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Rand Paul’s Critical Supreme Court Nominee Vote

By Kenneth Casey | United States

With President Trump promising to announce his nominee to replace the recently retired Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court on Monday, CBS reported that there are two leading contenders. President Trump has been talking to Senators on Capitol Hill recently. He is trying to assure he will have the votes necessary to confirm whoever he nominates to the court.

Opposition to Potential Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh

One of the leading contenders to be Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is Brett Kavanaugh. He currently serves on the D.C. Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

One Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has voiced potential concerns over the potential nomination of Kavanaugh. Paul cited concerns over Kavanaugh’s support in “cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress“. Washington Post also notes that Kavanaugh’s writing on Obamacare has bothered some conservatives. This may also be a reason to provoke Paul’s unrest.

A Critical Vote

His vote is so crucial because the Republicans in the Senate only have a 51-49 majority. So, if no Democrats vote in favor of Trump’s nominee, just one Republican could put the nomination in jeopardy. Other Republican votes to keep an eye on for similar reason include Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Both very economically conservative, the two men may share similar concerns about Kavanaugh’s lack of conservatism and establishment ties.

Libertarian-leaning Paul is not the only right-wing figure concerned with Kavanaugh’s establishment ties. Glenn Beck has tweeted several concerns over the potential Supreme Court nominee, including his request to President Bush that he nominate Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court, his opinion on Obamacare and liberals he’s surrounded himself with. Moreover, prominent conservative lawyer James Bopp, most well known for his part in Citizens United V. FEC, urged President Trump to not nominate Kavanaugh.

Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are also potential no votes on a Trump nominee. Both support abortion rights, and the latter has come out and said she will not vote for someone who displays hostility towards Roe V. Wade.

Some Democrat votes to watch include Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, all moderate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. All voted in favor of Neil Gorsuch in April, so they may also support another Trump nominee.


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Teenage Earthquake in ‘Orleans: The LP’s Geiger Counter Reads “One”

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Down in The Big Easy, Libertarians gather for the biennial Libertarian National Convention. The various New Orleans venues are featuring numerous key speakers, from Former Governor William Weld to anarchist activist Adam Kokesh. There are parties in the streets, and voters in their seats. The 2020 election may be two years away, but that doesn’t stop the campaigning.

The Future of the Libertarian Party

However, there are a couple of more pertinent elections at this year’s convention. Over the past couple of nights, Libertarians voted on their party chair and vice chair. The winners of these races will have key roles in defining the party’s direction for the next 2 years.

In an unsurprising victory, LP Chair Nicholas Sarwark won a third consecutive term, the first time this has occurred in party history. The incumbent graciously thanked his party for choosing him for the role.

After conceding defeat, runner-up Joshua Smith announced a bid for an at-large seat on the Libertarian National Committee.

The Vice Chairman election, on the other hand, has been less straightforward. Incumbent Arvin Vohra has faced backlash in recent months for controversial comments about rape and the age of consent. With these stains, among others, Vohra was unlikely to perform well. In fact, The Libertarian Vindicator‘s polls showed the incumbent to have between five and ten percent of the vote.

In the end, favored outsider Alex Merced won the first round of voting. He eventually went on to also win the position. However, the most interesting candidate perhaps was the one with the least votes in round one.

Enter Matthew Geiger, Libertarian Youth

At a mere 16 years old, Matthew Geiger is no ordinary teen. The Maryland resident already owns his own business, that of course being 71 Republic LLC. He also has deep roots in the national Libertarian Party.

Connections with Austin Petersen, Rep. Caleb Dyer and many other notable libertarians have enabled him to do a number of jobs for the party, including managing the national party’s Instagram account. Thus, it should be no great surprise that New Mexico delegate Spencer Kellogg nominated the adolescent for another key party position.

Geiger, in the first round of voting, received only 11 votes out of 732 total. Eight voters selected “None of the above”, and 260, or 35.5 percent, chose Merced. Only 66 people, just over nine percent, voted for Vohra.

