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Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians – Article by Laura Williams

Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians – Article by Laura Williams

The New Renaissance Hat
Laura Williams
October 28, 2017
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Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, 2017, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the Spanish government with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.

Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the Spanish government weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the federal government, too ready to assume its bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report “The Militarization of America“. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Agency, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens.

Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens.  Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in FergusonBaltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun-control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Are We Fighting Terrorism, Or Creating More Terrorism? – Article by Ron Paul

Are We Fighting Terrorism, Or Creating More Terrorism? – Article by Ron Paul

Ron Paul
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When we think about terrorism, we most often think about the horrors of a Manchester-like attack, where a radicalized suicide bomber went into a concert hall and killed dozens of innocent civilians. It was an inexcusable act of savagery, and it certainly did terrorize the population.

What is less considered are attacks that leave far more civilians dead, happen nearly daily instead of rarely, and produce a constant feeling of terror and dread. The victims are the civilians on the receiving end of US and allied bombs in places like Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Last week alone, US and “coalition” attacks on Syria left more than 200 civilians dead and many hundreds more injured. In fact, even though US intervention in Syria was supposed to protect the population from government attacks, US-led air strikes have killed more civilians over the past month than air strikes of the Assad government. That is like a doctor killing his patient to save him.

Do we really believe we are fighting terrorism by terrorizing innocent civilians overseas? How long until we accept that “collateral damage” is just another word for “murder”?

The one so-called success of the recent G7 summit in Sicily was a general agreement to join together to “fight terrorism.” Have we not been in a “war on terrorism” for the past 16 years? What this really means is more surveillance of innocent civilians, a crackdown on free speech and the Internet, and many more bombs dropped overseas. Will doing more of what we have been doing do the trick? Hardly! After 16 years fighting terrorism, it is even worse than before we started. This can hardly be considered success.

They claim that more government surveillance will keep us safe. But the UK is already the most intrusive surveillance state in the western world. The Manchester bomber was surely on the radar screen. According to press reports, he was known to the British intelligence services, he had traveled and possibly trained in bomb-making in Libya and Syria, his family members warned the authorities that he was dangerous, and he even flew terrorist flags over his house. What more did he need to do to signal that he may be a problem? Yet somehow even in Orwellian UK, the authorities missed all the clues.

But it is even worse than that. The British government actually granted permission for its citizens of Libyan background to travel to Libya and fight alongside al-Qaeda to overthrow Gaddafi. After months of battle and indoctrination, it then welcomed these radicalized citizens back to the UK. And we are supposed to be surprised and shocked that they attack?

The real problem is that both Washington and London are more interested in regime change overseas than any blowback that might come to the rest of us back home. They just do not care about the price we pay for their foreign-policy actions. No grand announcement of new resolve to “fight terrorism” can be successful unless we understand what really causes terrorism. They do not hate us because we are rich and free. They hate us because we are over there, bombing them.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

U.S. Transhumanist Party Support for H.R. 1868, the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 – Post by G. Stolyarov II

U.S. Transhumanist Party Support for H.R. 1868, the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
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The United States Transhumanist Party and Nevada Transhumanist Party support H.R. 1868, the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017, proposed by Rep. Jacky Rosen of Henderson, Nevada.

This bill, if enacted into law, would undo the power recently granted by S.J. Res. 34 for regional-monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell individuals’ private data – including browsing histories – without those individuals’ consent. For more details, read Caleb Chen’s article on Privacy News Online, “Congresswoman Rosen introduces Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017 to reverse S.J. Res. 34”.

Section I of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform states, “The United States Transhumanist Party strongly supports individual privacy and liberty over how to apply technology to one’s personal life. The United States Transhumanist Party holds that each individual should remain completely sovereign in the choice to disclose or not disclose personal activities, preferences, and beliefs within the public sphere. As such, the United States Transhumanist Party opposes all forms of mass surveillance and any intrusion by governmental or private institutions upon non-coercive activities that an individual has chosen to retain within his, her, or its private sphere. However, the United States Transhumanist Party also recognizes that no individuals should be protected from peaceful criticism of any matters that those individuals have chosen to disclose within the sphere of public knowledge and discourse.”

Neither governmental nor private institutions – especially private institutions with coercive monopoly powers granted to them by laws barring or limiting competition – should be permitted to deprive individuals of the choice over whether or not to disclose their personal information.

Individuals’ ownership over their own data and sovereignty over whether or not to disclose any browsing history or other history of online visitation to external entities are essential components of privacy, and we applaud Representative Rosen for her efforts to restore these concepts within United States federal law.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free  by filling out the membership application form here

Welcome Aboard, But First US Marshals Will Scan Your Retina – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Welcome Aboard, But First US Marshals Will Scan Your Retina – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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For some 15 years, airport security has become steadily more invasive. There are ever more checkpoints, ever more requests for documents as you make your way from the airport entrance to the airplane. Passengers adapt to the new changes as they come. But my latest flight to Mexico, originating in Atlanta, presented all passengers with something I had never seen before.

