Libertarian Search; Kosmix Style

Innovative search engine Kosmix is simplifying the sometimes daunting task of finding what you need on the web by organizing search results into categories. There are currently three main engines with more on the way: Health, Travel and recently added Politics. The cool thing about the Politics engine is that Libertarian is one of three categories it will organize your results. As Wired News reports:

Search engine newcomer Kosmix, which lets users look in specific topic areas, recently introduced its politics engine. For any search term, Kosmix organizes results into conservative, liberal or libertarian categories, allowing seekers to explore results associated with a certain political persuasion.

They are still in the “Alpha” stage of development so the categorization isn’t perfect, but any search engine that acknowledges libertarianism as a mainstream political philosophy deserves a second look.

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Wisconsin LP State Convention Might Be Interesting

I’m frequently invited to speak at state Libertarian Party conventions, and Wisconsin is no exception. Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict and was unable to accept their invitation. It’s probably a good thing, as they’ve managed to drum up a most interesting speaker line-up. I’ll shut up, and let the e-mail I received tell the story:

FEDERAL RESERVE BANKER TO SPEAK AT WISCONSIN LIBERTARIAN CONVENTION

will come clean on secrets of American Government

from the www.LPWI.org website:

2006 LPWI STATE CONVENTION

Hal Greenwood, a former advisory director to the Federal Reserve Board during the Reagan administration, will be speaking at lunch. Mr. Greenwood has been involved with politics since the 1960s, and will be sharing a great deal of his political insight with us. The main topic of his talk will be the erosion of our liberties in recent years. Mr. Greenwood is well known by the media and will likely attract media attention from several areas around the state with this, his first speaking engagement in a number of years. Greenwood has been president, CEO and director of a number of banks and bank associations since the 1960s, and also worked under Hubert Humphrey’s and President Carter’s administrations.

Greenwood will be introduced at the convention by LPWI Vice-Chair Rolf Lindgren. According to Rolf Lindgren, former Federal Reserve Banker Harold “Hal” Greenwood was appointed to the Federal Reserve Advisory Board by presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan.

Greenwood was name in a 1974 Time magazine article which listed the brightest Leaders of America’s future. The list included Bill Clinton and Hal Greenwood. [I’ve seen the magazine]

Greenwood made Nixon’s ENEMIES LIST.

He was also a speech writer for Hubert Humphrey.

According to Lindgren, Greenwood believes he knows who killed JFK and once had a confrontation with international bankers named Rothschild and Rockerfeller in a small New York business office. This occurred shortly after Humphrey, in 1968, announced that Greenwood would be named Secretary of the Treasury if Humphrey were elected.

After Greenwood’s LPWI convention speech, he will be taking questions from the audience.

Some good questions might be:

Is Bush’s illegal wiretapping legal?

Is the Federal Reserve privately owned?

Is there and international banking conspiracy?

What really happened on December 23, 1913?

Was the 16th amendment ratified?

Do you really have to pay federal income taxes?

What is the truth about the Trilateral Commission?
The Council on Foreign Relations?
The Bilderburgers?
Bohemian Grove?
Henry Kissinger?

The Mason, the Freemasons, and the Masonic Lodge?

What about the Shriner’s?

What is the link between Carl Rove’s girlfriend and the Valerie Plame CIA leak?

Attend the April 8, 2006 LPWI State convention and find out!

WARNING – UNDERCOVER FBI AGENTS MAY IN PLAIN CLOTHES AT THE CONVENTION, THEY WANT TO HEAR WHAT GREENWOOD SAYS, TOO.

PS

Also speaking at the convention will be LPTN Tax Resistor Vernie Kuglin

Following the afternoon session there will be a cocktail hour followed by a banquet and a keynote speaker. Vernie Kuglin of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee will speak on her 2003 IRS tax case, and her thoughts on the current status of tax honesty.

