Peace and Prosperity
Revisiting Ron Paul's 1988 Case for Drug Legalization
Sat, 15 Jun 2019 16:48:52 GMT
Did you miss our drug war conference last month? You're in luck - we're putting all the speeches online! In this second speech of the conferenece, RPI Senior Fellow Adam Dick takes another look at Ron Paul's groundbreaking 1988 treatise on why all drugs should be legalized. Speech is from RPI's May 2019 conference "Winning the War on the War on Drugs."

For information on RPI's next conference in August, click here.
New York Ends Religious Exemption for Vaccinations
Sat, 15 Jun 2019 16:38:29 GMT

On Thursday, the New York state legislature passed and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law legislation (S2994A) eliminating the religious exemption parents in the state have been able to exercise to refuse state-mandated vaccinations for their children as a condition for their children attending school. This legal change leaves parents with only a narrow medical exemption given that New York had already barred use of a philosophical exemption.

The legislation will even affect many children attending private schools.

In 2015, California similarly eliminated the ability of parents to claim any exemption to vaccinations other than a medical exemption. I wrote about that legal change in articles here and here. Now there is a move in the California legislature to drastically curtail the ability of parents to obtain medical exemptions for their children.
Making 911 Call Responses Safer
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 22:26:08 GMT

Calling 911 is marketed as a means to obtain help and safety when danger arises. But, when cops arrive in response to a 911 call, they can make a dangerous situation more dangerous and even make it deadly. This can especially be the case when the individual who makes the 911 call or is the subject of the call has a disability or a mental health issue.

Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead expressed the problem pithily in his October of 2017 editorial “Don’t Call the Cops If You’re Autistic, Deaf, Mentally Ill, Disabled or Old”: “Trained to shoot first and ask questions later, police pose a risk to anyone with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.”

In addition to proposing reforms in how police are trained as a means to enhance the safety of 911 call responses, Whitehead suggests in his editorial that, for some emergency calls, police not be dispatched at all. Whitehead writes that some funds now directed to police departments could be used “to establish what one disability-rights activist describes as ‘a 911-type number dedicated to handling mental-health emergencies, with community crisis-response teams at the ready rather than police officers.’”

Along the lines of the suggestion made by Whitehead, Karen Morfitt reported Monday at CBS4 TV news in Denver, Colorado that the Denver police are planning to implement a pilot program, modeled after a program in operation in Eugene, Oregon, through which some 911 calls related to homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse would not result in the dispatching of any police. Instead, many such calls, when the situation does not involve a weapon or a threat to others, could be responded to by just a mental health worker and a medic.

Hopefully the program in the planning stages in Denver, and other similar programs, can help show the way to handling many emergency calls in a safer and more rights-respecting manner.
Persian Gulf Tanker Attack: Iran Guilty? False Flag? Cui Bono?
Thu, 13 Jun 2019 16:47:09 GMT
Just as the prime minister of Japan was in an historic visit to Iran (the first since the 1979 revolution), a Japanese-owned tanker (and one other) was attacked in the Persian Gulf. US neocons are pointing the finger at Iran. Does it make sense to attack Japan in the midst of productive talks? Will the propaganda machine ramp up war talk? Watch today's Liberty Report:

US Libertarian Party Chairman Promoting Video Calling for Venezuela Regime Change
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 14:14:10 GMT

You might hope that at least the United States Libertarian Party could be counted on not to support the US government’s effort to install its chosen politician as president of Venezuela. Oh well. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Earlier this month, a “Dear Libertarian” letter from party chairman Nicholas Sarwark appeared on the Libertarian Party’s website in which Sarwark promotes viewing a video by Kyle Varner — described by Sarwark as a party member — in which Varner delivers the US government’s regime change line in regard to the South America country.

In the video, Varner, purporting to speak for the Libertarian Party and all libertarians, compares Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro to Adolph Hitler, places the blame on the Venezuela government for problems in the country while neglecting to mention US sanctions or any other US government efforts that contribute to suffering in the Venezuela, and praises Juan Guaidó who is seeking to overthrow the Venezuela government and who the US government has been calling the “interim president” of Venezuela.

