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Updated: 2018-01-16T00:00:00-05:00

 



Today Adam Kokesh Filed Papers Seeking the Libertarian Presidential Nomination. Then He Was Arrested on Drug Charges.

2018-01-16T20:55:00-05:00

Adam Kokesh, longtime anarcho-libertarian activist who first came to public prominence with Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2007 and was later a big Ron Paul supporter, today filed the paperwork necessary to officially seek the U.S. presidency. He is hoping for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination.

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He also had his RV pulled over twice by Texas police, and was arrested the second time.

A video of the second pullover that led to the arrest can be found on Facebook (and is embedded below). It shows highway patrol officers instructing Kokesh to shut off his camera at the point a police dog, off-camera, was said to have "alerted" to the RV. Kokesh was pulled over for driving 74 in a 65 zone, according to one officer in the video.

According to the Texas ACLU, the police do not have the right to demand a citizen stop videotaping willy-nilly though they have the loophole I'm sure they'd summon here regarding "truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations." The ACLU notes that "Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them."

Jacob Sullum at Reason in a classic 2013 cover story demolished the probity of the "dog alert=suspension of Fourth Amendment rights" line of thought and practice.

A spokeswoman for the Wise County Jail confirms Kokesh is in their custody on four charges, one related to possession of under two ounces of marijuana, two related to possession of another controlled substance she was not able to specify, and one for "tampering and/or fabricating evidence with intent to impair" a police investigation. He will likely be arraigned and have bond set tomorrow.

Ben Farmer, the Kokesh campaign's chief strategist, says in an email that "we don't know any more than you do at this time about the charges or the circumstances of his arrest. We do find it suspicious that Adam was pulled over twice within an hour of formally announcing his candidacy for President. Particularly, since he just came off of a 4 month, cross-country tour in the same vehicle without being pulled over once the entire time."

I reported on one of Kokesh's previous brushes with the law, based on videotaping himself with legally forbidden weapons on federal property, back in 2014. He got off with two years probation then.

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Senate Votes to Shut Down Rand Paul Filibuster Against Surveillance Act Renewal

2018-01-16T20:05:00-05:00

The Senate joined the House today in rejecting reforms to federal surveillance laws to make sure that the private communications of Americans are not snooped on by officials without warrants. The Senate voted 60-38 this afternoon in favor of cloture to end debate and to prevent any amendments prior to a formal up-down vote on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. (Small clarification: Debate will be limited to 30 hours prior to the vote. So Paul and Wyden and others will be able to speak at length, but they won't be able to stop the vote.) This bill, should it pass, will renew and expand the snooping powers of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments for another six years. Though the law has the world "foreign" in its name, the reality is that it has been used to collect and access communications from Americans, often without warrants and without our knowledge. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have been trying to amend the bill so that it would require the FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to get warrants in order to query or access any communications records (like emails or phone calls) from American citizens when they get drawn into international surveillance. In a press conference before the vote today, they were joined by other supporters in the Senate, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who said, "The United States should not be in the business of warrantless searches of dragnet surveillance of American citizens. … Opposing warrantless mass surveillance is not a partisan issue." Today's vote means reforms to provide stronger Fourth Amendment protections from unwarranted searches will not happen and a filibuster can't actually stop the scheduled vote. The USA RIGHTS Act is essentially dead, unless the full vote fails. (Spoiler: Since the renewal bill survived a cloture vote, it won't fail.) So what did the Senate actually vote for in the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017? This bill doesn't just renew Section 702 for six years; it also codifies permission for the FBI to access and use data secretly collected from Americans for a host of domestic federal crimes that have nothing to do with protecting America from foreign threats. It has added some unusually worded warrant requirements that will protect some people—but only when they're actually suspected and are being investigated for criminal activities. Furthermore the bill will give the NSA permission to attempt to restart what are known as "about" searches, access to communications that merely reference a foreign target, not just communications to and from that target. The NSA voluntarily ended these types of searches once it became clear they were gaining access communications that they had no authority to be viewing. This bill will allow them to attempt to restart it unless Congress acts separately to stop it. The vote was a nailbiter: They needed exactly 60 votes to end debate and prevent a filibuster. "Credit" for the passage of a bill that strips away a little bit more of Americans' privacy rights goes not just to fearmongering Republicans insisting that adding warrant protections expose us somehow to terror attacks, but to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who cast the final vote to end debate and push the bill forward. Also worth noting: While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had been fairly quiet during the public discussion and lead-up to the vote, he voted against cloture, siding with Paul and Wyden. Below, Paul gave an impassioned speech before the cloture vote that pretty much previewed what he would have been talking about if he had gotten the chance to filibuster: Senator @RandPaul: "I rise in opposition to the government listening to your phone calls, reading your emails or reading your text messages without a warrant." #FISA #Section702 pic.twitter.com/kl9JroKzAA — CSPAN (@cspan) January 16, 2018 He has promised more debate this week, but unless something shocking happens, it's over: Six years[...]



Is Selfishness a Virtue? Watch the Live Debate.

2018-01-16T18:45:00-05:00

Is selfishness a virtue? The Ayn Rand Institute's Yaron Brook is debating Former Barron's Columnist and former New York Stock Exchange Chief Economist Gene Epstein at a live event moderated by Fox News legal expert Judge Andrew Napolitano. Watch below, and drop questions for the participants in the Facebook comments. A couple of the best will be read aloud at the event.

