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The 3 States Best Positioned to Legalize Marijuana in 2018

December 15, 2017 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

Next year should see more legal marijuana states and also the first state to legalize it at the statehouse.


Election Day 2016 was a big day for marijuana. Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all supported successful legalization initiatives, doubling the number of states to have done so since 2012 and more than quadrupling the percentage of the national population that now lives in legal marijuana states.

Marijuana momentum was high, national polling kept seeing support go up and up, and 2017 was expected to see even more states jump on the weed bandwagon. That didn't happen.

There are two main reasons 2017 was a dud for pot legalization: First, it's an off-off-year election year, and there were no legalization initiatives on the ballot. Second, it's tough to get a marijuana legalization bill through a state legislature and signed by a governor. In fact, it's so tough it hasn't happened yet.

But that doesn't mean it isn't going to happen next year. Several states where legislative efforts were stalled last year are poised to get over the top in the coming legislative sessions, and it looks like a legalization initiative will be on the ballot in at least one state—maybe more.

There are other states where legalization is getting serious attention, such as Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, but they all have governors who are not interested in going down that path, and that means a successful legalization bill faces the higher hurdle of winning with veto-proof majorities. Similarly, there are other states where legalization initiatives are afoot, such as Arizona, North Dakota and Ohio, but none of those have even completed signature gathering, and all would face an uphill fight. Still, we could be pleasantly surprised.

Barring pleasant surprises, here are the three states that have the best shot at legalizing pot in 2018.

1. Michigan

Michigan voters shouldn't have to wait on the state legislature to act because it looks very likely that a legalization initiative will qualify for the ballot next year. The Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has already completed a petition campaign and handed in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Police Shoot a Lot More People Than Previously Known

December 15, 2017 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

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A new investigation reveals that the number of people being shot—and shot at—by police is troubling.


In major metropolitan areas around the country over the last half-decade, police have shot—and shot at—people in numbers dramatically higher than previous tallies suggest. A new Vice News investigation finds that between 2010-2016, cops in the 50 largest police departments in the country shot more than 3,630 people, nearly double some previous estimates. Of the 4,381 people cops fired upon in that period—including the 700 people they shot at and missed—two-thirds survived those shootings.

Absent a comprehensive federal database of police shootings, the Vice report offers the most complete picture of fatal and nonfatal police shootings available.

The data analysis also found that police shot black people “more often and at higher rates than any other race,” and “two and a half times more often than white people.” Vice found that cops shot no fewer than 1,664 black people in the period studied, comprising “55 percent of the total and more than double the share of the black population in these communities.” Twenty percent of the African Americans tallied were shot following “relatively innocuous pedestrian or traffic stops,” which was true for just 16 percent of whites shot by police. Those figures are of particular importance considering that studies find black drivers are more likely to be stopped by cops based on less evidence, less likely than their white peers to be spoken to respectfully during those stops, and more likely to be ticketed and arrested than white drivers.  

While police narratives of shootings studied by Vice suggest the majority of blacks shot by cops were themselves involved in shootings or robberies, the proliferation of cell phone and body camera footage that contradicts police versions of events brings the trustworthiness …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Jim Bovard on Our Slavish Devotion to Politics

December 15, 2017 in Economics

By James Bovard, Jeff Deist

Mises Weekends with Jeff Deist

By: James Bovard, Jeff Deist

Wall Street Journal and USA Today writer James Bovard joins Jeff Deist to diagnose what's wrong with our body politic today. From relentlessly tribal voting to rank hypocrisy and “whataboutism,” Americans are angry bunch. And their credulous belief in the sanctity of authorities like the FBI is almost entirely determined by whether their party holds the presidency. Is there any political system that can survive the division created by politics in the first place? Jim Bovard brings his Menckenesque perspective to Mises Weekends to discuss our slavish devotion to politics. And don't miss Jim's great article on the FBI as America's secret police or his new book on political perfidy.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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George Washington: An Image and Its Influence

December 15, 2017 in Economics

By David Gordon

George Washington

By: David Gordon

George Washington took office as president in 1789 with an asset of inestimable value. People viewed him as the hero of the American Revolution who, disdaining power, had like the Roman general Cincinnatus returned home to his farm. When he allowed himself, with great reluctance, to be nominated as chief executive, his prestige was unparalleled. Indeed, his reputation was worldwide. When he died,

Napoleon Bonaparte decreed that the standards and flags of the French army be dressed in mourning crepe. The flags of the British Channel Fleet were lowered to half-mast to honor the fallen hero. Talleyrand, the French minister of foreign affairs, … [called] for a statue of Washington to be erected in Paris.<a target=_blank class="see-footnote" id="footnoteref1_lchh7nz" title="Matthew Spalding and Patrick J. Garrity, A Sacred Union of Citizens (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), p. 189.

