A concerned conversation on the biggest business news network on the planet. A conservative, leading economist expresses his analysis of contemporary American capitalism and where it’s going. Or not.
Adam Posen is always blunt.
❝ Earlier this year, Open Whisper Systems was served with a federal subpoena for records on its users, according to documents published today. Prosecutors were seeking data on two suspects who used Signal, an encrypted chat app produced by Open Whisper. Unfortunately for the government, Signal keeps only minimal logs on users, so the vast majority of the requested information was unavailable.
❝ The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Open Whisper Systems in the fight, has published a number of court filings related to the the request. Portions of the filings are redacted and much about the subpoena is still secret — including the case number, the date it was served, and the details of the underlying case — but it’s clear that the government sought detailed information on the users including subscriber name, payment information, and associated IP addresses.
It’s also clear that almost none of that information was ultimately produced. One of the phone numbers named by the government did not correspond to a Signal account, and logs on the other number showed only when the user first signed up for the service and when they most recently logged in.
❝ Crucially, the request was filed under gag order, and Open Whisper was only able to publish the documents after a significant legal fight. That has become standard practice for such requests, although many legal scholars believe widespread use of the tactic presents a threat to free speech.
Not that the Department of Justice or any US government I can recall – liberal or conservative – cares a rat’s ass about Constitutional rights when the secret police boffins declare an event to be a question of national security. The creeps get to redefine the rules governing themselves. No democracy, no oversight, no transparency.
The scene of the crime — Andrew Whitaker/Gazette Staff
❝ All that remains of the solitary marijuana plant an 81-year-old grandmother had been growing behind her South Amherst home is a stump and a ragged hole in the ground.
Margaret Holcomb said she was growing the plant as medicine, a way to ease arthritis and glaucoma and help her sleep at night. Tucked away in a raspberry patch and separated by a fence from any neighbors, the plant was nearly ready for harvest when a military-style helicopter and police descended on Sept. 21.
In a joint raid, the Massachusetts National Guard and State Police entered her yard and cut down the solitary plant in what her son, Tim Holcomb, said was a “pretty shocking” action — one that he argues constitutes unlawful surveillance and illegal search and seizure…
❝ Holcomb said he was told that as long as he did not demand that a warrant be provided to enter the property or otherwise escalate the situation, authorities would file no criminal charges.
“’We just want the illegal contraband,’” Holcomb recalled the officer saying…
❝ Such enforcement actions have become commonplace since the 2012 law that made medical marijuana legal in Massachusetts, according to Northampton attorney Michael Cutler.
“The exact same stuff happened last year,” said Cutler, who specializes in helping clients understand the state’s medical marijuana law and recently participated in drafting the language of the Nov. 8 ballot initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Looks to me the coppers and other nasties are trying to get in their last licks before democracy takes hold and takes away their toys on November 8th.
RTFA for all the police state details as the guardians of the galaxy moved through the region confiscating a grand total of 44 pot plants in three towns that day. Golly!
Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and Donald Trump’s running mate, is nobody’s idea of a moderate. This is, after all, the guy who signed a bill into law mandating funerals for aborted fetuses and who compared the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare to the 9/11 attacks.
But perhaps his most dangerous stance has to do with tobacco. In a 2000 op-ed, posted on his personal webpage and unearthed by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, Pence brazenly declared, “Smoking does not kill”:
Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you… news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit.
This paragraph is a veritable maze of contradictions. First, Pence asserts that smoking doesn’t kill. To back this up, he bafflingly concedes that a huge fraction of smokers — one in three! — die from smoking-related illnesses, a fact that a casual observer could be forgiven for interpreting as proof that smoking does, in fact, kill, and kills a lot of people at that. (Only one problem: Subsequent research has found that two out of three smokers die from a smoking-related illness — not one in three, as Pence insisted.)…He proceeds, instead, to argue that the evils of tobacco do not compare in scale to the evils of big government…
Pence’s history of promoting tobacco companies and denigrating public health campaigns against smoking came back to bite him in his 2000 congressional race. His opponent, Bob Rock, raised it in a debate. Pence responded, per a local news report Kaczyinski unearthed, by saying that “the article was taken out of context and that while there is no direct ‘scientific causal link medically identifying’ a link between smoking and lung cancer that was not the point of writing it.”
So when directly questioned in a debate, Pence doubled down on the totally erroneous assertion that there isn’t evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. This is truly remarkable science denialism…
As governor of Indiana, a state with the seventh-highest smoking rate in the country, Pence has repeatedly taken pro-smoking positions, ThinkProgress’s Josh Israel finds. He slashed funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation office, and rejected a proposal from Republican legislators to raise cigarette taxes to fund transportation.
I have no idea what’s behind Pence’s demented anti-science defense of tobacco and smoking. The cynical guess says Follow The Money; but, I imagine folks have already worked that angle. No matter.
The man is a fool. He puts his political skills to work every day to oppose scientific conclusions about health. As a national leader – he is worthless.