- Half Of US Counties Haven’t Recovered From The Recession
- If You Think Communism Is Bad For People, Check Out What It Did To The Environment
- Democrats On Hillary Hit List: Please Don’t Hurt Us
- Joe Scarborough Violating Network Rules
- Yeah, We Are A Banana Republic
- Criminal Charges Not Expect In IRS Probe
- 50 Years Later, A Permanent Underclass
- 6-Year Itch Could Fortify GOP Grip In The House
- It Looks Like Those Brosurance Campaigns Weren’t All That Successful
- Israeli Defense Minister: “The US Security Plan Presented To Us Not Worth The Paper It Is Written On
- Oh, Now I Remember Why We Supported The Egyptian Military Dictatorship For Decades
- Obamacare Spanish Website Written In Spanglish
- Demographic Disaster, Obamacare’s Missing Young Adults
- Senate Republicans Make New Offer On Jobless Benefits
- I Guess She Both Won And Lost This Argument
Steven Levy writes: My expectations were low when I asked the National Security Agency to cooperate with my story on the impact of Edward Snowden’s leaks on the tech industry. During the 1990s, I had been working on a book, Crypto, which dove deep into cryptography policy, and it took me years — years! — to get an interview with an employee crucial to my narrative. I couldn’t quote him, but he provided invaluable background on the Clipper Chip, an ill-fated NSA encryption runaround that purported to strike a balance between protecting personal privacy and maintaining national security.
Oh, and I was not permitted to interview my Crypto source at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. I was crushed; I had grown obsessed with the vaunted triple fence surrounding the restricted area and had climactic hopes that I’d get inside. Instead, the meet occurred just outside the headquarters’ heavily guarded perimeter, at the National Cryptologic Museum. (I did buy a cool NSA umbrella in the gift shop.)
This time around, the NSA’s initial comeback was discouraging. The public relations person suggested that perhaps some unidentified officials could provide written responses to a few questions I submitted. A bit later, an agency rep indicated there was the possibility of a phone conversation. But then, rather suddenly, I was asked if I would be interested in an actual visit to meet with a few key officials. And could I do it… later that week?
Over at NRO, Chris Beach & Alison Howard write: Here’s a New Year’s prediction guaranteed to last longer than your new gym membership: 2014 will be the year of the millennial revolt. It will be the year that a majority of millennials become disillusioned with their allegiance to today’s liberal movement and look elsewhere for political relevance.
The shift is already under way. According to a December survey of millennials published by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, young Americans are turning on the president, his health-care law, the NSA’s domestic surveillance, and the political system in general. Only 41 percent of millennials approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 54 percent disapprove. A meager 38 percent approve of Obamacare, and 57 percent disapprove.
In many ways, the Obama administration has brought this upon itself, through its policies and its juvenile and patronizing outreach to millennials.
Patents and copyrights are government monopoly grants with nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism.
Sheldon Richman writes: The modern libertarian case against so-called intellectual property (IP) has been building steadily since the late 1980s, when I first encountered it. Since then, an impressive volume of work has been produced from many perspectives: economics, political economy, sociology, moral and political philosophy, history, and no doubt more. It is indeed a case to be reckoned with. (Roderick Long has put together a web page with links to some of the best anti-IP material written over the last quarter century. My own contributions include “Patent Nonsense,” “Intellectual ‘Property’ Versus Real Property” and “Slave Labor and Intellectual Property.” A brief spontaneous debate that I participated in is here.)
I won’t try to recap the whole case here, but I do want to answer a question that will occur to many advocates of liberty: How can someone who supports property rights in physical objects deny property rights in intellectual products, such as the useful application of scientific principles or patterns of words, musical tones, or colors? Suffice it here to quote from “Patent Nonsense”:
There is a distinction between physical objects and ideas that is crucial to the property question. Two or more people cannot use the same pair of socks at the same time and in the same respect, but they can use the same idea — or if not the same idea, ideas with the same content. That tangible objects are scarce and finite accounts for the emergence of property rights in civilization. Considering the nature of human beings and the physical world they inhabit, if individuals are to flourish in society they need rules regarding thine and mine. But “ideal objects” are not bound by the same restrictions. Ideas can be multiplied infinitely and almost costlessly; they can be used nonrivalrously.
