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The Spy in Your Pocket

By Joseph S. Diedrich, Nicole Kardell

Does the government need a search warrant to know where you’ve been? Not if your cell phone provider knows. If you don’t like how that sounds, there may be ways to change it.

Take the case of Quartavious Davis, a Florida man convicted of robbing at gunpoint a pizzeria, a gas station, a drugstore, an auto parts store, a beauty salon, a fast food restaurant, and a jewelry store. The prosecution offered multiple lines of evidence, but there was one in particular that Davis’s lawyers objected to: records the government obtained from Davis’s cell phone provider, MetroPCS.

The records, which MetroPCS kept in its normal course of business, showed “the telephone numbers for each of Davis’s calls and the number of the cell tower that connected each call.” From this information, police concluded that “calls to and from Davis’s cell phone were connected through cell tower locations that were near the robbery locations, and thus Davis necessarily was near the robberies too.”

Prosecutors got their hands on the MetroPCS cell tower records using a court-ordered subpoena. In criminal cases like Davis’s, courts may grant subpoenas on “specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the records sought “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Although this standard is higher than that for typical subpoenas, it’s lower than the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause standard.

Not Even a Search

On appeal, Davis argued that the cell tower records were obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But the 11th Circuit — the federal appeals court encompassing Alabama, Georgia, and Florida — disagreed (United States v. Davis).

In fact, the government’s actions weren’t even a “search,” according to the court. In legal terms, a search occurs only when police invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of your phone conversations — what is actually said during your call — so eavesdropping on the conversation would constitute a search.

In Davis’s case, though, the police didn’t eavesdrop on his conversations. Nor did they use GPS to track his precise movements while he was making them. Because they merely obtained business records from a third party, the court says that the police didn’t invade Davis’s privacy:

Davis has no subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in MetroPCS’s business records showing the cell tower locations that wirelessly connected his calls at or near the time of six of the seven robberies.… Instead, those cell tower records were created by MetroPCS, stored on its own premises, and subject to its control. Cell tower location records do not contain private communications of the subscriber. This type of non-content evidence, lawfully created by a third-party telephone company for legitimate business purposes does not belong to Davis, even if it concerns him.

Because there wasn’t a “search,” the Fourth Amendment didn’t even apply.

Outdated Doctrine Meets Modern Society

Despite the court’s logic, something about this case still makes many observers feel uneasy. Even AT&T filed a brief in the case, arguing that the government’s actions were illegal. We all turn over huge amounts of information to third parties every day, and almost all of our activities can be tracked through our “smart” devices. And as the amount of data that businesses collect on us grows, so do concerns over the government’s ability to access that data.

As the amount of data that businesses collect on us grows, so do concerns over the government’s ability to access that data.

So when the 11th Circuit focused its decision in Davis on something called the third-party doctrine, there was reason for a little gasp. The third-party doctrine was developed by the Supreme Court in the 1970s to draw a line between a person’s “reasonable” expectation of privacy and the information that person voluntarily shares with third parties. Back then, the Supreme Court held that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy over his or her bank records, because that information was voluntarily provided to the bank. Nor can you have a reasonable expectation of privacy over the phone numbers you dial, because you furnish those numbers to the phone company in order to place calls. And so the government may subpoena these records from the business collecting them without meeting heightened standards under the Fourth Amendment.

The Davis court discussed these cases to support the premise that when people turn over their data to third parties by virtue of using those parties’ services, that information falls outside Fourth Amendment protection. A breathtakingly low point can be found in one of the judges’ concurring opinions:

If a telephone caller does not want to reveal dialed numbers to the telephone company, he has another option: don’t place a call. If a cell phone user does not want to reveal his location to a cellular carrier, he also has another option: turn off the cell phone.

In other words, if you want your information protected by heightened privacy standards, go off the grid.

Today, that position is practically untenable. And this is what makes the 11th Circuit’s opinion troubling: it allows the government easy access to your data by virtue of your participation in modern society. The court’s holding helps grease the slippery slope that takes us away from historically reasonable expectations of privacy.

The court attempted to soften the blow by categorizing the subject information as noncontent data. In other words, the data in the Davis case was less private because it was not the actual substance of phone calls, texts, or other communications. Instead, it was the nonsubstantive cell-tower data that allowed the government to track where Davis was when he made or received calls. But we all know that a precise record of our movements reveals a lot about us, as the dissenting judge in the Davis case pointed out:

A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.

