Last week, the Russian Parliament passed a law creating a new legal term for some independent journalists: “Internet user called blogger.”
The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reports that “bloggers will be obliged to declare their family name and initials and e-mail address, and those authors whose personal website or page in social networks are visited more than 3,000 times per day must register on a special list, and abide by restrictions applicable to the mass media.” see more…
There have been several somewhat strange petitions on the White House petition website, some have even received enough digital signatures to warrant an official response, even if that response is “we can’t comment.” One of the most recent petitions to receive a “we can’t comment” response involved a petition to deport Justin Bieber, who apparently is Canadian. see more…
President Obama recently gave a speech in which he claimed that voting rights were under attack, saying “The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago,” adding “Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”
No one can deny that fact.
In fact, the New York Times reports, “Over the last 15 months, at least nine states have enacted voting changes making it harder to cast ballots. A federal judge last month upheld laws in Arizona and Kansas requiring proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, leading other states to explore following suit.” see more…
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in the case of McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission.
The ruling struck down a federal law that restricts how much money a donor may contribute in total to all candidates or committees.
There is much misreporting of this decision. see more…
On March 25, the IRS released guidelines (Notice 2014-21) regarding cryptocurrencies for tax purposes. The IRS wrote, “[The IRS] is aware that ‘virtual currency’ may be used to pay for goods or services, or held for investment. Virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and/or a store of value. In some environments, it operates like ‘real’ currency … but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.” The notice included an FAQ that says, “For federal tax purposes, virtual currency is treated as property. General tax principles applicable to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency.” see more…
Reporters Without Borders recently published a report titled “Enemies of the Internet.” While Turkey was not on that list, the country was ranked 154 in the World Press Freedom Index mainly because dozens of journalists have been arrested as “threats to national security.” In a move that should add Turkey to the list of “Enemies of the Internet” a Turkish court attempted to ban the use of Twitter after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s defiant vow to “wipe out” the social media service.
The official Twitter feed posted a tweet reading “We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon.” see more…
Last Sunday, Rand Paul wrote in an op-ed in Time, “Putin must be punished for violating the Budapest Memorandum, and Russia must learn that the U.S. will isolate it if it insists on acting like a rogue nation.
This does not and should not require military action. No one in the U.S. is calling for this. But it will require other actions and leadership, both of which President Obama unfortunately lacks.” see more…
Seven voters in New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the state government in federal court over the fact that independent voters are excluded from taxpayer funded primaries. The lawsuit, Balsam v Guadagno, states that because a voter must be a registered member of a major party to participate in the primary election, the state has disenfranchised nearly 48% of New Jersey voters. see more…
For better or worse, Bitcoin has been in the news quite a bit recently.
A couple of weeks ago, Mt. Gox suspended all withdrawals.
Last week, the TSA detained someone because they “saw” Bitcoin in his bag.
And now that Mt. Gox has filed bankruptcy, some are questioning the viability of Bitcoin.
Such as Senator Joe Manchin, who is calling for more regulation of the decentralized currency.
Voters in California may be asked to vote on a proposal to split the state into six Californias.
The plan, called “Six Californias” by Tom Draper, the venture capitalist behind the idea, must first obtain signatures from over 800,000 registered voters before it will be placed on the ballot.
Opponents argue that the proposal would give some of the new states an unfair advantage in regards to tax revenue, claiming “the ‘Six Californias’ campaign is nothing more than a scheme for making sure that the taxes of wealthy individuals like Draper gets ‘redistributed’ inside their own affluent neighborhoods.” see more…
Over the past several years, it has become a something of a tradition for the Congress and President to claim that the federal government will not be able to pay its bills unless the debt ceiling is raised. In fact, the debt ceiling has been increased, or suspended, a total of seventy-nine times since 1940.
However, the United States government, which has had a national debt since it was created (with the exception of 1835) did not always have a debt ceiling, which should actually be called a money pit.
