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CROSS: No Justice for Gibson Guitars

Bill Frezza revives the Gibson Guitars case in a piece published in Forbes.   The whole affair stands as an appalling example of the law run amok.  The owners believe they suffered heavy-handed treatment from the feds due to the “protectionist” interests of labor unions and environmentalists.  But when the law can be warped to satisfy the whim of any bureaucrat or power-holder, that’s not protectionism, that’s tyranny.  More specifically, the Gibson Guitars case epitomizes the tyranny of non-objective law.

While 30 men in SWAT attire dispatched from Homeland Security and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cart away about half a million dollars of wood and guitars, seven armed agents interrogate an employee without benefit of a lawyer. The next day Juszkiewicz receives a letter warning that he cannot touch any guitar left in the plant, under threat of being charged with a separate federal offense for each “violation,” punishable by a jail term.

Up until that point Gibson had not received so much as a postcard telling the company it might be doing something wrong. Thus began a five-year saga, extensively covered by the press, with reputation-destroying leaks and shady allegations that Gibson was illegally importing wood from endangered tree species. In the end, formal charges were never filed, but the disruption to Gibson’s business and the mounting legal fees and threat of imprisonment induced Juszkiewicz to settle for $250,000—with an additional $50,000 “donation” piled on to pay off an environmental activist group.

You can read the rest here.

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DOLLAR: Google’s Larry Page Says I Would Rather Give My Billions To Tesla Founder Than Charity

From Larry Page Lays Out His Plan for Your Future | Wired Business | Wired.com

Running through [Larry] Page’s plans for Google was theme picked up on by Rose: a faith that business is the best way to build his version of a better future. Rose asked him about a sentiment that Page had apparently voiced before that rather than leave his fortune to a cause, that he might just give it to Elon Musk [founder of Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City]. Page agreed, calling Musk’s aspiration to send humans to Mars “to back up humanity” a worthy goal. “That’s a company, and that’s philanthropical,” he said.

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DOLLAR: Petition to Split California Into Six States Gets Green Light

Tim Draper insists ‘Six Californias’ ballot measure is for real – San Jose Mercury News:

“What I’m proposing here is to bring us closer to our government,” he said. “We are all better off with more local government — local government is more efficient, it’s more effective, it represents us better.”

In areas from schools to prisons to public infrastructure, “we spend the most and we get the least” in California, said Draper, 55, of Atherton. “Leaving California the way it is, the status quo, is a crime.”

His proposed measure would split California into six states, each with its own government; much of the Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, would become the state of Silicon Valley.

The northernmost parts of the state would become the state of Jefferson, as some counties up there have wanted for years; some North Bay counties would become part of North California; Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield would be among Central California’s largest cities; Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara would wind up in West California; and San Diego would anchor South California.

Each new state would determine its own type of government; dividing California’s existing debt either would be negotiated among them or divided among them according to population. (Sorry, L.A.)

If California voters approve the measure, splitting the state still would require action by Congress. “But once it gets passed, I believe there will be some strong momentum,” Draper said Monday, adding perhaps New York, Florida and Illinois might decide to split, too.

“I have worked on this for years,” he said, adding he has taken time off from his global venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, to make a contribution to society — and this is it. “This is something I just have to do, I just feel it.”

Writes Joe Mathews in Steal Tim Draper’s Initiative :: Fox&Hounds:

California is, as Draper and other would-be splitters and secessionists have pointed out, far too big, both in number of people and size. Government is at once too big and too small. Too much power (albeit badly hamstrung power) is centralized in the state government in Sacramento. Other power is scattered among thousands of local governments – there are far too many – that don’t have enough power and scope to do much of anything at all except spend money (and, in too many cases, steal from the public).

But California life is actually lived at the regional level. Our major regions have the size and character of U.S. states – far more than California itself, which is more like a country than a state. But we don’t have all that much in the way of regional government – and we should. Indeed, we need to strip power from the state government and devolve it to the regions – while at the same time consolidating local governments into broader, more powerful regional bodies.

This isn’t on the agenda of any powerful player in California. But it should be. So why not take Draper’s measure and build a Draper-less campaign around it along the following lines: We don’t want to split the state, but we want you to vote for this as a way of saying that we need regional government – and need less centralized state government, and less spending-heavy, corrupt local government. A vote for this measure would be a vote for regional power.

Hijack Mr. Draper’s initiative. It’s the right thing to do.