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Bannon Subpoenaed By Mueller, CFPB Backs Away From Payday Lending Rule, and Trump Admin. Appeals DACA Decision to Supreme Court: P.M. Links

2018-01-16T16:30:00-05:00

  • (image) Former Brietbart News chief and advisor to President Trump Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed as part of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will "reconsider" its controversial payday lending rules.
  • Trump will appeal a 9th Circuit ruling blocking his DACA repeal to the Supreme Court.
  • A broken rail reportedly caused a Metro train to derail in downtown D.C.
  • California couple arrested for shackling, torturing their 13 kids.
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Why Worrying Over a Minority Majority America Is Dumb

2018-01-16T16:30:00-05:00

According to a 2015 U.S. Census Bureau report, "by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group (any group other than non-Hispanic White alone)." That projection depends on Americans a generation hence quiescently staying in the ethnic and racial pigeonholes into which the census takers want to stuff them. A new Pew Research Center study, "Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations as Immigrant Connections Fall Away," finds that lots of people with Hispanic heritage do not identify themselves as being Hispanic when filling out Census survey forms. By the third generation, 56 percent of respondents simply identify themselves as American. Also by the third generation, 75 percent of Americans with Hispanic ancestry live in households where English is the predominant language and in which 24 percent are bilingual. A 2012 Pew survey of Latinos on language use reported that 92 percent of second generation and 96 percent of third generation speak English well. That's basically the same trajectory followed by the descendants of earlier groups of immigrants. The Census Bureau in 2020 may further allow us to test this idea of assimilation, considering allowing folks who check off white to mark boxes for groups like German, Irish, Italian, Polish, English and so forth. However, parsing ethnicities that closely means that from the point of view of early-20th century nativists, America has been a majority minority country for a while now. As I have earlier argued: By 2050, just as the earlier waves of Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Polish immigrants were assimilated, so too will today's Hispanic immigrants and their descendants be. For all intents and purposes, Hispanics will become as "white" as Irish, Italians, Jews, and Poles....It is my hope and belief that Americans of whatever ancestry living in 2050 will look back and wonder why ever did anyone care about the ethnic makeup of the American population. America is an ideal, not a tribe. It bears noting that since the first census in 1790 the bureau has drawn a big distinction between white and black people living in this country. This is the result of the compromise in the Constitution in which slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives and in the Electoral College. Consequently, in the early censuses, people were categorized as free white persons, all other free persons, or slaves. After the Civil War, the constitutional distinction between white and black citizens should no longer have mattered. Nevertheless, all censuses have maintained and enumerated white and black citizens in separate categories. Apparently, on the principle that if it is acceptable for the census to divide citizens into black and white racial categories, other ethnic groupings are fair game, too. In 1890 the census asked whether people were white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian. The bureau also asked the number of years a person had lived in the U.S. and whether they were naturalized. In the five censuses from 1900 to 1940, the bureau simply asked each person's "color or race" and whether they were foreign-born. In 1950, the census asked each person to identify as "White, Negro, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Other race – spell out." In 1960, Hawaiian, Part-Hawaiian, Aleut and Eskimo were added to the list of possible ethnicities, presumably because Hawaii and Alaska had joined the Union the year before. It was not until 1970, when the bureau began asking, "Is this person's origin or descent (fill in one circle) Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, Other Spanish, No, none of the above." Let's consider a counterfactual. Between 1880 and 1920, more than four million Italians, five million Poles, two million more Germans*, and two million Jews immigrated to the U.S. By 1915, about 15 percent of the U.S. populatio[...]



If Aziz Ansari Were a College Student, He Could Have Been Expelled for Less

2018-01-16T16:18:00-05:00

Last week, babe.net published an anonymous woman's account of her date with actor/comedian Aziz Ansari, who she says pressured her into uncomfortable and unwanted sex, failing to heed her "verbal and non-verbal cues." In response, the internet has produced wave after wave of takes. The Atlantic's Caitlin Flanagan said the article was "3,000 words of revenge porn" and unfit for publication. Vox's Anna North characterized Ansari's behavior as common among all-too-many men, and thus worth discussing. The New York Times's Bari Weiss wrote that if Ansari was guilty of anything, it was "not being a mind reader," and fretted that this incident could tarnish the #MeToo movement. Reason's own Elizabeth Nolan Brown thought both parties—as well as men and women in general—could benefit from more communication about sexual desires. These are wildly different takes, and there are dozens more perspectives offered in The Washington Post, National Review, Jezebel, on Twitter, and elsewhere. But most of the takes have one thing in common: they explicitly reject the original article's assertion that Aziz Ansari committed sexual assault. Ansari behaved badly, and there is much to be said about how he ignored his date's wishes, thought only of himself, and expected sexual gratification at every turn. But he is not a rapist, most people seem to agree. And yet, boorish behavior similar to Ansari's—behavior that most pundits say they consider gross but not criminal, at least in Ansari's case—is routinely investigated as sexual misconduct on university campuses. Ansari is lucky he's not a college student; otherwise he could have been accused months or a year after the incident, investigated by a lone administrator with sole power to decide which witnesses to interview, called before a hearing to answer charges he does not fully understand, forbidden from consulting a lawyer or cross-examining his accuser, found responsible for sexual misconduct under a preponderance of the evidence standard, and expelled from campus as required by Title IX, the federal statute that mandates gender equality in schools. I've covered scores of campus sexual misconduct disputes for Reason. Frequently, the details of the incidents sound a whole lot like the Ansari mess: intoxicated participants, a mutual desire to engage in some level of sexual activity but different expectations as to how far and how fast things should go, "non-verbal cues" that were ignored or perhaps just misunderstood by one party, agreement that a phase of the encounter was consensual but disagreement as to when and whether consent was withdrawn, and gradual re-thinking of the experience as full-on assault. "It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault," Ansari's date, known as "Grace," told babe.net. "I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault." Student-victims often take a long time to make up their minds about this, too. As Emily Yoffe has noted, about 40 percent of student-victims don't report their alleged rape right away—these complainants wait an average of 11 months. Consider a few Title IX cases where young men suffered severe consequences for engaging in behavior quite similar to Ansari's, or even less obviously bad. At Occidental College, a male student, "John Doe," had sex with a female student, "Jane Roe." Jane had every intention of sleeping with John—she had asked him to keep a condom handy. Later, she felt badly about the experience, and was persuaded by a sociology professor that because she was impaired by alcohol during the encounter, she couldn't have given consent. John was eventually expelled. At Amherst College, two intoxicated students, "John Doe," and "Jane Roe," retired to a dorm room, where Jane performed oral sex on John. John would later claim he blacked out while this was happening, and had little memory of it. Amherst administrators deemed his story "[...]



NYC Police Union Argues Releasing Body Cam Footage Violates Cops' Civil Rights

2018-01-16T15:35:00-05:00

(image) New York City's largest police union, the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, is suing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James O'Neill, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to block the release of body cam footage, arguing that it violates their members' civil rights.

The union points to a New York statute, Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, that declares "all personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion" must be "confidential and not subject to inspection or review," permitting their release only with the consent of the police officer or a court order. According to the union, body camera footage should be considered such personnel records.

The provision is one of those laws that create an environment that privileges the sustained employment of police officers over any kind of substantive accountability or transparency.