As if to make the support for a US government-orchestrated regime change operation in Venezuela yet more clear, Varner in the video even promotes that the “Chicago Boys” can improve things in Venezuela after the country’s current government is replaced. “
Chicago Boys” is a reference to University of Chicago-connected individuals that played a prominent role in the Chile government after a successful US-supported regime change in that country in 1973.
Mike Gravel Says Legalize All Drugs
Fri, 07 Jun 2019 13:18:33 GMT

The support for marijuana legalization is so strong among Democrats that there may be no hope for any United States presidential candidate who supports marijuana prohibition to achieve the party’s nomination. Indeed, we have witnessed Democratic candidate after candidate express support for legalization. Even long-time drug warrior Joe Biden, though he has held back from endorsing legalization, said through a spokesperson last month that he supports several significant marijuana law liberalizations.

Still, it is uncommon for a Democratic presidential candidate to take the further step of declaring his support for ending the entire drug war. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made such a declaration as he started his presidential campaign. In the case of Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel, a former US senator from Alaska, public support for ending the drug war goes back further.

You can watch here Gravel back in 2007 declaring his support for legalizing drugs and ending the drug war “that does no good to anybody”:

Gravel has continued promoting legalization as part of his 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign, declaring on his campaign website issues page titled “Ending the War on Drugs” that the US should “[d]ecriminalize, legalize, regulate, and tax all drugs, including opioids.” Plus, at the Gravel campaign’s YouTube page there is a trippy video in which Gravel, as an animated talking bug, denounces the drug war:

Amazon to Keep Aiding Government’s Facial Recognition Surveillance
Wed, 05 Jun 2019 21:40:11 GMT

In January, I wrote about a then-upcoming vote by Amazon shareholders on a resolution calling for the company’s board of directors to “prohibit sales of facial recognition technology to government agencies unless the Board concludes, after an evaluation using independent evidence, that the technology does not cause or contribute to actual or potential violations of civil and human rights.”

Here is an update. In May, in a vote of Amazon shareholders, a resolution to prevent the sales failed, receiving less than three percent of votes cast. Also, as noted in a Reuters report on the vote, a second proposal calling for the company to take the more limited step of studying how its Rekognition facial recognition technology harms civil rights and privacy also failed, receiving just 27.5 percent support.

The results of the shareholder vote are disheartening for people seeking to influence companies to stop enabling Big Brother surveillance.

No doubt about it, the United States government’s goal is to make surveillance ubiquitous. Meanwhile, companies like Amazon see a surveillance growth industry similar to and overlapping with military contractors in the military-industrial complex. It can be difficult to do the right thing when dollar signs are lighting up in your eyes.

Airports are one of the primary areas where government and its corporate accomplices are seeking to expand surveillance in America — including through using facial recognition technology. It makes sense. People have already become accustomed to being subjected to extensive privacy invasions at airports in the name of “security.”

Jason Kelley warned in an April Electronic Frontier Foundation article that privacy invasion is becoming increasingly prevalent at American airports. Airlines, as well as the United States government’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expanding their use of facial recognition technology to track people at airports. Kelley explains that the goal of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which CBP and TSA are parts, is “to use facial recognition on 97 percent of departing air passengers within the next four years and 100 percent of all international passengers in the top 20 U.S. airports by 2021.”

While many people would rather not be subjected to the tracking technology, Kelley writes that airlines and government agencies are not being upfront about how to opt out of the surveillance or even whether the surveillance is taking place. Of course, the default should not be for the government to surveille people just because they happen to be in an airport or traveling. The default should be respecting people’s privacy.
Texas Bans Red Light Cameras
Tue, 04 Jun 2019 21:18:17 GMT

On Saturday, after over ten years of red light cameras use by local governments across the state to impose fines, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that bans the use of red light cameras in Texas and ensures people who have been ticketed based upon photos taken by such cameras can register their vehicles despite their having not paid the tickets.

