Florida Lawmakers Deaf to the Needs of Hearing Aid Users: New at Reason

It wouldn’t make much sense to require employees at Best Buy to understand the inner workings of vacuum tubes. Or to mandate that Apple Store staffers be fluent in the ancient language of telephone switchboards. Yet Florida says “hearing aid specialists” must pass multiple tests and be certified to conduct a full audiological exam, essentially quizzing them on skills and tech dating back to the 1950s, writes Eric Boehm.

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Liberty Links 9/22/18 – Former Raytheon Lobbyist Pushed Mike Pompeo to Support Yemen War for Arms Sales

As always, if you appreciate my work and want to contribute to independent media, consider becoming a monthly Patron, or visit the Support Page.

Top Links

State Department Team Led by Former Raytheon Lobbyist Pushed Mike Pompeo to Support Yemen War Because of Arms Sales (Despicable doesn’t even begin to describe this, The Intercept)

Pompeo Threatens Iran: ‘They’re Going to Be Held Accountable’ (Pompeo seems to get turned on by needless death and war, CNN)

They Got ‘Everything’: Inside a Demo of NSO Group’s Powerful iPhone Malware (This is terrifying, MotherBoard)

Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users in China (More creepy shadiness from Google, The Intercept)

Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers (The Intercept)

PayPal Bans Alex Jones, Saying He “Promoted Hate” (Extremely bullish for Bitcoin, ArsTechnica)

Amazon Dominates as a Merchant and Platform. Europe Sees Reason to Worry. (Problems are starting for Amazon, The New York Times

With Amazon Probe, EU Takes Cue From ‘Hipster’ Antitrust (Terrible title but good article, Bloomberg)

Big Brother: China’s Chilling Dictatorship Moves to Introduce Scorecards to Control Everyone (China is becoming an episode of Black Mirror, News.com.au)

Michael Hudson: The Lehman 10th Anniversary Spin as a Teachable Moment (Excellent article, Naked Capitalism)

Danske Bank CEO Quits over $234 Billion Money Laundering Scandal (Reuters)

U.S. News/Politics

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Intern at Reason This Spring!

The Burton C. Gray Memorial Internship program runs year-round in the Washington, D.C., office. Interns work for 12 weeks and are paid $7,200.

The job includes reporting and writing as well as helping with research, proofreading, and other tasks. Previous interns have gone on to work at such places as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC News, and Reason itself.

To apply, send your résumé, up to five writing samples (preferably published clips), and a cover letter by November 1 to intern@reason.com. Please include “Gray Internship Application – Spring” in the subject line.

Paper applications can be sent to:

Gray Internship
1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Spring internships begin in January, but the exact dates are flexible.

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New Research Confirms We Got Cholesterol All Wrong: New at Reason

A comprehensive new study on cholesterol, based on results from more than a million patients, could help upend decades of government advice about diet, nutrition, health, prevention, and medication. Just don’t hold your breath.

The study, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, centers on statins, a class of drugs used to lower levels of LDL-C, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, in the human body. According to the study, statins are pointless for most people. The study also reports that “heart attack patients were shown to have lower than normal cholesterol levels of LDL-C” and that older people with higher levels of bad cholesterol tend to live longer than those with lower levels.

This is probably news to many in government, writes Baylen Linnekin. After decades of doling out bad eating advice, perhaps the U.S. government should stop telling Americans what to eat and not eat.

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Debate: Libertarians Should Work Within the Two-Party System: New at Reason

Work within the party system or try to create change outside of it? Bill Weld and Thomas Massie debate this question in Reason‘s special debate issue. Check out the whole article at the link below.

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Gov. Brown Signs Stupid Straw Bill

Silly strawsWe’re still waiting to see if California Gov. Jerry Brown has the courage to sign legislation requiring greater transparency about police misconduct. But he’s clearly happy to meddle in what and how Californians drink. Yesterday he signed legislation that adds tiresome new rules about the straws used in restaurants and the drinks offered in kids’ meals.

AB 1889 doesn’t go so far as to ban straws entirely, but it does forbid full-service restaurants from giving customers plastic straws unless the customers ask for them. Violators face fines of up to $25 a day, up to a maximum of $300 annually. So it’s essentially a tax on giving out plastic straws, should a restaurant decide to ignore the law.

That the law is so mild and inconsequential is a testament to how much the posturing around plastic straws is a symbolic gesture rather than anything that actually helps the environment. Brown rarely puts out statements when he signs bills, but he specifically did for AB 1889, noting that plastics are killing ocean life.

Reason‘s Christian Britschgi has been documenting the absurd, unscientific foundations of the push to ban straws. Faulty statistics and a poor grasp of where most of our ocean pollution comes from (not the United States, and certainly not from straws) have led to inane bills like this. We should be glad it isn’t harsher. But the law also permits California cities to implement stricter regulations, and we’ve already been seeing that happen as well.

The tiresome top-down food controls don’t stop there. Brown also signed SB 1192, which requires restaurants that offer children’s meals to offer water or unflavored milk as the “default” drink rather than soda or juice. It further requires them to display water or milk as the drink in images and in menus. At least it doesn’t forbid restaurants from providing other choices if they’re asked.

We have no reason to believe that this law will stop kids and their parents from ordering sodas instead if that’s what they want. Indeed, Brown embraced this paternalism the same week a bunch of nutrition studies that supposedly justified other nudge-style controls on kids’ school lunch choices were retracted as junk science.