If I articulate an idea in front of other people, each now has his own “copy.” Yet I retain mine. However the others use their copies, it is hard to see how they have committed an injustice.
Practices respectful of private property in physical objects and land emerged spontaneously over millennia, embedded in customs that served to avert conflict in order to create space within which social beings could flourish. (See John Hasnas’s “Toward a Theory of Empirical Natural Rights” [PDF].)
In contrast, “rights” in ideas — patents and copyrights — were government monopoly grants having nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism. In fact, such artificial rights undermine genuine property by authorizing IP holders to enlist government power to stop other people from using their justly acquired resources and ideas. For example, if Jones (having committed no trespass) observes Smith’s invention or artistic creation, Jones could be legally stopped from using his own physical property in conjunction with ideas obtained through that observation. That sure looks as though IP bestows on Smith purported rights over Jones’s tangible property and even Jones himself. One might ask, Isn’t the idea Smith’s? But I can’t see how an idea in Jones’s mind can possibly be Smith’s, even if Smith had it first — unless Smith owns Jones, an unlibertarian notion indeed.
Regulation, taxes and debt knock the U.S. out of the world’s top 10
Terry Miller writes: World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.
For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.
Depp May Join Marvel’s Superhero Universe
Sources have told Latino Review that the Mouse House’s main man is in very early discussions with Marvel to take on the role of eccentric magician Steven Strange in “Doctor Strange,” which the company has long been developing as a solo pic to join the ranks of its “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “Captain America” franchises. “Ant-Man” is another character it hopes to launch in 2015 as a standalone franchise around one of the comicbook company’s heroes.
While it makes sense that Marvel would want to have a conversation with Depp over how it could launch a new franchise with the thesp, sources tell Variety that such talks have yet to take place and any possibility of such a pairing is premature.
The acuity of TJ Clark’s thought, allied to his sweeping breadth of reference, makes him the ideal interrogator of Picasso, argues John Banville
For The Irish Times, John Banville writes: At the heart of this wonderful book there is a telling passage in which the author quotes Picasso remarking to a friend that he preferred his painting The Three Dancers of 1925 to the later and more publicly ambitious Guernica.
“It [the Dancers] was painted as a picture, without ulterior motive,” Picasso said. Clark finds this puzzling, and wonders if the painter meant that “the work happened essentially without him”, and calls to his aid Rimbaud on alienation from the self. Surely, however, the matter is simple. The Three Dancers is a fearsome, indeed a savage, work, but it is pure painting; Guernica, for all its violence and power, was intended as a political statement as well as a work of art, and for that reason it is, essentially, kitsch.
One does not lightly lay such a charge against one of the modern world’s most revered cultural artefacts. However, artists of Picasso’s type, few though they be, are always in danger of imagining that because they have achieved critical success and earned much money and fame, they must have profound things to say about the public life of their times. The inevitable result is either fatuity or bombast, or both. Georges Braque, co-deliverer with Picasso of the coup de grâce to traditional European painting, summed up the matter when he was asked in old age for his opinion of his friend and said, “Pablo? Oh, Pablo used to be a good painter; now he’s just a genius.”
Michael Anissimov writes: Cannabis has been legalized in Washington state and Colorado, causing apprehension among some on the right. Last August, Newt Gingrich said that general legalization would be a “huge mistake.” Chris Christie has long shown his disdain for medical marijuana, saying of a proposed law in its favor, “Here’s what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances.”
Emily Miller at the Washington Times wrote recently that activists are “totally uneducated’ about the “severe consequences” of smoking cannabis, writing that it is “simply a toxin” which is “more similar to heroin and cocaine than alcohol in how it affects the body.”