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DOLLAR: Matthew McConaughey on Selfishness

Matthew McConaughey – GQ Men of the Year 2013 – Leading Man

But a few years ago—about the time Ghosts of Girlfriends Past came out, in which the then 39-year-old deploys his considerable talents to persuade the chick from Party of Five to embrace love—McConaughey checked in with himself and decided it was time for a change. He doesn’t want to denigrate the movies that made him rich and famous. “I was enjoying myself,” he says. “My relationship with acting was fine. But like in any relationship, you need to shake things up. It didn’t mean what we’d been doing was less than. I just wanted a charge. Like, ‘Let’s throw a spark into this.’” There is a note on a crumpled piece of paper on the table here in his Airstream, something he scribbled down and only recently pulled out of some old pants, that speaks to his dissatisfaction. I wish, it says, I enjoyed watching my movies as much as I enjoyed making them.

He decided to “go in the shadows” for a while, saying no to things that wouldn’t “evolve” him as an actor. “I got much more selfish,” he says. “I’m a fan of the word selfish. Self. Ish,” he repeats, drawing it out. “When I say I have gotten a lot more self-ish, I mean I am less concerned with what people think of me. I’m not worried about how I’m perceived. Selfish has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you. I wanted new experiences.”

And in Details:

“I’m just as thankful now as I ever was, but I’m choosing to be more selfish. I remember feeling not sure about what I wanted to do and feeling — I’m not sure despondent is the right word, but a feeling like things are plateauing. I wanted more evolution. I want to feel ascension in the grade. Because I was feeling a lot of ascension in my personal life, qualitative evolution. I wanted to close the gap between who I am and the life I’m living and my work life. So I think I got really selfish.”

Matthew McConaughey: ‘I have more of a selfish desire now’ – Features – Films – The Independent

“Part of it is just growing up and part of it is I’m very turned on and excited about all kind of things. Probably more things now than I used to be. I work hard to maintain the good things in my life that I’ve built – friendships, work, family, my own time. Sometimes you’ve got to go,’ah man, I haven’t seen my brother in three months’. But it feels really great when you can think:’Boy, all my relationships are good, people that I love are good, and my relationship with them is good. My career, I’m dialled, it feels good. Health is good.’ But to maintain that, when things change, you’ve got to be nimble at times.”

[…]

If his earliest career plan was to be a criminal defence lawyer, fighting for others, his eventual plan has come full circle to fighting for himself. “I’d say I have more of a selfish desire now when it comes to work,” he admits. It has been a long time coming.

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DOLLAR: Trader Joe’s Shrugs Atlas Style in Orgeon

From an editorial in The Orange County Register:

The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Ore., illustrates the depths to which ideologues will go under the deceptive banners of racial justice and economic fairness.

On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven: the famously progressive city of Portland and Trader Joe’s, with its emphasis on organic, non-GMO food, locally sourced goods and animal- and environmentally-conscious sensibilities. But that was not enough for the Portland African American Leadership Forum.

The group’s reasoning for killing the development is as empty as the two-acre lot on which it was to be built. According to a strongly worded letter PAALF sent to the Portland Development Commission, “A new Trader Joe’s will increase the desirability of the neighborhood to nonoppressed populations, thereby increasing the economic pressures that are responsible for the displacement of low-income and black residents.”

In other words, they are concerned that economic development will make the neighborhood too successful and attractive, thus further oppressing the poor (in their minds).

Perhaps it has never occurred to PAALF that it is economic opportunity – not government mandates and handouts – that helps the poor improve their lot in life. And government dictates were central to their proposed “solutions.” The group demanded an affordable housing mandate (serving those earning up to 60 percent of median family income), a “legally binding community hiring agreement,” and “an independent, community-controlled body [that] can negotiate a legally binding community benefits agreement.”

So it is not enough that the $8 million development of four-to-10 retail businesses, with Trader Joe’s serving as the anchor tenant, would bring new jobs, quality food and other goods and services, and tax revenues, to a poor neighborhood. PAALF wanted to extract tribute from the developers and businesses in order to further advance its social and political agenda. It is almost like a scene from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” where the unproductive members of society increasingly feed off of the productive members until the producers decide they have had enough.

