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Woman Wrongfully Arrested By Sloppy Officer May Soon Get Justice

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Woman Wrongfully Arrested By Sloppy Officer May Soon Get Justice

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In 2009, a woman was forced to spend 80 days in jail after being arrested on bogus drug dealing charges. While the charges were eventually dropped, allowing her to enjoy her freedom once again, the damage had already been done. When she left the prison, she walked out of her jail cell a free woman without a job.

ArrestedThe officer involved in this incident might now have to pay the price for his mistakes — a dream come true for criminal justice reform advocates who believe that officers operate with all the wrong incentives in mind since they are allowed to continue to make mistakes by being granted immunity.

The chain of events leading to the wrongful arrest started in March of 2009 when officer Jason Munday conducted an undercover investigation using a confidential informant.

The informant was wired with video and audio recorders. Giving the man $60, the officer told him to go to 728 East Pine Street to purchase crack cocaine from two individuals. After the exchange, the informant walked back to the officer and told him that he had purchased the illicit drug from April Smith, a black woman.

Since the audio recorder used in this transaction wasn’t fitted with batteries prior to the whole incident, it didn’t work and produced no audio recordings. On top of that, the camera used by the informant was pointing in the wrong direction, making it impossible for the officer to recognize the drug dealer. Instead of filming the transaction, the footage simply showed an unidentified black woman sitting on a front porch, while two others stand.

All the officer had was hearsay and a name. A name that could have easily been fabricated by the drug dealer in an attempt to shield her identity.

Regardless, the lack of evidence didn’t bother the officer. Instead of discarding what he had obtained, he started scanning police databases for anyone fitting the bill. When he found a black woman with a criminal record named April Yvette Smith, he didn’t flinch. That was his dealer, he thought to himself.

She had been convicted of selling crack cocaine in 1993, 1997, and 2005, but she wasn’t the only one. He also found other two April Smiths with criminal records in the same county. Even though he had no reason to believe that the dealer he was going after had, indeed, a criminal record. He also had no reason to believe that the dealer was a resident of that county. Again, nothing stopped the officer. Instead of further investigating, Munday decided to apply for an arrest warrant, picking one of the April Smiths he had found.

Nine months later, the officer found Smith about eleven miles away from the site where the drug deal had taken place.

The woman spent the next 80 days in jail, afraid she would be prosecuted for a crime she hadn’t committed.

When Smith sought justice, the court granted the officer immunity by claiming that he had enough reason to believe she could have been the dealer involved in the transaction. Thankfully, the Appeals Court disagreed.

According to the court, the officer ignored the fact that having a name in common with a potential criminal is not enough to establish probable cause, meaning that what the officer did was wrong. Concluding that the officer did not have enough information to apply for a warrant, the Appeals Court called out on the officer for failing to perform any investigative work prior to the arrest. And as a result, Munday has now been stripped of his immunity, opening the way for a lawsuit.

Removing responsibility away from the individual’s hands allows him to operate without having the burden of responding to his actions. When officers are granted immunity in similar cases, they tend to forget that their actions have reactions. Unless we begin holding everyone accountable — regardless of employment status — we’ll never be able to see a change in the culture of abuse. Will this case help to change this environment for good?

Residents Leave Kansas In Search For Legal Medical Cannabis

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Residents Leave Kansas In Search For Legal Medical Cannabis

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A new bill under review by the Kansas legislature could help residents suffering from conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana. This piece of news is being met with enthusiasm by locals since many have been moving out of the state in order to obtain the help that they need elsewhere.

KansasAccording to the Kansas City senator who wrote the bill, the benefits of legalizing the plant “outweigh the detriments.” And he’s right. After all, what right does a bureaucrat have to tell a patient what drugs he or she are allowed to take?

According to local news sources, the bill being pushed through the senate could help residents like Tracy Marling, who left the state three years ago. Her move was ignited by her daughter’s rare form of epilepsy. Because the young girl wasn’t responding to traditional medicines, the mother decided to take her child elsewhere. Now that she can use cannabis, the child has been responding better, and the mom is now telling reporters how the lack of legal access to the plant forced her to leave the state.

In an interview, Marling told reporters that if there’s “something that helps somebody this much, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have access to it.”

In other 28 states, medical marijuana is already a possibility. And if Marling’s story is an indicator, many other families may be moving to one of these states in order to escape prohibitionist policies in their own homes.

Locals who believe that the choice should be up to the individual and not to a bureaucrat are being urged by former Kansas residents like Marling to contact their representative. Hopefully, lawmakers will finally understand the importance of giving the individual back the power to choose, giving locals more control over their own lives.

To marijuana and anti-drug war advocates, the decentralization of policy making has been the best of gifts. As more states join the likes of California, Colorado, and Washington in nullifying the federal prohibition of marijuana, more families will have access to the plant, allowing patients who are suffering from maladies that could be treated with the help of the plant feel more comfortable with trying the treatment without fearing to be the target of law enforcement.

This move toward more freedom will also help medical research in the future, giving researchers the opportunity of exploring cannabis’ full potential. After all, when substances are illegal, even medical researchers have a hard time having access to the material.

