The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

White House Ready to Aid Auto Industry


WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said on Friday that it was prepared to intervene to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler after Republican senators blocked a compromise proposal to rescue the automakers.

The decision came after a tense standoff this week in which senior White House officials pleaded with Senate Republicans not to block the measure, including a warning by Vice President Dick Cheney that they would be remembered for decades as the party of Herbert Hoover if the industry collapsed.

But while Senate Republicans stood their ground — in open revolt against President Bush — it was the White House that gave in.

Shortly before the American markets opened on Friday morning, White House and Treasury Department officials, concerned that steep declines in overseas stock markets could provoke a new round of market panic in the United States, said the administration would consider providing temporary relief.

After refusing for weeks to tap the $700 billion financial rescue fund, the administration suggested it would dip into the fund to at least permit the companies to continue their operations until the new Congress and new administration arrive next month.

“Because Congress failed to act, we will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure until Congress reconvenes and acts to address the long-term viability of the industry,” said Brookly McLaughlin, a Treasury spokeswoman.

Administration officials said they had not decided how much to loan the auto companies or on what terms, and were spending Friday examining their books and cash-flow projections.

The government officials said they expected the companies and the unions would be asked to make significant concessions. They also did not rule out the prospect of a bankruptcy for one or more of the companies, but vowed that it would not be “uncontrolled,” meaning that enough financing would be provided to enable a reorganization.

For more on this and my thoughts, see my other blog: Aaron's EnvironMental Corner.

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Getting Paid With Raids

by Ronald Fraser

As Maryland law enforcement agencies rake in millions seized in drug cases, is justice being served?

On the streets, where illegal drugs are still easy to get at affordable prices, Maryland police chiefs are losing the decades-long drug war. But many departments have come to depend on drug raids to increase their operating budgets. While the drug trade still enriches the bad guys, police chiefs now also get a piece of the action.

Many states, wary of overzealous police departments, require that the proceeds from seized assets be used for education or other non-police purposes. But the 1984 federal Comprehensive Crime Control Act, a turning point in America's war on drugs, is a way to get around these state laws. It allows state and local police departments, working with U.S. agents, to "federalize" money and property seized during local drug raids. The federal government gets at least 20 percent of the seized assets, giving back up to 80 percent - now exempt from state law - to state and local police agencies.

One might assume that the filing of criminal charges would necessarily precede the seizure of property - but shockingly, this is not the case. For example, a motel may be seized because drugs were traded on the premises despite the owners' extensive efforts to prevent such activity; or cash may be seized, only to be returned years later after the owner is forced into a long and costly legal battle.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

Original Article Here

POZNAN, Poland - The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

The U.S. Senate report is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition rising to challenge the UN and Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears.

Read the full report at this link.

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Ohio sheriff orders deputies not to evict

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) -- A sheriff in southwest Ohio has ordered deputies to ignore eviction orders when people have nowhere else to live.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says evictions in winter weather and during an economic recession are heartless and those cases should be sent back to the courts and resolved some other way.

Jones on Tuesday ordered deputies to ensure that people have shelter before they're forced out of their homes. He also sent a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland asking him to issue a state order to stop forced evictions for at least the winter months.

The sheriff could face court action if a bank or landlord challenges his refusal to honor a court-ordered eviction. Jones says he will face any consequences of his order.

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The Big Three Uniquely American? My Eye!

by Ilana Mercer

“We’re lectured that the automobile industry is a ‘uniquely American’ industry; its workers more American—and, hence, more deserving—than the rest of us. Since equality before the law is no longer apple-pie, I’d like to know what’s so quintessentially American about a failing industry. If anything, failure is un-American.”

“How uniquely American is a $75.86 hourly compensation package? How many un-uniquely American workers are rewarded to the tune of $133,000 a year? The truly American (because productive), local workers of Toyota and Honda cost their employers, all told, $44 an hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average hourly remuneration for regular Americans, benefits and all, at around $28.50.”

“The workers of The Big Fat Three are unique alright; they’re freaks of industry, as they receive 150 percent more in compensation than the average, American working stiff.”