New York passed Section 50-a in 1976 "to prevent criminal defense lawyers from using 'unsubstantiated and irrelevant' allegations to undermine officers' credibility in criminal cases," Yale Law's Case Disclosed explains. Since then, "New York courts have systematically expanded the coverage of the provision." Lawyers for the city have happily exploited this expansion, arguing that grievances filed by city inmates, transcripts of open disciplinary hearings, and reports about shootings should all be considered "personnel records."

"This footage has serious implications not only for the safety and due process rights of police officers, but for the privacy and rights of members of the public, as well," union chief Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "The mayor and the NYPD have shown a reckless disregard for these concerns by circumventing the existing process set up by the State Legislature and selectively releasing portions of videos to suit their own interests."

It's important to remember: The release of body camera footage alone is not sufficient to guarantee any change or improvement. It's a modicum of transparency that can help generate the kind of pressure than can break through the powerful status quo maintained by the police union and its confederates in government. And apparently it's too much for Lynch.

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Aziz Ansari and the Limits of 'He Should Know Better'

2018-01-16T15:17:00-05:00

As this mass cultural conversation about sexual consent continues, I keep remembering a discussion I had last fall. A friend, a woman in her mid-20s, was embarrassed by the comments about her appearance that a middle-aged man she was working with kept making. His remarks weren't lewd or egregious—more along the lines of "that dress looks nice on you" at the beginning of a business meeting, when no men present receive similar sartorial appreciation. Enough to make my friend uncomfortable, to wish he would stop; not severe enough to quiet the doubt that maybe she was overreacting, that maybe she should just shrug it off. I asked her if she had said anything to the man (who was not her co-worker but someone she encountered frequently in professional contexts) about his comments, and we discussed the merits of this approach: Perhaps he didn't realize he was making her uncomfortable. If she said something, he would likely stop. And if he didn't, then she knew what she was dealing with—not someone clueless, well-meaning, owed the benefit of the doubt, but someone actually intent on harassing (or very poorly hitting on) her. And then that situation could be confronted appropriately. Yes, she agreed... mostly. But there was something giving her pause: "I shouldn't have to say anything. He should know better." He should know better because it was 2017. He should know better because she had not been enthusiastic or receptive to his comments on her physical appearance. He should know better. She's not wrong. And neither is the chorus of people protesting a recent article, in babe, about a sexual encounter involving the actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. The story described a date a young woman had last year with Ansari, as told by the young woman, called "Grace." It ended when his aggressive and clumsy attempts at seduction left her in tears. At no point, according to the article, did Ansari force himself on Grace, threaten her, or make her fear for her safety. Nor did he hold a position of power over her or represent some sort of gatekeeper in her industry. She simply thought Ansari would respect her initial statements about slowing down, that he was genuine in professing to be OK with that, that they could continue engaging in some sexual activity without him continuously pressuring her for sexual intercourse. She stuck around largely because she thought things might get better. Some, like Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic, have mocked Grace for this. To Flanagan, Grace clearly wanted something from Ansari—affection, romance, a relationship—that he wasn't willing to give, and her whole grievance is predicated on a pathetic refusal to give up on that scenario and either give in to the sexual encounter or get the hell out of Ansari's apartment. But to others, including a lot of prominent younger feminists, the pathetic one here is Ansari. He should have stopped pawing at Grace and pushing for sex once she expressed reservations. Her continued presence in his home wasn't consent for him to keep pressing for something she had already said she didn't want. And anyone questioning her reaction, worrying about whether this tale was fair to Ansari, waxing about how affirmative consent is anathema to seduction, or explaining that everyone has had encounters like these is missing the point: Women are tired of having encounters like these. Women want better. What has tended to get lost between these two takes is their shared premises. Even among old-school conservatives and "problematic" feminists like Flanagan, there has been little suggestion that Ansari's actions are awesome and defensible. You won't find many people arguing that this is how men are supposed to pursue women, that dating necessarily involves women playing hard to get and men taking that as coyness, or that she was leading him on by being in his apartment and owed him [...]



GOP Leaders Tell Fiscal Hawks To Fly Away, No Budget This Year

2018-01-16T14:55:00-05:00

There's no mystery why fewer and fewer of us trust the federal government. With every passing day, its leaders reveal themselves as so thoroughly political as to be unprincipled. Remember former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's "full flop" on the question of needing a filibuster-proof majority to confirm judicial nominees? Or that golden moment right after the contested 2000 election where the Republicans suddenly championed federal sovereignty and the Democrats supported state's rights in attempts to win Bush v. Gore? You get the idea: The Dems and the GOP pretend to have principles but they abandon them the minute they sniff out a political opportunity. We're way past what political analyst Jonathan Rauch would call "honest graft," or legitimate "back-room deals" that allow the government to function. At least for the entire 21st century, we're in a landscape more scorched and nihilistic than a Mad Max movie. The latest episode in all this is the Republican Congress punting on the idea of pretending to pass a budget resolution for the fiscal year than began on October 1, 2017 (almost five full months ago!). For any sort of spending cuts to happen this year, the House and the Senate must each pass a budget resolution. The two bodies could then hash out differences via a process called reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to bypass legislative filibusters requiring 60 votes and instead pass legislation with just 51 votes. You'll recall that this the process that was used to pass last year's tax cuts and that Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders promised that they would tackle spending cuts this spring. The latest from Politico paints a very different picture: White House and Hill GOP leaders discussed the possibility of forgoing the painful budget process during last weekend's Camp David legislative summit, according to four sources familiar with the talks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that he cannot pass controversial deficit-reduction legislation using powerful budget procedures with his new 51-vote majority — and wasn't even sure he could find the votes for a fiscal blueprint in the first place. Instead, expect increases of up to $200 billion over the next two years: Congressional leaders are knee-deep in bipartisan spending negotiations that are shaping up to be a nightmare for [fiscal] conservatives, potentially raising federal spending by more than $200 billion over two years, with few — if any — ways to pay for it. In the same month, Congress also plans to send Trump an $80 billion-plus disaster relief package, the largest of its kind, with no offsets. And just this week, House Republicans announced a plan to debate a return of earmarks, which conservatives have called the "gateway drug" to spending. Read the whole thing here. We have, of course, seen this movie before. Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House under the first several years of George W. Bush and, despite the passage of tax cuts and oh-so-sincere promises to reduce spending, they absolutely kicked out the jams on outlays like nobody's business. The chart above and to the right shows total federal outlays in nominal dollars. If you believe that the real cost of government is what it spends, it's hard to argue that the GOP is in any way the party of small government. At best, they are the party of small-government rhetoric. And even there, don't get them started on issues such as immigration, gay marriage, and drug legalization. None of this lets the Democrats off the hook, by the way. As Matt Welch refused to forget, Barack Obama campaigned on enacting "a net spending cut" in which "every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches." When the Dems briefly won back control of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that h[...]