[and more…]

I’ll report, you decide…

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Yale: Not as Bright as Rumored

I thought one had to be pretty bright to study or teach at Yale — until Bush and Kerry indicated this not to be the case. I held out hope for their post-grad programs, but apparently I’m mistaken about this, too. Yale’s Law School has been whining about military recruiters on campus. In particular, the Yale legal community is upset about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

This article covers a lot of the nuances of the arguments heard before the Supreme Court. Here are some examples:

“The Solomon Amendment neither limits what law schools may say nor requires them to say anything,” Roberts wrote. “Compelling a law school that sends scheduling e-mails for other recruiters to send one for a military recruiter is simply not the same as forcing a student to pledge allegiance, or forcing a Jehovah’s Witness to display the motto ‘Live Free or Die.'”

Justice Samuel Alito LAW ’75 did not participate in the case — Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, or “FAIR” — since he was not on the bench when oral arguments were heard on Dec. 6.

During the past several years, the Yale Law School community has been particularly engaged in this debate. Last November, members of the faculty filed an amicus curie brief with the Supreme Court in the FAIR case decided today. Two years ago, 45 professors successfully sued the Pentagon in Burt v. Rumsfeld after the federal government threatened under the Solomon Amendment to withhold more than $300 million in federal funding from Yale if military recruiters were not allowed on campus.

In Burt v. Rumsfeld, the plaintiffs ultimately won an injunction that allowed Yale’s barring of military recruiters from campus in acknowledgement of the discriminatory nature of the military’s policy against open gays. The case is currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

E-mail lists for recruiters and such aren’t the key issue. Who won or lost at court today isn’t important. What’s significant are $300 million federal dollars. It doesn’t take too high an IQ to realize that that if an organization accepts federal dollars, they also get federal dictates. If you don’t want the rules, don’t take the money. It’s that simple.

It seems that Yale lawyers are sitting on the sofa swatting flies while there’s an elephant in the living room.

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Unconfirmed Report: Kubby Released

The following is still unconfirmed, but from a generally reliable source:

Steve Kubby was just released from prison by the Sheriff and jailers, on Monday evening, March 6th.

The reason for his removal was “due to overcrowding”.

Steve is staying with a friend. He is due to appear in court again on March 15th.

More details to follow…

The good news is now confirmed by Richard Cowan:

Posted March 6, 2006
Exclusive to MarijuanaNews

I just spoke with a very happy Steve Kubby, who was released from Placer County jail this afternoon, where he had been held since January 27th, following his expulsion from Canada on January 26th.

I’ll post additional details as they become available.

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Kubby Getting Sicker in Jail

Marc Emery isn’t the only victim of Canada’s recent capitulation to the United States regarding marijuana issues. Steve Kubby is still in jail in California after being recently booted from Canada. Kubby requested a hearing to modify his 120 day sentence in Placer County, California. According to the Canadian Press, his request was denied.

Still suffering from adrenal cancer, Kubby is reported to have shingles, indicating that his immune system has been further compromised by an injustice system which is preventing him from obtaining the medication which has been keeping him alive. One report from his court appearance states that he has lost 27 pounds in his first 37 days of captivity.

I’m not sure what Kubby’s weight was when he was arrested, but he certainly wasn’t portly. Other health problems aside, if continues to lose weight at the current rate, he will have lost 88 pounds by the time of his release. Considering his other health conditions, this could easily be a state no longer compatible with life.

Our government has shown that it has absolutely no concern for the lives of people who require marijuana to stay alive, especially those incarcerated for doing what is required simply to survive — just ask Jonathan Magbie or Peter McWilliams. Actually, you can’t ask them, as they are already dead — murdered by the cold and callous hands of the state.

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Marc Emery on 60 Minutes

As a follow-up to this post:

UPDATE: YouTube.com has removed the video, but you can still view it at the following locations:

The Pirate Bay
Archive.org

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Baby Euthanasia: The Final Solution?