Toward Privacy

There is still a chance that the Supreme Court will reverse the 11th Circuit’s holding. Even if it doesn’t, other options exist. As mentioned in the Davis decision, Congress can still legislate greater privacy protections.

The market provides another option. Although a court order forced MetroPCS to provide its records, “federal law did not require that MetroPCS either create or retain these business records.” As technology changes, and as we all become more attuned to privacy issues, we will look to the market for options. When this happens, cell phone providers will benefit from offering an “enhanced privacy” version of their services. Some customers will prefer that their data not be collected at all — or that it be anonymized. Providers could charge a higher price for anonymous services, or customers could forego certain personalized services.

By providing customized levels of privacy, the market can create de facto immunity from third-party “searches.”

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Coach jumps nude in 13-year-old’s bed, has sex

(MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE) — The head coach of the girls soccer team at Champlin Park High School has been charged with having sex with a 13-year-old in the boy’s north metro bedroom.

Rebecca Lee Noonan, 31, of Minneapolis, appeared in court Tuesday on charges of third-degree and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and was released on $50,000 bail.

Read the WND story that started it all! The big list: Female teachers with students

Noonan has no other duties at the high school or in the district, said Jim Skelly, spokesman for Anoka-Hennepin schools. She joined the Champlin soccer program in 2007 as an assistant coach and became head coach in 2012, Skelly said.

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America’s First Feminist Was a Radical Libertarian

By Lawrence W. Reed

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.


Opinions of Anne Hutchinson have, shall we say, covered the waterfront.

In his masterful tome, Conceived in Liberty, 20th-century economist and libertarian historian Murray Rothbard cast her as a staunch individualist and the greatest threat to the “despotic Puritanical theocracy of Massachusetts Bay.”

John Winthrop, the 2nd, 6th, 9th, and 12th governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, thought she was a “hell-spawned agent of destructive anarchy” and “a woman of haughty and fierce carriage, a nimble wit and active spirit, a very voluble tongue, more bold than a man.”

The state of Massachusetts apparently agrees with Rothbard. A monument in the State House in Boston today calls her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.” She was, in fact, the preeminent female crusader for a free society in 18th-century New England, for which she paid first with banishment and ultimately with her life.

The story is bound intimately to the “antinomian” or “free grace” controversy involving both religion and gender. It raged in Massachusetts for the better part of two years, from 1636 to 1638. Hutchinson was an unconventional, charismatic woman who dared to challenge church doctrine as well as the role of women in even discussing such things in a male-dominated society. In Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, historian Emery Battis wrote,

Gifted with a magnetism which is imparted to few, she had, until the hour of her fall, warm adherents far outnumbering her enemies, and it was only by dint of skillful maneuvering that the authorities were able to loosen her hold on the community.

Antinomianism literally means “against the law” and was a term of derision applied against Hutchinson and her “free grace” followers. While the Puritan establishment in Massachusetts argued, as good “Reformers” of the day did, that Christian understanding derived from scripture alone (“Sola Scriptura”), the antinomians placed additional emphasis on an “inner light” by which the Holy Spirit imparted wisdom and guidance to believing individuals, one at a time.

“As I do understand it,” Hutchinson herself explained, “laws, commands, rules and edicts are for those who have not the light which makes plain the pathway. He who has God’s grace in his heart cannot go astray.”

As America’s first feminist, and a woman of conscience and principle, Anne Hutchinson planted seeds of libertarianism that would grow and help establish a new nation a little more than a century later.

 

Barely a century after Martin Luther sparked the great divide known as the Reformation, the Protestant leaders of Massachusetts saw antinomianism as dangerously heretical. Their theological forebears broke from Rome in part because they saw the teachings of priests, bishops and popes as the words of presumptuous intermediaries — diversions by mortals from the divine word of God. When Anne Hutchinson and other antinomians spoke of this supplemental “inner light,” it seemed to the Puritan establishment that the Reformation itself was being undone. Worse still, Hutchinson accused church leaders in Massachusetts of reverting to the pre-Reformation notion of “justification by works” instead of the Martin Luther/John Calvin perspective of justification by faith alone through God’s “free grace.”

In England where she was born in 1591, Hutchinson had followed the teachings of the dynamic preacher John Cotton, from whom she traced some of her anti-establishment ideas. When Cotton was compelled to leave the country in 1633, Hutchinson and her family followed him to New England. There she would live until her death just 10 years later, stirring up one fuss after another and serving as an active midwife and caregiver to the sick simultaneously. That she found the time to do all this while raising 15 children of her own is a tribute to her energy and passion.