We had already been through boarding pass checks, passport checks, scanners, and pat downs. At the gate, each passenger had already had their tickets scanned and we were all walking on the jet bridge to board. It’s at this point that most people assume that it is all done: finally we can enjoy some sense of normalcy.

This time was different. Halfway down the jetbridge, there was a new layer of security. Two US Marshals, heavily armed and dressed in dystopian-style black regalia, stood next to an upright machine with a glowing green eye. Every passenger, one by one, was told to step on a mat and look into the green scanner. It was scanning our eyes and matching that scan with the passport, which was also scanned (yet again).

Like everyone else, I complied. What was my choice? I guess I could have turned back at the point, decline to take the flight I had paid for, but it would be unclear what would then happen. After standing there for perhaps 8 seconds, the machine gave the go signal and I boarded.

I talked to a few passengers about this and others were just as shaken by the experience. They were reticent even to talk about it, as people tend to be when confronted with something like this.

I couldn’t find anyone who had ever seen something like this before. I wrote friends who travel internationally and none said they had ever seen anything like this.

I will tell you how it made me feel: like a prisoner in my own country. It’s one thing to control who comes into a country. But surveilling and permissioning American citizens as they leave their own country, even as they are about to board, is something else.

Where is the toggle switch that would have told the machine not to let me board, and who controls it? How prone is it to bureaucratic error? What happens to my scan now and who has access to it?

The scene reminded me of movies I’ve seen, like The Hunger Games or 1984. It’s chilling and strange, even deeply alarming to anyone who has ever dreamed of what freedom might be like. It doesn’t look like this.

Why Now?

I’ve searched the web for some evidence that this new practice has been going on for a while and I just didn’t notice. I find nothing about it. I’ve looked to find some new order, maybe leftover from the Obama administration, that is just now being implemented. But I find nothing.

Update: a reader has pointed me to this page at Homeland Security:

As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) border security mission, the agency is deploying new technologies to verify travelers’ identities – both when they arrive and when they leave the United States – by matching a traveler to the document they are presenting. CBP’s goal is to enhance national security and protect a traveler’s identity against theft through the use of biometrics.

Biometric information (such as finger, face, or iris) measures a person’s unique physical characteristics. CBP incorporated fingerprints for biometric identification and verification in 2004, and is now testing facial and iris imaging capabilities to help improve travelers’ identity protection, the integrity of our immigration system, and our national security.

I happened to be on the “one daily flight” that gets exit scanned.

Another change has to do with new rules for Homeland Security just imposed by the Trump administration. They make deportation vastly easier for the government. I have no idea if these rules are the culprit for intensified emigration checks.

What people don’t often consider is that every rule that pertains to immigration ultimately applies to emigration as well. Every rule that government has to treat immigrants a certain way also necessarily applies to citizens as well.

Chandran Kukathas is right when he says that “controlling immigration means controlling everyone.”

Regulating immigration is not just about how people arrive, but about what they do once they have entered a country. It is about controlling how long people stay, where they travel, and what they do. Most of all, it means controlling whether or not and for whom they work (paid or unpaid), what they accept in financial remuneration, and what they must do to remain in employment, for as long as that is permitted. Yet this is not possible without controlling citizens and existing residents, who must be regulated, monitored and policed to make sure that they comply with immigration laws.

To be sure, there might have been some tip off that security officials received that triggered these special measures for this flight only. Maybe they were looking for something, someone, in particular. Maybe this was a one-time thing and will not become routine.

The point is that it happened without any change in the laws or regulations. Whatever the reason, it was some decision made by security. It can happen on any flight for any reason. And who is in charge of making that decision?

On the plane, finally, my mind raced through the deeper history here. Passports as we know them are only a little over a century old. In the late 19th century, the apotheosis of the liberal age, there were no passports. You could travel anywhere in the world through whatever means you could find. Nationalism unleashed by World War I ended that.

And here we are today, with ever more controls, seeming to follow Orwell’s blueprint for how to end whatever practical freedoms we have left. And we are going this way despite the absence of any real crisis, any imminent threat? The driving force seems to be this: our own federal government’s desire to control every aspect of our lives.

