2016-10-25T09:50:00-04:00Troubled by Donald Trump's use of litigation to suppress criticism, the American Bar Association's Forum on Communications Law commissioned a report on the Republican presidential nominee's speech-related lawsuits. The author of the article, First Amendment lawyer Susan Seager, concluded that Trump's abuse of the legal system "provides a powerful illustration of why more states need to enact anti-SLAPP laws to discourage libel bullies like Trump from filing frivolous lawsuits to chill speech about matters of public concern and run up legal tabs for journalists and critics." Underlining Seager's point, the ABA declined to publish her report because officials there worried that Trump might respond with a frivolous lawsuit. In a story published yesterday, New York Times legal reporter Adam Liptak quotes an October 19 email message in which James Dimos, the ABA's deputy executive director, worried about "the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump" if the organization published Seager's report as written. Dimos made it clear that his fear was not based on anything Seager had written that was actually defamatory or otherwise actionable. "While we do not believe that such a lawsuit has merit," he said, "it is certainly reasonable to attempt to reduce such a likelihood by removing inflammatory language that is unnecessary to further the article's thesis." This perceived need to pull punches shows how the possibility of a SLAPP ("strategic lawsuit against public participation") chills constitutionally protected speech, even when no suit is filed or even threatened. The language that Dimos deemed "inflammatory" was critical of Trump but appropriately so. The ABA did not like Seager's title: "Donald J. Trump Is a Libel Bully but Also a Libel Loser." The alternative it proposed was less specific, less topical, and less interesting: "Presidential Election Demonstrates Need for Anti-SLAPP Laws." The bar association also objected to Seager's lead: "Donald J. Trump is a libel bully. Like most bullies, he's also a loser, to borrow from Trump's vocabulary." It seems the ABA likewise was not keen on Seager's other references to Trump's bullying, her description of the First Amendment as "his old foe," or her suggestion that "frivolous, speech-targeting lawsuits" should be called "Trump Suits" instead of SLAPPs. "The ABA took out every word that was slightly critical of Donald Trump," she told Liptak. "It proved my point." Seager's "inflammatory language," although apt to get under Trump's skin, was not only clearly protected opinion but well-grounded in the evidence she collected. Highlights of her report, which the Media Law Resource Center posted on Friday, include the lawsuit that Trump filed against comedian Bill Maher over a joke mocking the billionaire real estate developer's promotion of anti-Obama birtherism. In 2012 Trump made a video in which he promised to pay $5 million to the charity of Obama's choice if the president agreed to release his "college and passport records." In response, Maher said during an appearance on The Tonight Show in early 2013 that he would pay $5 million to the charity of Trump's choice if the orange-hued reality TV star provided proof that he was not "the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan." Trump thereupon sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate and demanded that he pay up. Receiving no response, Trump filed a $5 million breach-of-contract suit, which he withdrew (Seager notes) after it was "roundly ridiculed by the Hollywood Reporter." Trump's very first defamation suit, against Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp, was equally frivolous. In 1979 Gapp wrote a column that slammed Trump's plans to build the world's tallest building at the southeastern tip of Manhattan, calling it "one of the silliest things anyone could inflict on New York or any other city" and an example of "Guinness Book of World Records architecture." Gapp also described Trump Tower as a "skyscraper offering condos, office space and a kitschy shopping atrium of blinding flamboyance." In an inte[...]
(image) On Friday, the city of Eugene, Oregon, signed a contract with New York–based Social Bicycles to construct a bike-share system.
Bike sharing has been a goal of the city government since 2013, when it commissioned a study on the feasibility of operating such a system in the city. That report, released in June 2014, emphasized that such systems help to relieve pressure on overburdened mass transit systems and provide users with a cheap and effective means of making short intra-city trips.
Those facts have remained part of the city's talking points over the last two years. The news release it put out after the contract was inked describes Eugene Bike Share as "an innovative transportation solution for short urban trips," while the municipal website notes that it will lower personal transportation costs and help with "first and last mile connections to transit."
What's odd about that (besides the hilarious description of a two-century-old technology as an "innovative transportation solution") is that the city just last year decided to shut down another, arguably more innovative transportation solution: Uber.
The ridesharing company started up its Eugene operations in July 2014, offering the city pretty much all the benefits Bike Share is promising it now: cheap and convenient urban trips, more travel options, and lower personal transit costs, all at zero cost to the taxpayer.
Unfortunately, Uber's model for providing these benefits—what with its gas-powered machines and refusal to comply with taxi regulations—was not nearly as popular with the Eugene city council. In November 2014 it started issuing fines for noncompliance, and when that proved ineffective sued the company to get it to close up shop. On Easter Sunday 2015, Uber ceased operating in the city.
In the year and a half since, Eugene residents and visitors have had no choice but to shell out more for traditional taxis or pack themselves onto the city's supposedly overcrowded public transit options. It is possible that, once established, Bike Share will offer these travelers some relief. But they'll have to wait until roughly next October—Bike Share's estimated completion time—to find out.
