Tag: ross ulbricht

Jennifer Robertson of Quadriga CX Burnt Out from Scrutiny

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

With the unexpected death of Gerald Cotten, CEO and founder of Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., his widow Jennifer Robertson has found herself in the middle of a complicated legal battle. She is facing off in defense of her husband’s legacy against former Quadriga CX investors and customers. Robertson never thought this was going to be a simple process. She has admitted that she has little to no experience dealing with Bitcoin, let alone running a company. But what came as a surprise for her was the amount of blowback she is receiving.

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Law Firms Rush to Represent Quadriga CX Clients

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | @ancient_scrolls

Cryptocurrency often breeds a great deal of uncertainty. After all, many places still view it as the new kid on the block(chain). Clearly, respect for cryptocurrencies has increased. After all, some governments and companies are going through great lengths to attempt to control it and profit from it. There is still a lot of bias against using these paperless currencies; some still look down at cryptocurrencies with suspicion and distrust. This is especially due to the fact that cryptocurrencies are decentralized and often anonymous. Nevertheless, the adoption and value of those currencies have skyrocketed. But soon, Canadian company Quadriga CX may not find much of either.
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Silk Road: Double Life and Forty Years For a Website

By Nate Galt | United States

Ross William Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, has been the subject of controversy. Ulbricht was the head of the notorious dark web drug-trading market known as Silk Road. He became more interested in liberty and economic theory in college, reading the works of prominent libertarians such as Ron Paul and Samuel E. Konkin III. He decided to set up a market which relied on voluntary exchange in 2011. His ultimate goal was a marketplace, or “Agora,” where victimless goods could be bought and sold. 

Ulbricht’s new website, Silk Road, soon became the leading dark-net drug market. However, other goods were sold there, such as art, books, tee shirts, and tickets to events. The most commonly sold items were user amounts of cannabis. In just over two years, he had amassed a 28 million dollar net worth through all of the commission he had received. Interestingly, all transactions were done in Bitcoin, a new, unregulated cryptocurrency that had sprung up. For every purchase, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Ulbricht’s online persona, would receive a certain percentage of the sale. He would attempt to calculate his net worth in several spreadsheets that were used as evidence in federal court. 

Several plans were made by the F.B.I. to arrest Ulbricht and to retrieve damning evidence to convict him. On October 1st, 2013, federal agents followed him into a San Francisco public library near his house. After a brief distraction, one of them seized his computer while another agent handcuffed him. All files on the computer were copied to a flash drive. 

Later, the case of U.S.A. v. Ulbricht went to court. Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest wanted to make “an example” out of him in order to send a message to all deep web drug traffickers. She mentioned several murder-for-hire allegations that Ulbricht was accused of. His defense attorney said that these claims were not true and were just meant to sway the jury into convicting him.

In 2018, a Maryland judge dismissed the murder-for-hire allegations against Ulbricht. However, the jury had already associated the case with murder. Some jurors may have thought that Ulbricht had blood on his hands and was a kingpin who would stop at nothing to keep his drug ring operational, comparable with the likes of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Pablo Escobar. These fictitious accusations may have played a role in the jury’s decision. Judge Forrest did not mention that several F.B.I. agents violated protocol and that there was a debate as to whether Ulbricht’s constitutional rights had been infringed upon.

In federal court in New York City, Judge Forrest sentenced Ross Ulbricht to two life sentences without the possibility of parole plus forty years, the maximum possible penalty. He was a first-time, nonviolent offender. This draconian sentence was imposed on Ulbricht for hosting a site where drugs, primarily cannabis products, were sold.

Criminals whose actions have victims who did not consent to their actions, such as rapists, murderers, and pedophiles, get much lighter sentences. This clear disparity between the two sentences is extremely unjust. Furthermore, victimless crimes should not be considered crimes to begin with. Laws regulating what consenting adults partake in or consume are merely arbitrary dictates and attempts to legislate lawmakers’ versions of morality.

Every transaction on Silk Road had two consenting parties involved. A man who hosted a site with only voluntary transactions should not be punished harder than someone who violently killed or took advantage of another person. All laws to regulate victimless crimes such as drugs, gambling, and prostitution have failed miserably in their attempt to enforce morality. The only moral thing to do in this case would be for the president to pardon Ross Ulbricht for a crime that does not deserve jail time.


