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The United States War on Drugs – Stanford University

Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:19 am

America is at war. We have been fighting drug abuse for almost a century. Four Presidents have personally waged war on drugs. Unfortunately, it is a war that we are losing. Drug abusers continue to fill our courts, hospitals, and prisons. The drug trade causes violent crime that ravages our neighborhoods. Children of drug abusers are neglected, abused, and even abandoned. The only beneficiaries of this war are organized crime members and drug dealers.

The United States has focused its efforts on the criminalization of drug use. The government has, to no avail, spent countless billions of dollars in efforts to eradicate the supply of drugs. Efforts of interdiction and law enforcement have not been met with decreases in the availability of drugs in America. Apart from being highly costly, drug law enforcement has been counterproductive. Current drug laws need to be relaxed. The United States needs to shift spending from law enforcement and penalization to education, treatment, and prevention.

History of U S Drug Policy

Drugs first surfaced in the United States in the 1800s. Opium became very popular after the American Civil War. Cocaine followed in the 1880s. Coca was popularly used in health drinks and remedies. Morphine was discovered in 1906 and used for medicinal purposes. Heroin was used to treat respiratory illness, cocaine was used in Coca-Cola, and morphine was regularly prescribed by doctors as a pain reliever.

The turn of the century witnessed a heightened awareness that psychotropic drugs have a great potential for causing addiction. The abuse of opium and cocaine at the end of the 19th century reached epidemic proportions. Local governments began prohibiting opium dens and opium importation. In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act required all physicians to accurately label their medicines. Drugs were no longer seen as harmless remedies for aches and pains.

The Harrison Narcotics Act, passed in 1914, was the United States first federal drug policy. The act restricted the manufacture and sale of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and morphine. The act was aggressively enforced. Physicians, who were prescribing drugs to addicts on maintenance programs were harshly punished. Between 1915 and 1938, more than 5,000 physicians were convicted and fined or jailed (Trebach, 1982, p. 125.) In 1919, The Supreme Court ruled against the maintenance of addicts as a legitimate form of treatment in Webb et al. v. United States. Americas first federal drug policy targeted physicians and pharmacists.

In 1930, the Treasury Department created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Harry J. Anslinger headed the agency until 1962 and molded Americas drug policy. Under his tenure, drugs were increasingly criminalized. The Boggs Act of 1951 drastically increased the penalties for marijuana use. The Narcotics Control Act of 1956 created the most punitive and repressive anti-narcotics legislation ever adopted by Congress. All discretion to suspend sentences or permit probation was eliminated. Parole was allowed only for first offenders convicted of possession, and the death penalty could be invoked for anyone who sold heroin to a minor (McWilliams, 1990, p.116). Anslinger was critical of judges for being too easy on drug dealers and called for longer minimum sentences. He established a punitive drug policy with a focus on drug law enforcement.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics also used propaganda as a preventative measure. They created myths and horror stories about drugs. Marijuana was blamed for bizarre cases of insanity, murder, and sex crimes. Anslinger said that marijuana caused some people to fly into a delirious rage and many commit violent crimes (McWilliams, 1990, P. 70). It is puzzling that Anslinger and the FBN fabricated such tales, while there existed less dramatic, but true horror stories connected to drug abuse. The propaganda of the 1940s and 1950s was often so far fetched that people simply didnt believe the governments warnings about drugs.

The 1960s gave birth to a rebellious movement that popularized drug use. The counterculture made marijuana fashionable on college campuses. Other hippies sought to expand their minds with the use of hallucinogens like LSD. Many soldiers returned from the Vietnam War with marijuana and heroin habits. In short, the demand for drugs in America skyrocketed in the 1960s.

The Johnson Administration, in reaction to a sharp rise in drug abuse, passed the Narcotics Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966. The act specified that narcotic addiction was a mental illness. The law recognized that the disease concept of alcoholism also applied to drug addiction. Drug use, however, was still considered a crime. The act did not have a major impact because the small amount of funding that was appropriated for treatment couldnt meet the increasing demand for drugs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The act did pave the road for federal expenditures on drug abuse treatment.

The Modern Drug War

In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. He proclaimed, Americas public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive(Sharp, 1994, p.1). Nixon fought drug abuse on both the supply and demand fronts. Nixons drug policies reflect both the temperance view and disease view of addiction.

Nixon initiated the first significant federal funding of treatment programs in. In 1971, the government funded the then experimental and enormously controversial methadone maintenance program. In June 1971, Nixon addressed Congress and declared, as long as there is a demand, there will be those willing to take the risks of meeting the demand (Sharp, 1994, p.27). In this statement he publicly proclaimed that all efforts of interdiction and eradication are destined to fail.

Unfortunately, Nixon failed to listen to his own advice. Nixon launched a massive interdiction effort in Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Agency was created in 1973. They initiated Operation Intercept, which pressured Mexico to regulate its marijuana growers. The U S government spent hundreds of millions of dollars closing up the border. Trade between Mexico and the U S came to a virtual standstill. Mass amounts of Mexican crops headed for the U S rotted, while waiting in line at the border. In the end, Nixon achieved his goal of curtailing the supply of Mexican marijuana in America. Columbia, however, was quick to replace Mexico as Americas marijuana supplier.

The interdiction of Mexican marijuana was the governments first lesson in the iron law of drug economics (Rosenberger, 1996, p.22). Every effort the U S government has made at interdiction since Operation Intercept has at most resulted in a reorganization of the international drug trade. Heavily monitored drug routes have been rerouted. Drugs enter the United States through land, sea, and air. Closing our borders to drug smugglers is an impossibility as long as the demand exists.

In 1977 President Carter called for the decriminalization of marijuana. In a speech to Congress he said, penalties against possession of the drug should not be more damaging than the drug itself (Rosenberger, 1996, p25). Although Carter endorsed lenient laws towards marijuana use, he was against legalization. Carters drug policy was focused on the supply front, with most funding going to interdiction and eradication programs.

Marijuana decriminalization did not fail, but failed to be realized. Carters presidency witnessed a sharp increase in cocaine use. From 1978 to 1984, cocaine consumption in America increased from between 19 and 25 tons to between 71 and 137 tons. The demand for cocaine increased as much as 700 percent in just six years (Collett, 1989, p. 35). Marijuana was widely connected to cocaine as a feeder drug. Thus, the federal and state governments moved away from marijuana decriminalization.

In 1981, President Reagan gave a speech mirroring Nixons admission that fighting the supply side of the drug war was a losing proposition. He said, Its far more effective if you take the customers away than if you try to take the drugs away from those who want to be customers. Reagan, like Nixon did not heed is own advice. The average annual amount of funding for eradication and interdiction programs increased from an annual average of $437 million during Carters presidency to $1.4 billion during Reagans first term. The funding for programs of education, prevention, and rehabilitation were cut from an annual average of $386 million to $362 million (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 26).

