Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Girls of Gaming: I-No (Guilty Gear)

Girls of Gaming: I-No (Guilty Gear)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Videogaming Illustrated (August 1982)

Videogaming Illustrated (August 1982)

amg1 - Oh My Goddess!

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 28 (Fatalia Blazienska)

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 28 (Fatalia Blazienska)

Seattle’s Brazen Tax Grab Ignores the Unintended Economic Consequences

Seattle’s Brazen Tax Grab Ignores the Unintended Economic Consequences

Over the last several years, certain members of the Seattle City Council have embarked on a quest to make the city a socialist utopia. From raising the minimum wage to a whopping $15 an hour to instituting a ridiculous soda tax on consumers, Seattle loves to squeeze money from its residents and business owners in any way it can.

On Monday, the City Council continued this pattern by voting to implement a new “employment tax” on large Seattle-based businesses. The city is justifying this tax on major job creators like Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing by blaming them for Seattle’s increase in homelessness. By the city’s logic, these companies have set the bar too high when it comes to employee wages. This has subsequently led to an increase in housing prices, which the city believes is responsible for the rise in homelessness.

By instituting this new tax, the city hopes to be able to build 1,780 low-income apartments over five years with the revenue collected. And while this tax was surely created with the best of intentions, the logic behind it falls flat. Punishing companies for voluntarily paying their employees generous salaries is so absurd, it sounds like a proposal straight from the mind of a Randian villain. But it also seems particularly ironic coming from the very same city officials who championed using force to incrementally raise the minimum wage just a few years ago.

And while the city has yet to acknowledge the detrimental impact this minimum wage increase has already had, they are also ignoring the potential consequences of this new tax. But if the city is not careful in considering both the seen and the unseen repercussions of this new employment tax, they might soon find that all the job creators have had enough.

Private Sector Opposition

Amazon has been one of the first companies to voice its opposition to this new employee “head” tax. And it is no surprise why. The tax would require every Seattle-based company with revenue over $20 million to pay 14 cents for each hour worked by Seattle residents. This adds up to about $275 per employee each year, which means that these companies will end up paying an estimated $47 million a year for five years. This is an outrageous demand for companies that are doing more for job and wealth creation than all of Seattle’s big-government programs put together. In fact, Amazon alone is responsible for creating over 40,000 jobs.

Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener issued a statement saying:
We are disappointed by today’s City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs. While we have resumed construction planning for Block 18, we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.”
Amazon also questioned the city’s own spending habits when Herdener mentioned that the city revenue growth “far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period. The city does not have a revenue problem — it has a spending efficiency problem.”

But Amazon is not alone in their opposition to this tax. Starbucks, another Seattle-based company, also has some grave concerns over the city’s apparent spending problem. Public affairs chief John Kelley commented on the matter saying that the city “continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability…”

A group of Seattle tech leaders also stand in opposition to the tax, but that has not done much to deter the city government.

While Mayor Jenny Durkan was initially opposed to the original employment tax proposal, which was asking for 26 cents per hour worked for each employee, she seemed more than satisfied with the version that passed this week. She stated:
This legislation will help us address our homelessness crisis without jeopardizing critical jobs. Because this ordinance represents a true shared solution, and because it lifts up those who have been left behind while also ensuring accountability and transparency, I plan to sign this legislation into law.”
But making such a bold claim about the impact, or lack thereof, that this new policy will have on job growth completely ignores the consequences that are not immediately seen.

The Seen and the Unseen

All actions have consequences, and when those actions are meant to control the economy, the consequences can have far reaching implications. In his essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” French economist Frédéric Bastiat explained that all government actions have consequences that are both immediately seen, and also consequences that are unseen.

He writes:
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”
In the instance of the new Seattle employment tax, the “seen” is the revenue generated by the city through this new tax. But City Council members are so blinded by how this money can potentially decrease Seattle’s homeless problem that they fail to see how this tax may also have negative implications.