Hutchinson organized discussion groups (“conventicles”) attended by dozens of women and eventually many men, too. This in itself was a bold move. It was empowering especially to the women, who were supposed to remain quiet and subordinate to their husbands, particularly in matters of religion and governance. But Hutchinson’s meetings were full of critical talk about the “errors” in recent sermons and the intolerant ways in which the men of Massachusetts ran the colony. Her influence grew rapidly and by all accounts, Boston became a stronghold of antinomianism while the countryside aligned with the establishment. It was only a matter of time before religious and gender differences spilled over into politics.

In 1636, Hutchinson and her antinomian, “free grace” allies such as Cotton, Reverend John Wheelwright, and Governor Henry Vale came under blistering attack by the orthodox Puritan clergy. In churches and public meetings, they were assailed as heretics and disturbers of the peace who threatened the very existence of the Puritan experiment in New England. Accusations of immoral sexual conduct, thoroughly unfounded, swirled in the flurry. Cotton was sidelined by the pressure. Wheelwright was found guilty of “contempt & sedition” for having “purposely set himself to kindle and increase” strife within the colony and was banished from Massachusetts. Vale was defeated for reelection and a Hutchinson enemy, John Winthrop, became governor in 1637. Despite initial wavering under the intense pressure, Hutchinson held firm.

In November 1637, Winthrop arranged for Hutchinson to be put on trial on the charge of slandering the ministers of Massachusetts Bay. He declared that she had “troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches” by promoting unsanctioned opinions and holding unauthorized meetings in her home. Though she had never voiced her views outside of the conventicles she held, or ever signed any statements or petitions about them, Winthrop portrayed her as a coconspirator who had goaded others to challenge authority. Before the court, with Hutchinson present, he charged:

You have spoken divers things as we have been informed [which are] very prejudicial to the honour of the churches and ministers thereof, and you have maintained a meeting and an assembly in your house that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fitting for your sex.

Hutchinson mostly stonewalled the prosecution, but occasionally shot back with a fiery rejoinder like this one: “Do you think it not lawful for me to teach women, and why do you call me to teach the court?”

The first day of the trial went reasonably well for her. One biographer, Richard Morris, said she “outfenced the magistrates in a battle of wits.” Another biographer, Eve LaPlante, wrote, “Her success before the court may have astonished her judges, but it was no surprise to her. She was confident of herself and her intellectual tools, largely because of the intimacy she felt with God.”

The second day didn’t go so well after a moment of high drama when Hutchinson cut loose with this warning:

What Winthrop and his prosecutors hadn’t yet proved, Hutchinson handed them in one stroke. This was all the evidence of “sedition” and “contempt of court” that they needed. She was convicted, labeled an instrument of the devil and “a woman not fit for our society,” and banished from Massachusetts Bay. This was the verdict of her civil trial. She would be detained for four months under house arrest, rarely able to see her family, until a church trial that would determine her fate as a member of the Puritan faith. In that trial, because she would not admit to certain theological mistakes, she was formally excommunicated with this denunciation from Reverend Thomas Shepard:

I do cast you out and deliver you up to Satan . and account you from this time forth to be a Heathen and a Publican . I command you in the name of Christ Jesus and of this Church as a Leper to withdraw yourself out of the Congregation.

Hutchinson, her husband William, and their children departed Boston in April 1638. They trudged for nearly a week in the snow to get to Providence, Rhode Island, founded by Roger Williams as a haven for persecuted minorities. Five years later, on a terrible day in August 1643, Anne and her entire family but for one daughter were massacred by marauding Siwanoy Indians.

The woman who rocked a colony was gone, but as Rothbard writes, “the spirit of liberty that she embodied and kindled was to outlast the despotic theocracy of Massachusetts Bay.”

As America’s first feminist, and a woman of conscience and principle, Anne Hutchinson planted seeds of libertarianism that would grow and help establish a new nation a little more than a century later.

For further information, see:

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Lessons from the Richest Duck in the World

By Robert Anthony Peters

Scrooge is an unlikely name for a hero. Since Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, it has elicited thoughts of disagreeable skinflints. That all changed with Scrooge McDuck.

At first, Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge was quite Dickensian in character, but creator Carl Barks knew that a churlish miser would not sustain an audience’s sympathy. To really give this character legs (or wings), he would have to give him the kind of morals that resonate with readers.