Reagans demand side initiatives focused on getting tough on drugs. The program became known as the zero tolerance program, where punitive measures against users were emphasized. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse gave the drug user full accountability. Drug users were to be prosecuted for possession and accordingly penalized. Although some block grants were given for drug treatment, the rehabilitative efforts were insufficient to meet the overwhelming amount of drug abuse. Reagans demand side drug policy largely reflects the colonial, or moralist view of addiction.

Despite headlining innovative drug policies, Clinton has largely continued the Republicans supply sided drug policy. In the 1995 budget, Clinton earmarked an extra $1 billion for both the demand and supply fronts of the governments drug policy. Clinton attracted the medias attention when he doubled the spending for rehabilitation and prevention programs. However, more substantial increases were made for eradication programs and law enforcement. The 1995 budget included $13.2 billion for drug policy. $7.8 billion was spent on supply sided efforts, while only $5.4 billion was spent on education, prevention, and rehabilitation. Although Clinton did increase the percentage spent on the demand front of the drug war, his policy clearly reflects supply sided tactics (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 51).

It is important to note that Congress has a significant influence on shaping Americas drug policy. The Republican 104th Congress successfully killed many of Clintons attempts to spend more on the demand side. Even the Democratic 103rd Congress of the early 1990s fought shifting the drug policy towards prevention and rehabilitation. Both Democratic and Republic Congresses overwhelmingly favored continuing with supply sided efforts.

Although Clinton didnt significantly change the direction of U S drug policy he presented some innovative proposals. Clinton encouraged Community Action Programs and grass roots organizations to participate in the demand side of the drug war. However, of the $1 billion given to the Community Empowerment Program only $50 million was allocated to drug education, prevention, and treatment (Rosenberger, 1996, p. 63). Thus, the potential of the programs was never realized.

The Drug Debate

The proponents of drug policy cant be classified as Liberal, Conservative, Left, Right, Democratic, or Republican. Many Liberals and Democrats, such as the 103rd Congress favor drug criminalization and supply sided efforts, while some Conservatives, such as Milton Friedman and William Buckley favor drug legalization. There are, however, three prevailing views on addiction in America, which have derived from Americas views of alcoholism.

The Colonial or Moralist view considers the drug user to be sinful and morally defective. The drug itself is not the problem. The moralists drug policy entails punitive measures for users. Drug use is a crime. Reagans zero tolerance policy on drug use is an excellent example of a moralist drug policy.

Second, the Temperance view considers the drug itself, as an addictive substance and the cause of addiction. The supply of drugs is a public hazard. According to the temperance view, drug policy should focus on drug smugglers and drug dealers as the root of drug addiction. U S drug policy has largely been influenced by the temperance view of addiction.

Third, the disease concept views addiction as being a treatable disease. Neither the drug user, nor the drug supplier is responsible drug addiction. The disease concept calls for a drug policy that focuses on drug treatment and rehabilitation. Clinton, for example embraced the disease concept and increased funding for treatment programs.

There has been continuous and widespread debate about drug policy since Nixon waged Americas first war on drugs. Remarkably, the issues have changed very little. In fact, U S drug policy hasnt had many significant changes over the last 30 years. The U S has long endorsed a supply sided drug policy. Most of the funding has gone to interdiction and eradication efforts. These measures have failed and continue to fail. The United States needs to significantly shift its funding towards education, prevention, and treatment. Thus, America needs to decriminalize drug use.

Firstly, decriminalization does not imply drug legalization. Drug trafficking and drug dealing need to remain criminal activities. Punitive drug laws on drug users need to be relaxed. Of the 750,000 drug law offenses in 1995, 75% of them were merely for use (Nadelmann, 1991, p. 20). Habitual drug use offenders, who are usually addicts face heavy fines and long prison sentences. Drug law enforcement and incarceration are extremely costly and counterproductive. Addicts have the potential to be treated. The appropriate response is rehabilitation.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that in 1993 as many as 2.5 million drug-users could have benefited from treatment. Only about 1.4 million users were treated in 1993. Almost half of the nations addicts were ignored. The government spent only $2.5 billion on treatment programs compared to $7.8 billion on drug law enforcement. The government needs to shift its funding from costly, unproductive drug eradication programs to meet treatment demands.

Decriminalization does not imply opening up our borders to drug suppliers and tolerating violent drug syndicates. The supply side of the drug war should be reduced, not ignored. Violent drug gangs and large-scale drug suppliers should be targeted instead of the drug user and the small time dealer. Although spending less on interdiction will inevitably make it easier to smuggle drugs into the U S, there is no evidence that the demand for drugs will significantly rise.

There have been some victories in the drug war. Every addict who through federally funded treatment programs and rehabilitation becomes sober is a victory. The benefits are endless. Addicts, who treat their disease often reenter society and become productive workers. Recovering addicts are able to parent their children and are positive and powerful examples in their community.

In order to decriminalize drugs, society has to abandon the puritanical idea that drug users are morally defective. The government, which has already publicly acknowledged the disease concept of addiction, needs to focus its drug policies on the demand side. The U S government can only relieve drug abuse by treating our addicts through rehabilitation and preventing the use of drugs through education.

Chapter 2:

The War on Drugs: Is it a War Worth Fighting?

The United States has been engaged in a war for nearly 25 years. A war in which there is a great deal of confusion as to why we are engaged in it, and if we are in the war for the right reasons. The resolution of the war is curtailed by varying opinions and subjective statistical proof. The war which has been a continuing struggle, is the war on drugs At the heart of this war is a fundamental question: Is this a battle the United States can win? It is likely everyone will agree drugs are harmful, they have serious medical side-effects. Drugs are addictive; can ruin a family, a job, a life. I agree that drugs have very negative side effects, but is the solution to fight a very costly and ineffective battle to eradicate drugs entirely? Is this even a possibility? I am not so sure, and this paper will show that the war on drugs has likely caused much more harm than good. Further, it will explain why not all drugs are the same, explore some options, and look at the future of the United States, and of the world

