Author: Ryan Lau

Ryan is a first-year sophomore at the University of Vermont, double majoring in philosophy and psychology. He is 71 Republic's Editor in Chief and a member of the Board of Directors. The works of Konkin, Goldman, Rothbard and Tolstoy have influenced his anarchist beliefs and led him to seek a way to bring those ideas into reality.

CT Gov. Ned Lamont Had a Brilliant Plan, but He Killed It

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Last November, Connecticut’s new governor, Ned Lamont, won a tight race against businessman Bob Stefanowski. During the campaign, many compared Lamont to the widely unpopular former governor, Dannel Malloy. In fact, Stefanowski frequently stated Lamont would be “Malloy 2.0”, citing agreement on social issues and a desire to put in tolls on the state’s highways.

Despite these attacks, though, Lamont has stated plans to reduce property tax burdens on the middle class. He also gave Malloy an “F” rating for his job on fiscal issues. And now, in the midst of the partial government shutdown, his market leanings have come to the table again.

Federal Employees Unpaid

As many are aware, federal workers do not receive paychecks during shutdowns. To top it off, essential workers who still have to work without pay are not eligible for unemployment benefits. This category makes up about 80% of the 1,500 federal employees in the state. Of course, this has left many families struggling to make ends meet for nearly a month.

But this Tuesday, Governor Ned Lamont made tremendous strides to aid those suffering families. Best of all, he did so without placing any burden on Connecticut citizens. All he had to do was contact and communicate with Webster Bank, and they stepped in to do the rest.

Ned Lamont and Webster Bank to the Rescue

Webster Bank, a regional bank with 177 branches in southern New England, agreed to provide interest-free loans to any essential state workers who cannot collect unemployment. John Cuilla, CEO of Webster Bank, affirmed that the company was “pleased to provide those interest-free loans”. Though the bank still needs to work out the exact details of repayment, this is a huge step forward for many families in need.

Of course, Webster Bank is the real hero in this situation. With nothing to gain but positive press and a resulting business boom, they have alleviated the suffering of many. By helping themselves, they have helped others. As occurs quite often, one group acting in its own best interest directly aids another and vice versa. But this is no great surprise; markets function in this efficient manner regularly.

However, one aspect of this situation is rather troubling. In an ideal situation, Webster Bank (and other banks, which Cuilla believes will agree to this policy, too) would simply write out terms for their loans. Other banks, in competition for the best rate, would do the same. In the end, the banks with the best terms would see the most business. Instead, Lamont is taking unnecessary government action.

Slaughtering His Own Plan

Everything that the government does takes time and money, and both are scarce. The state is on a tight budget, and should not waste time or money in any situations. Therefore, it is safe to say that if the government does not have to get involved in these agreements, then it should not do so. For every day of delay, more families can’t afford groceries. With every passing hour, young employees are running out of money for gas or rent or hot water.

Time is of the essence, and government involvement only invites delay. Now, haste does not make waste; haste makes taste, as children in incomeless homes regain food security.

Is it necessary, in order to secure the loans, to pass any new legislation? The simple answer: almost definitely not. In order for Lamont’s actions to be necessary, then they must either more strongly guarantee the loans or outline some specific terms. But looking closely, I find that neither of these situations rings true. At the very least, they are not strong enough claims to justify going through the legislative or even executive process.

In Defense of Webster

Webster Bank has already promised to warmly offer the loans to anyone meeting the criteria. As bankers, their own employees know how to optimize the terms of the loans to best benefit all parties involved. The state of Connecticut, without banking expertise, simply does not know how to craft such an agreement as well. After all, the state is a whopping $69 billion short of the money they need to pay their yearly bills. Moreover, the state’s 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report gave the state an “F” in finances. Why should we trust them over the prosperous bank, which has nearly doubled its stock since 2015?

Alternatively, some may argue that the legal provisions are to hold Webster Bank to its word. However, we already have something for that: the media. In just one day, several articles by several different news outlets have circulated the web, reaching many people who don’t even live in Connecticut. In simpler terms: it’s a popular story.

Now, what would happen if Webster Bank was to go back on its word? Surely, this would receive a ton of press attention. As the bank is offering loans, not handouts, it loses no money by keeping its word. But if it refuses to follow through, then headlines will tear into John Cuilla and his bank for breaking a promise and harming struggling families. Business would tank, and any minuscule financial incentive would be more than made up for in lost customers. It is in Webster Bank’s best interest to give out the loans.

Delayed Success

But while this plan could have started already, Ned Lamont merely announces that it will eventually commence. Meanwhile, the people of Connecticut are waiting for action, action that could have already happened without involving legislation.

