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Updated: 2017-06-28T00:00:00-04:00

 



Remy: People Will Die! [New at Reason]

2017-06-28T15:14:00-04:00

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eXWhbUUE4ko" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">

Remy channels his inner Elizabeth Warren to vilify the other side.

Click below for full lyrics, links, and downloadable versions.

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Remy: People Will Die!

2017-06-28T15:05:00-04:00

Remy channels his inner Elizabeth Warren to vilify the other side.

Written and performed by Remy
Music mastered by Ben Karlstrom
Video by Meredith Bragg

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LYRICS:

People need kidneys, it's sad but decreed
yet this Senator's hoarding one more than she needs
I offer this bill and I hope you'll vote "aye"
Unless, of course, you just want PEOPLE TO DIE!

Traffic deaths have many crying with fear
Over 30,000 people are dying each year
this modest change I propose must be applied
Unless, of course, you just want PEOPLE TO DIE!

Alcohol deaths are exceeding comparisons
Black people, white people, Native Americans
We need to ban alcohol, it can't be denied
Unless, of course, you just want PEOPLE TO DIE!

Murders are bad. They have no defenders
yet many are committed by repeat offenders
I say lifetime in prison, whatever the crime
unless, of course, you want PEOPLE TO DIE!

So I don't have a bill, or a groan to detail
I just need a short clip for my donor email
Tim THERE'S BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS! YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DIE!
That good? Cool. Tim, dinner at five? Yeah.

These car deaths I mentioned are terrible stuff
It just doesn't seem that one seatbelt's enough
Either vote for my act so that fewer will cry
Unless, of course, you just want PEOPLE TO DIE!

The carbs. The container. We cannot ignore
Whipped cream's killing more people than ever before
This bill would be passed and be ratified
if those people there didn't want PEOPLE TO DIE!

Why not weigh all the costs, the effects, the results
Empathize with each other as if we were adults
Use our brains to craft arguments--not vilify
See that freedom's a trade-off--YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DIE!




Oregon Wants to Regulate Flexible Work Schedules Out of Existence

2017-06-28T14:54:00-04:00

State Sen. Michael Dembrow wants Oregon to be the first state in the union to micromanage workers' schedules. Denbrow's 'fair work week' bill, requiring employers to provide worker schedules one week in advance (and two weeks by 2020) and pay workers extra if shifts are added, removed, or changed, is quickly working its way through the legislature. Nearly identical laws have been passed locally in San Francisco and Seattle. Dembrow (D-Portland) says his bill will give workers "stability to know when to schedule childcare, second jobs, college classes and other aspects of everyday life." Creating 'stability' through regulation, however, comes at a cost. Employers' workplace needs change suddenly, sometimes shift to shift, for all sorts of reasons. Denbrow would like to penalize them for responding to those changes. The penalty might be triggered by the request of an employee, according to a University of Washington (UW) study commissioned to measure the impact of Seattle's "secure scheduling" ordinance. The study found 80 percent of managers had within the previous two weeks of being surveyed changed schedules at the request of employees. The reasons were as simple as illness (28 percent), recreation time (18.6 percent), or caring for a sick child (18 percent). "Flexibility is a benefit all our employees enjoy," one West Seattle manager told survey takers. "Employees' needs dictate our schedule." Penalties for changing schedules on short notice, the manager said, would "take control of schedules away from the workers." In San Francisco, the only city to implement scheduling regulations so far, 35 percent of managers in a study said they had responded to their city's scheduling law by reducing flexibility in hours. The study found one-fifth of businesses reported hiring fewer part-time workers after the scheduling law went into effect. A similar number said they were making do with fewer workers per shift, and 17 percent said they had cut back employment of full and part-time staff. Seattle workers—30 percent of whom said in the UW study that they'd want more work at their current jobs—will likely see similar hours reductions when that city's "secure scheduling" ordinance is implemented July 1. Jacob Vigdor, author of the UW study, said in an email to Reason, "Quite a few employees reported that their employer scaled back hours in order to avoid the ACA employer health care obligation." That means the many Oregon workers who wrote and testified in favor of Fair Work Week legislation in the hopes of getting more hours, would likely see the opposite should the bill pass. Oregon employers, too would be less likely to grant days off for private or family matters if it meant having to call in a more expensive employee. They would also be more likely to simply hire fewer workers, and give their current ones fewer hours. The attempt to give workers more hours through regulation also ignores the fact that many workers are not getting enough hours because of regulation. State level ordinances add to the problem. In the past year Oregon has passed a sizable minimum wage increase and mandated paid sick leave. "To add more regulations requiring our payroll costs to go up will force us to reduce our staff to compensate," said Cindy Ertell, of Oregon Coffee Roasters, in written testimony to the Oregon Senate. "We don't want to have to do that." Despite these problems, Oregon's Fair Work Week has received healthy bi-partisan support both in the Senate, which passed it last week, and in the House where its moved out of committee with near unanimous approval. Should it pass as expected, some Oregonians might get a fairer worker week. Others might have no work week at all. [...]



Chicago Police Indictments Show Importance of Making Videos Public

2017-06-28T14:15:00-04:00

Three more police officers in Chicago face charges for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald in 2015. Everything that has followed McDonald's death has emphasized the importance of the role of dashcam video in attempting to pursue justice and accountability in response. McDonald's death at the hands of police and the way Chicago responded at the time demonstrated multiple problems with government transparency and accountability for misconduct that drives conflict between citizens and law enforcement. The "official" story that McDonald, 17, had lunged at police with a knife in a Burger King parking lot did not add up based on stories from other witnesses and the facts presented by the autopsy. McDonald's shooting was also captured on a police dashcam. The City of Chicago (the mayor's office, not just the police) resisted releasing the footage until a judge finally ordered them to do so. Once the video was released, it became clear to the public that story it had been told about the shooting was wrong. Now three Chicago police officers (two of whom have already left the force) face state charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for their alleged role in trying to cover up what actually happened that night. A fourth officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder in 2015. The three facing charges include two officers who were there at the shooting, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney (Walsh was Van Dyke's partner), and the detective who investigated the shooting and declared it justified, David March. But these three are far from the only officers who were aware of what actually happened, The New York Times notes, and other officers also supported Van Dyke's description of what happened. It's worth noting these three additional indictments illustrate the ongoing struggles to implement and enforce mechanisms to keep police conduct publicly transparent and accountable. There were five police cars at the scene when McDonald was killed. Only two produced dashcam videos of the shooting, neither with sound. Subsequent reporting and investigation showed a serious problem with dashcams not being on or not functioning properly. The department itself classified some of it as "intentional damage." It feels as though we were lucky to get any footage of McDonald's shooting. The same problems occur when police officers have not turned on their body cameras or for some other reason video footage isn't captured. If police management fails to hold officers accountable for not properly recording encounters, issues of misconduct will fester. And getting the city to release the video for public viewing is just as serious a threat to government transparency. We're seeing concerning trends. Pennsylvania is giving law enforcement agencies broad authority to conceal police recordings from disclosure and exempt them from public records laws. These laws are sold to the public as protecting the privacy of citizens during sensitive police encounters. But those who want to protect the public from police misconduct must fight those same police and municipalities and prove to a judge that a video should be released. Pennsylvania's legislation has the potential to create another Chicago every time somebody asks to see controversial footage. Self-interested authorities insist that they're protecting privacy when they're cynically using the rules to protect themselves from accountability. [...]



