France Officially Wins Second World Cup in Russia

By Eli Ridder | RUSSIA

France edged Croatia in a four goal soccer victory on Sunday to win the world’s most-watched sport’s coveted FIFA World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium in Russia’s Moscow.

Streets flooded with cheering French, who took home their second Cup since a 1998 victory against Brazil.

Going into the match, the odds were with the French. Croatia had to fight from behind nearly every game to reach the finals.

More details to follow.

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Microfinance is Saving the World’s Working Poor

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

In a world full of immense suffering, many see it as their job to try to alleviate it. In a number of such instances, governments take it upon themselves to try to solve the crises. However, their actions are not always effective. So, there is still a considerable market for private charities and companies to aid the poorest of the poor. Thus, the microfinance industry came to be.

What is Microfinance?

Microfinance is an economic practice where startups lend small amounts of money to small business owners to help them become more profitable. Though more of the poor are getting bank accounts, there are still many in third world countries without access. Moreover, even some areas with a bank do not allow women to open accounts, as many third world countries have yet to reach gender equality.

This poor reality is an iron chain on social mobility. Without basic access to lending and borrowing, it can be very hard for a poor family to start a small business and begin to increase their standard of living. Despite this, there is still hope for them, as microfinance is beginning to turn the tides.

A Method of Proven Success

SHARE Micro Finance Limited, a company based in India, lends women small amounts of money so that they may further their businesses. Each client receives only one payment equal to $50 to $100 in USD. The money may go towards buying them equipment to transport products. The women may also use it to begin moving their operations online.

So, what have been the results? A staggering 77% of these women have seen income increases. Over a third have risen their incomes enough to no longer be living in poverty. With these results, SHARE has become India’s largest microfinance industry, serving over 200,000 people.

SHARE is not alone in its success. Countless other stories throughout the developing world show similar increases. From Kenya to Colombia to Pakistan, microfinance is accelerating the path of families away from poverty.

A Home-building Industry

In Kenya, 36% of people live below the poverty line. Nairobi alone is home to a quarter of a million people without a roof over their heads. Clearly, there is an urgent need for these people to have more adequate housing. Once again, microfinance may be the clear answer.

Sandra Pietro, global director of operations and financial inclusion at Habitat for Humanity, believes microfinance is a clear way forward to improve housing access. She believes that without it, “It could take up to two generations for people to build their home incrementally”. In areas where life expectancy is low, this means they will never reap the benefit of decades of hard work.

With microfinance, women in particular are able to access loans to build their homes. With loans as little as $50 USD, these women are able to increase their quality of life. After giving three guarantors, they can obtain the deed to their new property.

This is only the first step to a long process, but without the spark, no fire is possible. Current banks rarely serve the poor, and thus, they need another option. Microfinance, for a growing number of poor men and women, is that option.

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Agency is Libertarian. Marijuana and Alcohol Aren’t.

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

The time is ten past three, and John Doe is enjoying himself. A college student, some older friends invited him to a massive party for the first time. However, John is not likely to remember many of the events of the night, for at that party, he consumed a rather unsafe amount of alcohol. He also ingested some edibles and, without realizing a thing, fought his best friend.

A fictional character, of course, John represents the loss of agency that a mind-altering substance commonly brings. Too many in the real world fall victim to John’s same situations, whether at parties, at a formal social gathering, or crying alone at night. The many Johns of the world are victims of lost agency.

Naturally, agency in this sense of the word is considerably different than its common use. Essentially, agency is the capacity of an actor to act consciously in a certain situation. In other words, agency is a form of personal responsibility, a trait essential to libertarianism. Drugs and other mind-altering substances, on the other hand, are antithetical to the same doctrine. As they rob people of their sense of agency, they are detriments to a free society.

Commonly, supporters of libertarianism state that the movement is about doing what so ever makes you happy. They often attack the state, saying that it robs that people of their right to live freely. In a broad sense, they are not wrong. However, they miss what is perhaps the most essential part of this message, the thing that makes freedom a sustainable goal: agency.

A world without agency will quickly dissolve into pure chaos, and there is no denying this. In modern society, the vast majority of people know that it is wrong to kill and steal from others. Also, they recognize the various social norms that we as a world adopt. These range from things as simple as wearing proper clothing, to situations as complex as how to behave in a romantic relationship. All such cases require a clear head and a sense of responsibility.