Holland, which already allows the practice of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, for adults who have expressed a desire to die if they are afflicted with a terminal illness and lose the ability to function, is now going to allow euthanasia for babies with terminal illnesses, in consultation with the parents and doctors.

Under the so-called Groningen protocol, a doctor would be able to end the life of a terminally ill baby in cases of “unbearable suffering” when the baby has no chance of surviving anyway.

“If a child is untreatably ill,” Verhagen explained, “there can be horrendous suffering that makes the last few days or weeks of this child’s life unbearable. Now the question is: are you going to leave the child like that or are you going to prevent that suffering?” He went on: “Does the child have to sit it out until the end? We think that the answer is no. There can be circumstances where, under very strict conditions, if all the requirements are fulfilled, active ending of life can be an option – but only in cases of untreatable disease and unbearable suffering.”

This is what happens to terminally ill babies with no hope of survival today.

Verhagen, a 42-year-old father of three who has spent years tending sick children in underdeveloped countries, became a paediatrician with the intention of saving children’s lives, not ending them. Then along came a case that changed his entire way of thinking.

Sanne had a severe form of Hallopeau-Siemens syndrome, which meant that her skin would detach itself from her body if anyone touched it. The membranes inside her mouth and oesophagus fell away whenever they tried to feed her through a tube.

To experts, it is obvious when babies are in pain, and not only because of the type of shrieking. The way they clench their fists is another indicator. This was a child in great pain but pain relievers seemed to make no difference; and every time nurses replaced her bandages a little more of her skin fell off. She came to resemble a mummy. Verhagen did not know what to do.

Her parents demanded an end to her suffering and, for the first time in his career, Verhagen considered euthanasia. Fearing prosecution, however, he sent the child home, where she died of pneumonia six months later.

When reports of the Groningen protocol first surfaced in late 2004, so-called “compassionate conservatives” were up in arms, comparing it to the Nazi final solution.

This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of “independent committees” to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents. Once begun, it is impossible–simply impossible–to limit the concept with any bright line. Abortion, of course, has always been limited by the physical act of birth, and once out of the womb, only the most extreme “reproductive rights” advocates have argued that the baby’s natural right to live can be compromised by the mother. But now the Netherlands has gone farther–much, much farther. If the “severely retarded” may be killed upon appropriate motion, second, debate, and majority vote, why not the moderately retarded? Why not the mildly retarded? Why not, in fact, anyone the “independent committee” deems as usefully dispatched.

Why not? Let’s just kill any baby that doesn’t live up to our genetic standards! We’ll finally be able to create the Aryan master race our Führer dreamed of! Heil Hitler!

Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s even come anywhere close to suggesting creating a master race through baby euthanasia, except for the so-called “compassionate conservatives.”

As far advanced as our medical science has become, there are still many diseases and disorders which are not only quite lethal but for which we have no cure. We’re talking about babies who, in their short lives on this earth, will know nothing but the most severe suffering. Is it really the moral high ground to sit back and watch for months on end, listening to the constant, relentless screams of a baby in severe, unbearable pain, until the child finally dies? Or can the parents, after consulting with their doctors, getting a second opinion, and some oversight by an independent committee, make the decision that their baby should not have to continue suffering?

I leave to you the decision you would make for yourself and your family. As for me, if I am ever terminally ill with not only no hope of recovery but no hope of ever getting out of my hospital bed again, then that’s time to pull the plug.

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War On Drugs: Open the Libertarian Front

Vote against prohibition

It’s time to declare our own war on drugs. Or in more logical terms: a war on drug prohibition rhetoric. Libertarianism is the largest political movement that can even remotely pull off any kind of insurgency against badly conceived laws and bad propaganda and it’s high time we took the initiative (no pun intended).

You see, from a logical standpoint, there’s not a whit of difference between 1920’s alcohol prohibition and today’s drug prohibition. Even the terminology is easily transposed (bootlegers, runners, dealers, etc). But perhaps it’s time we started flipping our own rhetoric back on the prohibitionists.

