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WHO’s unelected global bureaucrats want to unfairly tax the poor

Cigarette Taxes

Black-and-white images of soldiers abroad brandishing “victory cigars” in the fight against a cruel and oppressive enemy lit up television screens in homes across the nation, and “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” by Merle Travis was a national hit on the air waves. Cigarettes were an icon of glamor with a hint of rugged sophistication, and America was very much the land of the free and home of the brave during World War II.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ensured that tobacco was a protected crop during this time, as tobacco companies sent millions of free cigarettes overseas in GI’s C-rations. Tobacco use was so prevalent by the end of the Second World War, that cigarette sales hit an all-time high.

Seven years after the end of World War II, in 1952, Reader’s Digest published “Cancer by the Carton,” the first series of articles that brought the dangers of smoking, which had previously been ignored, to the public’s attention. Twelve years later, in 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office published an extensive report that linked tobacco use with lung cancer and other diseases. Since then, the Surgeon General has released 32 reports on smoking, including its January 14, 2014 report, “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress.”

Americans must push back against Obama’s unconstitutional domestic spying program

Obama Domestic Spying

The Obama administration is pretty upset by news released by two of the few American corporations that liberals usually adore — Apple and Google. What have these corporations done to incur such wrath? Apple started it with the announcement that its iPhone 6 is being released with an encrypted operating system which will likely take years for government spies to crack, and worse (for government), Apple will not retain their users’ passwords, meaning they can’t divulge user data even if subpoenaed by the federal government. After Apple’s announcement, Google revealed that it will also provide additional protection for users, by setting as the default encryption on its OS to thwart government snooping.

The wailing Cassandras roaming the halls of the CIA and FBI temples are of course prophesying of the apocalyptic destruction that will result from this development, claiming terrorist attacks are more likely now because they will not be able to tap the communications of terrorists plotting to kill us.

And while that may be theoretically true, an argument can be made that it may actually improve their capabilities because now, instead of trying to sift through the phone calls and text messages of 310 million American citizens, they will now be forced to do actual investigative work by focusing their limited resources on only those people that have shown a likelihood of being involved in terrorist activities.

Government-funded scientists more interested in studying monkey erections than curing Ebola

Government-funded Studies

Whenever government bureaucrats (and taxpayer-funded entities) tell you they’re not getting enough of your money, you should see what programs they’re funding before allowing politicians to cut them another check on your behalf. Take for instance the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose Director — Dr. Francis Collins — told the Huffington Post last week they would already have a cure for Ebola if not for budget cuts over the past decade.

From the piece:

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

“We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.

Speaking from NIH’s headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, the typically upbeat Collins was somber when discussing efforts to control the Ebola epidemic. His days are now spent almost exclusively on the disease. But even after months of painstaking work, a breakthrough doesn’t seem on the immediate horizon.

Just great. If not for those budget-cutting politicians, we’d all be safe from Ebola right now, right?!

South Park lambastes antiquated cab cartel with Timmy’s “Handicar”

South Park

Comedy Central’s “South Park,” well-known for its provocative social and political commentary, took a swipe at the taxicab cartel during last night’s episode, titled “Handicar.”

Timmy, wheelchair-bound and raising money for summer camp, creates an app-based ride service, whereby he picks up customers in a red wagon hitched to his motorized wheelchair.

During an exchange between a cab driver and a passenger at the beginnig of the episode, South Park captures the essence of why so many people dislike traveling by taxi.

“Excuse me, I think someone puked back here,” the customer says.

The driver asks, “You don’t like puke?”

“Could you turn the radio down and the air conditioning up, please,” the customer replies.

“No air conditioning. Too expensive,” replies the driver as he slams on the brakes, causing the customer’s head to hit the protective barrier between the front and back seats.

“Not enough people taking cabs. I don’t know what’s wrong,” the driver exclaims at the end of the ride.

This is the mentality of the taxicab hegemony. There seems to be no recognition of the lack of good service and very little desire to improve that service. Additionally, in several cities in the U.S. and abroad, cab drivers are protesting the expansion of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft by snarling downtown traffic. How tone deaf.

Edward Snowden, Ebola, and Barack Obama’s quest for your personal information

Edward Snowden, Citizenfour

A new documentary has been released about Edward Snowden, and word is it’s a fascinating look into the life of a man who has become a fugitive of his country for doing what he believed was right for his countrymen.

Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour” (the handle Snowden used when he first began communicating with reporter Glenn Greenwald) is filmed in a Hong Kong hotel room around the time Snowden began communicating with Greenwald.