For a discussion of how state and local governments, working together with companies that provide and operate the cameras, have used red light cameras to surveille and fleece people across America, read John W. Whitehead’s October of 2013 Rutherford Institute editorial Red Light Cameras, Drones and Surveillance: Fleecing the Taxpayer in the Age of Petty Tyrannies. In his editorial, Whitehead also describes how danger on the roads can be increased by yellow light times being reduced in conjunction with the operation of red light cameras in an effort to generate more fines at the cost of increasing the number of traffic accidents.
Don’t Prosecute Julian Assange, Thank Him
Thu, 30 May 2019 21:27:04 GMT
In a new video commentary at Fox News, Andrew Napolitano, a constitutional scholar and former New Jersey state judge, argues that instead of prosecuting Julian Assange of WikiLeaks for the exposure of United States military wrongdoing “we should be thanking him.” Pointing to the US Supreme Court backing the legality of media publishing the Pentagon Papers exposing US military secrets related to the Vietnam War, Napolitano further asserts that Assange, like publishers of the Pentagon Papers, is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

“The values underlying the First Amendment,” explains Napolitano, “are that the press should be free to expose all the government does, and whatever the press has in its hands — no matter how it acquired it — it is free to publish those materials as long as they are newsworthy, and no one can harm a hair on the head of anyone who does so.”

Watch Napolitano’s complete video commentary here:

Napolitano also discusses in his new editorial this week the US effort to prosecute Assange. Napolitano, who is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul institute as well as the senior judicial analyst for Fox News, concludes his editorial with this thought-provoking statement:

Why was Assange indicted? Government killers are a mob, and mobs love anonymity. Assange assaulted their love by ending that anonymity. When the government kills and rejoices and lies about it in our names, we have a right to know of its behavior. Democracies spy on us all, yet they persist in punishing, to the ends of the earth, those who dare to shine a light upon them. Tyrannies do the same.
McAdams: Bolton ‘Giving Dumb Advice’ on Iran & N. Korea
Tue, 28 May 2019 22:57:39 GMT
Is President Trump starting to lose faith in his National Security Advisor, John Bolton? We can only hope, RPI's Daniel McAdams tells RT America's Scottie Hughes. From North Korea to Venezuela to Iran, it seems the President is going one way and his advisors are going the other:

Andrew Napolitano: President Trump Is Continuing the Long Trend of Expanding Presidential Power
Mon, 20 May 2019 17:58:42 GMT
President Donald Trump is participating in a “disturbing trend,” dating back to the Woodrow Wilson presidency, of United States presidents acting to expand presidential power beyond what is prescribed in the US Constitution, declares Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano in a new episode of his Fox News video editorial series Judge Napolitano’s Chambers.

Napolitano, a constitutional scholar and former New Jersey judge, explains the danger of this trend, stating that presidents writing their own laws, imposing their own taxes, and spending money how they want instead of how directed by legislation passed by Congress results in “too much of an accumulation of power in the presidency and it imbalances that delicate balance that the separation of powers created.”

Regarding Trump’s efforts to expand presidential powers, Napolitano points to three actions by Trump this month: redirecting to the budget for building a fence along a portion of the US-Mexico border money allocated by Congress for a different purpose, directing the secretary of defense to send US troops to secure the US border in violation of legal restriction on using the military for domestic law enforcement, and effectively raising taxes via imposing a tariff on imports from China that will result in Americans paying higher prices.

Watch Napolitano’s complete video editorial here:

Napolitano is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute.
Andrew Napolitano Praises San Francisco’s Facial Recognition Technology Ban
Fri, 17 May 2019 13:59:10 GMT
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano, in a new interview with host Stuart Varney at Fox Business, praised the San Francisco Board of Supervisors vote Tuesday to make San Francisco the first American city to ban city government use, including by the city’s police, of facial recognition surveillance technology.

Government’s use of facial recognition technology, Napolitano explains in the interview, “is surveillance, and surveillance requires a warrant, and if we get to the state of mass, suspicionless, warrantless surveillance, we will have lost the rights the Fourth Amendment was written to guarantee, and that’s the right to be left alone and the right to prevent fishing expeditions.”

Continuing, Napolitano, a former New Jersey state judge, warns, “when the laws are written not to preserve liberty, but to make it easier for the cops to enforce the laws, that’s called a police state.”

