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Updated: 2018-02-22T00:00:00-05:00

 



California Wants to Fine You $500 for Washing Your Car With a Garden Hose

2018-02-22T08:00:00-05:00

Californians will have to start living with dusty cars and dry lawns if the state's Water Resource Control Board has its way. The Board is proposing a number of strict prohibitions on water use to deal with a recently declared drought in southern California, including bans on washing your vehicle with a garden hose, watering your garden 48 hours after it rains, and even hosing down your driveway. Businesses and cities will be affected too. No longer would your local government be allowed to water parkway median strips, nor would hotels be permitted to wash towels and sheets without first giving guests the chance to reuse them. Restaurants would be barred from offering unsolicited glasses of water during a state-declared drought. If the Board's proposal goes into effect, engaging in any of this sort of water usage will earn the violator a hefty $500 fine. The rules were first imposed on a temporary basis at the direction of California Governor Jerry Brown during the state's 2014 drought, and were phased out as the effects of the drought lessened in 2017. But with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Drought Monitor declaring 44 percent of the state to be in moderate to severe drought last week, The Water Resource Control Board is proposing to make them permanent. Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, "We're not in an emergency right now, but shame on us if we just bury our heads in the sand...allow people to go out and waste water by washing down the driveway with a hose when a broom would do." Despite the Board's stated worries about waste, the proposed regulations would do little to curb water usage. Of the 3.5 million acre-feet of water saved by all conservation methods during California's 2014-2017 drought, the Water Board estimates that only 1 percent of the savings—some 12,489 acre-feet—was a result of the end-user restrictions that might soon become permanent. That's because the kinds of behaviors targeted by the proposed regulations make up a tiny fraction of California's water usage. According to numbers compiled between 1998-2010 by the state's Water Resource Department, only 10 percent of California's water is consumed by urban uses across the state. Some 50 percent is used for environmental purposes, such as keeping streams and riverbeds wet. Another 40 percent is sucked up by the state's agribusinesses. California's water woes, says Reed Watson, an environmental economics professor at Clemson University, will not be solved by piling on more restrictions on end-users. "The fact is, if you look anywhere in the United States, water use restrictions do not address the systematic issue, which is price," Watson tells Reason. California's system of water rights privileges agricultural interests, while restricting the ability of everyone in the system to trade the water rights they do have to the people willing to pay for it. The result is a non-functioning pricing system that sells water to farmers for pennies per every thousand gallons, while urban users often shell out $2 to $3 for the same quantity. Some of that price difference, says Walters, is the result of the higher costs involved in getting water to lawns in Los Angeles compared to alfalfa farms in California's central valley. A lot of it however has to do with the red tape on trading water rights between different uses. A recent report by the R Street Institute and the Property and Environment Research Center found that the average price to transfer water from an agricultural user to a municipal user is $7,000 per acre-foot higher than transferring the same quantity between two agricultural users. The dysfunctional, government-imposed price system leads California farmers to continue growing water-intensive crops in the midst of severe droughts. So far, the state has responded to this problem by restricting water usage, rather than by allowing for more market-driven pricing. But says Watson, that such an approach is doomed to failure. "Any proposed restriction that doesn't effect price is going to be ineffec[...]



Brickbat: Here to Help

2018-02-22T04:00:00-05:00

(image) Andrew MacLeod, former head of the United Nation's Emergency Coordination Center, says some 3,300 pedophiles employed by the U.N. have committed 60,000 cases of rape and sexual exploitation over the past decade.

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Donald Trump's Listening Session With Mass Shooting Survivors Was Really Powerful

2018-02-21T18:47:00-05:00

President Donald Trump recently concluded a 90-minute "listening session" with survivors of last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Also attending were parents of children killed in shootings at Columbine High and Sandy Hook Elementary and others who had endured violence in various Washington, D.C.-area schools. It's worth foregrounding that the exchange was genuinely powerful and often moving as children and parents shared their experiences and losses. Trump listened intently and actively throughout and gave the stage to the guests in attendance at odds with his usual modus operandi. He would follow up on and punctuate points but never felt a need to pull the attention back to himself or egomaniacally insist, as he did on the campaign trail, that he alone can fix problems such as school shootings. After more than a dozen people told their stories, Trump asked, "Does anyone have any idea of how to stop [school shootings]?" He minced no words about shooters, calling them garbage, but he also didn't lose contact with the idea that he was there to listen to and comfort the people in the room, not rail against miscreants. In a word, he was presidential, at least in his bearing and temperament. In terms of substance and policy, there are clear indicators of where the president will head next. The participants underscored feelings of fear, anger, and resentment at what they saw as indifference from politicians at all levels. Students "need to feel safe," said Jason Gruber, who lived through the Florida shooting. The father of a slain student called for definitive action in a voice suffused with barely controlled rage. Parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook and Columbine shootings emphasized the need to detect mental illness at early stages and to make access to schools more difficult for interlopers. The emphasis throughout was much more on protecting schools rather than stripping weapons per se and a number of respondents talked about the need to arm teachers and staff with weapons. ""If you can't stop it from happening," said one parent, who further noted that hundreds of millions of guns are in circulation, "the challenge becomes to end it as quickly as possible." The idea of arming teachers and staff is clearly something to which Trump is partial. The typical "attack lasts three minutes," he said at one point, "while it takes five to eight minutes for responders to arrive." He further noted that contemporary schools are often large, sprawling complexes and nodded toward reports that a Stoneman Douglas coach, Aaron Feis, who died shielding students, could have ended the shooting if he'd been carrying his firearm. The president talked about teachers and staff volunteering to carry weapons and undergo training for live-shooting situations. Trump attacked the notion of gun-free school zones and promised to improve and possibly expand background checks. He also pushed the idea that mental illness was the deep cause of mass shootings, especially at schools, and seemed to endorse vague forms of preventive detention if it seemed likely that a given individual might be likely to commit violent crime. There is plenty to worry about in such responses. Even as she called for more funding for mental-health screening and interventions, the mother of a Sandy Hook victim stressed that most psychologically troubled people are non-violent. Virtually all plans to ban "mentally ill" people from owning guns define the term in such a way that a quarter or more of the population would be included. Such policies are also rife with due-process concerns, which are even more troubling when it comes to anything smacking of preventive detention, including the "gun violence restraining orders" that are gaining popularity among conservatives at National Review and elsewhere. Teachers and staff carrying concealed weapons may be preferable to flooding K-12 schools with yet more police (often euphemistically called "school resource officers"[...]



