You are browsing the archive for 2014 June 03.

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Mises Institute President Jeff Deist on the Tom Woods Show

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

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Jeff discusses his years working for Ron Paul, and future plans for the Mises Institute.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's Your World with Neil Cavuto – June 3, 2014

June 3, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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The U.S. Isn't in the Driver's Seat on Climate

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

The U.S. is not in the driver’s seat when it comes to charting the future course of global climate change that may result from carbon dioxide emitted by human activities. That seat is occupied by the world’s developing countries, with large populations seeking to improve their standard of living through better access to energy. The world’s developed countries, like the U.S., have been relegated to the backseat. And like most backseat drivers, they may think that they exert some influence, but mostly they are powerless and annoying.

The U.S. can spin its imaginary steering wheel and stomp on its imaginary brake all it wants, but those actions won’t change the direction or the speed of approach of the climate changes that are to come.”

The U.S. can spin its imaginary steering wheel and stomp on its imaginary brake all it wants, but those actions won’t change the direction or the speed of approach of the climate changes that are to come.

Case in point: The mid-range estimate from the latest United Nations’ climate assessment report is that the earth’s average temperature will rise by about 2.2 degrees Celsius between now and the end of this century. The same computerized climate models used to make those projections indicate that the U.S.’s contribution to that rise is about 0.14 C. But even this minor amount may be an overestimate.

A collection of scientific evidence has been published recently that suggests that these computer models predict too much warming from greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past 25 years, for example, the earth only warmed up about half as much as was predicted to have occurred by the climate models. So the 0.14 C is probably closer to 0.10 C.

That value — one tenth of a degree — is the most climate change that the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency would be able to mitigate even if they were able to eliminate 100 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants and from everything else as well, including cars, trucks, lawnmowers, backyard propane grills, home furnaces, natural gas electrical plants and on and on. No matter how successful they are in reducing emissions, the impact on the weather and the climate from global to local scales, will be scientifically undetectable and environmentally meaningless.

The only way that the EPA’s emissions limits will have any climatic impact at …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Congress Can Stop Federal Medical Marijuana Raids

June 3, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

May 27, 2014

The Daily Caller

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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President Shouldn't Reassure Europe

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

 It was inevitable. The president is going to Europe. He plans to “soothe European friends,” declared the New York Times. He “aims to stress U.S. commitment” to the continent, said the Washington Post.

That’s certainly what the Europeans want to hear. Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski said: “We will have a difficult time getting through the next four or five months without very clear and very determined American leadership.” Naturally, that means “something concrete” rather than just “empty words,” explained Bohdan Szklarski of the University of Warsaw.

For most Europeans, especially in the east, action means the U.S. putting more boots on the ground. Opined Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “They need the physical reassurance.” Reinforcement of the eastern border is required, “and potentially we’ll have to reinforce it for a very long time.”

Defense guarantees should not be distributed for the asking, like candy at Halloween.”

Why?

Yes, Estonia is quaking with fear over potential Russian aggression. Tallin devotes two percent of its GDP to defense.

Latvia is worried about Moscow’s intentions in the aftermath of the latter’s annexation of Crimea. Riga spends .9 percent of its GDP on the military.

Lithuania also has a large ethnic Russian population and is on guard against potential provocations by Vladimir Putin. Vilnius commits .8 percent of its GDP on defense.

Poland may be the country most insistent about the necessity of American troops along its border with Russia. To its credit, Poland has been increasing military outlays, but it still falls short of NATO’s two percent objective. Warsaw spent 1.8 percent last year.

Only Great Britain and Greece joined Estonia in hitting the two percent benchmark, and Greece did so more in response to fellow NATO member Turkey than to Russia. France and Turkey fall short. Germany comes in at 1.3 percent. Italy is at 1.2 percent. Overall NATO hit 1.6 percent last year. America was 4.1 percent. 

Per capita military spending is even more striking. My Cato Institute colleague Chris Preble figured that to be $1,896 for Americans. And $399 for Europeans. A disparity of nearly five to one.