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Official first round LP Vice Chair votes.

Finishing lowest of the declared candidates (excluding “none of the above”), Geiger did not advance to subsequent rounds of voting. Despite this, his inclusion is still significant.

Matthew Geiger announced no campaign. He did not try to win the position, and persuaded no voters. He simply accepted Kellogg’s nomination over the phone. Still, he received the support of one and a half percent of all delegates present.

In a brief nomination speech, Kellogg praised Geiger for being “one of the most forward-thinking” young minds in the party.

Senior Contributor Spencer Kellogg nominating Matthew Geiger

Of course, such a stunt shows the increasing involvement of libertarian youth in the party’s affairs.

With a real campaign, which may occur in the future, Geiger will already have some name recognition within the party. Without a doubt, this will lead to greater success for the young entrepreneur if he decides to seek this position or another.


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Abandoned Independence: The True Story of a Young Girl in Gaza

By Joseph Brown | United States

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES (BLOOD/GORE) BELOW

It’s that time of year again.

The taste of sulfur from a barrage of fireworks collides with the familiar smell of barbecue as the nation commemorates the ol’ red white and blue. For many Americans, the 4th of July is seen as a way to celebrate the capstone of American accomplishment, and any elementary school kid could tell you that the United States of America gained its freedom against all odds by forcing colonial British forces from its land.

Who has time for royal weddings when you have Monday Night Football anyway?

The classic tale of a determined ragtag band of rebels defeating the most powerful military force in the world has influenced thousands across the globe. It has inspired subsequent revolutions, formed modern American culture, and of course, created the masterful cinematic universe of Star Wars (Let’s not talk about the last one).

The memory of early American revolutionaries is alive and well in American society, but their legacy might have died with the founding fathers. Let’s take a gander at what life would have been like for a family in colonial America:

Amanda is a young woman living in the coastal city of Boston during the height of the American Revolutionary War. Though previously privileged enough to receive post-secondary education, Amanda was forced to abandon her studies and her talents after the conflict between Imperial and Rebel forces escalated. With hostile forces occupying a portion of her hometown, and the infamous British fleet blockading Boston’s ports, life in the besieged city has slowly begun to fade. Rations are running low, and the community is forced to face the possibility of starving,  while wandering a few blocks in the wrong direction could lead to a fate even worse than death.

If you thought life couldn’t seem any more bleak than it already is, you’re wrong.

Amanda’s brother was shot in the leg by British soldiers during a protest to lift the blockade, and for the past 64 days, Oliver has existed in a hellish state of unimaginable pain. Rebel forces have commandeered the majority of goods, and the merciless blockade prevents any significant aid from entering the dying city. Amanda and her family have no choice but to sit and watch Oliver writhe in excruciating agony before finally losing consciousness in what is the only remote escape from his pain.

While her brother sleeps, Amanda gathers bits of rubble and driftwood as a means of insulating her home from the bitter Atlantic winds. The war seems impossibly hopeless, and she doubts her brother will survive the winter. Every night, she watches the sun set on the silhouettes of British warships, as they strangle what’s left of her broken city.

Luckily for you and I, we know the ending to Amanda’s story. We know that the Continental Army would eventually manage to defeat British forces, and the rest is history, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of such happy endings.

Although the above narrative is a perfectly probable allegory describing life in the midst of a great American conflict, it is modeled completely upon the true experiences of a family on the other side of the world.

You’re familiar with Amanda, but have you met Asmaa?

During her lifetime, Asmaa al-Housh has witnessed unimaginable amounts of destruction and despair, much like our fictional Amanda. The only difference?

Asmaa is from the Gaza Strip.

Formerly an outgoing photographer and active student at her local university, Asmaa was forced to abandon her aspirations after her brother, Omar, was shot in the leg by Israeli security forces while attending recent march protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As of May 30th, 2018, Israeli border patrols have killed at least 134 Palestinian protesters and injured 15,000 others during the protests. Among the dead and wounded are men, women, and children. Since 2007, no one has been allowed in or out of Gaza territory, and a merciless land, air, and sea blockade has prevented the transportation of significant medical supplies and basic goods.