Think of it: there might be no getting out of the country without subjecting yourself to this process. It’s a digital Berlin Wall. This is what it means to put “security” ahead of freedom: you get neither.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

A Transhumanist Opinion on Privacy – Article by Ryan Starr

A Transhumanist Opinion on Privacy – Article by Ryan Starr

The New Renaissance HatRyan Starr

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Privacy is a favorite topic of mine. Maintaining individual privacy is a crucial element in free society. Yet there are many who want to invade it for personal or political gain. As our digital fingerprint becomes a part of our notion of self, how do we maintain our personal privacy on an inherently impersonal network of data? Where do we draw that line on what is private, and how do we enforce it? These are questions that are difficult to answer when looking at a short-term perspective. However, if we look further into the probable future, we can create a plan that helps protect the privacy of citizens today and for generations to come. By taking into account the almost certain physical merger of human biology and technology, the answer becomes clear. Our electronic data should be treated as part of our bodily autonomy.

The explosive success of social media has shown that we already view ourselves as partly digital entities. Where we go, what we eat, and who we are with is proudly displayed in cyberspace for eternity. But beyond that we store unique data about ourselves “securely” on the internet. Bank accounts, tax returns, even medical information are filed away on a server somewhere and specifically identified as us. It’s no longer solely what we chose to let people see. We are physical and digital beings, and it is time we view these two sides as one before we take the next step into enhanced humanity.

Subdermal storage of electronic data is here, and its storage capabilities will expand rapidly. Soon we will be able to store a lot more than just access codes for our doors. It is hard to speculate exactly what people will chose to keep stored this way, and there may even come a time when what we see and hear is automatically stored this way. But before we go too far into what will be stored, we must understand how this information is accessed in present time. These implants are currently based in NFC technology. Near-Field Communication is a method of storing and transmitting data wirelessly within a very short distance. Yes, “wireless” is the key word. It means that if I can connect my NFC tag to my smart phone by just waiving my hand close to it (usually within an inch or so), then technically someone else can, too. While current antenna limitations and the discreetness of where a person’s tag is implanted create a highly secure method of storage, advances in technology will eventually make it easier to access the individual. This is why it is urgent we develop a streamlined policy for privacy.

The current Transhumanist position is that personally collected intellectual property, whether stored digitally or organically, is the property of the individual. As such, it should be protected from unauthorized search and download. The current platform also states that each individual has the freedom to enhance their own body as they like so long as it doesn’t negatively impact others. However, it does not specify what qualifies as a negative impact or how to prevent it. Morphological freedom is a double-edged sword. A person can a person enhance their ability to access information on themselves, but they can also use it to access others. It is entirely feasible enhancements will be created that allow a person to hack another. And collecting personal data isn’t the only risk with that. What if the hacking victim has an artificial heart or an implanted insulin pump? The hacker could potentially access the code the medical device is operating with and change or delete it, ultimately leading to death. Another scenario might be hacking into someone’s enhanced sensory abilities. Much like in the novel Ender’s Game, a person can access another to see what they see. This ability can be abused countless ways ranging from government surveillance to sexual voyeurism. While this is still firmly within the realm of science fiction, a transhuman society will need to create laws to protect against these person-to-person invasions of privacy.

Now let’s consider mass data collection. Proximity beacons could easily and cheaply be scattered across stores and cities to function as passive collection points much like overhead cameras are today. Retail stands to gain significantly from this technology, especially if they are allowed access to intimate knowledge about customers. Government intelligence gathering also stands to benefit from this capability. Levels of adrenaline, dopamine, and oxytocin stored for personal health analysis could be taken and paired with location data to put together an invasive picture of how people are feeling in a certain situation. Far more can be learned and exploited when discreetly collected biodata is merged with publicly observable activity.

In my mind, these are concerns that should be addressed sooner than later. If we take the appropriate steps to preserve personal privacy in all domains, we can make a positive impact that will last into the 22nd century.
***
Ryan Starr is the leader of the Transhumanist Party of Colorado. This article was originally published on his blog, and has been republished here with his permission.
The Constitution in the Donald Trump Era – Press Release by Tenth Amendment Center

The Constitution in the Donald Trump Era – Press Release by Tenth Amendment Center

The New Renaissance HatTenth Amendment Center
November 11, 2016
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Contact: Mike Maharrey
Communications Director
O: 213.935.0553
media@tenthamendmentcenter.com
www.tenthamendmentcenter.com
***

The election of Donald Trump has changed the political dynamics in Washington D.C., but it will not fundamentally change our work at the Tenth Amendment Center. We will continue to aggressively fight unconstitutional federal actions with the same vigor we have over the last eight years.

The Tenth Amendment Center was founded in 2006 in opposition to Bush war and surveillance policies. The organization has also worked to support states nullifying federal programs like marijuana prohibition and the Bush-era real ID act.

“Constitutionalists should retch at the mere thought of John Bolton being anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said in response to hearing Trump is considering the Bush-policy architect for Secretary of State.

Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin and Communications Director Mike Maharrey are always available to provide quotes from a constitutional perspective on Trump policy.

Give us a call.

