You are browsing the archive for 2014 January 20.

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New Poll: Clear Majority of New Yorkers Support Passing Legislation to Establish Patient Access to Medical Marijuana

January 20, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Patients and Advocates: Now It's Time for the Senate to Pass the Compassionate Care Act

A poll released today by Siena College found that a clear majority of New Yorkers — including 60% of Republicans and 65% of Conservatives — support passing legislation as the best way to “proceed on this issue” of establishing patient access to medical marijuana in New York.

January 20, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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VIDEO: Organized Crime & The Progressions Towards A Single World Fiat Currency

January 20, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

Thorsten Polleit speaks on fiat currency and the state:

Thorsten Polleit, “Organized Crime & The Progressions Towards A Single World Fiat Currency from Property & Freedom Society on Vimeo.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Mises Institute at Google+

January 20, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

If you’re a Google Plus person, be sure to join the other 5,000 readers who are following our updates at our Google+ site.

(Thanks to Chris Rossini.)

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How Housing Regulations Ruin Tenant-Landlord Relations

January 20, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Predrag Rajsic writes in today’s Mises Daily: 

Given the current regulatory environment in Ontario, it is in fact, rational that a landlord provides low quality service to his/her tenants. Why? Because under the current regulatory system, a landlord has minimal to no benefits from providing high quality service. In fact, a landlord may even achieve financial gains by providing low quality service. Ontario is one of the most legislated and bureaucratic regions in the world for tenant-landlord relationship management. Under this regulatory system, landlords are subject to the rent stabilization program and to a plethora of other requirements. This program has at least three main consequences: (1) it reduces the revenue that the landlord has on disposal for providing quality service; (2) it creates excess demand for rental units; (3) it provides incentives for landlords to evict tenants with a longer tenancy history.

The rent stabilization regulations prevent landlords from increasing the rent from year to year by more than a certain percentage. That percentage for the 2014 rent relative to 2013 is 0.8 percent, which is a fraction of the general inflation rate for this year. Rent restrictions applied over a longer period of time suppress rents below the level that would be established on the market in the absence of this regulation

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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It's Time to Remember Martin Luther King, The Radical

January 20, 2014 in Blogs

By Joan Walsh, Salon

As the nation rediscovers poverty, it’s time to replace the safe, airbrushed icon with the revolutionary he was.


When Nelson Mandela died last month, I envied South Africans who had worked alongside him for freedom: Americans haven’t gotten to see many of our icons of justice get that old. My immediate thought was of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated at 39, though Bobby and John Kennedy, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, quickly followed.

But the inescapable image was King. Even if the freedom struggle of the 1960s didn’t end up letting King grow old like Mandela, let alone lead his country as president, it was hard not to compare the two, especially since Mandela so often declared his debt to his younger American ally.

King and Mandela had much in common, but one thing stands out this week: As they were lionized globally, both were deradicalized, pasteurized and homogenized, made safe for mass consumption. Each was in favor of a radical redistribution of global wealth. Each crusaded against poverty and inequality and war. Both did it with an equanimity and ebullience and capacity to forgive and love their enemies that made it easy to canonize them in a secular way. White people love being given the benefit of the doubt and/or being forgiven. I speak from experience.

But now, as the country turns again to issues of income inequality and poverty, and economic populism is said to be having a “moment,” maybe it’s time to remember Dr. King, the radical. The one who died trying to ignite a Poor People’s Movement that he saw as the natural outcome of the civil rights movement. The one who tried to branch out to fight poverty and war, but at least in his lifetime – and so far in ours – didn’t succeed.

* * *

I loved pretty much everything about the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington last year, except how the right got it so wrong. It seemed to be the beginning of a movement to reclaim the real MLK, especially among liberals. King was of course …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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China’s Coming Default

January 20, 2014 in Economics

By David Howden

800px-Shanghai_-_Nanjing_Road

Last June I pointed to four unfortunate facts in the Chinese economy.

1. Overall credit had increased to $23 trillion dollars, up from $9 trillion as recently as 2008.
2. This amount of credit was over 200 percent of GDP, an increase of 75 percentage points in just five years. (By comparison over the same period the United States’ ratio of debt-to-GDP increased by 40 percentage points.
3. The credit rating agency Fitch had downgraded the Chinese government’s debt to AA-.

Most damning if not ominous, though, was the fourth fact:

4. The cost of short-term borrowing (seven-day) on the Shanghai repo market jumped to nearly 11 percent. This was the highest rate since March 2003. (Zerohedge reported the overnight repo rate was as high as 25 percent at the time.)

In writing Deep Freeze: Iceland’s Economic Collapse, my coauthor Philipp Bagus and I observed a similar set of events with regards to Iceland. Artificially low interest rates, and especially short-term interest rates, created an environment of heavy indebtedness. Entrepreneurs borrowed money on very-short-term loans in continual need of rolling over. By financing projects with, e.g., a one-month loan at a very low interest rate, the borrower could finance a long-term project provided the credit market remained liquid and interest rates remained low. Every month he would just borrow back the amount of money to pay off the existing loan. It is somewhat akin to taking out a new credit card to pay off your old balance, which works as long as you have decent credit and the card issuer keeps interest rates low.

At the time I reported that China was on the precipice of a looming bust, the inevitable result of a credit-fueled boom. Like most things, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Chinese state media recently warned that investors may not be repaid by the China Credit Trust Co. when some of its wealth management products mature on January 31, the first day of the Year of the Horse.

