Tonight on The Independents: Nick Gillespie! Glenn Greenwald! KANE!

This is happening. |||Did
you ever want to see what a cable news show would like with a
Reason editor as the host? Well, regardless of that,
tonight’s episode of The
Independents
(Fox Business Network 9 pm ET, 6 pm PT;
repeats three hours later), is notable for the absence of main host
Kennedy, who’s
on the emergency DL with an unspeakable disease of some sort.
However, keeping with the
Wednesday tradition
, tonight’s episode will serve up quivering,
bloody hunks of libertarian red meat.

For instance: The WWE wrestler known as Kane (real name Glenn Jacobs)
talks about how writers like Murray Rothbard led him down the
path to
libertarianism
, and how the limited-government message
resonates with the independent contractors that populate his
industry. Speaking of Glenns, Mr. Greenwald joins the fray for
two segments at the top, to talk about the British government’s

online reputation-destroying system
, his approach in publishing
Edward Snowden secrets, whether he truly fears coming to New York
in April, and whether he is now or has ever been friendly with
libertarians. Also, beloved Reasoner Nick Gillespie talks about
what President Barack Obama’s budget tells us about the
near-term prospects for entitlement reform
.

Seriously, watch for the black helicopter in the background during his spot. |||Panelists Dagen McDowell (Fox News
correspondent) and Tom
Shillue
(comedian, tall person, harmonizer) talk about real man of genius Joe Biden,
particularly his comments about Obamacare bringing “freedom” to
single moms with bad jobs. The duo also weigh in on the president’s
truly
awful $300 billion+ transportation proposal
.

There will be no earrings to critique tonight, just sadly
neglected earring-holes. Nevertheless, send your tweets to @IndependentsFBN, use
the hashtag #indFBN, and otherwise
keep the sartorial critiques right here on this comments
thread!

In the agonizing minutes between now and then, enjoy first last
night’s fascinating discussion about the Arizona discrimination
bill that was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer just tonight:

… and also an Independents interview from earlier
this week with former Federal Communications Commissioner Robert
McDowell:

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Gov. Brewer Vetoes Arizona SB 1062

A sort-of victory.Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer just

announced
that she has vetoed Senate
Bill 1062
, which would have allowed a special, additional
religious exemption to the state’s public accommodation laws,
meaning businesses and individuals could decline to provide goods
and services to customers on the basis of religious objections.
Though the bill didn’t directly mention gays and lesbians, it was
widely known to be a response to lawsuits or complaints filed in
other states against bakers and photographers that declined to
provide services to gay weddings due to religious objections.

Arizona, however, doesn’t include sexual orientation in its
state public accommodation laws, so citizens don’t actually have to
justify not wanting to serve gay people. Brewer pointed to the
vague wording of the law as a problem, believing it “has the
potential to create more problems than it solves.”

My own personal, cynical theory is that somebody started
realizing it would allow Muslim-owned businesses to refuse to serve
women who weren’t accompanied by men or not dressed “modestly” and
then there will be panic about Shariah Law or something. I was
actually kind of secretly hoping that would happen because it would
have been hilarious.

Anyway, this particular battle is over and I suspect much
celebration in the lesbian and gay community, even though, as I
pointed out, they still don’t have any state protection from
business discrimination. It would not be a surprise, though, if
this fight were used to push forward an addition to the state’s
public accommodation laws.

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South Dakota House Passes Pointless Ban on Sex Selective Abortions

||| Bethany Ann Khan/Flickr

Despite having absolutely zero evidence that sex-selective
abortions are a problem in South Dakota, state legislators are
trying to pass a bill banning such procedures. The measure (House
Bill 1162) was
approved by the Republican-controlled House last week
by a vote
of 60 to 10. 

Sex selective abortion (also referred to as “gender-based
abortion”) is the practice of terminating a pregnancy because of a
fetus’ predicted sex. It’s common in places such as China and
India, where male offspring are more highly prized than
females.

Obviously, the sex selective abortion rate in America is hard to
track, since women seeking abortions aren’t required to provide a
reason why they want to terminate their pregnancies. But
based on the sex ratios of babies born here, the practice seems to
be rare.

That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. But—at the risk of sounding
like a sociopath—so what? A woman’s reproductive rights aren’t
invalidated just because we may not like her motivations. Women
terminate pregnancies for all sorts of reasons—economic hardship,
medical conditions, simply not desiring to have a child. And,
perhaps, to try again for a more preferred sex next time. Who are
government officials to say which reasons are valid and which are
not?