Countering the Threat of the Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence

2018-02-21T16:45:00-05:00

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are being embedded in more and more of the digital and physical products and services we use everyday. Consequently, bad actors—cybercriminals, terrorists, and authoritarian governments—will increasingly seek to make malicious use of A.I. warns a new report just issued by team of researchers led by Miles Brundage, a research fellow at the Future of Life Institute at Oxford University and Shahar Avin, a research associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University. The new report "surveys the landscape of potential security threats from malicious uses of artificial intelligence technologies, and proposes ways to better forecast, prevent, and mitigate these threats." The researchers specifically look how A.I. in the next five years might be misused to cause harm in the digital, physical, and political realms. They also suggest some countermeasures to these potential threats. The researchers begin by observing that artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (M.L.) are inherently dual-use technologies, that is, they can be used to achieve both beneficial and harmful ends. One retort is that this is a fairly trite observation since there are damned few, if any, technologies that are not dual-use, ranging from sharp sticks and fire to CRISPR genome editing and airplanes. That being said, the researchers warn that A.I. and M.L. can excerbate security vulnerabilites because A.I. systems are commonly both efficient and scalable, that is, capable of being easily expanded or upgraded on demand. They can also exceed human capabilities in specific domains and, once developed, they can be rapidly diffused so that nearly anyone can have access to them. In addition, A.I. systems can increase anonymity and psychological distance. The authors lay out a number of scenarios in which A.I. is maliciously used. For example, A.I. could be used to automate social engineering attacks to more precisely target phishing in order to obtain access to proprietary systems or information. They suggest that it will not be too long before "convincing chatbots may elicit human trust by engaging people in longer dialogues, and perhaps eventually masquerade visually as another person in a video chat." In the physical realm they outline a scenario in which a cleaning robot, booby-trapped with a bomb, goes about its autonomous duties until it identifies the minister of finance who it then approaches and assassinates by detonating itself. Assassins might also repurpose drones to track and attack specific people. Then there is the issue of adversarial examples, in which, objects like road signs could be perturbed in ways that fool A.I. image classification, e.g., causing a self-driving vehicle to misidentify a stop sign as a roadside advertisement. A.I. could be used by governments to suppress political dissent. China's developing dystopian social credit system relies upon A.I. combined with ubiquitous physical and digital surveillance to minutely control what benefits and punishments will be meted out to its citizens. On the other hand, disinformation campaigners could use A.I. to create and target fake news in order to disrupt political campaigns. A.I. techniques will enable the creation of believable videos in which nearly anyone can be portrayed as saying or doing almost anything. What can be done to counter these and other threats posed by the malicious use of A.I.? Since artificial intelligence is dual-use, A.I. techniques can be used to detect attacks and defend against them. A.I. is already being deployed for purposes such as anomaly and malware detection. With regard to disinformation, the researchers point to efforts like the Fake News Challenge to use machine learning and natural language processing to combat the fake news problem. The researchers also recommend red teaming to discover and fix potential security vulnerabilities and safety issues; setting up a system in whic[...]



Students Protest Over Gun Laws, Jennifer Lawrence Tells Critics to 'Get a Grip', Birth of a Supernova Witnessed: P.M. Links

2018-02-21T16:30:00-05:00

  • (image) Students from the Parkland high school where a mass shooter killed 17 people last week, protested at the Florida state capitol, demanding a ban on weapons like the one that killed their classmate. Student activists from around the country joined in with "walkouts" of their own.
  • Police in California said they may have thwarted a school shooting after a resource officer reported a "disgruntled student" who threatened a school shooting; a "collection of weapons" was allegedly found in his home.
  • Port Authority police arrested 19-year-old delivery man Bruce Lee after he tried to bike through the Lincoln Tunnel.
  • Jennifer Lawrence responded to critics of a dress she wore in London, telling them to "get a grip."
  • Recep Erdogan says Turkey will work on developing unmanned tanks.
  • Snapchat responds to a Change.org petition about its latest redesign.
  • A self-taught astronomer became the first person to witness the surge of light at the birth of a supernova when he captured images of 2016gkg.
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Black Panther Actor Bambadjan Bamba Is a Dreamer

2018-02-21T14:50:00-05:00

(image) The cast of Black Panther, currently the biggest movie in America, includes at least one beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA allowed people who came to the country as kids to avoid deportation and apply for work permits—allowances the Trump administration is now working to end.

Bambadjan Bamba, 36, has only a small role in the film. But the part still feels like a major accomplishment, given his background: When he was 10 years old, he and his family fled the politically unstable west African nation of Ivory Coast. Arriving in the U.S., Bamba didn't speak any English.

CNN reports:

Bamba spoke French and the Mande language Jula when he arrived in a South Bronx school as a frightened 10-year-old, but he didn't speak a lick of English. Teachers put him in an all-Spanish class, where, he recalled, he felt more lost than ever.

"The African kid who spoke French was tricking me all day," Bamba said with a laugh. "I asked him, 'Hey, I want to go to the bathroom. How do I say that?' And he goes, 'Kiss my butt.'"

Bamba's family eventually left the South Bronx and settled in Richmond, Virginia, where they opened up a hair-braiding business that they still operate today.

Eventually, his parents were successful in their application for political asylum. But by the time they got asylum Bamba was 21, too old to share in his parents' newly won status; underscoring how lengthy and complicated the immigration process can be, even when would-be legal immigrants follow the rules.

Watch the interview here.

I only make note of this story because it underscores just how hard DACA recipients, and immigrants more broadly, have worked to obtain the American dream. We're lucky to have them in this country, making our society more prosperous.

For more on why Republicans should give permanent citizenship to DACA recipients, read Reason's Shikha Dalmia on Rush Limbaugh's proposal to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants if they agree to forfeit their voting rights for 20 years.

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After Pablo Escobar: Murder, Chaos, and the Failure of U.S. Drug Policy in Colombia: New at Reason

2018-02-21T14:30:00-05:00

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aZCjQdEH5to" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" width="560" height="340">

"The whole premise of the war on drugs is that if you focus on the supply side, you'll solve all of the U.S.'s problems with problematic drug use," says Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. But "no matter how much money you put into fighting organized crime, there are always going to be new leaders ready to step into the shoes of those who've been arrested."