We spend $50 billion per year trying to eradicate drugs from this country. According to DEA estimates we capture less than 10 percent of all illicit drugs. In this regard, I have a two part question 1) How much do you think it will cost to stop the other ninety percent? Too much. 2) Does $50 billion a year for a 90% failure rate seem like a good investment to you? I am sure the answer is no. Has the cost of the War on Drugs in terms of billions of dollars, blighted lives, jammed prisons, intensified racism, needless deaths, loss of freedom etc., produced any significant change in drug availability or perceived patterns of drug use? Unfortunately not. Abraham Lincoln said “Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and make crime out of things that are not crimes.” It is estimated that 45 million U.S. citizens have tried an illicit drug at least once. How many of the 45 million drug users do you feel we must incarcerate in order to win the war on drugs? Why does the FDA stand up for the right of adults to smoke tobacco, which is highly addictive and causes over 400,000 deaths per year, while decreeing that adults have no right to smoke marijuana, which is non-addictive and kills no one? Alcohol costs thousands of lives, and alcoholism is an accredited disease, but anyone age 21 or older can go to the liquor store and buy alcohol. Drug use is an acknowledged fact of life in every prison in the country. If we can’t stop prisoner use of drugs, how can we rationally expect to stop average free citizens from using them? Despite signatures from 85 prominent groups and individuals, why has the Hoover Resolution (a call for an independent panel to revue existing drug policies) not been considered, accepted, or initiated? What lessons from alcohol prohibition lead you to believe that the current drug war will end in victory? At a time when working people are being asked to tighten our belts in order to help balance the budget, how do you justify increasing the funding to the drug law enforcement bureaucracy? Explain why supporting a failed policy of drug law enforcement has a greater priority than student loans or drug education programs. There are so many questions, with so few answers. Now we must consider the solutions. First one must understand what we are dealing with.

Certain drugs are much more serious than others. LSD was originally produced as an elephant tranquilizer and can obviously cause very violent and serious effects. There have been incidents of people, high on LSD, ripping their hands out of hand-cuffs, by breaking every bone in their hands. The scary things is these people didnt even feel it. Cocaine and crack are much more prevalent, very addictive, and can kill you the very first time you try them. Many will remember the great promise of basketball player Len Bias, whose life was taken after one night of experimentation with Cocaine. Heroine use is very addictive, leaves its users feeling and looking empty, and the spread of AIDS is proliferated by the sharing of needles for this drug. So all these drugs can be lumped into the very serious/addictive category, with obvious varying extremes. Should Marijuana fit into this category? A scientific study funded by the White House says no. The study showed, Marijuanas active ingredients seem to have many medical benefits including pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation (Rolling Stone, pg.32). The study also rejected the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug. Many experts believed that using Marijuana is a stepping stone and once people cant get a high from pot, they will move on to more serious drugs. The study gave no proof that this gateway phenomenon existed, and seemed to point in the direction of at least reconsidering our current position on Marijuana. It is clear to me that Marijuana does not belong in the same category as the other drugs, and the proposition of legalization should be seriously considered.

What do we have to enjoy from legalizing Marijuana, and possibly other drugs, or at least regulating there use? Consider the experiences of Holland–a country where drugs fall under the jurisdiction of health agencies, not law enforcement, which has seen a decline in chronic use of hard drugs and casual use of soft drugs since decriminalization. If illegal drugs are so obviously harmful to people’s health, why is it necessary to put so many American adults in prison to prevent them from using these drugs? If people want to take drugs, people are going to find a way to get drugs. The problem is the war on drugs is not attacking the right people. The people being hurt are the recreational users who get busted for having $50 worth of pot or cocaine in their pockets. These people arent drug dealers, they arent gang-bangers, they are people with families, that use drugs, and are put away for decades. Consider some simple figures: The number of federal prisoners who are drug offenders is 55, 624, 50% of whom are non-violent first time offenders. 59% of federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug chargers, compared to only 2.5% incarcerated for violent crimes. 717, 720 Americans were arrested in 1997 for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault (combined), while 695,200 were arrested for marijuana offenses alone (Playboy, pg. 47). I feel the last figures are the most telling. It just seems like the purpose of the war on drugs has been lost, and as a result of the powers that be not accepting an alternative, other battles are being lost as well. Jimmy Carter once said, Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself (Playboy, pg. 47). Currently this is not the case, and this is just another example of a need for change.

Another major problem with our current situation is money. Not only is it expensive to prosecute drug offenders, it is expensive to detain them. Currently, more money is being put into building prisons than into building schools. In 1998, 16 billion dollars were spent in federal funding for the war on drugs. That is an astronomical number, and it seems as if the results dont go along with the effort. If all this time and money is being spent on education, and prevention, and treatment, and the numbers continue to rise, then an alternative must be sought. As immoral and ridiculous as legalization may seem to some, all the facts seem to show that it, at the very least, deserves consideration. Without a solution to the current situation, the U.S. will remain in a vicious circle with no hope of coming out of it.

Where do we go from here? Clearly major steps need to be taken. I believe the first step is an admission by the administration that our current system doesnt work. The next step must be to find out what the opinion is on the streets and in the schools. Do the education and awareness efforts work? What makes someone decide to try drugs? What is the biggest influence on the child? Maybe by taking note of what other countries have done, for example Holland which was mentioned earlier, the U.S. can get ideas for some sort of compromise. It seems to me that the U.S. is set in its ways that drugs will not be tolerated and that this is a battle we must win. What must be realized is that changing our policies is not an admission of defeat. This shouldnt be a matter of egos or overly conservative opinions. The bottom line is that drug use needs to be reduced, the murders must be brought down, and the number of people incarcerated must be decreased.

The modern drug war began in the 1960s, and for thirty five years it has failed to produce and real success. Which is better for America during the next 35 years, prohibition with the continuing costs and ineffectiveness, or reform policies that approach the problem from a different angle. Instead of spending so much money on imprisoning drug offenders and preaching why drugs are bad, why not spend the money on schools, and school programs? The idea is to keep kids from using drugs, and this will in turn reduce the numbers of adults that use drugs. The same goal is present in alcohol and cigarettes, and it is handled much differently. Why not treat at least Marijuana just like cigarettes and alcohol. Dont make it illegal, just take steps to discourage people from using it. Education is a must, but prosecuting small time offenders is pointless. The facts just dont do much to support the war on drugs. Consider some facts and costs that this country has undertaken as a result of attempting to make drug use illegal.

I will end this report with some outlined problems with keeping drugs illegal. There is a need for change, and this must be realized soon:

The war on drugs has failed. By making drugs illegal, this country has:

1) Put half a million people in prison : $10 Billion a year

2) Spent billions annually for expanded law enforcement

3) Fomented violence and death (in gang turf wars, overdoses from uncontrolled drug potency & shared needles/AIDS)

4) Eroded civil rights (property can be confiscated from you BEFORE you are found guilty; search and wiretap authority has expanded.)

5) Enriched criminal organizations.