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ron Paul on Auto Bailouts on House Floor

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The Beam in the State’s Eye

by Johnny Kramer

A good – and succinct – definition of "liberty" is "being legally free to do as you please, so long as you do not tangibly infringe on anyone else’s body or property."

So, in a free society, there should be only two criteria for criminality:

1. Someone’s body or property has been tangibly infringed upon.
2. That person (the victim), or that person’s beneficiaries in the case of a murder, has filed criminal charges, seeking restitution and/or damages.

No victim? No crime.

Criminal courts should exist only to settle charges brought by victims, with the purposes of finding the truth and, in the case of a conviction, having the defendant pay the plaintiff for the damage his actions caused. Sentences would be given in units of money to be paid to the victim, rather than units of time in a cage.

The court would receive a fee for arbitrating the dispute, to be paid by the person who lost the case – which would discourage frivolous or fraudulent charges from plaintiffs, because such charges would likely result in nothing for them, as the losers of the case, but a bill from the court, plus further fees from retaliatory wrongful accusation charges from the defendant. Like any other business, courts would compete for customers in the marketplace, likely on factors such as price and the speed and fairness of their services.

Prisons, if they would exist at all, would be only for serial violent offenders who are unfit to live among civilized people, and possibly also for one-time offenders who refused to pay for their damages. Or the market might come up with something better than prisons; it’s impossible to say.

In our society, this is somewhat of a description of how civil courts work.

Criminal "justice"

By contrast, criminal courts largely exist not to make restitution for victims, but to avenge the State, to punish people for breaking the State’s laws. Many criminal cases involve crimes with no victim, while others proceed against the victim’s wishes.

Not to mention that, when a real crime occurs, it means, by definition, that the police force for which the victim was coercively forced to pay through taxes failed to prevent the crime. And, despite the fact that the victim failed to get the "protection" he was supposed to receive for his money, he certainly has no recourse in seeking a refund. What would happen to the business of a private security firm that failed in such a way?

And, if the perpetrator of a real crime is convicted, he will ridiculously be sentenced not to make restitution to the victim, but to spend a prescribed amount of time in a cage.

This asinine system exists not to compensate the victim, but to make work for the parasitical criminal "justice" system’s judges, prosecutors, public defenders, parole and probation officers, wardens, prison guards, social workers, and other employees, who otherwise would have to go into the market and do productive work.

Even in cases of real crimes, this scam not only doesn’t exist to make restitution for the victim, but upon the perpetrator’s conviction, the victim will be further robbed through taxation to pay for it all!

O.J. Simpson

For an example of this ridiculous and criminal system, look no further than last week’s sentencing of O.J. Simpson.

Like Plaxico Burress, Simpson did a dumb thing. But, as his attorneys contended, stupidity does not equal criminality. Over one incident that lasted less than five minutes, in which no one was injured or killed, Simpson has been sentenced a minimum of nine years in a cage. How does that return the property involved in the incident to its rightful owners, or compensate the two alleged victims for the trauma of the incident? It doesn’t; it makes work for the parasites in Nevada’s criminal "justice" system.

In fact, Las Vegas’ CBS affiliate reported that one of the alleged victims, Alfred Beardsley, didn’t want Simpson charged with anything, and was testifying as a "reluctant" witness, which means the State was using the same force against Beardsley to make him testify as it was accusing Simpson of using against him.

And, during coverage of the sentencing, a number of mainstream legal analysts, including former judge Andrew Napolitano, said that in some states (but apparently not in Nevada, even without guns), the incident wouldn’t have even been illegal had no guns been used.

In her sentencing statement, Judge Jackie Glass said to Simpson, "Now there's still questions about whose stuff it is. I think that's still in dispute. You thought it was yours. Your counsel said that over and over again to me during the trial, and now during the sentencing, as well as you."

But that’s what this whole case should be about: determining whose property this is and returning it to the rightful owner(s) – who might be the Goldmans if some or all of it was Simpson’s and it fell within the guidelines of the civil judgment they won against him – and possibly requiring Simpson to pay damages to the two victims for the trauma of the event, because the way he went about recovering the property was wrong, even if it was his.