When people abandon this sense, they are often no longer aware of their own actions. In a sense, they are acting on the terms of something else besides themselves. Without a doubt, society condemns forced action between individuals. When one person holds a lethal weapon to the head of another and says to act, we know that is wrong, as it robs someone of their agency, and ability to freely act on their own terms.

Yet, we seldom are able to apply this logic beyond the confines of humans. Simply put, a human is not the only thing capable of robbing someone of their agency. An alcoholic or drug addict has little more say over their actions than does the person with a gun to his or her head. In fact, the situations are, in many ways, nearly identical.

When someone is addicted to a drug, it of course is quite hard to quit. The hardships range from physical to mental, and both can be viciously strong. Many people hooked on hard drugs need them to live their normal, day to day lives. By giving in to this power, they lose their sense of agency. Mental struggles can be nearly as difficult. Though no physical addiction exists for some drugs, such as marijuana, this does not mean a mental dependency cannot form. When it does, it can be incredibly difficult to break.

As a result, people using these substances often act much differently than they otherwise would. It is no secret that alcohol, for example, can cause severe anger. All addictions cause a compulsion to continue feeding them. In many cases, this leads to lying, sneaking, or even stealing to continue the path. Stealing does not occur in a truly free world.

Now, some may argue that these actions are extreme measures, and that moderation is the key in order to avoid them. While one can safely use in moderation, the fact of the matter is that most people simply will not do so. Yes, one can wisely stick to a drink or two and preserve agency.

However, it is better to say that none at all is the best approach, rather than condoning small amounts. With the latter, it is inevitable that people with different levels of will and tolerance will become addicted. Obviously, substance abuse has caused the destruction of countless families and lives. But, it is still important to note that a lack of agency, rather than the drugs themselves, are the real issues. Just as some can safely use in moderation, others can dangerously become addicted to other things besides drugs or alcohol.

Society should not draw the line at alcohol or marijuana or hard drugs. Instead, it should focus on eradicating addiction through recovery programs. All such programs should make clear that a clean life involves living with proper agency.

Thus, it is imperative that we recognize agency as a central tenet of freedom. Without it, freedom has little meaning, and will not last. Without legal pressure, another force must exist to maintain order in society. That force is agency. With it, we can truly set up a model of lasting freedom.

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President Trump, a Week in Review: Interview, Boris Johnson, More

By Evan Pereira | Republic of Ireland

President Trump has been busy this week, dealing with Mueller’s Special Counsel, the drama regarding NATO and the Summit in Brussels and last but not least, his visit to the United Kingdom. Perhaps his trip to the UK could clear his mind and act as a bit of a stress reliever. But based on the events of Friday the 13th, it appears this did not occur.

A Heated Agreement

In an interview with the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun on Thursday evening, the President harshly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May’s ’12 Point’ plan for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union (in layman terms, Brexit). President Trump stated that it would ‘kill’ the trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States. The President also claimed he advised May to avoid a ‘soft Brexit’ deal, alleging that she “didn’t listen”.

Yet, it was only in June 2016 that then-candidate Trump was unaware of the meaning of Brexit. While in an interview with The Hollywood Reporters Michael Woolf, he uttered “Huh?” when Woolf prompted him with the question “And Brexit? Your position?”. Woolf then reminded him about the meaning of Brexit before Trump voiced his support of the Leave campaign.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.”  — President Trump critiquing PM Theresa May’s ’12 Point’ Brexit Plan

News sources across the world, from the Indian Express to the Washington Post, have joined in their condemnation of Trump’s comments. Some went so far as calling them a “chaotic roadshow” or “Brexit bomb”.

Theresa May’s Replacement?

Along with dishing out critiques about the deal, the President also gave his opinion about who should be Prime Minister. President Trump essentially endorsed Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. The former London Mayor resigned as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs this Monday. He served in the role for just a few days shy of two years. Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative MP for South West Surrey and former Secretary of State for Health, is his replacement.

President Trump described Johnson as “a very talented guy” and stated that he had “a lot of respect” for the former Foreign Secretary. “I am just saying I think he would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes.” said the President.

Trump stressed that he was not trying to pit Johnson against May. However, one cannot mask his strong praise for Johnson. Trump also linked himself to the former official, saying that “I have a lot of respect for Boris. He obviously likes me, and says very good things about me”.