###

The Tenth Amendment Center, based in Los Angeles, seeks to limit federal power through action in the states and education.

59 Policies from One Year of Donald Trump – Article by David Bier

59 Policies from One Year of Donald Trump – Article by David Bier

The New Renaissance Hat
David Bier
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One year ago, Donald Trump thrust his bizarre, erratic, and incomprehensible campaign on the world. Much has been said about Trump’s “rhetoric” during his campaign — the racism, sexism, incivility, and much else besides — but rhetoric is not what makes a Trump administration a unique threat to the country. It is his policy proposals that should receive our closest attention and concern.

Below is a list of 59 “policies,” if you can dignify them with such a title, that Trump has proposed during his campaign. The list drives home how truly frightening a Trump presidency would be for the country and the world. Skimming the surface of Trump’s stream of consciousness brings out some particularly disturbing aspects of his agenda: notably, the way he singles out specific businesses and individuals for targeting by the government, as well as his obsessions with China, Mexico, Muslims, and immigrants.

Perhaps worst of all, Trump’s proposals expose how broad he thinks the powers of the presidency are: virtually infinite. There is never a glimmer of understanding that the government is bound by the Constitution, that the federal government has limited scope and authority, or that president is just one of three equal branches of the federal government.

Instead, it is Trump, and Trump alone, who will transform American laws, government, and society, from the top down. Trump will bomb and invade countries, Trump will steal their oil, Trump will kill deserters, torture suspects, bypass courts, ban Muslims, break treaties, and have the military do things like mass executions with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood — all while getting Americans to say “Merry Christmas” again.

Well, all I can say is Merry Christmas, America. Here’s what the primaries brought us this year.

Bold: attack on individual or business.
Italics: attack on Mexico or China.
Underlined: attack on immigration.

June 2015

1. Make Ford Scrap Expansion Plan in Mexico

August 2015

2. Deport 11 Million Immigrants
3. Triple Number of Deportation Agents
4. Force Cities and States to Help Deport Immigrants
5. Force Mexico to Pay for Wall on US Border
6. Strip US Citizenship from Babies Born to Immigrants

September 2015

7. Use FCC to Fine His Critic, Rich Lowry
8. Place 35% Tariff on Ford Cars Made in Mexico
9. “We Will Break” North American Free Trade Agreement
10. “Government Will Pay” for Health Care for “Everyone”

October 2015

11. Deport Syrian Refugees Legally in the US
12. Soldiers Who Desert Should Be Shot
13. Spend Tens of Billions on Border Wall
14. Keep Troops in Afghanistan

November 2015

15. Kill TPP Free Trade Agreement
16. Get Americans to Say “Merry Christmas”
17. Create Special Deportation Force to Remove Immigrants
18. “Bomb the S***” Out of Syria
19. Close Mosques in the United States
20. Create Database for Muslims
21. Bypass Courts in Mass Deportation Plan

December 2015

22. Restart Warrantless Surveillance, Metadata Collection
23. Kill Family Members of Terrorists
24. Washington Post Is a “Tax Shelter” for Amazon, Jeff Bezos
25. Ban All Muslim Travel to US
26. Shut Down “Parts” of the Internet
27. Issue Executive Order Mandating the Death Penalty for Killing Police

January 2016

28. Impose 45% Tariff on Chinese Products
29. Throw Bowe Bergdhal Out of a Plane in Afghanistan

February 2016

30. Tells Supporters to Knock Out Protesters
31. Use Eminent Domain for Economic Development
32. Tax Carrier-brand Air Conditioners Made in Mexico
33. Force Apple, Tim Cook to Break into iPhone for FBI
34. Keep Obamacare’s Individual Mandate for Health Insurance
35. Praises Mass Executions of Captured Soldiers with Bullets Dipped in Pigs’ Blood
36. Threatens Donor for Giving to Opponent’s Campaign
37. Prosecute Hillary Clinton
38. Proposes “Trade War” with China
39. “Open Up Libel Laws” to Sue Critical Press

March 2016

40. Force Apple to Make iPhones in US, not China
41. Force Military to Follow Illegal Orders
42. Prosecute Ed Snowden for “Spying” for Russia
43. “Torture” Terrorism Suspects
44. Increase Military Spending
45. Steal Iraqis’ Oil
46. “Pause” Legal Immigration
47. Send 20,000 or 30,000 Troops to Middle East
48. Trump Could Envision a Nuclear First Strike
49. Appoint Supreme Court Justice to Investigate Clinton’s Email

April 2016

50. Raise Taxes on the Wealthy

May 2016

51. Threatens Pfizer, Carrier, Ford, and Nabisco With 35% Tariff
52. Increase Minimum Wage
53. “Go After” Amazon for Anti-Trust and Taxes
54. Bomb Libya
55. Threatens “Mexican” Federal Judge Trying His Case

