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Time Will tell whether the Political Winds will Favor the Libertarians

Known for favouring small government as well as expansive civil liberties, the Libertarians are the only third party in position to secure ballot status in all 50 states.

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Campaign buttons for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld at the National Libertarian Party Convention in Orlando, Fla., May 27, 2016. Image source: AP
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As the presidential election looms, poll after poll shows Americans are yearning for a better choice than the two presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively.

Known for favouring small government as well as expansive civil liberties, the Libertarians are the only third party in position to secure ballot status in all 50 states.

But only few of the Americans know what the party stands for.

The Libertarian Party offers an ideological and political alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties, in favor of reducing government involvement in all sectors, from the economy to social issues. The inception of the party can be dated back to 1971.

Reuters/Ipsos polls. Image source: Reuters
Reuters/Ipsos polls. Image source: Reuters

A Reuters poll in 2015 indicated that about 1 in 5 Americans considered themselves “somewhat libertarian” however the party has struggled to build itself into an influential political force.

In 2012, the Libertarian presidential candidate received less than 1 percent of the popular vote.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to a delegate at the National Libertarian Party Convention, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Image source: AP
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to a delegate at the National Libertarian Party Convention, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Image source: AP

On social matters, Libertarians generally take a liberal approach, favoring same-sex marriage and the decriminalization of most, or all, drugs. The party is deeply pro-gun rights and takes a skeptical stance on any military involvement in other countries.

The party platform does not currently address the death penalty.

Many of the party’s ideas are rooted in principles espoused by Ayn Rand, author of the novel Atlas Shrugged. Her idea of individual freedom defines the libertarian movement — that self-interest trumps anything else so long as it did not mean hurting anyone else.

In fiscal matters, the Libertarians espouse unrestricted competition among financial institutions as well as the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security and income taxes.

Delegates listen to speeches in the main hall at the National Libertarian Party Convention, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Image source: AP
Delegates listen to speeches in the main hall at the National Libertarian Party Convention, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.
Image source: AP

They advocate for slashing government benefits, reducing economic regulations and implementing radical reform — if not the outright elimination — of the Federal Reserve.

The party’s foreign policy platform is equally radical. It calls for the U.S. to “abandon its attempts to act as a policeman for a world” and maintain a military solely for the purpose of national defense. It also calls for an end to the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid of every kind.

Familiarizing Americans with its platform remains a challenge for the party. But the deep unpopularity of Trump and Clinton has raised hopes that this might be the year that the American voters pay more attention to the Libertarian Party. (Reuters)

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US Planning For Space Force To Stay Ahead in War

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility

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Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, the Commander of Air Mobility Command, left, holds a binder with a photograph of Air Force One on the cover as he speaks to Navy Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, second from left, while arriving with other generals and admirals for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Dec. 21, 2016. (VOA)

It might sound like science fiction, but the general in charge of the U.S. military’s air transports across the globe says refueling and resupplying the military may soon be a job that’s literally out of this world.

“If I can resupply from space I can go across globe in about 30 minutes,” Air Force General Carlton Everhart, the head of Air Mobility Command, told VOA. “I do truly believe that is the next step. We can really make inroads.”

Everhart says the time gained by using hypersonic craft in space could keep him ahead in “the speed of war,” where competitors China and Russia have been trying to make gains.

The idea of using space deliveries isn’t as far out as it may seem. In fact, industry leaders, companies Everhart hopes to partner with, are already working on this type of technology.

Launch vehicles from companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and even foreign ventures could “provide tremendous strategic advantage to the U.S. government,” according to Eric Stallmer, the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

But it’s an advantage that would come with an astronomical price tag of thousands of dollars per kilo.

Experts say the need to transport via space must outweigh these costs, perhaps only being used during the most important of missions.

Todd Harrison, a space and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, points to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as a situation where time necessities could overpower cost concerns.

“Imagine if we had been able to launch a SEAL team and put them right down in that compound within 45 minutes of knowing that it was under attack. It could have made the difference,” he said.

The general is not just focused on launching from one point on Earth to another, Everhart also wants to use satellites to preposition cargo in space.

Stallmer said a lot of spaceflight companies are looking at this idea of space refueling depots, including plans to convert those refueling vehicles to habitats within space once they’ve been used.

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The future is full of possibilities, but it is unclear when these technologies will be fully developed. Experts give estimates ranging from a couple of years to more than a decade, but that doesn’t stop Everhart from dreaming.

“The train is leaving the station and we’re going to be on it. And I’m not going to be on the caboose. I want to be in front of, I’m going to be in the front,” he said.

The general says his team is already writing government proposals to make space resupply a certainty for future military mobility. (VOA)