But the important thing is that California cares about the health of children, right? Well, no. In the same round of bills, Brown vetoed SB 328, which would prohibit non-rural middle and high schools from starting classes earlier than 8:30 in the morning. There are scientific studies that show later school start times allow children to get more sleep, which results in increased academic performance.

You’d think Brown would be all over this bill to help children do better in life, right? But in his veto note, Brown says that it is “opposed by teachers and school boards,” some of which “prefer” to start the school day earlier. The message is clear. It’s fine for the state to inconvenience restaurants and interfere with your decisions in the name of sketchy studies about kids’ health, but don’t start meddling with the preferred work schedules of public employees. California in a nutshell.

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NYT: Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Taping Trump, Using the 25th Amendment to Oust Him

Following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly spoke with Justice Department officials about invoking the 25th Amendment. According to The New York Times, Rosenstein also suggested that he or other officials wear a wire and secretly record Trump.

The Times says Rosenstein was upset about how the president fired Comey. When he announced the move, Trump originally cited Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. The White House also released a memo from Rosenstein criticizing Comey for how he ran the Clinton probe. Rosenstein was reportedly aggravated that Trump had relied on the memo to publicly justify firing Comey. Rosenstein was also reportedly displeased by the way Trump tried to replace Comey. According to the Times, Rosenstein told four Justice Department officials, plus then–Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, that the president wasn’t taking the process seriously.

During a meeting with these officials, the Times says, Rosenstein

raised the idea of wearing a recording device or “wire,” as he put it, to secretly tape the president when he visited the White House. One participant asked whether Mr. Rosenstein was serious, and he replied animatedly that he was.

If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered. White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for meetings there, Mr. Rosenstein added, implying it would be easy to secretly record Mr. Trump.

A source who heard Rosenstein’s remarks tells CNN that the deputy attorney general was being sarcastic. Other sources tell the Times he was serious.

Rosenstein also reportedly suggested invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president from office if they think he’s unfit.

Rosenstein has vehemently denied the Times‘ reporting, telling the paper that it is “factually incorrect.” He also said that “based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The Times says it based its reporting on multiple anonymous accounts:

Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe

CNN reports that those McCabe memos have been given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the probe into Russian election meddling. Michael R. Bromwich, a lawyer for McCabe, told the Times his client “has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”

Rumors have abounded for months that Trump has considered firing Rosenstein, though the president said last month they have a “great relationship.”

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Fall’s New Shows Seem Awfully Familiar (and Awful): New at Reason

'Magnum P.I.'Television critic Glenn Garvin is not terribly impressed with what the major networks are tossing out as the new fall season fully launches. They all seem to be reboots (like the new Magnum P.I.) or derivative and predictable (like FBI and New Amsterdam):

Hollywood has always robbed its own graveyards, of course, though rarely with such profligate abandon. The really appalling thing about the 2018 fall season is how stupidly tepid most of it is. Shows about neurotic moms and grumpy dads are not just clichés but clichés old enough to be closing in on Social Security.

Overall, this is the worst lineup of new shows since 2008, when a long strike by the Writers Guild led to a schedule so dismal that when CBS canceled one (The Ex List, in which a woman, on orders of her psychic, systematically re-dates all the guys she’s dumped over the years) after four episodes, it went ahead and made six more because there was nothing to replace it with.

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A Father Defends His Daughter with a Shotgun When Cops Break Into the Wrong House

|||DAVID TULIS/UPI/NewscomWhen men attempted to enter a father’s house in Prince George’s County, Maryland, he made a quick choice to protect his daughter inside. He told his daughter to get to the back of the house, he picked up a shotgun, and he fired while the men used a device to open the door. He hit one of the intruders in the hand and another in the shoulder. One of the cops outside returned fire, but the bullet missed the father.

It wasn’t until the door was fully opened that he realized they were police officers. He dropped his gun and pleaded, “You got the wrong address. Don’t shoot my daughter.”

Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski has since explained that the officers were attempting to serve a warrant after a police informant told them that a drug dealer lived in the home. As it turned out, the informant had given them bad information. The department concluded that the father, who Stawinski called a “law-abiding, hard-working citizen,” was not aware that the men on the other side of his door were police officers. The department will not be pressing charges against him, and it is conducting a review to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Just a few weeks prior, Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean after saying she mistook his apartment for her own. As the full story of how or why such a mistake was made is still under review, several have wondered if the fateful night would have played out differently had Jean shot Guyger. Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA), observed that Jean may have been alive had he been a gun owner.

That’s true: He might. On the other hand, there’s a fair chance he would have died anyway, since the police may have shot him upon seeing a wounded officer. Earlier in the year, after a Colorado grandfather (and legal gun owner) shot and killed a home intruder, police mistook him for the invader. They killed him in the confusion, despite the state’s 1985 Homeowners Protection Act, which recognizes Colorado homeowners’ right to defend themselves with a gun. Even in the incident in Prince George’s County, one officer returned fire.

And even if you survive the raid, not all police will be as willing as these Maryland cops to concede their error. Cory Maye of Mississippi was sentenced to death in 2004 after he shot an officer during a wrong-door drug raid. He too was protecting his little girl, and he too was unaware that the people bursting into his home at night were police. He eventually got out of prison, but not until 2011.

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