2016-10-25T08:33:00-04:00The law professor stood at the front of the classroom and introduced Nick, his 30-something son, saying, "I'm very proud of him." The dad, Larry Dubin, told the small audience about Nick's growing up, graduating college, and eventually writing three books. What dad wouldn't be proud? Then he talked about his son's diagnosis: Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disease on the autism spectrum. As a young child, Nick flapped his arms a lot. At 3, he barely spoke. As an adult, he still cannot tie his shoes, making it all the more impressive that he has achieved so much. Then the dad added one more item to his son's resume: Nick is a convicted felon, a sex offender on the registry. He was found guilty of possession of child pornography. "That does not in any way dilute my feelings and respect for who Nick is as a person," said the dad. And maybe that's something the rest of us have to digest. What the dad has learned the hardest way possible is that many of the people charged with possession of child porn turn out to be people with developmental disabilities. One study found it's actually the majority, which is not totally surprising. These are people who have often grown up bullied and despised. The differences affect their lives in other ways, too, including the age of the people they relate to. If you're 20 or 30 but part of you feels about 8 or 10 or 14, it's not that surprising that that's the age you'd like to see pictures of. You may not even understand it's wrong. Now, I realize this is a tough and depressing topic. No one wants to talk about it. But that's why it was so impressive that Larry and Nick Dubin decided to make this public appearance—their first — to discuss what it's like to live with a disability and be a sex offender. They'd been invited to St. Francis College in Brooklyn to do so. Nick went to the lectern after his silver-haired, professorial dad. He looked boyish in a striped sweater (perhaps he can't tie a tie). People with Asperger's can be genius-smart in some respects and far behind in others. "I think you can see how I've been able to survive this," he said with a grateful nod toward his father. As a kid, Nick was, not surprisingly, tormented by some of his schoolmates. But as he got older and watched them entering relationships, he felt even worse. When he discovered the world of online porn, that's where he went to feel less lonely. He knew there was something wrong about child porn, but he had no idea it's illegal. Then one morning, before dawn, his door burst open and 12 men flooded his room. They yanked him out of bed, threw him against the wall and clapped him in handcuffs. It was the FBI. He was under arrest for the illegal images he'd been looking at. By the time his case was finally settled, Nick had undergone five psych evaluations. They all concluded the same thing: He is developmentally disabled. He poses no threat to children. Still, he is now a felon. "I don't enjoy talking about this," said Nick. But he decided to take this embarrassing leap into the spotlight because as word of his case spread—and because of the fact that his dad is a law professor—the family phone started ringing. Almost once a month, it is a desperate parent sobbing, saying the same thing just happened to his or her son—a son with Asperger's or autism or some other illness. Over the years, we have come to take into account a defendant's IQ in criminal cases. We understand that someone wired differently should be treated differently. It's time we realized that about child porn possession, too. [...]
(image) Schoolyard bullying: it's never okay. Unless, of course, the victim is the offspring of a non-voter. Then the kid probably deserves it—or should at least blame his dad for not caring enough about politics.
That's the confusing message behind a new get-out-the-vote video produced by Civic Innovation Works, a mysterious organization without much of an online presence. The video recently appeared on my News Feed: here it is.
The best part is the bully shouting, "your dad sounds like a total nihilist," as if that's some kind of put down. In reality, any politically-informed human being who isn't flirting with nihilism as a result of the 2016 campaign should have his head checked.
Of course, not voting is a perfectly responsible thing to do, for reasons outlined by Reason Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward: your vote has virtually no chance of influencing the outcome of a presidential election (even if you live in Florida and are using a time machine to travel back to the year 2000), the time it takes to vote is almost always better spent doing something else (if you value doing something else more than voting), and casting an ill-informed vote is almost certainly worse than not voting at all.
What makes this video so disturbing—and funny, if we're being honest—is all the other PSAs about how terrible bullying is for kids. There's something so self-righteous about the act of voting that it causes people to take leave of their senses.
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2016-10-25T07:40:00-04:00The results have been pouring in from Operation Cross Country X, the FBI's tenth annual, nationwide sex sting targeting what the agency describes as "underage human trafficking." Each year, FBI agents across America team up with police officers, sheriff's deputies, state attorneys, Homeland Security investigators, and others for a few days of posing as people buying or selling sex. This year, "hundreds of law enforcement officials took part in sting operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and other areas frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers," the FBI reported. Seventy-four FBI-led "Child Exploitation Task Forces" orchestrated operations in 103 U.S. cities, with more than 400 different law-enforcement agencies participating in the October 13-16 efforts. And the payoff? According to the FBI, "82 sexually exploited juveniles" were recovered and "239 pimps and other individuals" arrested. The average age of the minors was just under 16-years-old. "This is a depressing day in law enforcement," said FBI Director James Comey, announcing Operation Cross Country 10 (OCCX) results at an International Association of Chiefs of Police gathering last week. Comey's right—it is a depressing day in law enforcement. But not for the reasons he would have us believe. What's depressing is watching authorities congratulate themselves—and the media follow suit—on fighting child sexual-exploitation in America when the bulk of OCCX efforts involved cops contacting adult female sex workers while posing as customers and then arresting them, if not also seizing the women's money and throwing them in jail. Take a look at just who got caught up in OCCX, by the numbers: The chart above does not reflect all minors identified or arrests made in OCCX. But of the "more than 400" U.S. law-enforcement agencies that participated, the sample I'm pulling from includes, at my best estimation, 367 of them, including divisions of 12 federal agencies (such as the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Drug Enforcement Administration). I compiled it over the past week using information from law-enforcement and media reports. It includes 79 of the FBI's stated 82 juveniles identified, ecompasses sting efforts in 30 states, and includes many metropolitan areas that are portrayed by police as hubs of human trafficking, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Within this sample, nearly three-quarters of all arrests were for simple solicitation or prostitution—that is, men and women trying to participate in consensual commercial sex. Some of the "criminals" the FBI helped take down in this operation included a homeless Wyoming woman who was allegedly selling sex and carrying marijuana and a 61-year-old woman offering sex from an upstate New York hotel room. In El Paso, "about 20 agents and officers with the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, El Paso Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety took part" in a bust that led to the arrest of one 18-year-old woman on charges of fraud, theft, and tampering with government records and one 18-year-old woman for prostitution. Had the 18-year-old El Paso sex-worker been just slightly younger, the FBI could have added her to its "rescued minors" roster: Anyone under age 18 found to be offering sexual-services for pay is considered a sex-trafficking victim under federal law. It needn't require the minor to have been abducted, held captive, or coerced into the sex trade; to have a pimp; or to be working with anyone else at all. In most cases, FBI efforts to "rescue" girls starts the same as the process for busting adult women: make contact via online ad and, once a girl or woman meets in person at a hotel and offers sex, detain them. Those neither underage nor claiming to have been trafficked are arrested for pro[...]