Example:

If legalization of drugs is worse than the alternative, why aren’t Miller and Anheuser Busch doing drive-bys on each others’ factories?

I’d like to open the comments up to anyone who can come up with some clever anti-prohibitionist rhetoric of their own. I know there’s some real gems out there in favor of legalization/decriminalization that don’t rely on the crutch of “legalize pot… woot, OMGROFL”. Seriously… be smart and witty, not just the me-too crap that fills other forums.

The mic is yours, step up.

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It’s Nice to be Hated

It is rare that one can express a political opinion without offending someone. Libertarians often get a double dose of it, as almost every opinion we express offends someone from the left, the right, or both. As a result, we get our share of hate mail. One such writer came up with a long list alternate names for Hammer of Truth:

see more…

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Angel Shamaya in Jail on Gun Charges

UPDATE: Angel Shemaya is reported to be currently out of prison:

He’s charged with 4 counts misdemeanor possession of unregistered firearms and 1 frivolous, unwarranted, vindictive count of misdemeanor menacing.


Angel Shamaya, the founder of KeepAndBearArms.com, has been arrested in Michigan for improperly registered firearms. The best information available so far comes from Gary Marbut, and was published in my friend Nicki Fellenzer’s directory, so it must be accurate. From the article:

Angel Shamaya, founder of KeepAndBearArms.com is in jail in Michigan, having been arrested for possession of firearms not properly registered under Michigan law.

Angel’s friends are working to help him with this problem, but we need your help, right now!

We need character references from you for Angel. There is a form letter for you to fill out and send back at: http://www.marbut.com/angel.

Be advised that Angel’s problem is happening in the Detroit area, where a strong anti-gun sentiment exists in the criminal justice system. So, we are asking you to downplay gun-rights and gun-related comments. We will NOT deliver to the court any disparaging letters about Michigan or Michigan laws. Stay on the high ground.

Please, download a copy of the draft letter. Add one sentence of personal comment if you wish – no more.

This is for upstanding, legitimate citizens only. So, we want you to add your name, mail address, and phone number to the letter, so the judge seeing these will accept your letter and will not think you are some flake.

[…]

Please pass this on to your friends for action. We need letters from everyone who knows or knows of, and appreciates Angel.

Props. I thought Scott Bieser‘s Shamaya inspired cartoon was appropriate for this posting. A copy of my letter follows:

see more…

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Loretta Nall on Race and the Drug War

Alabama Libertarian gubernatoral candidate Loretta Nall just gave a speech to a group of black leaders in Selma, Alabama on the eve of the anniversary celebration of the historic march across the Edmund Pettus bridge. All of the candidates for governor were invited to the forum. Former Governor Don Siegelman and Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and others spoke, but the Republicans didn’t show, as one might expect.

The video of the speech is located here, and the text is available after the jump.

My opinion is that Nall provided some good material relating the War on Drugs to the Civil Rights Movement. To catch her portion of the video, skip to the 6:18 marker, or watch the entire 39 minute clip to contrast her to the other candidates.

Here is the text of her speech: see more…

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It’s Not Just the Law, it’s the Constitution

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

The Sixth Amendment seems clear enough to me, but apparently not to those in charge of “the system”. Michael Sniffen and John Solomon report:

Despite the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years.

Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

[…]

“What makes the American criminal justice system different from so many others in the world is our willingness to cast some sunshine on the process, but if you can’t see it, you can’t really criticize it,” Levenson said.

The courts’ administrative office and the Justice Department declined to comment on the numbers.

The data show a sharp increase in secret case files over time as the Bush administration’s well-documented reliance on secrecy in the executive branch has crept into the federal courts through the war on drugs, anti-terrorism efforts and other criminal matters.