Unless you are the Federal Reserve, money is not simply printed out of thin air. And while the city government routinely ignores the economic realities that come with using other people’s money, the private sector understands that the money has to come from somewhere.

In order to pay for this new tax, which again taxes companies for each hour worked by employees, the obvious solution would be to lay off employees or cut back on employee hours, or both. Amazon is one of the largest employers in Seattle and forcing the company to lay off employees or trim the number of hours they can work will not serve to help the city’s homelessness problem. In fact, in many ways, it could be adding to it.

There is already a fear that automation will jeopardize human jobs. And while much of this fear is unfounded, by instituting a “head tax” on employers you are basically incentivizing them to move away from taxed labor and right into the arms of automation.  

Additionally, between the minimum wage increase and the new employment tax, there is also the possibility that these companies get completely fed up with Seattle and choose to leave the city altogether. Layoffs, reduced hours, and companies leaving are just a few of the “unseen” consequences of this new policy.

If only the Seattle City Council was wise enough to read Bastiat, they might be able to save themselves from a world of economic trouble. But the fact of the matter is, many politicians and legislators see only the immediate consequences, and completely ignore the “unseen.” However, economic realities can be ignored forever, anyone who doubts this fact need only look at the city of Detroit.

Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter
Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 27 (Balkano)

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 27 (Balkano)

amg - Oh My Goddess!

Why It’s Time to Revisit the 1970 Federal Requirement to Report Cash Transactions Exceeding $10,000

Why It’s Time to Revisit the 1970 Federal Requirement to Report Cash Transactions Exceeding $10,000

Many readers will know that the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970 requires that financial institutions must keep records of cash transactions summing to more than $10,000 in one day and report suspicious transactions to the federal government. In addition, people coming into the United States from foreign countries (including US citizens) must declare cash or other negotiable instruments they are bringing into the country if the amount exceeds $10,000.

Monitoring large holdings of cash and cash transactions provides a way for the government to identify people who may be engaging in illegal activity. These reporting requirements open the potential for government to abuse them, especially because of civil asset forfeiture laws that allow governments to confiscate assets without proof of any wrongdoing and require the owners of the assets to prove they were not associated with any illegal activity to get their assets back. That’s an important point, but not my point here.

One aspect of this requirement is that because the limit is stated as a dollar amount ($10,000), inflation lowers the real value of that limit year after year. Adjusting for inflation, $10,000 in 1970, when the Act was passed, would be $65,000 today. As inflation continues, the reporting requirement continues to shrink in terms of real purchasing power.

Inflation and the 4th Amendment

At today’s current inflation rate of 2.5 percent, the value of a dollar will fall by half in 29 years. If inflation picks up beyond that, it will take less time for the value of a dollar to decline by half. As time goes on, more and more cash transactions will be covered under the Act, enabling the government to monitor even more of our financial activities.

Back in 1970 when the Act required reporting of cash transactions in excess of $65,000 in today’s prices, you can imagine people not objecting, thinking that there would be little reason to be holding that much cash. But there are some good reasons to have more than $10,000 in cash, and as inflation makes that number even smaller, more people and more transactions will be captured by government reporting requirements.

I’m not an attorney, but it appears to me the Act violates the Fourth Amendment, which states in part, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...” The Act constitutes what appears to me to be an unreasonable search.

Could a legal challenge be possible? If, when the Act passed, it required reporting of cash transactions exceeding $65,000 in today’s dollars, it appears that one could claim that, even if that was reasonable, the $10,000 limit today is not.

Setting aside any legal issues, one hidden cost of inflation is that it makes an increasingly large share of cash holdings and transactions subject to government surveillance.

Reprinted from the Independent Institute.

Randall G. Holcombe

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. His many books include Housing America (edited with Benjamin Powell) and Writing Off Ideas.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

AhMyGoddess v10 i2 - Oh My Goddess!