The street price of a single ounce of pure cocaine is several thousands of dollars, yet the cost to produce the drug is less than $20. The difference is the amount we are willing to pay to criminals for the privilege of keeping the drug illegal. Not only that, but such a high markup is strong incentive for people to enter into the sales and trafficking of these drugs. The stiff penalties we assess against drug dealers only makes the price higher and the criminals more desperate to escape capture, more determined to protect their market from encroachment. If drugs were legalized, the price would drop by to a tiny fraction of their current street values and the incentive to push drugs would vanish.

Recall that during prohibition, bootleggers and police used to shoot it out over black market ‘shine. Illegal speakeasies did a booming trade, the profits of which went to organized crime. With the end of prohibition, alcohol has been taxed and provides a revenue stream to the State. Would drug use go up? Maybe. But it might well go down, since there would be no profit in getting new users to try drugs.

Protecting drug users against themselves costs the rest of us too much: in dollars, in safety and in freedom.

The Final thought is simply this: The drug war is not working, and if alternatives are not considered now, a solution may never be possible.

References:

Collett, Merril. 1989. The Cocaine Connection: Drug Trafficking, and Inter-American

Relations. New York, NY: Foreign Policy Assoc. Series

McWilliams, John C. 1990. The Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau

Of Narcotics, 1930-1962. Newark: University of Delaware Press

Nadelmann, Ethan. (1991). The Case for Legalization, in James Inciardi, ed., The

Drug Legalization Debate. (pp.19-20). Newbury Park, CA: Sage

Rosenberger, Leif R. 1996. Americas Drug War Debacle. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate

Publishing Co.

Sharp, Elaine B. 1994. The Dilemma of Drug Policy in the United States. New York,

NY: HarperCollins College Publishers

Trebach, Arnold. 1982. The Heroin Solution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

Wisotsky, Steven. 1990. Beyond the War on Drugs. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books

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Index of Economic Freedom – The Heritage Foundation

Posted: July 27, 2016 at 11:44 am

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Brazils limited experiment with market-oriented reforms has been uneven and even derailed in some areas. The states presence in such sectors as energy, financial services, and electricity remains extensive. The legacy of decades of central planning, state meddling in economic activity continues even where it has demonstrably failed, and the weak rule of law further undermines economic progress.

The onerous regulatory environment hinders needed economic transformation and undercuts realization of the economys full potential. Growing public debt and higher debt service costs have kept fiscal pressure high, and burdensome taxes further crowd out private-sector growth.

President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers Party began her second term in January 2015. A recession, fiscal and monetary belt-tightening, and a far-reaching kickback scheme involving her party and the state-controlled Petrleo Brasileiro oil company sent her approval rating plummeting. Brazil has poor public services, antiquated and insufficient infrastructure, and high tax rates. In recent years, inflation has surged again. Growth is sluggish, but Brazils Bolsa Famlia conditional cash transfer program for the poor has won support in some sectors. Brazil is the worlds seventh-largest economy, and its population of almost 200 million is heavily concentrated on the Atlantic coast. Since the advent of the monetary real plan in the 1990s and the end of hyperinflation, the poverty rate has dropped, but heavy government intervention in the economy continues to limit development.

Graft remains endemic, and Brazilians disapprove of President Dilma Rousseffs policies on corruption and crime. In 2014, a former director of state-owned Petrobas accused more than 40 politicians, including one minister and three governors, in a massive kickback investigation. Brazils judiciary is inefficient and subject to political and economic influence. The court system is overburdened, and contract disputes can be lengthy and complex.

The income tax rate is 27.5 percent. The standard corporate tax rate is 15 percent, but a financial transactions tax, 10 percent surtax, and 9 percent social contribution on net profits bring the effective rate to 34 percent. The overall tax burden amounts to 33.4 percent of GDP. Public spending equals over one-third of GDP, and fiscal stimulus efforts have increased chronic deficits. Public debt equals about 65 percent of GDP.

Bureaucratic hurdles remain common, including lengthy processes for launching a business and obtaining permits. The non-salary cost of employing a worker adds to the cost of doing business, and labor regulations remain stringent. In 2015, surging state-administered prices for gasoline, electricity, and transportall heavily subsidized before the 2014 presidential electioncaused inflation to reach its highest level in over a decade.

Brazils average tariff rate is 7.8 percent. Brazilians may not import used consumer goods like cars and clothing. Government procurement policies favor domestic companies. Foreign investment in agricultural land is restricted. Brazil has the regions largest financial services market. The states role in credit markets has grown since 2008, and public banks now account for over 50 percent of loans to the private sector.

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Latinos For Tennessee | Faith, Family, Freedom, and Fiscal …

Posted: July 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

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PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 29, 2016 Latinos for Tennessee Urges Passage of HB2414 Nashville, Tennessee Today, Raul Lopez, Executive Director for Latinos for Tennessee, a statewide organization dedicated to promoting and defending faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility to the Latino community in Tennessee issued a statement concerning Tennessee House Bill 2414,

March 23, 2016

President Barack Obama made history this week by becoming the first sitting United States President in nearly nine decades to visit the communist island of Cuba. As a Cuban that fled to the United States seeking refuge from Communism, it has been tough to watch images of the president shaking hands with Cuban President Raul

March 17, 2016

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February 27, 2016

Even as the number of Latinos in Nashville and elsewhere around the country grows, misinformation abounds about the fastest and youngest growing demographic community. The biggest misconception is that Latinos all speak in one voice. This is patently false and does a great deal of disservice to the millions of individuals who are unique and

February 11, 2016

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 11, 2016 Media contact: Israel Ortega izzy.ortega@gmail.com (202) 345-9130 Tennessee House Honors Tommy Vallejos, Latinos for Tennessee Board Chairman Nashville, Tennessee Today, the Tennessee House honored Clarksville, TN County Commissioner Tommy Vallejos, a gang-member turned U.S. Army Gulf War Veteran and now Pastor, for his contributions to the

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September 16, 2015

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega iortega@crispcomm.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Makes Appeal to Policymakers for Greater School Choice to Help Close Educational Achievement Gap Nashville, Tennessee Latinos for Tennessee, an organization dedicated to providing the Hispanic community in the state with information

August 24, 2015

When the job numbers came out early this month, they were not pretty especially for the Latino community. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate for the Latino community had risen to 6.8% well above the national average of 5.3%. These numbers suggest that in spite of claims that

July 14, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2015 Media contact: Israel Ortega iortega@crispcomm.com (202) 345-9130 Latinos for Tennessee Co-Hosts Nashville Mayoral Forum on Tuesday Six candidates for Mayor confirmed to attend; Metro Council Candidates also confirmed Nashville, Tennessee Six of the seven candidates vying to become the next mayor of Nashville are set to appear before

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10 Bizarre Micronations – ODDEE

Posted: at 3:56 pm

Why settle for a house when you can have a nation of your own? These Micronations are not just tiny, they’re also weird! 1 The Kingdom of Talossa: created by a 14-Year-Old All hail the Boy King!