The whole thing reeks of thought policing: You can have an
abortion, but only if we deem your attitudes toward it appropriate.
I’ve never been a fan of rape exceptions for the same reason.
Either abortion (up to whatever point) is legal, or it isn’t. The
business of why shouldn’t come into play. If sex selective
abortions were so common as to create widescale gender imbalance,
perhaps the issue might warrant attention (perhaps). But that is
nowhere near the case in the United States.

South Dakota’s potential gender-based abortion ban is a solution
in search of a problem. Here’s the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Jenna
Haggar, when asked in a hearing last Wednesday whether gender-based
abortions actually happen in South Dakota.

REP. JENNA HAGGAR: “Yes, as of right now, if a woman were to
walk into an abortion clinic and say, ‘I would like to have an
abortion for no other reason than my unborn baby is a girl’…she
absolutely would get an abortion.”

REP. TROY HEINERT: “Do you have an instance of where that
occurred?”

HAGGAR: “What I know is that abortions up to 14 weeks right now
are currently legal, so yes, I do believe that occurs.”

HEINERT: “I guess that proves to me that is based on
assumption…The prime sponsor just said that she believes it
happens, but can’t prove that it happens.

Haggar was undeterred, pointing out that international data
“consistently (show) higher ratios of males over
females…particularly in certain Asian countries.” But since when
do we set American policy based on what people are doing in Asian
countries? Quick, somebody draft legislation banning betel
leaf! 

South Dakota wouldn’t be the first state to pass a bill banning
sex selective abortion. Seven states (Arizona, Illinois, Kansas,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma) have
already done so, and the issue was brought before the U.S.
House of Representatives in 2012. But the laws are—at best—little
more than a feel-good circle-jerking opportunity for legislators
(and at worst
a time-wasting ploy to paint opponents as promoting a war on little
girls
). Because women aren’t required to state why they want an
abortion in order to get one, gender-based abortion bans accomplish
effectively nothing.

And even if women were forced to justify their reasons for
terminating a pregnancy (under the South Dakota law, physicians
would be required to ask those seeking abortions whether they’re
doing it because of the sex of the fetus), what’s to stop them from
simply concealing their true motivation? Do we start outfitting
Planned Parenthood clinics with lie detectors? As
Ed Kilgore wrote at Washington Monthly
: “Proponents of
this kind of legislation must think Asians are not only misogynist,
but too stupid to come up with another reason for seeking an
otherwise entirely legal abortion.” 

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for politicians to drum up
hysteria and support for these types of pointless abortion
restrictions. I’m glad to see at least some South Dakota politicans
pushing back against the legislation.

“I think everybody in this room knows where everybody stands
when it comes to this issue. I don’t think anyone is ‘pro
abortion,’” Rep. Heinert said at last Wednesday’s hearing. “My
point is it takes courage to stand up and say, ‘This law is
unneeded.’ If this was happening in South Dakota, then bring it.
Show me some instances where this happened…but it takes courage to
say, ‘This is an unneeded law, it’s unneeded regulation.’”

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House-Approved Cell Phone Unlocking Bill Doesn’t Permit Bulk Unlocking

Consumers earned a small
victory yesterday when the House of Representatives approved a bill
that loosens restrictions on cellphone unlocking (modifying phones
to work with any carrier after a contract expires). Unfortunately,
the act stops short of allowing businesses to unlock phones.

The House voted 295-114 in favor of Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA)
Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which lost
supporters when Goodlatte slipped in a last minute change that “does not
permit the unlocking of cell phones for the purpose of bulk
resale.”

Derek Khanna, a longtime
advocate
of legalizing unlocking
explains
to PC World why this addition is
problematic:

The new wording favors mobile carriers… Phone companies
lobbied to make phone unlocking illegal, and now that the public
has responded with outrage and demanded action the phone companies
lobbyists have rewritten the legislation to go after their
competitors… Many consumers have to rely upon others to unlock
their devices for them; under this text small businesses could not
provide that service.

Electronics resellers should be able to buy phones from
consumers, and after ensuring they’re not stolen, unlock them for
resale… This is a critical part of how the wireless market
functions.

Public Knowledge, an intellectual property advocacy group,
retracted its endorsement,
expressing
a similar sentiment that the bill “pick[s] winners
and losers between business models.”

Mike Masnick of TechDirt says it’s
“massively problematic” to “suggest that the
unlocker’s motives in unlocking has an impact on …
whether or not it’s legal. And that’s an entirely subjective
distinction when a bill seems to assume motives.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
notes
that “unlocking allows re-use, and that means less
electronic waste,” and criticizes the legislation for ignoring the
“collateral damage” caused by preventing the practice.

This bill “was never the first choice of unlocking advocates,”

according
to The Verge‘s Adi Robertson, because
“instead of permanently legalizing unlocking, it just extended the
exemption, which would need to be reexamined anyways in less than
two years. But it’s been relatively uncontroversial, and so far,
it’s the only piece of legislation to have passed
committee.” 