Taxes Were Never Really Cut, and the Economy Is Suffering For It

Taxes Were Never Really Cut, and the Economy Is Suffering For It

U.S. stock markets remain volatile and their direction uncertain, although the S&P 500 may have broken out of what technical traders would call a “bullish triangle,” which began forming after the market fell approximately 12 percent in early February from a high of 2,872 the previous month. However, traders will also tell you every technical pattern can tell at least two stories. One must look to the fundamentals for confirmation, and they have been anything but unanimous on the underlying economy.

Stagnant Growth

Corporate earnings have been strong, but that may not be a real indicator of economic growth, as much of the earnings per share increases are due to stock buybacks rather than organically increasing profits. And jobs numbers continue to disappoint. Not only did April’s number come in lower than expectations, January’s number was adjusted down by a whopping 63,000 jobs.

Job growth for the first four months of 2018 is still ahead of 2017, but by a lot less than previously thought, and we don’t know if March and April numbers will be adjusted downward. Consumer spending remains weak, and surging energy prices, especially gasoline, may continue to eat up what would otherwise be discretionary spending dollars for average households. While unemployment is at or near record lows, so is workforce participation—a statistic conservatives seem to have completely forgotten about since President Trump was inaugurated.

GDP growth slightly beat expectations at 2.3 percent but is far below the 5.4 percent predicted by the Atlanta Federal Reserve just two months ago. Despite missing the real number by a country mile, the same institution is now predicting 4.0 percent growth for Q2. Why should anyone expect this “irrational exuberance” to be any more accurate than last quarter’s?

Tax Cuts?

The trump card (pun intended) is supposed to be tax cuts. Although they obviously haven’t delivered the jobs or growth promised to date, sooner or later the supposedly smaller slice the government is taking must result in more domestic investment, jobs, production, and growth.

The problem is taxes haven’t really been cut. They’ve simply been deferred. The federal government is going to spend more this year, and every year for the foreseeable future, than in any year in U.S. history. That spending is ultimately going to be paid with taxes, either now or in the future.

Lowering corporate and individual rates now merely allows Americans to pay for the spending at a slower rate. But unless you believe in leprechauns who donate their pots of gold to the government, the $4.1 trillion the government will spend this year must come from the American economy. The roughly $1.1 trillion in spending not covered by current tax revenues will be borrowed, meaning Americans will pay for not only the spending but the interest due to lenders when the bonds come due. All that spending comes at the expense of productive investment in the private sector.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the government borrowing money now doesn’t just harm future generations. It hurts economic growth in the present, the same year the money is borrowed. Every Treasury bond purchased on the open market represents a U.S. corporate bond that isn’t purchased. The result is new jobs that aren’t created, new production that doesn’t occur, and existing production that doesn’t expand.

Price Inflation

The bill is also paid for partially in price inflation, which the government tells us is low. But that is just another deceiving statistic for two reasons. First, by its own admission, the government manipulates price inflation numbers lower with “hedonic adjustments” (negating price increases because a product has new features), “substitution” (ignoring price increases under the assumption consumers will just buy something else), and other accounting tricks.

Second, and rarely mentioned, is the massive price deflation we should be seeing. Technology is allowing the economy to produce more with less people. With U.S. manufacturing output at or near all-time highs while using only a fraction of the personnel it once required, for example, the prices of manufactured goods should be falling, just as they did throughout the 19th century. The natural result of economic growth is falling prices. If you increase supply, all other things being equal, prices will fall.

The massive wave of baby-boomer retirements is also a deflationary force. Retirees spend about 37 percent less on average than working adults. That decreased demand while supply is increasing should result in sharply falling prices. That prices can rise 1-2 percent (or higher, if measured honestly) under present conditions is a testament to the magnitude of the Federal Reserve’s inflationary interventions, especially over the past decade.

