Ronald Bailey Argues that the Supreme Court Should Kill Off Software Patents

TrollsThe Supreme Court has a chance to give innovation
a boost this year by rolling back one of the country’s most
economically stupid policies. With the case of
Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International, the
justices will dive into the issue of whether companies should be
able to patent computer software.The Supreme Court has long held
that the laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are
not patentable. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey
argues that merely adding “on a computer” or “over the Internet” to
otherwise conventional processes like selling merchandise or
sliding an icon to unlock a cell phone should not be
patentable.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/ronald-bailey-argues-that-the-supreme-co
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Iran Quits Nuclear Talks After US Expands Blacklist Sanctions

“We are evaluating the situation and will make the appropriate response,” is how Iran’s lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi reacted after accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist. As AFP reports, Iranian negotiators quit the implementation talks late on their fourth day Thursday after Washington blacklisted a dozen companies and individuals for evading US sanctions. US Secretary of State Kerry, ever the optimist we presume, said “we’re making progress, but I think we’re at a point in those talks where folks feel a need to consult, take a moment,” but Araqchi’s comments on State TV give them little room for compromise, America’s move “is by no means constructive and we are seriously critical of it.

 

Via AFP,

Iran has quit nuclear talks with world powers, accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist.

 

 

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said the US move went against the spirit of the deal struck in Geneva under which the powers undertook to impose no further sanctions for six months.

 

Tehran was now weighing the “appropriate response”, he said.

 

“America’s move is against the spirit of the Geneva deal,” Araqchi told the Fars news agency as his team headed back to Tehran from Vienna.

 

“We are evaluating the situation and will make the appropriate response.

 

“Such a measure is by no means constructive and we are seriously critical of it,” Araqchi later said on state television.

 

 

“The negotiations were halted by Iranian delegation because of new American sanctions. The Iranian negotiating team has halted the talks at this stage and are headed back to the capital due to America’s lack of commitment to the agreement,” Mehr reported.

 

Kerry said it was now time for consultations.

 

 

The blacklisting of a dozen additional foreign firms and individuals for evading US sanctions was widely seen as a way to head off moves in Congress to impose additional sanctions that would be in clear breach of the Geneva agreement.

 

Administration officials insisted the timing was entirely coincidental.

 

But just hours afterwards, Senate banking committee chairman Tim Johnson and the committee’s top Republican Michael Crapo agreed with the White House that Washington should not introduce new sanctions, warning they could “rupture” international unity against Tehran’s nuclear programme.

 

The comments virtually assured that no new sanctions legislation would pass Congress before the year-end break, although lawmakers could controversially introduce a new sanctions bill within the next week.

 

Those blacklisted on Thursday included the Singapore-based Mid Oil Asia and Singa Tankers, both companies accused of helping Iran transfer badly needed funds to a foreign bank on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Company.

 

Well that didn’t last long did it?


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/z_KX5onFZn8/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Obamacare Has Lost the Uninsured

Obamacare has lost the uninsured.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News
poll released this week
asked uninsured individuals whether or
not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they
thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they
thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that
represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the
uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent
of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the
U.S. health care system.

Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad
the old system—the system that for whatever reason left them
uninsured—was, a majority of people without health coverage now
think that Obamacare makes it worse. 

That’s how poorly the rollout of the health law is perceived to
have gone. The exact group the law was designed to help have
instead turned on the law. It’s never been particularly popular
with the wider public, but now even those who were supposed to be
beneficiaries are skeptical.

That’s more than a political problem. It’s a policy problem—a
threat to the law’s viability, especially when combined with other
recent poll numbers showing that young people, who are crucial to
the law’s coverage scheme, are rejecting the law as well. A Harvard
Institute of Politics Poll released earlier this month found that
56 percent of young adults age 18-29
don’t approve of the health law
. Only 29 percent of uninsured
young adults said they expected to enroll.

