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Don’t Retreat on 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Having kicked the debt-ceiling can down the road, Congress is back to grandstanding over the non-economic issues that occupied its time before it was reminded that it hadn’t passed a budget in nearly five years. One of those bizarre discursions is the crusade against Stand Your Ground (“SYG”) laws, which have been blamed for every recent shooting death, most notably that of Trayvon Martin.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), is holding a subcommittee hearing to discuss the issue, while SYG laws remain a tremendously misunderstood part of the debate over criminal-justice reform. Notwithstanding recent efforts to politicize the issue, there’s nothing particularly novel, partisan, or ideological about these laws. All they do is allow people to assert their right to self-defense in certain circumstances without having a “duty to retreat.” The SYG principle has been enshrined in the law of a majority of states — currently more than 30 — for over 150 years.

Notwithstanding recent efforts to politicize the issue, there’s nothing particularly novel, partisan, or ideological about these laws.”

Of the 15 states that have enacted SYG since 2005, a majority were signed by Democratic governors, including Jennifer Granholm, Janet Napolitano, and Kathleen Sebelius. Louisiana and West Virginia passed them with Democratic control of both state houses. Florida’s supposedly controversial law passed the state senate unanimously and split Democrats in the state house. When Illinois strengthened its longstanding SYG law in 2004, state senator Barack Obama joined in unanimous approval. Even in more restrictive states, courts have held that retreat isn’t required at home or when preventing a serious crime.

Indeed, it’s a universal principle that a person can use force when she reasonably believes it’s necessary to defend against an imminent use of unlawful force. Where there’s no duty to retreat, she’s further justified in using deadly force if she reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, or a forcible felony like rape.

It’s not an easy defense to assert, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can shoot first and ask questions later. These laws aren’t a license to be a vigilante. They just protect law-abiding citizens from having to leave a place where they’re allowed to be.

That’s why this debate isn’t new. In ancient Britain, when the deadliest weapons were swords, a duty to retreat greatly reduced blood feuds. British law reflects a “deference to the constabulary,” …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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VIDEO: Glenn “Kane” Jacobs on Our Enemy, the Fed

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

Glenn Jacobs (also known as “Kane,” the professional wrestler) explains why understanding the Federal Reserve System is one of the most important tasks facing Americans.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Paul Appears on Fox's The Kelly File- October 28, 2013

October 29, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Healthcare.gov May Not Work, but the National Security Agency Does

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

When it comes to Healthcare.gov, President Obama and his minions look like the gang that couldn’t code straight. But don’t fear for American ingenuity: Other parts of the federal government remain capable of tremendous technological feats.

In one month in late 2012, for instance, the National Security Agency quietly sucked up data on some 60 million phone calls in Spain, and the agency has had a tap on German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone for years now — all without alerting Obama.

That’s what NSA officials told the Wall Street Journal, anyway: The agency “has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to have briefed him on all of them.”

“These decisions are made at the NSA,” a “senior U.S. official” said.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t take the NSA or the president at their word, but I find this denial fairly plausible. Our post-9/11 surveillance state has grown increasingly inscrutable, expensive and out of control.

As the Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin document in their book, “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” since 9/11, Americans “have shelled out hundreds of billions dollars to turn the machine of government over to defeating terrorism without ever really questioning what they were getting for their money.”

Answers are hard to come by, because the “intelligence-industrial complex” operates behind a veil of secrecy, and because, even at the top, “the officials themselves don’t actually know.”

“I’m going to be honest, I don’t know how many products we produce,” a top intel official admitted to Priest, noting that projects he’d deemed useless lumber on: “‘Like a zombie, it keeps on living,’ the official chuckled.”

“There’s only one entity in the entire universe that has visibility on all SAPs [Special Access Programs] — that’s God,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told Priest. (And, despite what you sometimes hear on MSNBC, Obama is not God.)

Meanwhile, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has just reauthorized the continuing bulk collection of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans’ calling records — a serious privacy risk given how revealing mass metadata can be.

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, New York Republican Rep. Peter King, a serial defender of federal spying, insisted that Obama “should stop apologizing,” because “the NSA has saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States, but in France, Germany and throughout Europe.”