The privilege of printing the world’s currency has allowed the United States to direct massive amounts of capital towards non-productive endeavors, including avoidable wars that have yielded no discernible benefit to the taxpayers who fund them, a freakishly oversized military establishment even in peacetime, health care and higher-education industries that cannot survive as they are without massive subsidies for the former and government-backed loans for the latter, an entire generation owed entitlement benefits future workers can’t possibly underwrite, and a $21 trillion federal debt the government can’t possibly pay back.

Those economic distortions represent a mega-bubble that will pop, just as all the others have, but the results will be far more catastrophic due to the relative size of the problems. With the federal funds rate target still below 2 percent and the signs of a correction already appearing, we may be at the leading edge of the worst correction in U.S. history. Even if the Fed has one more trick up its sleeve, that must certainly be its last.

The key vote in Congress over the past year wasn’t to cut tax rates; it was to increase federal spending. We’re not seeing the jobs and growth expected because the federal government is consuming more of what society produces rather than less. Until that trend reverses and the fundamental, structural problems with the U.S. economy are addressed, real economic growth will continue to prove elusive.

Tom Mullen
Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? and A Return to Common  Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. For more information and more of Tom's writing, visit

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

AhMyGoddess v06 - Oh My Goddess!

Michael Cohen, Tony Podesta, and the Nauseating Corruption Enabled by Big Government

Michael Cohen, Tony Podesta, and the Nauseating Corruption Enabled by Big Government

Ordinary Americans have a low opinion of Washington, but they’re underestimating the extent of the problem.

The nation’s capital is basically a playpen for special interests. It’s now the richest region of the country, with lobbyists, bureaucrats, contractors, politicians, and other insiders and cronies getting fat and happy thanks to money that is taken from people in the productive sector of the economy.

Republicans play the game and Democrats play the game, with both sides getting undeserved wealth at our expense.

Let’s take an up-close look at how this sordid game is played.

Here are some excerpts from a column by Catherine Rampell in today’s Washington Post.
The GOP is no longer the Party of Reagan. It’s the Party of Michael Cohen. …the Cohen blueprint for achieving the American Dream: Work minimally, if you can, and leverage government connections whenever possible. …following Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential victory, Cohen cashed in. …Cohen told companies that he could provide valuable “insights” into the new administration. Huge multinational corporations lined up to purchase these “insights,” dumping millions into Essential Consultants LLC… Cohen is hardly the only prominent Trumpster invoking White House connections… Cabinet members and other senior government officials, too, have enjoyed a sweetheart apartment deal, lobbyist-arranged vacations and private jet rides. These are not amenities secured through brains, honesty and hard work, the virtues that Republicans traditionally say are required for upward mobility and financial comfort. They are the fruits of luck, cronyism and a loose approach to ethical lines."
This is disgusting. Republicans often come to Washington claiming they’re going to “drain the swamp.” Many of them, however, quickly decide it’s a hot tub.

But don’t forget that sleaze is a bipartisan activity in Washington.

