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Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Not the Same Thing

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

U.S. policy makers have demonstrated an unfortunate inability to distinguish between governments or movements whose agendas are confined to local or subregional objectives and those governments or movements that have global ambitions hostile to American interests. That maddening tendency was on display again in the negative reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to trade five imprisoned Taliban leaders for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Critics in Congress and the news media acted as though the administration had released high-level Al Qaeda operatives involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

That reaction continues the trend of conflating the Taliban and Al Qaeda as though the two are organizational conjoined twins. In marked contrast to Washington’s attitude during the first few years after 9/11, when the justification for the U.S.-led military intervention in Afghanistan was to smash Al Qaeda, defeating the Taliban gradually became the primary rationale for continuing the military mission. Al Qaeda is now barely an afterthought in foreign-policy discussions regarding Afghanistan.

Blandly assuming that political movements are automatically components of a large-scale threat directed against America leads to unnecessary U.S. entanglements and missed opportunities for constructive dialogue.”

It is uncertain if the process of conflating the Taliban and Al Qaeda—and making the former the senior partner—was a deliberate “bait and switch” tactic on the part of U.S. leaders or if it merely reflects sloppy thinking, but the result is the same in either case. Al Qaeda is a global terrorist movement with the United States (including the American homeland) as a prominent, if not the primary, target. The Taliban is a Pashtun political movement with a focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan’s largely Pashtun border-region. Its principal adversaries are rival ethnic groups, especially the Uzbek and Tajik forces that made up the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and became crucial supporters of President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Had Mullah Omar’s regime in Kabul not granted Al Qaeda a hospitable sanctuary during the late 1990s, and then refused to turn over AQ leaders to the United States following the 9/11 attacks (citing the obligation of a host not to betray guests), there would have been little reason for Washington to launch a military crusade against the Taliban. True, Taliban rule was a horrific example of brutal religious zealotry; but the world is filled with obnoxious, repressive regimes—including the stifling theocracy in Saudi Arabia. Yet Washington has never …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ron Paul Discusses the Future of the US Dollar

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

In this audio interview, Ron Paul touches on recent developments affecting the value of the dollar, the potential for currency collapse, gold, war, Russia, and more.

The Ron Paul portion begins at 2:30 and ends at 17:30.

(Note: My posting of this video is not an endorsement of any of the advertised products that appear on screen in the course of the interview.)

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Walter Block Interviewed on Libertas Media Project Podcast

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Walter Block

Summary by Luis Rivera:

Podcast host and libertarian, Brian Wilson talks to Walter Block about Defending The Undefendable II, “thick libertarians,” and recent articles written by Dr. Block on LewRockwell.com. Block talks about his favorite character from Atlas Shrugged. Does leering violate the non-aggression principle? Walter Block answers this in this podcast. Being an anarchist and defending Ron Paul for running for president. Block suggests what the best way to promote liberty is. He goes on to talk about government war propaganda. This and much more in this great interview that covers many subtopics within libertarianism.

Walter Block Podcast Interview

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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So Much for Trademarks as Protecting “Property Rights”

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Jeff Deist

uspto-logo

Poor billionaire Daniel Snyder, owner of the hapless Washington Redskins, can’t catch a break.  His latest indignity comes courtesy of the US Patent and Trademark office, which administratively cancelled six of his team’s trademarks. Apparently the 1946 Lanham Act forbids the registration of trademarks that disparage a particular group.

Putting aside any controversy over the team name, this defeat for the less-than-angelic Snyder has nothing to do with property.  Trademarks represent government-granted privileges, not government protection of property rights. So please Mr. Snyder, no whining about “due process.”  Maybe now you’ll start selling jerseys for less than $100!

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Fiscal Uncertainty and Economic Activity

June 18, 2014 in Economics

Over the past six years, policymakers and business leaders alike have seen the U.S. economy buffeted by larger-than-usual uncertainty about fiscal policy. In new research, Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Pablo Guerrón-Quintana, Keith Kuester, and Juan Rubio-Ramírez investigate whether this increased uncertainty about fiscal policy has a detrimental impact on economic activity.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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TODAY: Over 100 Patients, Caregivers, and Advocates Travel to Albany to Urge Passage of Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Legislation – the Compassionate Care Act

June 18, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Negotiations Between Senate, Assembly and Governor Continue as Deadline for Passage Approaches

Patients & Families Demand Action: “Don’t Make Us Wait Another Year for Relief!”

Albany – With only two days left in the legislative session, over 100 patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers will gather in Albany for rallies urging Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders to pass the Compassionate Care Act before it's too late. They will travel from all over the state — New York City, Western New York, Long Island, and Central New York — to push the Legislature to pass the Compassionate Care Act — A.6357-D (Gottfried) / S.4406-D (Savino) – before the end of legislative session on Thursday, June 19th.

June 18, 2014

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Iraq Syndrome Redux

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By John Mueller

John Mueller

The Iraq Syndrome has played a role in U.S. politics for nearly a decade. As I wrote in 2005, public support for the war in Iraq followed the same course as for the wars in Korea and Vietnam: broad acceptance at the outset with erosion of support as casualties mount. The experience of those past wars also suggests that there was nothing U.S. President George W. Bush could do to reverse this deterioration — or to stave off an “Iraq Syndrome” that would inhibit U.S. foreign policy in the future.