On December 26, 1979 from his bedroom in Milwaukee Wisconsin, 14-year-old Robert Ben Madison declared it a separate country called Talossa and appointed himself King. While this proclamation has never been recognized by any Government, Talossa is considered one of the first micronations, inspiring many copycats. Madison/Talossa was tech-savvy enough to have its own website since 1995. It now boasts 222 citizens (you can become one here.)

This peaceful Kingdom is not without internal strife in 2004 a group seceded, forming the Republic of Talossa. However, in 2012 the country was made whole again. (Source 1 | Source 2)

The Province of Bumbunga is yet another tiny breakaway region from a First World country in this case, Australia. It was founded March 29, 1976 by Alex Brackstone, a former monkey-trainer and British Crown loyalist who did not like how Australia was turning against the monarchy. He created Bumbunga on his 4 hectare property and named himself Governor, so at least a small part of the country would still be loyal to the British Throne. He tried to create a giant model of Great Britain out of strawberry patches, but they ended up dying in a drought.

Bumbunga also issued a series of stamps with British royalty; these cannot be used to actually mail anything but became a collector’s item amongst nerds. (Source)

On June 2, 1996, the tiny country of Ladonia was founded by artist Lars Vilks in a nature reserve in southern Sweden because of a legal dispute over his art. In 1980, he had built a 70-ton driftwood sculpture entitled Nimis in this remote region accessible only by water or a long hike. When the authorities finally discovered it, they ordered it destroyed and a years-long battle in the courts ensued. After losing his last appeal, Vilks created the country of Ladonia, which he says trades only in creative expression. There is a queen and crown princess as well as ambassadors and ministers and its official language only has two words: waaaall and p (although it’s unclear what they mean). Anyone can apply to be a citizen here as Ladonia claims all its people are nomads. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

The inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, owns this tiny island just off Long Island, New York (and north of South Dumpling Island). Like many micronations on this list, it was started because of a dispute with government authorities about building something without permission in this case it was a wind turbine. Kamen seceded and established his own one-man nation with flag, navy, currency, and even its own anthem written by Broadway director Paul Lazarus, who is also the nation’s Ministry of Brunch. He even got his friend President George H.W. Bush to sign a non-aggression pact. While this is the folly of a very rich, well connected person, he claims his busy life offers no time to relax and this lets him unwind. Why not just take a ride along a trail on a Segway instead? (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

On October 20, 2008, at 11:30 am British Standard Time, another 14-year-old boy (see #1) declared a tiny nation within a bigger country’s borders; in this case it was Jonathan Austen declaring his father Terry Emperor and himself Crown prince of Austenasia, located within the confines of their London flat. The country is run as a constitutional monarchy and has expanded to 5 territories in the nearby area. They are very serious about their endeavor (they claim Articles 1 and 3 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention allow them to declare their sovereignty) and have created dozens of Acts of Parliament. You can become an “honorary subject” here. They say you can visit their country as long as they are contacted beforehand. The website asks just don’t turn up. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)

How to start your own micronation in 9 easy steps!

1. Be very rich or very young 2. Be an artist and/or a little bit crazy 3. Give the country a funny name and yourself a ridiculous title 4. Write a declaration, cite Article 1 and 3 of Montevideo Convention 5. Try and get your president friend to sign a non-aggression pact 6. Set up a website and offer free citizenship 7. Mint your own coins or stamps 8. Prepare to be thrown in jail or taken to court for doing #7 9. If micronation is larger than 1 person, prepare for civil war or coup

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A Brief History of Space Exploration | The Aerospace …

Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

Into Orbit

Humans have dreamed about spaceflight since antiquity. The Chinese used rockets for ceremonial and military purposes centuries ago, but only in the latter half of the 20th century were rockets developed that were powerful enough to overcome the force of gravity to reach orbital velocities that could open space to human exploration.

As often happens in science, the earliest practical work on rocket engines designed for spaceflight occurred simultaneously during the early 20th century in three countries by three key scientists: in Russia, by Konstantin Tsiolkovski; in the United States, by Robert Goddard; and in Germany, by Hermann Oberth.

In the 1930s and 1940s Nazi Germany saw the possibilities of using long-distance rockets as weapons. Late in World War II, London was attacked by 200-mile-range V-2 missiles, which arched 60 miles high over the English Channel at more than 3,500 miles per hour.

After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union created their own missile programs. On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into space. Four years later on April 12, 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. His flight lasted 108 minutes, and Gagarin reached an altitude of 327 kilometers (about 202 miles).

The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, went into orbit on January 31, 1958. In 1961 Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. On February 20, 1962, John Glenns historic flight made him the first American to orbit Earth.

Landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth within a decade was a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong took a giant step for mankind as he stepped onto the moon. Six Apollo missions were made to explore the moon between 1969 and 1972.

During the 1960s unmanned spacecraft photographed and probed the moon before astronauts ever landed. By the early 1970s orbiting communications and navigation satellites were in everyday use, and the Mariner spacecraft was orbiting and mapping the surface of Mars. By the end of the decade, the Voyager spacecraft had sent back detailed images of Jupiter and Saturn, their rings, and their moons.

Skylab, Americas first space station, was a human-spaceflight highlight of the 1970s, as was the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, the worlds first internationally crewed (American and Russian) space mission.

In the 1980s satellite communications expanded to carry television programs, and people were able to pick up the satellite signals on their home dish antennas. Satellites discovered an ozone hole over Antarctica, pinpointed forest fires, and gave us photographs of the nuclear power-plant disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. Astronomical satellites found new stars and gave us a new view of the center of our galaxy.

Space Shuttle

In April 1981 the launch of the space shuttle Columbia ushered in a period of reliance on the reusable shuttle for most civilian and military space missions. Twenty-four successful shuttle launches fulfilled many scientific and military requirements until January 1986, when the shuttle Challenger exploded after launch, killing its crew of seven.

The Challenger tragedy led to a reevaluation of Americas space program. The new goal was to make certain a suitable launch system was available when satellites were scheduled to fly. Today this is accomplished by having more than one launch method and launch facility available and by designing satellite systems to be compatible with more than one launch system.

The Gulf War proved the value of satellites in modern conflicts. During this war allied forces were able to use their control of the high ground of space to achieve a decisive advantage. Satellites were used to provide information on enemy troop formations and movements, early warning of enemy missile attacks, and precise navigation in the featureless desert terrain. The advantages of satellites allowed the coalition forces to quickly bring the war to a conclusion, saving many lives.

