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New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

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

New Law Ensures Maine Won’t Help Feds Restrict Gun Owners’ Freedoms

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

Ever since the boom in state-led efforts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, effectively rendering federal laws regarding the substance toothless, many decentralization advocates began urging locals to take up the fight against Washington, D.C., in more active ways. Now, groups across the country have added a series of other victories to their personal records by defying the state and crushing restrictive health care laws, freeing up education requirements in their states, and even making it safer to be a gun owner.

Maine

That’s what Maine lawmakers have just accomplished.

Last week, a bill that prohibits state officials to gather information on firearms and their owners was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. Thanks to this piece of legislation, Maine gun owners’ privacy will be protected and kept from the sticky hands of the feds, who are always looking for a way to put a countrywide registry of gun owners together. Without a far reaching database of firearms and their owners, federal officials are unable to enforce any more restrictive new anti-gun ownership law Washington decides to enact in the future.

House Bill 9 was introduced by Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican from Windham. But what was surprising to many is that the piece of legislation obtained wide support from both sides of the aisle. According to the bill’s wording, the creation of a state firearms registry is now prohibited.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a government agency of this State or a political subdivision of this State may not keep or cause to be kept a comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms within its jurisdiction,” the law now states.

Passed by the state’s House by a 122-24 margin, the bill then headed to the Senate where it passed without any opposition. The piece of legislation was signed on June 12 and it’s scheduled to go into effect 90 days after the Maine legislative session is closed.

Since the federal government relies on information and resources made available by state officials and bureaucracies, passing this law means that the federal government won’t be able to obtain personal information on Maine gun owners anytime soon. By putting an end to any effort that would amount to a gun registry in the state, Maine is igniting a fire that could catch nationwide. In no time, the federal government would have its hands tied, forcing Washington to forego any new efforts to keep an eye on gun owners with the goal of restricting their freedom and violating their 2nd Amendment protections.

Are private schools unfair?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Education, Liberator Online by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Are private schools unfair?

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

Question

I live in England, where the private schools are derided by some, not because they are bad, but because they are thought of as unfairly benefiting the wealthy. I disagree. I believe that, because the offspring is an extension of the parent, he or she gains no unfair advantage — the school simply allows people to gain advantage from their own work. Do you agree?

schools

Answer

I would agree. However, all schools, whether public or private cost many times more in taxes or tuition than is necessary because of government regulations. Without these restrictions, ad-sponsored television programs like Sesame Street, special educational cable stations, Internet courses, and other advances we cannot yet envision could make high-quality education virtually free — for everyone! For details, see Chapter 10 of my book, “Healing Our World,” available from the Advocates for Self-Government.

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

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

Massachusetts Wants To Boost The Marijuana Black Market

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

Massachusetts voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, putting an end to more than a century of prohibition in the region. This Wednesday, the state’s House leaders are going directly against their constituents, advancing a bill that would set the tax on recreational pot to 28 percent, double the amount currently allowed. On top of that, the proposal would also give municipal officials — or bureaucrats — power over which shops and farms can be banned, taking this authority away from local voters.

marijuana

Claiming that this piece of legislation actually better serves voters by protecting public health, safety, and the “best interests of the state,” lawmakers supporting the bill seem to ignore that the measures adopted in its text would have very different real-world consequences.

If the goal here is to boost the illicit marijuana drug market, the mandatory high taxes are enough to do the trick, and if what legislators want is to allow local government officials to be influenced by certain entrepreneurs to keep competitors from establishing shops or farms in certain locations in order to boost their own business, this bill also seems to be the perfect fit. In other words, if what Massachusetts lawmakers see as a victory is nothing but to create an environment where only gangsters and monied pot entrepreneurs are able to succeed, then they have hit the jackpot.

To advocates who have been working to legalize marijuana in the state for years, this bill represents a refusal to embrace what voters have already chosen to see implemented in 2016. Furthermore, they add that increasing taxes on marijuana sales will rise the cost of the final product to the consumer, who may choose to obtain his or her supply of weed from elsewhere.

Knowing consumers won’t buy pot if the cost is too high, many entrepreneurs who already run medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are beginning to reconsider plans to expand their business now that recreational marijuana is legal. But if legitimate businesses are disincentivized from opening their doors, consumers will then be at greater risk of experiencing health issues as they may end up purchasing marijuana in the black market, where products are often moldy or even adulterated.