As the sharp declines of the last few months show, poll numbers
can always shift,  sometimes rapidly. But if these low numbers
persist, it represents a body blow for the law. It’s telling that
Americans are now so soured on Obamacare that a majority say they
would prefer to go back to the old system, flaws and all. As this
week’s Reason-Rupe poll found, 55 percent of Americans
now say they prefer
the old, pre-Obamacare health care
regime.

Numbers like those will help fuel efforts to repeal or otherwise
block the law, regardless of whether or not there’s a replacement.
They should also make Obamacare-friendly Democrats up for
reelection more than a little nervous.

When the health law passed back in 2010, the thinking amongst
many Democrats was that controversy around the overhaul would
eventually fade, and the law would become popular as people felt
its effects. Part of the thinking behind that argument was that the
American health system was already so bad that nothing could really
be worse. But nearly four years later, with the law’s health
exchanges launched, its various interim benefits in place, and its
biggest insurance market changes just weeks away from kicking in,
the verdict from the public is in: Obamacare isn’t just a bad
system. It’s a bad system that’s worse than the old bad system. And
at least for now, even the uninsured, the people who supposedly
stand to gain the most from the law, think so too.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/obamacare-has-lost-the-uninsured
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Is The Consumer Slowing Down?

Submitted by Lance Roberts Of STA Wealth Management,

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/aIlvP2XfsgQ/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Give the Gift of Paranoia

Congratulations: You've just found the subliminal ad.I’m happy to relay the news
that Amazon has declared my book The United States of
Paranoia
one of the 20 best
nonfiction books of 2013
. I suppose that’s as good a hook as
any for me to point out that the book makes a lovely present for
the paranoiacs in your life. Both The Wall Street Journal
and The National Memo have included the book in their
annual gift guides, the former
calling
it an “imaginative survey of two centuries of belief in
sinister dark forces” and the latter
saying
it shows that “everyone has contributed to instilling
conspiratorial fear at some point in time.” And the thing just got
praised at a
site called Luxury Reading, so it might even qualify as a
luxurious gift, even if it isn’t bound in fine Corinthian
leather.

Since I’m in self-promotion mode, here’s some more links to
recent coverage:

The Baffler gives the book a
shout-out
.

• Cato turns an excerpt from a talk about the book into a

short podcast
.

• I discuss the book
on Brazilian TV
.

• I’m a guest on a conspiracy-focused episode of
the public radio show BackStory.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/give-the-gift-of-paranoia
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China’s Colonization Of London Hits Ludicrous Speed, And Now: It’s Detroit’s Turn

Earlier today, Brits were greeted with some good news: London house prices rose to a record in November, “as strengthening demand pushed values higher in all regions of England and Wales” according to Acadametrics. Bloomberg reported that values increased 0.6 percent from October to an average 238,839 pounds ($390,900), and that prices reached an all-time high in London, soaring 9.2% in the quarter, and parts of the southeast as average values climbed 4.9 percent from a year ago. “The trajectory is clearly upward,” said David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services. “Competition is strong as a result of rising demand and supply of new instructions not growing, a factor that will continue to prop up prices in the long term.” As usual, much was left unsaid, such as where demand is coming from. The answer, as is the case virtually everywhere else in the world, is simple: China.

According to another Bloomberg report citing Jones Lang LaSalle, Chinese investment in London between 2010 and Q3 of this year has risen by a “ludicrous speed” comparable 1,500%, or from a frugal GBP54 million to over GBP 1 billion! And boy do the Chinese love London – according to the same report, over 50% of European property investment by Chinese buyers is now in London.  As a result, China is now the third-largest overseas purchaser in U.K. behind Germany and U.S., which invested GBP 1.2 billion and GBP 1.1 billion respectively. “We expect the pool of investors from China targeting London to grow significantly in the coming years. They will consider everything from urban regeneration sites through to trophy assets,” Damian Corbett, JLL’s head of Central London office investment, said in statement.