It worked. Disney’s Duck universe has been popular for over 60 years. My generation enjoyed Duck Tales on TV. An older generation avidly read Uncle Scrooge comics, the first issue of which has Scrooge explaining how he earned his fortune: “I made it by being tougher than the toughies, and smarter than the smarties! And I made it square!”

Barks created a wealth of economic lessons through fables that are still enjoyed around the globe today.

A Modern-Day Aesop

Barks was born in rural Oregon to a farming family at the turn of the 20th century. Growing up, he had a hardscrabble existence. Due to several moves, living far from schools, and poor hearing from childhood measles, he had minimal education. He worked as a farmer, cowboy, swamper, railroad worker, printer, and more. His first gig as an illustrator was for a men’s humor magazine. In late 1935, he discovered an ad in the newspaper for Disney. Though the job offered only half his current pay, he decided to join the animation department and eventually the comic book publisher. Barks was a man who was willing to work hard, work well, and take a chance on great possibilities. The storytelling in these comics featured Barks’s strongly individualist outlook, his belief in the entrepreneur, and his optimism in markets resulting in human benefit.

Trade, Trade Again

Before Barks created Uncle Scrooge, he was already exploring the beneficial nature of trade in 1947’s “Maharajah Donald,” an issue of the Donald Duck comic book series, which featured Donald and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The story begins with the boys cleaning out the garage at Donald’s behest, with the understanding that they could keep whatever he did not want. Predictably, he wanted all the things and was only willing to part with one stub of a pencil that’s “not worth a thing.” Less than thrilled, the boys keep it to trade for something else. They run into Piggy, who offers them a ball of string. Figuring it is not worse, they trade. As luck would have it, they run into a kid whose kite flying is limited by his length of string. Eager to get it really soaring, he trades them his knife for their string. One of the nephews feels a pang of guilt, but in short order, the other two chime in, “Don’t let it bother you” because “he’s happy!”

Eventually, they trade up to a pearl and decide to cash in. There happens to be a man in the jewelry store who was about to sail to India to obtain a pearl much like what they have in their hands. They exchange it for the steamboat ticket, which Donald promptly steals from them. Donald boards, the nephews stow away, and they arrive in India, only for Donald to run afoul of the local magistrate to the point of being fed to the royal tigers. While wracking their brains to find ways to save him, his nephews run over their list of assets: “We don’t know a soul we could ask for help … and we haven’t a cent for bribing the guards … we just can’t do something that is impossible.” But lo and behold, what do they spy next but an old stub of a pencil! To which the nephews declare, “We’re rich!” They then commence trading goods until they have acquired a creative solution to free their uncle from his predicament.

The storytelling in these comics featured Barks’s strongly individualist outlook, his belief in the entrepreneur, and his optimism in markets resulting in human benefit.

 

The story presents a cornucopia of economics lessons: subjective value, mutual gains from trade, and entrepreneurship. What better display of subjectivity than to have your life saved by the application of market exchange to a good that you considered worthless? Mutual gains are clear by the voluntary nature and perceived benefit of each party to the trade. (Most poignant is the Kirznerian alertness to the pencil and its use in trade.)

A Land without Greed

“Tralla La” is the tale of an exasperated Uncle Scrooge. Tired of being hounded for his wealth and time by charities, businessmen, and tax collectors, he finally snaps, telling Donald, “I want to go someplace where there is no money and wealth means nothing!” From his physician, he hears of the land of Tralla La, a land without gold, jewels, or money, deep in the Himalayas. Scrooge, Donald, and nephews set forth, and as they fly overhead, they see a land of abundance. The leader explains, “We Tralla Lallians have never known greed! Friendship is the thing we value most!”

All is serene until a farmer discovers a bottle cap that Scrooge had carelessly tossed out of the plane window. The honest peasant attempts to return it to Scrooge, who declines it, considering it worthless. Subjective value makes its appearance here, when the farmer and his fellow villagers invest this item with great desirability, leading to a bidding war that goes from 10 sheep to 20 and finally to a year’s yield of rice. When it is discovered that Scrooge has a case of bottles, all with caps, the Tralla Lallians attempt to purchase it, to no avail. Finally, the mob declares him a “meanie” and wants his taxes raised. The only solution to this problem is to call in an air strike — not of bombs, but bottle caps.

Even a humble bottle cap can spark desire because of its scarcity. Its price will be high if it is the only one around and perceived to have value. The results of “Helicopter Ben’s” strategy are on display here as well. Though the Federal Reserve may believe that it can make people wealthier by increasing the money supply, Uncle Scrooge knows that increasing the number of bottle caps will diminish their worth.