You say you’ve never heard of the “China Credit Trust Co.”? It was recently spun off by the world’s largest bank by assets, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. ICBC has recently suggested that it will not compensate investors for losses and that it will not assume any responsibility.

Indeed, writing for Forbes, Gordan Chang reports that “it should be no mystery why this investment, known as “2010 …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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FBI Targets Fans of Popular Hip-Hop Group For Harassment

January 20, 2014 in Blogs

By Alex Kane, AlterNet

The ACLU sues the Feds for labeling fans of Insane Clown Posse a “gang.”


Their devoted fans called Juggalos have been labeled a “gang” by the federal government and harassed by the police.  A concert was canceled because of the label.  Now, the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In early January, the band, along with their lawyers, made the lawsuit announcement, saying that the government had classified their fans as a gang for unwarranted reasons. The band and four of their fans are plaintiffs.

The roots of the lawsuit date back to 2011, when the FBI’s National Intelligence Center issued a report saying that Juggalos are “a loosely organized hybrid gang” that were creeping into communities around the U.S.  The report’s justification for the label was that two alleged Juggalo “associates” beat and robbed a homeless man, and that another Juggalo had shot and wounded two people.

The lawsuit asks that the FBI set aside the 2011 report’s findings, expunge information on the ICP and Juggalos from federal government databases and halt the gathering of intelligence on them without valid facts.

One of the plaintiffs is a California man named Brandon Bradley, who told reporters at the press conference where the suit was announced that he had been harassed by the police because of his tattoos and clothing.  The Detroit-based Metro Times reported that Bradley was “pulled over for jaywalking and forced to pose for multiple photographs of his face, clothes and tattoos.”

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit claims that he was denied enlistment into the Army unless he removed his Juggalo tattoos. Scott Gandy says an Army recruiter informed him that the tattoo markings were “gang-related.” Even after Gandy obscured his tattoos with other tattoos, he was still denied enlistment. 

 

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American Apparel Mannequins Now Have Pubic Hair

January 20, 2014 in Blogs

By Katie McDonough, Salon.com

The stunt is shameless commerce, but it still raises interesting questions about representations of women's body.


An American Apparel store in New York City now has mannequins sporting pubic hair, which is a very American Apparel thing to do, I guess.

American Apparel is a company that makes a lot of money selling clothing modeled by scantily clad (generally thin, often white) women, and being provocative is part of its marketing strategy. Plenty of their models have pubic hair in their advertisements, so the shop’s mannequins are consistent in terms of “brand identity.”

The company also recently stirred a bit of genuinely interesting controversy with a T-shirt collaboration with artist Petra Collins. The shirt featured a line drawing of a woman’s menstruating vagina, which made some people feel very mad and uncomfortable.

Collins shot back at critics with the excellent point that our culture is entirely accepting of images of extreme violence and “readable” representations of women’s sexualized bodies, but balks at an innocuous drawing of a vulva: “… we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state — and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. The graphic on my shirt is a line drawing, too. It’s not even a full-on image.”

So, women have pubic hair; showing it on a mannequin that models underwear arguably makes sense. If we aren’t questioning the preternaturally perky breasts or epic thigh gaps on most mannequins, why single out pubic hair? Diverse and (slightly more) realistic representations of the female form (even statued versions of the female form) can get people talking about the kinds of bodies that our culture celebrates and those that it does not, and that conversation can be a really powerful thing.

But this is American Apparel, a company that aims to stir up controversy in order to make a profit. Not exactly the exemplar of feminist discourse on sexism and representation. So, if the pubic hair is really intended as a more realistic representation of real women (and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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4 Money Grabs Show a Few Rich People Are the Ones Getting Wealthier in America

January 20, 2014 in Blogs

By Paul Buchheit, AlterNet

Only people who already have money can increase their wealth. Conclusion: The system is broken.


It was shown in a recent report that the richest Americans have made millions from their stock holdings since the recession.

It's getting worse. The facts are summarized here, and presented in greater detail at Us Against Greed.

1. Just 13 Americans Made More from Their Investments in 2013 than the Entire SNAP Budget

Some wealthy Americans like to refer to themselves as “makers,” and food stamp recipients as “takers,” even though most of the latter are children, the elderly, or low-wage workers. Many of the top 13 on the Forbes list did not make anything of significance in 2013. Yet by being heavily invested in the stock market they were able to take $80 billion among them, more than a year of food stamps for almost 50 millionpeople.

2. The Richest 400 Took $300 Billion in 2013, Approximately the ENTIRE Safety Net

The total budget for SNAP, WIC (Women, Infants, children), Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Housing is less than the $300 billion 'earned' by the Forbes 400.

3. The Richest 12,000 Families are Estimated to have Each Made $40 Million in the Past Year

The stock market grew by $4.7 trillion in 2013. The richest 1% owns about 38% of all stocks, or about $1.8 trillion of the 2013 gain.

At the lofty levels of the unimaginably rich, the takings of the .1% (120,000 households), and even moreso of the .01% (12,000 households), become progressively greater and greater for the very richest households (unlike their taxes). According to wealth data compiled by Kopczuk and Saez, each member of the elite .01% group owns about 40 times the wealth of an average member of the richest one percent. Assuming that this ratio holds for accumulated 2013 wealth, each of the 12,000 super-rich American families made about $40 million in just one year. This is not an unreasonable conclusion, in light of the average gain of $750 million for each member of the Forbes 400.

4. The Richest 400 Individuals Own …read more

Source: ALTERNET