And, just as in the novel, Trader Joe’s shrugged. [Editorial: Trader Joe’s shrugged]

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Internationally Known Philosopher Leaves Legacy of Scholarship on Aristotle and Ayn Rand

IRVINE, Calif.—It is with great sorrow that the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and the Ayn Rand Institute announce the death of American philosopher Allan Stanley Gotthelf, in Philadelphia, on August 30, 2013, after an extended battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. He is survived by the Love family—Ronald and Cassandra Love and their sons Zach and Ian Barber, whom Gotthelf regarded as his family—and by his many friends and students, and by his sister, Joan Gotthelf Price.

Gotthelf is best known for his scholarship on Aristotle and on Ayn Rand, with whom Gotthelf was friends. Born in 1942, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After completing bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics, he earned his PhD in philosophy at Columbia University in 1975.

At the time of his death, he was Anthem Foundation Distinguished Fellow for Research and Teaching in Philosophy at Rutgers University. He was also emeritus professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Between 2003 and 2012, he was a visiting professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he held an Anthem Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism.

David Charles (Oxford University) speaks of Gotthelf’s “decisive role in the renaissance of scholarly and philosophical interest in Aristotle’s biological writings,” and Alan Code (Stanford University) comments that “no scholar has had a deeper and more lasting impact on the scholarly understanding of Aristotle’s biological corpus than Allan Gotthelf.”

Gotthelf made this impact through a series of path-breaking essays now collected in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology (Oxford University Press, 2012) and through the many conferences and workshops he organized. These events formed the basis for two books: Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987), which Gotthelf co-edited with James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh), and Aristotle on Nature and Living Things (Mathesis, 1985). The latter book, which Gotthelf edited, was in honor of his friend and mentor David Balme (University of London), and after Balme’s death in 1989, Gotthelf shepherded several of his projects to publication.

Over the course of his 47-year career, Gotthelf was the recipient of many honors for his work on Aristotle. In 2004 his “contributions to the study of classical philosophy and science” were celebrated at a conference at the University of Pittsburgh, which led to the volume: Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf (Cambridge University Press, 2010), edited by Lennox and Robert Bolton (Rutgers University).

Gotthelf’s introduction to Ayn Rand’s ideas occurred in 1961 when he first read Atlas Shrugged. He would later remark on what he learned from this first reading: “Atlas Shrugged said that the mind I valued in myself was not only a private source of pleasure but was also the means to everything I wanted out of life. I felt about the heroes of the novel that this is the way they felt about themselves and the way they lived and loved their lives was the way I wanted to feel about myself and live and love my life. This was the happiness I was looking for.”

Gotthelf met Ayn Rand in 1962, in connection with lectures on her philosophy that he attended. Rand took a genuine interest in philosophy students, and over the next fifteen years, he had the opportunity for long philosophical discussions with her. He was an active participant in Rand’s famous 1969–71 workshops on Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

From 1964 until his death, Gotthelf spoke on Objectivism countless times at colleges, universities, and for private groups throughout the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Europe, and Japan. As his own career progressed, Gotthelf often mentored young Objectivist intellectuals who were pursuing academic careers in philosophy.

Gotthelf was a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society, a group affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, and he held the Society’s highest office from 1990 until his death. From April of 2013, he shared that office with Gregory Salmieri (Boston University), his former student and frequent collaborator. Gotthelf co-edited (with Lennox) and contributed essays to the first two volumes of the Society’s ongoing Philosophical Studies series, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth, 2000) and is co-editor (with Salmieri) of Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).

Of Gotthelf’s work to bring Objectivism to the attention of the academic world, Yaron Brook, president of the Anthem Foundation and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, said, “In the natural course of pursuing, and achieving, his values, Allan became a great ambassador for Ayn Rand’s ideas. Because of his knowledge, reputation, and benevolent persistence over the years, Objectivist ideas have begun to see a long-deserved, serious consideration in the academic world. His death is a profound loss. His legacy will inspire Aristotelians and Objectivists alike for generations to come.”

Objectivist philosopher Harry Binswanger, a lifelong friend of Gotthelf, said: “Allan saw his love of Aristotle and of Ayn Rand as of a piece. He was right, because Aristotle and Rand do advocate the same fundamentals: the commitment to reason and to living life fully, realizing one’s highest potential as man.” This was an estimate shared by Rand, who said of Aristotle that “If there is a philosophical Atlas who carries the whole of Western civilization on his shoulders, it is Aristotle.”

Binswanger continued, “Allan was a thinker, a philosopher. He not only taught philosophy, wrote philosophy, and read philosophy, he lived and breathed philosophy. His two heroes were Ayn Rand and Aristotle, and he made important, lasting contributions to the scholarship on each.”