Is Chelsea Manning the First Real 21st Century Politician?: Podcast

2018-01-16T14:40:00-05:00

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who served nearly seven years for leaking classified documents before being granted clemency one year ago tomorrow, confirmed on Sunday that she is running in Maryland's Democratic Party primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by two-term incumbent Ben Cardin. "I think that the Chelsea Manning candidacy is pretty great, and it's a harbinger of other things to come," Nick Gillespie says a little past the halfway point on today's Reason Podcast, which also features Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and yours truly. "Without her there is no Edward Snowden, there is no robust debate about FISA 702 and a wide variety of stuff....I don't agree with her at all on economic issues for the most part, mostly yes on social issues, [but] she represents a totally different way of slicing American politics." Also under discussion: the ongoing White House/Congress policy wrangle over immigration, the pros and cons of merit-based vs. family-based migration, missile warnings gone awry, and Kentucky's new plan to make Medicaid recipients get a job. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Relevant links from the show: "Chelsea Manning Showed Us the Consequences of War, and We Threw Her in Prison," by Scott Shackford "Trump Is Offering the Country a Sophie's Choice on Dreamers," by Shikha Dalmia "Of Course Most Immigrants Come from Shithole Countries. So What?" by Nick Gillespie "Merit-based immigration is economically obtuse," by Shikha Dalmia "Immigration: Beyond the Family Way," by Nick Gillespie 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/384563888%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-7o9ku&color=%23f37021&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" 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. [...]



The Southern Poverty Law Center Scam: New at Reason

2018-01-16T13:45:00-05:00

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k41PI54ExFc" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">

There are dangerous hate groups in America. So a group called the Southern Poverty Law Center promises to warn us about them. They release an annual list of hate groups in America.

The media cover it, but John Stossel says they shouldn't. It's a scam.

Click here for full text and downloadable versions.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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View this article.

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Williams College Students Can Report Each Other for 'Making Comments on Social Media' About Religion or Politics

2018-01-16T13:25:00-05:00

Williams College is one of at least 100 campuses with a system in place for students to report each other for saying or doing something slightly offensive. These trivially disturbing occurrences are known as "bias incidents"—and at Williams, virtually anything could qualify. According to the Massachusetts college's website, "name-calling and stereotyping" are examples of bias. Telling a joke that draws its humor from a stereotype is also wrong. Students shouldn't use slurs, or the word "gay" as an insult, or display "a sign that is color­coded pink for girls and blue for boys," or imitate someone's "cultural norm or practice." And since religion and political affiliation are considered protected classes for the purposes of categorizing bias incidents, the following kinds of expression are also considered verboten: Making comments on social media about someone's disability, ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs Writing on a white board about someone's disability, ethnicity, national origin, race, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or political affiliations/beliefs Drawing or creating pictures that imitate, stereotype, or belittle/ridicule someone because of their gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, faith, or political affiliation Mocking someone's disability on Twitter would be awful. "Making comments on social media" about another person's religious or political beliefs isn't remotely similar. Some people's religious and political beliefs should be discussed, challenged, and even mocked. As the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker once observed, "that's the difference between a university and a madrassa." As The College Fix noted in a recent article about Williams' bias reporting procedures, the college's website correctly distinguishes between a bias incident and a hate crime, explicitly telling students that the former is not a crime. Still, the website claims that bias incidents are "abhorrent and intolerable" and that any people who think they're victims of, or witnesses to, such an episode should feel free to report it to the proper authorities: the Dean of the College, the Office of Strategic Planning and Diversity, counselling services, or even campus security. It bears repeating that the theory behind bias reporting systems—that relatively trivial slights, known as microaggressions, can negatively impact students' educational experience if left unaddressed—is scientifically unsound. In his review of the research concerning microaggressions, the Emory clinical psychologist Scott Lilienfeld found little evidence of such a connection between microaggressions and psychological trauma. And when the Cato Institute polled minority students about whether various microaggressions offended them, most said nope. [...]



Who Knew Letting People Keep More of Their Money Leads to Good Things?

2018-01-16T12:31:00-05:00

In the six weeks since the passage of the tax law, dozens of companies have announced bonuses and wage hikes, some of them just hours after the bill was passed. Although the bill has not yet gone into effect, there been other tangible benefits to a lower tax burden—some gas and electric companies, for example, have decided to pass on their tax savings via lower rates for customers. None of this should've been unexpected. Nearly 140 economists, urging Congress in November to pass the tax reform bill, predicted more jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living for Americans, largely because of a lower corporate tax rate, which they explained would spur investment, business formation, and productivity. Shikha Dalmia wrote positively about the tax bill back in April. She predicted it would spur the kind of growth we're starting to see signs of, and also noted that that growth could have the effect of undercutting Trump's ethno-nationalist agenda. There's also evidence that historically lower tax rates in the U.S. overall lead to higher economic growth. Perhaps Peter Suderman put it best: the tax bill was in no way perfect, but not the end of the world its critics predicted. Instead, it was a "predictable, conventional piece of Republican tax legislation," with predictable drawbacks (primarily a deficit increase) and benefits, some of which are starting to be seen. Before the new law, the U.S. had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, leading many companies to move some operations overseas to lower their burden. Studies suggested the rate was so high it was actually reducing productivity so much as to lead to decreased revenue. In the run-up to last month's vote on the Republican tax bill, critics poo-pooed the intuitive idea that if companies pay less in taxes, some of that will make its way back to workers. Democrats in Congress were even worse, deploying apocalyptic rhetoric about the bill. The Center for American Progress' Igor Volsky, meanwhile, sounded downright ecstatic that Walmart announced layoffs. Paul Ryan in December: "majority of businesses are going to do just what we say, reinvest in their workers, reinvest in their factories, pay people more money, higher wages." TODAY, WALMART --THE LARGEST PRIVATE EMPLOYER -- ANNOUNCED IT WAS LAYING OFF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS. — igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) January 11, 2018 Volsky's characterization of what happened is misleading. Walmart is reportedly closing dozens of its underperforming Sam's Club locations after years of expansions. Walmart, meanwhile, announced it was raising its starting wage to $11 an hour, handing out bonuses to eligible employees, and looking for other ways to re-invest their tax savings. For his part, Ryan's prediction was about what a "majority of companies" would do, as Volsky himself described it, not every single one. A lower tax burden makes it easier to do business but it's hardly a cure-all. Most advocates avoided that kind of exaggeration. Companies' decisions to give employees bonuses or raise wages are headline-grabbers, and in the coming months and years there ought to be evidence other good things happening, too. And all because individuals the companies who employs them can keep more of their own money. [...]



