Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

Credit card companies that prevented card-holders from donating money to the secrets outlet WikiLeaks could have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

Representatives from Mastercard and Visa were called before the committee Sunday to discuss their refusal to process donations to the website, reports Reykjavik Grapevine.

“People wanted to know on what legal grounds the ban was taken, but no one could answer it,” Robert Marshall, the chairman of the committee, said. “They said this decision was taken by foreign sources.”

The committee is seeking additional information from the credit card companies for proof that there was legal grounds for blocking the donations.

Marshall said the committee would seriously review the operating licenses of Visa and Mastercard in Iceland.

WikiLeaks’s payment processor, the Icelandic company DataCell ehf, said it would take immediate legal action against the companies to make donations possible again.

“DataCell who facilitates those payments towards Wikileaks has decided to take up immediate legal actions to make donations possible again,” DataCell CEO Andreas Fink said last week. “We can not believe WikiLeaks would even create scratch at the brand name of Visa.”

“It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur,” Fink added.

 

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Widely publicized 4/20 poll actually shows majority support for drug reforms

As most media parroted claim that 55 percent oppose marijuana legalization, contradictory polling figures buried, ignored

As with many instances in politics, actuality can often be obscured behind the wrong frame: ask a question just the right way and results can be wildly tilted, one way or another.

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CNN poll confirms: Most Americans believe their government is a threat to their welfare

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken – though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Vices are Not Crimes

This article is taken from Murray Newton Rothbard‘s introduction to Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty by Lysander Spooner. It is also available in PDF along with the full Spooner essay.

We are all indebted to Carl Watner for uncovering an unknown work by the great Lysander Spooner, one that managed to escape the editor of Spooner’s Collected Works.

Both the title and the substance of “Vices are not Crimes” highlight the unique role that morality and moral principle had for Spooner among the anarchists and libertarians of his day. For Spooner was the last of the great natural rights theorists among anarchists, classical liberals, or moral theorists generally; the doughty old heir of the natural law–natural rights tradition of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was fighting a rearguard battle against the collapse of the idea of a scientific or rational morality, or of the science of justice or of individual right.

Not only had natural law and natural rights given way throughout society to the arbitrary rule of utilitarian calculation or nihilistic whim, but the same degenerative process had occurred among libertarians and anarchists as well. Spooner knew that the foundation for individual rights and liberty was tinsel if all values and ethics were arbitrary and subjective.

Yet, even in his own anarchist movement Spooner was the last of the Old Guard believers in natural rights; his successors in the individualist-anarchist movement, led by Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, all proclaimed arbitrary whim and might-makes-right as the foundation of libertarian moral theory. And yet, Spooner knew that this was no foundation at all; for the State is far mightier than any individual, and if the individual cannot use a theory of justice as his armor against State oppression, then he has no solid base from which to roll back and defeat it.

With his emphasis on cognitive moral principles and natural rights, Spooner must have looked hopelessly old-fashioned to Tucker and the young anarchists of the 1870s and 1880s. And yet now, a century later, it is the latter’s once fashionable nihilism and tough amoralism that strike us as being empty and destructive of the very liberty they all tried hard to bring about. We are now beginning to recapture the once-great tradition of an objectively grounded rights of the individual. In philosophy, in economics, in social analysis, we are beginning to see that the tossing aside of moral rights was not the brave new world it once seemed – but rather a long and disastrous detour in political philosophy that is now fortunately drawing to a close.

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Rival Gangs Doing Business Together in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — Some neighborhoods in Southern California are experiencing a kind of truce between rival gangs that used to fight each other.

The decrease in gang violence in recent years has led some experts to theorize that gangs are now working together.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles told La Opinión that although they are not investigating a particular case of collaboration between rival gangs, they are aware of a trend in which gangs of different ethnicities are working together.

“We know Latino gangs are working with African-American gangs to get drugs or arms, and we are already doing intelligence work,” said Robert Clark, special agent with the FBI’s Criminal Division. “It’s a trend we are seeing among different groups. And I think if they see an opportunity to collaborate across these barriers, they’re going to take it,” he added.
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Former Police Chief Norm Stamper: ‘Let’s Not Stop at Marijuana Legalization’

A new poll shows that most Americans are ready to legalize marijuana, but not drugs like cocaine or heroin. A 34-year police vet says it’s time to legalize them all.

This article is by former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, Ph.D. Read about him here and here.

