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Adam Dick

Fed Asset Seizures Rollback Less Than Advertised

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While headlines in Yahoo News and Raw Story blare, respectively, “U.S. attorney general bans asset seizure by local police” and “No more asset seizure: Eric Holder bans controversial ‘war on drugs’ tactic,” the truth is that United States Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday changed US Department of Justice policy in a manner that will result in at most a small rollback of asset seizures.

It is true that there appears to be a rollback in the police state for a change. The catch is that the rollback is nowhere near the monumental change that some people in the media are trumpeting. The many and broad exceptions in Holder’s order all but swallow the announced headline-garnering rollback. Depending on how the order is interpreted and implemented, it may provide almost no asset seizure relief.

Holder’s order terminated immediately on Friday a portion of the US government’s Equitable Sharing Program. The program has funneled billions of dollars to local police departments via seizures of people’s cash and property without any demonstration required of a relation between the person deprived of the assets, or the assets themselves, and criminal activity.
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NYPD Union Leader: Reducing Marijuana Arrests is “Beginning of the Breakdown of a Civilized Society”

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Reported efforts to begin following through on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 election promise to reduce marijuana arrests in the city has distressed Sergeants Benevolent Association police union President Ed Mullins. Mullins is quoted Wednesday in the New York Post lamenting that “If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”

The city’s apparent move to reduce the number of marijuana arrests comes soon after an October joint report of the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project publicized that the number of marijuana possession arrests in New York City were on track to remain the same under de Blasio’s leadership, or even increase, compared to arrests under Michael Bloomberg, the preceding mayor.

Of course, the truth is that there is nothing civilized about arresting people and throwing them in jail for making the choice to use, buy, or sell marijuana. Such choices have been tolerated or accepted in much of the world for centuries and were legal under United States law for the majority of the nation’s history. US legal prohibitions and punishments were imposed in the 20th century, including with the enactment of laws such as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and marijuana’s inclusion in schedule one of Controlled Substances Act of 1970, thus applying the most expansive level of prohibition to actions involving the plant. In contrast, looking further back to the origins of the US, we find that Founding Fathers grew hemp on their farms, including George Washington at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.
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Committing Highway Robbery to Fund Police Militarization

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The militarization of local police in the United States is not being fueled just by the federal government providing military equipment, including machine guns, grenade launchers, and armored vehicles, to local police departments. The police are also funding the rise of SWAT with billions of dollars obtained through asset seizures that amount to highway robbery under the guise of law enforcement.

In an October 11 Washington Post article, Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Steven Rich offer some revealing details concerning how state and local police have raised billions of dollars since 2008 via asset seizures associated with the US Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program that allows state and local police departments to take 80 percent of the proceeds of seizures conducted in cooperation with US government agencies. In addition, much more police revenue has been gained through asset seizures outside the program and without direct US government involvement.

What do the state and local police do with the money obtained through asset forfeitures? As the Post article explains, much of it is pumped into expanding surveillance and police militarization...
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Celebrating Ron Paul’s Forty Years in the Political Arena

Forty years ago this month, Ron Paul was in the final weeks of his first campaign for the United States House of Representatives. Paul, a Texas obstetrician who had never before run for political office, was the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Robert R. Casey, the eight-term Democrat incumbent. Casey won that race. But, a year and a half later Paul won the House seat in a special election after the seat had become vacant due to Casey’s appointment to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Paul ran for office in 1974 and through the years in large part so he could have a platform for educating people with a consistent pro-liberty message.


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The Abominable No Fly List

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Last week the United States government prohibited poet and journalist Amjad Nasser from speaking at an event to inaugurate the Gallatin Global Writers series at New York University. How did the government do this? By having a policeman at the event inform Nasser that he would be arrested if Nasser took his turn to speak at the event? No, that would be a clear prior restraint on speech in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution — a government action courts routinely rule is prohibited. Instead, the US government simply banned Nasser from flying to the conference.

Nasser recounts the process by which his participation in the event was blocked by a faceless Department of Homeland Security agent on the other end of a phone line at London Heathrow Airport. At the airport terminal, Nasser was handed a phone whereupon the US bureaucrat on the call peppered him with personal questions about Nasser and the event at which Nasser was planning to speak. Nasser relates that, after two hours on the phone, the questioner informed Nasser that Nasser was banned from taking the already booked, and by then already departed, US-bound flight.

While Nasser, a British and Jordanian citizen, had to answer a series of questions regarding his private affairs in hopes that he would just be allowed to board the plane and fulfill his speaking commitment, the US bureaucrat on the other end of the line was not obliged to even provide an explanation for why Nasser was prevented from boarding the plane.
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Ron Paul: War on ISIS is Foolish Continuation of 24 Years of US War in Middle East

Ron Paul, speaking Monday with Erin Ade on RT, explained that it is “foolish” for the United States to wage war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, noting that the new war is a continuation of 24 years of foolish US war in the Middle East. Instead of extending the war another six or more years, Paul says "it’s time to quit” and bring the US military back home.

Paul, who is RPI’s chairman and founder, minces no words in explaining his opposition to the US war on ISIS...
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Obama Distorts Founders and Constitution to Promote War and Worldwide Domination

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President Barack Obama, in his speech Wednesday to make the case for a United States war on ISIS, suggested merely talking with some Congress members is enough to legitimate the war and invoked the Founders as supporters of worldwide US domination. In contrast to Obama’s assertions, the US Constitution places in Congress the war declaration power and the Founders largely prescribed a foreign policy centered on nonintervention.

Many people hoped in the early days of the United States that calls for war and foreign intervention would be squelched by the constitutional requirement that war not be pursued unless it is first declared by Congress. But, such declarations have become passé in the years since World War II as American presidents have tended to treat war as something solely within their own control.

Obama makes no mention in his speech of seeking a congressional declaration of war. Instead, he says that talking with a few members of Congress as he pursues the war is good enough to justify continuing and expanding the war.
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