On the other side of the issue, a number of Republicans have stepped forward in favor of legalizing marijuana. Rush Limbaugh admits that he used cannabis during his recovery from opiate addiction and says that the legalization of marijuana is “a great issue” for the GOP. Pat Robertson is famously in favor of legalization, saying “this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
In California, a majority now supports legalization, and a new law in favor of legalization is being floated. Now that support for legalization is rising nationwide, the right needs to ask itself: are we in support of legalization, or not?
The critics of marijuana legalization have trouble getting their arguments straight, and oppose it based on a visceral cultural revulsion, rather than science or reason. There is no scientific evidence that marijuana is “similar to heroin and cocaine.” If anything, it is more similar to caffeine — the effects rarely last longer than 2-3 hours, and are extremely mild. The majority of users use it only occasionally, and daily addicts — if true addiction is even possible, which seems doubtful due to the way that marijuana works in the brain — will be able to get it on the black market anyway.
Alcohol causes 75,000 deaths per year, cannabis causes zero.
‘RED FRIDAY’ – The Non-Communist Version: Discount-Crazed Shoppers Rush China’s Apple Stores for Wonderful Capitalist GoodiesPosted: January 14, 2014
“It’s like a refuge camp!” wrote Jason Ng, who tweeted this photo from Hong Kong
Rio Mints: ‘Surprisingly fruity’, as this Ogilvy & Mather spot shows.
Factoids about this ad from bestadsontv.com
Confectionery & snacks
Synergy Distribution Ltd
Ogilvy & Mather Group, HK
Lions have been replaced by firing squads and concentration camps as record numbers of Jesus’ worshipers are persecuted from Syria to North Korea.
Kirsten Powers writes: The concept of Christian martyrdom may seem like something from a bygone, uncivilized era when believers were mercilessly thrown to the lions. Not so. This week, Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, reported that Christian martyrdom has grown into a pervasive and horrifying human rights crisis.
In their annual report of the worst 50 countries for Christian persecution, Open Doors found that Christian martyr deaths around the globe doubled in 2013. Their report documented 2,123 killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. In Syria alone, there were 1,213 such deaths last year. In addition to losing their lives, Christians around the world continue to suffer discrimination, imprisonment, harassment, sexual assaults, and expulsion from countries merely for practicing their faith.
Beijing news has a unique multi-page feature with rare illustrations, photos, and informative texts about the history of tobacco in China. The images load slowly (mileage may vary) but it’s worth every moment. Here’s a sample:
China’s anti-smoking movement was first recorded in 1639, when Ming Dynasty (AD 1368－1644) Emperor Chongzhen issued a national ban on tobacco and stipulated that tobacco addicts be executed. In 1637, Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911) Emperor Kangxi expanded the death penalty to those who possess tobacco.
Advertisements featuring fashionable courtesans, or sing-song girls of Shanghai around the 1920s testified that the imported habit was trendy in what was then one of Asia’s biggest cities.
A. Barton Hinkle writes: Baptists do not abide drunkenness, which is why (it has been said) they never recognize one another in the liquor store. In much the same vein, Virginia will not abide gambling.
Gaming and the laying of odds, however, are another matter.
Gambling is a low and dirty act that starts in cupidity and ends in crime, bankruptcy and broken homes—or at least so say its foes, as they have been saying for centuries. As early as 1727, Virginia adopted the Statute of Anne—which rendered gambling debts unenforceable—and in 1744 the colony prohibited gambling in public places altogether.
Such attitudes linger today. Thirty-nine states have some form of casino gambling, but Virginia is not one of them, noted a Washington Post article a little while ago. The story quoted Richard Saslaw, the Democratic leader in the state Senate: “Forty-nine states will have it before we get it,” he said before adding, “maybe 48” — a nod to Utah’s Mormon ways. Small chance, then, that Sen. Louise Lucas’ proposal will win approval. She wants to introduce casino gambling to Hampton Roads.