In other words, when government prohibition is en vogue, medical innovation also pays a price. But who ultimately pays the cost is always the consumer.

The Importance of Being Self-Taught

in Education, Liberator Online, Philosophy by Morgan Dean Comments are off

Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary this week. This was one of the most contentious and controversial confirmations in history. Those opposing her nomination cited a lack of experience in public education as a reason why she was unfit to serve.

taughtWith all the controversy, it’s important to consider another argument. It really shouldn’t matter who the Education Secretary is. The position shouldn’t exist. There should be no federal Department of Education, simply because it is impossible for one person to know how to meet the needs of every student in America.

Individually, standards set by the government regarding education don’t impact us as much as we think. This is because we should be setting our own individual standards. We should be striving to teach ourselves what we haven’t been taught in school.

Once students leave school, are they properly equipped to thrive in the post-secondary world? Probably not. This is why it is crucial that we strive to be self-taught.

Practical experience is the first facet of this. We learn by doing. I am a result of a public education in both high school and now college. However, I have learned more from the work I’ve done in my career than from my public schooling.

The second facet of being self-taught is reading. I am of the belief that reading for fun is just as important as educational reading, so long as you are doing both. Educational reading doesn’t always have to involve textbooks, though. Reading a book that you wouldn’t normally pick up is educational, as is reading a book on a subject you want to know more about.

The beauty of being self-taught is that you can learn absolutely anything with practice. You can become fluent in a foreign language, learn the customs of another country, or even pick up a new hobby or job skills, all from reading and doing.

I’m not saying that a public education is useless, not by a long shot. I recognize the benefits of it, but I do know that my love for reading comes from me teaching myself to read Shakespeare as a sixth grader.

So take a minute and realize that YOU have the power. You have the power to educate your children at home, and you have the power to learn anything you want by reading and then doing. Embrace that you are never too young or too old to become self-taught.

Oh, and If you love to read awesome books about libertarian principles maybe check out our book deal too.

Why It Matters That Vizio Collected Personal Data For Years

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why It Matters That Vizio Collected Personal Data For Years

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the age of smartphones and mass Internet communication, it isn’t a surprise to learn that smart TV makers like Vizio and Samsung have been gathering and storing personal user data for years. What’s surprising is to know that some continued doing so without letting its customers know anything about it.

vizioWhile this action alone is grounds for a lawsuit, going to the courts won’t guarantee government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) won’t explore this privacy breach. And that is the problem.

The security breach was unveiled after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) struck a $1.2 million settlement with the smart TV vendor Vizio. The agency alleged Vizio had used its smart television sets to track user behavior starting in 2014. While this action isn’t uncommon, Vizio failed to disclose this information to consumers and potential consumers. For years, the company advertised its “Smart Interactivity” feature by claiming it was designed to “program offers and suggestions.” Nevertheless, suggestions were never made. Instead, the company collected a great variety of consumer data, such as IP addresses, metadata, and much more using its interactivity feature. And without alerting consumers.

According to the FTC complaint, the company was so good at collecting data that it was able to “[append] specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value,” selling this information to third party organizations. These organizations then used the info to target advertising to certain consumers. Of course this was the only issue brought up by the FTC. And not the fact that law enforcement agencies could have explored this breach in order to boost its surveillance of households across the country without using due process or respecting the U.S. Constitution.

But as a consumer, the individual has the power to sue a company or service provider that broke its contractual obligations. As a citizen, the American or resident has no power to keep law enforcement from spying on his every move.

Thanks to whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, we now know that agencies like the NSA went far and beyond to obtain access to data that would have been otherwise unreachable without a warrant — and not a mass warrant covering countless of innocent individuals at home and abroad.

While we’re grateful the FTC made this discovery, it’s time to complain about this type of action over why it matters. Because we are still powerless before a big, out of control government but we aren’t powerless as consumers.

We Ignore Freedom

in From Me To You, Immigration, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

We Ignore Freedom

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If we don’t have freedom of movement, do we really have freedom at all? If you or I can’t escape war, poverty, and oppression in search of a better life or more opportunity for ourselves, our families, our children and our grandchildren, what good are the freedoms that remain?

Does it really matter if you’re free to spend the money you earn as you wish? Does it really matter if you’re free to grow the food that would provide your family sustenance? Does it really matter if you’re free to live your life as you see fit, if you aren’t able to escape some of the worst atrocities known to man?

What we see today is a political divide that is the essence of politics as usual. We’re seeing how easy it is to divide us over one or two issues, as we fight about nuance and detail, justifying actions because this person did it previously and a precedent has been set, or by looking back at everything that’s occurred in this country, there is this tiny thing that does make what’s happening now okay.

But when we focus on the politics, nuance, and detail, we ignore the larger question.

We ignore what’s right.

We ignore what’s wrong.

Unfortunately, it also means that we ignore what really matters. It means that we ignore freedom.

