The USA was in decline for the last decade, falling to 16th in 2015, but is now catching up to the world leaders. Canada’s Fraser Institute released its 2019 report before the latest volleys of China-USA tariffs were announced. 162 countries are researched and ranked on their importance in five areas: Size of government, Legal structure and security of property rights, Access to sound money, Freedom to trade internationally, and Regulation of credit, labour and business Of interest is the addition this year of a gender disparity adjustment measuring the degree to which nations have double standards in respecting the economic freedom of women and men. Economic freedom matters: * Nations in the top 25% of freedom have an average per-capita GDP of $36,770. Nations in the bottom 25% have $6,140. * Infant mortality: 6.7 per 1,000 live births in the top quartile and 40.5 in the bottom quartile. * Life expectancy: 79.4 years for the top 25% and 65.2 years for the bottom 25%. Details in the report here.
On June 17, 2012, the speed-climbing legend Hans Florine teamed up with Alex Honnold to try to take back the Nose record, a title Florine had held almost continuously for 20 years, but had lost to Dean Potter and Sean Leary in 2010 by 20 seconds. In this excerpt from Florine’s book, On the Nose: A Lifelong Obsession with Yosemite’s Most Iconic Climb,Hans talks about what it’s like to climb with a guy who thinks his hands are as good as cams.  Photos: Paul Hara.   A new rock star was rising in Yosemite. In 2007 a 21-year-old from Sacramento named Alex Honnold free-climbed two classic Yosemite routes, Astroman (5.11c) and the Rostrum (5.11c), back-to-back, in a day—without a rope. Astroman ascends for 1,100 feet, and the Rostrum for 800. One mistake—grabbing onto a loose piece of rock or slipping on a patch of moisture—would have most likely been the end of Alex Honnold. A year later, Alex did the unthinkable—he free-soloed the 2,000-foot Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome (5.12a), and became known in the Valley as “that crazy kid who climbs without ropes.” But I noticed Alex also did plenty of free climbing with ropes, setting several new speed records in the process. Most notably, in 2009, Alex and Sean Leary ratcheted down Yuji Hirayama’s free-climbing time of 13 hours on the Salathé (5.13b) to 8.5 hours. I’d seen Alex, a gangly guy with...
Over the last few months, social media companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have banned controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones from their platforms. Unsurprisingly, politicians and pundits from across the ideological spectrum, as well as the general public, have criticized the action of the social media giants. Even the Trump administration has added its voice by launching a website that provides people a platform to decry political bias. However, are social media companies legally obligated to provide people of all viewpoints a platform? Some say that they are and that denying access to controversial speakers is a violation of the First Amendment. Some even suggest that the government should intervene to correct this situation. But the First Amendment deals specifically with government censorship of speech, and social media companies aren’t the government. Under the First Amendment, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and all the other social media sites are free to censor or ban provocative points of view from their platforms for the sole reason that they are private companies. Whether social media companies can censor or ban speech on their platforms is a separate debate from whether they should censor speech on their platforms. We won’t address the latter debate here. But in terms of the First Amendment, the constitution is clear....
Editor’s Note: Walter Donway’s romantic thrillerO Human Child is an entertaining read with an end of summer theme. Jan and Victoria DeVries began what they hoped would be the summer of their lives with their two kids in the Catskill Mountains. A delightful farm with horses, a pond, and a garden at the foot of the dark, gorge-cut, myth-haunted mountains. Everything seemed perfect – even the wildly beautiful, secretive, but seductive Ashlyn Tate at the vineyard next door. But, abruptly, on a serene July afternoon, the enchanted mountains reached out to ensnare both parents and children in heart-stopping terror, broken marriage vows, missing kids, and lurking violence from an ancient, unspeakable past. Suddenly, the battle is against forces humans cannot face alone. And even Jan and Victoria's marriage seems ripped apart by uncontainable passions, frightened secrecy, and a tense triangle of three strong, beautiful women. By the end of summer, nothing – and no one – is the same. The following excerpt is from chapter 4.O Human Child is part of The Writers Series, our highly popular feature that showcases the work of contemporary novelists influenced by Ayn Rand.   “Summer’s a-coming, summer bright,  Fields are calling the live-long day.  Don’t...
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand Americans currently hold $1.4 trillion in outstanding federal student loan debt, in addition to the $119.31 billion of private student loan debt accounted for in 2019. Student loans may be a tool to help you get through college, but you shouldn’t enroll in college or a student loan program until you consider all your options. Is College Necessary? If financial independence is what you're after, the first option to consider is whether you need a college degreeat all. Getting a college education used to be a reliable path to financial success.  But a number of jobs – from commercial pilot to detective – are fulfilling, pay well, and don’t require a college degree. You don’t need a degree to chase fame and fortune as an actor or writer either. Ditto for video game coach. A friend of mine, Morgan Franklin, shares how dropping out of school and going into real estate was the best thing he’s ever done, despite criticism from people close to him.  I went to school because it was what I was supposed to do. I was always a bad...

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