Drug Policy Alliance releases report on Asset Forfeiture Abuse in California

Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law. Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police priorities, such as increasing personnel on the forfeiture unit while reducing the number of officers on patrol and in investigation units.

What emerges in the new report is a picture of a handful of relatively small cities clustered in Los Angeles County that lead the state in per capita seizures (Baldwin Park, Beverly Hills, Gardena, Irwindale, La Verne, Pomona, South Gate, Vernon and West Covina). The report’s analysis of fiscal records finds that many of these cities were providing false or inconsistent reports to the Justice Department, while some other cities appeared to be engaged in budgeting future forfeiture revenue, despite this being explicitly illegal under federal law.
Full Report by Drug Policy Alliance @ http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug_Policy_Alliance_Above_the_Law_Civil_Asset_Forfeiture_in_California.pdf

Zaiac:”On Earth Day, Remember Who Pollutes the Most”

Wednesday marks the anniversary of Earth Day, the international holiday meant to celebrate the natural environment, and the preservation thereof. Many have taken to using this day to call for ever-more top-down environmental management, but they should do so with caution.+

The US federal government has a long and often tragic history when it comes to environmental stewardship. Of all days, Earth Day is one where all US citizens should stop to assess the horrific environmental damage that has happened as a direct result of federal action

As I’ve noted in this space before, the US federal government is one of the largest, if not the largest, polluter on the planet. This pollution comes both directly, with government agencies directly harming environmental quality, and indirectly, with pollution-inducing policy.+

How can a government that expects businesses and the public to comply with a tangled web of environmental protection laws do so much harm itself?

Full Commentary @ Panampost http://panampost.com/nicholas-zaiac/2015/04/21/on-earth-day-remember-who-pollutes-the-most/

Rahn:”Abolish the IRS”

Abolish the Internal Revenue Service? IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said the government must have an IRS to collect the taxes to fund the government. Mr. Koskinen is right that no matter what kind of tax system we have, there needs to be a tax collection bureau. But those in favor of abolishing the present IRS are correct in that the United States certainly can get along perfectly well without the politicized, abusive and rights-trampling tax agency the IRS has become.

Mr. Koskinen and others who defend the IRS claim the problem is with the tax law, which is written by Congress. A tax system ought to be designed to obtain the necessary revenue with the least amount of damage to the economy and the civil liberties of the citizens. The present tax system gets a failing grade on both accounts. Promising special provisions to those who will provide campaign funds is a temptation that some politicians seem not to be able to resist.
Full Commentary by Richard Rahn @ Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/abolish-irs

Vox: “For first time, the Senate will consider legalizing medical marijuana”

Vox.com reports on a new initiative in Washington D.C. that will expand freedom for users of medical marijuana:

1Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce a bill that would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.

2The bill would reclassify marijuana in the federal scheduling system from schedule 1 to 2.

3The bill would also permanently prohibit the federal government from shutting down medical marijuana operations in states where pot is legal for medicinal purposes.

Full report @ http://www.vox.com/2015/3/9/8177969/senate-medical-marijuana

Additional information on this initiative @ http://rare.us/story/rand-paul-cory-booker-and-kirsten-gillibrand-to-introduce-federal-medical-marijuana-bill/

Governor Gary Johnson On Easing Relations With Cuba: “The Free Market is a More Powerful Force for Good Than Is a Government-Imposed Embargo.”

December 19, 2014, Salt Lake City, UT — Governor Gary Johnson, Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative, released the following statement regarding easing sanctions on Cuba:

“While reasonable people can disagree about the negotiations that were involved, easing restrictions and opening the door to broader economic and cultural relations with Cuba is the right thing to do — and long overdue.

Free markets, open communications and opportunities for the Cuban people to see the benefits of a less antagonistic relationship with the U.S. will accomplish that which five decades of barriers clearly has not accomplished.

Make no mistake, the Castro regime has done nothing to deserve reward. But the Cuban people have done nothing to deserve being locked out of the opportunities that a better relationship with the U.S. will bring.

The free market is a more powerful, and certainly more positive, force for good than is a government-imposed embargo. Congress should act to remove the barriers the President cannot remove administratively, and end the failed policy of trying to reform another nation by isolating it.”
Source: http://ouramericainitiative.tumblr.com/post/105615512289/governor-gary-johnson-on-easing-relations-with

Libertarian Party calls for shutting down CIA, criminal prosecutions

Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas J. Sarwark released the following statement today:

“The CIA’s practice of torture confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Report released on December 9 shows the agency engaged in reprehensible and illegal behaviors that were, in effect, war crimes.

“The CIA and politicians redacted the bulk of the government’s report, which remains withheld from public view. One can only speculate as to the additional horrors that lie within the rest of the report, given the gravity of what was revealed.

“These acts of torture were immoral, disgusting, and un-American. And worse still, they were ineffective.

“Yet the CIA and the Department of Justice, which sanctioned the torture, claim that it was legal and exhibit a shocking lack of remorse for the brutality inflicted on its victims.

“Whether it’s choking a man to death for selling loose cigarettes in New York or torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the government refuses to prosecute government employees who brutalize the vulnerable. When the government investigates itself, it almost always clears itself of any
wrongdoing.

“This is why we must shut down the CIA. Its 70-year history is littered with episodes of human rights violations, illegal activities, and deception, including:
•Targeted killings and assassinations
•Overthrowing democratically elected governments,
•Human experimentation, including giving the hallucinogenic drug LSD to U.S. and Canadian citizens without their knowledge
•Dealing heroin in Asia
•Spying on Americans, members of congress, and foreign leaders,
•Shipping war prisoners to foreign countries where torture is permissible (‘extraordinary rendition’).
•Lying to Congress

“The CIA is one of sixteen U.S. spy agencies that should have been severely downsized if not abolished during the alleged ‘consolidation’ of the U.S. government’s spy apparatus in 2004.

“But rather than downsize, politicians merely added another layer of bureaucracy, increased government spending, and expanded government authority.
Full release from The Libertarian Party @ http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/libertarian-party-calls-for-shutting-down-cia-criminal-prosecutions

Jesse Walker:The Last Words of Eric Garner-the ultimate political litmus test

Eric Garner’s final words may be the ultimate political litmus test:

Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tire of it. It stops today. (…) I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. Please. Please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me. (garbled) I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

That’s the statement of a man who was being choked figuratively long before he was choked literally. He is asserting his dignity, and then he’s being killed for it. Commentators have seen a host of social problems in Garner’s death: the impunity of abusive cops, the literally lethal consequences of criminalizing so much nonviolent behavior, the ways the effects of both that impunity and that criminalization fall more heavily on blacks than on whites. And they’re right on all those counts. But underlying all that is something more primal and universal. Eric Garner died because he decided to demand what should be the first right of any human being in a decent society: the right to peacefully live your life without being molested.

Jesse Walker looks at what is really the dividing line between libertarians who defend a civilization based on live and let live, and the barbarians who are turning America into a police state http://reason.com/blog/2014/12/04/eric-garners-final-words