Maryland Lawmakers Closer to Legalizing Recreational Weed

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Maryland Lawmakers Closer to Legalizing Recreational Weed

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Maryland could soon join the group of states putting an end to the federal ban on marijuana by passing a piece of legislation that would legalize the substance for recreational use. The bill would allow the state to regulate the sales and add a tax to recreational marijuana-related transactions.

RecreationalAccording to legislators behind the effort, adults ages 21 and older would be allowed to possess and even grow limited amounts of the plant if two pieces of legislation under consideration by the state legislature pass.

The goal, one of the legislators behind the effort told the press, is to end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition across the state, establishing what they call a sensible system. The pieces of legislation are based on the “lessons learned from other states,” which goes to show how important the nullification movement has been to the anti-drug war movement.

If the bills are approved by both chambers, marijuana retail stores would be regulated, requiring entrepreneurs to have a license to open a business. Local manufacturers, as well as testing and cultivating facilities, would also be subject to regulation. The state would also establish a 9 percent sales tax on retail marijuana while cultivators would have to pay an excise tax of $30 per ounce. Revenue created by the taxation of the industry locally would be used to back community school and workforce development programs, public education, and substance-abuse treatment and prevention.

If the One Line State chooses to pass these bills, the system that will be put in place will be similar to what is currently in use in Colorado. Maryland would then be joining others such as the states where voters have approved liberating marijuana for recreational use. They include California, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Washington, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Unlike other states, Maryland could be the first to approve the legalization of recreational weed on their own, without having to rely on the public to vote for a measure. But if legislators aren’t successful, a “Plan B” bill is also being considered, which would allow voters to decide whether the state constitution should be amended to legalize the plant for recreational use.

In 2013, Maryland approved marijuana for medical use, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts one year later. Despite the growing support for legalization even then, lawmakers killed a measure in the Maryland legislature in 2014 that would have legalized recreational marijuana.

Only time can tell whether this year’s measure will see the light of day.

 

Email Company Targeted Over Snowden Relaunches Offering Greater Privacy

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

 Email Company Targeted Over Snowden Relaunches Offering Greater Privacy

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Lavabit became a household name after former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden made the public aware of the U.S. government’s mass spying programs.

ComputerAt the time, the company’s founder shut Lavabit down in order to avoid allowing federal prosecutors to have access to the system’s encryption key. Due to his decision to stand by his word, protecting his customers’ privacy against the government’s overreaching powers, he was hailed as a hero by many. But that cost his business.

Years later, the company appears to be coming back. More private than ever.

According to TechDirt, the Lavabit team worked on a more secure email platform, launching the new system with an array of new privacy-enhancing features, including one that will obscure email metadata so that agencies such as the NSA or FBI won’t be able to trace communication, making officials unable to find out with whom Lavabit users are communicating.

It was the lack of this kind of security setting that caught the attention of officials prior to the closure of Lavabit in 2013. With this feature, the new Lavabit platform would be more resistant to government spying.

But the new system doesn’t only give users the peace of mind they are hoping to find by enhancing its overall security, it also protects the individual by further protecting the company from giving in under legal pressure. By closing the SSL “gap,” the company is now incapable of handing over any data that could identify users or individuals with whom they are communicating. And by locking the key in a hardware security module, Lavabit is able to generate long passphrases blindly, making the company or anyone working with the company unaware of the key’s location. But that’s not all. After generating the long passphrase, Lavabit then inserts into a tamper-resistant device and destroys the passphrase.

In order to provide consumers with the level of privacy they are seeking, the company will provide two types of high-level privacy modes: Cautious or Paranoid. The basic, more compromisable level is simply known as Trustful, placing the security duties in the hands of the company.

Cautious mode offers end-to-end encryption, placing the encryption key in the user’s device, while the Paranoid mode will require the user to move the key if he or she needs to use the service in a different device. By not allowing the encryption key to go to the Lavabit server, the company is unable to have access to the user’s communications, protecting them from government.

While this type of service is necessary, it’s important to note that, over the years, the federal government continued to fight to have an even greater access to a series of consumer technologies. At times demanding companies like Apple create a “backdoor” to their devices.

Thankfully, more private entrepreneurs will continue to step up the game, providing free market solutions to problems only governments can create.

Do libertarians favor gun control?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Do libertarians favor gun control?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

QUESTION: I am unclear on the libertarian stand on gun control and crime. Should there be gun control in a libertarian society? And if so, how much?

GunMY SHORT ANSWER: Firearms, like fists, can be used for offense or defense. Libertarians would not advocate cutting off a person’s access to firearms any more than they would advocate cutting off a person’s hands to prevent a brawl.

Most people who advocate gun control do so because they believe it lowers the crime rate. In fact, just the opposite is true. Violent crime (rape, robbery, and homicide) decrease dramatically when states pass laws that permit peaceful citizens to carry concealed weapons.

One famous example: in 1966 and 1967 Orlando, Florida police responded to a rape epidemic with a highly-publicized program to train 2,500 women in the use of firearms. Orlando became the only city with a population over 100,000 which showed a decrease in crime. Rape, aggravated assault, and burglary were reduced by 90%, 25%, and 24% respectively — without a single woman ever firing a shot in self-defense.