The failure of the supply-side approach to fighting the drug war is an overarching theme in McFarland's new book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia. It recounts the bloody aftermath of cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar's death, when the Colombian military, surviving drug lords, left-wing terrorists known as FARC, and paramilitary groups vied for power. Focusing on three individuals who successfully helped expose the atrocities and win justice, the book examines the impact of U.S. intervention in Colombia's drug trade.

Before joining the Drug Policy Alliance last September, McFarland spent over a decade as a drug policy analyst at Human Rights Watch.

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with McFarland recently in New York City.

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People Stuck in Jail Because They're Poor Have New Hope

2018-02-21T14:15:00-05:00

If you're arrested in Nashville, you can pay your bail to be freed. If you can't afford bail, you can wait in jail. But they charge you for that as well: $44 a day. Now Councilmember Freddie O'Connell has introduced a resolution to end the daily fees, which he describes as a "non-sentenced form of financial punishment." These prisoners have only been charged with crimes, not convicted. And if they cannot afford bail, they're unlikely to be able to pay jail fees. And no, the fees aren't levied to cover the costs of jailing people. The money actually goes into the general fund and can be spent on anything in the budget. Fortunately, Nashville is apparently not pushing very hard to collect them. As the Nashville Scene notes, judges waive millions of dollars in jail fees each year, and even when they don't, the city only actually collects a small percentage of the fees. Still, for fiscal year 2015, Nashville extracted more than $1.5 million from people who had been merely been accused, not convicted, of crimes. The effect is yet more financial pressure pushing poor citizens to accept whatever prosecutors offer if it will help get them out of jail, thus increasing the likelihood of they'll end up with criminal records that follow them around. The Pretrial Justice Institute has calculated that people who end up stuck in jail because they cannot afford bail are more likely to have their lives disrupted after just a few days—losing their jobs and incomes—and are therefore more likely to plead guilty. Nashville isn't the only place seeing a push to reform mechanisms that leave people who haven't been convicted stuck behind bars. This month Philadelphia's City Council voted in favor of a resolution to end the practice of cash bail in Pennsylvania. City Lab notes that a third of the people sitting in Pennsylvania's jails are there because they cannot afford bail. The city's new district attorney, Larry Krasner, supports such a change. (UPDATE: Krasner announced this afternoon he would end the practice of seeking cash bail for low-level offenses) Likewise, Atlanta's new mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an ordinance this month that eliminates cash bail for a host of low-level, nonviolent crimes. Local activists had drawn attention to the oppressive and thoughtless use of cash bail in the court system that had left a homeless man in jail for three months because he couldn't afford a $200 bond for soliciting donations in a roadway. And yesterday in California, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his office will not appeal a state court's decision ordering a new bail hearing for a 63-year-old man who has been in jail since May, unable to cover his $350,000 bail. The man, Robert Humphrey, is charged with entering an apartment, threatening the resident, and stealing a $5 bottle of cologne. In a press conference, Becerra declared his support for changes to California's bail system so that decisions are based on "danger to the public, not dollars in your pocket." A legislative effort to reform California's pretrial services and minimize cash bail stalled last year, but a new push is underway. If it passes, California will join New Jersey, which implemented a pretrial assessment system that did away with cash bail last year, and Alaska, which did the same at the start of 2018 (and are now working out some kinks in the system). [...]



D.C. Public School Chief Resigns After Sneaking His Kids Into Top School

2018-02-21T13:55:00-05:00

(image) The top public school administrator in Washington, D.C., resigned his position Tuesday, four days after it was revealed that he had conspired with another official to place his daughter in the district's highest-performing public high school. In the process, Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson bypassed the rules governing placement of district students in schools outside their own neighborhoods.

The other official, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, was forced to resign last week.

Wilson is the second consecutive chancellor to be embroiled in a school placement scandal. Last May, The Washington Post obtained a report from the city's inspector general revealing that his predecessor, Kaya Henderson, had helped influential D.C. officials get their children directly into the most desirable schools by bypassing the lottery system with so-called "discretionary placements." By the time the report became public, Henderson had already left the school system following a five-year stint in the top job.

On one level, this is maddening malfeasance. District residents have now had two consecutive chancellors, both of whom promised to be champions of reform and good governance, caught abusing their positions for personal gain in the same way. Families across the city with many fewer resources than these officials face the school lottery's notoriously long odds every year. Often, it's their only chance to avoid dismally underperforming neighborhood schools. That the people responsible for maintaining and operating that system are apparently unwilling to play by the rules they enforce is inexcusable and grotesque.

But it's worth pausing to ponder why Wilson and the others did this. In addition to being city leaders, these people are parents. They are fiercely determined to give their children the best chances at success that they can get. In D.C., placement at an out-of-neighborhood school can mean the difference between plentiful access to advanced course offerings and competent college counseling and no access to either.

At the end of the day, these self-dealing bureaucrats were trying to get what libertarians have long argued all parents deserve: meaningful choices about where to educate their kids. It's not enough to kick them out of office. We need to extend what was once their privilege to everyone else.

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Searching for Gun Solutions That Don't Collectivize Punishment: New at Reason

2018-02-21T13:07:00-05:00

(image) A gun violence restraining order (GVRO), or sometimes a gun violence protective order, is based on a familiar model: the domestic restraining order. As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence explains, GVROs "allow families and household members, as well as law enforcement officers, to petition a court to remove a person's access to guns if he or she poses an imminent danger to self or others."

The Parkland massacre makes the utility of GVROs excruciatingly obvious, suggests A. Barton Hinkle. Another advantage? GVROs do not constitute "collective punishment."

Arguments about constitutionality and effectiveness are worth having, writes Hinkle. But Americans should not let their disagreements about other measures stand in the way of the things that (a) are constitutional, (b) would be effective, and (c) both sides can agree on.

View this article.

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Cops Can Arrest 14-Year-Olds for Having Sex in Kansas, But This Bill Would Change That

2018-02-21T12:29:00-05:00

(image) A Kansas state legislator has proposed a bill that would decriminalize consensual sexual contact between kids under the age of 14—a much-needed update to the state's draconian laws, which currently criminalize sexual contact up to age 16.