These days, it seems like everyone is talking in earnest about marijuana legalization, once dismissed as little more than a Cheech and Chong pipe dream. Indeed, a new poll reveals that 53 percent of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.

Bolstered by increasing public support for something once considered to be a political third rail, lawmakers from Rhode Island to Washington State have put the issue on the table for consideration. And citizen initiatives (particularly in California) are cropping up faster than ditch weed.

These are welcome developments to a retired police chief like me who oversaw the arrests of countless people for marijuana and other drugs, but saw no positive impact from all the blood, sweat and tears (and money) put into the effort. Soon, it seems, cops may no longer have to waste time and risk lives enforcing pot laws that don’t actually prevent anyone from using marijuana.

Yet, I’m alarmed that the above-mentioned poll showing majority support for marijuana legalization also found that fewer than one in 10 people agree that it’s time to end the prohibition of other drugs.

This no doubt makes sense to some readers at first glance, since more people are familiar with marijuana than other drugs like cocaine, heroin or meth. However, even a cursory study of our drug war policies will reveal that legalizing pot but not other drugs will leave huge social harms unresolved.

Legalizing marijuana only will not:

• Stop gangs from selling other drugs to our kids (since illegal drug dealers rarely check for ID);

• Stop drug dealers from brutally murdering rival traffickers for the purpose of controlling the remaining criminal market for other drugs;

• Stop drug dealers from firing on cops charged with fighting the senseless war on other illicit drugs;

• Stop drug dealers from killing kids caught in crossfire and drive-by shootings;

• Stop overdose deaths of drug users who refrain from calling 911 out of fear of legal repercussions;

• Reduce the spread of infectious diseases like AIDS and hepatitis, since marijuana users don’t inject their drug like heroin users (who sometimes share dirty needles and syringes because prohibition makes it hard to secure clean ones);

• Stop the bloody cartel battles in Mexico that are rapidly expanding over the border into the U.S;

• Stop the Taliban from raking in massive profits from illegal opium cultivation in Afghanistan.

Of course, none of this means that our rapidly growing marijuana legalization movement should slow down.

On the contrary, as the polls show, a majority of Americans understand that legalizing marijuana will produce many benefits. No longer will 800,000 people a year be arrested on pot charges, their lives damaged if not ruined; governments will be able to tax the popular commodity; regulation and revenues will help forge and finance effective programs of drug abuse prevention and treatment; and those vicious cartels will lose as much as half their illicit profits when they can no longer sell marijuana.

Further, once people get used to the idea of allowing legal sales of the previously banned drug we’ll be able to point to successful regulation as a model for similar treatment of all other currently illicit substances.

Marijuana legalization is a great step in the direction of sane and sensible drug policy. But we reformers must remember that we’re working to legalize drugs not because we think they are safe, but because prohibition is far more dangerous to users and nonusers alike.

Armed Resistance and Hiding Are Futile, Unless…

For people of the libertarian persuasion, who view government as a giant parasitical and murderous monstrosity, there is a very strong temptation to succumb to two very dangerous ideas. The first idea, which has roots in the libertarian-American revolution against the British, is that libertarians can easily throw off the yoke of their suffocating government if they simply arm themselves sufficiently. Having read about their scrappy forefathers’ glorious victory over the largest and most powerful army in the world, many libertarians assume that all that is lacking is an amply armed revolt in order to restore the Republic’s glorious libertarian tradition. The second dangerous idea is that libertarians can simply, shall we say, “ride out” the tyrannical storm gathering around them if they figure out a way to store enough water, conceal their assets, and have their passports and gold ready for short-notice emigration. Having witnessed the virtually complete eradication of their freedoms and rights, many libertarians assume that nothing can be done except to go into hiding until…well, sometime in the future.

These ideas, to be sure, do spring from genuinely libertarian principles. Libertarians should be amply armed, and they should be prepared to fight against murderous thugs of all stripes. So, too, should they take reasonable precautions to avoid being enslaved, starved, or murdered by their own or any other government. The ideas become dangerous, however, when libertarians start to focus on these ideas to the exclusion of the ultimate goal they are seeking. The goal for libertarians, after all, is not to provoke a bloody war with the state or to flee underground for the foreseeable future. The goal, rather, is to alter the world (or, their own parts of it anyway) in such a manner that it allows them to live in peace, prosperity, and freedom.

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