From Riches to Rags to Riches

Finally, and probably the most famous Uncle Scrooge story in economics circles, we have “A Financial Fable.” Beginning as a bucolic idyll, the story opens with  the entire Duck clan working the fields and tending the livestock. The nephews sing the praises of hard work while Donald complains, wanting money for nothing.

Scrooge investigates his new bank, a corn crib, hiding his money in plain sight. This may not have been his brightest idea: a cyclone whips through and takes all of his money, scattering it over the countryside. The nephews are distraught, but Scrooge simply replies, “If I stay here and tend to my beans and pumpkins, I’ll get it all back.”

Donald and the rest of the country quit their jobs and set off to “see the world.” Meanwhile, Scrooge and the boys continue to labor on their farm. With no one else working and nothing being produced, Donald and the rest of the world come straggling back. Scrooge is happy to feed them — at new market prices. Eggs are a million dollars apiece, cabbage is two million, and ham is a bargain at a cool trillion. With each purchase, the money from Scrooge’s corn crib trickles back and he becomes, yet again, the richest duck in the world.

With another “helicopter” scenario, we see the inflationary effects of a massive injection of money. We also get a glimpse into many aspects of wealth — how it is created, how it is maintained, and what happens when we redistribute in ways that are not related to market performance. Barks knew he was creating a morality tale of capitalism, admitting, “I’m sure the lesson I preached in this story of easy riches will get me in a cell in a Siberian gulag someday.”

Economic Tales

Economics is all around us — even in our comic books.

Now cable channel Disney XD has announced plans to relaunch Duck Tales in 2017. As long as the show sticks to the characters and stories inspired by the great Carl Barks, it will offer us plenty to enjoy — and economics lessons that are sure to fit the bill.

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Republicans subpoena Obama chief on water rule

Waterways

Members of Congress demand answers on a new EPA water rule.

Republican lawmakers subpoenaed a top-ranking White House administration official over a controversial water rule that gives the Environmental Protection Agency broad regulatory powers, saying at the very least those in Congress have a right to know the logic behind its creation.

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“The proposed regulation is highly controversial and Congress has a right to know how it was developed,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in a subpoena from his House Oversight Committee to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the Hill reported. OIRA reviews major federal regulations before their issuance.

Chaffetz, along with several of his Republican colleagues, say Howard Shelanski. the chief of OIRA, purposely and wrongfully withheld documents on the water rule that Congress has been requesting since March.

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As previously reported by WND, critics say the new regulation will give the EPA power to control any body of water, even puddles, along with adjacent lands.

“The documents and communications that the committee requested will advance our understanding of the review process and the factors that OIRA considered during that process,” Chaffetz said, the Hill reported.

Joining the subpoena efforts was Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the panel’s government operations subcommittee. Both Meadows and Chaffetz say they’ve asked Shelanski and his staff for information on the water rule’s review process but have been steadfastly refused.

Republicans in the Senate, meanwhile, sought similarly.

“I have been waiting for over four months for a legal justification of EPA’s redefinition of ‘waters of the United States,;’” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who chairs the subpanel with water oversight and who signed onto Inhofe’s letter, the Hill reported. “Having reviewed the final rule, the reason for the delay is apparent — the final rule cannot be justified.”

Both the House and Senate are working to overturn the EPA’s water rule via legislation. Meanwhile, two dozen businesses have already filed suit against the regulation, saying it gives the EPA broad powers to take unconstitutional steps.

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Judge rules again on Dinesh D’Souza’s future

Dinesh-DSouzas-movie-America
Author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, known for his documentaries critical of President Obama, must continue for another four years the community-service portion of his sentence for campaign-finance violations, a federal judge ruled Monday in Manhattan.

As WND reported, D’Souza was released from nightly detention at a work-release center in San Diego May 31 after eight months. During that time, he taught English once a week to Spanish-speaking applicants for American citizenship.

Dinesh D'Souza  (Courtesy Dinesh D'Souza)

Dinesh D’Souza (Courtesy Dinesh D’Souza)

His lawyers argued that the community service ended with his release from nightly detention. But U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Monday the intent of his sentencing was for the weekly Spanish lessons in San Diego to continue for the remainder of his five-year probation.

Love him or hate him, Dinesh D’Souza is already an American legend, and you can get his bestselling films and books direct from WND!