June 2016

56. “Keep Business Out of Mexico”
57. Ban All People from Countries with “History of Terrorism”
58. Surveillance of US Mosques
59. Ban Guns for People on Secret “Watch Lists”

David Bier is an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center. He is an expert on visa reform, border security, and interior enforcement. From 2013 to 2015, he drafted immigration legislation as senior policy advisor for Congressman Raúl Labrador, a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Previously, Mr. Bier was an immigration policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

First They Came For the iPhones… – Article by Ron Paul

First They Came For the iPhones… – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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The FBI tells us that its demand for a back door into the iPhone is all about fighting terrorism, and that it is essential to break in just this one time to find out more about the San Bernardino attack last December. But the truth is they had long sought a way to break Apple’s iPhone encryption and, like 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act, a mass murder provided just the pretext needed. After all, they say, if we are going to be protected from terrorism we have to give up a little of our privacy and liberty. Never mind that government spying on us has not prevented one terrorist attack.

Apple has so far stood up to a federal government’s demand that it force its employees to write a computer program to break into its own product. No doubt Apple CEO Tim Cook understands the damage it would do to his company for the world to know that the US government has a key to supposedly secure iPhones. But the principles at stake are even higher. We have a fundamental right to privacy. We have a fundamental right to go about our daily life without the threat of government surveillance of our activities. We are not East Germany.

Let’s not forget that this new, more secure iPhone was developed partly in response to Ed Snowden’s revelations that the federal government was illegally spying on us. The federal government was caught breaking the law but instead of ending its illegal spying is demanding that private companies make it easier for it to continue.

Last week we also learned that Congress is planning to join the fight against Apple – and us. Members are rushing to set up yet another federal commission to study how our privacy can be violated for false promises of security. Of course they won’t put it that way, but we can be sure that will be the result. Some in Congress are seeking to pass legislation regulating how companies can or cannot encrypt their products. This will suppress the development of new technology and will have a chilling effect on our right to be protected from an intrusive federal government. Any legislation Congress writes limiting encryption will likely be unconstitutional, but unfortunately Congress seldom heeds the Constitution anyway.

When FBI Director James Comey demanded a back door into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, he promised that it was only for this one, extraordinary situation. “The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message,” he said in a statement last week. Testifying before Congress just days later, however, he quickly changed course, telling the Members of the House Intelligence Committee that the court order and Apple’s appeals, “will be instructive for other courts.” Does anyone really believe this will not be considered a precedent-setting case? Does anyone really believe the federal government will not use this technology again and again, with lower and lower thresholds?

According to press reports, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., has 175 iPhones with passcodes that the City of New York wants to access. We can be sure that is only the beginning.

We should support Apple’s refusal to bow to the FBI’s dangerous demands, and we should join forces to defend of our precious liberties without compromise. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

If You Want Security, Pursue Liberty – Article by Ron Paul

If You Want Security, Pursue Liberty – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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Judging by his prime-time speech in early December 2015, the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency will be marked by increased militarism abroad and authoritarianism at home. The centerpiece of the president’s speech was his demand for a new law forbidding anyone on the federal government’s terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. There has never been a mass shooter who was on the terrorist watch list, so this proposal will not increase security. However, it will decrease liberty.

Federal officials can have an American citizen placed on the terrorist watch list based solely on their suspicions that the individual might be involved in terrorist activity. Individuals placed on the list are not informed that they have been labeled as suspected terrorists, much less given an opportunity to challenge that designation, until a Transportation Security Administration agent stops them from boarding a plane.

Individuals can be placed on the list if their Facebook or Twitter posts seem “suspicious” to a federal agent. You can also be placed on the list if your behavior somehow suggests that you are a “representative” of a terrorist group (even if you have no associations with any terrorist organizations). Individuals can even be put on the list because the FBI wants to interview them about friends or family members!

Thousands of Americans, including several members of Congress and many employees of the Department of Homeland Security, have been mistakenly placed on the terrorist watch list. Some Americans are placed on the list because they happen to have the same names as terrorist suspects. Those mistakenly placed on the terrorist watch list must go through a lengthy “redress” process to clear their names.

It is likely that some Americans are on the list solely because of their political views and activities. Anyone who doubts this should consider the long history of federal agencies, such as the IRS and the FBI, using their power to harass political movements that challenge the status quo. Are the American people really so desperate for the illusion of security that they will support a law that results in some Americans losing their Second Amendment rights because of a bureaucratic error or because of their political beliefs?

President Obama is also preparing an executive order expanding the federal background check system. Expanding background checks will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals or terrorists. However, it will make obtaining a firearm more difficult for those needing, for example, to defend themselves against abusive spouses.

