Don’t Blame Rideshare, Blame Regulation

DC Cabs Should Support, Benefit from Competitive Market

By Johannes Schmidt

For the second time this month, taxicabs descended on downtown Washington, DC, on Tuesday to protest the DC Council’s decision to pass the Transportation Network Services Innovation Act of 2014 — a bill that finally put the question of rideshare legality in the District of Columbia to rest. But do taxi drivers understand who their enemy really is?

DC cabdrivers have protested against Council moves to formally legalize ridesharing services

DC cabbies have protested council moves to formally legalize ridesharing services. (Flickr/Rich Renomenon)

The bill, introduced by Council Members Mary Chen and David Grosso, will essentially require that rideshare companies insure their drivers for up to US$1 million, conduct background checks on new drivers, and furnish affiliated vehicles with distinguishing markers. As far as safety regulations go, these aren’t too bad and would probably be practiced even if the bill hadn’t passed. Providing safety helps appeal to costumers and is a competitive tactic in a free market.

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Quebec’s Austerity Boogeyman

Don't Buy the Doomsday Scare Tactics of Parasitic Unions, Socialists

The end is nigh! By reading Huffington Post Quebec bloggers, one gets the sense the Philippe Couillard provincial government’s proposed austerity measures will create a bloodbath of unimaginable proportions. Apparently, Quebecers should take note of Europe’s failed austerity and simply maintain the status quo.

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Perish the thought: Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has proposed a limited degree of fiscal responsibility. (Premier’s Office)

There is only one problem with this latter statement: there has been almost no austerity in Europe. Indeed, many EU governments have been very sumptuous since 2007 by increasing spending, which has undermined growth.

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World’s Private Cities Yet to Attain Conditions for Success

Honduran ZEDEs Still Offer Greatest Promise of Innovative Governance

Interest in private cities — cities that are governed, or owned, by private corporations — has been increasing. A private city differs from traditional cities, in that a single developer owns the land. The developer then makes decisions that are traditionally made by city governments, such as building roads, providing security, and zoning.

I have previously written about the theoretical case for private cities. My analysis can be tested against several private cities which are currently being constructed. Here I shall offer a critical overview of three private cities: Eko Atlantic in Nigeria, Lavasa in India, and King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia — in addition to a discussion of the ZEDEs in Honduras.

Understanding these examples holds lessons for future private cities.

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A satellite image of Eko Atlantic in Nigeria, being built on reclaimed land from the ocean. (EA Facebook)

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Cuba’s Problem Is a Lack of Human Rights, Not the Embargo

We Want Democracy, Not Sham Liberalization

Editor’s note: this letter appeared in the October 27 edition of the Washington Post.

Conversations with the Cuban government, which have been maintained for decades by US congressmen, lobbies, nongovernmental organizations, businessmen, journalists, religious leaders, intelligence, and government officers, have hardly served democracy in Cuba. Nor has the US trade embargo.

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Rosa María Payá (right) and her mother remember the death of democracy-activist Oswaldo Payá and reinforce their call for liberation in Cuba. (@RosaMariaPaya)

What Wayne S. Smith, Cuba project director for the Center for International Policy, said in an October 26 letter (“Keep the trade embargo?”) is a Cuban move “toward liberalization,” my father, Oswaldo Payá, called “fraudulent change.” The Cuban dictatorship that is supposedly changing is the one responsible for taking the life of my father and Harold Cepero on July 22, 2012. They refuse to allow an investigation of these deaths.

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Bolivia’s Narco State Now Out in the Open

International Warnings Do Little to Temper Drug-Trafficking Haven

EspañolOne year ago, in October 2013, I wrote “Bolivia, the Narco-Trafficker’s Paradise,” published in El Deber and El Dia. My article concluded that “the Bolivian government is still working hard to realize the ‘process of change’ project, which is headed, I believe, towards the creation of a true ‘narco state,’ marked by a complete loss of moral values as well as human rights and freedom.”

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In Bolivia, the only coca leaves that serve traditional purposes are grown in the Los Yungas zone. The rest are sold to narco-traffickers. (Wikimedia)

One year following this publication, we can see that the Bolivian narco state has gained momentum domestically while also strengthening its image on the international stage. Countries such as the United States and Brazil have already strongly denounced illicit drug trafficking in Bolivia, including Brazil’s recently defeated presidential candidate Aécio Neves. He proposed a review of relations between the two nations, as well as tighter control of the border.

