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Meet the South American Libertarian Student Threatened by a Brazilian Councilman

18 Aug
Every week Students for Liberty holds a webinar where all  staff and volunteers are able to learn first-hand about the exciting things that students are doing around the world and discuss anything they want about the organization.  This week SFL is inviting donors and supporters to join.
The webinar will feature:
  1. Darwin Ponge-Schmidt, Estudantes Pela Liberdade Local Coordinator, on what students can do to stand up for transportation freedom around the world. Darwin, 17 years old, was threatened and nearly assaulted by a São Paolo City Councilman for defending the people’s right to use the ride-sharing app, Uber. Darwin will tell us what happened, what he plans to do to continue fighting for transportation freedom, and what other students can learn from his experience.
  2. SFL staff members from around the world talking about what they are working on and how they can help volunteers build the student movement for liberty. Next week is SFL’s first-ever Staff Retreat, which means all of our staff will be gathered together in Washington, DC to share best practices, improve our operations, and continue building SFL at a rapid pace to build a freer future.
  3. Q&A with Alexander McCobin and everyone on staff regarding any questions people have about SFL.

If you’d like to hear about what happened from Darwin himself, learn about what SFL staff are doing around the world, or participate in the conversation about the direction of SFL, please register for the webinar here.

Brazil opts out of American satellites over surveillance

29 Nov

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Image via AFP.

American companies that produce software, networks and now satellites are losing market share internationally, as consumers abroad opt out of contracts with companies like Cisco Systems and other American IT and telecommunications vendors who cooperate with the NSA or whose products are believed to contain surveillance malware.

Brazil president Dilma Roussef
By Agence France-Presse

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A statement said a joint venture between Telebras and Embraer would deliver the geostationary satellite for strategic communications by late 2016.
Embraer said the satellite would ensure Brazil’s “sovereignty over strategic communications in both the civilian and military areas.”
Brasilia has been angered by reports of US electronic spying on Brazilian government communications, as well as phone call data and emails of millions of Brazilians.
Those disclosures, drawn from revelations by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, led Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to reprimand the United States at the UN General Assembly session in September and to scrap a planned state visit to Washington.
Visiona Tecnologia Espacial, a joint venture between Embraer and Telebras, will be responsible for integrating the Defense and Strategic Communications Geostationary Satellite (SGDC) system, Embraer said.
“The SGDC system not only will meet the needs of Telebras’ National Broadband Program (PNBL) and the strategic communications of the Brazilian Armed Forces, but it is also an opportunity for Brazil to ensure the sovereignty of its strategic communications in both the civilian and military areas,” said Telebras President Caio Bonilha.
The SGDC system involves the ministries of communications, defense and science and Technology, an Embraer statement said.
It said the satellite would be operated by Telebras on the civilian band and by the defense ministry on the military band.
French-Italian firm Thales Alenia Space (TAS) is to supply the satellite while European satellite launch company Arianespace is to launch it.
The suppliers are to transfer technology to Brazilian companies, a process that will be supervised by the Brazilian National Space Agency, Embraer said.
It stressed that the SGDC system will provide full security for the government’s strategic communications and military communications as it “will be controled in Brazil at stations that are located in military areas, under the coordination of Telebras and the defense ministry.”
“Satellites that currently provide services to Brazil are either controled by stations outside of the country or the control is in the hands of companies run by foreign capital,” Embraer said.
“In either of the cases there are risks of interrupted services, in situations of international conflict or due to the political or economic interests of others,” it added.
Brazil’s state-owned Embratel launched the first South American communications satellite in 1985.

Round the World with Libertarians Weekly Calendar

6 Jul
Check back as we update this during the week.

Egypt, Turkey, Brazil – all week – citizens protest government, leading Stalinist/Mercedes Marxist/British aristocrat Seamus Milne in the Guardian to complain that these tax serfs do not have an appropriate socialist ideology but are simply protesting government! The ruffians!  Janeane  Garofalo denounces Brazilian, Egyptian and Turkish protestors with anti-Obama signs as straight up cracker assed racists.


Moscow?  – all week –  Edward Snowden continues to expose the Obama surveillance state and make the Obama regime look like keystone cops.


Vancouver, Canada – Liberty on the Rocks

 St. Augustine’s.   2360 Commercial Drive


Washington, D.C.        

  • Russell Senate Office Building Room 385

    Instructions for the Building Entry:

    Due to sequester, it is recommended people enter through the Dirksen 24-hour entrance at 1st & C St NE. Once you enter the building and clear security (please do not bring any weapons or suspicious items) take the stairs to the basement and proceed to Russell. Any elevator will get you to the 3rd floor.
    … …

    Club Mission:

    The mission of Liberty Toastmasters is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence, personal growth and the ability to communicate the ideas of liberty to others.


    Liberty Toastmasters was established in 2012. Our unique focus on the topic of liberty allows for a thoughtful discussion of ideas in addition to fulfilling the mission of our parent organization

      • —————————————————————————————————————————-

      • Chicago, Illinois.  

 Monday, July 8, 2013 7:00pm in CDT 
 The Grill on the Alley, 909 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 

 Come out and meet new friends and old friends at OCON 2013. There will be an Ohomos mixer at The Grill on the Alley, next door to the Westin Michigan Avenue where the conference will be taking place. We’d love to have you there. You do not have to be attending the conference to come to this event. If you live in the area please feel free to stop in and say hi. This will be a great opportunity to meet with other LGBT Objectivists and straight friends in a relaxed environment. See you there!


  • The DIONYSIUM presents a debate Tue., July 9th (8pm) on

    “Blurred Lines: Are Sex Roles Created More by Biology or Society?”


    Biology: DIANA FLEISCHMAN, Ph.D., senior lecturer in evolutionary psychology at the University of Portsmouth (and vegan blogger at


    Society: KELLY ANN BEAVERS, Ph.D. candidate in sociology/urban studies — sometimes studying Williamsburg (she’s also a yoga instructor and aspiring underwear model)

    And because Beavers is in the band BELLS AND HUNTERS (, we will also hear a song — possibly about love or gender roles.

    TODD SEAVEY moderates in typically-sensitive fashion.

    It’s all Tue., July 9 (8pm), at the MUCHMORE’S performance space/bar in Williamsburg, ground floor of 2 Havemeyer St. (corner of N. 9th St.), just three blocks east of the easily-reached first L stop into Brooklyn, Bedford Ave.


  • (

  • Join the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation as we host our annual summer intern debate to discuss the topic: Is libertarianism or conservatism the better political philosophy?

    The event will be moderated by political strategist Nicole Neily. A reception will follow.

    This event is open to all students, interns, and young professionals. To reserve your seat, register here: The event will also be broadcast live online:

    Liberty and virtue are values that both conservatives and libertarians tout as components of their philosophies. Historically, disagreements about the definitions of and balance between liberty and virtue have taken a back seat to other more pressing conflicts, causing the distinct philosophies to often be lumped together. As times have changed, elements of the old “fusionism” alliance have dissolved, and new conflicts have emerged that impose a strain on the formerly functioning, though imperfect, ideological partnership.

    Recent policy issues have highlighted disagreements in areas such as the War on Drugs, national defense, welfare, immigration, marriage, foreign policy, and many others. These topics represent important reasons to discuss the similarities and the differences between the two worldviews.

    We invite you to a timely debate about the two philosophies and their associated policy applications, as interns from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute go head-to-head to answer the perennial question: Is libertarianism or conservatism the better political philosophy?

Arlington, Virginia  

  • Plan ahead!! Our guest speaker will be Ilya Somin. Ilya is a Professor at GMU School of Law. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. Somin currently serves as Co-Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review, one of the country’s top-rated law and economics journals. His work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Critical Review, and others. He has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Newark Star Ledger, Orlando Sentinel, South China Morning Post, Legal Times, National Law Journal and Reason. He has been quoted or interviewed by the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and the Voice of America, among other media. In July 2009, he testified on property rights issues at the United States Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Somin writes regularly for the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog.

    Ilya’s topic for our meeting is the case for legalization and some of the ways in which public and elite opinion is changing on the subject (as well as the remaining opposition that still exists).

    Fellowship begins at 7:30pm, meeting is from 8-9pm, then we have plenty of time to socialize. Lots of Cannabis-friendly folks to meet with and get involved in moving Virginia in the right direction. All are welcome!! Invite your friends! 🙂

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  • Concord, New Hampshire.   

  •  Porcupine Pancakes

What do Stalinist aristocrats in England think about rebelling colonists, you ask?

5 Jul

Egypt, Brazil, Turkey: without politics, protest is at the mercy of the elites

From Egypt to Brazil, street action is driving change, but organisation is essential if it’s not to be hijacked or disarmed
1848 paris

A barricade on the Rue Royale in Paris during the 1848 revolution. ‘The European revolutions of 1848, which were led by middle class reformers and offered the promise of a democratic spring, had as good as collapsed within a year.’ Photograph: Roger-Viollet / Rex Features
Two years after the Arab uprisings fuelled a wave of protests and occupations across the world, mass demonstrations have returned to their crucible in Egypt. Just as millions braved brutal repression in 2011 to topple the western-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak, millions have now taken to the streets of Egyptian cities to demand the ousting of the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
As in 2011, the opposition is a middle-class-dominated alliance of left and right. But this time the Islamists are on the other side while supporters of the Mubarak regime are in the thick of it. The police, who beat and killed protesters two years ago, this week stood aside as demonstrators torched Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood offices. And the army, which backed the dictatorship until the last moment before forming a junta in 2011, has now thrown its weight behind the opposition.
Whether its ultimatum to the president turns into a full-blown coup or a managed change of government, the army – lavishly funded and trained by the US government and in control of extensive commercial interests – is back in the saddle. And many self-proclaimed revolutionaries who previously denounced Morsi for kowtowing to the military are now cheering it on. On past experience, they’ll come to regret it.
The protesters have no shortage of grievances against Morsi’s year-old government, of course: from the dire state of the economy, constitutional Islamisation and institutional power grabs to its failure to break with Mubarak’s neoliberal policies and appeasement of US and Israeli power.
But the reality is, however incompetent Morsi’s administration, many key levers of power – from the judiciary and police to the military and media – are effectively still in the hands of the old regime elites. They openly regard the Muslim Brotherhood as illegitimate interlopers, whose leaders should be returned to prison as soon as possible.
Yet these are the people now in alliance with opposition forces who genuinely want to see Egypt’s revolution brought at least to a democratic conclusion. If Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are forced from office, it’s hard to see such people breaking with neoliberal orthodoxy or asserting national independence, as most Egyptians want. Instead, the likelihood is that the Islamists, also with mass support, will resist being denied their democratic mandate, plunging Egypt into deeper conflict.
Egypt’s latest eruption has immediately followed mass protests in Turkey and Brazil (as well as smaller upheavals in Bulgaria and Indonesia). None has mirrored the all-out struggle for power in Egypt, even if some demonstrators in Turkey called for the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to go. But there are significant echoes that highlight both the power and weakness of such flash demonstrations of popular anger.
In the case of Turkey, what began as a protest against the redevelopment of Istanbul’s Gezi Park mushroomed into mass demonstrations against Erdoğan, ‘s increasingly assertive Islamist administration, bringing together Turkish and Kurdish nationalists, liberals and leftists, socialists and free-marketeers. The breadth was a strength, but the disparate nature of the protesters’ demands is likely to weaken its political impact.
In Brazil, mass demonstrations against bus and train fare increases turned into wider protests about poor public services and the exorbitant cost of next year’s World Cup. As in Turkey and Egypt, middle-class and politically footloose youth were at the forefront, and political parties were discouraged from taking part, while rightwing groups and media tried tosteer the agenda from inequality to tax cuts and corruption.
Brazil’s centre-left government has lifted millions out of poverty, and the protests have been driven by rising expectations. But unlike elsewhere in Latin America, the Lula government never broke with neoliberal orthodoxy or attacked the interests of the rich elite. His successor, Dilma Rousseff – who responded to the protests by pledging huge investments in transport, health and education and a referendum on political reform – now has the chance to change that.
Despite their differences, all three movements have striking common features. They combine widely divergent political groups and contradictory demands, along with the depoliticised, and lack a coherent organisational base. That can be an advantage for single-issue campaigns, but can lead to short-lived shallowness if the aims are more ambitious – which has arguably been the fate of the Occupy movement.
All of them have, of course, been heavily influenced and shaped by social media and the spontaneous networks they foster. But there are plenty of historical precedents for such people power protests – and important lessons about why they are often derailed or lead to very different outcomes from those their protagonists hoped for.
The most obvious are the European revolutions of 1848, which were also led by middle-class reformers and offered the promise of a democratic spring, but had as good as collapsed within a year. The tumultuous Paris upheaval of May 1968 was followed by the electoral victory of the French right. Those who marched for democratic socialism in east Berlin in 1989 ended up with mass privatisation and unemployment. The western-sponsored colour revolutions of the last decade used protesters as a stage army for the transfer of power to favoured oligarchs and elites. The indignados movement against austerity in Spain was powerless to prevent the return of the right and a plunge into even deeper austerity.
In the era of neoliberalism, when the ruling elite has hollowed out democracy and ensured that whoever you vote for you get the same, politically inchoate protest movements are bound to flourish. They have crucial strengths: they can change moods, ditch policies and topple governments. But without socially rooted organisation and clear political agendas, they can flare and fizzle, or be vulnerable to hijacking or diversion by more entrenched and powerful forces.
That also goes for revolutions – and is what appears to be happening in Egypt. Many activists regard traditional political parties and movements as redundant in the internet age. But that’s an argument for new forms of political and social organisation. Without it, the elites will keep control – however spectacular the protests.
• Twitter: @SeumasMilne