Sadly, many who understand that new gun-control laws will leave us less free and less safe support expanding the surveillance state. Like those promoting gun control, people calling for expanded surveillance do not let facts deter their efforts to take more of our liberties. There is no evidence that mass surveillance has prevented even one terrorist attack.

France’s mass-surveillance system is much more widespread and intrusive than ours. Yet it failed to prevent the recent attacks. France’s gun-control laws, which are much more restrictive than ours, not only failed to keep guns out of the hands of their attackers, they left victims defenseless. It is thus amazing that many American politicians want to make us more like France by taking away our Second and Fourth Amendment rights.

Expanding the federal government’s power will not increase our safety; it will only diminish our freedom. Americans will have neither liberty nor security until they abandon the fantasy that the US government can provide economic security, personal security, and global security.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

A Multifaceted Strategy to Defeat ISIS – Article by G. Stolyarov II

A Multifaceted Strategy to Defeat ISIS – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
November 15, 2015
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The recent slaughters of hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, in Ankara, in Beirut, and aboard the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 illustrate without a shadow of doubt that the threat from the barbaric sect known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State cannot be contained within the Middle East. ISIS is an enemy of humanity, decency, and Western civilization. It will continue killing completely peaceful civilians of Western nations, both in their home countries and abroad, in gruesome ways. ISIS is a cancer upon humanity, and it will continue to metastasize and inflict damage until it is either eradicated or until it completely kills its host. Like cancer, ISIS cannot coexist with a healthy humankind. This cancerous “Islamic State” should be eradicated using the resources of any willing parties.

Now is the time to put aside petty rivalries, animosities, and power politics among advanced nations. All of Western civilization – indeed, the entire world – needs to stand with the people of France and recoil at the atrocities perpetrated against the victims of the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015. There can be no excuses and no apologies for the perpetrators. Anti-modern fundamentalist savagery must be condemned, and the innocent should be mourned. Western civilization needs to send a unified signal that it will have no tolerance for murderous intolerance.

eiffel-tower-303341_1280A concerted, multifaceted strategy is needed to eliminate ISIS while preserving the Enlightenment values which ISIS threatens: liberty, humanism, secularism, tolerance, and progress. No single measure will succeed in solving this dire problem, but a combination of approaches can dramatically reverse the current predicament of Western civilization suffering setback after setback due to the rampages of a relatively small group of barbarians. The representatives of Western civilization should mount a decisive, unapologetic response that not only physically destroys ISIS but also eliminates the societal, economic, and cultural preconditions for its emergence.

If I had the ability to set the United States’ policy for eliminating the ISIS menace, I would institute the measures described below as expeditiously as possible. I estimate that, within approximately one year of the implementation of these measures, ISIS would be completely destroyed, and the probability of any successor organizations emerging would be rendered negligible through the continued application of these approaches.

(1) Setting Aside Foreign-Policy Differences: ISIS threatens everyone – citizens of France, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the United States, to name just a few. Now is the time to pursue complete cooperation among the governments of countries which have a compelling interest to eradicate ISIS. To achieve such cooperation, the United States government should send a strong signal that all other foreign-policy differences are relatively unimportant and will be overlooked. For instance, with regard to Russia, the United States should openly renounce all strategic ambitions in Ukraine and all intentions to depose the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The cessation of the demonization of Russia over the Ukrainian civil war (where there is truly no good side) would serve as a major sign to Vladimir Putin of the United States’ goodwill and desire to collaborate on a true existential threat to Western civilization. As for Assad, he – for all of his despicably dictatorial behavior – is an enemy of ISIS, and ISIS would not have emerged had the United States not previously funneled weapons and training to anti-Assad rebels, who either were quickly overwhelmed by the more ruthless ISIS or themselves joined ISIS. For ISIS to be eradicated, Syria’s civil war must end, and peace and order must be restored. Assad may be a dictator, but he does not instigate hostage-takings and mass murders in European cities. Likewise, the United States government should welcome support from Iran in combating the ISIS presence within Iraq. ISIS is a fanatically intolerant Sunni Muslim sect that poses as much of a threat to the Shiite Muslim theocracy of Iran as it does to non-Muslim “infidel” Westerners. A collaborative effort to defeat ISIS would also help to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran by demonstrating to the Iranian regime that the United States does not have imminent intentions to “preemptively” attack Iran out of the (largely unfounded) fear of the continued development of Iran’s nuclear program.

2000px-France_Flag_Map.svg(2) Targeted Multinational Expeditionary Force: It is possible that France will invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which pledges other members of NATO to come to its defense as a result of the attack by ISIS against French civilians on French soil. While I question the wisdom of the continuation of the NATO arrangement generally, it may be useful for achieving a coordinated response to the ISIS threat in particular. Furthermore, all willing non-NATO powers, including Russia and China, should be invited to take part in the response. ISIS has murdered citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Turkey, Russia, and many other countries. Every country can claim with some justification that ISIS is waging war upon its people.