The pre-emptive mining of data has gone beyond suspicion of terrorist activity. As Snowden says: “We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind,” and a martial law for intercepting telecommunication is being created by stealth. This is despite the bland denials of every official up to and including President Obama, whose supercilious claim to have been investigating the issue before the Snowden revelations has been brutally exposed by this film.

What then are we to think when this same method of mining data is being hailed as one of the best defenses against another threat to the country: Ebola?

The hope is that by merging all the data in one place, analyzing it, and turning it into visually digestible graphs, BioIQ can make the data accessible to everyone who needs to work with it, regardless of their background.

Federalism Works! Don’t let Washington take a cut of local police funding

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From the Monday edition of the New York Daily News comes a shocking editorial revealing that Congress is so dysfunctional and hell-bent on cutting spending that it has even slashed a program that pays for bulletproof vests for police officers.

In 2010, the feds helped buy 193,259 vests nationwide at a cost of $37 million. This year, the number is just 51,910 — because funding fell to $19 million and the Justice Department now covers only one-third of a vest’s price instead of half.

But wait. Why is the federal government subsidizing local police forces?

The answer is pretty simple: the federal government subsidizes everything. It’s particularly fond of subsidizing state and local government services. In 2011, Washington paid for just under 25% [PDF] of all state and local expenses. So technically the 1/3 bulletproof vest funding is still relatively large compared to the 1/4 funding of all other local services.

SCOTUS accepts judicial sentencing tyranny in drug case

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It may sound like a case out of the kangaroo courts of North Korea or Cuba, but chillingly, it comes from the very heart of our republic.

In 2007 a Washington, D.C. man, Antwuan Ball, was convicted of one count of selling $600 worth of cocaine and acquitted of several other charges alleging a conspiracy of drug distribution, murder, and racketeering. However, the district court used the charges of which he was acquitted to increase his sentence from a few years for the one drug deal to 19 years for the conspiracy. Six years later, in 2013, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentence. And in a final act of injustice, the Supreme Court this week refused to hear the appeal, rendering permanent Ball’s sentence on charges for which he was acquitted.

The level of tyranny being tacitly endorsed here by 6 members of the highest court in the land is hard to exaggerate and to fathom. Judges should have a certain measure of discretion to level appropriate sentences after a conviction, but using charges for which the defendent was specifically acquitted for that purpose is against the entire spirit of due process and the Bill of Rights.

Economic Silver Lining: Gas prices are on the decline — and that’s good for average Americans

Gas prices are below $3 again in 1/3 of U.S. states. Prices are down 30% from four months ago and set to lower 15-20 cents more per gallon, per MarketWatch.

Gas prices

The explosion of fracking in North Dakota and other parts of the United States has created an increase in supply, while the global recession (or slowed economic growth, depending how you look at it) has kept demand lower.

Oil companies aren’t happy about it, but individual consumer are. And they should be, for more reasons than their pocketbook.

One reason is job creation. More U.S. oil production means more U.S. jobs. Not just jobs with oil companies, either. Employees working for oil companies need places to eat, shop, and live. And more affordable transportation is also better for jobs. At some point, commutes will cost more than it’s worth to go to work.

Another reason is the environment. Oil is better for the environment than coal. Of course, there are other sources of energy that are better for the environment than oil, but when oil costs less, the positive economic result is seen by the environment as well. Historically, a better economy not only helps families living in poverty, it allows people to more disposable income and the ability to make choices that are better for the environment and even offset their environmental impact.

The third reason to cheer for low gas prices is that it is a result of increased U.S. oil production, because of which the U.S. is more energy-independent. It is probably good to be less reliant on unstable oil-rich countries such as Iran and Venezuela.

For Heartland Conservatives, opposing corporate handouts to King Corn takes backbone, resolve

Corn Subsidies

Conservative support for corn subsidies may sound like an oxymoron — unless you’re from the heartland. In that case, it could be all you know.

Iowa Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jodi Ernst says she is against government subsidies, but when it comes to corn, she says that she’ll make sure to cut those last.

Unfortunately, as with other types of corporate welfare, farm subsidies have historically proved nearly impossible to cut. The problem is that farming subsidies are popular, even if corporate welfare isn’t. But make no mistake — corn subsidies are corporate welfare, the antithesis of a free market.

If she supports free markets and cutting corporate welfare, Ms. Ernst could, at a minimum, offer a plan for ways to cut subsidies in the future without affecting current recipients, the same way that people are talking more and more about Medicare and Social Security. These programs, after all, are popular but pricey, and the federal government doesn’t make its own money.

Not all politicians are brave enough to have a real discussion about the unsustainability of government programs. If they are going to pay lip service to preserving popular government programs, then they ought to step up and prove to the people that they are willing to put all options on the table in order to figure things out.

 


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