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The Fed Says No to Pot Money, Unless it's the Government's Pot Money

October 22, 2015 in Economics

By Jonathan Newman

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The Fed Says No to Pot Money, Unless it’s the Government’s Pot Money

October 22, 2015

The Federal Reserve told a federal judge in Colorado to dismiss a lawsuit by Fourth Corner Credit Union, blocking marijuana businesses in the state from legal banking services. This is just one of the many legal conundrums the budding industry has had to face since state law branched away from federal law on marijuana.

The businesses have been relegated to holding and securing large amounts of cash on their own. Some have hired private security firms to help, especially in transporting the money and the marijuana.

In a motion filed today, the Fed maintains that since marijuana is still prohibited under federal law, “transporting or transmitting funds known to have been derived from the distribution of marijuana is illegal.”

This, however, calls the State of Colorado into question, because they tax, license, and set fees on the sale of all marijuana in the state, which amounted to over $13 million in revenue just in August this year. These funds are deposited by the state government at JP Morgan Chase. Apparently the government has no qualms about storing its own cut from marijuana sales at a Federal Reserve member bank.

A quote from a retired Colorado banking commissioner is particularly telling:

“The state treasurer has to put it somewhere. [...] As to where the authority comes from to make it legal, I have no answer to that, honestly.”

If the government can't even say for sure whether or not it is following its own laws, how can private citizens and firms be expected to follow them?

The double standard reminds me of a great quote from Murray Rothbard's Anatomy of the State:

“We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely — those against private citizens or those against itself?”

Rothbard's point is clear: the State will certainly pursue and punish crimes against itself to …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Further Militarizing the South China Sea May Undermine Freedom of Navigation

October 22, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow, Eric Gomez

Doug Bandow and Eric Gomez

In the near future the U.S. Navy (USN) reportedly will sail within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by China in the South China Sea (SCS). This is welcome news for those who believe that Washington’s weakness in the face of China’s “blatantly illegal” island reclamation campaign has encouraged Beijing’s bad behavior. Now the question is: what comes next?

The idea that FONOPS will rein in Chinese actions in the SCS is appealing. Administration critics charge that China has been making all the right moves to bolster its territorial claims while the United States sits on its hands. However, FONOPS will not resolve SCS territorial disputes. In fact, this approach likely will complicate U.S.-Chinese relations and make a peaceful settlement of territorial disputes more difficult.

Past Performance Does Not Guarantee Future Results

Those who believe a show of force by Washington will bring Beijing to heel point to the East China Sea. In November 2013 the Chinese government announced an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over most of the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Beijing demanded that aircraft flying through the ADIZ identify themselves and warned that China’s armed forces would “adopt defensive emergency measures” against noncompliant aircraft. Three days later the U.S. Air Force sent two B-52 bomber aircraft through the ADIZ, resulting in little more than Chinese finger wagging.

U.S. plans to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea will further destabilize the region.”

Relative calm ensued in the skies above the East China Sea. Japan and South Korea flew military aircraft through the ADIZ without incident and the American military reported no changes in its interactions with the Chinese military. Tensions eventually rose when the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) began enforcing the ADIZ, but the East China Sea generally has been peaceful. At the start of 2015, for example, Chinese aviation authorities announced that they would not take “defensive emergency measures” against civilian aircraft that did not recognize the ADIZ.

Superficially, then, the initial B-52 flight appeared to force China to back down from its overzealous territorial claims. However, a host of other factors influenced China’s decision not to aggressively defend the ADIZ.

First, the PLAAF lacked sufficient military capabilities to do so. Second, Beijing recognized that the ADIZ undermined the diplomatic goodwill that President Xi Jinping and Premier Li …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Top Democrat on Benghazi Panel Lays Waste to the Politicized Investigation in Epic Opening Statement

October 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

'Why tell Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Sec. Clinton?'


After Trey Gowdy called for proper decorum to be observed — then promptly broke it himself when he went directly after “Democrats” on the committee for performing a “lousy” investigation during his opening statement — ranking minority member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) ripped into his Republican colleagues with an opening statement that painstakingly laid out clear evidence that this latest investigation into the attacks in Benghazi is a political charade meant to undercut Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation and issued a detailed report. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee also conducted bipartisan investigations,” Cummings explained. “The problem is that Speaker Boehner did not like the answers he got from those investigations.”

“So he set up this new Select Committee—with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget—and he set it loose on Secretary Clinton because she is running for president.”

Cummings then set his target on the so-called “gaffe” of the year, noting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s boast that the most impactful success House Republicans have managed is to undercut Clinton’s political ambitions through the House Select Committee. Cummings then followed-up with mention of another House Republican who admitted that committee was “designed” to go after Clinton, before laying into Gowdy’s handling of the blowback from his own party members’ honesty:

Last weekend, the Chairman told his Republican colleagues to “shut up” and stop talking about the Select Committee.