[…]

“When the sentences are sealed, that’s a con on the community,” said Lexi Christ, a Washington defense lawyer for a man acquitted in a crack cocaine case.

What’s next? Holding people without charges, secret detention centers and even torture?

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Connecticut: Stupid Law of the Day

“Sorry, sir, but we are going to have to shut your restaurant down,” the CHRB official stated.

“But, but, we are a five-star establisment with visitors from all over the world,” Chez Pierre stammered, “Presidents and kings dine here.”

“There’s nothing that can be done about it,” said the agent of Bridgeport’s Coat Hook Regulation Board, “You are in violation of the city’s coat hook ordinance.”

“But we staff attendants in our restrooms and the coat check is right there,” Pierre said as he pointed at the half door adjacent to the powder room.

“We take a zero tolerance view of such anti-social behavior,” the bureaucrat snarled, “You’ll have to come with us.”

Seem like something from a bad novel? Unfortunately, it’s not.

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Russo Launches Website for New Documentary

Former Libertarian Party prenomination presidential candidate Aaron Russo has launched a website to promote his new film America: From Freedom to Fascism. So far, the site includes screening information, a trailer, and some bio information.

Right now, there are three QuickTime (must download V7.0) filesizes available. I spoke with Russo’s website developer yesterday, and he said he plans to also provide a flash and .wmv format of the trailer soon.

I talked with Russo, as well. He stated that the line was around the block at the Beverly Hills screening the other day. To the best of my knowledge, each screening has had an overflow audience, so far.

I’ll be expecting them to be updating the schedule page on the website before long. We The People generally has pretty good scheduling information, as well.

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Bill O’Reilly: Worst Person in the World

oreilly Keith Olbermann appears to have Bill O’Reilly so upset that O’Reilly has started a petition to get Olbermann fired. This type of behavior is to be expected from the likes of O’Reilly, but the fun really begins when O’Reilly starts threatening to send Fox Security after those that mention Olbermann’s name:

O’Reilly promptly cut him off and proceeded to tell him that “we have your phone number by the way” and that he should expect a visit to his door from the local authorities so that “you will be held accountable. Believe it.”

Listen to the rant here.

If you get bored, the Bill O’Reilly Radio Show can be reached by calling 1-877-966-7746 every day from Noon to 2 PM ET (via oreilly-sucks.com). Be sure to tell him the Hammer of Truth sent ya.

UPDATE: Video of Olbermann poking fun at O’Reilly’s threats here. Via CanoFun.

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“Show Me” the Christians!

A recent poll showed that Americans knew more about the “The Simpsons” than they did about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Well the politicians running the “Show Me” state of Missouri might let out a collective “DOH!” after they realize a bill they are considering violates the first of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. From KMOV.com:

Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state’s official “majority” religion.

-SNIP-

The resolution would recognize “a Christian god,” and it would not protect minority religions, but “protect the majority’s right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, “a greater power exists,” and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, “justified recognition.”

The summary for House Concurrent Resolution No. 13 reads as follows:

Resolves that voluntary prayer in public schools, religious displays on public property, and the recognition of a Christian God are not a coalition of church and state.

But wait! DOES this bill violate the U.S. Constitution? The First Amendment states that ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (emphasis added), it doesn’t mention the indvidual states and their governments.

But most state Constitutions reiterate the federal limitations in their text. Article I Section 7 of the Missouri Bill of Rights states:

That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship. (emphasis added)

This bill seems to be in violation of the Missouri Constitution. You know this bill is going to get ripped apart as soon as the MSM gets hold of it. And since the SCOTUS has ruled several times against the prayer in school issue and religious displays depicting only one religion, the challenge to this bill shouldn’t make it out of the state.

But the question on my mind is, can a state establish a religion and still be in concordance with the Federal Constitution ?