Criminals are looking for an easy mark and avoid those who might be armed. Anyone who doubts this might wish to put a sign on their front lawn saying “This house is a gun-free zone” to experience the consequences firsthand.

Gun control is actually “victim disarmament.” It exposes the weakest among us — women, children, and the elderly — to greater risk of attack. It denies us the ability to defend ourselves against those who would harm us.

Since the courts have ruled that the police have no obligation to protect an individual citizen from attack, we have no legal recourse if they fail to do so.

Acting in self-defense, armed citizens kill more criminals each year than police do, yet shoot only one-tenth as many innocent people by mistake. Clearly, armed citizens act as responsibly (if not more so) than trained law enforcers.

Libertarians believe that everyone has the right to self-defense. America’s founders did too. Libertarians strongly support the Second Amendment. Libertarians do not support the victim-disarmament laws collectively known as “gun control.”

For more details, including references for the examples cited above, see Chapter 16 of my book, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression, available from the Advocates (2003 edition). The 1993 edition can be read online for free at my website.

 

No Property Rights: CO Supreme Court Allows Cops to Destroy Seized Pot

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

No Property Rights: CO Supreme Court Allows Cops to Destroy Seized Pot

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that police are allowed to destroy marijuana seized in criminal investigations, reversing the requirement that police store marijuana as personal property.

Property RightsAccording to the Associated Press, local police disliked the requirement that forced officers to care and store marijuana gathered as evidence correctly. As a result, the recent decision has been welcomed by local law enforcement.

The decision stems from a 2011 case revolving around a medical marijuana patient from Colorado Springs whose plants were seized after he was accused of having more plants than allowed by law. Currently, residents are allowed to grow up to 12 plants .

As a result of the investigation, the Colorado Springs resident lost more than 60 pounds, which were held by the police and then returned moldy. While the accused was later acquitted, he lost access to his possessions because of police’s lack of proper care to the product.

According to Colorado Justice Allison Eid, a possible Supreme Court nominee, the return provision that had been en vogue violates federal law. The decision supported that Colorado law enforcement should thus follow federal rules, despite comments made by dissenting judges who argued that the return provision does not violate federal law.

To libertarians, this decision sounds beyond appalling for a simple reason: it ignores property rights altogether in the name of the U.S. government’s long lasting war on personal choice — also known as the war on drugs.

While Colorado set an example to the entire country by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, restrictions concerning growth of the plant require law enforcement officials to violate property rights of the individual in question by not allowing individuals to do what they please in their own property. And by ruling that even during an investigation seized marijuana is not to be treated as personal property, the state’s highest court just emphasizes both the state and local governments’ lack of dedication to the individual’s right to the fruits of his labor.

Instead of spending precious resources seizing, investigating, and arresting individuals for exercising their right to keep and maintain personal property, it’s time to put an end to the madness that the nationwide war on substances seen as immoral or damaging. After all, it’s up to the individual whether he is willing to expose his own body to whatever substance available or not. And the government has no moral obligation to stop him.

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

in Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Victimless Crime by Alice Salles Comments are off

Alaska Moves Closer to End Raw Milk Ban Statewide

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Like drugs, raw milk has become the stuff of mad regulators. “It’s bad for you,” therefore, it needs to go — whether you like it or not.

CowBut raw milk is what it is: raw. It isn’t for for everyone — just like fried food, vegetables, or drugs. Why try to set a standard that isn’t universal and can’t be met by all?

Over the years, brave lawmakers like former congressman Dr. Ron Paul as well as current Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie attempted to put an end to the raw milk ban madness. But despite their best efforts, little was accomplished on the federal level.

That’s where state lawmakers enter the picture.

In Alaska, for instance, state lawmaker Geran Tarr is fighting the federal raw milk ban by pushing a bill through the House that would legalize the sale of raw milk across the Last Frontier state. The bill, known as House Bill 46 was introduced in the House on January 13. It stipulates that individuals across the state are free to sell raw milk to consumers.

This bill would render the federal ban on the sale of the “dangerous” product useless, while allowing Alaskans to make their own decision for themselves.

According to the bill, raw milk sellers would only be required to add a warning to the product’s label stating that the contents are not pasteurized and that they may cause health concerns.

Currently, the sale of raw milk is prohibited in Alaska. But individuals are allowed to purchase cow shares if they want to consume unpasteurized milk. This legal option makes it difficult for the common consumer to have access to the product.

With this bill, this requirement would be lifted, allowing raw milk producers to sell directly to the final consumer.

HB46 should soon be referred to a committee and once it receives a committee assignment, it needs to pass by a majority vote before it moves to the House and Senate for a vote.

If signed into law, the ban upheld by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be nullified in practice.

To this day, the FDA maintains the ban by claiming that raw milk poses a health risk due to the susceptibility to contamination tied to cow manure. They claim that the possibility milk may be contaminated with E. coli is enough reason to keep consumers from making their own choices.

In 1987, with the implementation of 21 CFR 1240.61(a), the sale and consumption of unpasteurized milk was effectively banned federally by putting an end to the transportation of raw milk across borders or even within borders. If Alaska wins this battle, it would be a victory for liberty.