What I want to know is this—why tell Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Secretary Clinton with reckless accusations that are demonstrably false?

Carly Fiorina has said that Secretary Clinton “has blood on her hands,” Mike Huckabee accused her of “ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi,” Senator Rand Paul said “Benghazi was a 3:00 a.m. phone call that she never picked up,” and Senator Lindsay Graham tweeted, “Where the hell were …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Bikini Helps Clean the Oceans

October 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

When was the last time you helped the environment just by going for a swim


Most of us would rather not think about it when we’re at the beach, but our oceans are kinda gross. In 2014 alone, cruise ships flushed one billion gallons of sewage into the ocean. Then there’s runoff from land-based polluters – cars, trucks, the dirt humans create through washing, laundry, bathing and lots more. And can’t forget about everything from “petroleum wastes to pesticides to excess sediments.” If only someone would come up with a way to help clean up all that muck.

That’s the mission a married couple of engineering professors must’ve been focused on when they created the Spongesuit – a bikini that actually absorbs ocean pollution when it hits the water. In other words, put it on for a normal swim and you’ll be doing a small part to clean the oceans.

The two University of California at Riverside researchers began by developing a material made from heated sucrose, which as you likely know is a form of sugar. The base material is described as a “highly porous structure that is super hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, but also absorbs harmful contaminants.” (A pretty neat video showing how it works is at bottom.)

The super mundane name they gave this dynamic material? Sponge.

The duo then “mold[ed] the Sponge material into the shape of a bikini and encapsulates it in a net-like cage made of 3D-printed elastomer that forms to the body.” The bikini can absorb 25 times its own weight in ocean toxins, and once its hits its maximum – after wearing it roughly 20 times – it simply stops absorbing. According to a few science-y types, the toxins don’t pose a threat to the wearer because since they’re “trapped in the inner pores of the material, they have no chance of making contact to the wearer's skin.”

Because removing the contaminants from the Sponge involves heating the material to 1,000 Celsius (which most of us …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Search Is On For Original Women’s Rights Declaration

October 22, 2015 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with two of her sons, in 1848.

The origins of the first U.S. women’s rights convention in the United States, held in July 1848 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, can be traced to a different event held eight years earlier in London, England. After crossing the Atlantic with their husbands to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were barred (like all women) from the main floor, and forced to listen from the gallery. The two women bonded over their common indignation, planting the seeds for what would eventually grow into the U.S. women’s rights movement.

In 1848, Stanton and Mott, along with Martha Wright, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt issued a call for a women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls, where Stanton lived. In the days before the event, Stanton drafted the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances, which she modeled after the Declaration of Independence. Opening with the preamble “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” she proceeded to lay out the existing injustices against women in the United States. The declaration then called for women to be viewed as full citizens, and granted the same civil, economic and political rights as men.


Wesleyan Methodist Church, site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. (Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons)

Stanton read the document aloud before the 200 women in Wesleyan Chapel on July 19, the first day of the Seneca Falls Convention. The following day, after more than 30 men joined the gathering at the women’s invitation, the convention proceeded to adopt and sign the Declaration of Sentiments. One of the men who attended, the celebrated black abolitionist Frederick Douglass, then took the declaration to a print shop in Rochester, New York, in order to publish it in his newspaper, The North Star. Douglass likely also took to the printer the minutes taken by Mary Ann McClintock, who was appointed secretary of the Seneca Falls Convention.

After that point, as White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith learned after she launched her quest, the original Declaration of Sentiments disappears from the known historical record. Smith, who spent part of her childhood in upstate New York, explained …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Preparing for Paris: What to Expect from the U.N.’s 2015 Climate Change Conference

October 22, 2015 in Economics

In late November world leaders will gather in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference for what is viewed as the last great chance for a sweeping international agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The consequences of this gathering may be enormous. On October 30 , the Cato Institute will host a conference to hear distinguished climate scientists and legal experts assess the issues sure to drive the debate before, during, and after the Paris meeting.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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How Currency Exchange Rates Are Determined

October 22, 2015 in Economics

By Frank Shostak

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How Currency Exchange Rates Are Determined

October 22, 2015

Currency rates of exchange appear to be moving in response to so many factors that it makes it almost impossible to ascertain where the rate of exchange is likely to be headed. Rather than paying attention to the multitude of variables, it is more sensible to focus on the essential variable.

As far as currency rate of exchange determination is concerned, this variable is the relative changes in the purchasing power of various monies. In short, it is the relative purchasing power of various monies that sets the underlying rate of exchange.