And even that should only happen if the victims press charges. (If not, the Goldmans could bring their own charges, attempting to seize the property under the stipulations of their civil victory over Simpson. But that’s a separate matter.) As we’ve seen, one of the victims was against the whole thing, which means he’s being victimized again by the State, but it claims the moral authority to charge Simpson.

It’s understandable that many – including the Goldmans – feel that Simpson is a murderer who is finally getting his due.

But that should have no bearing on this case; while Judge Glass made a point of saying the same thing, it’s obvious that such is not the case across this entire proceeding; legal analysts also asserted that the kidnapping charge, which carried the harshest sentence of all of the charges, and which stemmed only from Simpson demanding – which was heard on tape – that no one leave the room, likely would not have been pressed if this incident had involved Joe Blow instead of O.J. Simpson.

That fact is further evidenced by the plea deal the prosecutors offered to Simpson’s co-conspirators (Simpson reportedly declined an undisclosed plea offer of his own, but it sounds like his offer was less generous than what the others received), four of whom accepted and received only probation from Judge Glass.

The Beam in the State’s Eye

The hypocrisy of government is unbelievable.

The State murders many thousands of people – at least – through things like wars, drug prohibition, and the medical- and pharmaceutical-industrial complexes, then claims the moral authority to prosecute citizens for individual murders.

It steals trillions of dollars per year from the productive economy through things like taxes, inflation, subsidies, and bail-outs, then claims the moral authority to prosecute citizens for thefts of a few hundred dollars.

It has kidnapped thousands in the past through conscription and arrest, and has imprisoned for years, through its prison-industrial complex, thousands of people who hurt no one, then claims the moral authority to lock up O.J. Simpson for years because he attempted to stop a couple of people from leaving a hotel room for a couple of minutes.

It routinely clears police of any wrongdoing in cases where they’ve deliberately, criminally used guns or tasers on innocent citizens, then admonishes citizens like Plaxico Burress or Simpson for gun accidents that could have occurred – but didn’t: Burress’ gun could have shot someone else when it fell out of his pants; someone could have been shot in an adjacent room or the hallway during Simpson’s hotel room incident. But criminal law should only deal with tangible damage to person or property after the fact; "woulda, shoulda, coulda" should be left to the insurance industry.

(This is nowhere near a complete list, but you get the idea.)

Such hypocrisy was also evidenced in Judge Glass’ statement to Simpson: "You went to the room, and you took guns – meaning you and the group. You used force. You took property, whether it was yours or somebody else's. And in this state, that amounts to robbery, with use of a deadly weapon. Whether it's you having the gun, or Mr. McClinton having the gun, or Mr. Alexander having the gun."

The only exception to her words is when the State has the gun: then, using force to take property isn’t called robbery; it’s called taxation. That point is likely lost on Judge Glass, as is the fact that the very use of force and guns to take property for which she condemned Simpson was exactly what paid for the building they were in and everything in it, down to the chair she was sitting on and the robe she was wearing. Maybe she should worry about the beam in her employer’s eye before concerning herself about the splinter in the eye of a comparatively petty criminal like Simpson.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ObamaWorks: A 'Compelling' Investment

by Chris Brown

Barack Obama has really worked the public with his new public works program. He will offer states a "compelling" investment: he will compel them to use citizens’ "precious tax dollars" to "invest" in massive public works projects – or risk losing the money. This is a type of "investment" worth opting out of. Except that it is not an investment at all – it is merely government consuming people’s tax dollars. It is the equivalent of a thief telling you: "Don’t worry! I’ll be investing your money. And other people will be using it for their benefit. Don’t be so selfish anyway."

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The End of the US Piano Industry

by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Today the highest-price good that people buy besides their houses is their car, and this reality leads people to believe that we can't possibly let the American car industry die. We couldn't possibly be a real country and a powerful nation without our beloved auto industry, which is so essential to our national well-being.