As WND reported, after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, D’Souza was sentenced in September to eight months in a work-release center, five years of probation, a $30,000 fine and community service. He pleaded guilty in May 2014 to arranging “straw donors” to contribute $10,000 to the failed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long, a college friend.

Berman also said Monday his ordered psychological counseling must continue, because he assessed that D’Souza continued to demonstrate arrogance regarding his case.

D’Souza’s supporters contend the case was politically motivated payback for his two successful documentaries and companion bestselling books critical of Obama and what D’Souza regards as an anti-American ideology.

His lawyers argued the psychologist believes counseling is no longer necessary. But Berman ordered the assignment of a new psychologist and said he would review the matter at the next hearing, Oct. 8.

D’Souza wants to travel to his home country of India to visit his mother, who is ill, but Berman said he won’t be able to leave the U.S. until his first year of community service is completed.

D’Souza’s film “2016: Obama’s America” was released during the 2012 presidential campaign and “America: Imagine the World Without Her” came out in July 2014, ahead of the midterm elections.

In his eight months of nightly confinement, he found time to sign a contract with HarperCollins and begin writing a new book to follow his 2014 New York Times bestseller, “America.” He also started the process of financing his next feature film, scheduled for the 2016 presidential campaign. And he’s designed a sequel to his highly profitable 2014 feature film, “America: Imagine the World Without Her.”

D’Souza believes he even managed to convert the approximately 100 Hispanic immigrant students he taught English as part of his community service from socialist-leaning supporters of the Democratic Party to GOP voters.

Dinesh D'Souza with his English class (Courtesy Dinesh D'Souza)

Dinesh D’Souza with his English class (Courtesy Dinesh D’Souza)

He told WND in an interview last month that he has enjoyed teaching the English teaching.

“I have become very attached to my students,” he said. “There are around 100 of them, in classes ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced.”

He said many of them have now seen his film, “America,” which he gave to them as a Christmas present.

“They have gotten to know me and my situation,” he said. “And they are now huge fans. If you ran Obama against me with this group, I doubt he would get a single vote.”

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Fired Christian fire chief ‘absolutely’ wants job back

(Daily Signals) After being fired for writing what’s been described as an “anti-gay” book, former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran says he “absolutely” wants his job back.

“In the United States of America, Americans should not have to choose between keeping your job and living out your faith,” Cochran told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “And that’s the position the city of Atlanta actually has taken—that I have to have a choice to live out my faith or to keep my job.”

Cochran was fired in January 2015 for publishing a men’s devotional book for a Baptist church group. In the book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” Cochran addressed issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex from a biblical perspective.

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Klayman gets chance to grill Hillary Clinton

Hillary and Bill Clinton

Hillary and Bill Clinton

Bill and Hillary Clinton, a former president and a candidate for the Oval Office, on Friday were notified through court filings in federal court in Florida of the dates of their depositions in a case that alleges they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The filings, submitted by attorney Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, sets Bill Clinton’s deposition for 9 a.m. July 29 at the offices of a Washington law firm and Hillary Clinton’s deposition a day earlier at the same time and place.

“Such deposition will be upon oral examination conducted before a Notary Public in and for the District of Columbia, or some other officer duly authorized by law to take depositions, and will continue until completed and is being taken for discovery purposes, for use at trial, or any other purpose permitted,” the notices state.

Klayman earlier argued against a motion that the case be dismissed.

The well-known Washington watchdog has sued the Clinton Foundation and Bill and Hillary Clinton under RICO for allegedly running a criminal enterprise.

A federal court in Florida already has scheduled a trial for early next year.

“This is a classic RICO lawsuit,” Klayman argued in a recent filing, “Indeed … few people – if any – can even attempt to refute the hard evidence that Bill and Hillary Clinton and their foundation have over a 10-year history of actually selling government access and influence in exchange for hard cash to fill their coffers and the coffers of their foundation, which not coincidentally, as pled, does not operate as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization but instead operates as defendants Bill and Hillary Clinton’s own alter-ego in furthering their criminal enterprise.”

He said the case is about much more than access to hidden documents, which he is seeking.

“The production of documents at issue is relevant because they evidence a criminal enterprise under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act … created and further by each of the defendants, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, acting in concert as part of a conspiracy, to extort hundreds of millions of dollars in money – that is, bribes – from individuals, entities and persons upon which the defendants have bestowed favors and gratuities, principally in the form of granting waivers to do business with Iran. ”

The allegations, he explained, set “forth all of the operative facts to plead a valid RICO claim.”