In other words, as London real estate becomes ever more unaffordable to orinary UK citizens, who instead are forced to rent out shipping containers, Chinese buyers will buy pretty much anything in the UK, with no regard for cost, since ever more of that ~$200 billion in monthly credit created by the government, which as we showed before blows both the Fed and BOJ money creation out of the water, is parked outside of China, which is aggressively trying to stop its own domestic housing bubble, and in the process blowing housing bubbles everywhere else around the world.

Which brings us to point number two: the latest target of the Chinese hot money colonization is none other than bankrupt Detroit.

Forbes explains:

Detroit, broke with almost no prospects for recovery, is the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Chinese real estate investors.  In fact, it was bad news—the city’s July 18 bankruptcy filing—that triggered renewed interest.  “While the bankruptcy is viewed as a bad thing elsewhere, it raised the exposure level of Detroit’s real estate market in China,” says Evonne Xu, a Michigan attorney catering to Chinese purchasers.  Middle Kingdom, meet Motown.

 

Chinese shoppers can’t resist a bargain.  Where else can you buy a two-story home in the U.S. for $39?  China Central Television, the state broadcaster, in March reported that two houses in Detroit cost the same as a pair of leather shoes.  No wonder a poster on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like service, asked, “Seven-hundred thousand people, quiet, clean air, no pollution, democracy—what are you waiting for?”

 

Who says the Chinese are waiting?  Dongdu International Group of Shanghai bought, sight unseen, two downtown icons, the David Stott building for $4.2 million and the Detroit Free Press building for $9.4 million, both at auction this September.

 

Moreover, Chinese purchasers are making bulk purchases of “inexpensive properties”—those selling for $25,000 or less—in the rings surrounding the city center.  “They’re banking on the downtown resurgence spiraling out into those rings,” explains Kelly Sweeney of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel.  Mainland parties often buy at tax and foreclosure sales, hold their property, and patiently wait for appreciation.

 

 

The Chinese are coming, but what are they doing?  Dongdu International will make a big contribution to downtown by redeveloping the Detroit Free Press building, turning it into a retail and residential complex, but that ambitious plan appears to be the exception.  China’s rich are investing in the Motor City like they invest in their own country, where they buy multiple units at a time.  In China, like here, they often keep their acquisitions vacant, treating new properties like stores of value.

As we have been repeating for the past three years, all China’s intrepid real estate investors are doing, is parking China’s record hot money – one of the three pillars of the so-called US housing recovery – abroad. In this case, in a broke city.

The Chinese buy-and-hold tactics in Detroit suggest patience, but that’s not the whole story.  The bigger story is that the parking of wealth offshore indicates capital flight.  The Chinese have only 13% of their wealth outside China, according to Oliver Williams of WealthInsight, while the global average is 20% to 30%, so some of transfers of wealth abroad are normal for a developing society.

There may be more, however, and as China prepares to liberalize its financial and social policies, the wealthiest part of the population may be considering outright getting the hell out of dodge, and taking trillions with it.

But it’s not just money that is fleeing.  A study conducted by Bank of China and Hurun found that more than half of China’s millionaires have taken steps to emigrate or are considering doing so.  This statistic tells us the transfers of cash out of China are not just normal diversification.

 

There is substantial disagreement as to how much Chinese individuals have already stashed offshore.  Boston Consulting Group estimates they hold $450 billion in assets outside their country, and WealthInsight believes the number to be $658 billion. 

 

Yet everyone agrees that the figure, whatever it is, will go up fast.  Boston Consulting, for instance, predicts offshore assets will double in three years.  CNBC late last month called the movement of Chinese capital “one of the largest and most rapid wealth migrations of our time: hundreds of billions of dollars, and waves of millionaires flowing out of China to overseas destinations.” 