Space systems will continue to become more and more integral to homeland defense, weather surveillance, communication, navigation, imaging, and remote sensing for chemicals, fires and other disasters.

International Space Station

The International Space Station is a research laboratory in low Earth orbit. With many different partners contributing to its design and construction, this high-flying laboratory has become a symbol of cooperation in space exploration, with former competitors now working together.

And while the space shuttle will likely continue to carry out important space missions, particularly supporting the International Space Station, the Columbia disaster in 2003 signaled the need to step up the development of its replacement. Future space launch systems will be designed to reduce costs and improve dependability, safety, and reliability. In the meantime most U.S. military and scientific satellites will be launched into orbit by a family of expendable launch vehicles designed for a variety of missions. Other nations have their own launch systems, and there is strong competition in the commercial launch market to develop the next generation of launch systems

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U.S. Mission to NATO

Posted: at 2:09 am

11 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Warsaw Declaration on Transatlantic Security Warsaw Summit Communiqu NATO-EU Joint Declaration Commitment to Enhance Resilience Cyber Defense Pledge NATO Policy for the Protection of Civilians

10 July | Fact Sheets, U.S. & NATO

FACT SHEET: U.S. and NATO Efforts in Support of NATO Partners, including Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova From The White House The United States strongly

10 July | Fact Sheets, U.S. & NATO

FACT SHEET: U.S. Contributions to Enhancing Allied Resilience From The White House At the NATO Warsaw Summit, heads of state and government will commit their

9 July | NATO Summits, President Barack Obama, Speeches, Transcripts

Remarks by President Obama at Press Conference After NATO Summit July 9,2016 PRESIDENT OBAMA:Good evening, everybody. Once again, I want to thank the government and

9 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Joint statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the Level of Heads of State and Government We, the Heads of State and Government of the

9 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

The Warsaw Declaration on Transatlantic Security Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw

9 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Endorsed by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw 8-9 July 2016 I. INTRODUCTION 1.

9 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw 8-9 July 2016 1. We, the

9 July | Fact Sheets

FACT SHEET: NATOs Enduring Commitment to Afghanistan From The White House NATOs mission in Afghanistan has been the Alliances largest and one of its

9 July | NATO Summits, Speeches

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Opening Remarks Following the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the Level of Heads of State and Government in

9 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Issued by the Heads of State and Government of Afghanistan and Alliesand their Resolute Support Operational Partners We, the Heads of State and Government of

8 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Cyber Defence Pledge 1. In recognition of the new realities of security threats to NATO, we, the Allied Heads of State and Government, pledge to

8 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw, 8-9 July 2016 We, the Heads

8 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Joint statement of the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers We, Allied Foreign Ministers and the Foreign Minister of Georgia, met today in

8 July | NATO Summits, Speeches, Transcripts

Press Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Signing Ceremony of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration Followed by Statements by President Tuskand PresidentJuncker July

8 July | NATO Summits, President Barack Obama, Speeches

Remarks by President Obama, President Tusk of the European Council, and President Juncker of the European Commission After U.S.-EU Meeting July 8, 2016 PRESIDENT OBAMA:

8 July | Cooperative Security, Fact Sheets, U.S. & NATO

FACT SHEET: U.S. Assurance and Deterrence Efforts in Support of NATO Allies From The White House In the last 18 months, the United States

8 July | Key Documents, NATO Summits

Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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U.S. Mission to NATO

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Home – Libertarian Party of Ohio

Posted: July 18, 2016 at 3:39 pm

COLUMBUSThe Libertarian Party of Ohios newly elected central committee elected new officers and a new state executive committee at its biennial reorganizational meeting on April 23.

Bob Frey was elected as chair of the state central committee, the partys governing body that chooses an executive committee to run the partys day-to-day operations. Bob Bridges was elected to begin a full term as executive committee chair, after having served for several months in that position as a replacement for a previous chair who resigned.

“I am excited to be elected Chair of the Central Committee, said Frey. We have a strong group of volunteers, who are dedicated no matter the obstacles the state puts in our way. I look forward to helping be a part of this team, who WILL get the presidential nominee on the ballot, and continue to fight for freedom and liberty.”

This terms central committee elections were conducted at special election meetings of LPO members in participating congressional districts, rather than by Libertarian voters in Ohios primary election, because the Libertarian Party is currently prohibited from participating in Ohio elections by Senate Bill 193, which was signed by failed presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich in 2013 after being passed with only Republican votes in the Ohio House and Senate.

Other newly elected central committee members are Vice Chair Don Kissick, Secretary David Macko, and Treasurer Ann Leech.

The executive committee includes Vice Chair Scott Pettigrew, Secretary Bob Coogan, Treasurer Linda Comstock, and members at large Christopher Gill, Ann Leech, and Harold Thomas. According to LPO bylaws, executive committee members at large must also be members of the central committee.

After the meeting, Bridges made the following appointments and re-appointments to his management team:

Tricia SpranklePolitical Director

Gregory PizarroFinance Director

Joe BowersoxDeputy Political Director

Kevin KnedlerDeputy Secretary

Aaron Keith HarrisParty Spokesman, K-12 Liaison

LPO Central Committee (two seats available for each US Congressionial district)

District 1 – Seat A Bob Frey

District 1 – Seat B Scott Pettigrew

District 2 – Seat A Rick Kanis

District 2 – Seat B Ann Leech

District 3 – Seat A Harold Thomas

District 3 – Seat B Bob Bridges

District 4 – Seat A

District 4 – Seat B

District 5 – Seat A Don Kissick

District 5 – Seat B Sarah Kissick

District 6 – Seat A Lowell Lufkin

District 6 – Seat B Aarica Burwell

District 7 – Seat A

District 7 – Seat B

District 8 – Seat A Bob Coogan

District 8 – Seat B

District 9 – Seat A

District 9 – Seat B

District 10 – Seat A Aaron Harris

District 10 – Seat B Dan Zink

District 11 – Seat A

District 11 – Seat B

District 12 – Seat A Linda Comstock

District 12 – Seat B Kevin Knedler

District 13 – Seat A

District 13 – Seat B

District 14 – Seat A Justin Gleason

District 14 – Seat B David Macko

District 15 – Seat A Christopher Gill

District 15 – Seat B Franklin DeMint

District 16 – Seat A

District 16 – Seat B

For more information:

Aaron Keith Harris

LPO Party Spokesman

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

937-825-0204

Follow this link for more information about the 2016 Independent Presidential Ticket

Recognizing that the time before the upcoming November General Election is becoming short, the Libertarian Party of Ohio is charting a new direction in the fight to give real choice to Ohio voters. With the deadline for the November election now being just four months away, the LPO will focus on gaining ballot access for the Libertarian Partys presidential ticket without a party label.