Watch Napolitano’s complete interview here:

Napolitano is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute.
Who Attacked Four Oil Tankers in United Arab Emirates?
Tue, 14 May 2019 16:56:20 GMT
Earlier this week mysterious reports came in of a sabotage of four (empty) oil tankers in port in the United Arab Emirates. They were not destroyed, just damaged. With the US military on a hair trigger in the Middle East, any suggestion that Iran was behind it would lead a big step closer to war. Some unnamed US officials blamed Iran, while the Iranians blamed Israel. RPI Director Daniel McAdams participated in a debate on PressTV on this topic and on US/Iran relations in general:

Lawrence Wilkerson: We Could See a Repeat of the Vietnam War in Venezuela
Tue, 14 May 2019 00:04:10 GMT
If the United States military invades Venezuela, we can expect to see a repeat there of what happened in Vietnam — a long war costly in lives lost and ending in defeat for the US. That is the conclusion of College of William & Mary professor and former Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson in a recent interview with host Sharmini Peries at The Real News.

Wilkerson, who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration and is a Vietnam War veteran, explains in the interview the strong opposition US military forces would encounter in Venezuela. States Wilkerson:
I’ve worked with the Venezuelan military. They are very professional. I would place them on the top of the list for South America. That puts them above Argentina, above Chile, whose militaries are quite competent too. And I would say that [US President Donald Trump] ought to be very, very careful about saying he’s going to send Marines or soldiers to Venezuela because the Venezuelan military will be unified immediately. It will take to the hills, and it will fight us as the Vietnamese did during the Vietnam Was and as the Taliban are in Afghanistan right now — to the last Marine, to the last soldier. And we’ll be going home, and we will not be very successful there.
Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview focused on relations between the US and Venezuela here:

Wilkerson is an Academic Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Think it is impossible that the US would invade Venezuela? Consider Scott Smith’s Saturday Associated Press report detailing the US-supported Venezuela opposition figure Juan Guaidó interacting with the US military and seeking its support in overthrowing the Venezuela government. The article also notes that “U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, the head of South Command” has declared he “‘stands ready’ to assist Guaidó.”
Lawrence Wilkerson Warns the US is Driving Down a Highway to War with China
Sat, 11 May 2019 15:33:28 GMT
Former Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, warns in a new The Real News interview with host Sharmini Peries that the United States government is driving down a “highway to war” with China — a war for which Wilkerson sees no sound justification.

The drive toward war is not undertaken in response to a real threat posed by China to the people of America. Instead, argues Wilkerson, the US government is moving toward war for reasons related to money for both the military and the broader military-industrial complex, as well to advance President Donald Trump’s domestic political goals.

Wilkerson, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s Academic Board, elaborates on the US military’s money-seeking motivation to advance the new China scare, stating:
All of this right now, first and foremost, is a budget ploy. They want more money. And that’s largely because their personnel costs are just eating their lunch. And, second, it’s an attempt to develop — and this has something to do with money too of course — another threat, another cold war, another feeding system. The military just hooks up like it is hooking up to an intravenous, you know, an IV system and the money just pours out—slush fund money, appropriated money, everything else.
More broadly, Wilkerson pegs the ramping up of confrontation with China as “all about keeping the [military-industrial] complex alive” that Wilkerson explains “the military was scared to death would disappear as we began to pay the American people back” a peace dividend at the end of the cold war. US government efforts against terrorism, explains Wilkerson, have also been used to ensure the money keeps flowing.

Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview here:

This Week's Psilocybin Mushroom Vote and the Drug War’s Future
Thu, 09 May 2019 20:09:44 GMT

What does the victory this week of a ballot measure making arrests of people 21 years old and older for personal use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest priority for Denver police portend for the future of the drug war in America?

Jacob Sullum, who will be speaking May 18 at a Ron Paul Institute conference titled “Winning the War on the War on Drugs,” provides a detailed and thoughtful answer to this question in a Thursday Reason article.

Sullum’s article begins with the following:
In 2007 Denver voters approved a ballot initiative that made arrests for marijuana possession the city's "lowest law enforcement priority." The margin of victory was 14 percentage points. On Tuesday, Denver voters approved a similar ballot initiative for psilocybin mushrooms. It won by a single percentage point, according to the "final unofficial results."

The direct practical consequences of that surprising outcome, which became clear yesterday evening after several news outlets (including Reason) erroneously reported that voters had rejected the measure, will be modest. But approval of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative is symbolically and politically important, since this is the first time a U.S. jurisdiction has decided that psilocybin use should not be treated as a crime.