Prior to 1917, any debt accrued by the federal government would need to be specifically approved by the Congress. The initial debt ceiling, passed in the Second Liberty Bond Act, was set at $9.5 billion in Treasury bonds and $4 billion in one-year certificates. This removed some of the Congressional oversight from the Secretary of the Treasury.
Until 1939, when Congress created an overall aggregate limit on the national debt, increases in the national debt were simply amendments to the Second Liberty Bond Act.
The national debt now stands at approximately $17 trillion, with the debt ceiling being completely eliminated until March 2015.
So, why is the federal government so far in debt? see more…
Free Press Publications is pleased to announce that Darryl W. Perry began producing FPPRadioNews on Monday February 3, 2014. FPPRadioNews is a daily 5 minute radio newscast, being produced seven days per week, and is currently heard on several online radio networks and low power radio stations across the country. The broadcast quality newscast is available for download via RSS at http://news.FPPRadio.com
About FPP.cc: Free Press Publications is an independent alternative media and publishig company, founded in June 2009, with the mission of “ensuring a FREE PRESS for the FREEDOM MOVEMENT” and is committed to spreading the message of peace, freedom, love and liberty.
About FPPRadio: Since August 2011, Darryl has produced the FPP Freedom Minute, a weekly 5 minute news and commentary podcast; and since December 2012, has produced Peace, Love, Liberty Radio, a 2-hour weekly radio show originating on the Liberty Radio Network, in which Darryl and a guest share news, views and opinions while promoting the ideas of peaceful interaction.
On Friday February 7th, President Obama signed a farm bill that has an estimated cost of $954.6 billion.
The President and other supporters claim the bill will reduce the deficit by $23 billion over the next ten years, though the National Taxpayers Union points out, “it is highly unlikely that taxpayers will reap any so-called ‘savings’ from the almost $1 trillion spending bill.” see more…
On Jan. 4, 2010, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by TSA agent Jason Edward Harrington titled, “To Stop a Terrorist: No Lack of Ideas.”
This caused Harrington’s supervisor, the federal security director at Chicago O’Hare, to have a meeting with him; a meeting that Harrington explained was usually followed by termination.
The supervisor told him, “The problem we have here is that you identified yourself as a TSA employee.”
Harrington explained his reaction and the ensuing conversation:
“[I knew] self-identifying as a government employee in a public forum may be grounds for termination.”
“I was shocked. I had been sure the letter would fall under the aegis of public concern, but it looked as though my boss wanted to terminate me.”
I scrambled for something to say. “I thought the First Amendment applied here.”
She leaned back in her chair, hands up, palms outfaced. Now she was on the defensive.
“I’m not trying to tread upon your First Amendment rights,” she said. “All I’m saying is: Couldn’t you have run those First Amendment rights past the legal department first?”
Harrington wasn’t fired, and continued working for the TSA for 3 more years. see more…
A recent opinion poll from Quinnipiac University shows that Americans are split when asked which Party they want to control the US Congress after the mid-term election.
Though respondents prefer the Democratic Party by a percentage that is less than the margin of error.
Respondents also prefer Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party Presidential nominee by a wide margin, while there is no clear favorite for the Republican Party Presidential nominee.
Clinton is also favored, by margins between 8 and 15%, to win the general election against the top four Republican hopefuls.
In the midst of the questions about Presidential hopefuls and which Party is doing a better job in Congress was a question that asked “How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right; almost all of the time, most of the time, only some of the time, or hardly ever?” see more…
President Obama recently gave a speech about possible reforms at the NSA. Obama began his speech by invoking the name Paul Revere.
He stated that Revere and the Sons of Liberty “would patrol the streets, reporting back any signs that the British were preparing raids against America’s early Patriots.”
While, this did happen, there is one major difference between the Sons of Liberty and the NSA. Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post points out, “Paul Revere’s surveillance was conducted by private citizens against the soldiers and partisans of an occupying government they felt was infringing on their rights and liberties.”
Which is the complete opposite of what the NSA is doing to individuals around the globe. see more…
Last Summer, Rand Paul announced intentions to file a class action lawsuit against the NSA for their spying program. On January 4, 2014, former Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli announced on facebook that he would be joining Rand Paul in the lawsuit, “Join Rand Paul and I in asserting our right to privacy.” The irony is that anyone who signs the online petition is added to a mailing list for Rand Paul’s 2016 re-election campaign.