In fact, the Ukraine crisis in part reflects Kiev’s decrepit military. Ukraine devoted less than one percent of GDP to defense, and obviously didn’t spend that limited amount of money well. Although the country wouldn’t ever have had much hope of defeating Russia in a full-scale war, a more potent military could have …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Washington Enables Egypt’s New Dictators

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The Obama administration’s policy toward Egypt is rapidly going from bad to worse. The latest misstep is the decision to sell Cairo 10 Apache attack helicopters. According to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, those powerful aircraft will be used to combat terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula. But Washington will have no control over the Apaches once they’re in the hands of Egyptian generals. Dictatorial regimes notoriously use attack helicopters to intimidate or kill demonstrators who defy their authority.

Given the record that the General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s junta has already amassed, the decision to sell that government such lethal weaponry was especially inappropriate. The Sisi regime has killed hundreds of demonstrators loyal to Mohamed Morsi, the elected president that the military ousted, and its obedient tribunals have imposed death sentences on many hundreds more. Those sentences have followed trials that fail to respect even the most basic features of due process. Credible reports from the BBC also indicate that torture of political prisoners has again become a feature of Egyptian life.

Washington is again showing a willingness to back thuggish dictators, as long as they are friendly to U.S. policy objectives.”

Granted, Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood followers often behaved in an arbitrary and worrisome fashion. Their style of rule was reminiscent of phony democrats such as Vladimir Putin or Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Washington certainly had no obligation to provide aid, financial or otherwise, to the Morsi government. Nor did the United States have an obligation to prevent the Sisi coup from taking place.

But Obama administration officials do have a moral obligation not to make the United States an accomplice in the brutal repression that is now occurring in Egypt. Washington’s conduct has been reprehensible, with the Apache helicopter sale being merely the latest and worst step. U.S. leaders could not even bring themselves to label the Sisi coup a “coup,” and administration officials have described the mass death sentences that Egyptian tribunals have imposed with such tepid terms as “inappropriate.” Key features of U.S. financial aid and military cooperation continue unabated.

Washington still officially clings to the notion that Sisi and his associates are committed to restoring democracy in Egypt. That view is at best fanciful and at worst cynical. A knowledgeable foreign policy colleague of mine visited Egypt in late April and noticed that virtually all media outlets, whether officially government operated or ostensibly under …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ecuador’s Central Bank Announces Unholy Deal with Goldman Sachs

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

ecuador-provinces-map

While gold seems to mostly flow from west to east these days, some of it apparently still flows south to north, according to Bloomberg.  And it flows directly from Ecuador’s central bank into the coffers of Goldman Sachs. Ecuador’s Finance Ministry needs liquidity to cover a projected budget deficit of nearly $5 billion (pikers!) this year, and bond issuances are problematic since a default only 5 years ago.

Here’s some refreshing candor from central bank president Diego Martinez, via an official statement:

“Gold that was not generating any returns in vaults, causing storage costs, now becomes a productive asset that will generate profits,” the central bank said in the statement. “These interventions in the gold market represent the beginning of a new and permanent strategy of active participation by the bank, through purchases, sales and financial operations, that will contribute to the creation of new financial investment opportunities.”

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Light Rail Is the Wrong Choice for Cities

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole

All over the country, cities from Seattle to St. Petersburg are planning or building light-rail lines that are wasteful and inefficient. Thanks to lobbying by government contractors and local politicians hungry for “free” federal dollars, more cost-effective alternatives are forgone in favor of expensive, low-capacity transit.

Proponents misleadingly call these light-rail lines “high-capacity transit.” In fact, the “light” in light rail refers not to weight, but capacity; light rail is, by definition, low-capacity transit.

Rail advocates don’t like to admit it, but buses can carry more people, more comfortably, and to more places, for far less money, than light rail.

Three-car light-rail trains that run in streets can hold up to 450 people, more than any bus. But most light-rail lines can only run about 20 trains per hour, whereas a single bus stop can serve 42 buses per hour. By staggering bus stops, a single street can serve more than 160 buses per hour.