(image) Female gential mutilation remains a major problem in a number of countries in Asia and Africa.
Marian Tupy writes:
The United States is in the midst of an election where allegations about mistreatment of women abound. But in parts of the world, women do not enjoy even the most basic of rights—let alone a shot at political leadership and power over their male counterparts. In some Middle Eastern, Central Asian and African countries, women are subjected to "honor killings," sex trafficking and slavery. Female genital mutilation belongs among the most serious violations of women's rights.
(image) Ten years ago, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raging, the Pentagon created special bonuses and other benefits for soldiers with critical skills to re-enlist. Now, the California National Guard says it awarded those bonuses to nearly 10,000 soldiers who should not have gotten them, many of whom not only re-enlisted but did multiple combat tours. The Guard is demanding that money back, with interest. Those who don't agree to pay have had their wages garnished and tax lines placed on them.
2016-10-24T17:37:00-04:00It's now been a full year since the Food and Drug Administration signaled that it was nearing a decision on whether a Swedish-made tobacco product could be marketed in the United States as a less-harmful alternative to smoking. What's taking them so long? Stockholm-based Swedish Match won permission from the FDA in November 2015 to sell its smokeless tobacco products, known as "snus," in the United States. Snus consists of a small packet, similar to a tea bag, filled with tobacco powder. It is placed in the upper lip, in a manner similar to chewing tobacco or "dip" but does not require chewing or spitting. Snus is popular in Sweden and has been credited for the fact that Sweden has one of the highest tobacco consumption rates in Europe but has the continent's lowest rate of smoking-related deaths. That's largely because Swedes don't smoke. They snus. Can it be proven that snus is safer than smoking? Swedish Match thinks so. In addition to filing for permission to sell snus in the U.S., the company asked the FDA to allow snus products to the labeled as a safer alternative to smoking. In the application filed with the FDA in June 2014, Swedish Match argued that it could provide a public health benefit by getting Americans to switch from cigarettes to snus and proposed a label that says "no tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes." That application was the subject of an FDA hearing in April 2015. At the time, an advisory panel ruled against Swedish Match's proposal to alter the mandatory warning labels affixed to their products. That, however, was merely an advisory opinion, and observers following the FDA's process say the federal agency signaled in October 2015 that a decision was near. A year later, Swedish Match is still waiting. The company obviously has an interest in being able to pitch itself as a safer alternative to smoking—allowing it to stand-out from other forms of smokeless tobacco by stripping away dire warnings about mouth cancer, tooth decay and gum disease—as Swedish Match tries to grow its share of the U.S. market. Still, this is about more than just marketing. Studies have shown that snus is indeed a safer alternative to cigarettes. For starters, not inhaling combustible material is always a good decision, health-wise. A peer-reviewed study published in Tobacco Control found that snus delivers high levels of nicotine with lower concentrations of other chemicals found in cigarettes. Snus "does not appear to cause cancer or respiratory diseases" and cardiovascular risks from using snus were lower than with smoking, the same study found. A study conducted in Norway and published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that using snus was much more effective at getting smokers to quit using cigarettes than nicotine replacement products like patches and gum. Snus-ers were three times as likely to quit smoking as smokers using nicotine gum, the researchers found. They believed snus was so effective because it delivered a nose of nicotine that was almost the same as cigarettes and provided a "sensory effect that medicinal nicotine products perhaps lack" because snus smells and tastes like tobacco. "In light of all the available evidence, the banning or exaggerated opposition to snus in cigarette-rife environments is not sound public-health policy," concluded Brad Rodu and Philip Cole, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who reported in 2007 that 200,000 smoking-related deaths per year could be prevented if tobacco uses across the whole of the European Union adopted snus at the same level as Swedes. (Snus is banned in most of Europe, even though cigarettes are legal, an arrangement that Reason's Jacob Sullum has described as "banning bows and arrows as an intolerable threat to public safety while allo[...]
2016-10-24T17:10:00-04:00CNN/ORC, one of the five gold-star polls selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to determine eligibility for the now-finished debate season, came out with a new survey this afternoon, and it's the worst single poll this season for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson: just 3 percent among 779 likely voters canvassed from Oct. 20-23 (Hillary Clinton pulled 49 percent, Donald Trump 44, and Jill Stein 2). The result marks a collapse even from less than a month ago, when Johnson pulled 7 percent of likely voters. (Among registered voters, the Libertarian received 5 percent support down from the previous 9 percent, which had been his level since July 22-24. Pollsters generally shift from registered voters to likely voters in the fall of election years.) This is the grisliest national poll result for Gary Johnson since he won the Libertarian Party nomination in May. Only a handful of times—most recently in a Gravis/Breitbart survey two months ago—has he finished under the key threshold of 5 percent, the level at which Libertarians would be classified by the Federal Elections Commission as an official "minor" party, thereby clearing some ballot-access hurdles and qualifying for controversial-within-the-L.P. government matching funds. Johnson told Brian Doherty last week that party activists "would be crazy not to" accept any available federal monies triggered by a 5 percent finish. "Now, if Libertarians, if they want to disregard that, well, then the Libertarian Party is not ever going to be able to compete," he said. "This is what I think I'm going to be able to deliver to the Libertarian Party." But is even that 5 percent finish—which is far below many Libertarians' hopes of getting to 15 percent before the debates—in jeopardy now? Over at FiveThirtyEight this morning, Harry Enten traced Johnson's precipitous recent decline: His numbers are dropping — from about 9 percent in national polls in August to 6 percent now — and he's been overshadowed by another (and previously even more obscure) third-party candidate. Johnson's decline isn't shocking. Third-party candidates usually lose steam the closer we get to the election. But Johnson is faltering even against that standard. Based on his polling in late August, FiveThirtyEight's polls-plus model, which accounts for the drop-off third-party candidates usually experience, projected Johnson to get around 7 percent of the vote. The same model has him down to just 5.6 percent now. Enten's prediction? Five percent "still looks like it's probably going to happen. And while that might not be the most glorious ending, it's still a better ending nationally than any other third-party candidate for president since 1996." So what's gone wrong? Besides the aforementioned rise of Evan McMullin in Utah (and potentially in some of the other 10 states he's competing in, though we can't know because he isn't being polled in any of those except Virginia), Johnson has seen an exodus of Democrats from his support base. The CNN/ORC poll has Johnson pulling 8 percent of independents, 2 percent of Republicans, and a big ol' asterisk among Democrats. This is a recent trend, and in sharp contrast to his taking about equally from indies, Republicans, and Dems. (Deeper dives had previously concluded that Johnson on balance was hurting Trump more; now that result seems all but guaranteed.) In an Oct. 20-22 ABC News Tracking poll (which produced an overall number of 5 percent support), Johnson's I/R/D splits were 8%-6%-2%. In an Oct. 17-18 Quinnipiac survey (overall support 7 percent), his splits ran 11-6-3. Whether it was environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer's expensive campaign to scare Millennials away from Libertarians, or a temporary panic back when the race was still close, or simply the natural order of third-party campaign[...]