What about the time before the car? Between 1870 and 1930, the biggest ticket item on every household budget besides the house itself was its piano. Everyone had to have one. Those who didn't have one aspired to have one. It was a prize, an essential part of life, and they sold by the millions and millions.

Americans before 1850 mostly imported their pianos. American manufacturing was nearly nonexistent. After 1850, that changed dramatically. The Gilded Age saw a vast increase in popularity. By 1890, Americans fed half the world market for pianos. Between 1890 and 1928, sales ranged from 172,000 to 364,000 thousand per year. It was a case of relentless and astounding growth.

They were used in classrooms everywhere in times when music education was considered to be the foundation of a good education. They were the concert instruments in homes before recorded music and iPods. They were essential for all entertainment. American buyers couldn't get enough, and private enterprise responded.

There was the great Chickering piano made by a company founded in 1823 and which later led the world in beauty and sound. There was Hallet and Davis in Boston, J. and C. Fischer in New York, as well as Strich and Ziedler, Hazelton, William Knabe, Weber, Mason and Hamlin, Decker and Sons, Wurlitzer, Steck, Kimball in Chicago, and, finally Steinway.

The American piano industry was the greatest in the world, not because the Americans came up with any new and great manufacturing techniques, though there were some innovations, but because the economic conditions made it most favorable to be manufactured here.

It was widely believed that spending money on a piano wasn't really spending. It was an investment. The money you paid would be embedded right there in this beautiful and useful item. You can always sell it for more than you paid for it, and this was generally true. So people would make great sacrifices for these instruments.

With the growth of this manufacturing came an explosion of shops that served the piano market all up and down the industry. Piano tuning was a big-time profession. Retail shops with pianos opened everywhere, and the sheet-music business exploded with them. Ever notice how in big cities the music stores are typically family owned and established 40, 50, and even 100 years ago? This is a surviving remnant of our industrial past.

All of this changed in 1930, which was the last great year of the American piano. Sales fell and continued to fall when times were tough. The companies that were beloved by all Americans fell on hard times and began to go belly up one by one. After World War II the trend continued, as ever more pianos began to be made overseas.

In 1960, we began to see the first major international challenge to what was left of the US market position. Japan was already manufacturing half as many pianos as the US. By 1970, a revolution occurred as Japan's production outstripped the US, and it has been straight down ever sense. By 1980, Japan made twice as many as the US. Then production shifted to Korea. Today China is the center of world piano production. You probably see them in your local hotel bar.

And what happened to the once-beloved and irreplaceable American piano industry? Only Steinway survives to make luxury instruments few can afford. The rest moved overseas under new ownership or were completely wiped out.

Does any one care that much? Not too many. Have we been devastated as a nation and a people because of it? Not at all. It was just a matter of the economic facts. The demand went down and production costs for the pianos that were wanted were much cheaper elsewhere.

Now, a piano aficionado reading this will say: buddy, you are crass. Listen to the sound of an older model Chickering and you can tell the difference. It was warm and wonderful, nearly symphonic. It is mellow and perfect for the best repertoire. By comparison, this new Chinese piano is sharp and angular and pointed. It sounds like a marimba. You can't play Schubert or Brahms on such junk. No one wants to hear that thing. Bring back the old days when pianos made sounds that sounded like real music!

Well, you can still get that old Chickering sound, even from a piano made in New York. You can buy a Steinway. Of course you have to pay $50,000 plus and even as much as $120,000, but they are there. You say that is unaffordable? Says you. It is all a matter of priorities. You can forego your house and live in a tiny apartment and still own the most gorgeous instrument money can buy. In any case, it makes no economic sense for you to demand a magnificent piano at a very low price when reality does not make that possible.

In the same way, many people will bemoan the loss of the US car industry and wax eloquent on the glory days of the 1957 Chevy or what have you. But we need to deal with the reality that this is in the past. Economics demands forward motion, a conforming to the facts on the ground and a relentless and realistic assessment of the relationship between cost and price, supply and demand. We must learn to love these forces in society because they are the only things that keep rationality alive in the way we use resources. Without them, there would be nothing but waste and chaos, and eventual starvation and death. We simply cannot live outside economic reality.