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In Gaza, the most brutal wounds are often treated without any pain medicine due to a resource blockade.

 

Asmaa provides full time care for her twin brother, and for the past two months, you can almost always find her at his bedside. With local hospital facilities lacking staff, supplies, room, and tools, emergency services are quickly overwhelmed, and patients who are in need of critical care are often dismissed, or could face lengthy treatment times. Some can’t survive the wait.

The horrendous conditions of healthcare facilities merely reflect the state of being in the Gaza Strip. Residents of the besieged city are lucky to have four hours of electricity a day, and often resort to collecting driftwood or rubble as a means of heating water among the demolished ruins of Gaza neighborhoods. Blackouts are frequent, and uncertainty looms in every corner of human existence. Is the water clean? Where will we get our next meal? Will our house be bombed tonight? Will my son even make it home alive? These are the real questions that residents living in Gaza are forced to ask themselves every day under the Israeli occupation.

Few Palestinians within Gaza ever have the chance to have their voice heard beyond their own neighborhood. When asked what she would tell Americans about her homeland, Asmaa told me that few Americans can comprehend what it’s like to live there.

“Gaza is a prison. I have  dreams to travel…but none of this is possible. I have great hope, but it is not always this way. When I hear my brother scream or see his wounds, I am very tired.”

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Omar lays wounded in a hospital, where even the most essential resources are scarce.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has proven to be one of the most divisive and dynamic disasters of modern history, and continues to be a polarizing political issue, both internationally and within the United States. Yet, amidst the heartbreaking violence and hopeless political upheaval, the victims of the conflict have largely been forgotten, and are seldom represented as anything more than a statistic. Israeli or Palestinian, these are human lives, and this is as much of a human issue than a political one.

So before you crack open a beer, or eat one of those generic Walmart sugar cookies with colored sprinkles, take a moment to recognize that the principles of freedom and self determination aren’t exclusively American. There are thousands of oppressed peoples around the world who will die before they see the fruits of their resistance, and there are children in Gaza who could teach an American a thing or two about “The rocket’s red glare”.


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Cryptocurrency Market Shows Life, Adds $40 Billion in 2 Days

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Over the past several months, the cryptocurrency market has slowed. Its peak market cap of $830 billion has fallen dramatically, losing over two thirds of its value.

However, over the past several days, it is beginning to show life again.

On July 2, Bitcoin finally saw growth after it reached a 12 month low in value. As of June 29, the cryptocurrency had fallen as low as just over $5800 USD. Yet, the value, as of July 3, has soared back to $6658 USD.

This shows nearly a 15% increase in Bitcoin in just four days, which averages to slightly under 4% a day.

Of course, since the cryptocurrency’s fall from a January high of nearly $20000 USD, it has jumped up by these percentages a number of times. Despite this, some investors believe that this rally is longer term.

Sustainable Cryptocurrency Market Gains

As Bitcoin rose, the cryptocurrency market as a whole also saw considerable gains in volume. In the past 48 hours, it has added $40 billion dollars in total volume. As part of this, Bitcoin’s volume rose to $4.6 billion.

Other coins, such as Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, and Ripple, have also risen in value and volume over the same span. Ethereum also showed strong recovery, bouncing from $400 to $467 USD.

Because of the increase in both volume and value, many expect this growth to continue. Some market estimates place a short-term value of Bitcoin at slightly over $7000 USD. If this occurs, it will represent a 21% payout since the cryptocurrency reached its low.

Smaller cryptocurrencies have yet to see the same rebound and uptick in volume. Yet, the market trend suggests that they may soon see similar looking gains, as demand for crypto increases.

The Cryptocurrency Market in U.S. Cities

Clearly, there has been a rapid increase of cryptocurrency market recognition since just one year ago. As this continues, demand not only rises for coin ownership, but for work opportunity. in fact, first quarter 2018 blockchain jobs on the freelance site upwork.com rose a staggering 6000%.