This was an excellent plan on his part, and it shows a free-market side of him that many would not have predicted. However, he threatens its success with every waiting minute. A simple agreement with Webster Bank would have been enough, but now federal employees must sit and wait for the creaky wheels of government to turn in their favor.


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The Dark Overlord Releases Batch Two of 9/11 Files

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

On January 4th, the hacker group The Dark Overlord shocked the online community. After asking for Bitcoin payments, they met their first goal, releasing what they call the “9/11 files”. The files, which are thousands of pages long, were largely related to insurance records.

Not long after posting them on a Steemit page, Twitter removed The Dark Overlord from their platform. The files have also faced several other removals from YouTube and Steemit. However, it is unclear whether The Dark Overlord or somebody else removed them from the platforms.

The Dark Overlord: Batch Two

Just a couple of days later, though, on January 6th, the hacker group leaked the second batch of their files. This dump added 7,500 more files to the 18,000 from the first leak. Though they did not reach their funding target for the second batch, they nonetheless decided to release the documents to the public.

Despite several removals, both sets of files are permanently on the blockchain. Busy.org runs on the same blockchain as Steemit, and thus, the files are available there. They are encrypted, but The Dark Overlord states that there are decryption instructions on the leak. So far, The Dark Overlord’s account is still on Busy.org.

The Goal of the 9/11 Files

The hacker group claims that they have the dirt to “burn down the deep state“. They have not yet released all of the information, which will eventually come in five batches. According to The Dark Overlord, the 9/11 files have evidence that links the United States government and the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. In the first set of documents, though, there has not been any damning evidence.

It is unclear what price the group is asking for in order to release batch three of the files. Despite this, they did reveal a preview of the third batch on Steemit, stating that there will be a grand total of 8,279 files in the next release. As they assert, they will be taking “cyber-cash for cyber-cache”.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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Twenty Minutes to Landing, Seven Seconds of Silence

Ryan Lau | United States

In many ways, Dan was unlike those around him. With an incredible intellect, lithe build, and handsome face, the young man of 22 was certain to make it big. Already, he had amassed a small fortune on a number of critically-timed investments, and it showed. An impeccable Ralph Lauren polo framed his narrow shoulders and an exquisite Salvatore Ferragamo belt kept his Vineyard Vines from slipping to the dirt of the aircraft floor.

All around him, commoners, as he so liked to refer to them, bore sweats and faded tees. A faint smell came from the economy cabin, which Dan chose to maintain his riches. Jammed-in crowds of businessmen, families, foreigners, and vacationers packed the plane to its capacity, all yearning to touch down in Los Angeles after a turbulent flight from Montreal.

Suddenly, the seatbelt sign buzzed twice, and the loudspeaker began to crackle. “Attention all passengers: at this point, we will be beginning our initial descent into Los Angeles International Airport with about twenty minutes to landing. Please stow any loose baggage and power down all large electronic devices. Thank you for ch…”

But before the pilot could finish the customary remarks, two gunshots rang through the air from the front of the craft as it started to tumble out of the sky.

Screams of pure terror rang through the craft. Some scared passengers threw themselves to the floor, while others raced to occupy openings in the plane’s rear. One fearful woman even went to the trouble of closing herself into the overhead storage bin.

While yells and frantic attempts at phone calls flooded the plane, the intercom stayed silent. Dan, too petrified to move, momentarily thought himself so lucky for not choosing a first-class seat. He then remembered his predicament with a thought of horror. I’m going to die here, he thought.

Miraculously, or so he believed, the plane soon stabilized, guiding itself back into a standard trajectory. Seven seconds of silence followed. But when a gravelly voice barked commands in an unrecognizable language, the entire aircraft filled with dread.

***

Fadel sat in the cockpit, autopilot switched on, door locked. Prepare for Phase Two, he had just announced. With heightened security, he was shocked by how effortless the operation had been. Not that there were many opportunities, but he had seldom seen this much success in a takeover. In fact, he recalled, it has now been nearly two decades…

Glancing at the floor, he looked at his Liberator. The tiny, 3D printed handgun had proved successful. The pilot and copilot lay strewn on the floor, bleeding profusely from tiny wounds in the backs of their heads. Fadel fleetingly hoped that the two were alive and just unconscious from the weak firearm. But thinking of Phase Two, care for his victims vanished into the air.

Flawed as these Americans are, they sure know how to produce weapons. The thought made him chuckle briefly before remembering his mission. If successful, God himself would praise him. Fadel would be a hero, worshipped in the streets by peasants and elites alike! His heart filled with pride as he shouted some more Persian into the mic. “Almarhalat Alththania!”

Stage Two.