The race to build light rail is a race to waste money.”

With 40 seats and room for about 20 people standing, standard buses operating on city streets can move more than 10,000 people per hour, compared with 9,000 people on light-rail trains. Double-decker buses in use in Las Vegas and other cities can move up to 18,000 people per hour, far more than any light-rail line.

Buses operating on city streets can thus satisfy any level of demand from 40 to 18,000 people per hour with low incremental costs to increase from one level to another. Rails, however, are enormously expensive: where a double-decker bus costs about $650,000, a single light-rail car costs $4.5 million and light-rail tracks cost well over $50 million per mile to install and even more to maintain.

A much higher share of bus riders get to enjoy comfortable seats rather than cling desperately to straphangers. Once buses leave city centers, they can fan out to many neighborhoods, while trains can go only where rails go, forcing most riders to switch to a bus or car to get to their actual destination.

When San Diego built America’s first modern light-rail line in 1981, it spent less than $10 million per mile (about $17 million in today’s dollars). This seemed affordable when compared with heavy rail (subways and elevated), which then cost more than $100 million per mile and today typically cost well over $200 million per mile.

Since 1981, however, light-rail costs have …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Medical Marijuana Patients, Caregivers, and Physicians Outraged as Governor Cuomo Proposes Leaving Patients Behind

June 3, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Comprehensive Legislation is Needed to Relieve Suffering in New York; Research Should Augment, Not Replace, Legislative Solution

Strong Statements from Patients, Caregivers and Physicians Calling on Governor to Support Compassionate Care Act

NEW YORK: Today, the Buffalo News reported on an agreement with Britain-based GW Pharmaceuticals to pursue clinical trials in New York for Epidiolex, a investigational new marijuana-derived drug that is intended for children with severe seizure disorders. The proposal is limited to research studies only, must go through the lengthy FDA-approval process, and would be focused solely on children under 18 years of age with severe seizure disorders who have not responded to other medications.

June 3, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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White House Press Secretary: The Most Nonessential Job in Government

June 3, 2014 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

Back in January 2011, the Obama administration looked to its new press secretary to “smooth over relations” with reporters.

“With Jay Carney at the podium, Obama hopes to reset press relationship,” the Hill reported.

Over three years and 10,000 dodged questions later, it’s clear that scheme worked out about as well as the “reset” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Slate’s Dave Weigel asks an excellent question: “What’s the point of the job Jay Carney’s now leaving?”

What’s the point of the job Jay Carney’s now leaving?”

The press secretary post is “the oldest continuing staff office in the White House,” explains presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, continually occupied since Herbert Hoover appointed the first one, to help him explain his way out of the Great Depression. The point of the job, Kumar suggests, is for the press secretary to serve as an “information conduit … meeting the needs of reporters in order to be an effective spokesperson for the president.”

But if the post ever met those needs, it certainly doesn’t now. As Weigel puts it, “the most public part of [Carney’s] job involved giving non-answers on live TV”; since there’s little reason to expect that to change, “let’s not replace him.” Few reporters would miss the White House press briefing, which has degenerated into a “worthless chore” — especially in an administration as devoted as this one is to choking off information streams it doesn’t control.

“This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered,” says David E. Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, whose career spans five presidencies.

The Obama Team’s obsession with shaping the message extends to visual media as well. In a New York Times oped last December, Santiago Lyon, the Associated Press’s photography director, decried “Obama’s Orwellian Image Control.” Instead of allowing news photographers to take pictures of the president at work, the administration “has systematically tried to bypass the media by releasing a sanitized visual record of his activities through official photographs and videos,” taken by government employees.

“If Vladimir Putin were doing something like that, you guys would mock it,” NBC’s Chuck Todd complained at a press briefing. Actually, “what we have done,” retorted the flack on duty, then-deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, “using technology and the president’s personal photographer, [is] a way to provide additional insight into what’s happening at the White House.” (Earnest has been tapped as Carney’s replacement, and, …read more

Source: OP-EDS