2016-10-24T16:55:00-04:00There are 163 statewide ballot initiatives that have been or will be considered by voters in 2016. A big chunk of them (but not all) are on the November ballot. In some states like Alabama, California, Colorado, South Dakota, and Washington, there are enough ballot initiatives to dominate the political discussion. Heck, for television watchers in California, the barrage of initiative advertisements may make it feel like there are no human beings on the ballot at all. Reason writers have taken note of some of the initiatives across the country. Jacob Sullum has covered all the marijuana initiatives on the ballot in several states this fall. The Reason Foundation recently published a helpful guide to California's 17 initiatives. And I blogged last week about Maine's potential experiment in ranked choices for statewide and lawmaker elections. But there's much, much more. As is typical, some ballot initiatives are designed to give citizens more liberty in the face of a state government unwilling or unable to act on its own. Some would create new rules and restrictions. Some others are pushed by certain interests, both government and private, to cash in on taxes and subsidies while convincing the public it's to serve them in some fashion. Here's some initiatives (and initiative categories) worth keeping an eye on in November: Minimum Wages Five states have minimum wage-related propositions on the ballot. Arizona's would increase the state's minimum wage incrementally to $12 per hour by 2020. The initiative would also mandate that private employers provide 40 hours of paid annual sick pay (24 hours for those with fewer than 15 employees). Colorado's initiative would also increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020, and then would tie future increases to the cost of living. It would also cap how much money from tips could count toward the minimum to $3.02 per hour. Maine's ballot initiative is also puts the minimum to $12 per hour by 2020 and slowly increases the minimum wage for workers who get tips until it's the same as other workers by 2024. Washington State is proposing an even higher minimum wage by 2020, $13.50 an hour, and would also require employers to provide 40 paid hours of sick leave (and would also mandate that this sick leave roll over if not used in that year). Bucking these trends (in a very modest fashion), South Dakota voters will be asked whether they want to keep a lower minimum wage for workers under the age of 18 ($7.50 an hour) and to make sure that wage is not pegged to inflation. Death Penalty California has two competing ballot initiatives on the death penalty. Prop. 62 would appeal its use, while Prop. 66 would speed up the process. The two ballot initiatives are in competition. If both somehow pass, the one with the most yes votes would "win." In Nebraska, voters are being asked if they want to repeal a law passed in 2015 that eliminates the death penalty. It's one of those tricky referendums where voters must choose "retain" in order to keep the ban on the use of the death penalty, while voting for "repeal" would restore its use. It's easy to visualize some people thinking "repeal" means eliminating the death penalty. It's the opposite. In Oklahoma, voters will be asked to decide whether to amend the state's constitution to guarantee that the state may be allowed to use capital punishment. Oklahoma has the death penalty, but courts have ordered their halt over some serious problems in the execution (pun not intended). Charter Schools and Casinos What do charter schools and casinos have in common? On the surface, not a lot, but when it comes to ballot initiatives, there's a similarity in that some states aren't willing to simply open up the marketplace to either and see what happens. Instead voters are being as[...]
(image) The European Union has failed to get approval for a trade deal with Canada (CETA) after one of the five regional governments in Belgium rejected the deal, which would have been the first the EU struck with a country in the G-7. The other 27 member states of the EU all consented to the deal.
All the other member countries approved the trade deal, but Belgium's federal government needed approval from its regional parliament and the French-speaking socialist government in Wallonia refused to endorse it, citing concerns about its impact on employment and consumer safety. It also claimed the deal jeopardized "social and environmental standards and the protection of public services" and objected to non-government arbitration.
The Belgian federal government held a crisis meeting of regional leaders, where Paul Magnette, the minister-president of Wallonia, said his government would not budge. "Every time you try to put an ultimatum it makes a calm debate and a democratic debate impossible," Magnette told reporters in Brussels. "We don't need an ultimatum. We will not decide anything under an ultimatum or under pressure."
An EU-Canada summit was planned for Thursday, where Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was supposed to sign the accord. His trip to Brussels may be delayed if the EU can't secure Belgium's support for the deal before then.
The EU and Canada have been negotiating the trade deal for seven years. If the EU is unable to approve it, it will call into question negotiations with Japan and the United States, both of which have been ongoing since 2013, and more broadly the EU's ability to operate as a cohesive free trade bloc that can enter into trade agreements with other countries and blocs.
Anti-free trade parties have been on the rise across Europe as America's major party presidential candidates have also embraced anti-free trade rhetoric and policies despite its crucial role in increased prosperity worldwide.