Instead of protecting voters, lawmakers are making the marijuana market in the state more dangerous by both raising the overall cost of doing business and giving bureaucrats the power to pick and choose who may or may not do business in the state.

Unless lawmakers completely reword the bill, it’s poised to be passed this week before it goes to the Senate. If passed by both chambers, this bill could be signed by Governor Charlie Baker by the end of the month, putting an end to what anti-drug war advocates fought so hard to achieve.

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

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

Obama Era Rule Expansion Could Finally Kill The Fourth Amendment

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

Just before President Barack Obama left office, his administration gave President Donald Trump’s administration the best parting gift a power thirsty official could have asked for: More access to innocent Americans’ private information.

Fourth AmendmentAfter Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on innocent Americans without due process, the country — and the world — learned that the U.S. government prefers to collect the haystack before looking for the needle. As the debate surrounding privacy rights heated up due to this revelation, others dismissed the reports, saying that those who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

As a counterargument, privacy advocates pointed out that officials don’t need to do their jobs correctly to bust someone for a crime they didn’t commit if they have data.

With data, these advocates would explain, officials can tell a story, even if you had nothing to do with a certain crime.

Now, the Trump administration has the power to make use of the data collected by the NSA even more widely, since Obama gave sixteen federal agencies access to the agency’s database.

These agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

While the government says that the collected communications available via the NSA are “masked” to protect the identity of innocent Americans, several government officials have the authority to demand unrestricted access. And what’s worse, Congress is now working hard to expand this information sharing system with a series of other agencies.

Thanks to Rep. John Katko (R-NY), HR 2169, or the Improving Fusion Centers’ Access to Information Act, may change the rules so that more agencies under the DHS control have the same access to NSA’s database, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If flying hadn’t been made nearly unbearable thanks to the sexual harassment that comes along with going through airport security, the TSA is about to get even more invasive by combing through information provided by the NSA and doing what it pleases with it — unless HR 2169 gets booted.

To privacy advocates, this bill would only do more damage to America’s already fragile civil liberties protections. Instead of keeping government officials and workers from having more reasons to abuse their power, this new rule expansion would put more Americans at risk of having their rights violated for entirely new reasons.

If the Fourth Amendment still means anything in this country, it might as well die an agonizing and definite death if Katko’s bill gets to the president’s desk. Are we ready for more TSA and ICE scandals?

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

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

Trump Praises Drug Warrior Duterte, Becoming The First US President To Be Honest About The Drug War’s Perverted Roots

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

Before becoming the president, candidate Donald Trump gave anti-drug war activists a sliver of hope.

DuterteWhen Merry Jane magazine ran an article saying the business mogul was more likely to help legalization advocates, in the long run, it based its argument on his past interviews.

Before running for president, Trump heroically attacked the drug war as a whole, Merry Jane reminded its readers, saying that to win the war, we should put an end to it. Unfortunately, President Trump seems to disagree with business mogul Trump — at least that’s what a recent conversation between him and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte suggests.

During the phone call, Trump allegedly congratulated Duterte on the “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Furthermore, he said, “many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing.”

Unlike the business mogul, President Trump seems taken by excitement with the idea that a country like the Philippines isn’t just slaughtering anyone suspected of being involved in the commerce of drugs. Inspired by their president’s encouragement, many vigilantes and police officers are simply gunning down users and addicts in the streets, sometimes in front of the whole neighborhood and with no due process.

Officially, only a little over 2,000 people in the Philippines have been gunned down by cops this way, but vigilantes appear to also be doing the dirty work so that nobody keeps count. And it’s this type of horrific approach to the drug “problem” that got the U.S. president overjoyed.

In America, killings aren’t happening as often, but thanks to U.S. laws targeting use and commerce of drugs, many otherwise non-violent and productive individuals are wasting their lives away in jail. Perhaps, when Trump shows praise for Duterte, he is only being honest; a  first for a U.S. president ever since the drug war was officially launched by President Richard Nixon.

At the time, the administration claimed the drug war was about an ongoing public health crisis. Later, the crusade became much more violent, with presidents and advocates saying it was all about public safety. As this war became militarized, with surplus equipment from U.S. interventions abroad falling in the hands of local police departments, it also became bloodier. But as these same presidents stood there, defending the war on drugs, they also condemned brutal shows of violence abroad.