From all of us at the Anthem Foundation and the Ayn Rand Institute, some of whom had the honor of calling Allan a friend, thank you, Allan, for your wisdom, your knowledge, your devotion to a philosophy of reason and life, and your own shining example of a life well lived. You are deeply missed.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 7, 10 a.m., at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Burial will be at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, at 3 p.m.

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Event: Free Speech and Artistic Expression

A Free Speech Dialogue to take place this fall at The University of Texas. It will be held on Thursday, September 26, from 7-9 pm. Location: The College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA), Room 0.128. As always, the dialogues are open to the public.

The topic is Free Speech and Artistic Expression. Panelists will consider questions such as: Should artistic expression be any less protected than political speech? What is* artistic expression? When is art obscene, or educational? Should artistic freedom depend on who’s paying: public subsidies or private patrons?

Speakers:

  • Greg Lukianoff, President of (FIRE) Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
  • Daniel Jacobson, professor of Philosophy at The University of Michigan
  • Nora Gilbert , assistant professor of English at The University of North Texas

Event Format: The speakers will offer brief presentations (about 10 minutes each), followed by an hour or so of interview-style dialogue with the other panelists. The final half hour will be given to questions from the general audience. More information about the Free Speech Dialogues* can be found on our website: www.freespeechdialogues.org

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Boycott Kobo Ebooks

The last major ebook publisher, Kobo Inc. of Canada, has refused to remove its MP Publishing (Isle of Man, Great Britain) editions of my Sparrowhawk series from its online catalogue, citing a contract between Kobo and MP Publishing.  See the Wikipedia entries on Kobo Inc. of Canada here:

This overlooks and evades the fact that MP Publishing, with whom I did not sign a publishing contract, was sold the publication rights to the series by a now defunct publishing firm, MacAdam/Cage of San Francisco, which has not paid me royalties earned by the series for the second half of 2012, per the now inoperative contract between MacAdam/Cage and me, and as of today’s date. This is clearly a breach of contract, to which MP Publishing is party, because it, too, has not bothered to pay me earned royalties, nor sent me a statement of earnings, and has remained silent on the matter. Culpability in this piracy is clearly extended to Kobo of Canada, because it now has knowledge of the facts in the case.

Kobo’s position on the matter is that the legal relationship is between MP Publishing and me, not between Kobo and me. This is transparent evasion and dishonesty, reducing Kobo to the criminal status of a fence.
I am requesting that readers here who use Kobo ebook readers of any kind refrain from purchasing any Sparrowhawk title from Kobo (and, in fact, boycott the firm altogether). Regardless of the status of the contract between Kobo and MP Publishing, it is a contract which expropriates earnings from my intellectual property, which as of this date, is stolen property.
Legal recourse to correct this theft or piracy would entail hiring a British solicitor or attorney to represent me in any action against MP Publishing. This is a costly alternative clearly beyond my means. MP Publishing knows this, and is counting on the prohibitive cost such an action would entail to protect it from any just and untoward penalties. It would probably bring Kobo of Canada into the litigation, as well, making it an international issue and doubly complicated.
Readers who peruse the Wikipedia entries on Kobo will see that the piracy of my intellectual property is international in scope, extending to France, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Great Britain and Canada.
The simplest and most honest action Kobo could take, considering all the facts in the matter, would be to remove my Sparrowhawk titles from its sites. This it refuses to do. It is willfully abetting MP Publishing’s theft of my intellectual property.
Following are the links to each of the MP Publishing ebook editions Sparrowhawk titles now carried by Kobo:

Sparrowhawk Book II: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-ii-hugh-kenrick (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-ii-hugh-kenrick)

Sparrowhawk Book III: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-iii-caxton (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-iii-caxton)

Sparrowhawk Book IV: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-iv-empire (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-iv-empire)

Sparrowhawk  Book V: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-v-revolution (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-v-revolution)

Sparrowhawk Book VI: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-vi-war (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/sparrowhawk-vi-war)

Sparrowhawk Companion:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-sparrowhawk-companion (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-sparrowhawk-companion)

Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.
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Putin on a Nostalgia Bender

Putin on a nostalgia bender, misses those good-old KGB days:

Governments and rights organizations are decrying raids by Russian authorities on more than 2,000 international and domestic advocacy groups, what observers say is an unprecedented campaign to silence critics of the Kremlin.