A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless. — Justice Atonin Scalia

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FedGov: Protect Privacy; Prohibit Privacy

Dipping deeper into its bottomless well of unbridled hypocrisy, FedGov is forcing privacy businesses to surrender customer lists and copies of their business transactions. During a tumultuous period of alleged privacy protection wherein Congress is poised to (Gasp!) introduce new legislation to ensure private investigators cannot obtain cellular subscriber’s call records, the swastika-wavers at the FCC are demanding that privacy companies TeleSpoof and NuFone who allow customers to place calls showing spoofed info on the receiver’s caller ID device, provide our public servants with every customer name and every call they made, according to a Wired News article.

It appears the FCC’s new chief, Kevin Martin, is well acquainted with the ways of the tyrant, as the investigation (for now) seems to be focused on an abject vagueness.

A seven-page demand from the FCC’s enforcement bureau sent to one such service, called TeleSpoof, says the commission is investigating whether the site is violating the federal Communications Act by failing to send accurate “originating calling party telephone number information” on interstate calls.

Even at this early stage, it is clear that the government’s position will be one of sainted protector regurgitating of of two lines of nonsense: “There is no conceivable legitimate purpose that anyone would want to make a call pretending to be someone else” or “These privacy-seeking customers are potential terrorists bent on releasing nerve gas into a crowded football stadium.”

The article, illustrating one example of legitimacy out of probable hundreds, lays waste to the former excuse of government intervention, leaving the absurdity of the latter to invalidate itself:

TeleSpoof’s operator says he has about 600 users. Private investigators were his earliest customers, but ordinary consumers have found uses for his service as well, he says. In one case, a divorced father was able to talk to his child on Christmas by spoofing his Caller ID to slip the call past his estranged ex-wife, he says.

The nerve of this man. If it were truly important that he speak to his child, government employees would have arranged the conversation.

In any case, the unwarranted action, illegal seizure and unjustified harassment of these companies won’t be the fault of Kevin Martin, his underlings or whatever agency ultimately closes down these and scores of other legitimate businesses. Martin, like his predecessor, will claim he is only doing his job. A job that clearly includes making certain that potential dissenters enjoy no anonymity, ensuring their place as “persons of interest.”

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Shameful Treatment

The BBC has managed to get an interview with a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, through the intercession of his lawyer. In it, Fawzi al-Odah describes his treatment during a hunger strike.

“First they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.
“They came in and read out an order. It said if you refuse to eat, we will put you on the chair [for force feeding].”
He told how detainees were given “formulas” to force them to empty their bowels and were strapped to a metal chair three times a day, where a tube was inserted to administer food.
“One guy, a Saudi, told me that he had once been tortured in Saudi Arabia and that this metal chair treatment was worse than any torture he had ever endured or could imagine,” Mr Odah said.

Well, at least we can take comfort in the passage of the McCain torture amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 to ensure that this kind of treatment won’t ever happen again, right? Theoretically yes, but actually that’s wrong. Another prisoner is challenging his treatment in court under the law and running into…umm…problems.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee’s lawyers described as “systematic torture.”

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

Yep, the same law that prohibits torture prohibits those people most likely to be tortured from access to the courts to get the law enforced.

In court filings, the Justice Department lawyers argued that language in the law written by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) gives Guantanamo Bay detainees access to the courts only to appeal their enemy combatant status determinations and convictions by military commissions.

“Unfortunately, I think the government’s right; it’s a correct reading of the law,” said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. “The law says you can’t torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can’t enforce that law in the courts.”

In closing, an excerpt from the BBC interview transcript with Fawzi al-Odah:

Before all this happened, what was your view of America?

I loved America. It freed my country from Saddam Hussein. My father fought with America against Saddam. I respected America. It stood for human rights and fairness around the world. America was the country we all looked up to.

What is your view now?

It has abandoned all of its own traditions and beliefs which were the cause of my respect for it. As someone who lived in the US, I cannot believe the American people know what is happening down here. This is wrong.