Since the passage of SB193, the infamous John Kasich Reelection Protection Act, and the success of efforts by Republican Party operatives to remove Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl from the 2014 ballot, the LPOs focus has been two-pronged: pursuing various court remedies and beginning a long and expensive petitioning effort to restore the party as a whole to ballot access. That petitioning effort requires approximately 35,000 valid signatures, with SB193 also requiring certain geographic distribution requirements. In contrast, placing the national ticket on the ballot without party label requires only 5000 valid signatures.

While the partys national ticket will not be chosen until the Libertarian National Convention over Memorial Day weekend in Orlando, Florida, petitioning is beginning now with placeholder candidates. John Fockler, whose term as Chair of the LPOs Central Committee ended recently, explained, We couldnt wait until the ticket is chosen. Ohio law allows us to begin petitioning with a temporary ticket now, and substitute the names of the actual ticket afterwards. The placeholder candidates are Earl, for President, and Kentucky LP activist Ken Moellman as Vice-President. Having Charlies name on the ticket as our temporary candidate is a big help, Fockler said. Charlie is extremely well-known in pro-liberty circles throughout the state and gives this effort extra credibility with people outside the Libertarian Party.

This does not represent a surrender in the efforts to achieve full ballot access for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said Bob Bridges, recently reelected as Chair of the LPOs Executive Committee. We are as determined as ever that the voters of Ohio will again have the full range of choices they deserve, and not be limited to only those that the two big government parties think they should have.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dear fellow Libertarians,

As the presidential election season has begun to heat up, we have seen a greatly increased amount of traffic on LPO.org and on social media. Many new people are telling us they’re fed up with Republicans and Democrats and they’re asking how to become new members of the Libertarian Party of Ohio.

Here are my answers to the three most commonly asked questions:

1) Who is the 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate?

The Libertarian Party will nominate its candidates for president and vice president at our 2016 Libertarian Party National Presidential Nominating Conventionin Orlando over Memorial Day weekend.

Along with our 2012 nominee, Gov. Gary Johnson, and Ohios own LPO Central Committee Vice Chair Marc Allan Feldman, there are several other candidates. Visit this link for a current list of those who have announced their candidacy.

LPO Communications Director Aaron Keith Harris interviews Tom Zawistowski of the Portage County Tea Party.

Topics include the corruption of the Kasich administration, the 2016 Republican presidential candidates, and possible alliances among the Tea Party, constitutional conservatives, and Libertarians.

Listen here.

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Offshore Drilling and Exploration – The New York Times

Posted: July 16, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Latest Articles

The rules fell short of many environmentalists demands to cut off such drilling entirely, but oil companies complained that they would stymie exploration.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The all-stock deal, worth $13 billion, would combine the American and French companies, which have been hit hard by the global plunge in energy prices.

By STANLEY REED

Long a ticket to the middle class, especially for African-Americans, they have become increasingly difficult to find.

By ANNIE LOWREY

The regulations are aimed at preventing the kind of failures that caused the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and come amid a proposal for Arctic drilling.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The Obama administration has hopes that gas export efforts will help build peaceful relations between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East.

By ISABEL KERSHNER and STANLEY REED

The decision to postpone the plan, called Browse, comes as prices for the fuel in Asia have fallen steeply.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cited the militarys reservations about drilling near some of its largest installations, plunging oil prices and widespread local concerns.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The Obama administration yielded to opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashed the hopes of many of those states leaders.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The realization is adding momentum to efforts to convert some of the platforms into artificial reefs once they are decommissioned.

By ERIK OLSEN

Environmentalists disagree over whether outdated oil rigs off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., can become an addition to the marine ecosystem.

By ERIK OLSEN

Many coastal residents, fearing a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, see potential disaster, while those inland speak of economic opportunity.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

Paragon Offshore, which operates offshore drilling rigs from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Sea, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

By MICHAEL CORKERY

While the dispute raised tensions between the neighbors, it did not approach levels seen in 2014, when anti-China demonstrations turned into deadly riots.

By MIKE IVES

The rig was at the center of a standoff between the countries in May 2014.

One worker on the drilling rig was killed, and two others were injured.

Opening the taps in the Corrib field is a breakthrough for the oil and gas industry in Ireland, which had mostly disappointing results in recent years.

By STANLEY REED

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized a long-delayed deal with an American-Israeli partnership that is expected to turn the country into an energy exporter.

By ISABEL KERSHNER and STANLEY REED

Workers have been evacuated, but one of two lifeboats capsized in rough seas, leaving 29 people missing and presumed dead.

By ANDREW E. KRAMER

The Southern Environmental Law Center calls on President Obama to reconsider plans to open the coast to oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department also rejected appeals by Shell and Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant, to extend existing Arctic leases.

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

The rules fell short of many environmentalists demands to cut off such drilling entirely, but oil companies complained that they would stymie exploration.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The all-stock deal, worth $13 billion, would combine the American and French companies, which have been hit hard by the global plunge in energy prices.

By STANLEY REED

Long a ticket to the middle class, especially for African-Americans, they have become increasingly difficult to find.

By ANNIE LOWREY

The regulations are aimed at preventing the kind of failures that caused the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and come amid a proposal for Arctic drilling.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The Obama administration has hopes that gas export efforts will help build peaceful relations between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East.

By ISABEL KERSHNER and STANLEY REED

The decision to postpone the plan, called Browse, comes as prices for the fuel in Asia have fallen steeply.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cited the militarys reservations about drilling near some of its largest installations, plunging oil prices and widespread local concerns.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The Obama administration yielded to opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashed the hopes of many of those states leaders.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

The realization is adding momentum to efforts to convert some of the platforms into artificial reefs once they are decommissioned.

By ERIK OLSEN

Environmentalists disagree over whether outdated oil rigs off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., can become an addition to the marine ecosystem.

By ERIK OLSEN

Many coastal residents, fearing a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, see potential disaster, while those inland speak of economic opportunity.

By CORAL DAVENPORT

Paragon Offshore, which operates offshore drilling rigs from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Sea, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

By MICHAEL CORKERY

While the dispute raised tensions between the neighbors, it did not approach levels seen in 2014, when anti-China demonstrations turned into deadly riots.

By MIKE IVES

The rig was at the center of a standoff between the countries in May 2014.

One worker on the drilling rig was killed, and two others were injured.

Opening the taps in the Corrib field is a breakthrough for the oil and gas industry in Ireland, which had mostly disappointing results in recent years.

By STANLEY REED

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized a long-delayed deal with an American-Israeli partnership that is expected to turn the country into an energy exporter.