Democratic Rep. Dennis Highberger's bill, HB 2738, would remove the criminal penalties associated with consensual sexual acts committed between kids ages 11 to 14. "Children of these ages are together in junior high school, and any sexual experimentation between them would be much better handled by parents, teachers and counselors than by the juvenile justice system," said Highberger, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The bill is partly inspired by the ordeal of Randy Masten, whose 14-year-old son was charged with a felony for engaging in mutual, consensual kissing and touching with a 13-year-old girl in a school elevator:

After the encounter came to light, he was contacted by a police officer who was investigating. Nearly a year later, in January 2017, Masten's son was charged. The charges were later dropped. Masten said he spent nearly $13,000 on an attorney and never found out why the case went away.

He said his son and the girl were 55 days apart in age.

"What if we did not have the means to defend our son? An overzealous DA and judicial system, following the letter of the law as it stands, could have destroyed my son's life and wrecked the lives of my wife and myself as well," Masten said.

It should be up to parents and teachers to decide what is and isn't appropriate teen behavior, and to deal with it accordingly. No one benefits when consensual touching between same-aged kids is a criminal offense: not the education system, not the overburdened criminal justice system, and certainly not the kids themselves.

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Pennsylvania's New Congressional Districts Are More Compact. But They're Still Just as Partisan.

2018-02-21T11:00:00-05:00

Democrats got a boost in their effort to retake Congress this week, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unveiled a new congressional district map to replace a Republican gerrymander the same court had ruled unconstitutional last month. The new map imposed by the court is undoubtedly less gerrymandered than the previous one, which has been drawn by Republican state lawmakers after the 2010 census. The GOP had won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional seats in each of the three elections held under that map. The new map will, according to a variety of analyses released this week, lend itself to a more balanced division of the state's congressional delegation. The new map also features districts that are more compact. The "compactness" of congressional districts can be measured in several different ways—for example, by measuring the size of the smallest circle that can be drawn to encompass the entire district—but the Supreme Court map improves on the old Republican map pretty much any way you slice it. Even without engaging in complicated geometry, that much is plain just by looking at the two maps side by side. The 2011 map is on the left; the court-drawn map is on the right: Gone are the awkward tentacles and interweaving of districts in the Philadelphia suburbs. Instead we see districts that (mostly) follow county lines. Rather than simply undoing the Republican gerrymanders, though, the state Supreme Court map may tilt things slightly in the Democrats' favor. "This is the PA map Dems wanted," tweeted Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for The Cook Political Report. "It's a ringing endorsement of the 'partisan fairness' doctrine: that parties should be entitled to same proportion of seats as votes. However, in PA (and many states), achieving that requires conscious pro-Dem mapping choices." To understand why, you have to know a few things about Pennsylvania. The state has about a million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, but because blue voters are clustered in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and a few other places around the state, Republicans have a natural advantage when it comes to congressional districts. In other words, even without too-clever-by-half district lines like the ones they drew in 2011, Republicans would be favored to win probably 10 or 11 of the state's 18 seats on a generic ballot in a non-wave election. The bottom line: If you overlay this new map onto precinct-level election results in 2012 and 2016, and you'd expect Democrats to win seven or eight seats, instead of just five. With a bit of a wind at their backs, Democrats could win up to 11. The result: Dems have a great shot to win 8-11 of PA's 18 seats in November. Under a truly partisan-blind compact map, maybe 7-10. Under old GOP map, maybe 6-9. — Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) February 19, 2018 Republicans pushed the envelope in 2011. It worked, until it didn't. (Republicans hold a 12-5 edge at the moment, with one open seat that will be filled with a special election on March 13. Confusingly, that election will be held within the lines of the now-trashed 18th district as it was drawn in 2011.) Democrats took control of the state Supreme Court in 2015—judges in Pennsylvania serve in technically nonpartisan role but are elected via a partisan process—and some of the new justices campaigned on a promise to review the Republican-drawn congressional maps if given the chance. When they got the chance, no surprise, they tossed the Republican map and replaced it with their own, Democratic-friendly map. While the new map is not as blatantly gerrymandered as the 2011 Republican map, it makes a lot of small, subtle choices intended to nudge congressional districts toward the Democrats, as The New York Times' Nate Cohn dem[...]



San Francisco Man Has Spent 4 Years and $1 Million Trying to Get Approval to Turn His Own Laundromat Into an Apartment Building

2018-02-21T10:37:00-05:00

To understand how difficult and expensive it is to build housing in San Francisco, observe the case of Robert Tillman. Tillman owns a single-story laundromat in the city's Mission District. Since 2014, he has been attempting to develop his property into a 75-unit apartment building. The city is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, with an average one-bedroom apartment going for $3,400 a month. So you might think Tillman's project would sail through the permitting process. Instead, the city's labyrinthine process of reviews, regulations, and appeals has dragged on for four years. The project has cost the self-described "accidental developer" nearly $1 million so far, and he hasn't even broken ground yet. "It's taken me longer to get to this point than it took for the United States to win World War II," says Tillman, "and my site is the easiest site in the city to build." In a sane world, it would be easy. No housing is located at the site, so there's no fear that redevelopment will displace any tenants. There are three other coin-operated laundromats within half a mile of Tillman's property, so there is no real concern about lost neighborhood services. Half of the property is a parking lot, so the city won't be losing an aesthetically pleasing landmark. On top of all that, Tillman's lot is a three-minute walk from the 24th Mission Street BART light rail station, a major plus for a city obsessed with "transit-oriented" development. In March 2014, when Tillman first submitted his plans to the San Francisco Planning Department, the initial reaction was positive. Officials were "very much in favor of developing site," Tillman says. The real opposition came from some of the neighbors. A community meeting in January 2016 served as something of a flashpoint. At the meeting, one woman fretted that the tall building would violate the privacy of a nearby public school. Another argued that the project needed to be 100 percent affordable housing. Two representatives from local Latino Cultural District Calle 24 said that even a 100 percent affordable housing project was out of the question, given the proposed height of the development. When Tillman said he saw his project as necessary so people like his daughter could afford to come back and live in the city, one particularly motivated activist said she wished his daughter was killed in a terrorist attack. Nevertheless, Tillman persisted, working with the Planning Department to change the design of his development where necessary and spending tens of thousands more on various impact studies. That includes $6,500 on a wind study, $5,000 on a shadow study, and $189,000 in city fees by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Planning Commission—which oversees the Planning Department and is responsible for approving new developments—continued to push for changes. Parroting many of the Mission activists' concerns, Commissioner Rich Hillis complained that the design was "bulky, and a bit out of character" with the neighborhood, while Commissioner Kathrin Moore said that erecting an 84-foot tall building would be like "plopping a foreign object into this area and not thinking about the consequences." Commissioner Dennis Richards said, "I think a project absolutely belongs here. The question is what kind of project." Thanks to California's state density bonus law, which restricts localities' ability to reject housing developments that reserve a certain percentage of their units for below-market tenants, the Commission was largely prevented from imposing new conditions. After another three-month delay, the Commission voted on November 30, 2017, to approve the project. So that meant Tillman could move forward with construction, right? Of c[...]