Airport Scrutiny to Get Worse as House Moves to Mandate Sex-Trafficking Training

2017-06-28T13:50:00-04:00

A plan to privatize air-traffic control operations has dominated discussion of the House's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, but the bill's regulatory parameters go far beyond that. An array of government expanding proposals are also included in the House's 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. One of them would require new mandatory training for all "ticket counter agents, gate agents, and other air carrier workers whose jobs require regular interaction with passengers" on "recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking victims." The trafficking-training amendment, from Rep. Julia Brownley (D-California), was one of dozens of AIRR-Act amendments voted on Tuesday by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. After more than nine hours of markup and amendments, the Committee approved the AIRR Act, by a vote of 32 to 25. On the surface, Brownley's trafficking amendment may seem beneficial, or at the very least harmless. But it's part of a larger and ongoing government project that is anything but benign. Under the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "Blue Campaign" and related initiatives, federal agents have already been training flight attendants and other airline personnel on how to "detect" human traffickers or trafficking victims on their planes. They've also been conducting public outreach at airports and elsewhere to encourage ordinary travelers who "see something" suspicious to "say something"—by texting the tip directly to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There is no evidence these efforts have actually yielded any trafficking busts—which shouldn't surprise anyone not immersed in some Taken-style fantasy. Immigrants who wind up victims of sex or labor exploitation here are generally lured via fraud—the promise of an opportunity that either doesn't exist or isn't what it was made out to be. Some enter the country illegally, but many come over on tourist, student, or temporary-work visas, flying into the country alone or with others in the same situation. "Potential human trafficking victims" flying into the U.S. on commercial flights through major U.S. airports aren't the sort who can be pre-screened by well-meaning gate agents. But what do employees do with all that extra "awareness"? A heightened sensitivity to anything out-of-the-ordinary—which in the United States can still mean interracial families or a child traveling with two fathers—means a propensity to profile passengers based on stereotypes. An Asian-American woman traveling with her non-Asian husband, a dad traveling alone with his daughter, a gaggle of young Korean women traveling together are the folks flagged by well-meaning and woke customer-service staff. The ICE, DHS, and other law-enforcement staff who greet them aren't always so well-intentioned, although they are fast. "When reports come in to the hotline, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents come immediately to meet the plane as it reaches the ground," Deborah Sigmund, co-founder and president of the group Innocence at Risk, has said. It's worth noting that Brownley's amendment provides no description of the kind of training airport employees will receive, how often they'll receive it, or who will develop and conduct it. Most likely, responsibility for the training will fall to DHS and its nonprofit advisers, which have already been involved in training truckers, flight attendants, and motel employees on the alleged "signs" of sex trafficking. And from previous experience the training will be useless. The "signs" of sex trafficking they offer range from the rare and ridiculous (the stuff of action-movie lore, like someone with a bar-code tattoo with the word "Daddy" next to it) to excessively broad indicators that could ensnare any one of us on a bad day, such as being dressed "inappropriately" for travel, not knowing details about a flight, or not making prol[...]



Do Libertarian Voters Actually Exist? Yes, and in Droves [Reason Podcast]

2017-06-28T13:30:00-04:00

Everyone nods their heads when pundits and pollsters talk about conservative votes, liberal voters, and populist voters. But do libertarian-leaning voters actually dwell among the American electorate? A new analysis of the 2016 election concludes that libertarians are as mythical as the hippogruff. Using a variety of survey questions about cultural and "identity" issues and economic policy, New America's Lee Drutman basically says no. Dividing voters into one of four groups, he finds 44.6 percent are liberal ("liberal on both economic and identity issues"), 29 percent are populist (liberal on economic issues, conservative on identity issues), 23 percent are conservative (conservative on both economic and identity issues), and less than 4 percent are libertarian (conservative on economics, liberal on identity issues). According to Drutman, Donald Trump won by picking up virtually all conservatives and a good chunk of populists, while Hillary Clinton only pulled liberals. What few libertarians there are just don't amount to any sort of force in Drutman's take (see that empty lower-right-hand quadrant in figure). Drutman's piece gave rise to a number of pieces, almost all from the left side of the political spectrum, crowing that "libertarians don't exist" (in Jonathan Chait's triumphalist phrasing at New York magazine). Not so fast, says Emily Ekins, the director of polling at the Cato Institute (a position she previously held at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website). Libertarians are real, she documents in a new article, and they're spectacular. Responding to Drutman's elimination of libertarians as a meaningul voting block, she emphasizes that his finding is an outlier in the established research: It depends on how you measure it and how you define libertarian. The overwhelming body of literature, however, using a variety of different methods and different definitions, suggests that libertarians comprise about 10-20% of the population, but may range from 7-22%. (Emphasis in original.) In the newest Reason Podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Ekins not simply about the errors of Drutman's analysis (he also finds many more liberals than most researchers) but about the sorts of issues that are motivating libertarians and other voters, especially Millennials. In the podcast, Ekins stresses that economic issues and concerns tend to drown out all other factors when it comes to voting patterns. But, she says, there are periods during bread-and-butter issues recede and cultural and symbolic issues come to the fore. We may well be in one of those periods despite weak to stagnant economic growth because most people's standards of living have held up (even if economic anxiety is on the rise). This is, she says, especially true among voters between 18 years old and 35 years old. That's mostly good news for libertarians. Millennials, she tells Gillespie, libertarian on social issues and civil liberties except for one issue: free speech issues. I think this is something that we're going to need to keep an eye on... [Y]ounger people are more supportive of the idea that some sort of authority, whether it's the college administrator or the government should limit certain speech that is considered offensive or insulting to people. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below: src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/330558943%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-vBgiN&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" frameborder="0"> Don't miss a single Reason podcast! (Archive here.) Subscribe at iTunes. Follow us at SoundCloud. Subscribe at YouTube. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Nick Gillespie: Hi I'm Nick Gill[...]



You Don’t Need a Bread Czar to Know that the Bakery Will Be Stocked Every Morning

2017-06-28T12:15:00-04:00

Russ Roberts, no stranger to these pages, has long been one of the great explainers of markets and economics. So it comes as no surprise that an animated poem about the wonders of bottom-up bread markets—in contrast to the errors of top-down wheat planning—has Roberts' fingerprints (and voice) all over it. Without further ado, enjoy "It's a Wonderful Loaf":

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ljULutAUL7o" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">

You can consume more manna from Roberts at his great podcast EconTalk, his personal website, on Twitter, and at Medium, where this week he's been taking the latest book-length attack on libertarianism to the woodshed.

In 2014, Nick Gillespie sat down withi Roberts to talk about his just-released book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. You can watch that interview below:

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e3w98cTDwWQ" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">




The Coward's Veto: New at Reason

2017-06-28T12:00:00-04:00

(image) Feelings aren't facts, and shouldn't be treated a such.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

You might not think lesbian activists and supporters of Donald Trump's travel ban have anything in common. But that's where you would be wrong, my friend.