Here are excerpts from a Wall Street Journal report about influence-peddling on the other side of the aisle.
Tony Podesta was in line to be king of K Street. His lobbying firm ended 2015 as the third largest in Washington, D.C., with nearly $30 million in revenue from more than 100 clients, spanning Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Wells Fargo & Co. With his longtime friend Hillary Clinton expected to win the White House, 2016 promised to be even better. Mr. Podesta…hosted lawmakers and power brokers at his flat in Venice during the Art Biennale. It was one of many homes around the globe, including the Washington mansion where he displayed a collection of museum-grade artwork. In early 2016, he was ready to buy a $7.4 million condo overlooking Madison Square Park in New York City. …At age 59, he married Heather Miller, a congressional staffer 26 years younger. …Mrs. Podesta started her own lobbying firm, Heather Podesta + Partners, and they emerged a Washington power couple. …Mr. Podesta drew an annual salary of more than $2 million and made millions more in commissions and bonuses. …The Podesta Group grew from the 20th largest lobbying firm to third in three years, in terms of domestic and foreign lobbying revenues, propelled by business during President Barack Obama’s first term."
But this story of graft and corruption has a happy ending.
Then he fell, a calamitous collapse… The Podesta Group lost its banker over news the firm did work for the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian bank under sanctions. …Mrs. Clinton’s…victory would go a long way to fixing many of his problems. She lost…and Mr. Podesta, like many who had banked on her victory, did too. Clients who had hired him for access to a new Clinton administration fell away. By the end of the year, the departures cost the firm more than $10 million in annual business… the Podesta Group did public relations work in 2015 for Raffaello Follieri, an Italian businessman who had pleaded guilty to swindling millions of dollars from an investment fund run partly by Mr. Clinton, one of Mr. Podesta’s early patrons. …Before closing the firm’s doors, Mr. Podesta gave himself an advance on his lobbying commissions."
The common theme, as explained by Karen Tumulty for the Washington Post, is that D.C. is an utterly corrupt place.
…the game in Washington never really changes. The only things that shift from election to election are the most sought-after players. …When Trump won, the traditional rosters of lobbyists—ex-congressmen, lawyers from white-shoe firms, former congressional staffers—were of little use in figuring out and gaining access to a band of outsiders who came to town vowing to demolish the old order. Cohen was not the only Trump insider to see a chance to cash in… The president’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, along with former Trump aide Barry Bennett, also opened a consulting firm, which quickly had more business than it could handle. “It was like shooting fish in the barrel,” Bennett told The Post. …Nor is Team Trump unique in seizing these opportunities. President Barack Obama had not been in office a month before his 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, was paid $50,000 to give a speech in Azerbaijan to a group with close ties to that repressive government. …Washington continues to have a most durable ecosystem: The swamp is never drained; it just gets taken over by different reptiles."
Utterly nauseating.

But allow me to point out that lobbying isn’t inherently bad. And neither are campaign contributions. It all depends on the reason.

If a company hires a lobbyist or gives cash to a politician because it wants handouts or government intervention that will produce unearned profit, that’s wrong. Sort of like being a co-conspirator to a crime.

However, if a company hires a lobbyist and donates money because it is fighting tax hikes or new regulatory burdens, that’s noble and just. Sort of like engaging in an act of self-defense.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if there wasn’t a need for either the bad type of lobbying or the good type of lobbying?

Richard Ebeling, a professor at the Citadel, offers a very good solution in a column for the Foundation for Economic Education. He starts by explaining that government and corruption have always been connected.
The corruption of government officials seems to be as old as recorded history. …the ancient Roman senate passed laws against such political corruption in the first century, B.C. …Emperor Constantine issued one of the strongest decrees against corruption during this time in A.D. 331. …Today, high levels of political corruption remain one of the major problems people confront around the world. …Political corruption, clearly, is found everywhere around the world… Why?"
Richard answers his own question, pointing out that big government is a major enabler of corruption.
Part of the answer certainly…can be found in the relationship between the level of corruption in society and the degree of government intervention in the marketplace. In a generally free market society, …government officials have few regulatory or redistributive responsibilities, and therefore they have few special favors, privileges, benefits, or dispensations to “sell”… The smaller the range of government activities, therefore, the less politicians or bureaucrats have to sell to voters and special interest groups. And the smaller the incentive or need for citizens to have to bribe government officials to allow them to peacefully go about their private business and personal affairs. …On the other hand, the…interventionist state…taxes the public and has huge sums of money to disburse to various programs and projects. It imposes licensing and regulatory restrictions on free and open competition. It transfers great amounts of income and wealth to different groups through sundry “redistributive” schemes. …Those in the government who wield these powers hold the fate of virtually everyone in their decision-making hands. It is inevitable that those drawn to employment in the political arena often will see the potential for personal gain… The business of the interventionist state, therefore, is the buying and selling of favors and privileges. It must lead to corruption because by necessity it uses political power to harm some for the benefit of others, and those expecting to be either harmed or benefited will inevitably try to influence what those holding power do with it."
So what’s the bottom line?
Ending global political corruption in its various “petty” and “grand” forms, therefore, will only come with the removal of government from social and economic life. When government is limited to protecting our lives and property, there will be little left to buy and sell politically."
Amen. That’s the message I also shared in this video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