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Poets likewise sang his praises.

Washington achieved mythic status in his own lifetime, receiving poetic encomia from English poets as different as William Blake and Byron, who contrasted Washington favorably with the despotic Napoleon. … His contemporaries were impressed by the fact that the general who led a successful revolution did not establish a personal dictatorship.2

Were the effects of the influence that accompanied this prestige good or bad for liberty? This chapter shall endeavor to show that in two instances, these effects were bad; in one case, though, Washington’s fame led to fortunate consequences for individual freedom. Washington, though not a principal author of the Constitution, supported calling a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. At the convention itself, he strongly backed Madison’s plans for centralized control.

On assuming power, Washington soon faced a division of opinion in his cabinet. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was not satisfied with the centralization already achieved by the Constitution. He called for a national bank and a governmentally directed program of industrial development. Thomas Jefferson raised a decisive objection to Hamilton’s proposal: Did it not entirely exceed the bounds of power granted the central government by the new Constitution? The constitutional issue did not faze Hamilton, who produced an analysis that granted the central government broad power to do whatever Hamilton thought best. In this conflict, Washington once again weighed in on the side of the centralizers.

In his Farewell Address, though, …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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To Understand 2017, Here Are the History Lessons You Need

December 15, 2017 in History

By History Staff

A South Korean soldier (L) looks at a North Korean soldier as he marches past at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. (Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

In a year filled with dramatic global events and unexpected twists, it could be difficult to keep up with the news. To help make sense of the year that was, discover the history behind the stories that shaped 2017.

A South Korean soldier (L) looks at a North Korean soldier as he marches past at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. (Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

North Korea Grows Its Nuclear Ambitions

2017: The United States watched as North Korea performed a series of increasingly sophisticated and troubling tests.

The History: North Korea has been exploring nuclear technology for decades, built on the foundations of Cold War-era Soviet technology. Learn how North Korea became a world player. Read more.

Related Content:
A Mysterious Famine Killed a Million North Koreans 20 Years Ago


Members of the Indianapolis Colts lock arms as they take a knee during the Nation Anthem before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Indianapolis, September 24, 2017. (Credit: Darron Cummings/AP Photo)

Sporting Events Got Politicized

2017: African-American NFL players, as well as athletes in other sports, knelt during the playing of  the “Star Spangled Banner” to protest the treatment of black Americans by police. Other teams chose to stay in the locker room or lock arms in other symbolic statements, setting up a contentious debate.

The History: Protest at football games goes back at least as early as 1965, when black football players boycotted the AFL All-Star Game to speak out against the terrible treatment they received as they arrived in New Orleans. Read More.

Related Content:
Why the Star-Spangled Banner is Played At Sporting Events

Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and the Duke of Windsor outside Government House in Nassau, the Bahamas. (Credit: Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and the Duke of Windsor outside Government House in Nassau, the Bahamas. (Credit: Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

A Royal Engagement Makes History

2017: Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle delighted many when they announce they would be married in spring 2018. Markle is divorced and biracial.

The History: It turns out one of Markle’s ancestors had a royal …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Knights Templar Rulebook Included No Pointy Shoes and No Kissing Mom

December 15, 2017 in History

By Brynn Holland and Missy Sullivan

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How often do we get a nitty-gritty view into the daily life of a medieval knight—one based on fact and not misty mythology?

The Templars, founded in 1119 as a band of poor, pious knights, have been romantically reimagined in art, literature, film and folklore for centuries. The fact that they were shockingly villainized and disbanded in 1307—after a dizzying rise to wealth and power—only added to their legendary mystique.