You don’t have to wonder about Hillary Clinton any longer, read her words for yourself, in “Hillary Unhinged.”

He said the case “must proceed expeditiously” because of a discovery deadline of Sept. 28 and the trial date of Jan. 25, 2016.

“Defendants’ attempts to delay discovery are as transparent as their non-meritorious motions to dismiss. Needless to say, the court should not accept defendants’ lack of reasoned analysis of the factual content of” the complaint,” he wrote.

“It is simply too early to dismiss any portion of plaintiff’s claims where so much information is alleged to provide both notice and a likelihood that more material and predicate acts will be learned through discovery.”

The case brought by Klayman pleads “multiple acts of racketeering activity by travel in interstate or international travel for the purpose of bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice.”

“These actions were done with the specific purpose of defrauding plaintiff and others out of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations.”

He alleges, for example, that Hillary Clinton as secretary of state “granted a waiver to Victor Pinchuk and his company Interpipe Group as an exemption from U.S. congressional sanctions against doing business with Iran.”

He alleges that was “as a quid pro quo for bribes disguised as donations made to The Clinton Foundation.”

He said the company “then, using the wires and mails and other illegal means fraudulently, donated $2.35 million to The Clinton Foundation.”

WND reported Klayman was urging the court to take physical custody of Hillary Clinton’s infamous private email server because of the evidence it could contain.

In a supplement motion, Klayman said there was new relevant information to bolster his case.

Klayman submitted copies of a Washington Times report that the Clintons’ foundation “set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran.”

Further, another article submitted by Klayman, from the Miami Herald, reported banks were paying huge fees to Bill Clinton for speeches at a delicate time.

“Many of the speeches and donations were made at times when the host banks were under Justice Department scrutiny. … All told, the same 11 banks have paid more than $81 billion – yes, that’s with a B – over the last six years to resolve federal investigations into alleged corruption,” the report said.

The case charges the Clintons schemed “to reap hundreds of millions of dollars personally and for their foundation by selling government access and influence.”

Klayman, for years a Washington watchdog, engaged Bill Clinton in court battles during his presidency. Klayman also has taken on terror interests and foreign influences in the United States. Recently, he won a federal court judgment against the National Security Agency’s spy-on-Americans program and brought a case against Obama over his amnesty-by-executive-memo strategy.

WND’s attempts to obtain a comment from the New York office for Bill Clinton or the foundation have not been successful.

The order setting the case for trial comes from Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, U.S. district judge for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach.

When the Clintons left the White House in 2000, they were “broke,” Hillary Clinton has claimed.

But estimates are that since that time, they have been paid well over $100 million, oftentimes in $250,000 and $500,000 increments for speaking. Speaking fees for Bill Clinton have been as high as $750,000.

The Clintons’ foundation also has been embroiled in scandal, with foreign governments making donations when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and, as WND has reported in a series, a respected Wall Street analyst charging financial irregularities that indicate the Clintons have skimmed millions from the foundation for themselves and their colleagues.

 

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Al-Qaida’s new Yemen chief sets sights on U.S.

Raymi

Qassim al-Raymi

The newest chief of al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen has put America on its hit list, saying there is no other target that takes precedence.

In his first speech since taking over the command post, Qassim al-Raymi – who succeeded Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the military commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed last month by U.S. drone strike – called for immediate attacks on the United States. The U.S.-based SITE watchdog was able to capture his comments on an audio tape, Reuters reported.

In his speech, Raymis vowed allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahri, the commander of al-Qaida, and said America must be hit.

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“All of you must direct and gather your arrows and swords it,” he said, SITE reported. “God has helped you against this enemy, for not only did you reach its home, but with praise to God and His grace, you have reached the depths of its heart.”

And to Zawahri, he said, Reuters reported: “”I pledge allegiance to you, to listen and obey, in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and in ease, to endure being discriminated against and not to dispute about rule with those in power, and to wage jihad in the cause of God the Almighty, with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah [traditions] of His Messenger, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, as much I am able.”

 

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5 Unintended Consequences of Regulation and Government Meddling

By Robert P. Murphy

Voters frequently support measures that sound noble and beneficial but end up causing serious mischief — and often hurt the very groups the measures were intended to help.

A well-known example is price controls, which include minimum wage laws and rent control. These can cause unemployment among low-skill workers and apartment shortages for those without connections.

But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.

Here are five more examples of unintended consequences.