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Petition to Free Ross Ulbricht Reaches 100k Signatures

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

A petition on Change.org calling for the release and pardoning of Mr. Ross Ulbricht, famed alleged operator of the dark-web site Silk Road has reached 100,000 signatures. Who is Ross Ulbricht, and why are so many calling for his release?

The Case Against Ross Ulbricht

Police arrested Ross Ulbricht at San Francisco Public Library on October 1st, 2013. At the time of arrest, he was using his laptop to work on the site. A grand jury found him guilty on May 29th, 2015. Ulbricht was charged with money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and procuring murder.

Ultimately, the charge of procuring murder did not remain on the indictment, as there was no solid evidence for it. However, the court still took the charge into consideration during Ulbricht’s sentencing. The court eventually gave him two life sentences without parole, plus 40 years.

The Silk Road

An avid libertarian and agorist, Ross Ulbricht was interested in abolishing the use of force and coercion present in today’s world. In his LinkedIn profile, he stated: “I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” His mother claims that he is describing a computer game he was attempting to create. Others say that this is a reference to his eventual site, The Silk Road. 

On the website, users were able to anonymously purchase goods and services using Bitcoin. The anonymity that the platform offered drew many to use it to engage in criminal activity. User amounts of marijuana and other drugs were the most common items that users sold. Many libertarians argue that Ross Ulbricht was simply providing an anonymous platform for transactions and view his creation of the site as nonviolent. Therefore, they believe that he should not be in prison. They also view the government’s harsh sentencing of Ulbricht to be a sign that the State wishes to send a message that they will not tolerate subversion of its policies.

Corruption and Misconduct

The sentencing left many angry at accused corruption and prosecutorial misconduct in the case. Ross Ulbricht’s official website claims that several violations occurred during the investigation and trial. These include:

  • Fourth Amendment privacy violations– warrantless seizures of internet traffic.
  • Unprosecuted and unproven allegations of murder-for-hire, which factored into the sentencing. On the last day of the trial, lead prosecutor Serrin Turner stated that none of the six contracted murders-for-hire allegations actually took place. Courts had already filed one charge of procuring murder in October 2013 in a separate pending indictment in Maryland. In July 2018, an attorney dismissed this entirely. Nobody ever filed the other five allegations.
  • Two corrupt federal investigators, who are currently in prison, were involved in the case.
  • “Rogue” federal agents derailed the investigation into the possibility of an alternate perpetrator.
  • The court frequently blocked defense cross-examination.
  • Defense witnesses were prevented from testifying.
  • Essential evidence exists that proved someone within the government tampered with the digital information they used to convict Ross. The information became public more than a year after his trial.
  • Proof of multiple people behind the Dread Pirate Roberts accounts, the account the site administrator used. Someone also logged into the Dread Pirate Roberts account while Ross was in jail, according to a Silk Road forum database.
  • Parallel construction and other lies hid potential NSA involvement in the case.

The allegations have raised questions about how fair the trial of Ross Ulbricht was. If true, they would certainly undermine the trust of the American people in their justice system.

The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/freerosspetition-we-seek-potus-s-clemency-for-ross-ulbricht-serving-double-life-for-a-website-realdonaldtrump-free-ross


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The Constitution Is as Effective as Gun-free Zones

By Ryan Lau | United States

Allegedly firm supporters of gun rights in the conservative camp use an interesting argument. In reality, they often do indeed support some limitations on the right to bear arms. However, for the sake of argument, allow me to table this point and deal only with those who truly support full gun rights. One of their arguments goes like this:

  1. Many politicians advocate that we create gun-free zones in places such as schools and public places, with the goal of combating gun violence.
  2. People willing to commit murder are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
  3. Gun-free zones come in the form of other, less serious laws.
  4. If someone will break a felony law such as murder, then another, less serious law will not deter them from still killing.
  5. Therefore, regardless of morals, creating gun-free zones are not an effective way to combat gun violence.

In order for this argument to hold true, it must be both valid and sound. For it to be valid, the conclusion, point 5, must be undeniably true, if we assume that the premises, points 1-4, are also true. For it to be sound, points 1-4 must actually be true, therefore proving point 5 the same.