By ISABEL KERSHNER and STANLEY REED

Workers have been evacuated, but one of two lifeboats capsized in rough seas, leaving 29 people missing and presumed dead.

By ANDREW E. KRAMER

The Southern Environmental Law Center calls on President Obama to reconsider plans to open the coast to oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department also rejected appeals by Shell and Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant, to extend existing Arctic leases.

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS

Continued here:

Offshore Drilling and Exploration – The New York Times

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Superintelligence – Nick Bostrom – Oxford University Press

Posted: July 14, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Superintelligence Paths, Dangers, Strategies Nick Bostrom Reviews and Awards

“I highly recommend this book” –Bill Gates

“Nick Bostrom makes a persuasive case that the future impact of AI is perhaps the most important issue the human race has ever faced. Instead of passively drifting, we need to steer a course. Superintelligence charts the submerged rocks of the future with unprecedented detail. It marks the beginning of a new era.” –Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Berkley

“Those disposed to dismiss an ‘AI takeover’ as science fiction may think again after reading this original and well-argued book.” –Martin Rees, Past President, Royal Society

“This superb analysis by one of the world’s clearest thinkers tackles one of humanity’s greatest challenges: if future superhuman artificial intelligence becomes the biggest event in human history, then how can we ensure that it doesn’t become the last?” –Professor Max Tegmark, MIT

“Terribly important … groundbreaking… extraordinary sagacity and clarity, enabling him to combine his wide-ranging knowledge over an impressively broad spectrum of disciplines – engineering, natural sciences, medicine, social sciences and philosophy – into a comprehensible whole… If this book gets the reception that it deserves, it may turn out the most important alarm bell since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring from 1962, or ever.” –Olle Haggstrom, Professor of Mathematical Statistics

“Valuable. The implications of introducing a second intelligent species onto Earth are far-reaching enough to deserve hard thinking” –The Economist

“There is no doubting the force of [Bostrom’s] arguments…the problem is a research challenge worthy of the next generation’s best mathematical talent. Human civilisation is at stake.” –Clive Cookson, Financial Times

“Worth reading…. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes” –Elon Musk, Founder of SpaceX and Tesla

“Every intelligent person should read it.” –Nils Nilsson, Artificial Intelligence Pioneer, Stanford University

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Superintelligence – Nick Bostrom – Oxford University Press

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Minn. police shooting reignites debate over Second Amendment …

Posted: July 12, 2016 at 6:19 am

President Obama responded to the recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota by recognizing the need to root out bias in law enforcement and encouraging communities to trust their local police department.

A memorial left for Philando Castile following the police shooting death of the black man on July 7, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn. 8(Photo: Stephen Maturen, Getty Images)

A black Minnesota man fatally shot by police Wednesday during a stop for a broken tail light was a licensed gun owner, prompting some observers to suggest that the debate over gun control and the Second Amendment has racial undertones.

When police in Falcon Heights, Minn.,stopped the car in which Philando Castile, 37, was riding on Wednesday night, Castile attempted to give them his license and registration, as requested. He also told them he was a licensed weapon owner, according to the Facebook Live video posted by Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, who identified herself as Castile’s fiance.

As Castile put his hands up, police fired into his arm four times, according to the video. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

“I’m waiting to hear the human outcry from Second Amendment defenders over (this incident),” NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks told USA TODAY Thursday.

Brookswas preparing to travel to Minnesota to get up to speed on the Castile case after a trip to Baton Rouge, La., to get details on the police-involved shooting of another black man earlier this week.

“When it comes to an African American with a license to carry a firearm, it appears that his pigmentation, his degree of pigmentation, is more important than the permit or license to carry a firearm,” Brooks said. “One would hope and pray that’s not true.”

Tweeted author and TV commentator Keith Boykin: “Does the Second Amendment only apply to White People?”

Amanda Zantal-Wiener, tweeted aboutthe National Rifle Association, perhaps the most powerful of the national organizations supporting the Second Amendment, saying: “Hey, NRA, I’m sure you’re just moments away from defending Philando Castile’s second amendment rights. Right? Any minute now, right?”

The NRA did not immediatelyrespond to a request for an interview. The organization has been publicly silent regarding the Minnesota shooting.

But at least two organizations, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, both based in Bellevue, Wash., expressed concern over the case and called for an investigation by state-level entities, perhaps even from a state outside of Minnesota.

“Wednesday nights shooting of Philando Castile is very troubling, especially to the firearms community, because he was a legally-armed private citizen who may have done nothing more than reach for his identification and carry permit,” Allan Gottleib, founder and executive vice president of the foundation, and chair of the Citizens Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

“We are cognizant of the racial overtones arising from Mr. Castiles death,”Gottlieb said. “The concerns of our members, and honest gun owners everywhere, go even deeper. Exercising our right to bear arms should not translate to a death sentence over something so trivial as a traffic stop for a broken tail light, and we are going to watch this case with a magnifying glass.”

Survey data show that white Americans and black Americans appear to have two different and distinct relationships with firearms.

Data released in 2014 by the Pew Research Center showed that blacks are less likely than whites to have a firearm at home.According to the study, 41% of whites said they had a gun at home compared to 19% of blacks.

But there has been much research to show that black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be gun homicide victims.

In 2010, blacks were 55% of shooting homicide victims but 13% of the U.S. population, according to a Pew review of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, in the same year, whites were 25% of gun homicide victims but 65% of the population, according to the same data.

In the early days of the Second Amendment, blacks were prohibited from possessing firearms, according to the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia. The measure was intended to protect Americans’ right to bear arms, and designated states as the entities who would manage this.

Gerald Horne, an historian at the University of Houston, said during a recent interview with the Real News Network that there was a race and class bias inherent in the amendment’s provisions.

“The Second Amendment certainly did not apply to enslaved Africans,” Horne said. “All measures were taken to keep arms out of their hands. The Second Amendment did not apply to indigenous people because the European settlers were at war with the indigenous people to take their land. And providing arms to them was considered somewhat akin to a capital offense. So the Second Amendment was mostly applicable to the settler class.”

Horne says that many of the battles during reconstruction were about keeping arms out of the hands of black Americans hesays one of the key reasons the Ku Klux Klan was formed in the post-Civil War era was to keep arms out of the hands of blacks.

Said Brooks, “I would just simply note that in a state like Texas, where we have thousands upon thousands of people with concealed weapons permits, a permit is sufficient proof to vote while a college ID is not. Think about that.”

Follow Melanie Eversley on Twitter:@MelanieEversley

USA TODAY

Obama, angered by police shootings, calls for elimination of racial bias

USA TODAY

Minn. governor: Castile would be alive if he had been white

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