A price of a basket of goods is the amount of money paid for the basket. We can also say that the amount of money paid for a basket of goods is the purchasing power of money with respect to the basket of goods.

If in the US the price of a basket of goods is $1 and in Europe an identical basket of goods is sold for 2 euros then the rate of exchange between the US$ and the euro must be two euros per one dollar.

An important factor in setting the purchasing power of money is the supply of money. If over time the rate of growth in the US money supply exceeds the rate of growth of European money supply, all other things being equal, this will put pressure on the US$.

Since a price of a good is the amount of money per good, this now means that the prices of goods in dollar terms will increase faster than prices in euro terms, all other things being equal.

As a result an identical basket of goods is priced now; let us say at $2, as against 2.5 euro. This would imply that the exchange rate between the US$ and the euro will be now 1.25 euros per one dollar.

Note the fact that changes in a local money supply affect its general purchasing power with a time lag means that changes in relative money supply affect the currency rate of exchange also with a time lag.

When money is injected into the economy it starts with a particular market before …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Jeb Bush, Icky and Awkward: Jokes That Supergirl 'Looks Pretty Hot' (VIDEO)

October 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Who is your favorite Marvel superhero, Jeb?


Jeb just wants you to like him.

Unfortunately, he has an odd, and somewhat creepy way of going about persuading voters that he has a likable personality.

Who is your favorite Marvel superhero, the former Florida governor was asked during a Libre Institute forum in Las Vegas last night. Apparently voters care because Jeb said this was the second time he had been asked that question recently before revealing that he was no fan of the Ant-Man sequel but was interested in the Supergirl television show because the actress “looks pretty hot.”

“I like watching the movies,” Jeb told the Koch-funded Hispanic business group. “I wish I owned Marvel, as someone that believes in capitalism,” he awkwardly added.

“I don’t know, I’m kinda old school,” he continued. “I like the old school guys like Batman, a little dark these days.”

Ignore that Jeb clearly cannot denote between Marvel and DC Comics because one second later he dives into even more awkward territory.

“I saw that ‘Supergirl’ is on TV,” he began to joke, “I saw it when I was working out this morning. There’s an ad promoting ‘Supergirl.’ She looked kind of — she looked pretty hot.”

“I don’t know what channel it’s on,” he went on, “but I’m looking forward to that.”

Displaying some semblance of self awareness, Jeb then paused before adding, “that’ll make news.”

Watch Jeb awkwardly attempt to endear himself to potential voters with his Super Girl admission:

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Source: ALTERNET

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WATCH: Bernie Sanders Perfectly Nails Larry David's Impersonation of Him — In 8 Seconds Flat

October 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

The Vermont senator turns out to have a bit of the comedian in him.


Vermont Senator and presidential aspirant Bernie Sanders is mostly known for his willingness to tackle and talk turkey about serious economic issues, but he turns out to have a well-honed funny bone as well. On an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night, he responded to Kimmel's final question with impeccable comic timing. The question was, what did Sanders think of the much-talked-about impersonation Larry David performed of Sanders on SNL recently.

Watch Sanders' response below, and if you don't get the joke, check out the Larry David bit here.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Is This What Right-Wing Terrorism Looks Like? 6 Mostly Black Churches Burn in St. Louis

October 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The media has largely ignored this spate of apparent hate crimes.


In just two weeks, arsonists are believed to be responsible for fires of varying degrees of destruction at multiple churches in St. Louis. This morning, authorities reported a blaze at yet another area house of worship, bringing the total number of church burnings thus far to seven.

The alleged arsons, six of which were set primarily at predominately black churches, have received surprisingly little press, considering they follow a spate of unsolved African-American church burnings this summer. The St. Louis Police Chief Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working jointly to investigate the fires. In a statement released by the two  organizations this week, officials stated, “We believe that this fire-setting activity is meant to send a message,” but declined to suggest what the message might be. The release went on to add that the fires “may be the result of stress experienced” by the arsonist and advised community members to pay attention to anyone who has “expressed anger or frustration with our religious community.”

This morning’s fire at Shrine of St. Joseph Catholic church is the first of the latest fires to be set at a majority white church. However, Fire Captain Garon Mosby told ABC News that racial—or religious—animus is not being ruled out as a motivator, saying those consideration are “part of the dynamic” of looking into the fires.

The St. Louis Dispatch also spoke with Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who suggested that though racially motivated church burnings are statistically rare, “it is not at all surprising to find African Americans legitimately concerned. The African-American church has been under attack from white supremacists since the early 19th century, attacked again and again to hold black people down.”

Throughout the late 19th century, and perhaps most notoriously, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, church burnings and bombings were used by white terrorist organizations and individuals to intimidate and harass black communities. The African-American church was targeted because it often …read more

Source: ALTERNET