At this point, I have to agree with Mr. al-Odah. The actions of our government are sick, disgusting, and anti-American.

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DHS Profiling: Fiscal Responsibility is Terrorism

homeland surveillanceAre you receiving a large tax refund from last year? You might want to think twice about paying off any large credit card debts, as retired schoolteacher Walter Soehnge and his wife Deana found out it can flag you as a suspicious person (thanks Torfinn!):

He was referring to the recent decision by him and his wife to be responsible, to do the kind of thing that just about anyone would say makes good, solid financial sense.

They paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges’ behavior was found questionable.

[…] They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified. And the money doesn’t move until the threat alert is lifted.

Because damned if Al Qaida’s suicide bombers aren’t the most financially responsible people in the world according to this wacky DHS profiling.

Update: HoT pal and sometimes editor Michael Hampton is all over this with more information and snark than the terrorists can shake a stick at, saying “The irony to this blatant loss of financial privacy is that terrorists frequently run up large credit card debts and fail to pay them off.”

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Marc Emery to be on 60 Minutes

Marc Emery, the Canadian marijuana seed guru the DEA is trying to extradite to the US, is scheduled to be on the CBS news program 60 Minutes Sunday night. Here is a snippet from the CBS teaser:

The last place he wants to be is in jail, but Emery says if the Canadian courts allow the U.S. government to extradite him and a U.S. jury puts him away, he still sees a silver lining.

“I am blessed by what the DEA has done,” he tells Simon. “I would rather see marijuana legalized than me being saved from a U.S. jail. I hope that if I am incarcerated, I can influence tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young people to take up my cause.”

The 48-year-old Vancouver, B.C., resident is a fervent activist for the legalization of marijuana and a hero to the movement. He has made several million dollars and claims to have sold more seeds than anyone in the world on his Web site and through a magazine he publishes, “Cannabis Culture.”

Selling the seeds is an illegal activity in Canada, but enforcement is rare and punishment light. The drug is legal for medicinal purposes and, overall, Canada has a very laidback attitude toward marijuana. But Emery estimates that the majority of customers he’s sold to over the past decade are Americans. Furthermore, British Columbia is a region that produces very pungent pot known as “BC bud” that is smuggled into the United States, where it’s well known. Emery takes pride in the image.

The program is scheduled to air on Sunday, March 5 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. You will have to check your local listings if in other time zones to ensure that you catch the program.

BTW, my hardware guy has my video equipment at his shop, so if anyone snags or finds an Internet version of the program, please let me know the link. Props.

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Tim West Hospitalized with Brain Mass

As Austin Cassidy and Tim’s fiancee, Gloria, reported, LibertyForSale.com‘s Tim West is hospitalized at Georgetown University Hospital.

I spoke with Gloria a few minutes ago, and will relay what is known of Tim’s condition. As she wrote, they were driving (presumably in West Virginia) when Tim complained of numbness on the left side of his body. She immediately took him to a local hospital, where Tim suffered a seizure. After a CT was administered, they discovered a large mass on the right side of his brain. They evacuated him by helicopter to Georgetown University Hospital in DC.

Gloria told me that they are still running tests on Tim, including bloodwork, EKGs and what appears to be a cerebral angiogram. She has not spoken to any doctors yet, so there is no real update on his diagnosis. It is likely (based on what has been presented so far) that he has either a bleed, aneurysm or tumor.

He is currently intubated and sedated. The sedation is common in order to keep him from ripping out the tube. As a result, it is difficult to determine how Tim actually feels at this time. Gloria said it is likely they will remove the tube today.

Tim’s dad is with him, and they are still trying to contact his brother. His co-workers have now been notified.

Visitors must be confirmed by his family. In the meantime, I’ve got a current phone number and room number, if anyone has a serious need to contact his family. I’m not going to publish it for obvious reasons, but contact me if you would like the information.