As they intervene in foreign countries’ affairs in the name of democracy, they even impose sanctions on countries that impose brutal sentences on alleged criminals. But not once has any of these elected presidents admitted how absolutely immoral, bloody, and insane U.S. drug war truly is.

When Trump congratulates Duterte for doing what we see happening in America fairly regularly, he’s at least showing how sickly perverted politicians and their policies are instead of trying to dress up the anti-drug crusade as a quixotic pursuit for health and safety for all. And for that, Trump deserves praise.

But not his policies or Duterte’s, though. After all, individuals own their bodies and only they have a say in what they will put in it — not bureaucrats or police officers.

 

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

in Drugs, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

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

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Cake is a film that follows the life of a woman after a car accident took the life of her young son and left her with debilitating, chronic pain.

chronic Aniston’s character lives with visible scars, insomnia, and pain so intense that she can barely sit without help. The movie shows her daily struggles with herself and those around her while she tries to come to terms with her new ‘normal.’

One scene sticks out to me as an all-too-familiar example of how big government makes decisions for us in the name of “helping.”

Because Aniston’s pain is constant, she goes through prescription pain pills faster than her refill dates will allow her to get more. And because of the stigma that surrounds chronic pain patients, Aniston’s local pharmacy won’t provide her with her medicine out of the fear that she is misusing her prescriptions to sell them on the street.

Taking matters into her own hands, she convinces her housekeeper to drive her across the border into Mexico to obtain the medication she needs. Because she doesn’t have the prescription needed to claim the medicine at the border, she smuggles it through a false compartment in a statue of St. Jude.

In essence, she’s willing to break the law in order to enhance her quality of life.

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, etc.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver’s license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

In an effort to continue the failed war on drugs, lawmakers are pushing regulations that have unintended consequences, specifically for those who suffer from chronic conditions. More regulations mean more time and money spent on unnecessary doctors visits. And for many, it means making those trips up to 12 times a year or more.

Wouldn’t we be better off if we were able to make our own health decisions with our doctors rather than letting the government make them for us?

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

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

California Deputies Caught Selling Stolen Marijuana On The Side

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

The drug war is a disaster on many levels, especially because it ignores the most basic principle there is, that the individual owns his body and only he has the right to do with it as he pleases.

marijuanaBut the drug war is also a failure when it comes to helping bring an end to violent crime, which stems from the black market created precisely because of the existence of restrictive laws concerning drug commerce and use in the first place.

And as it turns out, the disastrous war on drugs has also failed law enforcement, by giving officers incentives to be corrupt.

In California, two former Kern County deputies pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. What’s worse, they did so by abusing their positions within the law enforcement agency.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Logan August, 30, and Derrick Penney, 34, conspired with an informant for the police to steal marijuana that had been seized during investigations.

Once stolen marijuana was in their hands, August and Penney would then trim it then deliver it to one of their confidential informants who would then sell the stolen property. The proceeds were shared with August and Penney, along with another accomplice.

The instances involving theft and the distribution of marijuana happened more often, officials found, as an additional 25 pounds of marijuana had been stolen by the deputies.

The fact August served as a “peace officer” assigned to a narcotics unit helped, as he spent the period between March and December 2014 participating in marijuana-related operations.

According to the DOJ, he stole marijuana on at least ten separate occasions.

After this embarrassment to Kern County, officers involved in this scheme will spend only 5 years in jail for selling marijuana — not for stealing private property.

When laws meant to make us “safer” end up creating incentives for law enforcers to become criminals, you bet that they are also creating a lot of perverted incentives to those being hunted down by the police.

When government pushes a particular practice or substance into the shadows, they are also giving individuals incentives to distort the markets. Instead of working to beat the competition by providing better services and goods, they resort to simply killing their competitors, literally or figuratively by sabotaging their business. Corrupt law enforcement agents like the two deputies in Kern County saw a way to benefit from it, despite the fact they had sworn to uphold the law at all costs.

Ending the war on drugs is the only way to put an end to this vicious cycle.

 

The Myth Of An Independent FBI Persists, Here’s Why It Matters

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

The Myth Of An Independent FBI Persists, Here’s Why It Matters

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

As the entire world talks about President Donald J. Trump having fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, many call for the current administration and Congress to only allow for a new director who has no ties to either political party. In other words, a true free-thinker whose only concern is to uphold the law of the land.