While some, like those on upwork.com, seek employment in blockchain, many others are finding another way to join the market.

Throughout U.S. cities, Bitcoin ATMs are beginning to appear. As of mid-June, over 2,000 of the machines existed in the United States, with almost 100 in the state of Michigan.

For a fee of 7 to 8 percent, consumers may purchase the cryptocurrency in order to hold, invest, or trade.

Generally, the machines exist in low income areas. Of course, many families with lower incomes do not have bank accounts. As an alternative, they may use these ATMs as a cheap alternative means of storing money.

Some even view the machines as an alternative to lottery tickets. With high levels of risk and reward, both are capable of bringing massive success for a small price.

Unlike a lottery, however, the cryptocurrency market shows trends that users can monitor for maximum gain. Detroit gas station owner Andy Attisha says that users of his Bitcoin ATM are doing exactly that.

“A lot of people do day trading on it,” Attisha remarked about his ATM. “I see people coming in here every day messing with the machine.”


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Chairman Candidates Go to War at LNC Debate

Paul Grindle | New Orleans

Last night, four candidates stood on the stage of the Libertarian National Convention to debate their candidacy for the contentious Libertarian Party chairman’s race. The two frontrunners, Chairman Nicholas Sarwark and Think Liberty co-founder Joshua Smith, mostly faced off against each other while former Johnson/Weld 2016 Ballot Access Director Chris Thrasher and Libertarian Socialist Caucus co-founder Matthew Kuehnel sniped at Sarwark and Smith throughout the duration of the debate.

Each candidate offered a similar overall vision of the party. With them as chairman, we’d fight among ourselves less and reach out to potential libertarians more. We’d fundraise more, run more and better candidates, draw in disaffected libertarian-leaning voters, and convince more people that they might be libertarians. The war of moderate vs radical would be irrelevant because the party would work with all libertarians. We would have bigger and bolder victories and become a political force to be reckoned with.

But when it came to the specifics of those platitudes, the devil was in the details. Mr. Smith, whose insurgent candidacy has energized the LP-reformist and right-wing portions of the libertarian movement, advocated for a more active and activist chair. While sidestepping the wedge issue of how to handle official Libertarian whipping boy Gov. William Weld, he took Mr. Sarwark to task for his controversial deciding vote to not pursue suspension of Vice Chairman Arvin Vohra for his anti-veteran, anti-teacher, and anti-age of consent messaging. He did not stop at mere criticism, as Mr. Thrasher did when he hammered Mr. Sarwark on the issue beforehand. Following Mr. Thrasher’s thrashing, Mr. Smith vocalized the frustration and distrust of the party’s leadership that propelled him from a barely known local activist to national libertarian hero to part of the movement: “Are you sorry?”

Mr. Sarwark broke from his characteristic stoic aesthetic several times in the debate, including at Mr. Smith’s request for his apology to the party. He also broke from his usual response of telling his critics to do the job better themselves. The two-term incumbent apologized for any actions he had taken which people felt were harmful to the party. Explaining that his skin in the game was to fight for a better future for his wife and kids, he promised only to do his best and suggested those who didn’t think his best was enough should vote for someone else.

Mr. Thrasher intended to be that someone else. Running as the anti-Sarwark moderate, he essentially ignored Mr. Smith and focused on appealing to the delegates with his experience as Ballot Access Director for Johnson/Weld and his attempt to court donors to the party. He cited his experience losing a large potential donor to the convention to the Satangate controversy and his disappointment in Mr. Sarwark’s critical questioning of those who felt the meme was out of line. But the image of himself as a party doer was hurt by his previous abandonment of the party, only to come back and run as chairman the day of the debate. Mr. Sarwark capitalized heavily on this in the candidate questioning. This isn’t the first time Mr. Thrasher has faced criticism for a change in allegiances. Mr. Thrasher had previously developed a bad reputation among some people associated with the John McAfee 2016 campaign. McAfee’s VP candidate Judd Weiss alleged in an interview that Mr. Thrasher sabotaged their campaign when he was their manager in support of Mr. Johnson’s campaign for the 2016 nomination, allegations vehemently denied by Mr. Thrasher.