(image) Never underestimate the capacity for secular institutions of higher education to protect religious belief from scrutiny. Columbia University's radio station invited author Laurie Stone to read her work over the air, but prohibited her from uttering the following line: "Women who live in secular countries and conform to religious dress codes make the lives of all women less free and less safe."
A student producer told Stone that the line—which comes from her book, My Life as an Animal, Stories—does not reflect "our station's values and more importantly our university's values," according to the National Coalition Against Censorship.
What's more, the producer described her own actions as a form of censorship. "We can continue this evening with the lines explicitly censored, but there is no wiggle room on the censorship," she told Stone.
Stone refused, and instead took to Facebook to complain. The radio station didn't like that:
WKCR's Arts Department Head, Danielle Fox, then emailed Ms. Stone demanding that she remove the Facebook post on the grounds it contained "personal information" and "harassing comments." In the Facebook post, Stone claimed Courville treated her like a "antichrist bitch."
One need not agree with Stone's opinions to be disturbed about a university refusing to give airtime to a particular view because it might offend a particular religion. Not questioning religious dictates, it seems, is one of Columbia's "values." (Keep in mind that this is the same university that once hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)
The station has since apologized and offered assurances that it remains committed to robust freedom of expression. Offering Stone another chance to read her work would probably be the best way to prove that.
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Watch above or click on the link below for video, full interview transcript, supporting links, downloadable versions, and more Reason TV clips.
The struggle for the GOP's soul will begin the day after Trump loses the elections. And there is a strong contingent of conservative intellectuals who are making the case that Trump was the wrong(image) messenger for the right message of economic populism and immigration restrictionism.
But polls show that this is a losing position with the rest of America, particularly millennials, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia. Even though Rush Limbaugh and his media acolytes have beating the anti-immigration drum for the last 20 years, public opinion has been shifting in the exact opposite direction.
Millennials, in particular, ain't buying it. So the GOP will embrace its these intellectuals' advice at its peril.
(image) Two sheriff's deputies in Washington state arrived at the house of 23-year-old Renee Davis after the single mother texted someone to say she was in a "bad way" and that person called 911 to tell law enforcement, according to Davis' foster sister.
The deputies said they saw her with a handgun and, according to a release from the King County Sheriff's Department distributed to local media, both deputies fired at Davis, killing her. The release does not appear to suggest that Davis had pointed the handgun at the officers.
The shooting occurred on Muckleshoot tribal lands on Friday evening. The deputies, who have not been identified, were placed on paid leave—one has reportedly worked for the department for eight years and is assigned to the tribal lands while the other worked for the department for three years.
There were two children, aged two and three, at the house. Davis also had a five year old staying at a friend's house and was five months pregnant. The department says it's investigating the shooting but has not indicated that any outside agency was or would be involved in that investigation.
"It's really upsetting because it was a wellness check," Davis' foster sister told the Seattle Times. "Obviously, she didn't come out of it well." She says she does not know whether Davis owned a handgun but says Davis had a rifle and was an avid hunter.
Davis was Native American. Native Americans are killed at the highest rate of any racial group in the United States. With 13 killed through August, the number in 2016 is set to be twice as high as it was in 2015.
2016-10-24T11:40:00-04:00The folks over at the Heterodox Academy have devised and published a rating of the intellectual diversity and free speech friendliness of 150 of America's more prominent universities and colleges. The goal of the Heterodox Academy group is to find "ways of improving the academy by enhancing viewpoint diversity and the conditions that encourage free inquiry." The founding academicians of the Heterodox Academy all endorse this statement: "I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am concerned that many academic fields and universities currently lack sufficient viewpoint diversity—particularly political diversity. I will support viewpoint diversity in my academic field, my university, my department, and my classroom." The group has just published its new Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges that rates America's top 150 universities (as listed by US News and World Report) ranking them according to their commitment to viewpoint diversity. The rankings are based on four sources including whether they've endorsed the University of Chicago Principles on Free Expression; the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education rating; Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Choosing the Right College Guide; and reports in 2014 of relevant events that suggest support or lack of support for free inquiry on the rated campuses. They assign each of the four criteria a value between 0 to 1, add them up, and then multiply the result by 25 to create a "Heterodoxy Score" for each school that ranges from 0 to 100. A few highlights are University of Chicago which achieves the highest score (most open to viewpoint diversity) at 93.75 followed by Purdue University at 87.5 points. The lowest scores at 0 points are achieved by University fo Missouri at Columbia and University of Oregon at Eugene. Next tier of intellectually conformists schools with scores of 6.25 is occupied by Rutgers University, Northwestern University, New York University, Harvard University, and Brown University. I am somewhat happy to report that my alma mater, the University of Virginia is in the tier just below Chicago and Purdue with a score of 62.5 points. Speak up more Wahoos! I will a bit self-indulgently note that the initiation oath of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society (founded July 14, 1825) of which I was a proud member reads: I, ________, a student at the University of Virginia, holding it to be true that opinions springing out of solitary observation and reflection are seldom, in first instance, correct; that the faculties of the mind are excited by collision; that friendships are cemented, errors corrected, and sound principles established by society and intercourse, and especially in a country where all are free to profess and, by argument, maintain their opinions; that the powers of debate should be sedulously cultivated--therefore associate myself with the Jefferson Society at the University of Virginia. Correct. [...]
The percentage of Americans who say they have a "great deal" of respect for "the police in your area" has just leaped from an already-substantial 64 percent to 76 percent, the highest number the Gallup pollsters have recorded since 1967:
1967 was another year of protest and backlash, and I suspect this surge reflects a similar dynamic. The high-profile shootings of police officers in Dallas and elsewhere probably played a role in that bump.
Another recent Gallup result is less striking but no less significant. This survey asked about people's confidence in police, not their respect—and it came out in June, so it appeared too early to be influenced by events in Dallas:
Unlike the other poll, this one is in line with the usual results. But it also shows an almost complete recovery from 2015, when the figure hit a 22-year low. This year's respect numbers may turn out to be an outlier, driven by sympathy for slain officers; but last year's confidence numbers may well be an outlier too.