Bluegrass State May Say No to the Feds’ Gun Control Measures

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Bluegrass State May Say No to the Feds’ Gun Control Measures

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

A new bill would help to put an end to intrusive and immoral federal gun control measures. At least in the territory of Kentucky.

House Bill 120, which was introduced on January 3rd, would require the Kentucky General Assembly to stand to the federal government if officials required the state’s resources to implement federal gun controls that would impact the Bluegrass state.

Gun controlThe state government body would be required to act against federal pushes by adopting “and [enacting] any and all measures as may be necessary to prevent the enforcement of any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation which attempts to commandeer local or state law enforcement officers to enforce federal restrictions on firearms in violation of the Constitution of the United States,” the bill reads.

If signed into law, the bill would serve as an emergency safeguard, requiring state officials to stand up to federal pressure in case feds try to commandeer state resources. As more states are passing similar bills, effectively nullifying the federal government’s power over state residents, the idea that feds may try to commandeer resources from place like Kentucky isn’t far-fetched.

While HB120 has just been introduced, it still too early for us to know if it will pass or if it will be signed into law. It’s currently pending review by the House Judiciary Committee where the piece of legislation must pass with a majority vote before it heads to the full House for further consideration.

To anti-federal overreach advocates like members of the Tenth Amendment Center, this type of action rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Initially, it was based on four Supreme Court cases from 1842 that held that the federal government may not compel states to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program against their will.

As states act against parts of the drug war unilaterally, many also act to keep the feds from ever infringing on locals’ gun rights. But the “nullification” approach can also be used for other purposes.

If Kentucky’s legislature passes HB120 and it’s eventually signed into law, it could set a precedent for future action, allowing other bills to surface requiring state officials to say no to the federal government when it comes to enforcing other intrusive, immoral laws.

Police Mistake Cat Litter for Meth, Won’t Apologize to Driver

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Police Mistake Cat Litter for Meth, Won’t Apologize to Driver

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Not all that glitters is gold. But how about sand? Is it always meth? To sheriff’s deputies in Harris County, Texas, it certainly is.

Cat litterAccording to a local ABC affiliate, Ross LeBeau made a right turn without coming to a complete stop in December of 2016, prompting local deputies to pull him over. LeBeau reportedly admitted to having a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle, but the “confession” was only produced after deputies said they were able to smell it. As the driver was arrested, deputies proceeded to search his car, finding 252 grams of sand.

“Meth!,” they must have thought. “We busted this guy!” It’s almost as if we can see them celebrating once they found that bag of sandy material. And we can! After all, the police reminded the public of the importance of “routine traffic stops” following the arrest.

While LeBeau denied having any meth in his car, deputies didn’t listen. Later, when the sandy substance was taken in for tests, lab workers found that the “meth” was really just cat litter. Seriously.

Thankfully, his arrest over meth charges was dismissed. Still, police continue to claim deputies acted appropriately, mentioning that field tests showed the sandy product was indeed, meth. Never mind the fact field drug tests used by law enforcement are completely bogus.

While LeBeau’s attorney claimed local law enforcement agencies are low on cash to purchase good testing devices, the problem with mistakes like this is that, more often than not, these arrests ruin the lives of people who would have otherwise been contributors to society.

Ultimately, drug laws have nothing to do with legitimate criminal activities such as murder or theft. Instead, all the drug laws do is to create crime out of a commercial and voluntary transaction.

In addition, drug laws help to create drug epidemics, artificially impacting the supply and demand of certain substances, and ultimately putting addicts in grave, deadly danger.

In the case of LeBeau’s story, this botched arrest may have been resolved, but law enforcement still hasn’t apologized for the mistake. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to the libertarians reading this piece. After all, it’s more common to see pigs flying — or at least trying to — than government and their employees taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

in Business and Economy, Drugs, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Marijuana Sales Break Records in 2016, Here’s Why This is Important

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In 2016, marijuana sales grew 30 percent in the United States and Canada, reaching $5.86 billion in U.S. sales alone. As new rules regarding marijuana use and commerce begin to take effect in states like Florida, the year of 2017 promises to be the best in record for cannabis. And yet, the federal government continues to uphold its ban on the plant. Going as far as reassuring the public that CBD, one of the main ingredients in the cannabis plant used to manage pain, is also a Schedule I drug.

MarijuanaRegardless of the federal government’s lack of grasp, the market has chosen to ignore restrictions. Which is what the last big numbers tied to marijuana sales helps to prove.

By 2021, legal sales in the North American continent could reach the $20.2 billion mark, making the marijuana industry’s growth incomparable to the growth of other remarkable industries such as the the Internet. At this rate, the industry could be posting a 25 percent compound annual growth, experts say. But before marijuana, few industries showed this type of success.

In the 1990’s, one of the few consumer industry categories that reached the $5 billion mark in annual spending — only to produce the same rate of growth following the boom — was cable television. In the 2000’s, the Internet did the same, with a 29 percent compound annual growth. As the marijuana market continues to grow, however, the most important aspect of this story is often ignored.