Georgia City Wants to Penalize Stores When Their Carts Are Stolen

2018-01-16T12:15:00-05:00

The City of Savannah, Georgia, wants to crack down on shopping cart theft by punishing the businesses that have their carts stolen. On Thursday, the Savannah City Council will consider a proposed ordinance to fine businesses $375 each time one of their carts is found off their property. The ordinance would also require businesses to establish a cart theft prevention and retrieval plan. Businesses that fail to establish or abide by such a plan would be fined an additional $500. Taking a shopping cart off the property of the retailer it belongs to is already a misdemeanor criminal offense in Georgia. But not enough people think of taking a shopping cart home as stealing, says Margret Williams, the city's customer service administrator. "In citizens' minds, they're not really stealing it, they're just borrowing it," Williams told the local Fox affiliate in November, when the ordinance was first being floated. "They just want to take it home, and they're just not thinking that they need to take it back." The new law details the menace that free-range carts pose to the City of Savannah. According to the text of the ordinance, these carts "create conditions of blight" wherever they roam, interfering with vehicular traffic and even costing lives, since they could "impede emergency services." Discussions of how to penalize shopkeeps for their lost or stolen property have been in the works for years, but they have faced opposition from retailers and trade associations. Kathy Kuzava of the Georgia Food Industry Association says that adding penalties to grocery stores will only discourage them from expanding in neighborhoods that already have few retail options. "You don't want to overregulate the stores you want to come into the area," Kuzava told Savanah Morning News. Savanah Alderman Julian Morris claims that the bill—by encouraging stores to offer cash returns in exchange for returned carts—would create jobs in the community. "If it's $1 to return a cart, or even fifty cents to return a cart, there are people who would get those carts and turn them in for the money," he told the city's Fox affiliate. Savanah is hardly the first city in America to take this approach to stolen shopping carts. Glendale, California, led the way in 1988, collecting carts taken from store property and charging the stores a free to get the carts back. Unlike Savannah and its $375 charge, Glendale levies a more modest $92 penalty. Fresno, California, may have the strictest controls on shopping carts. Not only does the city require that a business owner maintain a "cart containment program" or otherwise contract with a cart retrieval business, it also threatens fines up to $1,000 and sentences of up to a year in jail for those caught in possession of a cart outside the appropriate business's propery. All these bills operate under the ludicrous premise that stores need new incentives to prevent their own property from being stolen. Whatever visions you might conjure of shopping carts clogging up roads and blocking ambulances, stores are the real victims of shopping cart theft. The measures they take to retain and retrieve their carts is going to depend on how likely it is their carts are stolen and whether the cost of getting them back is actually worth it. By mandating that businesses invest in additional security for their carts when they otherwise wouldn't, the City of Savannah would only be piling on a costly regulation that serves the interests of neither businesses or their customers. [...]



Good Samaritans in Southern California Cited for Feeding the Homeless

2018-01-16T11:45:00-05:00

Police in the City of El Cajon (near San Diego) spent part of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend citing people for feeding the homeless. Now those people are fighting back. On Sunday, police cited about a dozen people—including one 14-year-old girl—with misdemeanor charges for feeding homeless people in a public park. El Cajon passed this law as an "emergency" in October, claiming it was needed due to a rise in Hepatitis A in Southern California last year, an outbreak that has hit the homeless especially hard. Hepatitis A can be spread quite a few ways among those who live unsanitary lives (as the homeless typically do), but it seems unlikely that it's a result of non-homeless people giving homeless people food. El Cajon's City Council is abusing a health scare to make it harder for the public to provide assistance to homeless people because they want them off the streets and into managed shelters and churches. This "solution" then criminalizes voluntary charitable interactions between citizens for not fitting into the model of how the city wants people to behave. High school teacher Matthew Schneck shared his citation on Twitter: Today I got arrested for feeding the homeless in Wells Park in El Cajon. The City of El Cajon has made it illegal to share food with homeless people. https://t.co/6BZzjSxKnL "...One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" —Martin Luther King Jr. pic.twitter.com/YTqCxOIRWb — Matthew Schneck (@matthew_schneck) January 15, 2018 Listen to El Cajon City Council member Bob McClellan complain about people finding their own ways of helping the homeless and not complying with the city's master plan (via the San Diego Union Tribune): Councilman Bob McClellan said the city has published a list of churches where people can get food and where activists can help serve food, in an effort to contain food sharing to closed and sanitary environments. "They don't have to feed them in the park where it could cause a problem according to the health authorities," McClellan said. "If they want to help the homeless, look at the list of places. All they have to do is read the list." The group responsible for the event on Sunday knew full well what was going to happen. The group—named Break the Ban—is defying the ordinance on purpose. They and their lawyers are now going to use the citations to challenge the constitutionality of the law itself. This was their fourth event feeding the homeless in defiance of the law. They're planning another event for January 27. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describes the ban as "unconstitutional and unnecessarily cruel." They're claiming the sharing ban violates freedom of speech. It may seem strange to say that giving food is a form of speech, but the ACLU argues that the city is picking and choosing who can express charitable attitudes toward the homeless and the circumstances of how they may do so: "By prohibiting food sharing only when done for 'charitable purposes,' El Cajon is regulating food sharing because of its expressive content, punishing only those who share food to express their religious or political beliefs in ministry or charity but not those who share food for other purposes," said David Loy, ACLU SDIC's legal director. "If charitable appeals for funds are within the protection of the First Amendment, the same is true for charitable giving, whether of money or food." El Cajon is hardly alone here. Atlanta has targeted good Samaritans for feeding the homeless in public spaces, as have such cities as Orlando, Tampa, Houston, and Philadelphia, among others. Watch ReasonTV's video from 2012 about Philadelphia's attempt to stop people from [...]