In recent years, the Iraq Syndrome has indeed colored U.S. foreign policy — from its timorous “lead from behind” approach in Libya (where American forces have since been withdrawn due to the ensuing civil war) to its cheerleader (vast proclamation and half-vast execution) approach to the Arab Spring. The Iraq Syndrome could be seen in fullest flower last year, when U.S. President Barack Obama, supported by Republican leaders in Congress, initially signaled that he would bomb Syria for its apparent use of chemical weapons and then backtracked when his plans were met with intense hostility by a public determined not to be dragged into another war in the Middle East — even though no American lives were likely to be lost in the exercise and even though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry assured Americans that the bombings would be “unbelievably small.”

American foreign policy at its most active over the last dozen or so years, routinely decorated with extravagant alarmism, has been an abject failure.”

Just over a year later, the Iraq Syndrome has found a new application, as it happens, in Iraq itself. It has been obvious for some time that last decade’s Iraq War would spawn a “let’s not do that again” attitude. For example, a poll in relatively hawkish Alabama in 2005 — even before the Iraq War got really bad — found that only a third of the respondentsagreed that the United States should be prepared to send troops back to Iraq to establish order if a full-scale civil war erupted there after a U.S. withdrawal. The percentage today would likely be considerably lower, even as Iraq teeters on the brink of collapse.

It’s a true debacle. However, as I suggested in my Foreign Affairs article and in later commentary, Americans are quite capable of taking foreign policy debacles in stride. When …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Personalized Education While Changing Places of Learning

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

A key demonstrator of part of the potential future of American education is Brent Wise, Director of Innovation and Extended Learning for the Hilliard City School District, located in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The district includes 16,000 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

He currently presides at the McVey Innovative Learning Center (ILC), named for former Hilliard City Schools Superintendent Dale McVey.

As I have long believed, Wise argues that schools should no longer take “a one-size-fits-all approach.”

And he explains via email, “Four years ago, a group of Hilliard City School educators came together to develop a plan for what (high) schools should look and feel like (here) in the year 2020.”

The genesis of the ILC, he says, came from educators’ desire “for a design of a high school of the future. One that personalizes education for each student in a way that allows them to pursue their passion.”

Last fall, the ILC opened its doors to more than 800 students.

“This next fall,” Wise says, “we have had over 1,200 requests to come to the Innovative Learning Center.”

Wise, who is a former classroom teacher, describes the diverse adventures in learning at the ILC:

“We have talented music students … so we offer a sound engineering course … Students learn how to make professional recordings while writing and performing their own music.

“For the students interested in the world of television journalism and movie production, we offer courses that allow for creative production.”

I’m already fantasizing. At my public high school, Boston Latin School, I would have rushed into a course on reporting — with guest professional journalists — in all forms of communication.

Wise continues: “For the students that are not successful in the typical classroom, we offer a personalized route of taking classes online and preparing an individual plan.

“Students can come here and work in the relaxed atmosphere with their learning coach, at their pace and comfort zone.

“We offered a jumpstart on college that provided our students with up to 32 credit hours of college, while they are in high school.”

What especially surprised me is the way the ILC builds student confidence by allowing the kids to share their rising skills, which can benefit other learners.

Says Wise: “Students could also come here for authentic learning experiences such as our Career Mentorship program, which allows students to go out and mentor in a field of their choice during their class …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Obamacare: State Dems' Worst Nightmare

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

As the bad news about Obamacare’s federal operations keeps on coming, it’s worth keeping in mind that the law is a mess at the state level as well.

The big question will be whether the failures will hurt Democratic state politicians as much as Obamacare appears likely to drag down national Democrats. Most of the 17 states that chose to set up and operate their own Obamacare exchanges are deep-blue states, where Democratic governors and legislators see few serious challenges to their power. Yet, the level of corruption and incompetence — not to mention the cost to taxpayers — is so outrageous that, even in these Democratic bastions, it might give voters pause.

Troubles with liberal states’ exchanges are dragging down their Democratic governors.”

Among the most egregious examples:

COLORADO
In Colorado, the original director of the state exchange, Christa Ann McClure, was placed on administrative leave after news leaked out that she had been indicted for stealing while serving as executive director of the federally funded Housing Montana. At that agency, she paid herself “significant sums” for consulting services even though she was already on the payroll as a full-time employee. The indictment also alleged that she “made payments to her family and used federal money for personal travel, to pay family bills and to buy consulting services.”

Meanwhile, Colorado’s exchange struggled to meet minimum enrollment goals. Undeterred by mediocre performance and prior mismanagement, the exchange board voted to give new CEO Patty Fontneau a $14,000 bonus last year along with a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise, making her the third most highly paid manager of a state health exchange in the country, behind only California and Connecticut.

At the same time they’re getting bonuses and raises, exchange officials are trying to figure out how to squeeze enough revenue from state taxpayers to finance the exchange when initial federal grants run dry. The Colorado exchange currently charges customers a 1.4 percent user fee, and it will likely have to be increased. Some officials want to charge everyone with health insurance in the state, not just exchange enrollees, to the tune of $13 million in fees in both 2015 and 2016.

Incumbent governor John Hickenlooper has managed to dodge the fallout so far. But even a weak Republican — former congressman Tom Tancredo — is still within striking distance.

HAWAII
Despite a two-week delay in opening, the state’s exchange operated so poorly …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Turning Piketty Right Side Up

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

6783

Mises Daily Wednesday by George Reisman:

In his new book, Capital In the Twenty-First Century, Piketty argues that saving and capital accumulation by wealthy capitalists serves to reduce wages while doing nothing to increase production. In real life, however, capitalists constantly make investments that increase both production and wages.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE