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Annotation 1 – First Amendment – FindLaw

Posted: September 22, 2016 at 7:46 pm

RELIGION

An Overview

Madison’s original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ”The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.” 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, . . .” 3 It was in the conference committee of the two bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was written with its some what more indefinite ”respecting” phraseology. 4 Debate in Congress lends little assistance in interpreting the religion clauses; Madison’s position, as well as that of Jefferson who influenced him, is fairly clear, 5 but the intent, insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who voted for the language and those in the States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation.

Scholarly Commentary .–The explication of the religion clauses by the scholars has followed a restrained sense of their meaning. Story, who thought that ”the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice,” 6 looked upon the prohibition simply as an exclusion from the Federal Government of all power to act upon the subject. ”The situation . . . of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.” 7

”Probably,” Story also wrote, ”at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.” 8 The object, then, of the religion clauses in this view was not to prevent general governmental encouragement of religion, of Christianity, but to prevent religious persecution and to prevent a national establishment. 9

This interpretation has long since been abandoned by the Court, beginning, at least, with Everson v. Board of Education, 10 in which the Court, without dissent on this point, declared that the Establishment Clause forbids not only practices that ”aid one religion” or ”prefer one religion over another,” but as well those that ”aid all religions.” Recently, in reliance on published scholarly research and original sources, Court dissenters have recurred to the argument that what the religion clauses, principally the Establishment Clause, prevent is ”preferential” governmental promotion of some religions, allowing general governmental promotion of all religion in general. 11 The Court has not responded, though Justice Souter in a major concurring opinion did undertake to rebut the argument and to restate the Everson position. 12

Court Tests Applied to Legislation Affecting Religion .–Before considering the development of the two religion clauses by the Supreme Court, one should notice briefly the tests developed by which religion cases are adjudicated by the Court. While later cases rely on a series of rather well-defined, if difficult-to-apply, tests, the language of earlier cases ”may have [contained] too sweeping utterances on aspects of these clauses that seemed clear in relation to the particular cases but have limited meaning as general principles.” 13 It is well to recall that ”the purpose [of the religion clauses] was to state an objective, not to write a statute.” 14

In 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in which he declared that it was the purpose of the First Amendment to build ”a wall of separation between Church and State.” 15 In Reynolds v. United States, 16 Chief Justice Waite for the Court characterized the phrase as ”almost an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.” In its first encounters with religion-based challenges to state programs, the Court looked to Jefferson’s metaphor for substantial guidance. 17 But a metaphor may obscure as well as illuminate, and the Court soon began to emphasize neutrality and voluntarism as the standard of restraint on governmental action. 18 The concept of neutrality itself is ”a coat of many colors,” 19 and three standards that could be stated in objective fashion emerged as tests of Establishment Clause validity. The first two standards were part of the same formulation. ”The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. That is to say that to withstand the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.” 20 The third test is whether the governmental program results in ”an excessive government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of degree . . . [T]he questions are whether the involvement is excessive, and whether it is a continuing one calling for official and continuing surveillance leading to an impermissible degree of entanglement.” 21 In 1971 these three tests were combined and restated in Chief Justice Burger’s opinion for the Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 22 and are frequently referred to by reference to that case name.

Although at one time accepted in principle by all of the Justices, 23 the tests have sometimes been difficult to apply, 24 have recently come under direct attack by some Justices, 25 and with increasing frequency have not been applied at all by the Court. 26 While continued application is uncertain, the Lemon tests nonetheless have served for twenty years as the standard measure of Establishment Clause validity and explain most of the Court’s decisions in the area. 27 As of the end of the Court’s 1991-92 Term, there was not yet a consensus among Lemon critics as to what substitute test should be favored. 28 Reliance on ”coercion” for that purpose would eliminate a principal distinction between establishment cases and free exercise cases and render the Establishment Clause largely duplicative of the Free Exercise Clause. 29

Justice O’Connor has suggested that it is inappropriate to try to shoehorn all Establishment cases into one test, and has called instead for recognition that different contexts may call for different approaches. Supp.1 For example, the Justice proposes that cases involving government ”speech” on religious topics be judged by an endorsement test that would invalidate government actions only if a reasonable observer would perceive the action as an endorsement or disapproval of religious belief. Supp.2

Government Neutrality in Religious Disputes .–One value that both clauses of the religion section serve is to enforce governmental neutrality in deciding controversies arising out of religious disputes. Schism sometimes develops within churches or between a local church and the general church, resulting in secession or expulsion of one faction or of the local church. A dispute over which body is to have control of the property of the church will then often be taken into the courts. It is now established that both religion clauses prevent governmental inquiry into religious doctrine in settling such disputes, and instead require courts simply to look to the decision-making body or process in the church and to give effect to whatever decision is officially and properly made.

The first such case was Watson v. Jones, 30 which was decided on common-law grounds in a diversity action without explicit reliance on the First Amendment. A constitutionalization of the rule was made in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 31 in which the Court held unconstitutional a state statute that recognized the autonomy and authority of those North American branches of the Russian Orthodox Church which had declared their independence from the general church. Recognizing that Watson v. Jones had been decided on nonconstitutional grounds, the Court thought nonetheless that the opinion ”radiates . . . a spirit of freedom for religious organizations, and independence from secular control or manipulation–in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” 32 The power of civil courts to resolve church property disputes was severely circumscribed, the Court held, because to permit resolution of doctrinal disputes in court was to jeopardize First Amendment values. What a court must do, it was held, is to look at the church rules: if the church is a hierarchical one which reposes determination of ecclesiastical issues in a certain body, the resolution by that body is determinative, while if the church is a congregational one prescribing action by a majority vote, that determination will prevail. 33 On the other hand, a court confronted with a church property dispute could apply ”neutral principles of law, developed for use in all property disputes,” when to do so would not require resolution of doctrinal issues. 34 In a later case the Court elaborated on the limits of proper inquiry, holding that an argument over a matter of internal church government, the power to reorganize the dioceses of a hierarchical church in this country, was ”at the core of ecclesiastical affairs” and a court could not interpret the church constitution to make an inde pendent determination of the power but must defer to the interpretation of the body authorized to decide. 35

In Jones v. Wolf, 36 however, a divided Court, while formally adhering to these principles, appeared to depart in substance from their application. A schism had developed in a local church which was a member of a hierarchical church, and the majority voted to withdraw from the general church. The proper authority of the general church determined that the minority constituted the ”true congregation” of the local church and awarded them authority over it. The Court approved the approach of the state court in applying neutral principles by examining the deeds to the church property, state statutes, and provisions of the general church’s constitution concerning ownership and control of church property in order to determine that no language of trust in favor of the general church was contained in any of them and that the property thus belonged to the local congregation. 37 Further, the Court held, the First Amendment did not prevent the state court from applying a presumption of majority rule to award control to the majority of the local congregation, provided that it permitted defeasance of the presumption upon a showing that the identity of the local church is to be determined by some other means as expressed perhaps in the general church charter. 38 The dissent argued that to permit a court narrowly to view only the church documents relating to property ownership permitted the ignoring of the fact that the dispute was over ecclesiastical matters and that the general church had decided which faction of the congregation was the local church. 39

Thus, it is unclear where the Court is on this issue. Jones v. Wolf restated the rule that it is improper to review an ecclesiastical dispute and that deference is required in those cases, but by approving a neutral principles inquiry which in effect can filter out the doctrinal issues underlying a church dispute, the Court seems to have approved at least an indirect limitation of the authority of hierarchical churches. 40

Footnotes

[Footnote 1] 1 Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).

[Footnote 2] The committee appointed to consider Madison’s proposals, and on which Madison served, with Vining as chairman, had rewritten the religion section to read: ”No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.” After some debate during which Madison suggested that the word ”national” might be inserted before the word ”religion” as ”point[ing] the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent,” the House adopted a substitute reading: ”Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 729-31 (August 15, 1789). On August 20, on motion of Fisher Ames, the language of the clause as quoted in the text was adopted. Id. at 766. According to Madison’s biographer, ”[t]here can be little doubt that this was written by Madison.” I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800 at 271 (1950).

[Footnote 3] This text, taken from the Senate Journal of September 9, 1789, appears in 2 B. Schwartz (ed.), The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History 1153 (1971). It was at this point that the religion clauses were joined with the freedom of expression clauses.

[Footnote 4] 1 Annals of Congress 913 (September 24, 1789). The Senate concurred the same day. See I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800, 271-72 (1950).

[Footnote 5] During House debate, Madison told his fellow Members that ”he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 730 (August 15, 1789). That his conception of ”establishment” was quite broad is revealed in his veto as President in 1811 of a bill which in granting land reserved a parcel for a Baptist Church in Salem, Mississippi; the action, explained President Madison, ”comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.”’ 8 The Writings of James Madison (G. Hunt. ed.) 132-33 (1904). Madison’s views were no doubt influenced by the fight in the Virginia legislature in 1784-1785 in which he successfully led the opposition to a tax to support teachers of religion in Virginia and in the course of which he drafted his ”Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments” setting forth his thoughts. Id. at 183-91; I. Brant, James Madison–The Nationalist 1780-1787, 343-55 (1948). Acting on the momentum of this effort, Madison secured passage of Jefferson’s ”Bill for Religious Liberty”. Id. at 354; D. Malone, Jefferson the Virginian 274-280 (1948). The theme of the writings of both was that it was wrong to offer public support of any religion in particular or of religion in general.

[Footnote 6] 3 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 1865 (1833).

[Footnote 7] Id. at 1873.

[Footnote 8] Id. at 1868.

[Footnote 9] For a late expounding of this view, see T. Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States 224-25 (3d ed. 1898).

[Footnote 10] 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). Establishment Clause jurisprudence since, whatever its twists and turns, maintains this view.

[Footnote 11] Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 91 (1985) (then-Justice Rehnquist dissenting). More recently, dissenters, including now-Chief Justice Rehnquist, have appeared reconciled to a ”constitutional tradition” in which governmental endorsement of religion is out of bounds, even if it is not correct as a matter of history. See Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2678, 2683-84 (1992) (Justice Scalia, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices White and Thomas, dissenting).

[Footnote 12] Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2667 (1992) (Justice Souter, joined by Justices Stevens and O’Connor, concurring).

[Footnote 13] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970).

[Footnote 14] Id.

[Footnote 15] 16 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 281 (A. Libscomb ed., 1904).

[Footnote 16] 98 U.S. 145, 164 (1879).

[Footnote 17] Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 16 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 , 212 (1948); cf. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 317 (1952) (Justice Black dissenting). In Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 614 (1971), Chief Justice Burger remarked that ”the line of separation, far from being a ‘wall,’ is a blurred, indistinct and variable barrier depending on all the circumstances of a particular relationship.” Similar observations were repeated by the Chief Justice in his opinion for the Court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 673 (1984) (the metaphor is not ”wholly accurate”; the Constitution does not ”require complete separation of church and state [but] affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any”).

[Footnote 18] Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Justice Goldberg concurring); Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 694 -97 (1970) (Justice Harlan concurring). In the opinion of the Court in the latter case, Chief Justice Burger wrote: ”The course of constitutional neutrality in this area cannot be an absolutely straight line; rigidity could well defeat the basic purpose of these provisions, which is to insure that no religion be sponsored or favored, none commanded, and none inhibited. The general principle deducible from the First Amendment and all that has been said by the Court is this: that we will not tolerate either governmentally established religion or governmental interference with religion. Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference.” Id. at 669.

[Footnote 19] Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 249 (1968) (Justice Harlan concurring).

[Footnote 20] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 (1963).

[Footnote 21] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 -75 (1970).

[Footnote 22] 403 U.S. 602, 612 -13 (1971).

[Footnote 23] E.g., Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 653 (1980), and id. at 665 (dissenting opinion); Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 40 (1980), and id. at 43 (dissenting opinion).

[Footnote 24] The tests provide ”helpful signposts,” Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973), and are at best ”guidelines” rather than a ”constitutional caliper;” they must be used to consider ”the cumulative criteria developed over many years and applying to a wide range of governmental action.” Inevitably, ”no ‘bright line’ guidance is afforded.” Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 677 -78 (1971). See also Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 761 & n.5, 773 n.31 (1973); Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 662 (1980), and id. at 663 (Justice Blackmun dissenting).

[Footnote 25] See, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 636 -40 (1987) (Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting) (advocating abandonment of the ”purpose” test); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 108 -12 (1985) (Justice Rehnquist dissenting); Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 426 -30 (1985) (Justice O’Connor, dissenting) (addressing difficulties in applying the entanglement prong); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 -69 (Justice White concurring in judgment) (objecting to entanglement test). Justice Kennedy has also acknowledged criticisms of the Lemon tests, while at the samed time finding no need to reexamine them. See, e.g., Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 655 -56 (1989). At least with respect to public aid to religious schools, Justice Stevens would abandon the tests and simply adopt a ”no-aid” position. Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 671 (1980).

[Footnote 26] See Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding legislative prayers on the basis of historical practice); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2655 (1992) (rejecting a request to reconsider Lemon because the practice of invocations at public high school graduations was invalid under established school prayer precedents); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1 (1993) (upholding provision of sign-language interpreter to deaf student attending parochial school); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481 (1994) (invalidating law creating special school district for village composed exclusively of members of one religious sect). The Court has also held that the tripartite test is not applicable when law grants a denominational preference, distinguishing between religions; rather, the distinction is to be subjected to the strict scrutiny of a suspect classification. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 -46 (1982).

[Footnote 27] Justice Blackmun, concurring in Lee, contended that Marsh was the only one of 31 Establishment cases between 1971 and 1992 not to be decided on the basis on the Lemon tests. 112 S. Ct. at 2663, n.4.

[Footnote 28] In 1990 Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Scalia, proposed that ”neutral” accommodations of religion should be permissible so long as they do not establish a state religion, and so long as there is no ”coercion” to participate in religious exercises. Westside Community Bd. of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 260 -61. The two Justices parted company, however, over the permissiblity of invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies, Justice Scalia in dissent strongly criticizing Justice Kennedy’s approach in the opinion of the Court for its reliance on psychological coercion. Justice Scalia would not ”expand[ ] the concept of coercion beyond acts backed by threat of penalty.” Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2684 (1992). Chief Justice Rehnquist has advocated limiting application to a prohibition on establishing a national (or state) church or favoring one religious group over another. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 98 , 106 (1985) (dissenting).

[Footnote 29] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 -23 (1963). See also Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 248 -49 (1968); and Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 689 (1971); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2673 (Justice Souter concurring) (”a literal application of the coercion test would render the Establishment Clause a virtual nullity”).

[Footnote 1 (1996 Supplement)] Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet,114 S. Ct. 2481, 2498-99 (1994).

[Footnote 2 (1996 Supplement)] Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (concurring); Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 625 (1989) (concurring); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481, 2500 (1994) (concurring).

[Footnote 30] 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679 (1872).

[Footnote 31] 344 U.S. 94 (1952). Kedroff was grounded on the Free Exercise Clause. Id. at 116. But the subsequent cases used a collective ”First Amendment” designation.

[Footnote 32] Id. at 116. On remand, the state court adopted the same ruling on the merits but relied on a common-law rule rather than the statute. This too was struck down. Kreshik v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 363 U.S. 190 (1960).

[Footnote 33] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447 , 450-51 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367 (1970). For a similar rule of neutrality in another context, see United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (denying defendant charged with mail fraud through dissemination of purported religious literature the right to present to the jury evidence of the truthfulness of the religious views he urged).

[Footnote 34] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 449 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God of Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367, 368 (1970). See also id. at 368-70 (Justice Brennan concurring).

[Footnote 35] The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Dionisije Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 697, 720 -25 (1976). In Gonzalez v. Archbishop, 280 U.S. 1 (1929), the Court had permitted limited inquiry into the legality of the actions taken under church rules. The Serbian Eastern Court disapproved of this inquiry with respect to concepts of ”arbitrariness,” although it reserved decision on the ”fraud” and ”collusion” exceptions. 426 U.S. at 708 -20.

[Footnote 36] 443 U.S. 595 (1979). In the majority were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Stevens. Dissenting were Justices Powell, Stewart, White, and Chief Justice Burger.

[Footnote 37] Id. at 602-06.

[Footnote 38] Id. at 606-10. Because it was unclear whether the state court had applied such a rule and applied it properly, the Court remanded.

[Footnote 39] Id. at 610.

[Footnote 40] The Court indicated that the general church could always expressly provide in its charter or in deeds to property the proper disposition of disputed property. But here the general church had decided which faction was the ”true congregation,” and this would appear to constitute as definitive a ruling as the Court’s suggested alternatives. Id. at 606.

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Annotation 1 – First Amendment – FindLaw

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Ron Paul Liberty Report – Home

Posted: at 7:42 pm

Do you really own something if the governmentforces youto make never-ending payments on it?

I think the answer is no.

Youpossesssuch an item, but you dontownit outright. Its an important distinction.

A ridiculous threat to property rights has infected most of the world like a virus. Most people unquestioningly accept it as a normal part of lifelike gravity or the sun setting in the west.

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Government seeks to help the poor, but only succeeds in hurting them even more. The same can be said for when government seeks to provide “paid maternity leave”. Once again, in its attempt to supposedly help women, it can only end up hurting them.

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Are you tired of the exhausting displays of political correctness in America? Can’t you just feel the liberty and ability to think freely being squeezed out of society? Did you ever wonder where it all came from? After all, there is nothing more powerful than ideas. How did we get here, and who has been behind it? Well, below you’ll find an extremely easy to understand presentation that will open your eyes. Make the time to watch it. You won’t regret it:

Today’s Liberty Report is joined by US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) to discuss the state of the liberty movement both inside and outside of government. What can we do to make a difference? Streamed LIVE Sept 21, 2016

Just over a week after a ceasefire deal was announced by the US and Russia, the deal is a smoldering ruin. A US strike on Syrian forces, US-backed rebel groups that refuse to break with al-Qaeda, and an attack yesterday on a humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo have obliterated any hopes for an end to the violence. What should the US do next? Streamed LIVE Sept 20, 2016

Has the surveillance state claimed the last bit of our privacy? Our lives are being stored at enormous “data centers” in the US and abroad. Everything we do, every transaction, every website we visit. This has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with control. Today’s Liberty Report is joined by former State Department official Peter Van Buren to discuss the surveillance state as so masterfully depicted in the recent Oliver Stone film, Snowden.Published Sept 19, 2016

As Hillary Clinton calls millions of Americans “irredeemable” and “deplorable,” Ron Paul explains why those terms apply to American politics itself. Gang warfare and a sprawling government enforcer wasn’t supposed to be the fate of the “land of the free.” There is a better way to live. Don’t miss today’s Myth-Busters! Publishes Sept 16, 2016

Yesterday US National Security Advisor Susan Rice signed a “memorandum of understanding” committing the US to providing $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. Philip Giraldi joins today’s Liberty Report to break down the agreement and discuss whether it really does, as Rice claims, benefit US security. Streamed LIVE Sept 15, 2016

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The Abolition of Work and Other Essays: Bob Black …

Posted: September 20, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Bob Black (born Robert Charles Black, Jr. in 1951) is an American anarchist, and author of books such as Anarchy After Leftism, Friendly Fire (New Autonomy Series), and Beneath the Underground.

This book contains various essays, mostly written from 1977-1985. They have previously appeared in a very large variety of periodicals (e.g., Beatniks from Space; Church of the Latter Day Punk; Loompanics Unlimited Book Catalog; Semiotext(e); Twisted Imbalance, etc.).

He begins the title essay by stating, “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world.” (Pg. 17) He later elaborates, “Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us then even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education.” (Pg. 22) He concludes with the exhortation, “Workers of the world… relax!” (Pg. 33)

His observations are often pointed and humorous: e.g., “Remember, pain is just God’s way of hurting you” (Pg. 37); “A libertarian is just a Republican who takes drugs” (pg. 141); “The typical Loompanics reader is, I conjecture, a surrealist trapped in the body of an engineer.” (Pg. 154)

Black’s writing is quite interesting, and of interest to libertarians, individualists, anarchists, and other free spirits.

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The bizarre world of bitcoin mining finds a new home in …

Posted: September 14, 2016 at 1:09 am

Inside a metal shed in the Tibetan highlands of western China, thousands of microprocessors flank narrow corridors, generating a constant hum and stifling waves of heat.

Outside, the sky is clear and blue, with a mountain peak looming at the top of a narrow wooded valley. A flock of goats ambles idly past a pile of discarded foam packaging. Inside, though, tranquility is transformed into clamor. Red, blue and green lights constantly flash; cooling water trickles down the walls, and large ventilation fans thrum as they struggle to shift the hot air produced by all this concentrated computing power.

This is a bitcoin mine, the engine room of the worlds leading digital currency. The microprocessors here approve and record all the transactions that keep the bitcoin system running. They also compete to solve complex mathematical problems and are rewarded with bitcoins: Thats a way of putting fresh digital currency into circulation and incentivizing more people to set up mining operations.

Bitcoin began as a utopian, libertarian dream, a decentralized currency outside the control of governments, a system that gives its users the anonymity of cash and the instant, global power of email. This was a system built not just for convenience, but also for those who cant bring themselves to trust the global financial system, created by a programmer whose identity remains a mystery.

Across Tibet, China is busy pulling mineral resources out of the ground; there is even a gold mine close by. But here in Kongyu, most of the mining is virtual. It is here because of extremely cheap hydropower, cheap wages and perhaps because Chinese entrepreneurs have a knack for the business.

[Chinas scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works]

For a while, bitcoin was effectively kidnapped by drug dealers, becoming the anonymous payment backbone of the Silk Road, a black market in illegal drugs that flourished on the dark Net until the FBI closed that market down in 2013.

Today it is an industry that is starting to come of age, but whose center of gravity has shifted to China, and away from utopian dreamers toward venture capitalists.

When bitcoin was invented, the people dedicated to it were mostly crypto-punks and libertarians, said Eric Mu, the chief marketing officer with HaoBTC, which operates the bitcoin mine in this township in Chinas western Sichuan province. Now they are more like bankers and lawyers who see opportunities in the industry. And as they join, the industry is changing.

In this case, changing also means moving to China.

Today, mines run by Chinese companies account for about 70percent of the worlds bitcoin processing power, its factories produce the cheapest microprocessors to run these mines, and its exchanges account for about 70percent of the worlds bitcoin trade.

It is increasingly big business. Altogether there around more than 15 million bitcoin in existence: Each is worth $615 at current prices, with a market capitalization of $9.2 billion.

For some, Chinese domination of an industry once controlled by libertarian crypto-punks is a rich irony. For others, it is a more practical threat: Chinese miners, some argued, have been standing in the way of reforms needed to speed up transaction speeds on bitcoins fast-expanding network of users.

But those concerns might be overblown.

Some people in the Western world were painting Chinese miners with too broad a brush, said Emin Gn Sirer, a computer science professor at Cornell University. Its not the case that all Chinese miners are part of the same enterprise or are colluding.

But Sirer identifies one risk with the concentration of mining power here: If the Chinese government wanted, it could in theory crack down on miners and force them to block certain bitcoin accounts.

They would not be able to usurp funds, but they could stop the motion of funds, he said, describing exactly the sort of government control bitcoin was supposed to guard against.

These are concerns that have parallels with the way China is using its digital market power to reshape the Internet and influence the global debate about censorship and surveillance.

But here, in the mountains of Sichuan, it is hard to see much evidence of a Chinese plot to bring bitcoin to heel.

The Chinese government has employed a fairly light touch. Although it banned banks from taking part in bitcoin trading in 2013, it left ordinary people free to buy and trade the crypto-currency, and miners free to operate.

[Internet activists are finding ways around Chinas Great Firewall]

The industry is run by a disparate mix of investors and dreamers and is manned by electricians and IT experts. There are people like Ryan Xu, an infectiously enthusiastic Chinese-born Australian who first became interested in libertarian economics while working as a reactor operator in a nuclear power plant. He now describes himself as both a utopian and a venture capitalist.

We need to foresee the next five or 10 years, he said in a wide-ranging conversation over dinner in the western city of Kangding. All the governments are printing money and diluting peoples wealth. Is that justice or robbery? The financial system also keeps crashing every five or 10 years. I think thats an illness in the monetary system and it needs a cure.

He says he is not sure bitcoin is the answer, but it is at least an experiment that might work.

So why China?

Running microprocessors sucks electricity. Competition is intense, and profit margins are narrow: Xu has moved his mines around the world in search of the cheapest power, from Iceland to Georgia, and then to Washington state, from the coal fields of Chinas northern Inner Mongolia province and now to the mountains of Sichuan.

His latest mine is still under construction, between a hydroelectric power plant and the concrete shell of a disused power transmission station, between Kongyu and the city of Kangding.

As Chinas economy boomed, private companies set up hydroelectric plants in western Sichuan; then, as the economy slowed, they found themselves unable to sell to the national grid, elbowed out of the market by more politically powerful state-owned firms.

It took a lot of money to build the plants, but it doesnt cost that much to maintain them, said HaoBTCs Mu. So it makes sense for them to sell the power to anyone willing to buy, even at a low rate.

Maintenance staffers are cheaper here than in the West. Mu says his company employs 10 people at three mines in the mountains, paying them around 6,000 yuan ($900) a month, a decent salary for this part of the world. HaoBTC runs one other mine in Sichuan and one farther west in Xinjiang, with more than 11,000 machines, earning more than 80 bitcoin a day a daily income stream worth more than $745,000.

[These viral selfie apps with 1 billion downloads are shaping Chinas start-up culture]

But it is not only Chinese entrepreneurs who have taken to bitcoin. Deprived of good investment opportunities at home, and burned by a volatile stock market, a growing number of Chinese people have begun speculating and investing in bitcoin.

Bobby Lee, a former Silicon Valley engineer who founded Chinas first bitcoin exchange, BTCC, attributes it partly to a natural instinct to buy and sell.

If you look at Las Vegas or Macau or casinos worldwide, how come most of the clientele are of Asian descent, or Chinese specifically? he asked. It has to do with some cultural instinct. Chinese people like to gamble.

Yet as bitcoin matures, it is also experiencing some significant growing pains.

Bitcoin is virtual money that cuts out banks and credit card companies, and has gotten more popular recently. Here’s what you need to know about the original cryptocurrency. (Davin Coburn/The Washington Post)

On Aug. 2, the Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong was forced to admit that hackers had stolen nearly 120,000 bitcoin worth $72million from customers accounts. That news caused the bitcoin price to fall by more than 20 percent and underlined the safety concerns that many ordinary people feel about owning digital money.

At the same time, the system is showing signs of overloading. Bitcoins current technology can process only around three digital transactions a second minuscule compared with the roughly 24,000 transactions per second that Visa can manage.

Delays in processing transactions have grown, as have transaction fees, and the industry has become deeply divided about how to reform the system to solve the problem.

Jeff Garzik, a leading bitcoin developer based in Atlanta, argues that a technological fix is in the pipeline that soon will allow bitcoin to process tens of thousands of transactions a second.

I think that with new technologies coming down the pipeline, it can scale up to everyone buying their coffee with bitcoin in the entire world, he said. It really can be the first really good substitute for physical in-your-hand cash.

Like Sirer, he isnt too worried about the current concentration of mining power in China, partly because the market is so dynamic and the dominant players change every year.

Its much easier to challenge the dominant players in this space because market entry is so easy, he said. If the Chinese miners suddenly power off their rigs, within 24 hours well see the emergence of another competitor.

Here in the mountains, miners while away their free time playing mah-jongg or poker, smoking cigarettes or surfing on their smartphones. Site manager Guo Hua used to run a small camera-repair shop and still likes fiddling around with machines. Marketing manager Mu, who spends only a few weeks of the year here, likes to translate books in his free time or run to the nearest town to buy cigarettes for his colleagues. Sometimes he hikes into the mountains, toward a remote Tibetan village or a looming peak, a welcome change of change of pace from Beijing and its polluted air.

And all the time, the microprocessors keep on running.

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has come forward as the mysterious creator behind the virtual currency Bitcoin. Here’s a look at what we know about the creator’s pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s history and Wright’s claims. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Xu Yangjingjing contributed to this report.

Read more:

America wants to believe China cant innovate. Tech tells a different story.

The Internet was supposed to foster democracy. China has different ideas.

Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Asks ‘What Is …

Posted: September 10, 2016 at 5:35 am

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson drew a blank during a live interview on MSNBC this morning when asked what he would do to address the situation in Aleppo, perhaps the most devastated city in the five-year civil war in Syria.

“What is Aleppo?” Johnson replied when asked how he would address the crisis there.

“You’re kidding,” journalist Mike Barnicle said.

“No,” Johnson said.

Barnicle then explained that he was talking about the Syrian conflict, and Johnson quickly found his footing and explained what he believes should be done about Syria, which he called “a mess.”

“I think the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia,” Johnson said, “to diplomatically bring that to an end. But when we align ourselves with when we’ve supported the opposition of the Free Syrian Army the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists and then the fact that we’re also supporting the Kurds, and this is, it’s just a mess. And that this is the result of regime change that we end up supporting and, inevitably, these regime changes have led to a less safe world.”

“I’m incredibly frustrated with myself,” Johnson later said, adding that he “feels horrible” and has to “get smarter.”

Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, released an official statement explaining why he was initially confused by the Aleppo question.

“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict I talk about them every day,” he said in the statement. “But hit with ‘What about Aleppo?’ I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.”

He continued, “Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes. As governor, there were many things I didn’t know off the top of my head. But I succeeded by surrounding myself with the right people, getting to the bottom of important issues and making principled decisions. It worked. That is what a president must do.”

Speaking on ABC’s “The View” hours after his MSNBC interview, Johnson said there’s “no excuse” for his lapse on Aleppo while reiterating that he thought the question was referring to an acronym.

Co-host Joy Behar told him she thinks the gaffe is disqualifying, to which he replied simply, “Fair enough, fair enough.”

“I guess people will have to make that judgment,” he continued. “For those that believe this is a disqualifier, so be it. Absolutely, it’s fair game. I’m running for president of the United States, and hey, it’s how you deal with adversity that ultimately determines success.”

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What is Freedom – Holistic Politics

Posted: at 5:25 am

What is Freedom?

Freedom. We sing about it in our patriotic songs. We teach it to our children in school. Hollywood and Madison Avenue glorify it. Here in the United States, freedom is the civic religion.

But if freedom is our civic religion, why is the libertarian movement in the U.S. so small? Why is government so big and our jails so full? Is all our talk of freedom mere lip service? Are we a nation of sheeple duped by the powers that be?

To some degree, yes. But these are not the major reasons why the libertarian movement is so small. Pure libertarians lack credibility with the masses because they dont necessarily offer liberty. Abolish the government willy nilly and reduced liberty is the likely result. The power vacuum left by vanished government is likely to be filled by feudal warlords, a military junta and/or invading armies. Anarchy with liberty may be possible but it is not automatic. The People are prudent to refuse the risk.

What about moderate libertarians? What about those who would like to shrink the federal government to its Constitutional bounds? Why havent freedom lovers joined their banners en masse? Well, some did, for Ron Pauls recent run for President, but not nearly enough to win the Republican nomination, much less elect a President. This is supposed to be the Land of the Free. What gives?

It took me years to figure it out, but I believe I have the answer. It is an answer most active libertarians will not like to hear. Pragmatic libertarians do indeed offer liberty, but liberty is not the same thing as freedom!

By liberty I mean what my libertarians friends mean by liberty: liberty is the absence of coercion. It is a state of being where transactions are voluntary, where all constraints are the result of honest contracts. I like liberty. I wish we had more of it, here and in other parts of the world. I even have a series on libertarian strategy in the the hope that libertarians become more successful in increasing liberty. But liberty is not the same thing as freedom. Freedom is something bigger.

So what is freedom?

You can pull out a dictionary for a stilted definition. I will define it simply: freedom is being able to do what you want to do. Free speech and free beer both speak of freedom. Free speech is a freedom that comes directly from liberty. Free beer, however, requires more than mere permission to drink fermented barley. It requires that someone has gone through the trouble to brew the beer and is willing to give it out. If no one is so inclined brew beer and give it away, the ideal of Freedom as in Free Beer contains a conflict. Free beer for you means beer servitude for someone else.

This is why freedom-loving Vulcans stick to promoting liberty. They see the potential conflict inherent in free beer freedoms as a contradiction. Liberty can be granted to all who respect the liberty of others or at least thats the ideal. (In practice we run up against a few conflicts or even contradictions.) So many libertarians would define freedom down to mere liberty, and thus wall off from their minds the messy business of balancing trade-offs.

I say mere liberty because for many people more liberty need not translate into more freedom. A marginal increase in liberty can result is subtantially less freedom, especially in the short run. This, I submit, is why libertarianism has limited popularity here in the Land of the Free. For millions of people liberal and conservative ideas offer more increments freedom than many libertarian ideas.

Consider a single mom who has to put in 50 hour weeks at Dennys to support her children. A cuddly fascist offering government childcare and socialized medicine along with his program of censorship of naughty TV and conquering Bolivia for no good reason offers more freedom to this mother than a smaller government libertarian. This is but one illustration. I give others elsewhere.

Libertarianism has limited popularity for good reason.

This is not a libertarian site. It is a pro-freedom site. Here, we attempt to balance several freedoms, including:

Back when I was a libertarian and active in the Libertarian Party, I spent thousands of dollars and hours promoting the party and the cause. Converts and recruits were few and far between. Today, I am mostly out of the game, playing Candy Land with my young daughter instead of placing signs, dropping leaflets, working booths and attending meetings. Yet I have well over a hundred people lining up to join my nonexistent new political party proposed elsewhere on this site.

Freedom is popular here in the Land of the Free.

What is not popular is knowledge of how to be more free. Many liberals call for mass bureaucracy because they know no other way to achieve freedom from the boss. If that is you, or you wish to persuade such liberals otherwise, see the red titles on the sidebar. Likewise, many environmentalists believe we have to abride economic freedom and/or our prosperous way of life in order to preserve nature. For you I have the green article series. For those of you who desire a safe and moral place to raise your children, there are the blue articles.

If you are ready to dive in and look at specific proposals, feel free to jump to the relevant article series. On the other hand, if you are a top down thinker, or a libertarian/small government conservative who has a hard time grokking the distinction between liberty and freedom, please continue with this series.

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Nootropics: Definitive List of 120+ Nootropic Supplements + Drugs

Posted: September 3, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Nootropics are a class of nutrients, supplements, smart drugs, and nutraceuticals that are observed to improve brain performance and health. They may increase memory, learning, reasoning, intelligence, cognitive processing speed, verbal fluidity, attention, focus, motivation, mood and energy.

They work in a variety of different ways, though many share similar mechanisms of action. Some increase the supply of neurtransmitters and other neurochemicals that are involved in intra- and inter-neuron communication as well as brain signalling pathways related to cognition, memory formation and recall.

Some may enhance brain activity by modulating neuroreceptors, increasing the uptake of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients into brain cells or by promoting the underlying health of brain systems. Still other nootropics have been shown to stimulate the development of new neurons ans synapses, increases the overall plasticity of the brain.

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The phrase nootropic was coined by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea following the discovery of a remarkable substance known as Piracetam. His research team first synthesized this compound in 1964 when working at the Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB. His research into Piracetam was initially motivated by the search for a treatment for motion sickness.

However, early trials with Piracetam found that it had a distinct ability to improve memory, mental processing, focus and performance across a battery of cognitive tests. Not only this, it lacked any significant side effects and did not share the pharmacology of typical psychotropic drugs such as nervous system stimulation or depression.

This was truly an unprecedented discovery and it opened the door to developing other cognitive enhancement drugs that could improve mental functioning in healthy adults as well as those suffering from brain disorders. In 1972, Giurgea coined the term nootropic to describe Piracetam and the class of yet-to-be discovered analogs of this substance.

The term itself is of Greek origin, coming from the word nous which means mind and the root tropo- which translates into turning or change. Thus, we can think of nootropics as substances that change the mind in some way. Giurgea laid out a strict set of definitions for the class, requiring that they must enhance learning and memory, exhibit neuroprotective effects and show extremely low toxicity and almost no side effects.

Today, Nootropics are used by a broad range of society and for a broad range of purposes from improving academic performance to boosting productivity to supporting healthy brain function and preventing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. The following is a list of over 120 popular nootropics and related compounds with nootropic properties that contribute to cognitive enhancement.

Beneath each nutrient, supplement or drug you will find a brief description of its chemical classification, mechanisms of action and effects on the brain. You will also find user ratings for each of these compounds in terms of their effects on Memory, Focus and Mood. Please feel free to contribute to these ratings for any supplements that you have tried by clicking on the stars to vote. You can also click on each nootropics name below to learn more about any substance on this list.

Quick Browse: Racetams | Cholinergics | Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors | Ampakines | Smart Drugs | GABAergics | Seretonergics | Dopaminergics | Cognitive Metabolic Enhancers | Nootropic Vitamins | Nootropic Nutrients | Brain Protectants | Natural Nootropics | Neurohormones | Nootropic Drugs | Nootropic Stacks | Stimulants

Racetams are the founding class of Nootropics, based on derivatives of Piracetam. In addition to this archetype, they include Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Pramiracetam, Phenylpiracetam, Nefiracetam, Coluracetam and others. They share similar chemical structures based on a 2-pyrrolidone nucleus composed of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Many of the effects of Racetams are similar as they related to improving brain health, learning, memory and focus. But there is also great diversity within this class in terms of potency and individual characteristics of the supplements listed below. All Racetams seem to be able to increase acetylcholine neurotransmitter activity in the brain and some are also capable of increasing glutamate activity via AMPA and NMDA receptors.

Piracetam also known as 2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide is a cyclic derivative of the neurochemical GABA. This original nootropic is a positive modulator for receptoprs of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter which plays a role in fluid intelligence and short-term working memory capacity. Piracetam is also believed to improve the membrane permeability of neurons which enhances overall neuronal function as it relates to communication, healthy development and synaptic plasticity.

This nootropic is reported by users to improve focus, attentiveness, memory formation and recall, information processing as well as several factors related to mood. It is used as an off-label ADHD treatment and remains to this day the most popular nootropic among first-time users.

Other Names: Nootropil, Nootropyl, Nooracetam

Aniracetam (1(4-methoxybenzoyl)-2-pyrrolidinone) is a derivative of Piracetam that is said to be 5x more potent than its parent compound. Unlike Piracetam, it is fat-soluble which may contribute to its faster onset of effects as well as a shorter half-life. It shares the common Racetam effects of enhancing memory and focus by activating Nicotinic Acetylcholine receptors in the brain. It also stimulates AMPA receptor sites which are implicated in learning as well as memory encoding processes.

This unique mechanism of action has made Aniracetam the model for another class of nootropics known as AMPAkines. Finally, it is believed to activate D2 and D3 Dopamine receptors as well as the 5-HTP(2a) receptor involved in Serotonin processing. This explains why user reviews say Aniracetam is effective as an anti-anxiety and anti-depression treatment in addition to its traditional nootropic benefits.

Other Names: Memotropil, Memodrin, Ampamet, Draganon, Referan

Oxiracetam (RS)-2-(4-hydroxy-2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is both a Racetam and an Ampakine that is said to be 4-6 times stronger than Piracetam. It increases brain activity in cholinergic and glutamatergic pathways and exhibits some stimulant-like effects. Oxiracetam is particularly noted for improving reasoning, verbal processing, spatial learning. logical and mathematical thinking as well as focus and memory.

These attributes are highly correlated with the g-factor of intelligence and Oxiracetam more than any other Racetam is described as boosting intellectual function. It is commonly used as a study aid among students in highly technical subjects such as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.

Pramiracetam N-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl]-2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Piracetam analogue that is 30x more potent. It influences both Glutamate and Acetylcholine neuroreceptors and particularly increases reuptake at ACh receptor sites as well as increasing the efficiency of nerve impulse channels in the hippocampus. This region of the brain is implicated as having a central role in memory formation as well as recall.

Using Pramiracetam produces a great sense of mental clarity and concentration while also improving critical thinking skills and the speed of information processing. Individuals typically take Pramiracetam to improve their memory retention while enabling them to be more productive, attentive, focused and alert.

Other Names: Pramistar

Noopept N-Phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester is not technically a Racetam, though it is derived from this class and use a similar mechanisms of action. It has a different chemical structure which technically makes it a neuropeptide, said to be over 1000x times more concentrated than Piracetam. The effective dosage for Noopept powder is between 10 40 mg which is exceptional small in comparison to other Racetams. Noopept demonstrates very high affinity for ACh, AMPA and NDMA receptors that relate to short-term and long-term memory.

Like Aniracetam, it also activates D2 an D3 receptors for Dopamine as well as selective Serotonin receptors. These systems are involved in mood and motivation which is why Noopept is seen as being effective for disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Noopept further increases Nerve Growth Factor levels which is a hormone involved in the maintenance and repair of healthy brain cells. It is being investigated as a possible treatment for Alzheimers disease and other neurodegenerative disorders including Age-Related Memory Loss.

Other Names: Neuropept

Phenylpiracetam (RS)-2-(2-oxo-4-phenylpyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide was synthesized by adding a phenyl group molecule to Piracetams chemical structure. This alteration has made it significantly more bioavailable than its progenitor and with a 60x greater potency. It is a positive modulator of acetylcholine and glutamate synaptic receptors and may be able to increase the density of hippocampal NMDA receptors. These receptors are integral to the process of Long-Term Potentiation which is how memories are stored as connections between neurons.

Phenylpiracetam also raises Dopamine and Noradrenalin levels in the brain which gives it both mood-enhancing and mentally stimulating properties. It is described as producing intense focus, mental drive and motivation while also enhancing memory consolidation and physical performance.

Other Names: Carphedon, Phenotropil

Coluracetam N-(2,3-dimethyl-5,6,7,8- tetrahydrofuro[2,3-b] quinolin-4-yl)-2- (2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Racetam compound with 10-20x the potency of Piracetam. It works by increasing the uptake of choline into neurons which leads to an increase in acetylcholine levels and Cholinergic activity. Coluracetam is believed to show a distinct ability to improve Choline uptake in damaged neurons and may offer long-term benefits for memory-impaired individuals.

It also influences areas of the brain that are involved in visual processing and is said to improve eyesight and color perception. Other studies have shown it to be effective in treating General Anxiety Disorder as well as depression.

Nefiracetam N-(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide is a Racetam with a similar chemical structure to Aniracetam. It is believed to increase brain activity by potentiating excitatory neurotransmission through prolonging the opening of calcium channels. It also binds to nicotinic Acetylcholine receptors and enhances communication in GABAergc, Cholinergic, monoaminergic and glutamatergic neuronal systems. Nefiracetam is highly cytoprotective and may be able to treat individuals suffering from cognitive decline as well as Alzheimers and cerebrovascular dementia.

Trials have found it to be more effective for increasing attention span, concentration, memory function, and spatial learning ability compared to other Racetams. It is also considered to be a more powerful anxiolytic than Aniracetam and was shown to be successful in the treatment of clinical depression.

The Cholinergic system refers to those components of the nervous system that use the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to communicate. Acetylcholine (ACh) is an excitatory brain chemical that is involved in many facets of mental function such as attention, synaptic plasticity, wakefulness, and the reward system. Increasing cholinergic activity may lead to improved focus, working memory, alertness, mental clarity and performance across a number of intelligence measurements.

Cholinergic Nootropics are able to increase stimulation of ACh receptors either by raising levels of acetylcholine, preventing the degradation of this neurochemical, or by potentiating or activating these receptors in some way. A direct way to increase acetylcholine levels is by consuming more Choline which is a dietary nutrient used to synthesize this transmitter.

Choline 2-hydroxy-N,N,N-trimethylethanaminium is a water-soluble essential nutrient that was recently named to the B-complex family of vitamins. It is necessary for the development and maintenance of health brain cell membranes to ensure effective signalling, structural integrity and neuronal fluidity. This nutrient is also used alongside acetic acid to synthesizes acetylcholine in neurons. Sources of choline are commonly used alongside the Racetams in nootropic stacks due to their complimentary mechanisms of action.

The American Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get at least 425 550 mg of choline in their diets every day. However, as much as 90% of the population is estimated to be deficient in this nutrient. Increasing choline intake by eating foods such as eggs, chicken, soy lecithin, wheat germ and cod fish may improve mental performance and prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Not all choline sources are made equally and as much as 50% of the choline we eat may be degraded by bacteria in the gut. Some choline supplements marketed today are known to have very low bio-availability with only a small percentage able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Alpha GPC [(2S)-2,3-Dihydroxypropyl] 2-trimethylazaniumylethyl phosphate is a source of choline derived naturally from soy lecithin. It also occurs naturally in the brain as well as in human breast milk and may be a contributing factor to the higher IQ observed in children that have been breast-fed. It has the highest bio-availability of the nootropic Choline supplements and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Once in the brain, it is metabolized into acetylcholine which can then be used for inter-neuronal communication related to short-term memory, learning and attention. Alpha GPC can also slow the process of brain aging as a cognitive anti-oxidant and it is observed to increase Human Growth Hormone levels. Individuals who use Alpha GPC say that it improves memory performance, eliminates brain fog and improves focus.

Other Names: Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine, Choline Alfoscerate, GPC Choline

Citicoline 5-O-[hydroxy({hydroxy[2-(trimethylammonio)ethoxy] phosphoryl}oxy)phosphoryl]cytidine is an acetylcholine precursor with high bio-availability that occurs naturally as an intermediary in the conversion of choline into phosphatidylcholine in the liver. Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that is incorporated into neuronal cell membranes and can be used in acetylcholine synthesis. Citicoline increases the availability of choline in the brain by freeing up quantities of choline that would otherwise be used in the generation of phosphatidylcholine.

It can therefore indirectly increase acetylcholine levels while also improving cell memebrane function in neurons and preventing depletion of phospholipids which can lead to brain damage and mental decline. This supplement also protects against oxidative stress, reduces inflammation in the cerebral cortex, and stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. It is an effective component of nootropic stacks designed to enhance memory, thinking, concentration and mood.

Other Names: CDP Choline, Cytidine Diphosphate Choline

Centrophenoxine 2-Dimethylaminoethyl (4-chlorophenoxy)acetate is an ester of DMAE with a higher bio-availibility. DMAE is sometimes used as a choline source, however new studies show that it is not as effective as was once believed. Centrophenoxine appears much more effective for raising acetylcholine levels because it is better able to cross the Blood-Brain barrier. Research suggests Centropheonxine may improve mood and ADHD via cholinergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways.

It is also a potent brain anti-oxidant and is shown to reduce lipofuscin waste deposits that build up in brain cells as we age. Centrophenoxine is highly synergistic with Racetams in memory-enhancement nootropic stacks and will also boost focus, clarity of thought, mood as well as brain health.

Other Names: Lucidril, Meclofenoxate

Choline Citrate is a supplemental combination of Choline with Citric Acid that you may find marketed in brain supplements. As a source of choline, it can increase available levels of acetylcholine in the brain which supports better memory function and reasoning as well as improved synaptic plasticity. However, this formulation is considered to have low bio-availability and lacks the added nootropic benefits of supplements such as Citicoline and Alpha GPC.

Choline Bitartrate is a supplemental combination of Choline with Tartaric Acid which is a chemical salt added to improve absorption. It is a direct precursor to acetylcholine and is effective in treating a dietary choline deficiency. Studies have shown that this type of choline is significantly degraded in the digestive tract by bacteria and only a fraction will penetrate across the Blood-Brain Barrier. For this reason, nootropic users typically look to the higher quality choline sources listed above which will have a greater net impact on cognitive abilities.

DMAE (2-(Dimethylamino)ethanol) is a primary alcohol which is organically manufactured by the human brain, and is also found in various food sources such as fish. DMAE is a direct pre-cursor for choline. Once it crosses the blood-brain barrier, the compound is methylated into acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter related to learning, memory, and brain tissue health. DMAE also binds to brain phospholipids, improving the function, nourishment, and waste removal systems of cell membranes.

DMAE lifts mood, promotes mental energy, develops a sense of alert focus, and replaces stress reactions with feelings of calm. In addition to DMAEs anti-anxiety properties, it has also been shown to reduce visible signs of aging by inhibiting arachidonic acid. DMAE contributes to healthy sleep patterns, and users report it frequently produces states of lucid dreaming.

Other Names: Deanol, DMAE Bitartrate, Dimehylaminothanol

Lecithin is a natural fat compound composed of phosphoric acid, choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, and phospholipids. Lecithin assists in breaking down other fats and transporting them throughout the body. It also acts as a direct pre-cursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine promotes memory formation, neural structure health, and reasoning skills. Lecithin is also a powerful anti-oxidant which keeps cells healthy by removing toxins and fighting free radical damage.

Lecithin is an effective memory-booster, and can provide neuro-protective benefits against degenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimers disease well into old age. It can also moderately enhance various other cognitive functions, such as managing depression and anxiety symptoms. Due to low bio-availability, most nootropic users prefer other choline supplements like Alpha GPC or Citicoline for stronger results.

Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a hydrophobic lipid derived from Lecithin which incorporates choline, one of the B vitamins. In addition to assisting in fat metabolism, Phosphatidylcholine also helps maintain and repair neurons and brain cells. The choline in Phosphatidylcholine is a key mental health nutrient which is the pre-cursor to acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine helps promote the development of synapses between neurons and improves communication in both healthy and aging minds.

Phosphatidylcholine improves metabolism, lowers cholesterol and protects the liver against disease. Taken as a nootropic, it enhances the formation and easy retrieval of memories. Its ability to foster new growth of synapses makes it a powerful neuroprotective supplement and a possible therapy for Alzheimers disease. Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine is a stronger nootropic alternative to this nutrient.

Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors are a class of compounds that restrict the action of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme, if left unchecked, will break down and reduce the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a powerful neurotransmitter which is essential to various cognitive functions. It promotes learning, improves logical and verbal reasoning, enhances memory formation, increases sensitivity to stimuli, and spurs the healthy growth of neural structures.

Nootropic acetylcholinesterase inhibitors allow for safe increases in the available levels of this neurotransmitter. The benefits of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors include immediate gains in memory and learning functions, as well as long term neuro-protective benefits, such as the prevention of Alzheimers disease.

Huperzine A is an organic sesquiterpene alkaloid compound, found in Huperzia Serrate moss, which has been used as treatment for Alzheimers disease. Huperzine A enhances the ability of neurons to communicate with one another, through increased synaptogenesis. Huperzine is also an NMDA receptor antagonist. Through this action, it promotes the growth of nerve cells via the production of Nerve Growth Factor.

Huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it prevents the breakdown of the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft of the brain. The resulting raise in acetylcholine levels promotes better memory function, enhanced learning, and stronger mental focus. Huperzine A also exhibits many neuro-protective qualities, resulting in improved plasticity of brain cells.

Huperzia Serrata is a Southeast Asian fir moss plant which is the organic source of the alkaloid Huperzine A, a powerful memory-boosting nootropic. Huperzine As main nootropic effect is as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This compound from Huperzia Serrata prevents an enzyme from braking down acetylcholine once it is released in the brain. It maintains healthy levels of this important neurotransmitter and leads to greater stimulation of cholinergic receptors.

This action improves short term memory function and long term memory formation, and can be a potent therapy for memory deficits that accompany age-related disorders like Alzheimers disease. Huperzine Serrata is also a powerful anti-oxidant and can reduce oxidative stress in cholinergic neurons, boosting the effectiveness of choline in the body and leading to more pronounced cognitive enhancements.

Galantamine is a medicinal alkaloid which is derived from the leaves of the Galanthus Caucasius plant. It is traditionally prescribed for sensory and motor disorders like myasthenia. Galantamine regulates enzyme activity in the brain. As an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, Galantamine maintains levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

It also activates the brains nicotinic receptors, making them better able to process acetylcholine and other neurochemicals. User benefits include improved memory function, better reasoning ability, and enhanced reaction sensitivity to stimuli. Galantamine has shown promise as a therapy for and protection against the severe cognitive decline related to aging, such as in cases of Alzheimers disease.

Ampakines are a class of compounds which activate glutamatergic AMPA receptors in order to promote alertness, mental energy, greater attention span, and memory. AMPA receptors are responsible for regulating synaptic transmission. By interacting with these receptors, Ampakines create stimulant effects as well as nootropic benefits, without traditional stimulant side effects. By enhancing this synaptic communication, Ampakines promote the growth of neurons and the formation of long term memories.

This action creates a sense of mental focus which can be of enormous therapeutic value to patients with hyperactivity disorders like ADHD. Ampakines such as Sunifiram and Unifiram, considered the strongest among the entire class of compounds, can even be used to treat and protect against degenerative mental disorders associated with aging like Alzheimers disease and dementia.

Sunifiram (1-benzoyl-4-propanoylpiperazine) is an AMPA agonist and a member of the Ampakine class of compounds. It is known to deliver similar yet vastly more potent effects as Piracetam and is cited as 1000x stronger than this original Racetam. Sunifiram activates AMPA receptors, firing synaptic growth and facilitating communication between neurons. This produces dramatic memory and learning effects as well as powerful stimulant-like effects.

For this reason, it is often taken for symptoms of ADHD. Sunifiram does not however carry any of the typical side effects associated with stimulant drugs like Adderall. Sunifiram benefits include powerfully sharpened mental focus, heightened concentration, motivation and ambition.

Unifiram (alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) is an Ampakine compound which positively modulates AMPA receptors. Unifiram encourages strong communication between neurons by stimulating glutamate synaptic receptors. It also stimulates production of acetylcholine. Higher levels of both glutamate and acetylcholine facilitate better brain health and improved signaling.

This translates into benefits for memory formation and retrieval, heightened concentration, better reasoning abilities, and a powerful state of alert energy. Attention span is heightened, especially when a cognitive hyperactivity imbalance such as ADHD is present. Unifiram has energizing stimulant-like effects without the jittery side effects associated with caffeine or Ritalin.

Ampalex (CX-516) is an Ampakine compound nootropic. Ampalex is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate AMPA receptors. These receptor sites control communication between neurons across synapses, and once Ampalex binds with them, signaling is dramatically enhanced. Ampalex is also an NMDA agonist for the neurotransmitter glutamate which communicates excitatory transmissions between synapses.

Overall, Ampalex use leads to better concentration and mental focus. While its half-life is too short to be considered for use as an Alzheimers therapy, Ampalex can create dramatic memory effects in healthy minds, in addition to very stimulating effects like mental alertness and physical energy.

Other Names: CX-516

A smart drug is any natural or synthetic pharmaceutical or nutraceutical that is consumed for the purpose of improving cognitive functions. These functions include memory, reasoning ability, mental focus, or motivation. Smart drugs, sometimes also referred to as cognitive enhancement agents, interact with natural neurochemicals, such as hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. Individual physical processes and reactions are impacted according to the specific chemistry of each medication.

These types of drugs can be of great benefit for symptoms related to serious cognitive disorders like ADHD, anxiety, or even Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. For healthy minds, smart drugs can provide a substantial boost to normal thinking, learning, memory, and focus. Smart Drugs are typically considered as separate from nootropics since they may use stimulatory mechanisms of action and may carry a greater risk of side effects.

Adrafinil ((RS)-2-benzhydrylsulfinylethanehydroxamic acid) is a part of a class of drugs known as eugeroics. These compounds foster wakefulness and alert mental states, but do not carry the side effects of common psychostimulants. Adrafinil affects the adrenergic system by stimulating catecholamine hormones, like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Not only do these hormones create fight or flight responses in the body, they also promote heightened attention span, motivation, and mental stamina.

Adrafinil is the pre-cursor to Modafinil in the body. While it has previously been formally prescribed as a treatment for narcolepsy, Adrafinil has gained popularity as a nootropic supplement for improving cognitive function and fostering intense concentration abilities in users. It is available in the United States without a prescription, making it a popular alternative to Modafinil and Armodafinil.

Other Names: Olmifon

Modafinil (2-[(diphenylmethyl) sulfinyl] acetamide) is a eugeroic compound which is sold as a prescription wakefulness and vigilance drug. Modafinil is a central nervous system stimulant, also known as an analeptic drug. It stimulates the release of CNS histamines to promote wakefulness. The drug is primarily prescribed for patients with severe sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, or obstructive sleep apnea.

For healthy nootropic users without these conditions, Modafinil can promote a state of intense concentration and mental focus, making detail-oriented time intensive tasks easy to perform at peak productivity. While powerful states of mental acuity are generated, normal sleep cycles are typically not interfered with, making this compound popular with students and businesspeople alike. Modafinil was depicted in the movie Limitless as the fictional drug NZT-48.

Other names: Provigil, Modiodal, Modvigil, Modasomil, Vigicer, Alertex, Modavigil, Modapro, Modalert

Armodafinil (()-2-[(R)-(diphenylmethyl)sulfinyl]acetamide) is a derivative form of the eugeroic drug Modafinil, known as an enantiopure variation. This stronger and more potent form of the wakefulness drug is created by isolating the right enantiomer of Modafinils molecular isomers, and is considered to be purer and more potent. Armodafinil boosts CNS histamine levels to create arousal in the central nervous system. This response triggers fight or flight reactions including heightened awareness of sensory stimulus, greater mental acuity, and elevated heart rate.

While stimulating, these effects do not interfere with normal sleep cycles. These benefits are considered off-label, as Armodafinil is technically only prescribed for patients with sleep disorders like narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Taken as a nootropic supplement, Armodafinil can promote intensely heightened concentration and the ability to work and study with maximum efficiency and focus.

Other Names: Nuvigil, Waklert

Adderall (Ampheta S/Combo) is a prescription psychostimulant drug which combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts. Adderall stimulates the adrenergic system and activates the catecholamine hormones to trigger the spiked release of neurotransmitters like Norepinephrine, Dopamine, and Serotonin. This action creates a heightened state of mental focus and concentration.

Adderall is widely prescribed to bring mental balance to sufferers of hyperactivity disorders like ADD and ADHD, especially but not limited to children. Its stimulating effects can also promote wakefulness, significant appetite suppression, weight loss and a sense of euphoria. As an amphetamine, Adderall does come with some major side effects including possible heart problems and serious dependency risk.

Other Names: Ampheta

Ritalin (Methylphenidate) is a prescription psychostimulant medication and smart drug which affects the central nervous system. Ritalins main mechanism of action is preventing the re-uptake of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for mental energy and sensations of motivation and desire. In addition to blocking the proteins which cause the absorption of dopamine, Ritalin also enhances the function of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This area is known to relate to impulse control, motivation, and mental clarity.

While Ritalin is primarily prescribed for people suffering from attention disorders like ADD and ADHD, its off-label benefits include improved mental focus, reduced lethargy, and weight loss from enhanced metabolism.

Cylert ((RS)-2-amino-5-phenyl-1,3-oxazol-4(5H)-one) is an oxazoline stimulant drug designed for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD. This drug has been classified as a Schedule IV narcotic and is no longer easily available to the public. Cylert impacts the central nervous system by imitating the effects of dopamine, a characteristic known as dopamimetic. While not affecting actual levels of dopamine, it is able to stimulate many of dopamines functions in the brain, including heightened energy and mental focus.

It also has been shown to be a catalyst conductor in the brain. This means it increases the speed of memory formation and access, while dramatically lengthening attention span and concentration. In light of serious side effect concerns, the FDA has recently issued directives asking physicians not to prescribe this medication to children suffering from ADHD.

Other Names: Pemoline

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Nootropics: Definitive List of 120+ Nootropic Supplements + Drugs

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Space Travel Facts for Kids

Posted: August 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

A few hundred years ago, traveling over the Earths surface was a risky adventure. Early explorers who set out to explore the New World went by boat, enduring fierce storms, disease and hunger, to reach their destinations. Today, astronauts exploring space face similar challenges.

All About Space Travel: One space shuttle launch costs $450 million

Space travel has become much safer as scientists have overcome potential problems, but its still dangerous. Its also very expensive. In order for a space shuttle to break free of Earths gravity, it has to travel at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour. Space shuttles need 1.9 million liters of fuel just to launch into space. Thats enough fuel to fill up 42,000 cars! Combine the high speed, heat and fuel needed for launching and youve got a very potentially dangerous situation.

In 1949, Albert II, a Rhesus monkey went to space. Keep reading to find out more all about space travel.

Re-entering the atmosphere is dangerous too. When a space craft re-enters the atmosphere, it is moving very fast. As it moves through the air, friction causes it to heat up to a temperature of 2,691 degrees. The first spacecrafts were destroyed during re-entry. Todays space shuttles have special ceramic tiles that help absorb some of the heat, keeping the astronauts safe during re-entry.

In 1957, the Russian space dog, Laika, orbited the Earth.

In 1959, the Russian space craft, Luna 2, landed on the moon. It crashed at high speed.

Russian astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, was the first human in space. He orbited the Earth in 1961.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon and return home safely a journey of 250,000 miles.

Check out this cool video all about space travel:

A video about the N.E.X.T. mission for space travel by NASA.

Enjoyed the Easy Science for Kids Website all about Space Travel info? Take the FREE & fun all about Space Travel quiz and download FREE Space Travel worksheet for kids. For lengthy info click here.

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Deconstructing the Second Amendment – cnn.com

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And yet, for years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as an inalienable protection against tyranny; by others as a dangerous anachronism.

Here’s a look at the Second Amendment, its phrases parsed and placed in legal and historical context.

Our guides will be Constitutional experts Jeffrey Rosen and Jack Rakove.

What is a militia?

At the time of the American Revolutionary War, militias were groups of able-bodied men who protected their towns, colonies, and eventually states. “[When the Constitution was drafted], the militia was a state-based institution,” says Rakove. “States were responsible for organizing this.”

What did it mean to be well regulated?

One of the biggest challenges in interpreting a centuries-old document is that the meanings of words change or diverge.

“Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” says Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight.”

In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty.

What type of security was referred to here?

To get to that, consider the climate of the United States at the time. The country had just fought a war, won its independence and was expanding west. There were plenty of reasons to feel unsafe, and so “security” had a very palpable meaning.

“You have an expanding country, and the principle defense use of the militia would be to protect local residents from attack and invasion,” Rakove says.

It also meant physical protection from government overreach.

“The idea of a state militia would also be attractive because it serves as a deterrent against national tyranny,” says Rakove. “At the time, if government forces tried to take over land or overstep their boundaries, you’d have an institution in place — the militia — that would outnumber any army.”

Of course, with the size and scope of the modern United States military, and the fact that militias as we know it no longer exist, that notion is hard to imagine today.

In the debate over the Second Amendment, this phrase, “a well regulated militia,” remains one of the most cited and argued parts of the sentence.

What did a free state mean?

It may seem obvious, but Rosen and Rakove agree the Constitution bore a lot of contemporary moralism and not every word is well-defined.

In this case, the meaning of “state” is what it appears to be.

“This is referring immediately to ‘state’ as in one of the states of the original colonies,” Rosen says. “James Madison had the 1777 Virginia Declaration of Rights by his side when he wrote the Bill of Rights and he essentially copied and pasted language from it.”

But it could also speak to a larger understanding of liberty.

“So here,” Rosen continues, “George Mason (the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) is talking about not only the free state of Virginia.” He is also talking about a broader state of freedom.

What kind of rights?

This is another highly-contested area where it helps to know more about how the framers of the Constitution thought about complex ideas like “rights.”

“When we think about ‘rights,’ we think of them as regulations and exemptions,” Rakove says. “Back at the birth of our nation, they had a different quality. They were more moralistic.”

Rosen says this viewpoint is reflected in the Declaration of Independence:

“The framers definitely believed in natural rights — that they are endowed by a creator,” Rosen says. “They believed we are born into a state of nature before we form governments, and that we are endowed with certain fundamental rights.”

These natural rights included the right to religious expression, free speech, property and more. But they did not, Rosen says, specifically include the tenets of the Second Amendment.

“The framers did not talk about the right to bear arms as one of the set of natural rights,” he says. “But it is fair to say that the right to alter and abolish government — to the degree that modern people claim they have that right — the framers certainly believe it.”

“In that sense, it is historically accurate to say that the framers did recognize a natural right of self-defense.”

Who are the people?

Even the term “people” — the most basic catch-all — has limitations.

“You say people, you mean individual persons,” says Rakove. “But, if you go to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, it says the House of Representatives will be chosen by the people — who are the persons? Who are entitled to exercise that suffrage? You see, you can use the term ‘people’ to imply a collective mass, but there are some categories of people that can be excluded.”

After all, when the Constitution was written, slaves were considered property and women were not allowed to vote.

In addition, there is a more basic question of semantics: By “the people,” is the Second Amendment referring to people as private entities, or as participants in the militia?

The legal consensus is that the Second Amendment applies to individual rights, within reasonable regulations. More on that below.

What are Arms in this context, and what is the scope of bearing Arms?

The decision struck down the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which heavily regulated owning and keeping firearms in the District of Columbia.

In the above excerpt, we can see the Court considered the awkward phrasing of the Amendment. The Justices divided the Amendment into an operative clause: “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and a prefatory clause: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” The court determined the relationship between these phrases, as well as the historical context of the Constutition’s creation, clearly provided an individual right.

The term “arms” is also an ever-changing one, and there are ongoing debates about assault weapons and emerging firearm technologies.

“One thing people disagree about is whether assault weapons bans are constitutional,” says Rosen. “They also disagree about how we should interpret the constitution in terms of history or in light of new technologies.”

What does it all mean?

“It’s really striking that since these Supreme Court decisions… lower courts have upheld almost all of the gun regulations they have asked to review,” he says.

Rakove thinks the framers of the Constitution would be surprised at the conversations we are having today.

“While there is a common law right to self-defense, most historians think that it would be remarkable news to the framers of the Second Amendment that they were actually constitutionalizing a personal right to self-defense as opposed to trying to say something significant about the militia,” he says.

Words like “militia” and “rights” are loaded with historical context and nuance that can act as a Rorschach test, leading even the best-intentioned interpreters to different conclusions. If there were any clear answers, these 27 words wouldn’t be so incendiary.

Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History at Stanford University. His book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution” won a Pulitzer Prize in History.

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Deconstructing the Second Amendment – cnn.com

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Socio-Economic Collapse | Prometheism.net Designer …

Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm

In archaeology, the classic Maya collapse refers to the decline of Maya civilization and abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9thcenturies, at the end of the Classic Mayan Period. Preclassic Maya experienced a similar collapse in the 2nd century.

The Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 250 to 900, the last century of which is referred to as the Terminal Classic.[1] The classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copn, Tikal, Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9thcenturies and were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers of the classic period.

Although termed a collapse, it did not mark the end of the Maya civilization; Northern Yucatn in particular prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic writing. In the post-classic period following the collapse, the state of Chichn Itz built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya region,[citation needed] and centers such as Mayapn and Uxmal flourished, as did the Highland states of the Kiche and Kaqchikel Maya. Independent Maya civilization continued until 1697 when the Spanish conquered Nojpetn, the last independent city-state. Millions of Maya people still inhabit the Yucatn peninsula today.

Because parts of Maya civilization unambiguously continued, a number of scholars strongly dislike the term collapse.[2] Regarding the proposed collapse, E. W. Andrews IV went as far as to say, in my belief no such thing happened.[3]

The Maya often recorded dates on monuments they built. Few dated monuments were being built circa 500 around ten per year in 514, for example. The number steadily increased to make this number twenty per year by 672 and forty by around 750. After this, the number of dated monuments begins to falter relatively quickly, collapsing back to ten by 800 and to zero by 900. Likewise, recorded lists of kings complement this analysis. Altar Q shows a reign of kings from 426 to 763. One last king not recorded on Altar Q was Ukit Took, Patron of Flint, who was probably a usurper. The dynasty is believed to have collapsed entirely shortly thereafter. In Quirigua, twenty miles north of Copn, the last king Jade Sky began his rule between 895 and 900, and throughout the Maya area all kingdoms similarly fell around that time.[4]

A third piece of evidence of the progression of Maya decline, gathered by Ann Corinne Freter, Nancy Gonlin, and David Webster, uses a technique called obsidian hydration. The technique allowed them to map the spread and growth of settlements in the Copn Valley and estimate their populations. Between 400 and 450, the population was estimated at a peak of twenty-eight thousand between 750 and 800 larger than London at the time. Population then began to steadily decline. By 900 the population had fallen to fifteen thousand, and by 1200 the population was again less than 1000.