Defending the Enlightenment: New at Reason

2018-02-21T09:58:00-05:00

(image) In Enlightenment Now, the scientist and philosopher Steven Pinker defends the Enlightenment ideals of liberal democracy, civil liberties, free markets, religious toleration, and free speech. He also warns that political leaders and their intellectual fellow travelers seek power and position by appealing to some of the less admirable "strands of human nature: our loyalty to tribe, deference to authority, magical thinking, the blaming of evildoers." Ronald Bailey reviews the book for Reason.

View this article.

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Doe-Eyed Youngsters for My Preferred Policies: New at Reason

2018-02-21T09:15:00-05:00

(image) We're seeking wisdom from the mouths of babes, these days. So I asked my 12-year-old son if the country would be a better, safer place if the government tried to disarm some or all Americans to reduce violent crime.

"I think that would have the opposite effect," he said. "The fewer people who are armed, the fewer people there would be to fight against criminals."

So there we have it: the launch of Pre-Teens Against Infringements of the Right to Self-Defense, right here in my living room.

If you're less than bowled over by my son's insights, you're forgiven. He's short on experience and incompletely developed in his analytic skills. He also is one person, offering an opinion heavily colored by his parents' views and the particular American subculture in which he's raised, writes J.D. Tuccille.

View this article.

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Billy Graham Dies, Newsweek Implodes, Sexual Harassment Scandal Hits USDA: A.M. Links

2018-02-21T09:00:00-05:00

  • (image) The "Russian troll farm" indictment is wild.
  • The iconic and controversial evangelical preacher Billy Graham has died, at age 99.
  • New excuse to avoid cleaning: it causes cancer?
  • Newsweek is claiming that Al Franken's downfall was orchestrated by Roger Stone and Russian bots. Meanwhile, Newsweek reporters are publishing damning exposes of their own publication.
  • We've reached the era of "best practices" manuals for stage kissing.
  • During an Agriculture Department soiree last week, employee Rosetta Davis "unexpectedly took to the stage and alleged to her colleagues in emotional and specific terms how she was sexually harassed on the job," including a supervisor who allegedly offered her a promotion in exchange for sex. Now she's been placed on leave.
  • "Red flag laws" that would make it easier for authorities to seize someone's gun are gaining popularity.
  • "In Nashville, they said, it is easier to buy an assault rifle than it is to make a living as an exotic dancer."
  • The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) starts today.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to sign up for Reason's daily updates for more content.

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Supreme Court Case Could Spell End of Mandatory Public Sector Union Dues: New at Reason

2018-02-21T08:25:00-05:00

(image) The high court could extend "right to work" principles to government employment in a case it's expected to decide this summer.

John Stossel writes:

If your workplace is a union shop, are you forced to pay union dues? Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about that.

When I worked at CBS and ABC, I was ordered to join the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists. That union had won a vote that gave them the right to speak for all reporters. I said, "I'm no 'artist.' I'm a reporter! I won't join!" But my bosses said they couldn't pay me unless I did.

In right-to-work states, unions can't force people to join. But only 28 states are right to work. Aging socialist bureaucracies like New York state are not among them.

But now the Supreme Court may say that no government worker, in any state, can be forced to pay a union.

"If we lose this case, the entire public sector will be right to work," warns Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, the big government employees union.

View this article.

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Don't Feed the Russian Troll Hysteria: New at Reason

2018-02-21T07:53:00-05:00

(image) According to a federal indictment unveiled on Friday, Russians who pretended to be Americans while participating in online political discourse during the last few years committed a bunch of felonies. Whether they accomplished anything else of significance is by no means clear, Jacob Sullum says, notwithstanding all the scary talk about "information warfare" that supposedly undermined our democratic institutions and interfered with the electoral process.

The New York Times, which last year breathlessly claimed that "Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics," reports that Donald Trump's "admirers and detractors" both agree with him that "the Russians intended to sow chaos" and "have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams." A Times editorial assures skeptics that "the Russian subversion effort" was "sophisticated" and "breathtaking" in scope.

The only thing breathtaking about this influence campaign, Sullum says, is the hyperventilation of the alarmists who talk as if we are just a few angry tweets from the abyss.

View this article

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Brickbat: Lover's Spat

2018-02-21T04:00:00-05:00

(image) Former Scottish National Party Dundee City councilor Craig Melville faces a charge off aggravated religious prejudice because of private text messages he sent to his mistress, Nadia El Nakia. In the days after the 2015 Paris terror attack, Melville sent her several messages criticizing Islam. She seems to have blown the messages off, but her husband, Fariad Umar, found out his wife was cheating on him and sent the messages to police and SNP officials.