Forbes’ conclusion is accurate: Detroit is not an investment destination as much as it is a safe(r) place to park cash which may or may not have been procured by legal means, but which thanks to the epic cash creation tsunami emanating from the Middle Kingdom will be sure to continue for the foreseeable future: “So the Chinese buying up Detroit says less about the prospects of Motown than what they think of their own country.  It’s not like the Motor City is a good place to invest.  It has what is surely the worst housing market in the U.S.  “I’ve been in the Detroit area for 35 years,” says Chen, the broker from Troy.  “Thirty-five years ago downtown Detroit was like this, and it’s not getting better.” But that doesn’t matter – there is money to be parked outside of China, and any place will do. After all, in a globalized monetary system, money is instantly fungible to any corner of the globe, especially when facilitated by such “dumbest banks of 2013” who defy all money-laundering regulations, as RBS.

The conclusion:

As grim as the future is for Motown, it is evidently better than China’s, at least according to many Chinese.  They are pouring their cash into Detroit.  

So yes: the colonization of the world’s premier, and not so premier, metropolitan centers by China will continue, until the liquidity spigot is finally turned off. In the meantime recall that this is nothing new: after all Japan experienced an identical liquidity-driven colonization of the developed world in the 1980s, when it seemed Japan would buy up Manhattan. That didn’t work out too well for them. With China, this time won’t be any different either.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/jLDblZTCvlo/story01.htm Tyler Durden

China's Colonization Of London Hits Ludicrous Speed, And Now: It's Detroit's Turn

Earlier today, Brits were greeted with some good news: London house prices rose to a record in November, “as strengthening demand pushed values higher in all regions of England and Wales” according to Acadametrics. Bloomberg reported that values increased 0.6 percent from October to an average 238,839 pounds ($390,900), and that prices reached an all-time high in London, soaring 9.2% in the quarter, and parts of the southeast as average values climbed 4.9 percent from a year ago. “The trajectory is clearly upward,” said David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services. “Competition is strong as a result of rising demand and supply of new instructions not growing, a factor that will continue to prop up prices in the long term.” As usual, much was left unsaid, such as where demand is coming from. The answer, as is the case virtually everywhere else in the world, is simple: China.

According to another Bloomberg report citing Jones Lang LaSalle, Chinese investment in London between 2010 and Q3 of this year has risen by a “ludicrous speed” comparable 1,500%, or from a frugal GBP54 million to over GBP 1 billion! And boy do the Chinese love London – according to the same report, over 50% of European property investment by Chinese buyers is now in London.  As a result, China is now the third-largest overseas purchaser in U.K. behind Germany and U.S., which invested GBP 1.2 billion and GBP 1.1 billion respectively. “We expect the pool of investors from China targeting London to grow significantly in the coming years. They will consider everything from urban regeneration sites through to trophy assets,” Damian Corbett, JLL’s head of Central London office investment, said in statement.

In other words, as London real estate becomes ever more unaffordable to orinary UK citizens, who instead are forced to rent out shipping containers, Chinese buyers will buy pretty much anything in the UK, with no regard for cost, since ever more of that ~$200 billion in monthly credit created by the government, which as we showed before blows both the Fed and BOJ money creation out of the water, is parked outside of China, which is aggressively trying to stop its own domestic housing bubble, and in the process blowing housing bubbles everywhere else around the world.

Which brings us to point number two: the latest target of the Chinese hot money colonization is none other than bankrupt Detroit.

Forbes explains:

Detroit, broke with almost no prospects for recovery, is the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Chinese real estate investors.  In fact, it was bad news—the city’s July 18 bankruptcy filing—that triggered renewed interest.  “While the bankruptcy is viewed as a bad thing elsewhere, it raised the exposure level of Detroit’s real estate market in China,” says Evonne Xu, a Michigan attorney catering to Chinese purchasers.  Middle Kingdom, meet Motown.

 

Chinese shoppers can’t resist a bargain.  Where else can you buy a two-story home in the U.S. for $39?  China Central Television, the state broadcaster, in March reported that two houses in Detroit cost the same as a pair of leather shoes.  No wonder a poster on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like service, asked, “Seven-hundred thousand people, quiet, clean air, no pollution, democracy—what are you waiting for?”