There has always been speculation that Boris Johnson’s ultimate goal was to get to Number 10. After David Cameron resigned in June 2016, pundits and commentators expected Johnson to be the first person to announce his candidacy for the Conservative leadership, especially since he has had a rivalry with Cameron since their schoolboy days at Eton. In the end, Johnson did not go for the position.

As speculation around the chances of Theresa May resigning remains prevalent, one group considers Johnson 5th most likely to become PM. British betting company Ladbrokes gives Johnson 5/1 odds of assuming the role. Ladbrokes ranks Home Secretary Sajid Javid as the favorite, with odds of 9/2.

The Baby Trump Balloon

Possibly one of the most creative protest symbols in London, the baby Trump balloon is a reality. The balloon took flight Friday morning at roughly 9:35 A.M. BST at Parliament Square Garden. The balloon flew for two hours, at a height of 30 feet (9m). The official march to accompany it began at Portland Place at 2:00 P.M. BST.

The balloon measures at 20 feet (6m) tall and depicts the US President as an infant. It wears only a diaper and holds a smartphone in its right hand. The project raised $38,000 (£29,000) over a period of one month thanks to roughly 2,000 backers. Organizers of the protest wanted to go on ‘world tour’ with the figure.

To fly the balloon, the protest organizers needed permission from the Metropolitan Police, Greater London Authority and the National Air Traffic Service. All of the groups gave such consent. However, the Greater London Authority and National Air Traffic Service made it clear that the decision was not political.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a harsh critic of President Trump, is in charge of the Authority. So, some believe that he may have had some political intentions. Alas, a challenging figure has entered the ring: the baby Sadiq Khan balloon.

Balloon Baby Revenge

Free speech advocate Yanny Bruere is behind the baby Khan balloon. It is set to also measure 20 feet in length.

Bruere showed distaste of the Trump balloon Friday. The activist said, “I think it’s insulting and childish. We shouldn’t be making the U.S. President feel unwelcome.”

Despite this, Bruere appeared to believe it justified to raise money for the Khan balloon.

Nigel Farage, MEP, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, had similar thoughts. On Fox News Friday afternoon, he declared, “Whatever anybody thinks of President Trump, America is our closest and most important ally in the world.”

Bruere raised $66,000 (£50,000) over a period of only three days for his project, thanks to roughly 3,100 backers. He says that he hopes to fly the baby Khan balloon in August. This assumes that he gets permission from the same groups as those behind the Trump balloon did.

The project’s Crowd Funder page states “In light of the Donald Trump ‘Baby Trump’ balloon being allowed to fly over London during his visit to the UK, let’s get a ‘baby Khan’ one and see if FREE SPEECH applies to all and whether or not Mr Khan and the London Assembly will also approve this”.

The page also mentions the sky rocket of crime in London. This includes moped crime, knife crime and acid attacks in the past two years. The page claims they will donate surplus money to the campaign to remove Khan from office and defend free speech. BBC News host Andrew Neil joked Friday that protesters should ‘Fly one of [Khan] wearing a stab vest’. This is likely a jibe at the epidemic of knife crime in London.

Mayor Khan’s Media Debate

Mayor Khan appeared on Good Morning Britain this Thursday, where he debated with former CNN host Piers Morgan. Morgan made two key arguments. First, he asked if Khan would support allowing a ‘big, black baby’ Barack Obama balloon or a balloon depicting Khan as a pig. He also asked Khan if the balloon could affect U.S. and U.K. trade negotiations.

Khan affirmed the first question, provided it was ‘peaceful and safe’. To the second argument, he countered, saying he cannot be the censor that decides what is in good taste.

Morgan also challenged Khan on having different standards regarding President Trump’s visit to London from when the Saudi Crown Prince and Turkish President visited London. He argued that they are far worse people, and should thus be viewed this way. Thus, Morgan argues, it is wrong for Khan to denounce Trump but not these leaders.

Despite his lack of frequent public comment, Khan does have a record of opposing foreign human rights violations. As a human rights lawyer, Khan visited south-east Turkey and condemned human rights violations carried out by the Turkish government.

President Trump and Prime Minister May

The Irish Times reported that President Trump apologized to PM May on Friday morning for his prior comments on Brexit. After the two leaders concluded numerous meetings, they held a joint press conference. Despite previous disagreement, the two leaders praised progress that the nations have made.