Some 88 different theories or variations of theories attempting to explain the Classic Maya Collapse have been identified.[5] From climate change to deforestation to lack of action by Mayan kings, there is no universally accepted collapse theory, although drought is gaining momentum as the leading explanation.[6]

The archaeological evidence of the Toltec intrusion into Seibal, Peten, suggests to some the theory of foreign invasion. The latest hypothesis states that the southern lowlands were invaded by a non-Maya group whose homelands were probably in the gulf coast lowlands. This invasion began in the 9thcentury and set off, within 100years, a group of events that destroyed the Classic Maya. It is believed that this invasion was somehow influenced by the Toltec people of central Mexico. However, most Mayanists do not believe that foreign invasion was the main cause of the Classic Maya Collapse; they postulate that no military defeat can explain or be the cause of the protracted and complex Classic Collapse process. Teotihuacan influence across the Maya region may have involved some form of military invasion; however, it is generally noted that significant Teotihuacan-Maya interactions date from at least the Early Classic period, well before the episodes of Late Classic collapse.[7]

The foreign invasion theory does not answer the question of where the inhabitants went. David Webster believed that the population should have increased because of the lack of elite power. Further, it is not understood why the governmental institutions were not remade following the revolts, which actually happened under similar circumstances in places like China. A study by anthropologist Elliot M. Abrams came to the conclusion that buildings, specifically in Copan, did not actually require an extensive amount of time and workers to construct.[8] However, this theory was developed during a time period when the archaeological evidence showed that there were fewer Maya people than there are now known to have been.[9] Revolutions, peasant revolts, and social turmoil change circumstances, and are often followed by foreign wars, but they run their course. There are no documented revolutions that caused wholesale abandonment of entire regions.

It has been hypothesized that the decline of the Maya is related to the collapse of their intricate trade systems, especially those connected to the central Mexican city of Teotihuacn. Preceding improved knowledge of the chronology of Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was believed to have fallen during 700750, forcing the restructuring of economic relations throughout highland Mesoamerica and the Gulf Coast.[10] This remaking of relationships between civilizations would have then given the collapse of the Classic Maya a slightly later date. However, after knowing more about the events and the time periods that they occurred, it is now believed that the strongest Teotihuacan influence was during the 4th and 5thcenturies. In addition, the civilization of Teotihuacan started to lose its power, and maybe even abandoned the city, during 600650. This differs greatly from the previous belief that Teotihuacano power decreased during 700750.[11] But since the new decline date of 600650 has been accepted, the Maya civilizations are now thought to have lived on and prospered for another century and more[12] than what was previously believed. Rather than the decline of Teotihuacan directly preceding the collapse of the Maya, their decline is now seen as contributing to the 6thcentury hiatus.[12]

The disease theory is also a contender as a factor in the Classic Maya Collapse. Widespread disease could explain some rapid depopulation, both directly through the spread of infection itself and indirectly as an inhibition to recovery over the long run. According to Dunn (1968) and Shimkin (1973), infectious diseases spread by parasites are common in tropical rainforest regions, such as the Maya lowlands. Shimkin specifically suggests that the Maya may have encountered endemic infections related to American trypanosomiasis, Ascaris, and some enteropathogens that cause acute diarrheal illness. Furthermore, some experts believe that, through development of their civilization (that is, development of agriculture and settlements), the Maya could have created a disturbed environment, in which parasitic and pathogen-carrying insects often th rive.[13] Among the pathogens listed above, it is thought that those that cause the acute diarrheal illnesses would have been the most devastating to the Maya population. This is because such illness would have struck a victim at an early age, thereby hampering nutritional health and the natural growth and development of a child. This would have made them more susceptible to other diseases later in life. Such ideas as this could explain the role of disease as at least a possible partial reason for the Classic Maya Collapse.[14]

Mega-droughts hit the Yucatn Peninsula and Petn Basin areas with particular ferocity, as thin tropical soils decline in fertility and become unworkable when deprived of forest cover,[15] and due to regular seasonal drought drying up surface water.[16] Colonial Spanish officials accurately documented cycles of drought, famine, disease, and war, providing a reliable historical record of the basic drought pattern in the Maya region.[17]

Climatic factors were first implicated in the Collapse as early as 1931 by Mayanists Thomas Gann and J.E.S. Thompson.[18] In The Great Maya Droughts, Richardson Gill gathers and analyzes an array of climatic, historical, hydrologic, tree ring, volcanic, geologic, lake bed, and archeological research, and demonstrates that a prolonged series of droughts probably caused the Classic Maya Collapse.[19] The drought theory provides a comprehensive explanation, because non-environmental and cultural factors (excessive warfare, foreign invasion, peasant revolt, less trade, etc.) can all be explained by the effects of prolonged drought on Classic Maya civilization.[20]

Climatic changes are, with increasing frequency, found to be major drivers in the rise and fall of civilizations all over the world.[21] Professors Harvey Weiss of Yale University and Raymond S. Bradley of the University of Massachusetts have written, Many lines of evidence now point to climate forcing as the primary agent in repeated social collapse.[22] In a separate publication, Weiss illustrates an emerging understanding of scientists:

Within the past five years new tools and new data for archaeologists, climatologists, and historians have brought us to the edge of a new era in the study of global and hemispheric climate change and its cultural impacts. The climate of the Holocene, previously assumed static, now displays a surprising dynamism, which has affected the agricultural bases of pre-industrial societies. The list of Holocene climate alterations and their socio-economic effects has rapidly become too complex for brief summary.[23]

The drought theory holds that rapid climate change in the form of severe drought brought about the Classic Maya collapse. According to the particular version put forward by Gill in The Great Maya Droughts,

[Studies of] Yucatecan lake sediment cores provide unambiguous evidence for a severe 200-year drought from AD800 to 1000 the most severe in the last 7,000years precisely at the time of the Maya Collapse.[24]

Climatic modeling, tree ring data, and historical climate data show that cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere is associated with drought in Mesoamerica.[25] Northern Europe suffered extremely low temperatures around the same time as the Maya droughts. The same connection between drought in the Maya areas and extreme cold in northern Europe was found again at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Volcanic activity, within and outside Mesoamerica, is also correlated with colder weather and resulting drought, as the effects of the Tambora volcano eruption in 1815 indicate.[26]

Mesoamerican civilization provides a remarkable exception: civilization prospering in the tropical swampland. The Maya are often perceived as having lived in a rainforest, but technically, they lived in a seasonal desert without access to stable sources of drinking water.[27] The exceptional accomplishments of the Maya are even more remarkable because of their engineered response to the fundamental environmental difficulty of relying upon rainwater rather than permanent sources of water. The Maya succeeded in creating a civilization in a seasonal desert by creating a system of water storage and management which was totally dependent on consistent rainfall.[28] The constant need for water kept the Maya on the edge of survival. Given this precarious balance of wet and dry conditions, even a slight shift in the distribution of annual precipitation can have serious consequences.[16] Water and civilization were vitally connected in ancient Mesoamerica. Archaeologist and specialist in pre-industrial land and water usage practices, Vernon Scarborough, believes water management and access were critical to the development of Maya civilization.[29]

Critics of the drought theory wonder why the southern and central lowland cities were abandoned and the northern cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Coba continued to thrive.[30] One critic argued that Chichen Itza revamped its political, military, religious, and economic institutions away from powerful lords or kings.[31] Inhabitants of the northern Yucatn also had access to seafood, which might have explained the survival of Chichen Itza and Mayapan, cities away from the coast but within reach of coastal food supplies.[32] Critics of the drought theory also point to current weather patterns: much heavier rainfall in the southern lowlands compared to the lighter amount of rain in the northern Yucatn. Drought theory supporters state that the entire regional climate changed, including the amount of rainfall, so that modern rainfall patterns are not indicative of rainfall from 800 to 900. LSU archaeologist Heather McKillop found a significant rise in sea level along the coast nearest the southern Maya lowlands, coinciding with the end of the Classic period, and indicating climate change.[33]

David Webster, a critic of the megadrought theory says that much of the evidence provided by Gill comes from the northern Yucatn and not the Southern part of the peninsula, where Classic Maya civilization flourished. He also states that if water sources were to have dried up, then several city-states would have moved to other water sources. The fact that Gill suggests that all water in the region would have dried up and destroyed Maya civilization is a stretch, according to Webster.[34]

A study published in Science in 2012 found that modest rainfall reductions, amounting to only 25 to 40 percent of annual rainfall, may have been the tipping point to the Mayan collapse. Based on samples of lake and cave sediments in the areas surrounding major Mayan cities, the researchers were able to determine the amount of annual rainfall in the region. The mild droughts that took place between 800-950 would therefore be enough to rapidly deplete seasonal water supplies in the Yucatn lowlands, where there are no rivers.[35][36][37]

Some ecological theories of Maya decline focus on the worsening agricultural and resource conditions in the late Classic period. It was originally thought that the majority of Maya agriculture was dependent on a simple slash-and-burn system. Based on this method, the hypothesis of soil exhaustion was advanced by Orator F. Cook in 1921. Similar soil exhaustion assumptions are associated with erosion, intensive agricultural, and savanna grass competition.

More recent investigations have shown a complicated variety of intensive agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya, explaining the high population of the Classic Maya polities. Modern archaeologists now comprehend the sophisticated intensive and productive agricultural techniques of the ancient Maya, and several of t he Maya agricultural methods have not yet been reproduced. Intensive agricultural methods were developed and utilized by all the Mesoamerican cultures to boost their food production and give them a competitive advantage over less skillful peoples.[38] These intensive agricultural methods included canals, terracing, raised fields, ridged fields, chinampas, the use of human feces as fertilizer, seasonal swamps or bajos, using muck from the bajos to create fertile fields, dikes, dams, irrigation, water reservoirs, several types of water storage systems, hydraulic systems, swamp reclamation, swidden systems, and other agricultural techniques that have not yet been fully understood.[39] Systemic ecological collapse is said to be evidenced by deforestation, siltation, and the decline of biological diversity.

In addition to mountainous terrain, Mesoamericans successfully exploited the very problematic tropical rainforest for 1,500years.[40] The agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya were entirely dependent upon ample supplies of water. The Maya thrived in territory that would be uninhabitable to most peoples. Their success over two millennia in this environment was amazing.[41]

Anthropologist Joseph Tainter wrote extensively about the collapse of the Southern Lowland Maya in his 1988 study, The Collapse of Complex Societies. His theory about Mayan collapse encompasses some of the above explanations, but focuses specifically on the development of and the declining marginal returns from the increasing social complexity of the competing Mayan city-states.[42] Psychologist Julian Jaynes suggested that the collapse was due to a failure in the social control systems of religion and political authority, due to increasing socioeconomic complexity that overwhelmed the power of traditional rituals and the kings authority to compel obedience.[43]

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