Over the weekend, cities around the country hosted annual gay pride parades. Chicago also held the Dyke March, which is for those who find your everyday gay pride parade too plain-vanilla. The Dyke March is a "more inclusive, more social justice-oriented" event. Or so they claim.

This year it turned out to be something rather different, when a few participants showed up carrying the Jewish Star of David flag. "It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity," Laurel Grauer told a Chicago publication.

Dyke March organizers kicked them out—ostensibly because the march was pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. Grauer says she was told to leave because other marchers found her flag "triggering" and it "made them feel unsafe."

There's a lot of that going around these days. Students at Notre Dame recently protested a speech by Vice President Mike Pence because they claimed that his presence made them feel unsafe. Oberlin students likewise objected to an appearance by conservative scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. Students at Georgetown tried to prevent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson from speaking at their graduation for the same reason. At Santa Clara college, students rejected a charter application by Turning Point USA because the group—which supports "fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government" supposedly made them feel unsafe, too.

View this article.




The Coward's Veto: Dyke Marches, Trump, Muslims, and Cop Shootings

2017-06-28T12:00:00-04:00

You might not think lesbian activists and supporters of Donald Trump's travel ban have anything in common. But that's where you would be wrong, my friend. Over the weekend, cities around the country hosted annual gay pride parades. Chicago also held the Dyke March, which is for those who find your everyday gay pride parade too plain-vanilla. The Dyke March is a "more inclusive, more social justice-oriented" event. Or so they claim. This year it turned out to be something rather different, when a few participants showed up carrying the Jewish Star of David flag. "It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity," Laurel Grauer told a Chicago publication. Dyke March organizers kicked them out—ostensibly because the march was pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. Grauer says she was told to leave because other marchers found her flag "triggering" and it "made them feel unsafe." There's a lot of that going around these days. Students at Notre Dame recently protested a speech by Vice President Mike Pence because they claimed that his presence made them feel unsafe. Oberlin students likewise objected to an appearance by conservative scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. Students at Georgetown tried to prevent Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson from speaking at their graduation for the same reason. At Santa Clara college, students rejected a charter application by Turning Point USA because the group—which supports "fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government" supposedly made them feel unsafe, too. In all of these cases, it's important to note one salient fact: Objectively speaking, nobody was actually unsafe. None of the flag-carriers at the march, and none of the speakers, presented any threat to the safety of anyone. They made no verbal threats. They brandished no weapons. They assaulted nobody. Thus the claim of feeling unsafe was one of two things. If it was sincere, then it was baseless and irrational—as baseless and irrational as the fear expressed by someone who claims to feel unsafe in the presence of the color blue. Or the claim was insincere—a way of trying to justify an ignoble desire to silence someone simply because of a political disagreement. Conservatives might be tempted to look down their noses at such behavior. But they have their own problem with it, exemplified by President Trump's travel ban. The ban originally applied to people from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As Cato Institute immigration expert Alex Nowrasteh pointed out back in February, "foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015. Six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, two Iraqis, and one Yemeni have been convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Zero Libyans or Syrians have been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that time period." Indeed, the odds of being killed by a foreign terrorist—from any country, never mind those seven—are more than 45,000 to 1 (and they're 138 million to 1 for illegal-immigrant terrorists). Americans are four times more likely to die from a heat wave, 74 times more likely to die by suffocation, 125 times more likely to die by gunshot, and 6,428 times more likely to die from heart disease than from the act of a foreign-born terrorist. Heck, Americans are 50 times more likely to die from motorcycle accidents. A rational federal policy aimed at protecting American lives would ban all motorcycles long before it got around to banning entry from the listed countries. The difference, of course, is that Americans are not rational about their safety. People don't sit around arguing about the best way to prevent suffocation, even though it presents a far greater threat than[...]



Milwaukee County Sued For Requiring 10 Page Permit Application to Play Pokemon Go in Public Park

2017-06-28T11:30:00-04:00

When Pokemon Go took the nation by storm in the summer of 2016, officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were not amused. Sure, the hugely popular augmented reality game was getting kids (and adults!) to roam around outside—probably doing more to get kids moving than Michelle Obama ever did—in the hopes of catching and battling their fictional "pocket monsters," but Milwaukee County officials were worried about how the game's popularity was affecting parks and other public spaces. Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go require gamers to be in certain physical locations in order to collect pokemon or complete in-game tasks, and public parks became hot spots for the game's overlaid reality. Rather than being thrilled to see people of all ages flocking to places like the city's Lake Park to enjoy a new form of recreation, though, Milwaukee County implemented new rules requiring permits before anyone could engage in "electronic gaming" in parks and other public spaces. The permitting process is ridiculously long and entirely subjective. Even if you go through the trouble of filling out the 10-page form, parks department officials can reject a permit application for any reason they might want to dream up. It's a clear overreaction to a passing fad—not many people are playing Pokemon Go anymore—and a sadly bureaucratic, old-fashioned response to the emergence of new technologies that will change the way American play video games and experience the outdoors. It might also be a violation of the First Amendment. A lawsuit filed in federal court by a California video game company, Candy Labs AR, challenges Milwaukee's gaming-in-public-parks ordinance as an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech. Candy Labs AR is currently beta testing a new game, Texas Rope 'Em, that incorporates elements of poker into an augmented reality (that's what the "AR" stands for) Pokemon Go-style gaming experience, but the company says it is impossible to comply with Milwaukee County's permitting process. The permitting process is rather ridiculous. Aside from standard fare like only allowing game play during hours when the parks are open, the new rule requires would-be gamers to go through an "internal review by the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture to determine the appropriateness of the application based on site selection, protection of rare flora and fauna, personal safety, and the intensity of game activities on park lands," according to the Milwaukee County Code. The ordinance does not establish any objective criteria for the DPRC to follow when reviewing a permit application, does not set any time limit for the review, and does not require anyone who wishes to play a non-virtual game—kickball, football, etc.—to go through any sort of permitting process. Without those specifications, the county's parks department has the authority to approve or deny any permit for practically any reason, the lawsuit alleges. Getting a permit requires filling out a 10-page application, providing information like estimated attendance, event dates and times, whether or not the event will be advertised, and plans for on-site garbage and emergency medical services. Permit holders have to assume full liability for the duration of the event, including the costs of any damage to the park or to any "employees, agents, representatives, and guests," and must provide proof of having $1 million of general liability coverage, with the Milwaukee County DPRC listed as a beneficiary. All that to use a supposedly public park. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QN95nNDtxjo" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Milwaukee's augmented-reality gaming ordinance is a two-dimensional government regulation for a three-dimensional world, Candy Lab AR's lawsuit argues. The o[...]



Why Government Schools Fail: New at Reason

2017-06-28T10:15:00-04:00

(image) How can schooling in America be improved?

John Stossel writes:

We get more choices—usually better choices, for less money.

"But of all the products we make and the services we provide, there's one that stands out as an exception," according to the Cato Institute's Andrew Coulson. "One activity in which excellence doesn't spawn countless imitators or spread on a massive scale: schooling."

Why not? What can be done about it? These questions are asked and often answered by Coulson's new PBS TV series School Inc. It's a wonderful three hours, reaching back years to America's first experiments in education and traveling the world to look at schools in Chile, England, Sweden, India and Korea. In Korea, top teachers make millions.