As options become more widely available, and substances such as cannabis achieve legitimate statuses, consumers who rely on the product or who are simply curious now have options. When consumers have options and they are able to “shop around,” they are also less likely to be exposed to the evils of defective or corrupted products. Bad quality is often associated with items available in the black market precisely because the dealer selling products in obscurity has no incentive to compete.

When drugs and other products considered dangerous are decriminalized or legalized, consumers are the first to benefit.

Instead of standing in the way of personal choice, we must boost choice by simply letting the market decide where it goes first. Not because companies and entrepreneurs have a right to tell consumers what to do, but because consumers will lead the way, demanding better services and acting accordingly, by boycotting a certain product or service provider.

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

Indiana to Reform Asset Forfeiture Laws, Rendering the Feds Useless

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The Institute for Justice, famous for fighting against civil asset forfeiture, once ranked Indiana as a “C+” state. According to the institute, the Hoosier State “earned an average grade for its laws and practices compared to other states” but “recent reporting suggests that these laws are often flouted.” In order to address this problem, IJ added that reform was badly needed.

Now, it looks as if their wish is about to come true.

car-1590508_1280According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a bill has recently been filed in the Indiana Senate that would prohibit the state from seizing property without due process. The bill, which is known as Senate Bill 8 (SB8), would effectively reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, requiring state prosecutors to bring a criminal conviction to the judge before proceeding with the activity.

Currently, Indiana officials are allowed to seize property and cash from an individual without having him arrested first. Even if he was never found guilty of a crime.

If SB8 is signed into law, the new requirement would keep prosecutors in check, while also making it nearly impossible for state officials to send these cases to the federal government.

Currently, state laws allow prosecutors to bypass restrictions by sending cases to the federal government. This move is allowed due to the Equitable Sharing program, which gives states the option to keep a portion of liquidated seized assets. But if the new bill passes, Equitable Sharing will no longer be an option.

By repealing Section 9 IC34-24-1-9, the bill closes the federal loophole, helping to protect Indiana residents and their property.

In other states like California, referring to Equitable Sharing to get away with government-sponsored theft is no longer an option. If the Indiana legislature chooses to follow into the Golden state’s steps and this loophole is finally closed, the spark of property protection and constitutional rights will continue to ignite other local movements, helping to nullify this immoral law.

Now that SB8 was introduced, it will first be reviewed by the House Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law. If passed by a majority vote, it will move to the full Senate for further consideration. According to Tenth Amendment’s Mike Maharrey, “‘equitable sharing’ provides a pipeline the feds use to incentivize state and local police to serve as de facto arms of the federal government by funneling billions of dollars into their budgets.” Without this pipeline, the incentive to steal people’s property is gone. Striking the problem at its root.

Former DEA ‘Propagandist’ Now Says Marijuana is Safe

in Criminal Justice, Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Victimless Crime by Alice Salles Comments are off

Former DEA ‘Propagandist’ Now Says Marijuana is Safe

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Marijuana is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “cash cow,” the former spokeswoman for the agency told the audience during a recent Marijuana for Medical Professionals Conference in Colorado.

Marijuana

“Marijuana is safe, we know it is safe. [But] it’s our cash cow and we will never give up,” she added.

According to Belita Nelson, she was hired by the agency in 1998 to become their “chief propagandist,” despite the fact reporters were unable to find professional links between her and the agency online. Nevertheless, Nelson was listed as the founder of a drug-awareness nonprofit in the 1990s, and was seen on TV regularly talking about the dangers of cannabis. Now, she advocates for the plant’s medical benefits.

While allegedly working for the DEA, Nelson claims, she learned a friend had developed cancer. To help him fight the consequences of chemotherapy, she reached out to her teenage son, asking him if he had access to marijuana.

Passing the substance on to her friend, both noticed that, over time, adding weed to his treatment worked. Instead of ignoring the evidence before her, the former drug warrior turned into an acolyte. In 2004, Nelson resigned from the agency due to a dispute involving the heroin epidemic. The agency had been investigating reports showing that addicts had an easier time getting off the opioids by using marijuana. But according to Nelson, the agency preferred to maintain its official line than to cave in after looking at the evidence that weed is safe.

Regardless of the agency’s lack of attention to the evidence at hand, the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabis, which was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But while this patent claims cannabis can protect the brain from damage tied to certain diseases, it has no bearing on drug-related laws. Instead of waiting on the federal government to reschedule cannabis, many pro-legalization advocates are using nullification methods to pass pro-marijuana bills in their states, putting an end to federal prohibition locally. This method could end up being much more effective than petitioning the federal government for a change.

But until all states have been successful in this effort, it’s hard to know whether the end to the drug war is nigh.

Over the decades, the arbitrary use of legislation to criminalize behavior has been responsible for great damage, especially in Black and Latino communities. If we’re serious about liberty, we’re also serious about putting an end to such rules. Allowing people to make their own decisions freely so they may live with the consequences of their actions on their own.

