Hundreds Protest NH Police Chief’s Tank Request

The Concord Monitor reports that hundreds of people came to the Concord, New Hampshire city council meeting Monday night to protest Concord Police Chief John Duval’s ongoing effort to obtain a Lenco BearCat G3 armored vehicle for the town’s police department.

BearCat opposition at the meeting was overwhelming. The Concord Monitor notes that most of the dozens of people speaking during two hours of public testimony opposed acquisition of the tank-like armored vehicle, while outside hundreds of people, including Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire supporters, “played drums, chanted and held signs identifying themselves as citizens, neighbors and taxpayers.” To justify the need for the armored vehicle, Duval’s initial grant application suggested Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire supporters are terrorists.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Washington Gay Policy Push Counterproductive in Russia

Americans upset over a new Russian law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors” should think twice before calling on the United States government to help their cause. That is the message of Stephen F. Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University who expresses sympathy with gay rights movements but skepticism of US government action to advance such movements in Russia. As a guest on National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show on Monday, Cohen made astute comments regarding the situation. Here is my transcription of Cohen’s comments, which you can hear him present in the discussion that starts at 33:40 in the show:

It’s an odious law. But, first, gay folks in Russia will have to achieve full rights on their own. No outside country or power can do this for them. In fact, Western intervention on this will make the problem for gays in Russia worse because it will fuse it with nationalism, which is already the main rising force in Russia.

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NH Police Chief: I Need Tanks to Fight the Free State Project!

Mother Jones reports that Concord, NH Police Chief John Duval has backed off his outlandish suggestion that his police department needs a Lenco Bearcat G3 to fend off the terrorism threat posed by the Free State Project and Occupy New Hampshire. Duval had made the claim in his application for a $250,000-plus grant to purchase the armored vehicle that Free State Project President Carla Gericke simply calls a tank.

Of course, Duval still wants his Bearcat nonetheless—even if he does have to amend his application. You see, several other New Hampshire police departments already have the armored vehicle, the Bearcat looks really neat in the advert video with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” playing. And, somebody else is willing to pay for it! Nothing moves the demand curve like “it’s free”.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Does Washington Post Purchase Create Spooky Conflict of Interest?

Everyone is talking about Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’s recent purchase of the Washington Post. Less noticed is the conflict of interest between his ownership of the Post and Amazon’s potentially significant profits from computing and data storage contracts with numerous US government agencies including the CIA. The question is whether the newspaper will be able to even-handedly report on the US government despite Bezos’s financial interest in US government contracts.

Though not as well known as its retail sales business, Amazon is a big player in data storage and cloud computing. GCN reports that Amazon’s cloud services arm Amazon Web Services is the “largest hosting company in the world” and has more than 300 government agencies as customers.

Among Amazon’s more recent government contracts is a 10 year, $600 million contract to build private cloud services inside CIA data centers.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

President José Mujica Versus the United Nations

Uruguay’s President José Mujica is standing up to United Nations bureaucrats at the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) who are chastising Uruguay for advancing legislation that will allow the legal growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Mujica plans to defend his nation’s marijuana law reform in a speech before the UN General Assembly in September. For a preview, read here excerpts from Mujica’s Thursday radio address to Uruguayans after the marijuana reform law passed in Uruguay’s lower house of congress.

In 2011, the INCB similarly chastised Bolivia for withdrawing from the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs so Bolivia could rejoin the convention with a reservation protecting the traditional use of coca leaves in the nation. Later, Bolivian President Evo Morales defended before a UN anti-drug meeting in May 2012 his nation’s choice to respect what he called “a millennia-old tradition in Bolivia.”

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James Comey Won’t Improve the FBI

Expect business as usual at the FBI after Monday’s Senate confirmation of James B. Comey, Jr. to be the Bureau’s new director. Comey had previously served as George W. Bush’s Deputy Attorney General. Every indication is that Comey will lead the FBI in the same trajectory it has traveled under Director Robert S. Mueller’s leadership since September 2001—a trajectory the American Civil Liberties Union outlines as dangerous to liberty in the succinct report “The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11.”

