US declines again in press freedom index, falls to “problematic” status

Source: Washington Post

“For the third time in three years, the United States’[s] standing in an annual index of press freedom declined, a result the report’s authors attributed to President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric and continuing threats to journalists. Reporters Without Borders, the international group that compiles the World Press Freedom Index, ranked the United States 48th among 180 nations and territories it surveyed. The U.S. ranking fell three spots from 2018, continuing a downward trend that began in 2016. The United States finished just above Senegal and just below Romania on this year’s list. It also fell into the ranks of countries whose treatment of journalists is considered ‘problematic,’ the first time the United States has been so classified since the organization began the index in 2002.” (04/18/19)

Trump may not be guilty of obstruction, but he is guilty of arrogant stupidity

Source: Reason
by Jacob Sullum

“In detailing 10 episodes that could be viewed as evidence that Donald Trump obstructed justice as president, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report suggests several promising lines of defense, stronger in some cases than others, that call into question one or more of the three elements required for a conviction: an obstructive act, a nexus to an official proceeding, and a corrupt intent. A jury might very well conclude that the case has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. … To any fair-minded reader who is not blinded by partisan bias, however, one thing is clear: Donald Trump, if he is guilty of obstructing justice, is really bad at it. Over and over again, he opened his mouth when he should have kept it shut, lied clumsily and transparently, ignored warnings from multiple advisers that his public and private actions could be construed as obstruction, and did everything he could to reinforce the impression that he was a man with something to hide.” (04/18/19)

Mueller report: Redacted text

Source: Wired

“On March 22, special counsel Robert Mueller turned in his long-anticipated report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and the question of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice. Now you can read the whole thing for yourself. Or at least what’s left of it, after attorney general William Barr’s redactions.” [editor’s note: Of course there were a gazillion “news stories” ABOUT the report. Instead of trying to choose a bias, I thought I’d just link to you the actual report – TLK] (04/18/19)

Lifting the ban on kidney sales would save 30,000 American lives annually

Source: Foundation for Economic Education
by Hans Bader

“Kidney failure shouldn’t be a death sentence. But for thousands of people, it is, thanks to federal laws banning organ sales. Those laws radically shrink the supply of kidneys and other organs that people desperately need to stay alive. … In the past, critics argued that organ markets should be banned because it is inherently wrong to profit from or ‘commodify’ the human body. Yet, as Professor [Ilya] Somin observes, most of them don’t object to letting a wide range of people profit from organ transplants, including doctors, insurance companies, hospital administrators, and medical equipment suppliers. All of these people get paid (often quite well) for doing so. Strangely, the only participant in the transplant process who is forbidden to profit from the organ is the one who provided it in the first place.” (04/18/19)

McConnell joins Nicotine Nazi Party


Source: CNBC

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will introduce legislation to raise the federal minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 from 18, he announced Thursday. McConnell will introduce the legislation, called the McConnell bill, in May, he said. It will cover all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes [sic]. McConnell’s backing marks the strongest support yet in Congress for what’s been dubbed ‘T21.’ … Even with McConnell behind the bill, some conservative lawmakers are sure to oppose the measure. Lawmakers in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky rejected a state bill earlier this year to raise the minimum buying age. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., recently blasted the Food and Drug Administration for pursuing a ban on menthol cigarettes.” (04/18/19)

When dissidents become enemies of the state

Source: Future of Freedom Foundation
by John W Whitehead

“When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals. In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an ‘enemy of the state.’ That list of so-called ‘enemies of the state’ is growing. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.” (04/18/19)

Court sides with California over Trump on “sanctuary cities”

Source: The Hill

“A panel of federal judges on Thursday ruled to throw out the Trump administration’s request to prevent California from carrying out some “sanctuary city” laws that would protect certain immigrants without legal status in the state. The panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Justice Department’s argument that California bypasses federal authority through implementation of its own rules for working with immigration authorities …. The appeals court upheld a lower court decision, though its ruling is likely to be appealed.” (04/18/19)

The Mueller report changed my mind on term limits

Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

“I haven’t read the Mueller report yet. I’m writing this on the day of its release (with redactions) by US Attorney General William Barr. I’ll read it later, but I didn’t have to read it, or even wait for its release, to reach one conclusion from it: It’s time to amend the Constitution to limit the President of the United States to one term.” (04/18/19)

North Korea demands removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from talks

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“North Korea has demanded the removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear talks, accusing him of ‘talking nonsense’ and being ‘reckless.’ A senior foreign ministry official said that further talks would be ‘lousy’ if Mr Pompeo was involved, asking that he be replaced by someone ‘more careful.’ It comes after North Korea said it had tested a new ‘tactical guided weapon.’ The test is the first since a February summit in Hanoi between the countries’ leaders ended without an agreement. Mr Pompeo visited North Korea four times last year — including for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Last week, during a US Senate subcommittee hearing, Mr Pompeo was asked if he would agree with descriptions of Mr Kim as a ‘tyrant,’ he then responded: ‘Sure, I’m sure I’ve said that.’ This was met with a strong reaction from North Korean foreign ministry official Kwon Jong-gun, who said that Mr Pompeo ‘spouted reckless remarks, hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership … to unveil his mean character.’ Mr Kwon also blamed Mr Pompeo for the abrupt ending to the Hanoi summit.” (04/17/19)

AL: Officers search prison for weapons, drugs

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

“Hundreds of officers are searching for items including weapons and drugs at the prison where Alabama conducts executions. The Department of Corrections says about 300 officers from state and local agencies began a security sweep before dawn Thursday at Holman prison near Atmore. The state’s death chamber is located at the maximum-security lockup. Photos released by the agency show authorities already have found multiple weapons in the 870-man prison. A spokesman says the search for contraband is continuing. A similar search earlier this year at the roughly 900-inmate St. Clair prison in Springville turned up about 160 weapons, nearly 50 cellphones and drugs.” (04/17/19)