FBIThey call for a truly “independent” bureau that will “restore public confidence in our law enforcement and government.”

But while they claim that the bureau is — or should be — an independent agency, it operates under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, responding to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. And whether you like it or not, these positions are filled by presidential appointments. Calling the bureau anything but a state agency that responds to those in power is but a feel-good fantasy.

Don’t believe me? So don’t take my word for it. Look at the history of this agency and see for yourself how blatantly ideological this particular law enforcement body has been over the decades.

Looking at the bureau’s inception as we currently know it, ask yourself: Has the bureau been run by individuals without any strong political affiliations and ideologies?

As its first director, the man who made the FBI what it is, J. Edgar Hoover, used the agency’s surveillance power to go after presidents he disliked, waging a war against Americans over their very thoughts. To him, keeping criminals at bay wasn’t enough, as he was determined to undermine the First Amendment to the Constitution at every turn.

Because of his obsession with his work and his vision of what law and order was, many believe he kept tabs on politicians so that he would have bargain power over them — that’s probably why he was never fired.

Does he seem like a trustworthy, independent man whose goal was to simply uphold the Constitution to you?

After Hoover, many other partisan hacks took over the bureau, such as Louis Freeh, a President Bill Clinton appointee who ran the bureau during some of the most controversial periods of its existence.

He was involved in a civil liberties suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that claimed the FBI had abused its power while investigating a short fictional film discussing riots and a military takeover of New York City. But before that in 1993, he was the head of the organization while an investigation into the deadly Waco, Texas compound incident prompted many to say the bureau was covering up evidence that incriminated the government.

Robert Mueller, the American lawyer who served as the FBI director between 2001 and 2013, may have been appointed by President George W. Bush, but he served both under the Republican and President Barack Obama when he tried to make it easier for the FBI to wiretap internet users.

Apparently oblivious of the Fourth Amendment, Mueller hoped to expand a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, that required “phone and broadband network access providers like Verizon and Comcast to make sure they can immediately comply when presented with a court wiretapping order,” the New York Times reported at the time. Mueller wasn’t satisfied with just presenting the proper legal justification for the takeover of a phone or computer, he was also pushing so that the Silicon Valley would be forced to design devices and backdoors that would give officials instant access to users’ technologies.

Needless to say, this man sounds like everything but a trustworthy, “independent” thinker whose only goal is to fight for the protection of common Americans.

Like all of them, Comey was also a partisan hack in the sense that he was never compelled to do the right thing.

As presidential candidate Hillary Clinton struggled to defend her lies regarding her private email server, Comey made himself seem as a Clinton stooge by dropping the investigation after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former president Clinton. But that’s not all, he also lied about U.S. mass surveillance to the American public. So whether you believe his firing was or not justified doesn’t make a difference. What matters is that, for as long as the agency is an arm of the federal government, there’s absolutely no chance that anyone involved with it will have an obligation to be an independent thinker who’s not pressured to meet the expectations of their superiors.

The very fact that Trump fired Comey shows that the FBI director must, in one way or another, please the state — and not the people. So the idea that it is possible for a government agency to achieve an independent status is, by definition, a lost cause.When will we finally realize that?

Boy Suspended After ‘Liking’ Instagram Post Of An Airsoft Gun

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

Boy Suspended After ‘Liking’ Instagram Post Of An Airsoft Gun

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

When the state — and not principles — steer the course of society, changes in predominant political ideologies will always end up leading the way, putting anyone who stands in opposition of the leading narrative in grave danger.

For a young boy in Ohio, that means that his freedom to simply “like” an Instagram photo of a gun made him a pariah.

GunAccording to Fox News, middle school student Zachary Bowling was suspended from Edgewood Middle School after the institution learned his tastes were unsavory according to the powers that be.

According to the suspension notice he received, the school admitted that he had been penalized for “[l]iking a post on social media that indicated potential school violence.”

But the image in question did not portray violence. As a matter of fact, the photograph of a weapon alone could mean a host of things — self-defense and freedom, for instance.

Regardless, Bowling hadn’t event hit the “Like” button to express his approval of an actual gun. Instead, he had liked the photo of an airsoft gun, which is used in a game that eliminates opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets.