The key for a successful international response against ISIS is to target the response against the actual, known members of ISIS and to minimize damage to innocent civilians. Instead of indiscriminate aerial bombing campaigns or conventional military offensives, a far superior tactic would be to assemble multinational teams of highly trained commandos who would infiltrate key ISIS bases and assassinate the leaders of ISIS, while also sabotaging ISIS’s logistical systems and preventing ISIS from obtaining weaponry and other materiel required for continuing military operations. No civilians should be caught in the crossfire. Instead, the multinational commando teams should actively recruit local residents, who are suffering under the yoke of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, into auxiliary roles. The support of locals could assist with obtaining more reliable on-the-ground intelligence and also in building goodwill for the ouster of ISIS from the communities it currently terrorizes.

While this expeditionary force should be completely friendly to local civilians, it should be completely merciless toward any ISIS fighters. Anyone who has fought and killed on ISIS’s behalf has renounced his right to life by depriving others of their lives in horrific ways. The expeditionary force should be authorized to execute confirmed ISIS fighters, but not to torture or humiliate them. This restraint from savage behavior would illustrate the stark moral contrast between the West and ISIS. ISIS has engaged in outrageous acts of perversion – essentially committing every type of violation of human beings imaginable. The West needs to show that its representatives will only use deadly violence in retaliation and only against those who initiated its use – and even then in a surgical, professional manner necessary to eliminate the threat but to go no further. Moreover, anyone who provides physical support to ISIS but does not directly perpetrate violence, should be arrested and subjected to an on-the-ground military tribunal aimed at procuring a swift determination of guilt or innocence and a proportional punishment in the event of guilt – instead of the prolonged limbo that has characterized American detention facilities of terrorism suspects in the past.

(3) Replacing Bombs with Information: The drone killings perpetrated by the Obama administration during this decade have inflamed the ire of anti-Western militants and have radicalized large segments of the Middle East in reaction to indiscriminate killings of civilians via “signature strikes” that presuppose that any men in their prime are terrorist militants. The problem is not with the drone technology, but rather with the payload that it carries. If bombs and missiles are replaced with informational leaflets, USB drives, and small samples of the material abundance of Western civilization, then this more benevolent use of drones can help convince Middle Eastern residents that ISIS is the path toward suffering, whereas embracing modernity and Western values would be the path toward universal prosperity and happiness. The more Middle Eastern residents find out about Western technologies, philosophies, and opportunities made available within a free, tolerant, hyper-pluralistic society, the less inclined they will be to embrace a Dark-Age mentality of brutally enforced homogeneity.

(4) Elimination of Indiscriminate Surveillance; Escalation of Targeted Surveillance: The indiscriminate electronic surveillance perpetrated by Western governments – particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom – against their own populations, has clearly not helped to prevent murderous terrorist attacks. Instead, surveilling everyone not only grossly violates individual liberty, but also dissipates the limited resources that could more effectively be prioritized toward known troublemakers. All mass surveillance should cease, but efforts at sophisticated, targeted surveillance of individual terrorism suspects should be escalated. The surveillance itself can be sufficiently surgical as to be non-intrusive to the daily lives of those being surveilled, as long as no imminent threat exists, but should enable a swift response if any plans to do harm are discovered. Surveillance should be focused exclusively on the following categories of individuals: (1) those known to have organizational ties with ISIS, al-Qaeda, or other Islamist terrorist groups; (2) those who, in any medium, espouse militant Islamic fundamentalist views, including anyone who asserts that it is acceptable to kill in the name of Islam; and/or (3) those who originate from majority-Muslim countries and have violent criminal records. This targeted surveillance would not constitute racial or religious profiling, since all peaceful and respectable Muslims (those whose views are compatible with modern Western civilization), as well as peaceful non-Muslim emigrants from majority-Muslim countries, would be spared any surveillance. However, any Islamic fundamentalist who believes in the acceptability of religiously motivated killings, as well as any person connected to the terrorist organizations or known to have committed violent crime that might have any relation to Islamist convictions or influences, should be subjected to additional scrutiny to enable the development of an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the sources of risk facing the Western world. Most importantly, it is time to jettison the political correctness that subjects any non-Muslims to this preemptive surveillance. The threat is one of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Non-Muslims are not part of the threat by definition and could not possibly be allies or associates of ISIS. Emphatically, this is not to say that all Muslims are part of the threat; rather, it is simply to recognize that surveilling non-Muslims is a waste of resources as well as a hyper-intrusive violation of the liberties of completely innocent people. The following diagram illustrates the simple insight that could channel limited surveillance capabilities toward detecting actual threats.