1. “Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up”

The Endangered Species Act and other laws restrict how landowners can use their property if it is discovered that their actions may adversely affect vulnerable wildlife. Besides the injustice of violating property rights, this regulation produces perverse results.

Imagine a landowner in the Midwest who had plans to sell to an outside developer who wanted to build a shopping mall. One morning, a few days before closing the deal, the man is sipping coffee and looking off his back porch into the woods. He suddenly sees a woodpecker that he recognizes as a protected species. What will the man do, if he follows pecuniary incentives? Is he going to call up federal bureaucrats and tell them the good news?

No. The man will probably go get his gun and shovel and never speak of this incident to anyone.

2. Seat Belt Legislation Kills

In the typical debate over seat belt mandates — in which drivers can be heavily fined if caught driving without buckling up — advocates of liberty tend to stress individuals’ “right to be stupid” while others claim that public safety trumps absolute freedom. Ideology aside, do such laws make us safer?

Economist Sam Peltzman looked at the evidence after some states enacted seat belt legislation, while others did not. He found that drivers did buckle up more frequently because of the government penalties but that traffic fatalities were roughly unchanged.

Because seat belts made people feel safer, they drove just a little more recklessly.

True, the probability of dying in a car crash went down, if you were in a crash, because wearing a seat belt definitely helps you survive a typical accident. However, the states that passed the seat belt legislation saw an increase in rates of traffic accidents. Because people felt safer, they drove just a little more recklessly. No individual driver wakes up and says, “I’m going to get in a fender bender today,” but with millions of people driving hours per day, 365 days per year, we will definitely see more accidents in the aggregate if people are even slightly more aggressive on the margin.

Peltzman found that total fatalities were about the same. The death rate for motorists crept down, but this was offset by a higher death rate among pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars. Some groups obviously did not benefit from the higher prevalence of seat belt usage.

3. Stricter Vehicle Fuel Economy Mandates Do Little for the Environment

The federal government imposes minimum corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards on certain vehicles. Some states wanted to “do more” for the environment, so they passed tighter mandates. In other words, states like California imposed higher mile-per-gallon requirements on cars sold in California than the federal government insisted on.

But the way the states structured their rules led to a significant “leakage.” If a car manufacturer increased the average fuel economy for its vehicles sold in California, for example, then those cars counted as part of its “fleet” in calculating the average fuel economy for its cars sold in the nation as a whole. The manufacturer could then get away with selling cars that had lower fuel economy in the states that did not supplement the federal rule, and they were still satisfying both state and national standards. Thus, the California rule as originally designed led to fewer emissions per vehicle-mile in California — but not nearly as much in the nation as a whole. Some economists estimated this “leakage” to be as high as 74 percent. The hodgepodge of standards simply raised the total costs of vehicles while doing little to reduce total US emissions.

4. Jane Jacobs Combats City Planning

Fans of Austrian economics should not be surprised to learn that Jane Jacobs, the champion of the American city, found several flaws with typical bureaucratic city planners. For example, zoning regulations broke up the spontaneous growth of cities into “residential” and “commercial” sections, spawning crime and other social ills.

Originally, apartments were interspersed with shops, so that the owners could always keep an eye on their businesses and on their children. This “natural surveillance” was destroyed with zoning and other regulations, not to mention the interstate highways that would rip neighborhoods apart and the austere “housing projects” that placed most adults far away from the street and thus unable to monitor and shoo away unsavory characters. Zoned neighborhoods became unsafe neighborhoods.

5. Three Strikes Mean You’re Out

In an understandable reaction to “liberal” judges who would give slaps on the wrist to repeat offenders, the 1990s saw a wave of automatic sentencing legislation to take away judges’ discretion. This included California’s famous 1994 “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rule (Proposition 184), where someone convicted of a third felony would get 25 years to life. Currently, 24 states have some form of “three strikes” legislation.

One problem with these rules is that many acts are felonies that most people would consider petty, such as bringing a smoke bomb to high school. In California, one man with two prior felony convictions was sentenced to 25 years to life for being with a friend who got caught selling $20 of cocaine to an undercover cop.

An unintended consequence of the “three strikes” rules is that someone with two prior felony convictions now has a serious incentive to evade arrest for a third. And in fact, empirical studies of Los Angeles data suggest that more police officers have been killed because of this effect.

The Upshot

Incentives matter. It’s not enough for voters to endorse legislation that has a nice title and promises to do something good. People need to think through the full consequences of a policy, because often it will lead to a cure worse than the disease.