Fundamentally, Mr. Sarwark and Mr. Smith presented mirror opposite views of what constitutes satisfactory success for the party. Mr. Sarwark promoted his record of growth in elected officials, fundraising, membership, and relevance as the best the party could do with the limited resources it has. He also mounted a vigorous public defense of Mr. Weld, arguing that he had not made the LP become Republican-lite but rather the LP had made him become more libertarian. He argued that Mr. Weld had stuck around after losing in 2016 while fundraising for and promoting candidates across the country, which is more than other 2016 LP candidates that have since packed up and left.

The same record Mr. Sarwark characterized as heartening progress was the very record that Mr. Smith explicitly ran against, arguing that we were doing better in 2000 and success should not judge ourselves by our relative improvements but the totality of our current status as a party. He argued for more fundraising and candidate support, citing the work he has put into campaigns such as Jeff Hewitt’s campaign for Riverside County Board of Supervisors. He argued for more coalition building, citing his inroads into the crypto community.

He also defended a controversial endorsement he received from Liberty Hangout, a Libertarian media organization, as evidence of his style of outreach being successful. According to Mr. Smith, their recent purge of alt-right contributors at the site was a result of his campaign. He unapologetically declared he’d rather push groups like them in a libertarian direction rather than ignoring them.

Surprisingly, the candidate who gained the most from the debate in absolute terms was “Chairman Meow,” Mr. Kuehnel. An avowed anarcho-communist who promotes Medicare-for-all as libertarian pragmatism and abolishing private property as libertarian radicalism, his campaign was by his own admission never intended to give him the role he was seeking. It instead sought to give his Libertarian Socialist Caucus and its sister caucus, the Audacious Caucus, more visibility and legitimacy within the party.

Starting at near-zero support, there was little possibility he could’ve had any less support than he started with. Therefore, any delegates who became more sympathetic to him would constitute a win in its own right. Though many delegates remained comprehensively unconvinced of his ideas, by withstanding a room full of vehement and constant boos while arguing that the bottom half of the political compass needed to band together to fight the state, he was able to get his message out to potentially susceptible delegates who would not have otherwise noticed his Facebook jihad for a left-right libertarian alliance.

His campaign was also intended to ruin Mr. Smith’s chance of winning the election. On that front, he has had far more success. His relentless campaign against Mr. Smith on almost every conceivable issue under the sun has hobbled the Mises Caucus’ candidate and it bled over into the debate. In his opening statement, Mr. Smith came out with an immediate acknowledgment that his struggles with child support and family are weighing on some delegates minds, as previously reported by various libertarian and third-party websites. Mr. Kuehnel’s attacks on Mr. Smith as a deadbeat dad and domestic abuser over his unpaid support and ex’s uncorroborated claims of abuse were potentially defamatory enough to bring about a lawsuit by Mr. Smith against him. But that lawsuit allowed Mr. Kuehnel to claim Mr. Smith was utilizing the state against him, a charge Mr. Smith not only accepted but doubled down on.

The defamation charges themselves are nested in a larger suit against the feline socialist. Mr. Kuehnel’s threats to leak an internal chat log from Think Liberty that contains aggressive and offensive rhetoric by Mr. Smith if he didn’t drop out of the chairman’s race provided the backdrop of a blackmail lawsuit against Mr. Kuehnel. Though the lawsuit was panned for its citation of potentially inapplicable federal statutes and Mr. Smith’s claim it came from his lawyer despite its document header claiming the suit was pro se, Mr. Smith claimed it was a rough draft of what will be his attempt to fight back against unjustified aggression and fraud against him.

The self-titled “Communist Cat” defended his attempt to pressure Mr. Smith out of the race in a dark admission that this is how the game is played.

“Welcome to politics,” he meowed.