But the brotherhood did leave its share of concrete historic record. Perhaps most fascinating: “The Rule of the Templars,” which outlined a detailed code of conduct governing every aspect of daily life, including clothing (spartan), meals (mostly silent), sleeping arrangements (austere), social restrictions (ample). There’s a good-sized section on penance, which was especially important for maintaining the order’s all-important discipline. The first draft, composed in 1129, dictated 68 rules designed to keep Templar knights on a tight leash, reflecting their vows of poverty, chastity and especially obedience. As the order grew bigger, more wealthy and more militarized, its disciplinary code expanded to several hundred rules and became increasingly complex.

Written in Latin and French by various authors over the course of a century and a half, the original rules documents no longer exist. But they are known through subsequent translations.

And what happened to knights when the rules weren’t followed? According to the code, comeuppance ranged from corporal punishment to losing one’s habit (knight’s robes) to banishment from the brotherhood. Lesser infractions sometimes required the sinner to eat his meals on the floor.

Below, a few of the more notable Templar rules:

MEALTIME

Two to a bowl
*Because of the shortage of bowls, the brothers will eat in pairs, so that one may study the other more closely, and so that neither austerity nor secret abstinence is introduced into the communal meal. And it seems just to us that each brother should have the same ration of wine in his cup.

Meat in moderation
*It should be sufficient for you to eat meat three times a week, except at Christmas, All Saints, the Assumption, and the feast of the twelve apostles. For it is understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.

No leaving the table—unless it’s a real emergency
*If the brothers are eating at table and any of them suffers a nosebleed, or the war cry is raised, or there is a fire or the horses are unsettled, to avoid harm …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Republicans Just Made It a Lot Harder for Restaurant Workers to Fight Big Chains

December 15, 2017 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

The ruling also makes it more difficult for employees to unionize.


On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board, led by Trump appointee Philip A. Miscimarra, undid an Obama-era ruling that protected workers, including subcontractors, from labor law violations. In an unsurprising move, all three Republicans on the Board voted together to undo the rule, while the two Democrats opposed them.

“Frankly, it’s shocking,” Wilma B. Liebman, a former Democrat chairwoman of the Board, told the Times of the decision.

Back in 2015, the Board heard the case of an Iowa construction company, whose subcontractors went on strike to protest unsafe conditions and low wages and benefits. Those workers were fired in retaliation.

A local judge ruled the firings illegal, leading the National Labor Relations Board to declare in 2015 that the old joint-employer rule was “increasingly out of step with changing economic circumstances, particularly the recent dramatic growth in contingent employment relationships.” They then changed the law so that a company would be responsible for illegal practices at all levels, including those that affect sub-contractors and employees at franchises.

This week the Board reversed that earlier decision, and the consequences for the fast-food industry could prove dire. For example, the person who makes your sandwiches at your local Subway could now be considered the responsibility of their direct franchise owner— not the Subway Group corporation itself. Now, if that sandwich maker and their coworkers protested an unfair practice at their location, it would be that much easier for the store owner to fire them, without consequence from the corporate higher-ups. The rule effectively protects corporations against any kind of legal action from lower-level employees.

As the Times describes, the vote is politically motivated, as corporations have been lobbying Republicans to reverse the Obama-era worker protection since it was enacted.

At its most fundamental level, the ruling highlights deep differences in philosophy between most Democratic and Republican members of the labor board. During the Obama administration, the board majority believed that the changing structure of the economy — in which employers have steadily pushed workers outside their firms and into a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the Right-Wing Media Totally Distorted Positive News on Climate Change

December 15, 2017 in Blogs

By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet

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Economist Michael Grubb says media climate deniers are at it again.


This interview was originally posted on the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Michael Grubb, professor of energy and climate change at University College London and a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, co-authored a recent study showing that what many saw as an overambitious goal to keep the earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius may actually be reachable. Climate change deniers quickly pounced, using the hopeful news as an excuse to blame researchers for updating their models and to downplay the climate crisis. Two years after 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement on climate, Grubb explained what the researchers really found, and shared with INET surprising developments on global warming, the future of nuclear energy and why the rest of the climate community isn’t too worried about President Trump.

Lynn Parramore: Let’s talk about the recent study you co-authored that created a media stir. You found that things might be a little better than we thought in terms of the Earth’s temperature rising. Can you explain your conclusions and how they have been spun in the press?