Although the practice has been uncontroversial elsewhere in the
world, unlocking has been virtually illegal in
the U.S. for years, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act

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Connecticut Cop Charged With Sexual Assault of Teenage Girl: Time to Start Tracking, Penalizing, Maybe Even Firing Problem Cops

nah, points on your license palPolice from five Connecticut towns
participated in a botched raid in Easton in 2008, one that was
predicated on a warrant that permitted cops to “search for a small
quantity of drugs and to seize anything in the house where a box
the size of a breath mint container and two glass pipes might
be hidden,” as the Connecticut Post
reported
on the disastrous raid. It ended with alleged drug
user
Gonzales Guizan killed at the hands of police. An
attorney’s general report cleared cops, based mostly on their own
testimony, but while Easton
tried to fight
a decision to allow a civil lawsuit to go
forward, it ended up on the hook for $3.5 million. None of the
police officers or the supervisors who thought a five-force raid on
an alleged petty drug user was worth the effort and exertion of
violence were held accountable for their actions. But now the
arrest of one officer, William Ruscoe, in nearby Trumbull on
charges of sexual assaulting a teenage girl,
with the possibility of more victims coming forward
, calls to
question the systemic policy decision not to hold police officers
accountable in the kind of fatal and unnecessary situations like
the one they created in Easton in 2008.

If you’ve ever had to go on your state’s DMV website to pay a
ticket, you might have noticed the state reminding you that
“driving is a privilege, not a right,” usually by way of explaining
why in addition to paying a fine “points” are added to your
license. Accumulate enough points, and your
license is suspended
. Participate in a raid that ends with the
fatal shooting of a citizen while in the employ of the government,
however, and have access to more labor protections and due process
“rights” than almost any other profession in the world. Incidents
of police abuse and nothing else happening are available aplenty.
There is something seriously wrong with our relationship to
government  when we accept driving as a privilege and carrying
a badge and gun and exercising a monopoly on violence as a
right.

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Federal Judge Rules Texas Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional, Pro-Assad Forces Kill 175 Rebels in Ambush, Ukrainian Opposition Leader Nominated as Premier: P.M. Links

  • A federal judge in Texas has ruled the state’s ban on
    same-sex marriage
    unconstitutional.
  • Ukrainian opposition leader
    Arseniy Yatsenyuk
    has been nominated as the country’s premier
    until presidential elections in May.
  • The Pentagon’s plan retire the A-10
    Thunderbolt
    , nicknamed the Warthog, is receiving
    pushback. 
  • Pro-Assad forces led by Hezbollah ambushed and killed
    175 rebels
    outside of Damascus.
  • An appeals court has ruled that Google must remove the
    Innocence of Muslims
    video from Youtube after one of
    the actors featured in the film, which sparked protests around the
    world, claimed that she could copyright her performance.
     
  • Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has unveiled a

    tax reform bill
    that would
    raise taxes
    on Wall Street banks.

Follow Reason and Reason 24/7 on
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can also get the top stories mailed to you–sign up
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Ed Krayewski on What’s Good About the Netflix-Comcast Deal

it's taking soo much longer than loading google.comLast weekend, Netflix and
Comcast reached a deal to allow Netflix to connect directly to
Comcast’s servers to stream video content. The deal means Netflix
subscribers who use Comcast can expect a smoother experience, with
less buffering and pixilation. Perhaps more importantly, the
deal shouldn’t cost Netflix subscribers or Comcast users
any extra money. What it does do is handle the reality that Netflix
accounts for up to a third of U.S. internet traffic in peak hours
in a way that improves the consumer experience. And that’s a good
thing, writes Ed Krayewski, no matter how much net neutrality
proponents try to fit a round peg into a square hole.

View this article.

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Blackphone Spearheads Privacy-Minded Telephony

Silent Circle and GeeksPhone kick
started
pre-orders for the cutting-edge Blackphone, a
smartphone that “puts privacy and security ahead of everything
else.” The handy device is not quite immune to National Security
Agency (NSA) snooping, but founders think it’s in the cards.

The specs are decent, but privacy is the device’s main selling
point. TechCrunch gives
a run-down of the apps:

The privacy tools include Silent Circle’s apps, which include
Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contact for secure, private
handling of each of those features via encryption so that only you
and someone receiving said communications with a compatible device
can access the contents. There’s also a Wi-Fi connection manager
for greater security on public networks, and a software that makes
it possible to securely remote-wipe your device, and facilitate its
recovery.

The base price is $629. It’s unclear whether consumers will be
willing to pay such high premiums for these features. 