Yet if gambling as an end in itself is an outrage against decency in the state’s eyes, then wagering as a means to other ends is something else altogether. Thus the state runs a hugely successful lottery. And like all those in the numbers racket, Virginia’s “house” fixes the odds in its own favor: Last year alone, the state raked in nearly half a billion from suckers who played its games of chance and lost.
But the official line denies that this constitutes gambling. It is, rather, government-provided “fun”—and it raises money for the schools! One hundred percent of the state’s proceeds go to Virginia’s K-12 education system, the lottery website notes. (It does not note that this transfer thereby frees up money for lawmakers to spend on other things.)
The price of choice-grade U.S. beef at wholesale set a new record on Thursday as already tight supplies were further squeezed by harsh weather that reduced the number of cattle that came to market in parts of the country, analysts said.
Select beef cuts on Thursday also marked a fresh record high for a fifth straight day.
Choice beef typically has more “marbling” or fat, making it juicier and more tender than select-graded beef.
The day’s wholesale price, or cutout, for choice beef hit $212.05 per hundredweight (cwt), eclipsing the previous May, 2013 record of $211.37, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ken Klukowski writes: On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding whether President Barack Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are unconstitutional. The case will probably be a lopsided defeat for the president, with his own Supreme Court appointees expressing deep skepticism of the Justice Department‘s arguments.
If the Court goes the route it signaled during argument, all the rulings and regulations from that powerful body over a period of a couple years will be declared illegal, at least temporarily until a new Board can reconsider them.
Check out today’s episode of “Morning Bro,” featuring Matt Lewis, Vince Coglianese, Taylor Bigler and Christopher Bedford.
Mike Orcutt writes: For all the hype around smart glasses, none of them actually look like normal glasses. But Vuzix, which develops wearable display technology for military and industrial applications, plans to change that this summer by releasing a pair of sleek wraparound shades that will let users see colorful images projected over objects in the real world.
Sunglasses made with nanoscale optical technology hint at a near future of inconspicuous head-mounted displays.
Vuzix CEO Paul Travers says his company’s sunglasses will not only be less bulky and obtrusive than Google Glass, they’ll also provide an augmented reality experience that actually resembles the one portrayed in Google’s first promotional video for Glass, in which useful bits of information like navigational cues are displayed in the middle of the wearer’s field of vision. This isn’t possible today with Glass, whose display sits off to the side, above the right eye, and is the visual equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition television seen from eight feet away.
WARNING: Footage contains some disturbing images
Sectarian violence in the Central African Republic has reached a new extreme with an act of cannibalism in the capital, Bangui. The BBC’s Paul Wood has heard a graphic first-person account, which some might find upsetting.
“I ate his leg, the whole thing right down to the bone – with bread. That’s why people call me Mad Dog.”
The buses throwing up clouds of red clay dust had yet to rub out the ugly bloodstain in the dirt. A Muslim man had been murdered here a few days ago, by Christians. His limbs were hacked off. Then one of the crowd ate the flesh in a public demonstration of cannibalism.
We were filming nearby when a young man in a yellow T-shirt came up to talk to me.
“I am the naughty one,” he said in broken French. Puzzled, I shook his hand and was trying to ease past him when I noticed the machete tucked into his skinny jeans. “I am the naughty one,” he repeated.
With a sickening feeling, I realised I was talking to the cannibal.
Camera phones had captured the crime. The pictures show a charred and dismembered body being dragged through the street by a screaming mob. A man held a severed leg and bit down into it.
Forty pantless subway riders, including six women, surprised public transit riders after taking their pants off on the Hong Kong subway as it traveled between Central (中環), North Point (北角) and Kwun Tong (觀塘) before heading back to Central on January 12.Having fun is all that matters. This year Hong Kong joined the the annual No Pants Subway Ride, an event celebrating silliness that began in New York.