Then on January 5, Rand Paul told George Stephanopoulos, “I don’t think Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty or life in prison, I think that’s inappropriate.” Paul added that Snowden leaked secrets “and things that could endanger lives” and suggested that Snowden “would come home for some penalty of a few years in prison which would be probably not unlike what James Clapper probably deserves for lying to Congress.” Paul further suggested that Snowden and Clapper should serve time in a prison cell together.
I can not begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that allows someone to initiate a lawsuit against the NSA for violating the privacy of millions of Americans, while simultaneously stating that the person responsible for bringing that information to light is a criminal who should be punished. It is a further act of mental gymnastics to claim that any of the information made public by Edward Snowden could have endangered lives. The US government admitted that nothing leaked by Private Manning endangered any lives, and that was information that exposed American war crimes in Iraq & Afghanistan. If nothing revealed by Private Manning endangered any lives, how could it be construed that Edward Snowden endangered lives?
The New York Times and UK Guardian both published editorials calling for clemency for Snowden, with The New York Times writing, “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
Exposing criminal wrongdoing by a government must never be a crime. Neither Private Manning, nor Edward Snowden, nor any other person who exposes government misdeeds should face any jail time. Private Manning should be given a full pardon, and Edward Snowden should have all of the charges against him dismissed. If anyone belongs in a jail cell, it is the people who have violated the rights of millions of people around the world, not the people who brought their crimes to light.
On January 2, Ed Krayewski from Reason wrote, “[New Year's Day] marked the beginning of a legal market in recreational marijuana in Colorado, the first time government-licensed shops have ever sold marijuana anywhere in the world.”
There is, however, one major inaccuracy with that statement. Aside from the fact that cannabis has been available for years in medical dispensaries, it was not always against the law to purchase, possess or consume cannabis. In fact, in the United States, there were no federal laws regarding cannabis until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which “required that certain special drugs, including… cannabis, be accurately labeled with contents.” The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, “made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, in which an inexpensive excise tax was required.” see more…
On Christmas Eve, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden delivered a Christmas message for British TV station Channel 4, saying, “George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book… are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem, because privacy matters.”
Snowden added, “Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” Without moments of privacy, people can’t create, soul search, or even sit down to cry without fear of being interrupted or judged, not just by their own peers, but by government agents as well. see more…
In November, with little media coverage, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the charge in changing the Senate rules relating to filibusters. The Washington Post reported, “Democrats used a rare parliamentary move to change the rules so that federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments can advance to confirmation votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been the standard,” noting, “the rule change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations or to legislation.” see more…
It is no secret that the federal government spends millions of dollars on research.
Sometimes those funds go to questionable studies, such as the study by Joseph Staton, of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, to determine why “most cooked, exotic meats taste like… the domestic chicken?”
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Staton wanted to sample dinosaur, and requested a T. rex bone from Chicago’s Field museum, but wasn’t able to acquire the bone because of “red tape.”
Other studies have looked at the mating habits of exotic animals, and one set of researchers even found that the land within the State of Kansas is “flatter than an average pancake.” see more…
Every couple of years there is public debate about increasing the minimum wage.
Most recently, there were strikes outside of McDonald’s with people calling for a $15 minimum wage.
The claim is that an increased minimum wage will lift people out of poverty. However, the truth is that a minimum wage of $15 per hour would increase the poverty line.
Further, most people know very little about the history of minimum wage laws. see more…
The French Parliament has begun debate on a bill to institute penalties for individuals who seek to purchase sexual services. Under current French law prostitution is legal, however soliciting and procuring are illegal, including working in or operating a brothel.
Maud Olivier – one of the Members of Parliament (MP) who introduced the legislation – wrote in a report to parliament.
“There would be no prostitution without clients – that goes without saying. But we also know there will always be clients for prostitution. Our ambition should be to try to reduce the number.” see more…