 

Who says the Chinese are waiting?  Dongdu International Group of Shanghai bought, sight unseen, two downtown icons, the David Stott building for $4.2 million and the Detroit Free Press building for $9.4 million, both at auction this September.

 

Moreover, Chinese purchasers are making bulk purchases of “inexpensive properties”—those selling for $25,000 or less—in the rings surrounding the city center.  “They’re banking on the downtown resurgence spiraling out into those rings,” explains Kelly Sweeney of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel.  Mainland parties often buy at tax and foreclosure sales, hold their property, and patiently wait for appreciation.

 

 

The Chinese are coming, but what are they doing?  Dongdu International will make a big contribution to downtown by redeveloping the Detroit Free Press building, turning it into a retail and residential complex, but that ambitious plan appears to be the exception.  China’s rich are investing in the Motor City like they invest in their own country, where they buy multiple units at a time.  In China, like here, they often keep their acquisitions vacant, treating new properties like stores of value.

As we have been repeating for the past three years, all China’s intrepid real estate investors are doing, is parking China’s record hot money – one of the three pillars of the so-called US housing recovery – abroad. In this case, in a broke city.

The Chinese buy-and-hold tactics in Detroit suggest patience, but that’s not the whole story.  The bigger story is that the parking of wealth offshore indicates capital flight.  The Chinese have only 13% of their wealth outside China, according to Oliver Williams of WealthInsight, while the global average is 20% to 30%, so some of transfers of wealth abroad are normal for a developing society.

There may be more, however, and as China prepares to liberalize its financial and social policies, the wealthiest part of the population may be considering outright getting the hell out of dodge, and taking trillions with it.

But it’s not just money that is fleeing.  A study conducted by Bank of China and Hurun found that more than half of China’s millionaires have taken steps to emigrate or are considering doing so.  This statistic tells us the transfers of cash out of China are not just normal diversification.

 

There is substantial disagreement as to how much Chinese individuals have already stashed offshore.  Boston Consulting Group estimates they
hold $450 billion in assets outside their country, and WealthInsight believes the number to be $658 billion. 

 

Yet everyone agrees that the figure, whatever it is, will go up fast.  Boston Consulting, for instance, predicts offshore assets will double in three years.  CNBC late last month called the movement of Chinese capital “one of the largest and most rapid wealth migrations of our time: hundreds of billions of dollars, and waves of millionaires flowing out of China to overseas destinations.” 

Forbes’ conclusion is accurate: Detroit is not an investment destination as much as it is a safe(r) place to park cash which may or may not have been procured by legal means, but which thanks to the epic cash creation tsunami emanating from the Middle Kingdom will be sure to continue for the foreseeable future: “So the Chinese buying up Detroit says less about the prospects of Motown than what they think of their own country.  It’s not like the Motor City is a good place to invest.  It has what is surely the worst housing market in the U.S.  “I’ve been in the Detroit area for 35 years,” says Chen, the broker from Troy.  “Thirty-five years ago downtown Detroit was like this, and it’s not getting better.” But that doesn’t matter – there is money to be parked outside of China, and any place will do. After all, in a globalized monetary system, money is instantly fungible to any corner of the globe, especially when facilitated by such “dumbest banks of 2013” who defy all money-laundering regulations, as RBS.

The conclusion:

As grim as the future is for Motown, it is evidently better than China’s, at least according to many Chinese.  They are pouring their cash into Detroit.  