***

Back in the main cabin, tears streamed from Dan’s face like water gushing from a spring drain. For once, he didn’t care if they landed on his designer clothing or caused him to break out. At that moment, he sought but one thing: a phone call with his father.

Dan’s mother had died tragically, years before. His sister Amy and he had severed ties three months prior after a particularly nasty fight. Dan viciously believed the doctors mistreated his mother after her heart attack. But a member of the medical community, Amy defended the doctors’ actions to a T. Her resulting heart failure, she believed, was an incalculable side effect of a generally reliable medication.

As the plane sped through the air faster than Dan’s own thoughts, he forgave his sister in a heartbeat. It was no use, though. Not a device on the plane had cell service, and the internet was suddenly down. As he wept silently, seeking solace from the frantic plane. But out of the corner of his eye, he couldn’t help but notice something.

Two men, both dressed in black, were walking away from the rear. They both had long beards and olive skin. And they both held small white handguns. Though they looked plastic, Dan shuddered at the thought of more weapons, more hijackers on the plane.

As they passed Dan, he could tell that the two were harshly whispering in another language, heading for the front of the craft.

He looked around. The other passengers appeared not to notice, too busy in their own suffering. Those that saw didn’t care. After all, their own stories had ended from the moment the first shot rang.

“Commoners”, he muttered to himself, trembling slightly. His fear of perishing intensified as the two walked to the front of the plane, tearing back the curtain separating economy and first-class and vanishing to the front of the plane.

***

In the cockpit, Fadel heard a knock on the door. tap tap TAP tap TAP. He smiled, opening the compartment for his two compatriots. Gesturing to the now-open seat, he congratulated them on their quick work. One of the men, Bari, took the seat excitedly, guiding the nose of the plane down ever so slightly and reducing the thrust in the same manner.

“Eshrwn daqiqatan ealaa alhubut!” The new pilot looked happy as a saint, but equipped with a falling plane.

Twenty minutes to landing.

***

Dan, horrified by the men, poked the woman next to him and gestured to the front. “Terrorists. It’s 9/11 all over again!”

The woman responded only with a defeated sigh.

Angered, Dan vowed vengeance against the three men in the plane. He crept forward, rummaging around seats as he moved. Enraged but outwardly calm, like a volcano ready to explode, he found a safety pin and a plastic knife. Hardly a gun, he thought, but as he sensed the plane beginning to dip, he had few options.

Creeping forward, he drew back the first-class curtain. Empty. The entire section was a desert, devoid of all life. Bags littered the floor and made his walk more difficult, but for the oasis that followed, it was worth it. Quite literally sitting on a silver platter in the front row was a half-eaten section of prime rib, complete with fork and knife. Dan hurriedly but silently pocketed both and prepared himself for what may lie beyond the cabin door.

***

As Bari guided the plane lower, the Los Angeles skyline broke into view, buildings racing to the clouds. Fadel and the third man, Khan, stood watch, their Liberators focused squarely on the door in front of them.

Despite their readiness, they were not expecting the youthful American to barge through the door with a weapon of his own. He caught them off guard, slashing at Khan, who howled in pain as the steak knife left a shallow gash in his thigh.

***

Wresting the door open, Dan pretty much knew what to expect. Yet, that didn’t make an ounce of it any easier on the young man. A brown belt in karate, he had some defense training, but not to take on three armed men, one of whom was his only chance of survival.

Two of them, however, were unlikely to be flying the craft, and at least one must not. So charging in, he was slightly relieved when he caught the bearded guard by surprise. With an expert slash to the leg, he fell to his knees.

Bang. White-hot pain raced through Dan’s knife hand as he dropped the weapon. Stars ran through his eyes as he fought back the pain. The guard, though, aimed a swift kick to Dan’s ribs and he fell beside the pilots, conscious but unmoving.

***

Stupid American boy! Fadel cursed silently after the shot rang out. Though momentarily incapacitated, the grimacing heap on the floor was at no risk of dying. A blow from a Liberator to the hand was painful, but not life-threatening.

Khan, regaining his composure, looked with contempt at the young man. “Bism allah! Ymknna ‘na nufasir.”

In the name of God, we can explain.

***

As the bearded guard spoke to Dan, he panicked suddenly, fearing a second, more lethal shot would be soon to follow its predecessor. But out of the corner of his eye, he saw a compact backpack laying within reach.

A parachute. His escape.

Mustering all of the strength he could, which surprisingly was a lot, he snatched the pack off the ground and bolted to his feet. Amidst rampant shouting in the foreign language, which he thought must be Arabic, he hauled himself through the door, slamming it shut while ignoring the throbbing pain in his injured hand.