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Trump Endorses a Ban on Bump Stocks

2018-02-20T18:50:00-05:00

In the wake of last week's shooting Parkland Florida—which left 17 people dead—President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban bump stocks. "Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns," said Trump in a public address Tuesday afternoon, "I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon" addressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly. The President's memo demands that the Department of Justice complete an ongoing review of whether bump stocks—a device which greatly increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon—are currently prohibited by current federal laws restricting machine guns. Once an obscure novelty item derided by most firearms enthusiasts for reducing accuracy, bump stocks have since been elevated to the center of the national debate on gun control following last year's shooting in Las Vegas. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, was found in possession of 12 bump stock-equipped rifles. Given the death toll from the Las Vegas shooting—with some 58 people killed, and many hundreds wounded—and the relative unpopularity of bump stocks among gun owners, a bipartisan consensus quickly grew around prohibiting or restricting the device. Arch-gun control advocate Sen. Diane Feinstein (D – Calif.) announced a bill banning bump stocks within days of the shooting. This was followed by a string of Republican lawmakers—including Rep. Bill Flores (R – Texas), Speaker Paul Ryan (R – Wisc.), and Sen. Rob Portman (R – Ohio)—all expressing an openness to some sort of bump stock ban. White House advisor Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN, blaming the Obama Administration for not banning the device, and the National Rifle Association expressed tepid support for "additional regulations." Since 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent multiple opinion letters to bump stock manufacturers saying the devices are outside its authority to regulate. In a 2013 letter to Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D – Colo.) the Bureau stated that it "does not have the authority to restrict their lawful possession, use, or transfer" of bump stocks. Nevertheless, Trump's DOJ issued a press release on December 5, 2017 stating that the Department would be reinterpreting the definition of machine-gun in federal firearms statutes to see if bump stocks would be included after all. "Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in that press release. "Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition." That process is still underway. Trump's memo essentially directs Sessions, provided the DOJ review of regulations determines bump stocks can be banned after all, to develop rules doing just that. Given the mounting pressure to "do something" following the most recent Parkland shooting, the lack of strong conservative opposition to their prohibition, bump stocks have become an easy target of new federal firearms restrictions. Despite it's popularity however, it's hard to see how a bump stock ban would improve public safety. The device's impact on the Las Vegas shooting's death toll is questionable. No mass shooters before or since have used the device. Shootings like the one that happened in Florida last week, or in Las Vegas last year, are no doubt horrific, but banning bump stocks will likely do nothing to prevent such t[...]



Admitting You Smoked Pot Can Get You Bounced From White House Job

2018-02-20T17:00:00-05:00

The status of White House security clearances regarding such luminaries as former presidential assistant Rob Porter and even presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner (who on his merely temporary clearance requests more intelligence information than any staffer not on the National Security Council) has earned that coveted social networking age description "bonkers" from Slate. The publication notes that among the 130 Trump staffers not yet receiving full security clearance is White House counsel Don McGahn, himself responsible for adjudicating others' clearances and managing government secrets. A quieter White House security clearance story broke last week, revealing a ludicrous stance officially taken by the federal government: if you, like a bare majority of 52 percent of adult Americans, admit to having smoked pot, you can be deemed unqualified to work in the White House. George David Banks, who had been special assistant to the president on international energy and environment under Trump and had previously been an adviser in the George W. Bush White House's Council on Environmental Quality and worked on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, explained in an interview with E&E News that: I had a permanent clearance for 14 years, CIA, State, Bush White House. And once you leave government, you don't have a clearance. It's not as if you can just walk into a building and say, "Hey, I still have my clearance." So anyway, I didn't have a clearance when I started this job..... It was like an hour interview with the FBI. They're looking over your paperwork; you're going through all your responses. Then that's it. Didn't hear anything. Certainly didn't hear there was a potential problem with my clearances. I didn't know until Tuesday. I get a call at 4:30 p.m. from White House counsel saying they want to meet with me at 6 p.m. Three people in the room. They just say, "Look, your job requires a permanent TS-whatever, and we're not going to grant you a clearance." And I'm like, "Why?" I'm on the edge of my seat. I'm like, "Holy shit!" He looks at me and goes, "Your drug use." I was like, "Really? That's it?" He goes, "Yes." I said, "Well, I'm not a drug user. I've only experimented with it a few times." He goes, "We know. Those are just the rules. It was too recent."... If it had been something, like, had I lied, right, and in their investigation they found, "Oh, he smokes pot," or if it were a revelation that they just discovered, like, two weeks or two months ago. ... But I self-reported this a year ago. I just don't know why it took a year. The New York Times reports that Banks' self-reported pot use was between 2010 and 2013. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is, after Porter was pushed out by accusations of domestic abuse, attempting damage control regarding temporary security clearances for which, Times sources say, Banks was collatoral damage. We know that the announced public reason for any government decision isn't necessarily true or complete. Perhaps other considerations really caused Banks to lose his job. (Pot use is something that can disqualify you but doesn't always.) But that the government can even offer such an excuse—that he's disqualified for having smoked pot in the past—as true is ludicrous, and should be rethought immediately. [...]



Will Support for Gun Control Spike After Florida? Probably Not, Even Among Young People.

2018-02-20T16:45:00-05:00

In the wake of last week's mass shooting in a Florida high school, there have been heightened calls for gun control. But will the most recent massacre—in which 17 people, mostly students, died—result in substantial changes to laws restricting the ability to own and carry firearms? If the past couple of decades are any guide, the answer is no. The era of modern mass shootings can be roughly dated to the Columbine High shooting in 1999. You might expect that event to have started a movement for more gun control, but the long-term trends show a very different correlation. Here's data from Pew on surveys that asked people whether they think the government should do more to control gun ownership or protect gun rights. The data, which begins in 1993 and runs through last April (before the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings last fall), shows a long-term increase in the percentage of Americans supporting gun rights. CNN pollster Harry Enten writes that "past history suggests that any bump in public opinion in favor of gun control will not hold. The long-term trend is against gun control." That helps explain why Congress, even when it was fully controlled by Democrats in 2009 and 2010, didn't push new laws. He further notes that millennials and younger Americans are no exception: That young adults aren't any more likely to be in favor of stricter gun laws than the average America is even more remarkable when you consider that young adults today are politically more liberal than young adults at the time of Columbine. In fact, mass shootings didn't make young adults more in favor of gun control than the average American. It may have had the opposite effect. Such a read is consistent with the notion, which I wrote about yesterday, that younger Americans have positions on issues that cluster very differently than those of who are older. This isn't suprising in any way, but it's worth paying attention to, especially for those of us interested in shifting the direction of U.S. policy. The old alliances, both within movements and among them, are less and less relevant every day and, given the increasing number of individuals who say they are independent and unaffiliated, the future will belong to those who can define a broad-based set of principles for people to rally around. In the Democratic Party and the left-liberal side of the political spectrum more generally, the glue that held progressives and centrists is breaking down (that's the subtext of the Sanders insurgency in 2016 and the rise of identity politics at the cost of class-based politics). You end up with figures such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who are drug warriors and military interventionists in ways that alienate harder-left elements. At the same time, they are not interventionist enough in the economy to inspire confidence in Bernie fans. Bernie himself isn't quite the right face for a Democratic party or left that wants to talk more about race and gender than class. In the GOP and the broad right, libertarians started peeling away from conservatives immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the insistence on foreign-policy adventurism on the part of neoconservatives made that gap still wider, especially given the neocons' general unseriousness about economic policy. The reactionary lifestyle politics doesn't play well with libertarians either and fewer and fewer people in general. Add populism to the mix and the coalition that governed the right since the late 1[...]