Sadly, Donald Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” don’t seem to have been very sincere. Earlier this year, he meekly acquiesced to a budget deal that produced a feeding frenzy among the swamp creatures.

How is that any different from what would have happened if Hillary Clinton was in the White House? Big government doesn’t magically become less harmful and corrupt just because Republicans are in charge.

Indeed, there’s some hard evidence the problem actually becomes worse.

As Ms. Tumulty wrote, “Same swamp, different reptiles.”

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Double Dragon (Atari 7800)

Double Dragon (Atari 7800)

AhMyGoddess v04 - Oh My Goddess!

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - The Craic Show - Part 17 (The Ravens)

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - The Craic Show - Part 17 (The Ravens)

AhMyGoddess v02 - Oh My Goddess!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Local Cops Can Skirt State Limits on Surveillance By Joining Federal Task Forces

Local Cops Can Skirt State Limits on Surveillance By Joining Federal Task Forces

By joining joint law enforcement task forces run by the federal government, local cops can often ignore stringent state and local laws governing surveillance and engage in warrantless spying.

It's well-known that a federal program known as “Equitable Sharing” allows local prosecutors and police to bypass more restrictive state asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the federal government through a process known as adoption. A Department of Justice directive issued last summer by Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterates full support for the equitable sharing program, directs federal law enforcement agencies to aggressively utilize it, and sets the stage to expand it in the future.

Through the adoption process, local police claim cases are federal in nature to justify transferring them to federal jurisdiction. Under these arrangements, state officials simply hand cases over to a federal agency, participate in the case, and then receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds.

Participation in federal joint law enforcement task forces gives state and local police a similar means to circumvent restrictive state surveillance laws and conduct warrantless spying with immunity.

How Local Cops Can Ignore Local Laws

When state or local law enforcement officers join a federal joint task force, they are deputized as federal agents. As a result, they can operate under the exact same parameters as an FBI or DEA agent. That means they are no longer bound by state laws governing surveillance. In practice, this allows local cops to ignore state laws as they collect information on people in their communities.

For instance, last year, Illinois passed the most restrictive law on cell site simulators in the country. Commonly referred to as “stingrays," these devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower. This allows law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

Under the Illinois law, police must get a warrant before using a stingray to track an individual's location in most situations, and they are barred from using the devices to access data on electronic devices or listen to conversations. But an Illinois police officer serving on a joint task force can ignore the warrant requirement and deploy a stingray despite the state law.

According to a report by the Century Foundation, Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) are particularly invasive due to their broad and sweeping mandate to "prevent terrorism."

The War on Terror Expands Law Enforcement's Reach

Prior to 9/11, there were about 30 JTTFs scattered around the US. Today, more than 180 such task forces operate all across the US. According to memoranda of understanding (MOUs) obtained by the ACLU, state and local law enforcement officers assigned to JTTFs follow federal rules for intelligence gathering.