That rise in trust is driven pretty much entirely by white people: This year just 39 percent of nonwhites told Gallup they had a high level of confidence in the cops. (For a recent attempt to detect the strength of this cynicism, go here.) Nonwhite respect for the police, on the other hand, leaped this year, though not as high as white respect did:
Note that while the respect question asks specifically about police in the answerer's area, the confidence question does not. I think the respect responses reflect more than just local factors—obviously, since I think they're influenced by events like the Dallas shootings—but that difference is still worth keeping in mind.
(Correction: This post originally misidentified the previous high as having taken place in 1968. In fact the year was 1967.)
2016-10-24T09:55:00-04:00Last week Military Times and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families released another presidential poll among active-duty personnel, conducted Oct. 12-14. Donald Trump was the first choice among the nearly 2,500 respondents, at 41 percent (in the ballpark of his 39 percent or so nationwide), followed by Gary Johnson at 27 percent, Hillary Clinton at 21 percent, and Jill Stein at 2 percent. The results show some slippage for Johnson from a month ago, when the same survey had the race 38-37-16-1, placing the Libertarian in a virtual tie with the Republican. But the fact that a third-party candidate with no particular foreign policy expertise is outpolling the likely next president among active military while exceeding his national averages by more than 400 percent should give Washington's default interventionists pause. Instead, judging by this condescending Christian Science Monitor write-up (subhed: "A new poll shows Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson beating Hillary Clinton by 7 points among active military personnel, despite his proposals to cut military spending and a lack of foreign policy knowledge"), the only people that the political class deem ready for a re-think are the troops themselves. Don't these rubes understand that Johnson lacks the necessary sophistication? [I]n an increasingly unconventional and divisive election with historically unlikeable major party candidates, some have chosen to shift from their partisan ties and jump to the other side of the aisle or put their vote toward a third party candidate. But when that third party candidate has revealed a lack of knowledge of foreign policy, a surge in support for him becomes more difficult to expound. "It's a little hard to explain, actually," Matthew Dallek, a professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, tells The Christian Science Monitor. "There's no kind of rational basis." Nothing "rational" about the tip of the U.S. spear preferring a commander in chief who is less eager to go to war? Hard to explain the military polling success of a candidate who wants clearly defined missions, "peace through strength," and a reorientation toward actual defense? Methinks some professors and journalists should get out more. Military support for politicians who are less hawkish than the Washington establishment is nothing new. As Brian Doherty pointed out in July, "back in the heart of the 2012 race in late February, Ron Paul was raising twice as much money as President Obama from active military and defense workers, and more than four times as much as the entire rest of the GOP field at the time." Turns out that seeing first-hand how D.C.'s perpetual game of Risk translates in the real world makes one susceptible to radically different ideas about how American power should be projected. Over the years I have met dozens of young veterans who came to the ideas of libertarianism through the process of becoming skeptical about the War on Terror's overall mission. It is a far more common path, in my anecdotal experience, than, say, the fiction of Ayn Rand. Most were attracted at first by the words and presidential runs of Ron Paul (though you'll hear an occasional Rand Paul or Gary Johnson thrown in, as well as Reason magazine), and all share a searing intensity and intellectual curiosity as they seek to learn more and figure out how they might act on these ideas either in the service or out. It should be a cause of sober reflection, even alarm, that as of less than a month before a presidential el[...]
2016-10-24T09:40:00-04:00New Jersey could create a new category of professional licenses, and no one is even bothering to pretend that it's about anything other than driving up prices and limiting competition. That's what licensing schemes usually do, of course, but they are usually passed under the guise of protecting consumers' health or safety. Without mandatory government permission slips, the story usually goes, unscrupulous businesses would cheat you out of your money or poison your children. So give credit to Lawrence Caniglia for refusing to play those semantic games. Caniglia is the executive director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association, which is pushing a bill in New Jersey to require a state license for anyone who installs, builds or services a pool or spa. "Frankly, we're looking for a more professional industry—and you can raise the rates you're charging because you're…a (properly) licensed pool builder or service professional," Caniglia told Pool and Spa News, a trade publication. The New Jersey legislature appears to agree with that reasoning. The bill passed the state Assembly on Thursday with a 53-13 vote and is now awaiting a vote from the state Senate. The bill does not specify what the requirements for getting a license would be. Instead, it gives the state Department of Commerce the authority to set those rules by forming a new regulatory board: the "Pool and Spa Service Contractors and Pool and Spa Builders and Installers Advisory Committee." The bill specifies that four of the seven members on the board would have to be members of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association—giving the trade association a majority and essentially allowing it to block anyone it doesn't like from getting a license to install or service pools in New Jersey. This is how regulatory capture happens, folks. The NESPA has been pretty successful at getting what it wants. Pool and Spa News reports that the trade association has been working for several years to "reach licensing saturation among its territories, which include Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania." New Jersey is the last state without some sort of licensing requirement for pool contractors. "We know that trade associations love licensing because it restrains their competitors, puts barries before people can get into the field and it raises their prices," says Lee McGrath, legislative counsel for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that frequently challenges bad licensing laws. I interviewed McGrath about New Jersey's proposed licensing rules for this week's edition of American Radio Journal (hear our whole conversation here). New Jersey is already one of the most heavily licensed states in the country, with at least 48 professions requiring a government permission slip, according to IJ's research. As Caniglia helpfully pointed out, licensing drives up the cost of goods and services. In New Jersey, the average family pays an extra $1,200 every year because of the added cost of professional licensing schemes, according to research from the Heritage Foundation. "It's a blind cost," says McGrath. "That's money being transferred from New Jersey families to licensees. It tends to be money going from working class people, middle income people to those who are wealthy or those who are highly organized in Trenton." Other states shouldn't do what New Jersey is doing—something that's "always good advice," quips McGrath—and instead should be looking to remove unnecessary licensing laws in favor of other[...]