“The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies. A deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy; reducing tariffs, delivering a gold-standard in financial services co-operation, and – as two of the world’s most advanced economies – seizing the opportunity of new technology. All of this will further enhance our economic co-operation, creating new jobs and prosperity for our peoples for generations to come” — PM Theresa May

Further British Endeavors

After the talks, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made their way to Windsor Castle to meet the Queen.

Yesterday evening, President Trump traveled to Scotland we he met the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell. The Scottish National Party called for peaceful protests during President Trump’s weekend in Scotland while both the Green Party and Labour Party said that the President was not welcome in Scotland.

Anti-Trump protesters were hoping to fly the baby Trump balloon over or close to Turnberry Golf Course, where the Trumps will be staying for the remainder of the weekend. Scotland refused to allow it though, as an air-exclusion zone is in place in the Turnberry area. The President and First Lady will depart Scotland on Sunday evening to return to Washington D.C.

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Hawley, Missouri GOP Rip Page From Failed Clinton Playbook

By Francis Folz | United States

38 percent. That is the percentage of the Missouri electorate Hillary Clinton garnered in her failed bid for president in 2016. You would think the Missouri GOP would be smart enough not to use a page from Ms. Clinton’s shoddy playbook, especially since Mr. Donald Trump defeated Ms. Clinton by 19 points in the Show Me State. However, this is not the case.

The Missouri GOP voted on July 3, 2018, to suspend a rule that prohibits the National Republican Party (the establishment) to spend money on a particular candidate in a contested primary. Instead of leaving the race between the candidates and the voters, the Missouri GOP thought it would be a fantastic idea to act like there is not a primary by concerting with the national party to elect Josh Hawley. Sound familiar?

Ms. Clinton colluded with the DNC to rig her primary election against Bernie Sanders only two years ago. And to add insult to injury, the DNC decided to further isolate the Sanders wing of the party by barring his supporters from the party’s convention the same year. Common sense would suggest not to repeat the same mistake of snubbing the grassroots, especially in such a close race. Polls show Mr. Hawley either trailing Claire McCaskill or narrowly leading her within the margin of error.

However, the grassroots’ liberty candidate in the race, Austin Petersen, is determined to fire Claire in November. In a matchup between Mr. Petersen and Ms. McCaskill, Austin bests Claire 56% to 40%. In light of that recent poll, it should be common knowledge not to interfere in a heated race between a weak, establishment candidate and an electrifying grassroots firebrand. 

But to make matters worse, in an out-of-touch move, President Trump and Vice-President Pence have weighed in for Mitch McConnell’s Josh Hawley. This shows disdain for the vast amount of Missouri voters reluctant to support Mr. Hawley. After all, it was Mr. Hawley who aired campaign ads not even two years ago that promised not to use the Attorney General’s office to climb the political ladder. Such promises have long since vanished.

However, attempts to shut out the grassroots have not weathered Austin’s spirits, and why should they? Mr. Hawley has modeled his entire campaign after Ms. Clinton up to this point. For example, Mr. Hawley decided meeting with voters and debating his primary opponents is beneath him. So, Josh skipped the vast majority of Lincoln Days hosted by local Republicans. He was also missing the night Congresswoman Ann Wagner flew from D.C. to St. Louis to host the Republican senatorial debate. To make up for his blunders, Josh thought he could score a few political points by throwing former-governor Eric Greitens under the bus. Publicly alluding to impeachment before even filling charges, he effectively denied Mr. Greitens due process.

Furthermore, Mr. Hawley has been spotted lifting weights at the gym and buying wine during business hours (you know, while he’s supposed to be performing the duties of Attorney General). This is all part of a pattern.

Back in March, while Mr. Petersen and other primary candidates were out shaking hands with voters, Mr. Hawley chose to stay home and talk about his NCAA bracket on Twitter. And just when you thought Mr. Hawley couldn’t be more distant to voters? His official senatorial website doesn’t even have an “issues” section to let Missourians know how the Attorney General feels about crucial topics. To this day, Mr. Hawley refuses to rule out voting for Mitch McConnell for Majority/Minority Leader.

Mr. Hawley has even admitted in one of his few interviews that he was not interested in running for senator at first. Comparatively, Austin Petersen, Mr. Hawley’s most formidable primary opponent, has been attending countless local events and speaking with a myriad of voters on the campaign trail. It appears that the West/East Coast educated Attorney General believes the GOP establishment’s blessing will be able to carry him across the finish line in August. Judging by the Missouri GOP’s recent, unconventional actions, however, it may be harder than Mr. Hawley and company imagined.

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