Still, Bowling’s parents insist that the boy simply “liked” the picture. He didn’t even comment or recommend the image to anyone else on social media.

“I liked it, scrolling down Instagram at night about 7, 8 o’clock I liked it,” the boy said. “The next morning they called me down [to the office] patted me down and checked me for weapons.”

That’s right. The school was so paranoid that a boy who had liked an airsoft gun could be violent that they even checked him for weapons the next day.

On the same day, parents received an email from the school saying that “school officials were made aware of an alleged threat of a student bringing a gun to school,” which forced them to act. “This morning,” the email continued, “the alleged threat was addressed and we can assure you that all students at Edgewood Middle School are safe and school will continue as normal.”

Claiming that its “zero tolerance” of violent or intimidating behavior by its students as the reason behind the suspension, the school defended its actions when questioned by reporters. Still, they have been unable to explain how “liking” a post of a non-lethal weapon at 7 p.m. while scrolling down your social media counts as intimidating behavior.

What country is this again?

Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

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

Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Have The Money To Go After Medical Marijuana States — But This Reality Could Change

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

The problem with political movements championed by libertarians is that, all too often, these victories are vulnerable.

Lawmakers come and go and so do their positions, prompting the new batch of freshly elected legislators to change the law as soon as a lobbyist is able to convince them that the current situation is “unsustainable.” With this, many rules protecting liberties are lost while others are added to the books. But due to this fluctuating system, it’s hard to keep legislators accountable, especially those who have grown used to Washington, D.C., spending more time with the powerful than with their constituents.

Sessions Under President Barack Obama, nullification advocates pushing for anti-drug war initiatives locally were able to pass a series of bills that helped to ease the federal government’s control over their property and personal choices. With that, a series of states passed medical marijuana laws while a few others legalized recreational weed.

But even as states made their own voices heard, telling the feds they were not their boss, Obama doubled down, breaking records that not even George W. Bush dreamed of breaking. Instead of respecting the states and their residents, the past administration dedicated many resources to go after pot farmers and weed sellers in states where the substance was legal.

With President Donald Trump in the White House, many speculated that things would only get worse, especially after he picked Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as his U.S. Attorney General.

But at least for now, it doesn’t seem that way.

Congress has, at least for the time being, blocked the U.S. Department of Justice from spending any taxpayer money on ventures that would interfere with states and their medical marijuana laws.

With the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, lawmakers made provisions that allow states to carry on with the pursuit of their own medical marijuana rules without the fear that the feds would try to restrict them.

So for now, and ever since 2014, the first year this provision was added to the budget, states are protected from rogue government agencies wanting to go after states for having passed their own medical marijuana laws. Even after Sessions issued a stringent warning saying that “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

So as you can see, working hard for bills to pass so that our liberties are protected is, indeed, very much worth it. The problem is that with each new administration and every new Congress, we run the risk of losing those protections. That’s why it’s important to stay wary — and actively involved. After all, eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

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

New ‘Artificial Womb’ Could Save Frail Babies — If Regulators Allow It

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

Creativity is boundless, and so is the power free and unrestricted markets have to turn needs into accessible goods and services.

Scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have, for the first time ever, created an “artificial womb” that could someday be used to help babies that are born very prematurely.

Womb

While initial tests have only involved fetal lambs, fetal surgeon Alan Flake says they have been “extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model.” If this experiment is successful and they are able to develop a version that would be fit for human use, countless parents across America — and the world — would then have the choice of saving their children from succumbing to certain conditions if they are, for some reason, unable to remain in their mothers’ wombs until the end of their term.

In the study published in the Nature Communications journal, scientists were able to see very premature fetuses develop normally for a month.

“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” the surgeon added.

With the goal of testing the technology on very premature human babies within 3 to 5 years, one can only hope bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way.

According to Medscape, the average length of time a new drug takes to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 12 years. Developers are also estimated to spend $800 million in the process. With this in mind, Medscape adds, “the regulatory process for medical devices is much shorter and, generally, less stringent and costly.” Still, estimations are that the time it takes to have a medical device approved for market distribution is usually 3 to 7 years.

If this technology is ready to be used in humans within the next 5 years, then this technology might only be available to the overall public in over a decade. With the added costs related to the regulatory process, we may also expect that access to the life-saving device might also be restricted.