Mueller Issues Another Indictment in Russia Probe, Trump Supports Bump Stock Ban, and the Taliban Taxes Journalists: P.M. Links

2018-02-20T16:30:00-05:00

  • (image) Mueller charges lawyer, Gates associate with lying in Russia probe.
  • President Trump proposes Bump Stock ban.
  • The Taliban taxes Afghanistan's independent media.
  • Donald Trump Jr.'s business trip to India raises ethics concerns.
  • Portland wonders if affordable housing regulations reduces the supply of housing.
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Dutch Attorney Pleads Guilty to Lying to Special Counsel

2018-02-20T16:10:00-05:00

(image) An attorney who used to represent the Ukranian Ministry of Justice pled guilty this afternoon to charges of making false statements to federal investigators. The plea marked the latest criminal case to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

In a charging document filed on Friday, lawyers with Mueller's team stated that Alex Van Der Zwaan, 33, lied to FBI agents about the timing of his last communication with Richard Gates, the indicted business partner of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The document also states that Van Der Zwaan deleted emails the FBI had requested in connection with the investigation, then told the bureau he did not know what had become of the messages.

In federal court today, Van Der Zwaan told Judge Amy Berman Jackson under oath that he was in fact guilty of the charges. Van Der Zwaan was released on personal recognizance, and sentencing was set for April 3. Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann agreed with the defense team that the applicable guideline sentence is likely to be 0–6 months, so it is possible Van Der Zwaan will serve no jail time.

As part of the plea agreement, the special counsel's office has agreed not to charge Van Der Zwaan with any further crimes related to the incident. In the meantime, Van Der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, has surrendered his passport to the FBI.

The false statements at issue were made during an FBI interview last November. Weissmann told Judge Jackson that Manafort hired Van Der Zwaan's former law firm—Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom—to draft a report on behalf of his client, the pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The report was intended to discredit allegations that Yanukovych's Ministry of Justice prosecuted his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, on illegitimate grounds. Van Der Zwaan was assigned to work on the report due to his fluency in Russian, Weissmann said, although the parties dispute how significant his involvement in writing the document was.

The New York Times reports that Van Der Zwaan, who was fired from Skadden in 2017, was one of the eight lawyers whose work on behalf of Yanukovych the current Ukrainian government asked the Department of Justice to question.

As in previous cases to emerge from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, it is not clear that the underlying conduct the defendant pleaded guilty to lying about was criminal in itself.

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Are Libertarian Responses to Mass Shootings Persuasive?: Podcast

2018-02-20T15:25:00-05:00

When mass shootings take place, libertarians at Reason and elsewhere respond by pointing out that gun violence is declining even as the number of weapons in circulation is climbing; that mass shootings are not increasing in number; and that most proposed solutions either won't work or raise serious civil liberties concerns. These points are all true and important. But are they the limit of all meaningful response? In today's Reason Podcast, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, Robby Soave, and Nick Gillespie discuss what if any policies might mitigate the frequency and casualties of mass shootings. They also talk about how Rush Limbaugh, of all people, has advanced the most progressive immigration policy heard in several months, whether the investigation of Russian influence into the 2016 election will undermine belief in American politics, and the deeper meanings of Black Panther, the latest Marvel superhero movie that is setting box-office records.

Take a deeper dive by reading Reason's continually updated archive on the Florida shooting, "Rush Limbaugh Is More Progressive on Immigration Than Anyone on Capitol Hill. Seriously," and Kurt Loder's review of Black Panther for Reason.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Photo credit Carline Jean/TNS/Newscom.

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

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Don't miss a single Reason podcast! (Archive here.)

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Poker Champion Annie Duke on Making Smart Bets in Life, Politics, and Football: New at Reason

2018-02-20T14:40:00-05:00

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jxUZDiscLis" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">

Poker Champion Annie Duke, who retired in 2012 after making over $4 million in tournament winnings, discusses her new book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts.

Click here for full text and downloadable versions.

Subscribe at YouTube.
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Supreme Court Won't Review 10-Day Waiting Period for Gun Purchases, Clarence Thomas Dissents

2018-02-20T13:15:00-05:00

Today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a Second Amendment case challenging California's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases. Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas faulted his colleagues for their "inaction" and for turning the Second Amendment into "a disfavored right in this Court." The case is Silvester v. Becerra. It arose when several lawful California gun owners, supported by the Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation, filed a lawsuit claiming that the state's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases is unconstitutional as applied to "those purchasers who already own a firearm or have a license to carry a concealed weapon, and who clear a background check in fewer than 10 days." Because it typically takes only a day or two for most such background checks to go through, they argued, the government has no legitimate reason to make "previous purchasers" wait the full 10 days. That argument prevailed before the the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, which ruled against the 10-day waiting period in the context of "previous purchasers." But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the District Court on appeal, upholding the regulation based on what it called the "common sense understanding" that a 10-day "cooling off" period for gun buyers can help to reduce gun violence. It was the gun owners' appeal of that 9th Circuit decision that the Supreme Court declined to take up today, prompting Justice Thomas to take the rare step of dissenting from the Court's refusal to hear the case. According to Thomas, the 9th Circuit ruled in the state's favor "without requiring California to submit relevant evidence, without addressing petitioners' arguments to the contrary, and without acknowledging the District Court's factual findings." What is worse, he wrote, "this deferential analysis was indistinguishable from rational-basis review," yet the Supreme Court explicitly forbade rational-basis review in the Second Amendment context in its 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. "The Ninth Circuit would not have done this for any other constitutional right," Thomas maintained. The justice reserved his strongest criticism, however, for his colleagues on the High Court. "If this case involved one of the Court's more favored rights, I sincerely doubt we would have denied certiorari," Thomas observed. "I suspect that four Members of this Court would vote to review a 10-day waiting period for abortions, notwithstanding a State's purported interest in creating a 'cooling off' period…. The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court's constitutional orphan." Justice Thomas's dissent from the denial of certiorari in Silvester v. Becerra is available here. Related: Why Did a Conservative Judge Uphold an Assault Weapons Ban? [...]