DUI Arrest Over Caffeine? Time to Review These Silly Laws

in Drugs, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

DUI Arrest Over Caffeine? Time to Review These Silly Laws

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

DUI laws are often inefficient. Mostly because not all drivers react to certain substances like alcohol the same way, and because provoking injury or causing deadly harm to a fellow human being while behind the wheel is already against the law. Now, we have another reason to be skeptical of government’s “driving while under the influence” rules.

CaffeineA recent DUI case in California is catching the media’s attention for the police’s choice to pursue a case involving a driver under the influence of caffeine. Not drugs or alcohol, but caffeine.

According to the driver’s attorney, Joseph Schwab was pulled over in August of 2015 and charged with misdemeanor driving while under the influence of stimulants. As he and his attorney prepare to go to trial, the Solano County district attorney’s only evidence is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine in the driver’s system.

The motorist was on his way home from work when he was pulled over by a California department of alcoholic beverage control officer who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The official claimed Schwab had been driving erratically. She also said Schwab had cut her off before he was pulled over.

During the exchange between the official and the driver, he was given a breathalyzer test that eventually showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level. Nevertheless, he was booked into county jail where his blood was drawn. The toxicology report came back negative for THC, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem, The Guardian reports. But officials weren’t over yet, sending the sample back for a second laboratory test in Pennsylvania, where they found that only caffeine had been running through the driver’s veins at the time of the arrest.

Despite the odd results, charges were brought against the man ten months after the incident, and the only evidence being used is the blood test. But in a statement, the local chief deputy district attorney said that “[t]he charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system.”

When we give the government power to criminalize what we do to our bodies, we also give way to authority abuse, allowing law enforcement to apply the law in an arbitrary way. Instead of relying on the rule of law, we now rely on flawed individuals in the justice system, giving them the power to say who’s to be held accountable. Isn’t it time to put an end to this waste?

Under Gov’t Pressure, Facebook & Others Plan to Censor ‘Terrorist’ Content

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Under Gov’t Pressure, Facebook & Others Plan to Censor ‘Terrorist’ Content

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the United States remains entangled in a series of long-lasting wars abroad, people have given in to fear.

Recently, a poll showed that nearly half of Americans seem to believe that torture can be “useful,” a trend that has been going on ever since the United States invasion of Iraq took place.

SmartphoneWith the constant exposure to war talk, Americans become fearful for their lives and security. The obvious result is that, as more individuals become fearful, they also become more likely to support anything the government will tell them to keep them safe.

One of the actions often embraced by government agencies is censorship, even if officials never use this word to describe their actions.

But with the war on terror abroad being gradually expanded to cover every aspect of the American life experience, going as far as hurting freedom of speech across the board, other groups of Americans are being directly impacted. And, as a result, organizations like Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft, and Twitter are being increasingly pressured to “do something” about the “terrorist threat.” What we’re now seeing is that, instead of allowing these companies to set their own rules, bureaucrats are now making sure social media websites are blocking content deemed dangerous.

As a result of peer pressure, these companies are combining forces to “curb the spread of terrorist content online.” And now, they are exchanging data on their users with one another in order to identify “violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images” so they can be removed from their forums.

According to Tech Dirt, this type of approach appears modeled on arrangements used to track child pornography. But while child pornography is illegal, “terrorist content” is an abstract idea that hasn’t been outlawed — yet.

Instead of acting out of a legal concern, these organizations are making what Tech Dirt calls “a judgement call.”
Once these groups start labeling certain types of content as bad, “false positive designations” will begin flowing across the platforms.
Because mistakes will be made, good people posting content deemed as dangerous will be blocked, leading to a war on information that Tech Dirt calls valuable and necessary.

While private organizations are free to set up their own rules, this decision appears to have stemmed from government pressure. As the line that divides private organizations and government policy remains blurred due to the crony capitalist nature of our government, it’s easy to see why these companies have had a hard time ignoring government pressure.

Instead of censoring or pushing organizations to censor their own users, we should be a loud voice of reason, urging organizations to, instead, allow this type of content to roam freely so that the majority of online users are able to take part in one of the most effective anti-terrorism actions there is: Mockery.

After all, when we are aware of where the problem is coming from, we can act in a decentralized fashion, attacking on different fronts and doing what centralized power often fails to do: Bring awareness to a serious problem and find its solution.

The Pentagon Wasted a Ton of Taxpayer Money Then Buried the Evidence

in Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Alice Salles Comments are off

The Pentagon Wasted a Ton of Taxpayer Money Then Buried the Evidence

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Seems counterproductive to say this out loud, after all, which bureaucracy in the world does not waste taxpayer money? But here it is: The Pentagon, which serves as the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (DOD), has been wasting taxpayer money for a very long time.

PentagonBut in January 2015, a report released by the Defense Business Board — a federal advisory panel of corporate executives — was finally able to illustrate the scope of the waste and offer a solution. Instead of taking heed and allowing Congress to have access to this report, Pentagon leaders decided that having Congress look into the report would lead to a budget cut. And how could they survive that?