All in all, if the red tape surrounding life-saving treatments and devices were finally cut for good, the medical field would be much more competitive and, as a result, devices and treatments would be readily available to those in need.

Those who oppose free markets, as you can see, are thus missing out on how they could help save lives.

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

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

Bett Mum: The Woman Who Ended Slavery Long Before Lincoln

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

When libertarians talk about competition in the free market, many think only of competition between providers of goods and services. What they often forget is that, as the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once explained, economics “is about human choice and action.”

SlaveryIn a hampered environment where institutions put in existence long before our conception set the rules, a free individual will often feel overwhelmed by the many restrictions imposed on his or her natural rights. And sometimes in history, many individuals like us were so restricted that they had even lost their claim to self-ownership long before their very birth.

Also in history, we see examples of individuals who, faced with this reality, chose to not abide by it, regardless of the consequences. Their courageous stand for integrity would often spark a fire in others. And, inspired by their peaceful resistance, others would soon follow, offering a competing philosophy that would soon shatter the immoral structure of authoritarianism.

This is what happened to Elizabeth Freeman, or Mum Bett, as many have known her.

The first black slave to file and win a freedom suit in the state of Massachusetts lifted no weapons against her oppressors. After all, she was outnumbered and would have been killed if she had. Instead, she did what she could at the time and headed to court. With that, she effectively ended slavery in the Bay State without spilling one drop of blood.

As she heard that “[a]ll men are born free and equal,” and that they “have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties,” she was suddenly taken by the idea of fighting for these rights.

Reaching out to Theodore Sedgwick, an abolition-minded lawyer, she told him she wasn’t a “dumb critter.” Then proceeded to ask, “won’t the law give me my freedom?”

Sedgwick finally accepted her case, adding Brom, another slave, to the suit.

As the Brom and Bett v. Ashley case was heard in August 1781, the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, making her the first African-American woman to be set free under Massachusetts’ constitution.

The Ashleys even paid her damages.

With her newly gained freedom, Bett changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. She went on to take paid jobs and save enough money to buy her own home, where she later died.

She once defended her search for freedom with the following words:

“Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.”

Thankfully, she was able to finally enjoy this freedom she had been so in love with without waging war over it. And by helping to provide a competing narrative to establishment practices, she helped others see that there were other ways to fight the state without spilling anybody’s blood in the process.

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

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

Drug Lab Scandal Leads To Thousands Of Drug Case Dismissals, But What Does This Prove?

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On Tuesday, the biggest mass dismissal of wrongful convictions took place in a Boston courthouse. As a result, more than 23,000 low-level drug cases were dropped after it was proven that a rogue lab chemist had tainted evidence used to put these people in jail.

LabThis case doesn’t only showcase the tragic and perhaps inherently evil root of immoral laws such as the ones that comprise the U.S. anti-drug effort, it also helps us understand that even the illusion of unaccountability gives people enough incentives to produce poorly, no matter how damaging and nefarious their actions might be.

In this particular case, chemist Annie Dookhan — who worked for a private crime laboratory for ten years and whose co-workers always complained about — finally admitted to falsifying evidence tied to as many as 34,000 cases in 2013. But before then, she spent 10 years in that lab, helping prosecutors put innocent people in jail.

While the former chemist was arrested, she only spent three years in prison — a much shorter sentence than the ones handed to many of those she helped to convict.

But despite pressure to go over the cases impacted by Dookhan years earlier, prosecutors fought for a way to preserve the convictions. Thankfully, in this case, defense lawyers pressed on, helping to bring about 23,000 dismissals.

While Dookhan’s reasoning to have been involved in so many wrong convictions was never made clear, one can surely agree that prosecutors found no harm in accepting results from a chemist with a dubious track record. Why? Because their goal wasn’t to fight for justice but to uphold immoral laws.

When the state has the power to tell a consumer he or she isn’t allowed to do with their bodies what they will, the state also has the power to bend other rules. When not enough people are being convicted of drug-related charges, throwing caution to the wind and fabricating convictions out of thin air isn’t out of the question. With enablers such as Dookhan ready to please, it’s no wonder the number of drug convictions continues to rise, even as the number of overdoses also rise — because the state-sponsored war against drugs has nothing to do with safety but a lot to do with control.