So yes: the colonization of the world’s premier, and not so premier, metropolitan centers by China will continue, until the liquidity spigot is finally turned off. In the meantime recall that this is nothing new: after all Japan experienced an identical liquidity-driven colonization of the developed world in the 1980s, when it seemed Japan would buy up Manhattan. That didn’t work out too well for them. With China, this time won’t be any different either.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/jLDblZTCvlo/story01.htm Tyler Durden

European Stocks Slump To 2-Month Lows (Biggest 2-Week Drop In 6 Months)

Quietly, while no one was watching, European stocks have been pummeled lower in the last 2 weeks. Since the start of December, Spanish and Italian stock markets are down 6% and the broad-based Bloomberg 500 Index is down 4.75% – its biggest such drop in 6 months – to 2-month lows. With the EUR testing multi-year highs against the USD, and the earnings picture fading dismalling into the dark, it seems all those “believers” in a European recovery (on the basis of some “soft” surveys) have been proved wrong (or early?).

 

European stocks are at 2-month lows…

 

As Earnings hope collapses….

 

Led by Spain and Italy…

 

as stocks catch down to macro reality?

 

Intrestingly, European stocks caught up to the region’s improve dmarket-based credit risk perception… but has disconnected lower in recent weeks (as bonds remains under the control of the ECB…)

 

 

Charts: @Not_Jim_Cramer and Bloomberg


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/z5ge7IXgNjc/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Steven Greenhut Says the Court Pension Ruling Gives Detroit New Hope

During a trip to Detroit in the 1980s, a cab driver gave Steven
Greenhut an ad hoc tour of some of the city’s deteriorating
neighborhoods. It was shocking even to someone who grew up in the
Rust Belt. Things have gotten even worse in the ensuing decades.
After Detroit declared bankruptcy, commentators wondered what went
wrong. Greenhut and others wondered what took so long. In
a Tuesday ruling giving bankruptcy the nod, Judge Steven
Rhodes ruled that pension rights, which have protections in the
Michigan constitution, can be “impaired” under federal bankruptcy
law. This could have nationwide impact if it becomes
precedent.   

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/steven-greenhut-says-the-detroit-ruling
via IFTTT

Poll: Americans Don’t Want to Ban Trans Fats, Energy Drinks, E-Cigarettes, Online Poker, Violent Video Games or Genetic Testing Kits

The American people do not want to be nannied.

The new Reason-Rupe
poll
 finds that Americans oppose banning a number of items
governments have been working to prohibit.

The federal government recently proposed rules that would
effectively ban trans fats, but 71 percent of Americans say they
should be allowed to buy foods with trans fats if they so choose.
Just under a quarter, 24 percent of Americans, say foods with trans
fats should not be allowed.

The Food and Drug Administration recently ordered a genetic
testing company to stop selling its DNA tests. Reason-Rupe finds 55
percent of Americans believe they should be allowed to buy genetic
testing kits that provide information about a person’s DNA, 37
percent say these should not be allowed.

Over three quarters of Americans, 76 percent, say they should be
allowed to buy high-caffeine energy drinks. Twenty-one percent
think energy drinks should be prohibited.

Several cities have moved to ban e-cigarettes in public places,
but 62 percent of Americans say electronic cigarettes should be
allowed in public spaces. Thirty-four percent favor prohibiting the
use of e-cigarettes in public.

Congress is considering a bill that would legalize online poker
and 65 percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe that adults should be
allowed to gamble in online poker games. Thirty-two percent oppose
allowing people to play online poker.

Two-thirds of Americans, 66 percent, tell Reason-Rupe that
people should be allowed to play violent video games, while 31
percent want them banned.

The one item Reason-Rupe asked about that the public wants to
ban is printing 3D guns. Six in 10 Americans think printing working
3D guns should be prohibited, while 30 percent say it should be
allowed.

Full Poll

The full poll is online here and
additional Reason-Rupe poll resources are available here.
Sign up
for notifications of new releases of the
Reason-Rupe poll here. This
is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys
dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government
and major issues.  This Reason Foundation project is made
possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe
Foundation.

The Reason-Rupe poll conducted live interviews with 1,011 adults
on mobile (506) and landline (505) phones from December 4-8, 2013.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent. Princeton
Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide
Reason-Rupe survey.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/poll-americans-dont-want-to-ban-trans2
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