Why haven't American schools improved? The education establishment says, "We don't have enough money!" But American schools spend more per student than other countries. Spending tripled during Coulson's lifetime and class sizes dropped. But test scores stay flat.

"Schools adopted all sorts of new technologies, from projectors to personal computers to 'smart' whiteboards," says Coulson. "None of these inventions improved outcomes ... Educational quality has been stuck in the era of disco and leisure suits for 40 years, while the rest of the world has passed it by."

The main reason for that is that most schools are controlled by government. Government is a monopoly, and monopolies resist change. Actually, most of us resist change. We don't want to give up the way we've always done things. Certainly, few of us want to work harder, or differently. We get set in our ways.

View this article.




Plastic Bag Bans Are in Retreat Across the Country

2017-06-28T09:25:00-04:00

Last week, little Kermit, near the New Mexico border in West Texas, became the last city in the state to repeal its sales tax on carryout shopping bags. "I commend the Kermit City Council for its action to comply with state law," wrote Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has been on a mission to rid Texas of illegal taxes and bans on bags, particularly plastic. "Cities and municipalities in Texas are obligated to follow the rule of law, and the Legislature passed a law that clearly prohibits a sales tax on bags." "Customers were really excited," Dora Moreno, manager of Kermit's Family Dollar store told Reason. But there was widespread disappointment city hasn't yet rescinded its ban on plastic bags. "They don't want to see the tax, they don't want the paper bags," Moreno said. Given the current trend, customers in Kermit and across the country will be able once again to bring their groceries home in inexpensive bags provided by their merchants. A challenge to the legality of all local bag bans in the state has made its way to the Texas Supreme Court. State legislatures across the country are taking aggressive steps to roll back local bans. In May the Minnesota legislature passed a state-wide preemption on bag bans, overturning Minneapolis's local prohibition. Iowa did the same in April, and over the past year, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana, have all passed restrictions on local governments banning and taxing bags. "People are realizing that in a feel-good environment you can ban or tax anything," said Phil Rozenski, Senior Director of Sustainability for Novolex, a major plastics manufacturer. The discussion has now shifted to the actual effect of these bans. "These bans were never about bags," says Rozenski, "they were about litter in the waste stream. Studies are showing negligible impact to litter." San Francisco—the first city in the country to implement a plastic bag ban in 2007—actually saw the volume of plastic bags in litter increase. A 2015 study on Austin's plastic bag ban found that people merely switched from single-use plastic bags, to thicker, reusable, plastic bags which are arguably worse for the environment. A big reason these bans have had such little effect on litter is plastic bags actually comprise a tiny fraction of all the waste produced by human society, something pointed out by Reason Editor-in-Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward in her defense of all things plastic. "The 2009 Keep America Beautiful Survey," Mangu-Ward wrote, "shows that all plastic bags, of which plastic retail bags are only a subset, are just 0.6 percent of visible litter nationwide." Bag banners completely missed the value of the bags in reducing the litter stream, "seeing it from the recycling perspective,"Moreno said. "A lot of people use them for trash bags, lot of people use them to carry their lunch." In addition, there are economic costs of these policies, says Rozenksi. "It's the costs to jobs, the increased cost to retailers, the increased cost in taxes." A wide-ranging study by the Reason Foundation (the non-profit which publishes this website) of the impact of plastic bag bans found that in Los Angeles County, retailers in areas that had banned plastic bags reduced their employment by 10 percent. Stores outside the ban area increased employment 2.4 percent. In Texas, the Laredo Merchants Association last year filed suit alleging their city's bag ban violated a state law that says the city may not "prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law," or "assess a fee or deposit on the sale or use of a container or package." A state appellate court has already sided with the merchants, and the State Attorney General has filed a b[...]



Attempted Coup in Venezuela, Sarah Palin Suing the Times, Facebook Hiring Thousands of Hate-Speech Monitors: A.M. Links

2017-06-28T09:11:00-04:00

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Trump's Travel Ban Is Legal but Dumb: New at Reason

2017-06-28T08:15:00-04:00

(image) This week the Supreme Court unblocked most aspects of President Trump's executive order limiting entry into the United States, signaling that the restrictions are likely to be upheld.

That makes sense, writes Jacob Sullum, because the reasons that two federal appeals court offered for upholding injunctions against Trump's order are unpersuasive. But the fact that Trump's policy is legal does not make it smart.

View this article.




Brickbat: For Your Protection

2017-06-28T04:00:00-04:00

(image) A Transportation Security Administration screener at Orlando International Airport has been charged with third-degree felony theft after taking cash from a woman's purse. The woman was undergoing a pat-down search when she noticed Alexander Shae Johnson standing near her purse. When she retrieved her purse, she found the cash missing and a bulge in Johnson's shirt pocket.




Why Government Schools Fail

2017-06-28T03:02:00-04:00

Every year, almost every industry improves. We get more choices—usually better choices, for less money. "But of all the products we make and the services we provide, there's one that stands out as an exception," according to the Cato Institute's Andrew Coulson. "One activity in which excellence doesn't spawn countless imitators or spread on a massive scale: schooling." Why not? What can be done about it? These questions are asked and often answered by Coulson's new PBS TV series School Inc. It's a wonderful three hours, reaching back years to America's first experiments in education and traveling the world to look at schools in Chile, England, Sweden, India and Korea. In Korea, top teachers make millions. Why haven't American schools improved? The education establishment says, "We don't have enough money!" But American schools spend more per student than other countries. Spending tripled during Coulson's lifetime and class sizes dropped. But test scores stay flat. "Schools adopted all sorts of new technologies, from projectors to personal computers to 'smart' whiteboards," says Coulson. "None of these inventions improved outcomes ... Educational quality has been stuck in the era of disco and leisure suits for 40 years, while the rest of the world has passed it by." The main reason for that is that most schools are controlled by government. Government is a monopoly, and monopolies resist change. Actually, most of us resist change. We don't want to give up the way we've always done things. Certainly, few of us want to work harder, or differently. We get set in our ways. But when there is competition, we can't get away with that. If we don't adopt better ways of doing things, we go out of business. That forces innovation. But government-run schools never go out of business. Principals, school boards and teachers—especially union teachers—have little incentive to try anything new. One of the documentary's illustrations of this might be familiar because the story was also told in the movie Stand and Deliver. In that film, actor Edward James Olmos played math teacher Jaime Escalante. Escalante taught at California's Garfield High School. The student body was, and is, composed of some of the most "disadvantaged" students in America. Yet more Garfield High students passed advanced placement calculus tests than did students from Beverly Hills High. Escalante was the reason. He was simply a better teacher. Coulson interviewed some of his former students, who said, "Escalante worked as if his life depended on the success of his students." The results were beyond belief ... literally. His students did so well on the state calculus test that authorities accused them of cheating. They made them take the test again. The students aced the test the second time. What made Escalante a better teacher? One student tells Coulson, "He built a relationship with each student, knew them by name, knew their story... Students didn't want to disappoint him." The movie made Escalante famous, but he didn't change. He kept teaching at Garfield, telling students that even though they were poor, "With enough drive and hard work, the sky is the limit." "The lessons I learned from Jaime, I apply them every day," a former student told Coulson. "With my children I talk about Jaime and about ganas—desire. Nothing's for free. You have to work really hard if you want to achieve anything." Stand and Deliver has a happy ending, but what happened in real life was no fairy tale. Coulson says, "In any other field, we might expect this combination of success, scalability, and publicity to have catapulted Escalante to the top of his profession an[...]