2016-10-24T08:30:00-04:00An amazing skit from the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live offers a glimmer of hope that our national political dialogue can still be salvaged once this unrelentingly divisive and demoralizing campaign season is done. Like a lot of good satire, the skit is politically incorrect, relying on stereotypes that the social-justice-left might find upsetting. And yet it says something important about our common humanity. And it's funny! That's the most important thing. Background: "Black Jeopardy," hosted by Kenan Thompson, is a recurring skit on SNL. In this old, representative episode, white person Louis CK is pitted against two black contestants, and fails miserably to answer impossible questions that are hyper-specific to black culture and language. (Answer: "She think she cute." Question: "Who is Monique?") Now watch Saturday's episode, in which the third contestant is a white dude wearing a Make America Great Again hat played by Tom Hanks. The joke, of course, is that Hanks' character "Doug," despite being a Trump supporter—and all the malicious backwardness that implies—is actually more clued-in to the show's logic than Louis CK's character, and has more in common with the black contestants than one might expect. Doug, for instance, is able to successfully answer "They out here saying, the new iPhone wants your thumbprint 'for your protection,'" with "What is 'I don't think so, that's how they get you?'" "Yes!" Thompson cheers. Black contestant Keeley nods in agreement. "I don't trust that," she says. "Me neither," says the third contestant, Shanice. Doug's winning streak continues. After Keeley correctly answers "Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween" to the question "They out here saying, this movie doesn't deserve an Oscar," Doug notes that he also enjoys the Madea movies, which prompts Thompson to shake his hand. The racial/ethnic/political harmony might be short-lived: the final Jeopardy category "Lives That Matter," draws the remark, "well, it was good while it lasted," from Thompson. The writing for this skit is clever and funny, and it actually makes a good point: Politics may try desperately to divide us, but people who have been carelessly written off into different interest groups can still share common interests far more meaningful than their party identification. Good on SNL for finding something profound and funny to say about Trump voters. Of course, it took practically no time at all for the left-of-center media to attempt to ruin the moment. Cue The Hill: "Tom Hanks Mocks Trump Supporters in 'SNL' Skit." Talk about missing the point: "Doug," a contestant on the game show "Black Jeopardy," sports a signature "Make America Great Again" hat. Hanks's character, a conspiracy theorist, distrusts the electoral system. "They out here saying that every vote counts," one of the questions in the game reads. "What is, 'C'mon, they already decided who wins, even before it happens,' " answers Hanks, who said earlier this month that he was "offended as a man" by Trump's lewd talk about groping women without their consent in a leaked video from 2005. The late-night comedy show appeared to be mocking Trump's claims that the election is being rigged against him. During the third presidential debate of 2016, the GOP nominee refused to say whether he would accept the results of the presidential election. The Hill's recap glosses over the fact that Doug's answer, "they already decided who wins, even before it h[...]
(image) Donald Trump is a clear menace to our democratic form of government, the rule of law and my James Madison bobblehead. The teenage Ted Cruz could recite the entire Constitution from memory. Trump wouldn't know it from Two Corinthians.
But it's not exactly safe to entrust your copy of the Constitution to Hillary Clinton, either. You might get it back with some parts missing or mutilated—like the First Amendment and the Second. Steve Chapman explains more.
2016-10-24T07:30:00-04:00Some employees of Facebook argued that the social network company should remove some of Donald Trump's posts because they allegedly violated community standards about hate speech, the Wall Street Journal reported. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately decided, last December, that such a move would be inappropriate, according to the Journal, which also reported that a number of employees complained about this, with those responsible for censoring content even threatening to quit. The Journal report, based on anonymous sources, comes on the heels of a purportedly leaked internal Facebook memo from Zuckerberg, defending Peter Thiel's position on the Facebook board from "questions and concerns." Thiel, a Silicon Valley investor has come under fire for being a prominent Trump supporter. "There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault," Zuckerberg wrote in the post. "It may be because they believe strongly in smaller government, a different tax policy, health care system, religious issues, gun rights or any other issue where he disagrees with Hillary." "I know there are strong views on the election this year both in the US and around the world," Zuckerberg reminded employees. "We see them play out on Facebook every day." Zuckerberg continued, explaining how diversity works: "Our community will be stronger for all our differences, not only in areas like race and gender but also in areas like political ideology and religion." Calls to ban hate speech, from Facebook employees or anyone else, are deeply misguided. Such bans have the opposite of the intended effect, protecting the forbidden speech from critical engagement and giving it a martyr-like status. Unpopular speech is the most important speech to protect, otherwise free speech is an illusion. Facebook, a U.S.-based company that enjoys First Amendment protections, nevertheless regularly block contents around the world—honoring 20,000 such requests from 92 national governments in the first half of 2015 alone. Earlier this year, Facebook was criticized for perceived political bias when it was revealed that the network's trending topics were curated by human editors, while on Friday Facebook announced it would be loosening its community standards for "items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest." [...]
(image) Madison County, Arkansas, sheriff's deputy Jonathan Cornelison has been suspended without pay for 60 days and removed from the K9 unit after he left his canine partner in a hot car for eight hours, leading to its death.
(image) New York University will not allow the College Republicans to bring Milo Yiannopoulos to campus because the venue for his speech was located near the Islamic and LGBTQ Centers, and students who belong to those communities are "subjects of Mr. Yiannopoulos's attacks."
That's according to an NYU administrator's letter to the CRs, as reported by Inside Higher Ed.
It's true that Yiannopoulos is a venomous critic of Islam, feminism, and some aspects of LGBT culture (though he is gay himself, as he frequently notes). But he hasn't "attacked" anyone—he hasn't assaulted anyone, and his followers haven't either. Indeed, I would be more worried about someone committing violence against Yiannopoulos. In reality, these sorts of safety concerns are overblown, and are being used to chill speech.