Blackphone lets users choose their level of privacy. But it
isn’t NSA-proof. Blackphone Mike Janke co-founder
told
CBS, “There’s nothing in the world today that’s NSA proof,
other than taking a phone and throwing it in the Potomac.”

But they’re working on it. “The Blackphone is just the beginning
of the conversation,” Blackphone president Philip Zimmermann

told
ExtremeTech. Zimmermann is creator of Pretty Good
Privacy (PGP), the email encryption software, and is a
well-respected privacy advocate. Secure telephony is merely
Zimmermann’s latest undertaking.

Janke
says
, “What we’re doing is absolutely shaking up this system.”
Journalists, human rights activists, whistle-blowers, and
privacy-minded individuals have all benefited from privacy tools
like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), PGP, and Tor. Blackphone extends
privacy’s reach to phones.

With the ushering in of an international surveillance state and
data-gathering technologies like the Internet of Things (the
Internet will be embedded in objects like automobiles, kitchen
equipment, biochips in animals) on the horizon, privacy-driven
technologies deserve a spot in the future communications
market. 

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And There Goes Texas – Lone Star Gays Win Round in Marriage Fight

Won't somebody think of the children?!!There’s no point in saying,
“Really, a win in Texas?” when federal judges have ruled for gay
marriage recognition in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia so far. But,
yes, a federal judge just ruled that the ban on gay marriage
recognition in Texas is
unconstitutional
.

Judge Orlando Garcia writes:

The issue before this court is whether Texas’ current definition
of marriage is permissible under the United States Constitution.
After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, the
Court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts
with the United States Constitution’s  guarantee of equal
protection and due process. Texas’ current marriage laws deny
homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean
their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court
finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a
preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas’
ban on same-sex marriage.

The ruling, though, has been stayed for appeal as it was in
Oklahoma and
Virginia
and eventually in Utah.  The full ruling can be
read
here
(pdf).

Anybody care to wager whether the Supreme Court will be hearing
one of these cases by next year?

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Secret Execution Drugs Used Again in Missouri

Early this morning, Michael Taylor became the
fourth inmate in four months to be executed by the state of
Missouri with drugs obtained from unknown sources. Taylor was on
death row for abducting, raping, and murdering a 15-year-old girl
in 1989.

Missouri has a history of flouting the law when it comes to its
recent executions. Last month, the state executed convicted
murderer Herbert Smulls with pentobarbital that was
likely illegally obtained
from The Apothecary Shoppe, an
Oklahoma compounding pharmacy not licensed to do business in the
state of Missouri.

Missouri executed Smulls
while his appeal was still pending
in the United States Supreme
Court. The Supreme Court denied Smulls’ final stay request at 10:24
p.m., but Smulls was pronounced dead four minutes earlier at 10:20
p.m. This was the third straight execution carried out by Missouri
corrections officials while appeals were still being considered by
courts. Taylor, however, was executed after his appeals were
denied.

Little is known about the drugs used to execute these four men
prior to their executions. Indeed, a number of states that still
carry out the death penalty, including Missouri, have become much
more secretive about where they have been procuring execution drugs
from since European suppliers of the two FDA-approved drugs made
them unavailable for executions in the United States in 2010 and
2011.

While Smulls and the other men were executed with drugs likely
obtained from the Apothecary Shoppe, the compounding pharmacy

agreed
to not provide the state with drugs for Taylor’s
execution. Last week, state officials
announced
they had obtained pentobarbital from another unnamed
source. Information about the source and the drug is crucial to
know, as unknown or untested drugs are more likely to result in a
painful death, therefore resulting in cruel and unusual
punishment.

Without this information, lawyers are left only to assume the
state carried out this and previous executions in a way that
respected the constitutional rights of the condemned.

A similar story will play out in Florida this evening. Tonight,
Florida is set to
execute Paul Howell
, who was convicted of killing a state
highway patrolman with a pipe bomb in 1992. Howell will be the
fourth person executed in Florida with a new combination of drugs
that have been challenged by lawyers of condemned prisoners as a
violation of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and
unusual punishment. So far, challenges to the state have been
unsuccessful, and it’s likely that Howell’s execution will take
place as scheduled.

In 2013, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the
“Timely Justice Act” into law, which seeks to accelerate the
state’s death penalty process. The law
requires
the governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of
the conclusion of clemency review and schedule an execution date
within 180 days after the warrant is signed. Florida currently has
403 inmates on death row. Since 1976, 77 men have been executed in
Florida, and 24 Florida death row prisoners have been exonerated –
more than any other state.

Recent executions in Missouri and Florida highlight a troubling
trend that’s been taking place across the country. States, with
little to no oversight, are shoving new and experimental drugs into
criminals’ veins while keeping information about these drugs a
closely guarded secret.

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