[…]

“This is an unprecedented crackdown on civil society in Russia that started in June with the adoption of a number of restrictive laws, which curtailed freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression,” said Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “There is a lot of poisonous anti-foreigner rhetoric and proposals for new laws; it is a very bad atmosphere.”

The raids are being conducted under Russia’s “foreign agent” law, which requires Russian nongovernmental organizations that engage in public advocacy and receive money from foreign donors to register as foreign agents. In most cases, the raids are carried out by prosecutorial, Justice Ministry and tax officials.

[…]

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said Thursday that the raids are aimed at combating money laundering and corruption. [Link]

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Aurora Massacre Sparks More Calls for Gun Controls

I left this comment on a Sultan Knish article on the Aurora killings and calls for gun-controls.

http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2012/07/so-that-this-never-happens-again.html

It is a forensic fact of life that if a killer or robber suspects that his victims have the capacity to fight back, he is not likely to enter a home, business, shop or theater and start shooting. It is also a forensic fact – and there are dozens of stories that demonstrate it, which video footage – that a killer or robber who enters a venue with a gun gets the short end of a hail of bullets from victims who were as armed was well as he was. I recently watched a video of a pair of hooded thugs entering a Starbucks kind of café with a gun and baseball bat and proceeded to round up the patrons. Then some 83 year old patron with a pistol got behind them and began firing. The thugs tripped over each other trying to escape.

But laws that ban guns are pointless, as Daniel suggests here. Law-abiding citizens will refrain from buying guns, or are prohibited from buying them, regardless of their spotless records. Law-breakers will not obey such laws and will always find ways to get guns. Breaking laws is what they do. Then they prey on the defenseless law-abiding citizens. And in a society in which the health and safety of law-abiding citizens are not a government’s first priority, but control of all actions, if they fight back, they are liable to be made criminals themselves, for having had the capacity to fight back to preserve their health and safety. And if they happen to injure a criminal in the act of defending their values, in that same society they’re liable to be sued for the injuries they have inflicted on the criminal. Such citizens don’t even need to have possessed a gun. They could just as well kick the criminal in the groin or judo-chop his larynx or break his jaw, and they could be charged with using “excessive force” to subdue a criminal.

It’s the criminal who initiates force, and when he does, he is risking death or injury at the hands of his victim, who can retaliate only to the best of his ability. That’s the only thing criminal law should consider, and not whether or not a “sporting chance” is granted to the criminal. A criminal forfeits all rights once he initiates force. He introduces the element of force into his victim’s life, and he is just as likely to be a subject of force if his victim fights back as he is willing to subject his victim to. For horror stories of people jailed, fined, or sued for defending their lives or property, see Britain, a comprehensive police-state envied by gun-control advocates here in the U.S.

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Hillary Clinton’s Muslim Brotherhood connection

I left this comment on a Jihad Watch column on Bachmann and Clinton’s “aid”:

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/07/hamas-linked-cair-michelle-bachmann-is-giving-us-a-six-degrees-of-separation-drinking-game-on-muslim.html

A reader provided a link to Bachmann’s site. To post a comment, use Zip code 55003

Dear Representative Bachmann:

I must congratulate you on your firm stand calling for an investigation of the Islamic infiltration of our government, in particular of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin’s family, as well as other prominent Muslim-Americans working within the U.S. government, who have ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Such an investigation would likely reveal that the Brotherhood especially has been acting against this country for over a decade.

Frankly, I think you should ratchet up the charge to include Hillary Clinton herself. After all, how could she retain Abedin since 1996 without eventually learning of her connections to an organization dedicated to “conquering” the United States and bringing down its “miserable house”? And how could she then retain this person without being sympathetic to that “cause”? Even more, I would include President Obama in your call for an investigation; his foreign policy is obviously pro-Islam. His preferred “allies” are dictators and tyrants, e.g., Hugo Chavez and Saudi royalty, and he seems to have a yearning to be buddies with Vladimir Putin, who despises Obama and uses him as Kleenex.

The behavior and charges of John McCain and the House Speaker among other Republicans are disgusting. Is this a sample of Republican spine and backbone in the face of Islamic jihad? To cover for the enemy? And where is Mitt Romney in all this hullabaloo? Can we count on him to side with you, or is he, like House Speaker John Boehner, going to wuss out and join the lynching mob?

Islam is just another form of “gangster government,” and the Brotherhood is just like the Corleone family from “The Godfather.” Don’t give in to it. “Never give in,” said Winston Churchill, whose bust Obama returned to Britain.

Edward Cline

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