According to the New Century report, these JTTFs also allow state and local cops to operate in virtual secrecy and with little or no local oversight.
Partnerships on JTTFs may also enable local and state police to conduct activities in secret, under cover of federal law protecting 'classified information,' where their activities would otherwise be subject to public scrutiny through state open records laws. Sometimes, local officers deputized to work as federal agents on JTTFs aren’t even subject to ordinary chain-of-command requirements, for example, if their local commanding officer doesn’t have security clearance to access information held by the JTTF member. These frameworks make it impossible to hold local and state law enforcement officials accountable for their work on JTTFs.
In 2008, the DOJ established rules allowing FBI agents to conduct "assessments"—essentially an investigation without any indication of terrorist or criminal activity. Any FBI agent can unilaterally initiate an assessment for up to 30 days without any oversight. After 30 days, the agent must report to a supervisor. From that point, the supervisor can renew the assessment every 30 days. An agent does not have to have probable cause or even reasonable suspicion to open an assessment. He only needs to have an "authorized purpose" and a "clearly defined objective." According to the Brennan Center for Justice, agents can engage in the following activities, among others, during the assessment phase.
  • Recruit informants to monitor the subject.
  • Question people without revealing their identity.
  • Search commercial and government databases.
  • Conduct physical surveillance of a person's public movements.
When operating within a JTTF, a local law enforcement officer can engage in all of these activities, regardless of state law or department policy.

The Warrantless Collection of Data

Deputization and membership in a JTTF also opens the door for local cops to access federal databases holding information that was collected without a warrant.
Local and state police assigned to JTTFs and deputized as federal agents may even have access to information collected by the CIA, NSA, or foreign intelligence agencies, as their FBI counterparts do. Indeed, FBI guidelines allow agents to ask the CIA and NSA for information on people agents are investigating during an assessment. Again, agents and task force members do not even need to suspect someone of involvement in criminal activity before opening such an assessment. Local police assigned to the JTTF may therefore have access to information about Americans that was collected by the NSA without any judicial process, even if the targets of the spying aren’t suspected of any crime—let alone a serious offense connected to terrorism.
The FBI calls JTTFs “our nation’s front line on terrorism: small cells of highly trained, locally based, passionately committed investigators, analysts, linguists, SWAT experts, and other specialists from dozens of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.”

The New Century report came up with a much less glowing assessment.
Communities and individuals who have been monitored, harassed, or threatened by JTTF operations or their task force officers may see their role differently. To those groups, the JTTFs likely appear more interested in solidifying and expanding the power of their own bureaucracy, and protecting the political, social, and economic status quo—often at the expense and on the backs of marginalized communities. And despite the FBI’s claim that the JTTFs are the nation’s “front line on terrorism,” the FBI doesn’t have much to show, in terms of benefits to public safety, for the vast expenditures of public funds poured into them.

State and Local Governments Need to Step Up

Joint task forces further detach local peace officers from the communities they ostensibly serve. Federal deputization allows your local cops to operate outside of state law with virtually no local or state oversight or accountability. They can surveil you with impunity, even if your state has passed laws to protect your privacy.

Joint task forces should not serve as a vehicle to circumvent state law. State and local governments need to take steps to regain control over their police departments. They should refuse to lend their officers to any joint task force that does not operate within the limits of state surveillance laws. They should also insist on having an oversight role when any of their officers are involved in joint investigations.

Despite revelations by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers revealing the total disregard of the Fourth Amendment by federal agencies like the NSA, Congress has shown no inclination to rein in the federal surveillance state. State and local government may not be able to completely shut down the federal surveillance state, but they certainly don't have to participate.

Michael Maharrey
Michael Maharrey is the national communications director at the Tenth Amendment Center.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

ahmygod2 - Oh My Goddess!

A Startup Designed a Cheap Alternative to Braces. Orthodontists (Naturally) Want It Regulated.

A Startup Designed a Cheap Alternative to Braces. Orthodontists (Naturally) Want It Regulated.


I have an economist friend who nags me (appropriately) for not sufficiently discussing supply-side solutions to the high cost of medical care in the United States. Here's one step in righting the balance.