Let's say that FDR had initiated a bailout of the piano industry and the even taken it over and nationalized it. The same firms would have made the same pianos for decades and decades. But that wouldn't have stopped the Japanese industry from taking off in the 60s and 70s. Americans would have far preferred them because they would be cheaper. American pianos, because they would be state-owned, would fall in quality, lower and lower to the point that they would become like a Soviet car in the 1960s. Of course you could set up tariff barriers. That would have forced American pianos on us. Except for one thing: demand would have still collapsed. The pianos still have to have a market. But let's say you find a workaround for that problem by requiring everyone to own a piano. You still can’t make people play them and value them.

In the end you have to ask: is it really worth trillions in subsidies, vast tariffs, impositions all around, just to keep what you declare to be an essential industry alive? Well, eventually, as we have learned in the case of pianos, this is not essential. Things come and things go. Such is the world. Such is the course of events. Such is the forward motion of history in a world of relentless progress generated by the free market. Thank goodness that FDR didn't bother saving the US piano industry! As a result, Americans can get a huge range of instruments from all countries in the world at any price they are willing to pay.

Today government is even more arrogant and absurd, and it actually believes that by passing legislation it can save the US car industry. It can subsidize and pay for uneconomic activities, and pay ever more every year. The government can also pay millions of people to make mud pies because mud pies are deemed to be an essential industry. You can do this, but at what cost and what could possibly be the point? Eventually, even the government will have to accord itself to the reality that economics reminds us of on a daily basis.

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We're the Big 3!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Now It’s Jobs

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

The downturn is following a path so predictable, day by day, that people who comprehend the business cycle don’t even need to read the news. You can intuit what will happen next because it’s happening like a textbook case – even as it is reported with a continued sense of surprise.

Press reporting on the downturn has been like reports from a committee that knows nothing about gravity, but which has nonetheless been assigned to watch what happens when you drop objects from high places.

They keep filing surprised reports about how the objects fall – what a bizarre and unwelcome turn of events – and then they conjure up ways to keep this from happening through some outside intervention. They recommend bailouts, spending, programs, controls, and inflation.

You just want to get their attention and explain: what you are observing is part of the structure of reality itself, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can cover your eyes, put up fancy mirrors, turn somersaults, speculate and talk and decry all you want. But in the end, the downturn is a necessary and inevitable response to the previous boom. It must be allowed to continue on its course.

Most recently, for example, we have seen an uptick in the unemployment rate, now at 6.7% according to official statistics. Here we have the human face of recession. It is also the inevitable response to the boom. The people over-employed in bubbled-up industries are led from failing sectors into viable ones – with a serious transition cost. Wages adjust downward and people move from uneconomic undertakings to more economically viable ones.

What is enough to make a person crazy is how all this is reported as something correctable, as if they all constituted marching orders for Washington.

Read the rest at this link.

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Take Note: Loonies Who Own a Lot of Guns AREN'T Dead In This Scene

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Online Journalists Now The Most Jailed

By Mike Sachoff

More online journalists are in prison globally than any other reporters working in any other medium, according to a new survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The survey found that 45 percent of all media workers imprisoned globally are bloggers, online reporters, or online editors. The CPJ says for the first time online journalists account for the largest professional category that is jailed.

As of December 1 there are 125 journalists behind bars, a decrease of two from 2007. China tops the list as the worst offender, a position it has held for the last 10 years. Cuba, Burma, Eritrea, and Uzbekistan round out the top five from among the 29 nations that imprison journalists.

There are at least 56 online journalists jailed globally. The number of online journalists jailed has steadily risen since the CPJ recorded the first imprisoned Internet writer in 1997.

"Online journalism has changed the media landscape and the way we communicate with each other," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "But the power and influence of this new generation of online journalists has captured the attention of repressive governments around the world, and they have accelerated their counterattack."
Online Journalists Now The Most Jailed

Most of the online journalists that are jailed are freelancers with no legal resources or political connection that could help them get out of prison.