Trump's Travel Ban Is Legal but Dumb

2017-06-28T00:01:00-04:00

This week the Supreme Court unblocked most aspects of President Trump's executive order limiting entry into the United States, signaling that the restrictions are likely to be upheld. That makes sense, because the reasons that two federal appeals court offered for upholding injunctions against Trump's order are unpersuasive. But the fact that Trump's policy is legal does not make it smart. The original version of Trump's order was issued in great haste a week after he took office, and it showed. The 90-day ban on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) applied to current visa holders, including people working and studying in the United States, and legal permanent residents, who were barred from returning home after traveling abroad. Adding to the confusion, the travel ban took effect immediately, stranding residents and visitors in mid-trip without notice. The result was dismay and disorder at airports around the world as officials, travelers, and lawyers grappled with the new policy. After the order was blocked by the courts, Trump issued a revised version on March 6, clarifying that the travel ban did not apply to legal permanent residents, who have a right to due process when the government tries to prevent their re-entry, or to current visa holders, whose hosts may have standing to sue. Notably, the order issued by the Supreme Court on Monday says that while the case is pending the travel ban should not be enforced against visa applicants or would-be refugees with a "bona fide relationship" to Americans, such as relatives, students accepted by U.S. universities, employees hired by U.S. companies, or lecturers booked to speak here. The revised order also eliminated Iraq from the list of targeted countries and excised language favoring religious minorities from the section imposing a 120-day moratorium on admission of refugees. Critics cited that preference as evidence that the order was motivated by anti-Muslim bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit nevertheless concluded that the March 6 order "in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The context that the court deemed relevant consisted mostly of statements made by Trump or his surrogates before and after the election, including his support for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." But that is not the policy Trump actually tried to implement, and relying on his campaign comments to conclude that his executive order is a "Muslim ban" in disguise leads to strange results. The plaintiffs conceded, for example, that if Hillary Clinton had been elected president and issued exactly the same executive order, it "could be constitutional." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit relied on a different rationale when it upheld an injunction against Trump's order, saying he exceeded his statutory authority because he did not make an evidence-based determination that admitting the people he wants to exclude would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States." But that was really just another way of saying that Trump's policy, which is supposedly aimed at protecting Americans from terrorists, is half-baked and empirically unsound. That much is true. Since 1975, no terrorist from any of the countries covered by the travel ban has killed anyone in the United States, and the odds of being killed by a refugee are infinitesimal. In any case, it has never been clear why a travel ban was necessary for Trump to deliver the "extreme vetting" he promised. Even the "total and complete" Muslim [...]



To Save His Travel Ban at SCOTUS, Trump Is Citing This 1972 Precedent

2017-06-27T17:05:00-04:00

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the legality of President Donald Trump's executive order banning travelers from six majority-Muslim countries. At the heart of the Trump administration's legal case is a 1972 Supreme Court decision that recognized sweeping executive authority over immigration. If Trump ultimately wins on the merits, it is likely to be because a majority of the Court shares his administration's interpretation of the precedent set in a case called Kleindienst v. Mandel. In 1969 a Belgian journalist and self-described "revolutionary Marxist" named Ernest Mandel applied for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States in order to give a speech at Stanford University. Mandel's application was denied because, under the terms of U.S. immigration law, "aliens shall be ineligible to receive visas and shall be excluded from admission to the United States" if they "write or publish" in support of "the economic, international and governmental doctrines of world communism." Federal law gave the attorney general the power to grant waivers from this restriction on a case-by-case basis, but no such waiver was given to Mandel. Mandel then joined with six U.S. citizens, all of them university professors, in a lawsuit filed in federal court. They argued the First Amendment protected the right of American scholars to "hear [Mandel's] views and engage him in a free and open academic exchange." The constitutional right to listen and speak to Mandel in person, the professors argued, trumped the government's power to keep Mandel out of the country. The Supreme Court, however, ruled for the government. "Plenary congressional power to make policies and rules for exclusion of aliens has long been firmly established," the Court observed. And Congress has delegated much of that power to the executive branch. "We hold that when the Executive exercises this power negatively on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason," the Court said in Kleindienst v. Mandel, "the courts will neither look behind the exercise of that discretion, nor test it by balancing its justification against the First Amendment interests of those who seek personal communication with the applicant." Writing in dissent, Justice Thurgood Marshall accused the majority of bending over backwards in favor of the government. "Even the briefest peek behind the Attorney General's reason for refusing a waiver in this case would reveal that it is a sham," Marshall wrote. Yet the majority "demands only 'facial' legitimacy and good faith" from the government, "by which it means that this Court will never 'look behind' any reason the Attorney General gives.No citation is given for this kind of unprecedented deference to the executive, nor can I imagine (nor am I told) the slightest justification for such a rule." As far as Marshall was concerned, "Americans cannot be denied the opportunity to hear Dr. Mandel's views in person because their Government disapproves of his ideas." The Mandel ruling is now at the center of the legal battle over Trump's travel ban. Specifically, it is at the center of the battle over whether the federal courts should take Trump's various comments, tweets, and campaign statements disparaging Muslims into consideration when weighing whether or not the travel ban was motivated by illegal anti-Muslim animus. According to the Trump administration, because the president took this executive action in the name of national security, his order is "legitimate and bona fide" and therefore fully satisfies Mandel. In fact, the administration insists, under Mandel the travel ban[...]



Illinois Legislature Passes Asset Forfeiture Reform

2017-06-27T16:42:00-04:00

The Illinois legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill Friday tightening the state's civil asset forfeiture laws and shifting the burden of proof onto the government to show why it should be allowed to keep seized property. The vote came on the heels of an investigative report from Reason earlier this month showing lower-income neighborhoods of Chicago were hit hardest by asset forfeiture. Reason's report, analyzing more than 23,000 property seizures over the last five years, was cited by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx in a letter to the Chicago Tribune Saturday urging Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the bill into law. Foxx wrote that civil asset forfeiture's disproportionate impact on poor and minority communities was an "injustice." The bill, approved unanimously in the state senate and with only one dissenting vote in the house, would raise the standard of evidence for forfeitures from probable cause to a preponderance of evidence and bar seizures under $500 in many drug cases. It would also abolish a requirement of residents challenging seizures that they pay a 10 percent bond on the estimated value of their property to file a petition, and expedite hearings for owners claiming innocence. Civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, say current bond requirements, a slow appeals process, and low standards of proof for the government make appealing a property seizure, especially for low-income residents, a Sisyphean task. Overall, civil liberties groups are pleased with the bill. "The main thing is shifting the burden of proof clearly onto the state and relieving property owners of having to prove their innocence," Ben Ruddell, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois, says. Bill sponsors reached a compromise with law enforcement groups narrowing the sweep of the original bill, dropping a required criminal conviction before property could be forfeited. New Mexico and Nebraska have enacted such requirements over the strenuous objections of law enforcement. The compromise allowed the bill to proceed with the backing of state law enforcement, such as Foxx, a reform-minded state prosecutor for the Chicago area. Foxx became the first African-American woman to be elected to the position in November 2016, defeating incumbent Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who was pilloried for her handling of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald. "As state's attorney, I am committed to taking violent criminals off the streets and pursuing innovative ways to do so," Foxx wrote. "But I also understand—and fiercely defend—the presumption of innocence. Our justice system was built on that idea, and public trust in our system depends on it. We deserve a data-informed justice system and smart policies that truly protect our communities, and we need our governor to help us deliver." Prosecutors, whose budgets are often padded by asset forfeiture revenue, are usually among the most vocal opponents of reform measures. Ruddell says he was thrilled "to have the prosecutor in the most populous county in the state be on board. Hopefully this will persuade the governor that he need not think very long and hard before signing this bill." There are some steps state's attorney's offices could take on their own to better ensure a fair justice system. As Ruddell notes, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) has practically unlimited discretion to decide which forfeiture cases to pursue or drop. "The CCSAO has been very active in the number of forfeiture cases it brings," [...]