That development suggests marijuana legalization, which Colorado voters approved in 2012 and most Americans now support, was only the beginning of a movement that could gradually replace the war on drugs with a legal regime that is more peaceful, humane, and tolerant. At the same time, the contrast between the psilocybin initiative's razor-thin victory and the decisive 2007 vote telling Denver police to stop arresting cannabis consumers suggests that further progress will be neither easy nor straightforward.
Continue reading Sullum’s article here.

Find out more about and obtain tickets for the May 18 Ron Paul Institute conference focused on the war on drugs here. The Houston, Texas conference will feature presentations by speakers including Sullum, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano, retired New York City Police Department narcotics detective and police officer John J. Baeza, and Ron Paul Institute Chairman Ron Paul.

undefinedGet your tickets to the RPI Conference on May 18th in Houston!

New York City Eliminates Jail Phone Call Fees
Wed, 08 May 2019 13:21:43 GMT

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city had eliminated charges for phone calls made by inmates in city jails. Karen Matthews of the Associated Press reported that New York City, with this elimination of fees that had been 50 cents for the first minute and five cents for each additional minute, is the first major American city to eliminate inmates’ phone call fees.

This is a welcome move against what I described in an October of 2013 Ron Paul Institute article as “phone system monopolies that charge inmates' families and friends exorbitant rates to communicate with their incarcerated loved ones.”

New York City is not alone in rolling back or eliminating the phone call fees. In August, for example, the Texas prison system voted to implement an over 75 percent reduction in phone call fees for Texas inmates.

De Blasio, quoted in Matthews' Associated Press article, succinctly describes some of the benefit of eliminating the fees, stating that making the phone calls free will ensure “people in custody have the opportunity to remain connected to their lawyers, families and support networks that are so crucial to re-entry into one’s community.”
Ron Paul Argues the Case Against Tariffs on Chinese Goods
Mon, 06 May 2019 23:35:57 GMT
Interviewed Monday by host Stuart Varney at Fox Business to present the libertarian view on United States tariffs on imports from China, Paul answered that libertarians dislike tariffs. Paul further noted the Constitution allows the use of tariffs to raise revenue “but not for fighting trade wars” — the purpose they are being put to in regard to China.

Competing with more free markets, argues Paul in the interview, is a much better option than imposing tariffs. Plus, Paul continues, when the US government imposes tariffs on Chinese products, “we punish ourselves because American consumers pay the tariffs” in the form of higher prices.

Watch Paul’s complete interview here:

Mexico’s President Says End the Drug War
Mon, 06 May 2019 18:37:01 GMT

Last year, the growing, sale, and possession of marijuana became legal countrywide in Canada. Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been considering marijuana legalization for his country as well, last week released a plan supportive of ending the war on drugs altogether in Mexico.

Obrador’s plan does not present particular legislation and will likely not lead to the hands-off approach libertarians advocate. Still, Obrador’s plan indicates the Mexico government will likely soon take a major step back from the draconian prohibition policy that has led to much death and suffering in the country.

The United States has some catching up to do.

undefinedGet your tickets to RPI's Drug War Conference for Houston, May 18th!

Legal Marijuana Home Delivery and Marijuana ‘Hospitality Spaces’ Coming to Colorado
Sat, 04 May 2019 13:35:16 GMT

It looks like people in Colorado, the state that along with Washington led the way in marijuana relegalization via ballot measure votes in 2012, will soon have significantly expanded legal choices for how they obtain and where they use marijuana. Kyle Jaeger reports at Marijuana Moment that the state Senate approved two marijuana bills this week, one legalizing delivery of medical and recreational marijuana to homes and the other legalizing the creation of “hospitality spaces” where marijuana may be consumed. These hospitality spaces could be connected to or separate from places where marijuana is legally sold.

Earlier this year, Alaska adopted regulations that would make it the first legalization state to explicitlypermit marijuana consumption at some places across the state where marijuana is legally sold.

It is expected that Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who has long supported legal marijuana and as governor is promoting the development of a leading marijuana industry in the state, will sign into law both bills. The home delivery bill, which had already been passed in the state House of Representatives, went directly to Polis for consideration. The Senate-passed hospitality spaces bill went to the governor after the additional step of being approved by the state House of Representatives, given that the Senate-passed bill is an amended version of a bill the House had earlier approved.