As an original Firefly fan there is a special place in my heart for Joss Whedon and anything he puts his name on. So, when I saw he wrote the screenplay for Avengers, I took an interest in all the supporting films, and was pleased to discover they all contained the subtle (and sometimes explicit) liberty themes that made Firefly such an awesome series. Now it’s been announced that Whedon is one of the writers for Avengers II, and the supporting films are in the making. So, even though Whedon isn’t a writer for Iron Man 3, and the upcoming Captain America 2, they represent the support infrastructure of Whedon’s Avengers 2, and seeing the liberty themes continue in Iron Man 3 just makes me that much more excited about the entire Avengers franchise.
Warning: The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Iron Man 3!
The Department of Justice recently issued a letter to the University of Montana at Missoula which seeks to “serve as a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.” According to analysis by PJ Media, Reason, and others, this letter changes the accepted definition of sexual harassment to include a wide range of forms of protected speech. Essentially, the definition has been changed to include any form of unwanted sexual conduct, defined after-the-fact by the accuser, including verbal statements made on only one occasion.
Civil liberties activists are concerned that this broad wording could redefine lots of normal, innocuous activity as criminal harassment. For example, asking someone out on a date one time, even if the advance is rejected, is not considered criminal behavior by any reasonable person. This new definition would criminalize that. Also, sexually-oriented language is sometimes a part of an artistic presentation or public protected speech of certain types. It doesn’t appear that the unwanted verbal conduct has to be specifically directed at an individual in a harassing way in order to meet this definition. Check out Reason’s analysis of the new guidelines below and let’s discuss the DOJ’s efforts to criminalize dating after the jump.
There is a disturbing new trend in the War on Drugs. Lately, news reports have begun to emerge in which undercover officers talk lonely or sympathetic people, who do not ordinarily use or sell drugs, into buying them on their behalf, only to bust them afterward. This meets the classic definition of entrapment, as it is unlikely that the individuals would have committed the “crime” in question had the officer not encouraged them to do so.
According to ABC News, two parents are suing the Temecula Valley Unified School District after their autistic child was entrapped as a part of an in-school drug sting operation. The Snodgrass family is alleging that their child’s special needs and difficulty connecting with friends were taken advantage of by an undercover officer, who begged the student to provide him with marijuana for over three weeks. The special needs child, whose identity remains anonymous for privacy reasons, eventually gave in, produced half of a used joint which he received from a local homeless person, and was promptly arrested.
When it comes to medical marijuana, California is getting a first-hand lesson on the importance of states’ rights. Compassionate local and state laws allow sufferers to consume marijuana under medical supervision, though federal laws contradict this. Per the Constitution, states and localities have the authority to make law on issues of crime and punishment, except in those rare cases like treason and piracy which were reserved for enforcement at the federal level.
Consequently, San Marcos resident Ronnie Chang became a human political football when he was charged with over 60 federal crimes for operating a legal medical marijuana collective. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, however, just took the political fight against the War on Drugs to another level at a recent press conference, as he called for jurors in the local community to reject the charges against Ronnie Chang in an act of jury nullification, citing the legality of medical marijuana in his city and state. Check out the YouTube video of his historic press conference below.
I’ll tell you what. Angela Keaton can keep a secret. This weekend Angela represented AntiWar.com, along with Teresa Warmke from Fr33 Aid and Carla Gericke from the Free State Project at the Bitcoin 2013 Conference, and not once did she let on that this news was breaking just a few days later.
AntiWar.com is a non-profit news organization devoted to the cause of ending military aggression and imperialism. It is read by libertarians, pacifists, leftists, rightists, independents, greens, reds, yellows and pinks. Best of all it reports on foreign policy from a principled non-interventionist perspective. And now AntiWar.com is suing the FBI after discovering they were the subject of secret surveillance.
The White House is flooded with scandals this week. Attempts to politicize the IRS against the Tea Party backfired, as did efforts by the administration to spy on Associated Press reporters. On the national security front, shocking new allegations have emerged regarding the tragedy in Benghazi in which four Americans lost their lives.
According to a report by Roger L Simon at PJ Media, a pair of US ex-diplomats indicated that another group of whistleblowers are preparing to come forward with shocking allegations that Clinton, in an effort to back the revolution against Gaddafi, provided stinger missiles to Al Qaeda affiliated groups in Libya, who then used those weapons in the attack in Benghazi.
This weekend marked the first major US Bitcoin Summit at the San Jose Convention Center in California. There’s a full schedule of panels, presenters, and speakers discussing the future of the world’s most popular peer-to-peer digital currency. I’m attending with Bitcoin Not Bombs supporting representatives from Fr33 Aid, Anti War and the Free State Project who are hosting a panel discussion on the advantages of Bitcoin to non-profit organizations.
There’s a lot of buzz around the conference about who was the first Bitcoin project to do what. So, I’d like to announce that Bitcoin Not Bombs is the world’s first official Bitcoin firsts adjudicating committee. Think of it as a kind of a Satoshi Book of World Records.
We also recently saw the State’s first so-called attack on Bitcoin.
Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh is no stranger to protest. Ever since he returned from serving his country, he has continued his service to the Constitution by exercising his First (and other) Amendment rights at every possible occasion, in some cases engaging in civil disobedience to expose unjust laws.
Though he recently made news by announcing an open carry march on Washington DC to raise awareness to Second Amendment rights, US News is now reporting that Adam Kokesh was arrested over the weekend at Philadelphia’s “Smoke Down Prohibition” rally, an event at which some participants violated marijuana laws by publicly smoking. Allegedly, reports are coming in that Kokesh may have been arrested on charges of “assaulting a federal officer,” which could put him at risk of facing 20 years in prison. Watch the video of his arrest below, which, you will note, contains no acts of resistance nor any assaults on any federal officers.
Americans are rightly frustrated with the IRS. Lawmakers have crafted the most obscure, complex, difficult-to-understand tax code possible, and citizens often find themselves facing steep tax debts after misunderstanding the filing process. Meanwhile, the IRS itself has been consumed by scandal this week, as reporters recently uncovered that the agency has been applying tax policies differently to organizations based on their political views.
Just as the public’s frustration hit its peak, Mashable is reporting that Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis posted a picture of himself urinating on an IRS branch office via his personal Instagram account. In related anti-tax and pop culture news, Reason Magazine is now covering a rumor that we scooped in this blog a few weeks back: WWE wrestler Kane, also known as the libertarian activist Glenn Jacobs, is so upset about Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander’s quest to create an internet sales tax that Jacobs is considering challenging Alexander in the GOP primary.
When the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 first passed, civil libertarians like Ron Paul warned that future administrations might use those unconstitutional powers to spy on and thus intimidate members of Congress. When the executive branch has the power to sift through legislators’ text messages and emails, the presidential administration also has the ability to use information found therein to intimidate and manipulate the legislature. This is a problem that directly conflicts with an American political principle known as the separation of powers.
Associated Press reporters first felt the sting of lost liberty when their phones were recently spied on by the Department of Justice. Many members of the media are feeling enraged and violated after learning that their private communications were read by the very officials they’re entrusted to hold to account. However, it doesn’t just stop there. HotAir is reporting on shocking new allegations by California Congressman Devin Nunes that the Department of Justice also tapped the phones of elected officials in the House of Representatives. Let’s discuss checks-and-balances and the separation of powers after the jump.