So long as there’s a perverse incentive available, there’s always going to be a willing actor to take part in the show. After all, why would prosecutors go after the origin of the drug trade when they have so much low-hanging fruit at hand?

 

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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

What The United Airlines Fiasco Teaches Us About Monopolies

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The United Airlines fiasco has been all over the news — for a good reason.

A passenger who had already been allowed to take his seat had his face bloodied as police officers were asked to physically remove the man from the plane. The incident had followed what many reported as being an issue with an overbooked flight but later, it was discovered that the man had been picked in a lottery to leave the full flight after United noticed it needed four seats for crew members.

United AirlinesThe passenger in question, David Dao, refused to leave the plane, even after the company offered $800 and a hotel stay to whoever accepted to relinquish their seat, and that’s when the police were called in to “help.”

Many have noted that legally speaking, Dao was in the right and United was in the wrong. But what many are ignoring in this story has to do with how we got to a point where a private organization needs the services of the state police to remove a customer who had not broken his contract.

If United had to compete for its customers in a free, open market, would they have treated any customer this way?

Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute answers that question with an in-depth review of the U.S. airline industry. He explains that, in North America, the four top carriers enjoy 80 percent of the business, putting these four companies in a nearly total control of the domestic flying industry. But that occurs not because these firms form an official, government-backed cartel. Instead, government intervention is so heavy-handed that it provokes an artificial barrier to other airlines, making competition less likely to happen.

Take the U.S. ban on foreign carriers for instance. Because international airlines are not allowed to fly certain point-to-point destinations domestically, only domestic airlines have the privilege of doing so. Economically ignorant politicians defend this policy by saying that this protects American workers and consumers. Unfortunately, this particular protectionist policy has the exact opposite effect, as fewer companies mean fewer options for both job seekers and flyers.

Down the line, as competition is stifled and domestic companies enjoy an artificial monopoly over the industry, the consumer suffers greatly, as the top four carriers are allowed to act erratically and still have a virtual control of the market. With no options but to fly using one of these protected firms, these consumers are then forced to undergo severe mistreatment. In a free market, this type of incident could have destroyed United, but in an environment where protectionism rules, United will suffer for some time before it bounces back up as few companies are able to compete.

Iowa Has Just Become More Gun-Friendly — Here’s Why It Matters

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

Iowa Has Just Become More Gun-Friendly — Here’s Why It Matters

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

As libertarians, it’s often difficult to find reasons to be hopeful when looking at the political process and how state and federal governments often ignore the classical liberal cry for more freedom. But every now and then, small government advocates are able to get certain policies passed locally that help boost, not stifle, freedom. That’s the case with Iowa.

IowaGovernor Terry Branstad has just signed a bill into law making the Hawkeye State one of the friendliest for gun owners.

The new law allows citizens to use weapons if they believe their lives are threatened and to sue local government officials if they refuse to lift restrictions associated with what many call “gun-free zones.”

House File 517 is being called the most “monumental and sweeping piece of gun legislation” in the state’s history by making the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution fully recognized and protected by state officials.

But local Democrats who are also anti-gun advocates have already voiced their contrarian opinions, afraid that the “stand your ground” portion of the new law will result in more cases of gun-related homicides.

They are also concerned that the law essentially criminalizes the creation of gun-free zones, allowing locals to carry guns anywhere they please.

But as many of us know, many of the now infamous shooting sprees have taken place in areas where policies are in place to prevent law-abiding individuals from carrying weapons. As many have pointed out, those who follow the law aren’t the ones more likely to commit crimes. Instead, those who ignore or effectively defy these rules are the ones causing gun-related crimes.

Like many activists have explained after the deadly Orlando slaughter, vulnerable individuals are “sitting ducks” in zones where the Second Amendment doesn’t apply. With its new law in place, Iowa could mitigate the risks associated with gun-related incidents and help its own citizens by allowing law-abiding individuals carrying guns to serve as deterrents to crime.

Instead of the fearful rhetoric that usually follows any pro-gun right measure such as the new Iowa law, what this new development must be accompanied by is the support for the basic principles of self-defense and property rights. After all, even if Democrats had a point when they say that protecting the Second Amendment will lead to more gun deaths, nobody has a right to deter an individual from owning property and from pursuing the defense of their person and property as they see fit. Or are anti-gun advocates unaware that minorities are also entitled to their defense when cornered or threatened by bigots?

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

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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.

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