Senate Vote on Health Care Delayed, Facebook Hits a Milestone, and Brazilian President Charged With Corruption: P.M. Links

2017-06-27T16:31:00-04:00

  • (image) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed a vote on the senate health care bill after several Republican senators expressed opposition to it. The vote was supposed to happen this week. McConnell says he is still looking to get to a point where 50 senators are "comfortable" with the legislation.
  • Facebook hit a company record of 2 billion monthly users on the social media site. "We're making progress connecting the world, and now let's bring the world closer together," said company founder Mark Zuckerberg in a post.
  • Three Chicago police officers have been charged with cover up of event related to the shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014. Check out Reason's coverage of that shooting and the police reaction to it here.
  • Brazilian President Michel Temer has been charged with corruption, sparking protests and the possibility of impeachment for the embattled leader. Temer had taken over from former President Dilma Rousseff after she was also removed for alleged corruption.



New York Lawmakers Back Unwarranted Phone Searches of Drivers

2017-06-27T14:30:00-04:00

Lawmakers in New York want to give police the authority to search without a warrant phones of people involved in crashes to crack down on drivers texting behind the wheel. If that weren't intrusive enough, the bill would authorize police to immediately suspend the driver's license for a minimum of one year of anybody with the temerity to resist a search. And this suspension, along with fines of $500 to $750, would stick regardless of whether or not the person was ultimately found guilty of a crime. This significant end run around citizens' rights to privacy and due process gets only the slightest attention from a recent NBC News story. Instead, NBC was on hand to hype the technology involved. Mobile forensics text company Cellebrite is working on a tool called the "textalyzer," which they're marketing to lawmakers and police agencies as a breathalyzer for phones. Connect the textalyzer to a phone and it is able to determine what you had been doing with it at any time, including which apps had been recently used. This is private data that could be used to implicate people for crimes. A representative for the American Civil Liberties Union worried that police could use it to get all sorts of additional information. The CEO of Cellebrite says it can't access actual communications data; it's just determining what you're accessing. They're essentially arguing, "We're not trying to snoop on the content of your conversations, but we still think we should be able to access your data in order to collect potential evidence of a crime." And they should be able to—once they get a warrant. But for those supporting Senate bill S2306 (and its Assembly counterpart A3955), the process of getting a warrant is just too much work. The bill is being pushed along by the father of a teen killed in a car crash, so it's a familiar case of a tragedy leading to poorly thought-up, rights-violating legislation. Ben Lieberman's son, Evan, was killed in a car crash in 2011 and Ben found out months after the fact that the driver of the car he was in had been texting. From NPR: "We often hear, 'just get a warrant' or 'just get the phone records.' ... The implication is that the warrant is like filling out some minor form," he says. "It's not. In New York, it involves a D.A. and a judge. Imagine getting a D.A. and a judge involved in every breathalyzer that's administered, every sobriety test that's administered." Lieberman filed a civil lawsuit to subpoena the phone records, which showed the driver had been texting before the crash. But even getting the phone records won't tell you much, he says. "It doesn't detect any of the important distractions, like email, social media or Web browsing." Advocates keep making the breathalyzer comparison for a reason: Courts have ruled that these types of sobriety tests are not terribly intrusive and therefore do not require a warrant. But what this law actually proposes is forcing drivers to allow police to access private, personal data. (It's also worth observing that Lieberman is working directly with Cellebrite, according to NPR, so the advocate for the legislation is partnering with the company that wants to provide the tools that would be used.) A more accurate comparison would be North Dakota's law that punished suspected drunken drivers for refusing to submit to warrantless blood tests. That's the law the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional because of its intrusiveness. Legislators had hoped to pass it by the end of their session this month, but t[...]



Philando Castile's Mother to Get $3 Million From City That Hired Cop Who Killed Him

2017-06-27T13:15:00-04:00

The mother of Philando Castile, who was shot dead by St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez last summer, will receive $3 million under a settlement agreement announced yesterday. The settlement, which will be covered by the city's liability insurance, avoids a federal civil rights lawsuit that Valerie Castile had planned to bring. Here is how the payment compares to settlements in other recent cases where people died at the hands of police or after being arrested: Michael Brown: $1.5 million Sandra Bland: $1.9 million Zachary Hammond: $2.2 million Philando Castile: $3 million Samuel DuBose: $4.9 million Eric Garner: $5.9 million Danroy Henry Jr.: $6 million Tamir Rice: $6 million Freddie Gray: $6.4 million Walter Scott: $6.5 million The variation in payments is not a perfect indicator of police culpability (real or perceived) by any means, but there does seem to be a rough correspondence. The 2014 death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was one of the main motivating events behind the Black Lives Matter movement. But no state or federal charges were filed against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, officer who shot Brown, and a Justice Department investigation concluded that Wilson's self-defense claim was credible. Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, died in jail, apparently by her own hand. But she would not have been in jail if Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia hadn't senselessly escalated a 2015 traffic stop for changing lanes without signaling. Encinia was fired and charged with falsifying his report on the incident. Zachary Hammond, a 19-year-old white man, was shot and killed in 2015 by Lt. Mark Tiller of the Seneca, South Carolina, police department. No charges were filed against Tiller, who claimed (not very credibly) to fear that Hammond was about to run him over as he sped away from a penny-ante drug sting aimed at his date. Although Yanez claimed Castile, a 32-year-old black man, was drawing a gun on him during a traffic stop for a nonfunctional brake light, all the evidence (aside from Yanez's testimony) suggested that Castile, who had calmly informed Yanez that he had a concealed weapon (for which he had a permit), was actually trying to retrieve his driver's license from his wallet. A state jury acquitted Yanez of second-degree manslaughter on June 16. Samuel DuBose was shot to death in 2015 by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing after he started his car during a traffic stop based on a missing front license plate. Although Tensing claimed he was being dragged by the car, bodycam footage indicated otherwise. An indictment for murder and voluntary manslaughter was followed by two mistrials, both due to deadlocked juries. Eric Garner died in 2014 after he was tackled by New York City police who were arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. One officer, Daniel Pantaleo, used what looked like an unauthorized chokehold on Garner, who repeatedly complained that he could not breathe. A local grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy, was shot and killed in 2014 by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, who mistook his Airsoft pellet pistol for a real firearm. A local grand jury declined to indict Loehmann or his partner, Frank Garmback, although Loehmann was fired for failing to disclose that he had been dismissed from a previous police position because of emotional instability. Danroy Henry Jr., a 20-year-old black college student and football p[...]



