of goods became available to a growing number of the people in any society, fostering the development of a 'middle class.'" (12/05/16)


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Biofuels: US misses goal (again), and EU destroys forests

"In testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management on December 1, federal government officials admitted, once again, what free market critics like myself have long argued concerning the mandatory biofuels program -- it can't meet the goals set established in the law, and the more the government tries to force the issue, the worse it is for consumers." (12/04/16)


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Free Ross-A-Thon

Recorded video from the live-stream event to raise money for American political prisoner Ross Ulbricht's appeal of his life sentence for (allegedly) operating a web site. Numerous speakers. Watch, listen, donate! [Flash video] (12/04/16)


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The radical’s obligation

"I had a 'discussion' earlier this week, online, with an individual attempting to excuse the many and grievous shortcomings of Libertarian Party Presidential candidates over the years. I had remarked that it was a damned shame that the LP has always been unable -- or unwilling -- to nominate a candidate who is actually a libertarian. ... We can't get any votes, they whimper, if we scare voters away. And of course the whole object of having a political party in the first place is to win elections and put our own people in command -- and our own hogs at the public trough. Actually, the Libertarian Party was founded by individualists -- I was there at the time; I personally knew most of them and counted them among my friends -- whose objective, simply, was to advance the cause of liberty. This did not necessarily involve getting anybody elected; it simply required vigorous and truthful campaigns that would put constant and consistent pressure on the other parties and map a way out of the morass of over-government." (12/04/16)


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“Qualified immunity”: What cops and slave overseers have in common

"Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer killed an unarmed man and then attempted to frame the victim, will not be convicted of murder. Nor is he likely to be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Slager's jury deadlocked because a single member of the panel insisted that he could not 'in good conscience' vote to convict Slager of criminal homicide. This is not because the facts of the case are in dispute. Slager was captured on video fatally shooting unarmed, 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he fled a traffic stop, and then placing a Taser next to his fatally traumatized body. The critical issue for that juror, apparently, was whether Slager's state of mind as he committed these acts transmuted them from criminal homicide and obstruction of justice into an exercise of state-conferred authority protected by 'qualified immunity.'" (12/04/16)


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What does it mean to be “mainstream?”

"Antonin Scalia's death reignited a long-running battle over the Supreme Court. Trump's victory escalated it. Now unexpectedly on defense, Democrats are demanding any Trump nominee be what they consider 'mainstream.' Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has long led the mainstream mendacity. In 2007, he said any Bush nominee 'must prove ... they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.' Subsequent Democratic nominees, however, were simply defined as mainstream. Now he has switched course again, preemptively asserting any Trump nominee who fails to get Schumer's imprimatur as mainstream could even merit consideration." (12/02/16)


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