NYPD Officers Investigated for Illegal Gun Searches

2018-01-16T11:30:00-05:00

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The Bronx County District Attorney's Office is investigating members of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) 52nd Precinct for perjury and official misconduct in connection with allegations of illegal investigative tactics used to locate illegal guns, the New York Daily News reports.

The precinct, located in in the central Bronx, has seen a dramatic recent uptick in gun possession arrests, a trend which has earned its leadership praise within the NYPD's statistics-driven command structure. According to the report, members of the precinct could face criminal charges, internal disciplinary measures, or both.

Because they often involve broad-scale intrusive searches of homes and individuals, such police "gun recovery" operations have drawn criticism from residents and civil liberties groups in the past. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial "Stop and Frisk" program, which was declared illegal by a federal judge in 2013, was largely aimed at discovering illegal guns.

Officers in the precinct allegedly engaged in a routine practice of arresting suspects on questionable pretexts, and offer to drop charges in exchange for the location of illegal guns. When the guns were located, however, the cops would charge their new 'informant' with possession of the guns, often leaving the original arrest and charge in place.

These tactics reportedly led to a number of felony gun possession cases being dropped in court or plead out as minor misdemeanors, presumably to avoid having to defend the officers' conduct in court.

As the report notes, it is not unlawful for police to lie or make false promises to criminal suspects. It is likely the district attorney's investigation is instead focused on whether officers have deliberately made unjustified arrests to leverage for interrogations aimed at gun recovery, or have lied to courts about their investigative procedures. There may also be a question as to whether 'consent searches' conducted under such circumstances are legally valid, or whether consent to search arrestees' homes was ever actually obtained at all.

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Florida Lawmakers Are Fast-Tracking Licensing Reforms

2018-01-16T10:45:00-05:00

Florida has some of the nation's most onerous licensing laws, but state lawmakers there have taken the first step towards undoing some of the most outlandish requirements for low-income professions. On Friday, the Florida House voted 74-28 to approve a bill that slashes licensing requirements for would-be barbers, hair-braiders, and manicurists. It also reduces the licensing burden for a number of professions that you probably don't even associate with licensing, like geologists and timekeepers at boxing matches. As state legislative sessions get underway this month, occupational licensing figures to be an important—if under the radar—issue in almost every statehouse. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has called for state legislatures to ease licensing requirements, following-up on similar calls to action issued by the Obama White House three years ago. Combined with support for reform from government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and academics from all sides of the political spectrum, licensing reform has a chance to be a truly bipartisan economic issue in an era where few of those exist. In Florida, for example, the licensing bill offered by a trio of Republican lawmakers got broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, it was one of 24 pieces of legislation—out of more than 2,700 bills filed—selected for consideration in the opening days of the legislative sessions, which began last week. Because the Florida Legislature holds a relatively short, 60-day session, getting fast-tracked on opening day gives the bill a much better chance of becoming law. If it clears the Senate and gets a signature from Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, the bill would cut in half the number of hours needed to become a barber, from 1,200 to 600 hours, and would exempt a number of specific skills—including body wrapping, hair wrapping, applying makeup and applying nail polish—from the state's cosmetology licensing laws. It would also reduce the amount of training necessary to become a licensed nail specialist (someone who is allowed to perform manicures and pedicures, in addition to applying nail polish) from 240 hours of training to 150 hours. Requiring hundreds of hours of training to do something, like cutting hair or filing nails, that plenty of people do at home for free is still excessive. Particularly because getting an emergency medical technician license in Florida requires only 110 hours of training—10 times less than the current requirement for barbers. There's no real public health and safety reason for the state to require a license for barbering or cosmetology, but reducing those requirements is still a step in the right direction. The bill also targets licensing requirements in a number of more obscure professions. It would repeal Florida's licensing requirements for geologists and for boxing timekeepers and announcers. It would also allow licensed yacht brokers—yes, a real thing—to operate more than one office under a single license. Florida still has a long way to go. According to the Institute for Justice, a national libertarian law firm that tracks licensing requirements across the states, Florida has the fifth most burdensome requirements in the country. "Occupational licensing is one of the biggest barriers stopping Floridians from finding work," says Justin Pearson, managing attorney of the Institute for Justice's Florida office. "This vote is a welcome first step to paring back many arbitrary, onerous and just downright pointless regulations that infringe on the right to earn an honest living." [...]



3 Lessons from Prohibition, Which Started Today in 1919

2018-01-16T10:30:00-05:00

On January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment became law when five state legislatures (North Carolina, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, and Wyoming) passed it. In the end, 46 of 48 states passed it, with only Connecticut and Rhode Island voting it down. The text of the amendment set into motion what became known as Prohibition: Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all the territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress. Here we are, almost 100 years later and marijuana legalization is proceeding apace, despite the efforts of the current attorney general. What lessons might we draw from Prohibition, which was repealed in 1933 with the passage of the 21st Amendment? They are many, for sure, but here are three quick takeaways worth pondering: The government gets what the government wants. Booze was already pretty much banned before the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act (which was the law implementing Prohibition). The Wartime Prohibition Act of 1918, which banned making and selling drinks with a kick higher than 1.28 percent alcohol by volume, had been sold as a national-security measure to save grain needed to feed troops during World War I, went into effect on November 18, 1918. Note the date, by the way, which was a week after World War I ended, suggesting a slightly different lesson: The government isn't always honest about its aims. Prohibition was politically popular enough to pass a constitutional amendment. As with a lot of the rhetoric surrounding today's war on drugs, Prohibition fed off fears of foreigners, especially Catholics from southern and central Europe who had been flooding U.S. cities for decades. That beer and wine were closely associated with German Americans, relatives of our enemy in World War I, made it easier to paint drinking culture in general as un-American. Prohibition was enforced very differently, depending on who you were and where you lived. One of the great insights of Harvard historian Lisa McGirr's excellent The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State (2015) is to show that despite being the law of the land, Prohibition took vastly different forms. The state government of New York, for instance, told the feds that it didn't have the manpower to police bootlegging and speakeasies. If Washington wanted to enforce the law, they were going to have to do it themselves (as McGirr documents, Prohibition massively goosed federal law enforcement efforts, including incarceration on a mass scale; she argues convincingly that Prohibition helped create many aspects of modern federal governance). But in other areas, such as North Carolina and Virginia, Prohibition was strictly enforced at the state and local level, especially when the malefactors were immigrants, women, and blacks. If that sounds a lot like the drug war, well, it should. "The war on alcohol and the war on drugs were symbiotic campaigns," she told me in a Reason TV interview. "Those two campaigns emerged together, [and] they had [...]