Michael Grubb: Sure. It turns out that we had a longer period than expected where temperatures didn’t rise as fast as the trend of the previous few decades – though they have jumped in the past couple of years. So we updated estimates that were almost a decade old. I do want to emphasize that the difference between what we found and what was widely understood from previous research is small— it shouldn’t have been a massive deal.

Our study in no way means that we don’t have a climate crisis. But we might be slightly better positioned to meet certain goals, like those …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Real Tax Reform Looks Like

December 15, 2017 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

capitol_1.PNG

By: Mark Thornton

It is obvious to most people that real tax reform means reducing taxes and government spending. However, in the current tax reform “package” there are all sorts of changes in the tax rates, tax brackets, deductions, exemptions etc. But the end result is virtually no net tax relief, little economic growth, and a substantial increase in debt. Most importantly, many people will lose valuable tax loopholes and as Ludwig von Mises said “capitalism breathes through the loopholes.”

Tax reform is really just a scam against the American people. It does help politicians reap campaign donations from special interest groups. It is an old con job because these groups can’t afford to lose their special place in the tax code. As a result, they contribute money to politicians in Congress to protect their loophole. If that does not work they start a campaign to reestablish their loophole in the future.

There are of course good items in the tax reform package such as the cut in the corporate income tax. In an ideal world the corporate tax would not exist. Economists of all stripes recognize that it is an irrational tax because 1. It forces corporations to spend tons of money avoiding the tax, 2. It raises little revenue (only 9% of the budget), and 3. It is a double tax on corporate income because corporations pay a tax and then stockowners pay another tax on all the money they gain in dividends and capital gains.

Another promised benefit of tax reform is supposed to be economic growth, but estimates of economic growth under the House plan is just a few tenths of one percent and even that could be blown away with any kind of economic downturn.

If you do not reduce the tax burden very much, you simply do not get a big increase in economic growth. Moreover, the best way to get economic growth is to reduce government spending. Any tax reform law should have mandates that cut government spending. Spending cuts should be significant and across the board. This is especially so with entitlements because they increase the real national debt going forward from $20T to $200T. This places a great burden of uncertainty on the economy.

The reason that spending cuts are vital: you need to recognize that the private sector is the productive sector. Even with a 50% tax burden on its back, the private sector …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Americans Are Hopeful About Their Communities, Less so the Country

December 15, 2017 in History

By History Staff

Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Jones faced off against Judge Roy Moore in a special election for Jeff Sessions' seat in the U.S. Senate. (Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Are Americans optimistic about the future? A recent HISTORY survey suggests they are, though that optimism comes with some caveats.

The survey of 535 adults found that four-fifths of them were hopeful about what would happen to themselves and their families in 2018. Most were also generally optimistic about how their personal communities would fare in the coming year. However, only 55 percent of respondents were hopeful about the state of the country in 2018, and less than half had a positive outlook on how 2018 would play out for the rest of the world.

HISTORY conducted this survey on December 13 and 14, just after Doug Jones’ surprising victory over alleged sexual predator Roy Moore in Alabama; and it’s possible timing could have given some Americans—especially liberals—a little boost in their optimism.

Even if that’s the case, conservatives still seemed the most optimistic about the future. Only 53 percent of liberals said they were hopeful, compared to 75 percent of conservatives. And although “hopeful” was the top ranking emotion that the survey respondents felt about the year ahead, the second-place emotion was “worried.”

Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Jones faced off against Judge Roy Moore in a special election for Jeff Sessions’ seat in the U.S. Senate. (Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Doomed to Repeat History?

One sentiment that was relatively consistent among survey respondents was the importance of understanding history moving forward. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement, “Now more than ever, it’s important we learn lessons from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Americans agree on which kind of conclusions we should draw from the past. During the Alabama election, Moore drew controversy when he said that the last time America was “great” was “at the time when families were united, even though we had slavery.”

That’s a starkly different conclusion than many Americans—especially black Americans—would draw from the history of slavery. And it suggest that while Americans may feel that studying history can prevent us from making the same mistakes, they are divided about what exactly those “mistakes” might be.

…read more

Source: HISTORY