Connecticut's Liquor Pricing Scheme Is a Bad Law That Just Won't Die

2017-06-27T12:45:00-04:00

Shoppers in Connecticut pay the price of paternalism every time they frequent a local liquor store. Prices are 24 percent higher than in neighboring states or up to $8 more a bottle, thanks to a law that has its roots in prohibition. Unlike some other states that prevent liquor retailers from selling below a product's cost, Connecticut instead allows wholesalers and manufacturers to post a minimum per bottle and per case price. Once prices are posted to the Department of Consumer Protections, prices can be amended to match a competitior's before a price is finalized for the next month. Retailers then add their shipping and delivery costs to the per-bottle price and cannot sell below this cost. Wholesalers must sell at the same price to all retailers. Despite efforts from liquor giant Total Wine and Company and the free-market Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, the pricing cartel continues. Most recently, Total Wine's antitrust lawsuit, which accuses the state of price-fixing, was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this month. Chief United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut Janet C. Hall decided that the complex state regulations do not violate federal antitrust laws. The archaic pricing system has made business rather cozy for the state's small liquor stores, which never have to worry about competitor's prices. For Total Wine, a chain with 138 stores in 18 states, this law prevents it from offering lower prices due to its comparative advantage. As summarized in their legal filing: "Under this anti-competitive regime, a retailer like Total Wine & More cannot use its market and business efficiencies to reduce the prices offered to consumers." Total Wine has previously been called a "gorilla" and accused of being "diabolical" and "predatory" for trying to save consumers money. The state's 1,150 small package stores have consistently lobbied against changing the pricing scheme. Total Wine attracted attention to their suit with full page newspaper ads, promising to sell liquor below the state minimum. Another company, BevMax, joined in on the protest and lawsuit. Total Wine paid $37,500 in fines as a result. The stores also posted signs requesting customers call their legislators when the state required prices be raised. Company spokesman Ed Cooper called it an act of "civil disobedience." The state legislature responded with two bills to increase penalties for violating minimum bottle price or false advertising. The legislature has been notoriously defensive of the minimum pricing scheme and repeatedly blocked Gov. Malloy from tossing the law out. Here's more on Gov. Malloy's efforts by Reason's Jacob Sullum. This is now the fifth year in a row in which the governor has proposed overturning the pricing scheme and adopting a system similar to other states in which products can be sold for the price paid. Most likely, the legislature will again strike down his proposal. According to Malloy, in any other industry, an anti-competitive law would be tossed out immediately: "If we had a law that forced stores to sell bread for a price that was determined by state government, people would be screaming about capitalism and big government. But for some reason, we allow this anti-free market mandate to continue for this one particular industry." Proponents of the law, such as Lawrence Cafero a former House minority leader and executive director and general counsel of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticu[...]



‘Get Out or We Will Kill You’: Jewish Students Allege Censorship and Harassment in Campus Lawsuit

2017-06-27T12:10:00-04:00

In a federal lawsuit filed last week, a group of Jewish plaintiffs allege that San Francisco State University has systematically turned a blind eye to—and in some instances actively facilitated—censorship and harassment of Jewish students and speakers on the public university's campus. The lawsuit points, in particular, to the 2016 disruption of a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, numerous incidents of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel speech on campus, as well as an incident in which the Jewish student organization Hillel was allegedly banned from a student fair. Opinions about the lawsuit fall along predictable dividing lines. The editorial board of J., the Jewish News of Northern California, praised the suit and argued that the protesters at the Nir Barkat event had "trampled the free speech rights of Jewish students." On the other hand, Dima Khalidi of Palestine Legal called the Barkat protest "political speech that is protected by the First Amendment" and said that "the complaint is going to fail." Both sides have a point. The lawsuit raises real concerns about the treatment of Jewish students at SFSU. But the plaintiffs seem to want it both ways: Even as the suit contends that SFSU is violating the free speech rights of Jewish students, it also demands that the university censor protected speech by Palestinian students and their allies, citing anti-Jewish harassment. As Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, "the freedom to speak and freedom to hear are inseparable; they are two sides of the same coin." If, as the lawsuit alleges, SFSU officials told campus police to "stand down" while anti-Israel protesters disrupted Nir Barkat's speech, the university may indeed have violated students' First Amendment rights to invite and hear a speaker of their choosing. Video footage of Barkat's attempt to speak at SFSU last year shows protesters engaging in loud, sustained chanting while students attending the speech huddle around a seated Barkat in an attempt to hear him. While protest is indeed protected by the First Amendment (as is a normal level of "booing" and brief interruptions from the audience), the right to protest does not extend to the right to be so vocally disruptive, for such a prolonged period of time, that the speaker cannot be heard. And if, as the suit alleges, the university allowed the Hillel student group to be excluded from tabling at a university-sponsored fair because of the organization's viewpoint, that too could constitute a First Amendment violation at a public university like SFSU. Moving from the First Amendment to the harassment claims, some of the speech cited by the plaintiffs may have crossed the line from protected speech into unprotected threats, such as counter-protesters allegedly yelling "get out or we will kill you" at Jewish students participating in a Hillel-sponsored peace rally. Other parts of the lawsuit, however, point to examples of clearly protected speech and expression as grounds for the claim that a "hostile environment" exists for Jewish students on campus. In alleging that the university has been deliberately indifferent to a racially hostile environment, the plaintiffs point to examples of constitutionally protected political expression such as posters featuring a picture of a dead baby with the caption "Made in Israel—Palestinian Children Meat, Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License," as well as students holding placards p[...]



Last Call! Fall Journalism Internship

2017-06-27T11:39:00-04:00

The Burton C. Gray Memorial Internship program runs year-round in the Washington, D.C. office. Interns work for 12 weeks and receive a $5,000 stipend.

The job includes reporting and writing for Reason and reason.com, helping with research, proofreading, and other tasks. Previous interns have gone on to work at such places as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC News, and Reason itself.

To apply, send your résumé, up to five writing samples (preferably published clips), and a cover letter by the deadline below to intern@reason.com. Please include "Gray Internship Application" and the season for which you are applying in the subject line.

Paper applications can be sent to:

Gray Internship
Reason
1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Fall internships begin in September. The application deadline is July 1.




Otto Warmbier’s Deadly Ordeal Is No Reason to Restrict Travel to North Korea: New at Reason

2017-06-27T10:10:00-04:00

(image) The difference between adventure and stupid prank is often just the outcome—and that outcome is never a sure thing.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

It would have been a good story to tell if Otto Warmbier had successfully made off with that North Korean propaganda poster. It could have been the sort of low-reward, high-risk tale that defines many a good yarn years after the fact. Getting caught and killed by the thuggish regime he was trying to tweak thoroughly ruined the story, but gambling against that danger is what would have made it worth telling.