"The image of the solitary blogger working at home in pajamas may be appealing, but when the knock comes on the door they are alone and vulnerable," said CPJ's Simon.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Federal Inflationary Policies Mask Real Problem

by John Stossel

If an athlete injures himself and suffers great pain, we'd recognize the shortsightedness of giving him painkillers to keep him going. The pain might be masked, but at the risk of greater injury later.

That's a good analogy for the inflationary policies now pursued by Washington. These policies may temporarily "stimulate the economy," but they also disguise and aggravate the underlying problems. We will all pay a serious price.

Policy makers have thrown caution to the wind. Twelve-digit dollar figures are tossed about casually. The other day, after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson changed course -- yet again -- and announced that the Federal Reserve would commit $800 billion more in "new loans and debt purchases," The New York Times reported, "Fed and Treasury officials made it clear that the sky was the limit."

The total federal commitment to date is over $7 trillion.

The Fed had given up trying to make it easier for banks to lend to each. Now, the Times reports, it "is directly subsidizing lower mortgage rates ... doing so by printing unprecedented amounts of money, which would eventually create inflationary pressures if it were to continue unabated."

No kidding.

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Police Caught In the Act: Illegal, Unconstitutonal, Unwarranted Raids

It's called an informant plant. The Odessa narcotics unit illegally compelled an informant to plant drugs on Yolanda Madden. The informant testified in federal court he planted the drugs on her and he passed a polygraph confirming the same. Yolanda also passed a polygraph along with a hair follicle and urine test. Our broken criminal justice system ignored the evidence and railroaded her through court sentencing her to 8 years in prison.

Her father hired KopBusters, a new reality show produced by NeverGetBusted, whereby Barry and Candi along with their detectives set up stings across America to catch crooked Kops.

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster's attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster's secret mobile office nearby.

The attorney was handcuffed and later released when eleven KopBuster detectives arrived with the media in tow to question the illegal raid. The police refused to give KopBusters the search warrant affidavit which is suspected to contain the lies regarding the probable cause.

The team of eleven freedom fighters wore red "Free Yolanda" shirts as they clashed with the police demanding answers for the illegal raid and the drug plant. The police would not comment but later stated they were trying to charge KopBusters with a crime.

It is not illegal to grow plants under a light in your home but it is illegal to lie on an affidavit and plant drugs on a citizen. This operation was the first of its kind in the history of America. Police sometimes have other police investigating their crimes but the American court system has never dealt with a group of citizens stinging the police. Will the police file charges on the team who took down the corrupt cops?

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Milwaukee neighborhoods could print own money

From: Chicago Tribune
By Erika Slife | Tribune reporter

They may be talking funny money, but it's not funny business.
Not that Federal Reserve Notes aren't also "funny money."

Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss printing their own money. The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

"You have all these people who have local currency, and they're going to spend it at local stores," said Sura Faraj, a community organizer who is helping spearhead the plan. "They can't spend it at the Wal-Mart or the Home Depot, but they can spend it at their local hardware store or their local grocery store."

Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.

It's not a new concept—experts estimate there are at least 2,000 local currencies all over the world—but it is a practice that tends to burgeon during economic downturns. During the Great Depression, scores of communities relied on their own currencies.

And it's completely legal.

As long as communities don't create coins, or print bills that resemble federal dollars, organizations are free to produce their own greenbacks—and they'd don't even have to be green.

In Wisconsin, could that mean dough that looks like cheese?

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A Loud Silence

That's the response from the "antiwar" wing of the Democratic party to Obama's Iraq sellout

by Justin Raimondo

Is it really possible that President-elect Barack Obama intends to break his campaign promise to "end the war" in Iraq, and keep US troops in that country well beyond the sixteen month timetable for withdrawal he advocated during the campaign?

The answer, according to the New York Times, is a fairly certain yes:

"On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to "end the war" in Iraq.

"But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

"'I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary – likely to be necessary – to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,' Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team."

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