A Valid and Sound Argument

First of all, let’s examine whether the argument is logically valid. Point 1, of course, establishes what the action is doing: creating gun-free zones. It also makes the goal clear: combating gun violence. Points 2 and 4 explain that someone willing to break a law, murder, will do so again. As point 3 explains, a gun-free zone is a law. If we assume true that murderers do not follow laws and gun-free zones are laws, then it logically follows that murderers will not follow gun-free zones. If the gun-free zones do not reduce the murder rate, then they cannot be an effective means of combating gun violence. So, the argument is valid.

Similarly, the argument turns out to be sound, for all four of the premises are true. Gun-free zones, of course, cannot exist in the public sphere without a law creating them. Certainly, their only meaning is to deter gun violence. Therefore, points 1 and 3 are correct.

Point 2 is also correct. Barring instances such as military and police killings, taking the life of another human being is illegal. The government, though, does not consider these cases murders at all. In fact, they define murder as unlawful killing. Thus, every murder involves breaking a law, proving point 2 true.

As for point 4, one merely needs to look at the sentencing for various crimes. For a mass shooting, the punishment is either life in prison without parole or death. So, there is simply no way that an additional sentence would make this worse; an added fine or lengthened sentence mean little to someone who will never be free. This points to the fact that there is no reason for a murderer to follow the laws pertaining to gun-free zones. As a result, it is clear that point 4 is true, making the argument valid and sound.

The Constitution Comparison

Surely, the above argument holds true, provided that it is both valid and sound. Then, of course, the same reasoning must hold itself to be true in other, similar circumstances. If I can substitute the subject and object, but the logical premises remain the same, then the argument is also still valid and sound. Let’s see what happens when placing this analysis in the scope of abiding by the Constitution.

  1. Many politicians advocate that we create a Constitution to restrain government, with the goal of combating a growing, tyrannical state.
  2. People willing to authorize killing are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
  3. The United States Constitution comes in the form of United States law.
  4. If someone will authorize killing, then words on paper will not deter them from still authorizing killing.
  5. Therefore, regardless of morals, creating a Constitution is not an effective way to combat government growth.

Why is it, then, that so many people see the first one to be true, but not the second? Assuming the premises to be true, the conclusion is necessarily also true. Moreover, just like above, the premises themselves were true. The Constitution, thus, is no more effective than gun-free zones. Anyone who uses this argument against gun-free zones should also recognize its futility in other areas, especially that of the Constitution. The size of government has increased continually, and no sign or words on paper can stop it.

So, the Constitution, designed to prevent the growth of government, does not do so. Now what? Admittedly, this is a bold claim; the document’s futility undermines nearly 250 years of status quo. Without the Constitution, many traditional aspects of our society fall apart. Voting for change becomes nil if the politicians have no reason to ignore such change. Since the dawn of America, the government has grown continuously, showing little regard for any such limitations, regardless of party.

Subversive Innovation

However, hope is not lost. Rather, it comes from an entirely different avenue: subversive innovation. In 10 years, innovators who simply ignored the will of the state have done more for the liberty of the commoners than any politician has done since the dawn of the Libertarian Party. In 2009, as a response to the government’s control and manipulation of currency, Satoshi Nakamoto responded with an online, decentralized currency: Bitcoin. Since then, transactions have become easier, and many people have grown rich off of a coin not tied to fiat.

Following suit, a few years later, Ross Ulbricht joined the stage. With his platform, The Silk Road, he allowed consumers to avoid the regulation that they disapproved of on the state. Predominantly, users bought small amounts of marijuana, years before most politicians even considered its legalization.

Not long after, Cody Wilson jumped into the fray with Defense Distributed. By 3D printing guns with his files, consumers could escape the crippling regulatory action of the government. Without hurting anyone, he won a battle for decentralization.

A Common Characteristic

What do all of these, so far, have in common? Two things jump out right away. First of all, they all had a tangible effect on common people who did not need to understand the complex workings of the system. With very basic knowledge, they could help themselves and make their own lives easier.

Moreover, none of these actions required a vote, or anything political. The innovators did not act to support or oppose the government; they acted to help the people, without consulting the government. Their actions have aided many more than the vote has, even though the latter has had far longer to take effect. While the Libertarian Party garners 2% in some Senate race, subversive innovators change the world. While Nicholas Sarwark runs a good meeting, Max Borders helps to create a future where people do not need the state because they live on floating seasteads.

The vote, a natural extension of the Constitution, is as ineffective as gun-free zones. It has, for nearly 250 years, led the country further into darkness. Why, then, does anyone expect it to lead us back to the light?


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