City Orders Businesses to Join Its Police Surveillance System

2018-02-20T12:25:00-05:00

City leaders in Saginaw, Michigan, are drafting local shops into the crime-fighting business. The city has ordered local businesses to install video cameras and to turn over footage to the police on demand. Saginaw City Council voted unanimously yesterday to pass an ordinance requiring certain types of businesses (with "characteristics which may tend to increase the risk of criminal activity on their premises") to install a minimum of three surveillance recording cameras. These must be in operation whenever the business is open, and one camera must be positioned to record the face of each person entering or leaving. Not all businesses are covered by the new rules, but if you spend time in Saginaw, you're likely to walk into one of these places. Besides some obvious choices—banks, gun shops, check-cashing businesses—the ordinance covers all hotels, gas stations, pharmacies, cell phone dealers, and places that sell liquor (or allow liquor to be consumed on the premises, like a banquet hall). All these businesses will have a year to install their surveillance systems, subject to approval and inspection by the Saginaw Police Department. Then, if "a crime occurs" involving the business (the ordinance is written very vaguely), the establishment will provide the recording of the incident to the police. If the business resists, police will attempt to get a search warrant. Businesses are required to retain all recordings for at least 30 days; if the police contact them about a crime, they have to retain their recordings of the incident for at least 60 days. Businesses will be subject to inspections of their surveillance systems whenever the chief of police damn well pleases. The new law states the chief or a designee can inspect the system at any "reasonable" time to make sure it's in compliance with the city ordinance, which also seems like a nice way of getting around any demand by a business that police get a warrant to review footage. Police could also use such a demand to access surveillance for purposes other than investigating a crime. You would think that the city of Saginaw, population around 50,000, must be in the midst of a massive crime wave. The opposite is true. While Saginaw's violent crimes historically are far above average, overall crime in the city has dropped significantly over the past decade. As in many other American cities, Saginaw's crime is on the decline and has been for a while. But that's not enough for city leaders who want to force businesses to install (and pay for) equipment that lets the police snoop on folks. A recent beating and robbery of a 65-year-old woman captured on surveillance footage in Saginaw is being used to make the case that video recording devices should be mandatory. Saginaw Police Chief Bob Ruth claims businesses can get compliant surveillance systems for $300–$350. This quote from Ruth, in Michigan Live, has a confounding use of "we," which seems to indicate that Ruth doesn't even recognize that private businesses are not there to do the city's bidding: "I think the extra work that we're doing is far outweighed by the quality of work we're going to get in the end, on the way we'll be able to solve cases. It's really going to help us." [emphasis added] Those who attempt to defy the city's ordinance will face fines for each day they ar[...]



Abolish ICE Now

2018-02-20T12:00:00-05:00

If there was ever an evil agency other than the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), it is surely ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement). Its central task is to hunt down and deport peaceful and hard working people whose main "crime" is that they can't get the right papers from federal authorities. And in order to advance its mission, ICE is now trying to get its hands on raw intel amassed by the NSA through warrantless mass surveillance. But ICE doesn't deserve such powers. It deserves to be scrapped, as my colleague at The Week, Ryan Cooper, recommends. "There is simply no need to have an agency whose major task is rounding up and deporting otherwise law-abiding immigrants." Cooper offers a brief and highly incomplete list of some of the recent atrocities committed by ICE under Trump. ICE has been: Arresting fathers while dropping their kids off at school; staking out churches to round up people seeking sanctuary; deporting a successful businessman who has lived in the U.S. for 40 years; attempting to deport a veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan over a minor drug conviction; deporting an HIV-positive man to Venezuela, where a collapsed medical system means almost certain death; arresting, jailing for two weeks, and attempting to deport a doctor and green-card holder who has lived in the U.S. for 40 years over minor expunged charges from when he was 17; deporting the sole caregiver of a 6-year-old paraplegic boy; and even secretly compiling ways to strip citizenship from legal residents. Across the country, families are being ripped apart for no reason by a police force that is, quite simply, an anti-immigrant militia. ICE focuses special attention on its political enemies, arresting and deporting leaders of immigrant rights' groups (some of them are suing the agency over this practice). They even tracked down and arrested an unauthorized immigrant who had written anonymously in The Seattle Times about his longtime girlfriend being arrested. "You are the one from the newspaper," the agent said. Of particular note is a case in Kent, Washington, where an unauthorized immigrant called the police when he thought someone was breaking into his house. The cops discovered his status and an outstanding administrative warrant (not a criminal one), arrested him, and promptly turned him over to ICE. Now he's being deported back to Honduras, where he has not lived for 14 years. This War on Immigration isn't just swallowing the liberties of immigrants, but also of gen-u-ine red-blooded Americans. Arizona, a leader in harsh immigration enforcement, has created criminal squads to raid employers suspected of having undocumented workers in their employ (because, apparently, the best way to save American jobs is by shutting down American businesses). Its border-town residents are forced to go through border patrol checkpoints just to take their kids to the dentist. A good first step to stop all this would be by scrapping ICE. "Let's just get rid of this rotten organization," Cooper sayz. Amen, brother! Bonus: My feature on how "Sanctuary Churches Are Taking In Immigrants and Taking On Trump." [...]



Now ICE and Border Patrol Want to Spy On You Too: New at Reason

2018-02-20T10:15:00-05:00

All wars begin to protect insiders from outside threats and end up targeting the very insiders they are seeking to protect. Indeed, as libertarian scholar (image) Robert Higgs has documented, every major war involving America abroad has led to the death and destruction of civil liberties of Americans at home.

And so it is with the War on Immigration where in a bid to purge the country of unauthorized migrants, federal immigration authorities are amassing ever more powers. They already have obtained the authority to erect checkpoints and conduct unconstitutional searches of anyone within the 100-mile Constitution-free zone adjacent to the border. Now they want to combine their awesome enforcement powers with NSA's awesome mass surveillance powers to ferret out and deport unwanted aliens, notes Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia.

This won't just erode the liberties just of foreigners but Americans as well. ICE and border patrol gaining such Big Brother snooping powers should scare the bejeezus out of every man, woman and child in America.

View this article.

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