Since I blog at LibertyForSale as well as here, I’ll try to keep Tim’s site going by cross-posting appropriate material until we get some idea of how Tim is going to do. I think he would want that.

Finally, I told Gloria that (by now) thousands of people are praying for Tim’s recovery, and she seemed very comforted by that.

Tim has always loved blog comments, so I’ll compose an electronic card for him from the comments you leave on sites where his condition is posted. I can’t think of anything better that we could do to help cheer him up at the moment.

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That’s the way it is: Cronkite Comes Out Against the Drug War

As most of you are aware, I’m heavily engaged in promoting the medical marijuana bill in Alabama. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has provided us with a great deal of support in this regard. In today’s Huffington Post, Walter Cronkite promoted the DPA and took on the War on Drug Users. From the article:

I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost – and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.

Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens.

I am speaking of the war on drugs.

And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.

While the politicians stutter and stall – while they chase their losses by claiming we could win this war if only we committed more resources, jailed more people and knocked down more doors – the Drug Policy Alliance continues to tell the American people the truth – “the way it is.

The world could sure use a few more Walter Cronkites and Harry Brownes.

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Former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Passes Away

Harry Browne, who was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, is reported by multiple sources to have died yesterday. I just confirmed the general information with Jim Babka of DownSizeDC. DownSizeDC intends to be distributing pertinent information by e-mail and on their website later this evening.

Pending a statement from family or friends, the best (speculative) published source of information about his condition is currently on Wiki:

In June of 2005 an unknown neurological illness confined him to a wheelchair. After spending a considerable amount of time in the hospital, he resumed some of his writing and speaking, though it was uncertain whether he will walk again. He succumbed to illness on 1 March 2006.

Wiki also provides some additional biographical information:

Harry Browne (17 June 1933 – 1 March 2006) was an American free-market Libertarian writer and investment analyst.

He was born in New York City to Bradford and Cecil Margaret Browne and currently resides in Franklin, Tennessee.

Browne was the presidential candidate of the United States Libertarian Party in 1996 and 2000. He was an investment advisor for thirty years and was, immediately prior to his death, Director of Public Policy for the libertarian Downsize DC Foundation.

He came to prominence in 1970 with his first book, How You Can Profit From The Coming Devaluation, which correctly predicted the devaluation of the dollar and subsequent inflation. Browne’s second book was 1973’s How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, which focused on maximizing personal liberty. This book became an instant classic in libertarian circles. You Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis was Browne’s third book and reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He continued to author books and articles on investing through the late 1990s. […]

More recently, Harry Browne had continued working to increase the popularity of libertarian goals to reduce the size and scope of government. In addition to writing and making appearances on behalf of the Downsize DC Foundation, prior to his death he hosted two weekly network radio shows; one on Saturdays dealing with politics, and the other on Sundays dealing with financial topics. Browne also worked with the Free Market News Network, of which he was the President. Via Free Market News, he had his own internet-based television show called This Week In Liberty. He was also working on a book called The War Racket just prior to his death, but had stated that the book was not near completion, with no definite publishing date.

Members of both the Libertarian Party and entire the libertarian movement have lost a great leader and spokesperson for the cause. Harry, you will be missed. We at HoT would like to offer our condolences to Harry’s family and friends.

I last saw him at the 2004 Libertarian Party convention where my wife and I shared a banquet table with Harry, Pamela and a few other people. While he looked as though he had aged a bit, his wit was sharp and his eyes sparkled with life. In every correspondence we’ve shared since then, that same sparkle was present, motivating me to do more for the cause of liberty.

If Harry Browne was still with us, I think he’d still be trying to motivate each and every one of us to reach our highest potential. I’ll close with one of his quotes which I’ve kept taped to my monitor for years; I think he’d have liked it that way: “The important thing is to concentrate upon what you can do – by yourself, upon your own initiative.”

Additional information is available here.

UPDATE: Lew Rockwell has more here. Reason has more here. Press release here.

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