Well, it’s been too long again, dear readers. I return to coverage with another large accumulation of internet curiosities to share with you.
- Glenn Greenwald: Meet Jacob Appelbaum, the Free Bradley Manning advocate who was stopped at customs on his return from Mexico and had all of his electronics confiscated. He wouldn’t give up the encryption keys, but the bottom line is that thousands of dollars in property have not been returned to him in more than four months. All because he visited Bradley Manning in jail. But hey, this isn’t a police state, guys!
- The Vienna Review: Vienna’s famous and beloved coffee shops are under assault thanks to Austria’s adherence to EU-wide anti-smoking directives. Fascism is worse on national level than a local level, worse on a transnational level than a national level, and worst on a global level. We’re already to the transnational point. How long until we reach the global one? It is repulsive to see private property owners told how they can define owner-client relationships based on mutual consent, but even more sickening when it involves beloved cultural institutions.
- Jacob Sullum at Reason: The FDA is proposing to mandate the addition of graphic illustrations of cancer patients to cigarette packaging. Burn in hell, you losers! Even if you hate smoking, you should hate even more the spectacle of a bunch of useless bureaucrats trying to make themselves relevant by thinking up new ways to punish private corporations that sell products to adults.
- Via LewRockwell.com, Orlando Sentinel: It’s an old story at this point, but Orlando cops decided to “protect and serve” by arresting barbers at unlicensed shops. In one case, 14 armed thugs raided one shop. Does that make you feel tough, you bullies? They arrested 37 barbers in all. I guess it is nice that the state decided to be so blatant in playing their role in their symbiotic relationship with the licensed barber cartel.
- NYT: God, I wish this was a joke–Britain is now going to require the recording of all conversations conducted on the work cellphones of investment bankers and traders. This is like if the Stasi moved to modern-day Britain and wanted to monitor phone calls, but they were too lazy so they subcontracted the work out to the employers of the relevant people. Predictably, people aren’t up in arms because they hate bankers that much. The bad news is this is a gross extension of the surveillance state. The good news is that it will be laughably easy to circumvent. Stupid statists, always a step too slow.
- NYT: A Michigan town is seeking donations to its budget from non-profits in its jurisdiction. I like that they are at least not being coercive about it, but here’s a better idea for how to balance your city budget: fire people! Lots of them. In fact, fire all of them.
- Via Andrew Sullivan, StopTheDrugWar.org: A couple had their newborn taken away by protective services goons for five days because the mother submitted a positive drug test. A lot of people are angry because she tested positive due to a poppy seed bagel. I’m angry that mothers are getting children taking away for drug test results at all! Do you really think smoking a bowl makes someone a bad parent? If yes, this is the wrong blog for you.
- NYT: I didn’t even read this story about NATO deciding to extend their stay in Afghanistan until at least 2014. I began seething as soon as I saw the photo of a beaming Karzai sitting across a table from the gleeful warmongers Obama and Petraeus. Of course Karzai is smiling! He is now guaranteed four more years as the mayor of Kabul, four more years of secret cash from Iran, four more years of secret cash being stored in Dubai, four more years of protection for his dope-baron half-brother in Kandahar. And for Obama and Petraeus, well, they get to continue to see American teenagers killed and killing innocents in a foreign land. What could make an imperialist happier?
- William Grigg: Grigg always does the best police brutality write-ups–”the city’s most violent street gang – the El Paso Police Department.” In this case, an El Paso cop, sirens off, cut off a man who wrecked his motorcycle into him. The man was grievously injured and also got charged with evading arrest. The cop served a brief paid administrative leave and is now up for promotion. It’s their country, we just live in it.
- The Globe & Mail: Poor Canadian PM Stephen Harper said he “didn’t really want to do it, but felt compelled to bend” and keep Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan beyond his original deadline. Poor Steve! This spineless coward should be embarrassed to even spout such intelligence-insulting muck. What we are doing in Afghanistan is wrong. Shame on Harper for going along with it, whether it’s because he’s a lapdog of American imperialism or because he wanted to coopt
soft imperialistliberal interventionist Michael Ignatieff’s position.
- The Globe & Mail: Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour is being held on a death sentence in Iran…for allegedly running a porn site. “Allegedly” is key–his confession was coerced. He’s already been in jail since October 2008. He could yet be killed for something that, at worst, was an expression of free speech and, at best, he didn’t even do.
- NYT: Briton Paul Chambers was found guilty of causing a “menace” and fined $4,800 for a joke he made on Twitter. He made the mistake of joking about bombing an airport. That might be a stupid thing to do, but it’s an expression of free speech that only a bunch of terrorist-obsessed loony tunes like the Anglo-American governments would bother to violate. And don’t even think of mentioning Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. or I might vomit.
- St. Petersburg Times: In late summer, Russia banned the once-ubiquitous currency exchange booths. It made me angry at the time, so I am glad to see that the entrepreneurs behind the booths basically just found a loophole and spit in the state’s eye. Good for them!
- Der Spiegel: Earlier reports were that Namibian airport officials had found a luggage bomb sent from Germany. Nope! Turns out that it was one of the state’s own test bombs. Part of me wants to laugh at the ineptitude of these fools, but a much larger part of me is angry because I know that it was the first headline that mattered, not the later correction. People have been scared again, lost rights will probably follow.
- Jacob Sullum at Reason: My new home state of Washington banned the caffeinated beer drink Four Loko recently. Basically, some kids got sick at a party and annoying public health bullies talked about how dangerous the drink was, so now an entire state of people won’t have the option of buying this beverage because three old hags on our state’s Liquor Control Board decided it was dangerous. I hate these kneejerkers who just think they are giving the people what they want. Stand up for freedom, you scum!
- Pat Buchanan: Taking on Helicopter Ben’s
massive campaign of inflationQuantitative Easing II. It’s too bad Buchanan quotes Sarah Palin, but he did have this one really great section–
But “sit on cash” is a definition of saving. Is saving bad? Once, Americans were taught that saving was a good thing.
Not to Krugman. He wants to panic the public into believing the money they have put into savings accounts and CDs will be rapidly eaten up by Fed-created inflation, so they will run out and spend that money now to get the economy moving again.
Whatever the economics of this, the morality of it is appalling.
- Glenn Greenwald: Vintage Greenwald–if giving terrorists civilian trials was about restoring the Constitution and getting rid of the Bush legacy, does Obama’s recent decision to put off indefinitely Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s civilian trial mean he is violating the Constitution? It’s pretty appalling to see how the Left went from being totally anti-torture under Bush to pro-torture, pro-naked scanners, pro-everything under Obama. This isn’t a partisan issue.
- St. Petersburg Times: Just ignore the title (“Russia Could Have Been China”–like being a corporate fascist state would be a good thing) and this is a great piece. It’s a debunking of all the people who say dumb things like, “Oh, what Stalin did was horrible, but it was the only way to get Russia over the hump and into modernity.” Did Stalin kill a ton of slave laborers in building things like the Moscow Metro, the dam at Dnipropetrovsk, and the Belomorkanal? Yeah, and those things did get built. But was that the only way they could have been built? Hell no. Late imperial Russia was actually one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.