What's really going on here is administrators are keenly aware of the fact that Yiannopoulos's message is deeply offensive to a whole lot of students. NYU, as well as a host of other universities, is using the imaginary threat of violence as a pretext to silence a point of view it doesn't like.
As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's Ari Cohn told Inside Higher Ed:
"It's incumbent on administrators to not cut off debate and discussions because people are offended by them," Cohn said. "Nobody is being forced to go hear the speaker. In fact, students who are offended and disagree with the viewpoint should seek out the speaker to raise questions and try to them prove them wrong. It's an intellectual exercise."
And if students are tired of Yiannopoulos's shtick, they should stop legitimizing his perspective: censoring Milo doesn't stop him, it only proves him right about the state of open dialogue on campuses.
2016-10-23T15:05:00-04:00Forget what you've heard, kids. Life "doesn't get better" when you graduate high school, says Frank Portman, one of the great chroniclers of adolescent angst and alienation over the past 30 years. Or, as he titles a recent song, "High school is the penalty for transgressions yet to be specified." Still, he's not completely downbeat: "You get better at navigating it, or fighting it off." Portman is a novelist (King Dork, Andromeda Klein) and musician (The Mr T Experience) whose latest project is a soundtrack for the new paperback edition of his third novel, King Dork Approximately. Writing a soundtrack for his book is an attempt to recapture a uniquely intense and focused multimedia experience that the California native fears has gone missing in an age of information overload. (You can buy the book and download the album immediately here or get the book and a download code at Amazon.com.) Like his earlier literary offerings, King Dork Approximately drew rave reviews for its honest, urgent, and wickedly funny take on the big and small ways that our high-school years mark us for the rest of our lives. In a wide-ranging conversation with Reason's Nick Gillespie, Portman talks about his literary inspirations (including Philip K. Dick) and musical heroes (Pete Townshend of the Who and Ray Davies of The Kinks), and whether the world is getting more tolerant of oddballs and weirdos or increasingly more repressive of kids and adults who think and act differently. As a musician who made his bones in the post-punk world of the Bay Area before becoming a best-selling writer, Portman brings an absolutely perspective on contemporary American cultural and political life. Produced by Ian Keyser. width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/289609369&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true"> Don't miss a single Reason podcast or video! Subscribe to our audio podcast at iTunes (and rate and review our offerings!). Subscribe via RSS. Subscribe via Soundcloud. Subscribe to our video podcast at iTunes. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. [...]
2016-10-23T11:21:00-04:00src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgovgaryjohnson%2Fvideos%2F10153431976899364%2F&show_text=0&width=560" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"> That's Scott Rigell, a Republican congressman from Virginia who broke party ranks to endorse Libertrian presidential nominee and former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson back in August. The mere fact of partisans such as Rigell splitting their votes is important, of course—it's a bold, even courageous example, and a necessary one for an era in which voter identification with the major parties is going down like the Titanic: . But Rigell's specific argument in the video is also important. In less than two minutes, he stresses that nobody has to accept the two unacceptable major-party candidates or the awful platforms they are espousing (protectionism, statism, overseas interventions, increases in the size, scope, and spending of government). There's a different way says Rigell. "We don't just have two choices. We have a third choice, a better choice....We can change things. We can change the system." Among the many ways "we can change the system" is by evacuating the duopoly in politics the same way that we've evacuated false binaries and harshly limited choices in all other aspects of our lives. We no longer allow, for instance, our options in automobilies to be dictated by the Big Three automakers and we're better off for it. On more important levels, we no longer our cultural choices to be forced on us by the three or four TV networks or a handful of book publishers, record labels, and film studios. When it comes to our most lifestyle choices and identities, we no longer submit to dualistic categories such as black/white, male/female, gay/straight as the only way—or even a particularly meaningful way—to structure our world. As Matt Welch and I argued in The Declaration of Independents, politics is a lagging indicator of where America is headed and always the last institution to change its ways. What we have been witnessing throughout 2016 is a damn-near perfect illustration of our thesis that the same sort of proliferation in choice and increasingly individualized options in our work, cultural, and social lives is coming to politics. Characters such as Scott Rigell are in the vanguard of that movement, if only because he dares to speak as a Republican what we all know to be true: The established parties can't even represent their own members any more. We need more, better choices in politics just as we needed them in cars and we'll get them sooner or later. And it's important to note that the push for more and better choices isn't simply limited to the historically string response to Gary Johnson this time around. The Bernie Sanders insurgency suggests that many in the Democratic Party feel cheated by that party's current iteration, as does a continuing lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. That Trump won the GOP nomination is evidence of the same and so does relatively strong showing by late-to-the-race independent Evan McMullin and stronger-than-expected polling by Green Party nom Jill Stein. Something is happening here that is actually different than in the past, even though the winner of the 2016 election will be[...]
(image) Donald Trump says the presidential election is "rigged." Of course, he equivocates over the word rigged to include voter fraud along with news-media/polling bias—two very different things. The former suggests that the outcome is predetermined, the latter only that influential organizations try to move voters in a particular direction. One might also say that Trump has helped "rig" the election against himself with his inveterate estrangement from the truth and his braggadocio about sexual assault.
But there's another side to the "rigged election" charge that's bound to go unnoticed, writes Sheldon Richman. The American political system, like all political systems, requires a good deal of peaceful cooperation to operate. This is obviously relevant to the much-touted peaceful transfer of power in the United States, which Trump is now said to jeopardize. And the peaceful transfer of power in America is relevant to the case for anarchism, argues Richman. Most people who reject anarchism do so largely because they believe that without the state as an enforcer of at least last resort, internally generated cooperation would be inadequate to sustain a peaceful and efficient society. Thus an ostensibly external agency—the state—is necessary to impose the minimum degree of cooperation required for society to run smoothly. But if the public's implicit or explicit ideology can sustain a state, we have no reason to believe it could not sustain a stateless society?