Diagram of Possible Sources of Threats of Islamist Terrorism

Surveillance_Threat_Diagram(5) Technological and Economic Transformation of the Middle East through Innovation and Freedom of Exchange: Organizations like ISIS are only able to emerge in a deeply backward cultural, societal, and economic environment, where the embrace of violent, totalitarian seventh-century dogmas could appear even remotely attractive to an uneducated populace with miserable future prospects. Only by a fundamental modernizing, Westernizing transformation can the Middle East escape its current status as a fertile breeding ground for violent fundamentalist criminals. Only by seeing the West as a source of enlightenment and economic prosperity can the populations of the Middle East cease viewing ISIS and similar groups as bulwarks against a perceived Western threat. Therefore, Western governments should lift all political barriers to the free flow of goods and ideas between Western and Middle Eastern countries. All sanctions, embargoes, tariffs, and quotas should be abolished, and the way cleared for the import of technologies and products, as well as the establishment of major branches of Western companies in Middle Eastern countries. In particular, emerging technologies that have the potential to vastly alleviate material scarcity should be encouraged. Biotechnology, including genetic modification, is particularly promising in this respect. As futurist B.J. Murphy pointed out, in response to my analogy between ISIS and cancer, “Like cancer, [which] lately we’ve been using gene editing techniques to finally start punching holes into its existence, maybe we’ll begin using those same techniques to effectively combat against ISIS – genetically modified soldiers to fight, genetically modified crops to combat hunger and malnutrition, and a genetically modified ecosystem to combat poverty.” In a strategy that would constitute the opposite of erecting trade barriers, Western governments should become agents of economic liberalization. They should actively pressure Middle Eastern regimes to accept the importation of genetically modified crops and to amend local laws to permit cutting-edge biotechnological research and experimentation. As a pathway toward economic prosperity, majority-Muslim Middle Eastern nations should emulate an outlier in their region – Israel. Despite its relatively tiny size and the near-constant hostilities in its vicinity, Israel has prospered through the tremendous innovativeness and technological capital of its people. It is an example of how to thrive by cultivating an advanced, technologically oriented economy.

(6) Preserving Individual Liberty at Home: The multifaceted efforts to eradicate ISIS should have absolutely no effect on the freedoms and opportunities available to Americans and other residents of Western nations. It is necessary to decisively illustrate just how unlike the totalitarian ideal of ISIS the Western world is. If those who claim that the Islamist fanatics “hate us for our freedoms” have a grain of truth to their statement, then it is all the more imperative to proudly assert those freedoms, instead of suppressing them in the name of “security” or avoiding offense. Western governments should explicitly reaffirm the protection of free speech and the absolute freedom of individuals to engage in anti-religious expression. The US Congress should pass a resolution strongly supporting the right of any individual to “blaspheme” against any religion, for any reason – justified or not. All blasphemy laws in all Western countries should be repealed, and all politicians should take an explicit stand in favor of tolerance for “blasphemous” speech, no matter whom it might offend. As with the shift from mass to targeted surveillance, all screenings at airports, border crossings, and other mass-transit locations should focus away from the general population and toward Islamist fundamentalist fanatics and likely terror suspects. As a result of this refocusing of resources, for every single suspected Islamist plot, a team of police and intelligence experts should be constantly aware of the status of the threat and prepared to launch a sophisticated response with minimal or no disruption to the general public. Everyone else should be enabled to lead peaceful, dignified lives where the government does not violate the physical bodies or private information of the innocent – similar to the situation for most people in Western countries during the late 1990s.

A successful campaign to defeat ISIS would need to achieve a short-term goal and a long-term goal. The short-term goal – the physical eradication of ISIS – can be accomplished within a year if major world powers set aside their foreign-policy differences and deploy a merciless but scrupulously moral expeditionary force, combined with a powerful informational campaign that transforms tools of destruction into vehicles of Enlightenment. The long-term goal is the modernization and Westernization of the Middle East – the emergence of widespread economic prosperity and major technologically driven uplifting of living standards. The secularization of Middle Eastern governments and the development of more tolerant, enlightened variants of Islamic theology – akin to the transformation of Christianity during the 18th-century Enlightenment in the West – should also be encouraged. To achieve this long-term goal, Western civilization must stand proud once more and cease apologizing for its technological, economic, and cultural superiority to the contemporary Middle East. As beneficial side effects of the struggle against ISIS, the Western world might rediscover the values of the Enlightenment that have been so vital to its progress to date – and reapply and disseminate these universally desirable values in a more potent, assertive form. Furthermore, standing united against ISIS will help avoid needless hostilities among the United States, Russia, China, and Iran and thereby strengthen the prospect for peaceful coexistence among all who value it.

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.