Europe aside, the claim that the NSA has saved “thousands of lives” in the U.S. is …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Looking for Lucre in All the Wrong Places

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

The Obama administration has performed the unique trick of alienating the majority of our most important allies, while at the same time causing America to be viewed as a patsy by its enemies.

The situation is bound to get worse now that the administration has taken the position that most financial institutions outside the United States are conspiring to help Americans and others avoid U.S. taxes and, thus, is attempting to require all of these foreign financial institutions to report to — and, in effect, become agents of — the Internal Revenue Service. A global revolt is brewing against the United States for being an international financial bully. The consequences of this revolt are likely to be extremely damaging and long-lasting to the nation.

If the administration persists with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the prosecution of foreign financial executives, it is in danger of having them pull out trillions of dollars of foreign investment.”

The administration has managed to cause serious damage to relations with our major allies over spying on them, acting as a financial imperialist and being perceived as an unreliable partner. The British, our closest ally, refused to go along with President Obama’s intended attack on Syria. The French agreed to support us, but then Mr. Obama left the French hanging when he suddenly reversed course. The Israelis, the Turks, the Egyptians, the Saudis and others no longer trust us because of our policy reversals. The administration has even managed to offend the mild-mannered Canadians owing of its failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and the bullying of their financial institutions.

The United States has been threatening to criminally indict nonresident foreign bank executives for not complying with U.S. tax law, even in cases when the banks were not operating in this country or violating their own nation’s tax laws. This is causing great resentment, as one would expect. Each country has the right to its own tax and financial-privacy laws, whether the United States agrees or not. Europe and most other countries prohibit capital punishment.

What if other nations started indicting and imprisoning our federal or state government officials, including judges when they traveled outside of the country, for carrying out the death penalty? The point is, if the United States tries to enforce its laws on non-Americans working and living outside of the U.S. for acts that are not criminal in their home countries, it will put all Americans at …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The October Issue of ‘The Free Market’ Is Now Online.

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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This month in The Free Market, Ron Paul discusses his new book on education with the Mises Institute:

The Free Market: Even with all the growth in homeschooling, the vast majority of students still go to public schools. So is it possible to make a difference with so many still receiving conventional, state directed education?

Ron Paul: We don’t need to convince everyone. Most people take no interest in the issues that drive you and me. We need to persuade a dedicated minority. We need to reach the intellectual leaders of tomorrow from our ranks. If even five percent of the American public were truly conversant with the great thinkers and classics of the freedom philosophy, it would be a very, very different situation.

Hunt Tooley examines the American establishment’s ideal Secretary of State:

Our ideal man—and they are all males—would definitely be in the Council on Foreign Relations (after 1922). After having served for three or four years as Secretary of War or Defense, our man will go back to “business,” almost certainly investment banking. (This is true in nearly every case, even for those who were not bankers before.) He would also maintain extensive board memberships, consultative positions, and other connections to the arms industry. And he would be connected with the worlds of both government task forces and the great tax-free foundations (Ford Foundation, Rand, etc.) and maintain close connections to Lehman Brothers, Morgan, Jacob Schiff, and Goldman Sachs.

This month also features numerous news items on recent books and new research from Mises Institute scholars, friends, and alumni.

See the full issue here.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Government-Subsidized Water for Some Leads to Shortages for All

October 29, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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In Mises Daily, Ryan McMaken discusses the effects of decades of Federal control over water in the American West:

Water shortages occur in the West not because too many people are flushing their toilets too often, but because agriculture, heavily subsidized through cheap water made possible by the federal government, continues to grow crops in places that would never support agriculture on a similar scale in a free market. Indeed, agriculture uses well over 80 percent of all the water used in Western states, and most of that water is stored, pumped, and diverted using dams, pumps, and aqueducts paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

As a result, growers don’t have to face the real-life costs of transporting water to their farms. They only need consider the subsidized price, which is far below what it would be in a private market. Consequently, water usage for growers across the West is much greater than what it would be were there a functioning market for water in the region.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE