The Freedom Watch

“The Republicans’ concerns echo those of Coinbase and its customers, who argue the IRS does not need every single Coinbase account to carry out its audit, and that the investigation sweeps in people who have clearly done nothing wrong. The IRS investigation also comes at a time when the price of bitcoin has been on an incredible tear, climbing from $13 in 2013 to a new high of over $2,000 last week. Some Coinbase customers, however, have not sold any bitcoin at all while many others hold only a minimal amount, raising questions of why the IRS demanded information about every account.” Continue reading

“A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a regulation requiring the public to register drones. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that the Federal Aviation Administration did not have the authority to regulate so-called ‘model aircraft.’ If it stands, the decision (PDF) means that the public does not have to abide by the FAA requirement established in 2015. To legally fly a drone, hobbyists are currently required to pay a $5 fee and dole out their name, home address, and e-mail address. Registration was required to be updated every three years. Maximum penalties for failing to comply included three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.” Continue reading

“The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a major blow to so-called patent trolls—shell companies whose business revolves around acquiring patents and then suing others for infringing on them—by making it much harder to bring lawsuits in friendly venues like East Texas. In a unanimous ruling written by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court overturned a lower court’s interpretation of federal venue rules and said that patent owners must sue companies in the districts where they are incorporated.” Continue reading

“Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday said that his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, is deeply involved in ‘terrorist’ activities and the violence that is unfolding in the South American nation with an eye toward ‘taking political control’ there. Maduro said on his weekly radio-television show that his country is facing an ‘attack by violent forces (…) intolerance and generalized destruction,’ and that behind all this turmoil is ‘the imperialist hand of Donald Trump.’ ‘Trump has his hands infected and stuck deeply into this conspiracy and this attack that has as its objective taking political control in Venezuela, recolonizing Venezuela,’ Maduro claimed.” Continue reading

“The directive instructs federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious, readily provable offense. It thus resurrects the emphasis on mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, which have required judges to impose draconian sentences for drug crimes, even when they don’t believe these sentences are warranted. Sessions’ memo rescinds and reverses the reforms implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which urged prosecutors to charge people with low-level drug cases to avoid triggering mandatory minimum sentences. Nearly half (or 92,000) of the people in federal prison are serving sentences for drug convictions.” Continue reading

“American citizens certified for Global Entry often learned of the issue only when they sought to travel, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which says it received ‘dozens’ of complaints and is seeking agency records about the revocations through the Freedom of Information Act. The CBP did not respond to questions about how many people had been purged and restored to the ‘trusted traveler’ programs. Several of the people who complained about being removed from the programs were U.S. citizens originally from countries not included in the bans: India, Lebanon, and Pakistan.” Continue reading

“Obama signed off on a surge that ended with 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. His generals also promised to break the stalemate. Today, the Taliban controls more of the country than it has since 2001. Why are we still there? We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda. Now bin Laden is dead; al-Qaeda is dispersed; the Taliban has been battered. The United Nations reports that there were more than 11,000 war-related civilian casualties last year, and 660,000 Afghans were displaced, adding to the country’s massive refugee crisis. The war has now cost us over $1 trillion, making it the second-costliest U.S. war.” Continue reading

“The Israel travel ban, passed in the Knesset last month, has drawn widespread condemnation, including from mainstream Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement. Since its establishment in 1999, Birthright has brought more than 500,000 young Jewish adults to Israel. Most of the participants in the program are college-age students. The program’s largest benefactor is billionaire casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.” Continue reading