And now the Trump administration is considering heading off any future such misadventures by banning Americans from traveling to North Korea. For our own good, it claims.

But the difference between adventure and stupid prank is often just the outcome—and that outcome is never a sure thing.

View this article.




Seattle's Businesses Buckling Under Increased Minimum Wage

2017-06-27T09:25:00-04:00

Seattle was one of the first major American cities to adopt a $15 in June of 2014. At the time of its passage city officials were optimistic about the changes the new law would bring. Seattle mayor Ed Murray said the minimum wage hike was "a great step forward" in the fight against income inequality. "Seattle," he said, "has shown that we can help our employees without hurting our employers." A newly released University of Washington (UW) study suggests strongly Seattle's lower wage workers and employers have taken a great step backward. The current $13 minimum wage, scheduled to reach $15 for all employees by 2021, is costing workers $125 a month, according to the study. The study found that while wages for those earning under $19 an hour increased by 3 percent, the number of hours worked dropped by 9 percent, resulting in a steep net pay decrease. Seattle businesses added roughly 43,000 jobs since the minimum wage law was passed, but eliminated the equivalent of 6,317 full time positions paying $19 an hour or less. Those new jobs produced an extra 23 million work hours while the jobs in the lower wage category lost 1.5 million work hours, according to the study. This decline is reflected in the experience of business owners in the city. Jillian Henze of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance tells Reason the "business model is evolving" for restaurants thanks to the minimum wage increase. "Some of our members are reducing the number of employees or hours," she says. Other restaurants are adding service charges and fees to their checks to make up for the increased minimum wage costs. Overall economic growth in the Seattle-area has boosted Peter Aaron's Elliot Bay Books, but not enough to make up for the effects of a higher minimum wage. "To some extent the payroll increase has been greater than the sales volume increase," Aaron tells Reason. Increasing labor costs have put "pressure on profitability." Despite this, Aaron says sales growth has been robust enough prevent him from having to make drastic changes, crediting his location in the thriving Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle and the overall economic health of the city. "Had we not seen the kind of sales growth that we have," he says, "I do not know that the business would have been able to continue." Similar results have been witnessed in San Diego and Washington D.C., which saw relative declines in low wage and restaurant employment thanks to sky-high minimum wage increases. Seattle businesses beginning July 1 are also facing a new "secure scheduling" ordinance that requires employers to guarantee their workers a certain number of hours a week, and penalizes them for changing work schedules to accommodate smaller staffs. As Reason has covered, Seattle is also squeezing small businesses with an onerous soda tax, and the city is even mulling a municipal income tax. All this has businesses thinking twice about expanding in the city says Henze. "Members are asking themselves if they're going to open a new restaurant, is it going to be in Seattle with the current regulatory environment" she says. "We are asking a lot of different questions than we were previously." [...]



A.M. Links: Trump on Syria, E.U. Fines Google $2.7 Billion, Republicans Fight Over Obamacare Repeal

2017-06-27T09:00:00-04:00

  • (image) President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met yesterday at the White House.
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet with President Trump at the White House later this week.
  • "Syrian and Russian officials on Tuesday rejected an accusation from the White House that Syrian forces were preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack, calling the statement a provocation."
  • Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is the latest Republican to voice opposition to the Senate Republican health care bill.
  • Google has been fined $2.7 billion by the European Union for "anti-competitive practices."

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The FAA Kills Off the Air Version of Ride-Sharing: New at Reason

2017-06-27T08:30:00-04:00

(image) Dubbed "the Uber of the skies," startups like Flytenow and AirPooler aimed to connect pilots whose private flights were not yet filled to passengers eager to reach their destinations without suffering the horrors of commercial air travel. Founded in 2013, the services were a great win-win for both parties: Pilots no longer had to simply eat the cost of empty seats on each trip, and passengers got to enjoy the thrill of small-scale flight for a very affordable price. For the first time, it seemed like consumers would have a real inexpensive alternative to the hell of economy class travel.

That is, until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caught wind of all this innovation and decided to quash it once and for all. In a sneaky bid to shut down this kind of arrangement, the FAA decided to expansively interpret its own definition of a "common carriage" operator so that non-commercial small-scale pilots using these services would be legally put on the same level as the big boy commercial flights—with the same expensive regulatory and licensing requirements.

The FAA knew that small services like Flytenow and AirPooler simply could not keep up with these requirements, and thus effectively shut them down. Flytenow valiantly challenged the FAA's capricious actions in court all the way up to the Supremes; but unfortunately, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case in January of this year, effectively upholding the lower courts' siding with the FAA. Andrea O'Sullivan explains more.

View this article.




How the FAA Killed Uber for Planes

2017-06-27T08:30:00-04:00

Private flight has long been a luxury limited largely to the über-rich or super dedicated. Unless you have the deep pockets or connections to buy or rent your own small plane, plus a pay for a pilot, fuel costs, insurance, and hangar fees, you will be stuck in the chicken coop of crammed commercial flights with the rest of us peasants for all your flying needs. But what if it didn't have to be that way? What if you could purchase an empty seat on a private flight that was going where you needed to go anyway for a majorly discounted price? This was, for a glorious and brief period of time, made possible by a promising new crop of startups dedicated to bringing flight-sharing to the masses. Dubbed "the Uber of the skies," startups like Flytenow and AirPooler aimed to connect pilots whose private flights were not yet filled to passengers eager to reach their destinations without suffering the horrors of commercial air travel. Founded in 2013, the services were a great win-win for both parties: Pilots no longer had to simply eat the cost of empty seats on each trip, and passengers got to enjoy the thrill of small-scale flight for a very affordable price. For the first time, it seemed like consumers would have a real inexpensive alternative to the hell of economy class travel. That is, until the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) caught wind of all this innovation and decided to quash it once and for all. In a sneaky bid to shut down this kind of arrangement, the FAA decided to expansively interpret its own definition of a "common carriage" operator so that non-commercial small-scale pilots using these services would be legally put on the same level as the big boy commercial flights—with the same expensive regulatory and licensing requirements. The FAA knew that small services like Flytenow and AirPooler simply could not keep up with these requirements, and thus effectively shut them down. Flytenow valiantly challenged the FAA's capricious actions in court all the way up to the Supremes; but unfortunately, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case in January of this year, effectively upholding the lower courts' siding with the FAA. My Mercatus Center colleague Christopher Koopman recently released a study analyzing the sad saga of flight-sharing's destruction at the hands of the FAA. It is an amazing tale of regulatory overreach and targeted statutory interpretation that seems to have been undertaken for little reason beyond FAA antipathy to non-commercial cost-sharing arrangements. And unfortunately for all of us non-millionaires out there, this agency bias ultimately leaves the public bereft of an encouraging new development in transportation. To understand the current brouhaha surrounding the legal status of flight-sharing services, you have to know a little bit about the FAA's historical approach to non-commercial flights. Services like Flytenow and AirPooler are really only a new evolution of long-standing practices among amateur pilots. For around as long as small scale flight has existed, pilots would leave messages on airport bulletin boards advertising their upcoming flight plans. Other pilots who needed to get to the same destination could hitch a ride and help defray the cost of the unused seats. This kind of cost-s[...]