Making his way back through and drawing the first-class curtain, he turned around. Amazingly, none of the hijackers had followed him through the door. Perhaps, as long as he steered clear of the cockpit, he was no threat to them. Or maybe they were tending to the bearded guard’s injury. Dan didn’t really care, making his way to an exit row for his escape.

Two rows away, an elderly woman, caked with dirt and raggy clothes touched his shoulder lightly. He turned, fist extended, ready to punch his assailant. Seeing the woman, however, he lowered them, apologizing with a pained facial expression. The woman smiled gently.

“Is that there a chute? Could you hap’n to allow my granddaughter here to have it? She’s ne’er been in a plane before and has got so much in’a young body, ya know.” The woman’s eyes were beautiful pools of gray, her smile laced with years of suffering. Behind her, the little girl tugged on her blouse, a near lookalike of her grandmother.

Dan, though, did not afford either of the two a passing glance. Upon realizing there was no threat, he swung open the exit hatch, filling the cabin with a roaring wind. As he departed the aircraft, flight attendants rushed to close the window, narrowly avoiding being sucked out themselves. The girl clung tighter to her grandmother’s shirt. Silent tears streamed down their faces as the door slammed back into place.

As this occurred, Dan breathed a sigh of relief, feeling little guilt for the strangers. After all, he had taken a bullet for that parachute. Smiling for the first time in what felt like weeks, the young man began his controlled descent to Earth.

***

Bari had his sights set on the city. After the skirmish with the American boy, he wanted to complete his mission as soon as possible, avoiding any other…complications that may ensue. He threw a stack of papers that had blown in his view aside. On top laid a confidential email from the slumped pilot to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Director Hoffman:

Message received. target set. U.S. bank tower will be compromised.
This operation is weather dependent, though I imagine results by 07:00.
Once I have safely exited the craft, I will communicate my location.
Three Arabs will be on board. They are to be responsible for our attack.

-PIC Brandon Michaels

Casting it aside, Bari smiled, knowing he had done a good deed to his own name, to God, and to the world. Landing with ease in Los Angeles, his heart warmed with the businessmen and families and foreigners and vacationers aboard who would all live to see another day.

***

Falling through the sky, Dan smiled. His escape, though difficult, had been quite rewarding. Reaching a comfortable altitude, he yanked sharply on the parachute. It extended suddenly, but his speed did not decrease. Shaking the straps, he frantically tried to get the chute to extend. But looking up, his heart fell faster than the rest of him.

On the inside of the parachute, a giant image of the bearded guard stared down. Where his mouth should have been, however, was a massive, gaping hole. Dan had a mere seven seconds of silence remaining.


Other creative works by Ryan you might enjoy:

Inevitable Death at the Hands of the Former: A story of paranoia and insanity

The Last Thoughts of Delavan, Killed by an American Bomb: A story of loss and sorrow

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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A Utah City Has a Snowball Ban, Calls Them “Missiles”

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

For decades, if not more, snowball fights have been a fun winter activity for children across the globe. But a Utah city is now taking a page out of Bomont’s book and banning a harmless activity.

This city, however, breaks from Footloose, as they allow dancing. Instead, they prohibit the throwing of snowballs within its borders.

According to AccuWeather, this particular law has been around for a long time. The city’s ordinances outline the details of the snowball ban. Specifically, codes 9.14.100-101 explain that “every person who shall throw…stick, snowball, or other missile whereby any person shall be hit…is guilty of a misdemeanor”.

Though obviously, law enforcement cannot catch every instance of snowball-throwing delinquents, they have responded to calls of the kids having too much fun.

Reactions to the Snowball Ban

In one instance, a woman called the police after kids accidentally hit her with a snowball. They arrived at the scene and he demanded to see their IDs, threatening to take them to the station. Eventually, though, he left and told them to work out the situation on their own.

Though many believe this law to be unjust or just plain obsolete, Provo city spokesman Michael Mower defended it. He stated that “sticks and stones can break people’s bones and sometimes we need to be able to prosecute that”. However, he did not cite anything that suggested a snowball is capable of breaking a bone or otherwise causing injury.

The citizens of Provo, particularly youth, take varying approaches to the snowball ban. Some have little regard for it, choosing to throw snowballs anyway. Still, others mock it in an innocent, and enjoyable fashion.

“I ran out in shorts and my hat…but evidently, throwing snowballs is literally against the law. We settled for snow bowling”, said one Mormon missionary, who prefers to remain nameless. “All it takes is a few beautifully crafted snow pins and a snowball for a good time”.

At this time, there is little discussion of changing the law, despite recent media attention.


71 Republic takes pride in distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon, which you can find here. Thank you very much for your support!

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