In order to make sure nobody would see the likes of this study, the Pentagon imposed a series of secrecy restrictions on the data used by the Defense Business Board. Even after being made public in its website, the Pentagon removed the 77-page summary of the report for good measure. According to the chairman of the Defense Business Board, Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, this particular move was reprehensible.

“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money,” he told Washington Post, so “[w]e proposed a way to save a ton of money.” As it turns out, the Pentagon wasn’t interested in being frugal with the taxpayer dough. Nevertheless, Stein added, the Pentagon’s decision to make it hard for the public or Congress to have access to the report is a “travesty.”

“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he concluded.

According to the Washington Post report, this irresponsible approach to its finances could result in less money over time to the DOD.

But what about the DOD leadership? Are they OK with this disregard for the public?

As you may have guessed, nobody within the leadership of the defense community has, so far, been able to admit that the DOD is an entangled bureaucracy, living large and oblivious of the sacrifices Americans have to make to pay their taxes and keep the DOD afloat.

A great example of this lack of commitment to the taxpayer’s well being is easily spotted in comments made by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, who ordered the Defense Business Board to conduct the study.

When talking to the Washington Post about the study, Work dismissed the Defense Business Board’s plan to save $125 billion, claiming that “[t]here is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization, … [while] there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”

We’re not surprised. After all, those who are part of the high levels of command within government agencies — whether we’re talking about the post office or the Pentagon — will always defend their actions and their agencies’ hands-off approach to accountability.

When we earn our own money, we’re wiser about how we spend it. When someone else is in charge of spending our money, however, their actions are no longer grounded on the notion that the cash on hand is scarce and restricted.

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Economic Liberty, Economics, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty, Property Rights by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Who will fund national monuments in a libertarian country?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

QUESTION: National landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are symbols of national unity, strength, and sources of inspiration. They are monuments of a national republic. How would these monuments be constructed for the entire nation in a libertarian society?

Monuments

MY SHORT ANSWER: They would be constructed and maintained through private donations rather than taxes. Donations are given freely; taxes are forced.

We honor Jefferson, Washington, and other American icons because they believed in the importance of individual freedom, even though they may not have practiced it perfectly (e.g., Jefferson had slaves). We dishonor their memory and the values they cherished by forcing our fellow Americans to pay for their memorials.

Without tax funding, the edifices of these great men might be less grandiose than they are today. (Of course, they might just as well be even grander, better preserved and staffed, and better funded.) However, they would be a truer symbol of the freedom that made our nation great.

Even today, many renowned historical sites and monuments are privately funded. George Washington’s home Mount Vernon — the most popular historic estate in America, open 365 days a year — has been maintained and made available to the public since 1853 by the Mount Vernon’s Ladies’ Association, which proudly declares it “does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello is maintained by a private, non-profit corporation, in cooperation with the University of Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg was restored with private funds and is run as a private national museum not dependent on government funding.

A libertarian society, based on free enterprise and free from today’s crippling tax burden, would be far wealthier than our society today and thus better able to fund such monuments and landmarks. And the drive to collect the funding for them could unite and inspire the country every bit as much as the actual monuments themselves.

 

Feds Rely on Unreliable Databases to Deport Undocumented Immigrants, Time to Decentralize

in Foreign Policy, Immigration, Liberator Online, National Defense, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Feds Rely on Unreliable Databases to Deport Undocumented Immigrants, Time to Decentralize

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The incoming, as well as the current U.S. presidential administrations, have a lot of common. But how could they not?

ICEIf the President-elect team has its way on implementing its immigration policies, they could look a lot like what has been happening for the past 8 years. Why? Because the new administration could be making use of the same unreliable database to track undocumented immigrants the current administration has been using.

In places like California, where local law enforcement agencies like the Los Angeles Police Department have vowed to say no to the incoming president’s deportation policies have been cooperating with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for years. People deported are often accused of having gang ties, but in many cases, The Intercept suggests, these accusations do not hold true because the information they collect is not always verified.

As these task forces combining federal and local law enforcement become newsworthy again, it’s important to note they have been around since the George W. Bush administration. The program, which is part of the Operation Community Shield, was put in place to identify and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Over the past decade, ICE has arrested 40,000 alleged gang members, but the total number of deportations tied to gang-related crimes has not been released. Nevertheless, 2.5 million people were deported under the current administration in its first six years, a record-breaking number.

Due to the lack of transparency, we do not know how many people actually involved in gangs have been deported or arrested through the deportation program currently in use. Since the data used by law enforcement might be flawed due to the government’s refusal to make it accountable, Peter Bibring, a senior attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California told The Intercept, “it’s irresponsible of the state to be using [California’s database], let alone handing over information to ICE.”

With big government policies like the drug war taking up so many resources, it’s difficult to see how law enforcement is able to manage this type of program effectively. How about decentralizing immigration policies, allowing states to apply their own rules by allowing states to become immigration policy laboratories, helping to reduce the burden on the taxpayer?

After all, it’s time to stop pretending the federal government has a say in who an employer can and cannot hire. Let states handle actual crime, pass their own immigration laws, and finally, put an end to the drug war so this type of problem does not continue to impose a greater burden on a nation already drowned in debt.

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