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Why Did Three Original Members of Bitnation Call It Quits?

Wosnack, Mckibbin, Mondrus Respond to CEO, Clear the Air on Resignation

While Bitnation was born only few months ago, it has already had more drama than a Venezuelan soap opera. Just before the big crowdsale, three members of the team — Nathan Wosnack, Matt Mckibbin, and David Mondrus — submitted an open letter of resignation.

Founder and CEO Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof said the decision was prompted by a difference in regulatory mindset.

“First of all, none of them were developers, and second, none of them were particularly core either,” Tempelhof said in an interview with the PanAm Post.

“Their biggest complaint is that the company is not incorporated in a government-backed jurisdiction — naturally, it isn’t, since that’s one of the things we’re offering as a service, incorporation on the blockchain.”

But, what do Wosnack, Mckibbin, and Mondrus have to say about their resignation?

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The Fascism of Nicolás Maduro and Hugo Chávez

The Crackpot Dictator Calls the Kettle Black

EspañolFor the past year, eyes of the world have focused on Venezuela, given ongoing protests against Nicolás Maduro and the economic, social, and political crisis produced by the complete incompetence of his government.

Maduro has responded by cracking down on protesters and silencing his detractors. One word he uses in practically every sentence, to refer to his opponents, is “fascism.” Nico has repeated this word so many times, it raises the question, what if Freud was right?

Venezuela Ministry of Communication

Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro: champions of Latin-American fascism. (Venezuelan Ministry of Communication)

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Naïve New York Times Fails to Recognize Cuba’s Real Enemy

If Economic Pressure Forces Reforms, Up the Pressure

By Karel Becerra

A few days ago the New York Times asked for an end to the “embargo on Cuba.” However, they should have asked for an end to the embargo on Castro. Cubans have nothing to impound: no properties, no houses, no cars, no furniture not even intellectual property; everything belongs to the communist government.

This misunderstood contradiction means people such as the Times editorial board see a generous leader fighting against imperialism and a country “that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961.” Meanwhile, the Cuban people who know the truth see a civil society impoverished by a dictatorship in Cuba that has held power for over five decades.

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Cubans who know better call for independence and democracy on José Martí’s 160th birthday. (CID Facebook)

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Thank You, Rafael Correa

You Have Taught the Grave Need for Free Press, Democratic Accountability

Rafael Correa

Bravo Rafael Correa! Now we are no longer afraid, because we have confirmed that the power of the word is invincible. (Flickr)

EspañolThis is a day to celebrate together. Over the past seven years, the Ecuadorian people have learned a lot about Rafael Correa, and today the president is reaping what he has sown.

Thanks to his opening speech on how a government must always carry out its electoral mandate, people no longer buy into such misleading rhetoric and demand their right to participate in important decisions that affect the country’s present and future.

Bravo Rafael!

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Chile: Resist Europe’s Police-State Response to Terrorism

Spain, Britain Can Only Show How to Overreact and Violate Civil Liberties

EspañolA working definition for an act of terrorism is a strategic act of violence with underlying political motivations. But in the case of a recent spate of small-scale bombings in Santiago and nearby — especially the September 8 attack that left 14 injured within a subway station in the Chilean capital — the underlying motivations have been far from obvious. None have claimed responsibility, although suspicion has fallen on subversive Marxist collectives, whose members have been among the first arrested.

Rodrigo Peñailillo (wikimedia)

Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo only picked up bad ideas in Spain. (wikimedia)

For Chile’s political class, the motivations of attackers have only been relevant as a means of tarnishing the opposing party by accusing them of links to those responsible. Their priority has been to appease a tense public, whipped into outright fear by the press, by being seen to “do something.” As political scientist Ethan Bueno de Mesquita wrote in a 2007 paper, voters “force the government, through electoral incentives, to overspend on observable counterterror.”

In this line came the heavily publicized visit of Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo to Spain at the beginning of the month, on a fact-finding mission with the mother country’s intelligence agencies. “We want to be connected with European governments,” he said, “so that Chile’s own subversive groups can be brought to justice.”

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