A.M. Links: Steve Bannon to Appear Before House Intelligence Committee, Senate Democrats Aim to Restore Net Neutrality, Norway’s Parliament Votes to Decriminalize All Drugs

2018-01-16T09:00:00-05:00

  • (image) "Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants."
  • Steve Bannon is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee today.
  • Senate Democrats say they have 50 votes, including that of Republican Susan Collins of Maine, to override the FCC's recent repeal of net neutrality rules.
  • A Danish inventor named Peter Madsen has been charged with the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall.
  • A Japanese broadcaster mistakenly sent out a warning about a North Korean missile attack.
  • Norway's Parliament has voted to decriminalize all drugs.

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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Minimum Wage Hikes Inflict Maximum Pain: New at Reason

2018-01-16T08:15:00-05:00

(image) Hiking the minimum wage is feel-good humanitarian idea that's guaranteed to hurt actual humans

J.D. Tuccille writes:

There's probably no more popular way of patting yourself on the back for doing good while actually harming people than advocating for hiked minimum wage laws that forbid people to accept work that pays below a legally mandated floor.

When you raise the price of something above what people are willing to pay, people buy less of it, or else they pass the costs down the line, when possible. This isn't exactly a revelation; it's one of the older known economic realities. Unfortunately, there's always been a certain portion of the population that insists that labor is different and that you really can make people more prosperous by decree. But yet more recent evidence suggests that hiking the price of hiring people works just like raising the cost of everything else. This means that the recent craze for minimum wage laws has not turned out, after all, to be a genius plan for filling bank accounts.

View this article.

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Brickbat: Lessons Learned

2018-01-16T04:00:00-05:00

(image) Deyshia Hargrave, an English teacher in the Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, school district wanted school board members to explain why they were giving the superintendent a big raise when teachers haven't gotten a raise in years. Even though she asked the question at the meeting where the board was scheduled to vote on the raise, board president Anthony Fontana refused to allow answers, saying her question wasn't germane to the meeting's agenda. And even though Hargrave left the meeting when Fontana asked her to, a school resource officer arrested her for "remaining after being forbidden" and resisting an officer. Local prosecutors say they will not pursue those charges.

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When the FBI Tried To Get Martin Luther King, Jr. To Kill Himself After He Won the Nobel Peace Prize

2018-01-15T20:30:00-05:00

In 2014, historian Beverly Gage published an unredacted version of the notorious November, 1964 letter sent anonymously to Martin Luther King, Jr. before he would travel to Europe to collect his Nobel Peace Prize (above). The letter suggested that King kill himself or else be outed for sexual improprieties. It is widely believed the letter was sent either by FBI operatives or at least sanctioned by the agency, as it relies on information compiled from surveillance conducted by J. Edgar Hoover with the imprimatur of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (whether Lyndon Johnson directly okayed such actions, it's unambiguous that he knew about them and discussed their findings). Historians had long sought after an unredacted version of "suicide letter," as it is known. It's a disturbing piece of work, to say the least. It poses as a note from a concerned African American. It's failure was complete, as it wasn't read until after King received his Nobel and it was opened by his wife, who turned it over to her husband. I wrote about the letter in fall 2014 when The New York Times published it. We live in an age where trust and belief in the government is far lower than it was the FBI was pulling grotesque stunts like this one. Our ambivalence is well-founded, given not just the revelations of the Church Committee in the 1970s but more recent news of just how little the government regards our civil liberties. Martin Luther King's legacy for race relations is rightly well-known and celebrated. We should also remember that his treatment by government carries lessons about the state-sanctioned violation of privacy and dignity. Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI's so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today's America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business.... Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the "paranoid style in American politics." He lamented that, "American politics has often been an arena for angry minds." But today's lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn't seem all that angry. It's more like we're resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center. There's a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever. Read the whole piece here. Reason on Martin Luther King, Jr. here. This is an updated version of a post that originally ran on January 19, 2015. [...]



Is Selfishness a Virtue?: Watch Live Debate Tuesday at 6:45 P.M.

2018-01-15T20:15:00-05:00

Is selfishness a virtue? Ayn Rand famously thought so and one of her most-influential contemporary champions, Yaron Brook of the The Ayn Rand Institute, will debate the former chief economist of the New York Stock Exchange, Gene Epstein, at the next Reason-sponsored The Soho Forum debate at the East Village's SubCulture Theater.

If that main event isn't enough, best-selling author and Fox News legal expert Judge Andrew Napolitano will moderate the Oxford-style debate. In an Oxford-style debate, the audience votes before and after the debate and the winner is the person who moves the most votes in his direction.

The event is sold out (go here to put your name on a standby list) but you can watch a livestream of the event on Reason's Facebook page and right here at Reason.com. The action starts at 6:45 P.M. and the online audience gets to vote and submit questions for the Q&A portion of the event.

For an archive of past Soho Forum-Reason debates, go here.

To get information about the next debate, which takes place on February 12 and engages the proposition "All the laws requiring those convicted of sex offenses to put their names in a registry should be abolished," go here.

To set a reminder at Facebook, click below.

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Virginia Can Do More to Improve Animal Welfare: New at Reason

2018-01-15T12:00:00-05:00

(image) The state legislature is considering a number of measures, but none that deal with police officers killing dogs.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog," goes an old saying mistakenly attributed to Harry S. Truman. In fact, Truman once gave away a cocker spaniel puppy that had been given to him, earning him the enmity of dog-lovers across the country.

Lawmakers in Virginia will face a slightly different test of their sympathies this year when the General Assembly takes up numerous animal-welfare bills.