Kayla Stetzel, a Spring 2018 intern at Reason, writes in "Start-Ups Make Cheap Alternative to Braces, Dental Trade Groups Cry for Regulation," May 3:
Braces are a burden. People have to miss work, arrange for child care, and travel to the orthodontist office over the span of a two to three years. Teens have to cut classes and ditch those after-school events to make room for appointments. Then there's the price. Traditional Braces cost on average $5,000. Invisalign—a clear, plastic alternative to braces that is available only through licensed dental care providers—runs around $8,000.

SmileDirectClub's aligners—clear plastic mouth guards designed to straighten teeth—cost $1,850. CandidCo., another dental startup, charges $1,900. The fitting and monitoring uses a telemedicine model. Customers who can't or don't want to get their teeth scanned in-store can have impression kits delivered straight to their door. "Aligners" based on those molds are then delivered to customers at home. It's part of an emerging trend in dental care known as teledentistry, which uses alternative platforms like mobile apps, video chats, and dashboards to give people remote access to dental care.

The stark difference in cost and convenience matters. Many insurance companies do not cover orthodontic work, which is cosmetic for 98 percent of consumers. Private plans typically have a small cap for orthodontic coverage, leaving most people on their own to foot the bill. The AAO states that roughly 80 percent of Americans could benefit from orthodontics, yet less than four million people receive orthodontic treatment each year. According to the ADA, high costs are the chief reason why one-third of Americans don't receive adequate dental care.
Notice the price difference between this new technology for orthodontics and the old. You can see why orthodontists are arguing against it: some of them would lose their jobs and many of them would lose income from this new Schumpeterian competition.

Incentives Matter

Also, as the third paragraph above implies, it shouldn't be surprising that we see such cost-saving technologies in orthodontics. Just as with Lasik eye surgery or elective plastic surgery, when customers are paying a huge percent—in many cases, 100 percent—of the bill, they are quite sensitive to costs.

IBy the way, this shows that my emphasis on reforming the demand side of health care—one of the main ways being by having the customer face more of the incremental cost—might be justified. If customers face more of the cost, they will be more open to, and many will advocate, reforms on the supply side.

Aside: On the Hillsdale College website, Ms. Stetzel writes that she "plans on attending law school with the intent of becoming an entertainment attorney." That could make sense. I hope she doesn't too quickly reject being a writer on public policy. She has a knack.

Reprinted from the Library of Economics and Liberty.

David R. Henderson 65

David Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He is editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund) and blogs at

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Electronic Games (March 1982)

Electronic Games (March 1982)

Monday, May 7, 2018

AG GRP1 - Oh My Goddess!

Compute!’s Gazette (July 1983)

Compute!’s Gazette (July 1983)

Compute!'s Gazette was one of the longest running Commodore 8-bit specific magazines and Compute!'s most successful spinoff. While it mostly covered the Commodore 64, it also covered the VIC-20 in its early years and the Commodore 128 once it launched. The inaugural issue from July 1983 includes: Features
  • Does Your Computer Need A Cassette Recorder?
  • Commodore 64 Video Update
  • Inside View: Programmer Jimmy Huey
  • Skydiver
  • Snake Escape
  • Exatron Stringy Floppy For VIC-20 and 64
  • Deadly Duck Cartridge Game For Unexpanded VIC-20
Education/Home Applications
  • Computing For Kids: Computer Adventures
  • Alfabug
  • VIC Marquee
  • Word Hunt: A Puzzle Game
  • VIC Timepiece
  • The Beginner's Corner: Learning To Program in BASIC
  • Commodore Classics: Quickfind
  • Power BASIC: 64 Paddle Reader Routing
  • Machine Language For Beginner's: A Hidden World
  • Hints & Tips: Accelerated IFs
  • Enlivening Programs With Sound
  • Using Joysticks On The 64: A BASIC Tutorial
  • The Editor's Notes
  • Gazette Feedback
  • COMPUTE!'s Gazette Author Guide
  • Simple Answers To Common Questions
  • VICreations
  • 64 Explorer
  • News & Products
...and more!

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 24 (In Taverna)

Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 24 (In Taverna)