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

The Rise of SWAT

In a KERA Radio interview this week, investigative reporter Radley Balko provides an informative overview of the the history of police SWAT teams in the United States. Balko addresses factors that have contributed to the rise of SWAT including the war on drugs, civil asset forfeiture, joint task forces, and the providing of US government grants and surplus military equipment to state and local police.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

DC Politics Commentators Express High Expectations for Ron Paul Channel

DC politics commentators are expressing high expectations for Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul’s next project, the Ron Paul Channel. In The Hill, Brent Budowsky predicts the Ron Paul Channel will be “a very huge hit” through which “Paul will make a profound contribution to American and even global discourse.” Meanwhile, at the Washington Times, Jennifer Harper writes regarding the new channel that Paul “has become a media mogul of sorts” who “is tapping into the vast audience disenchanted by news coverage tainted with partisan bias and tabloid flourishes.”

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NRA vs Medical Associations: Guess Who Wants You in the Government Database?

A conflict may be emerging between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several large national medical and mental health associations regarding the expansion of US and state government mental health databases. Medical Daily reported last week that four national medical and mental health associations have sent letters to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing concern about a proposed rule to increase the flow of mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS database holds a vast amount of information about Americans—including people who have no intention of ever buying firearms—to be checked whenever anyone attempts to purchase a gun from a US licensed firearms dealer.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors are, in sending the letter, expressing direct opposition to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) multi-year effort to enhance government restrictions of gun ownership and possession by creating a US government mental health database and encouraging the flow of information into that database.

Recently, the NRA lobbied the Florida legislature to pass and governor to sign legislation that increases the flow of mental health records from Florida to the NICS database. The legislation also expands the prohibition on Floridians purchasing guns or qualifying for concealed carry permits to include not just those involuntarily committed by courts to mental institutions, but also those who at one time voluntarily sought mental treatment after being threatened with involuntary commitment. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed that bill into law on June 28.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Adam Kokesh and the Drugs and Guns Prosecution Trap

Podcast host Adam Kokesh appears to have joined the long list of victims of the US government’s drugs and guns prosecution trap. After a US Park Police raid on his Virginia residence last week, media reported Monday that Kokesh was charged with possession of a Schedule I or II drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act while in possession of a gun. After his arrest, a judge ruled that Kokesh is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm through the end of his prosecution.

In the drugs and guns prosecution trap, when a defendant merely possesses a gun while allegedly in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, the government seeks to impose additional penalties for the gun possession. These penalties may be imposed even if the defendant did not use a gun in any violent activity or even in any activity related to drugs.

The drugs and guns prosecution trap can be used to pressure a defendant to plead guilty in return for a reduced penalty instead of exercising his right to a trial. As explained by Eric Stern, counsel to former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, the top US government prosecutor in Montana used gun possession charges “pervasively” as part of a strategy to intimidate Montanans who possessed marijuana in compliance with state medical marijuana laws into pleading guilty in plea-bargains. Stern elaborates:

And some of the government’s tactics in Montana were simply over the top. Charges were piled on high and thick, basic federal items like “possession with intent to distribute” or “conspiracy to manufacture,” carrying enormous penalties and designed to give the defendant little choice but to say “uncle,” and plea-bargain for a lesser sentence.

And one charge, used pervasively, was almost laughable if you know anything about Montana: “use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime,” by which was meant that a defendant kept a shotgun in his greenhouse, or in his truck that he used to transport seed and fertilizer, or that he carried a sidearm. Montanans commonly keep guns on their person, in their vehicles, at their homes, at their ranches, and at their place of business and especially if they have valuable wares on the premises. They require no permits. But the gun charge gave prosecutors powerful leverage because it carries mandatory prison time under federal rules.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.