Among them is a measure (SB 28) proposed by Republican state Sen. Bill Stanley, which would prohibit giving state funds to any organization that conducts "medically unnecessary" research on animals that causes "significant pain or distress." The bill was prompted by revelations about experiments at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center that induced heart attacks in dogs and puppies and forced them to run on treadmills.

"Some of the experiments are known to inflict severe pain in the dogs and puppies—some are as young as 6 months—while withholding pain relief," a Times-Dispatch story reported in October.

View this article.

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The Corrupt Politics of Low-Income Housing: New at Reason

2018-01-15T10:01:00-05:00

(image) The rent is too damn high—so each year Congress appropriates billions of dollars to address the nation's collective housing needs. The programs vary from loans to tax credits to straight-up subsidies, but a common feature is that federal taxpayers pony up the dough and then a motley collection of state-level politicians, financing agencies, and housing authorities decide how it's spent. Can you guess where things go wrong?

In theory, oversight is provided by bureaucrats in Washington tracking every dollar and by local leaders increasing their re-election prospects by providing housing assistance to their constituents as effectively as possible. In practice, the feds turn a blind eye to inefficient uses of the funds while local officials gleefully engage in politically advantageous graft, writes Christian Britschgi.

View this article.

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Start Saving Now, Because Social Security Is Screwed: New at Reason

2018-01-15T09:31:00-05:00

(image) The single largest government program in the United States will soon have an annual budget of $1 trillion a year. Yet even that amount isn't sufficient to fulfill the promises it has made. If Congress doesn't address its insolvency issues, payouts will need to be slashed by a quarter starting in fewer than 20 years.

The program is Social Security, and our national pastime seems to be turning a blind eye to its dysfunctions.

The problems with this entitlement aren't unique. Obamacare is also a mess, while cumulative government spending on Medicare and Medicaid is growing at a faster rate than Social Security is, and eventually will consume a larger share of the economy, writes Veronique de Rugy.

View this article.

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Brickbat: Bike-Friendly City

2018-01-15T04:00:00-05:00

(image) Acting on an anonymous tip, Clearwater, Florida, code enforcement sent Gary Keener, owner of The Path Bicycle and Ride Shop, notice that he'd violated city code by installing a bike rack on the sidewalk outside his store without the required permits and inspections. Keener did not install the bike rack. The city did.

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Shitholers of the World Are Making America Great

2018-01-14T14:15:00-05:00

Here's a nifty table put together by American Enterprise Institute's Mark Perry, a University of Michigan economics professor who runs the super smart blog Carpe Diem. It makes an illuminating companion to my post on Indian shitholers.

Let that sink in before you talk smack again, Mr. President!

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The Handmaid’s Tale Author Margaret Atwood Accused of Crimes Against Feminism for Defending Due Process

2018-01-14T13:10:00-05:00

In the first year of the Trump presidency, the Hulu television series The Handmaid's Tale—which concerns a dystopian future U.S. where totalitarian religious authorities subjugate women—became essential #Resistance viewing. Many saw parallels between the treatment of women within the universe of the show and President Trump's alleged history of abusive behavior. One might expect, Margaret Atwood, the author of the source material—the 1985 novel of the same name—would be considered something of a feminist hero. But now Atwood must counter charges that she is actually a "bad feminist," because she thinks the University of British Columbia denied due process to a male professor accused of sexual misconduct. "And now, it seems, I am conducting a War on Women, like the misogynistic, rape-enabling Bad Feminist that I am," wrote Atwood in an op-ed for The Globe and Mail. In 2016, Atwood joined dozens of other writers in signing a petition that called on UBC to release the records of its investigation into Steven Galloway, an author and chair of the university's creative writing program. Galloway was accused of sexual misconduct, but the details were fuzzy, and UBC's procedures for handling the complaint lacked even a semblance of transparency. Atwood has not taken a position on Galloway's guilt or innocence; rather, she believes the university was unfair to everyone involved in the dispute, and has made it impossible to determine the truth. (Galloway also lost his job.) As Atwood wrote: ...after an inquiry by a judge that went on for months, with multiple witnesses and interviews, the judge said there had been no sexual assault, according to a statement released by Mr. Galloway through his lawyer. The employee got fired anyway. Everyone was surprised, including me. His faculty association launched a grievance, which is continuing, and until it is over, the public still cannot have access to the judge's report or her reasoning from the evidence presented. The not-guilty verdict displeased some people. They continued to attack. It was at this point that details of UBC's flawed process began to circulate, and the UBC Accountable letter came into being. A fair-minded person would now withhold judgment as to guilt until the report and the evidence are available for us to see. We are grownups: We can make up our own minds, one way or the other. The signatories of the UBC Accountable letter have always taken this position. My critics have not, because they have already made up their minds. Are these Good Feminists fair-minded people? If not, they are just feeding into the very old narrative that holds women to be incapable of fairness or of considered judgment, and they are giving the opponents of women yet another reason to deny them positions of decision-making in the world. Several prominent signatories recently removed their names from the petition because they didn't want to appear like they are on the wrong side of the #MeToo movement. Author Carmen Aguirre, a spokesperson for the petition's signatories, told The Globe and Mail that "for those of us who have chosen to keep our names on, I get the sense that we feel stronger than ever about the content of the letter, which for us was always about due process and never about questioning the claims." It's dee[...]



Interview with Larry Sharpe: New at Reason

2018-01-14T10:15:00-05:00

(image) Libertarians like Larry Sharpe.

It was nearly impossible to attend a state-level Libertarian Party (L.P.) convention in 2017 and not see the affable former Marine and 2018 candidate for governor of New York laying out his seven-year plan to transform the party from a distant third-place finisher to the country's decisive swing bloc at all levels of government. When I asked former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld how Libertarians could best build on their momentum, he began his reply with: "You want to get out more candidates like Larry Sharpe."

Of course, Bill Weld is the only reason a normal consumer of politics might have heard of Sharpe in the first place. Weld was the Libertarian vice presidential nominee in the 2016 race—by far the most famous and electorally successful candidate for that office since the party's founding in 1971. And in May 2016, at the Libertarian Party's national convention, Sharpe came thisclose to beating him. A measly 32 votes on a hotly contested second ballot separated Weld's 50.5 percent from Sharpe's 46.9, much to the bafflement of the assembled national press corps. At a raucous moment, the party's radicals and anarchists rallied behind Sharpe, even though he is decidedly not one of them, writes Matt Welch.

View this article.

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